Introduction:In today's episode, should you eat carbs or protein before bed? Also, being predisposed to heat stroke, shotgun vitamins and high-dosed antioxidants, good swim technique videos, being ketogenic all the time, tendonitis explained why one muscle can be bigger than the one on the other side, and how to blast away belly fats.
Brock: Hey everybody! Welcome to another episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, Brock here on a lovely sunny day, ready to record another awesome episode with my good buddy Ben.
Ben: Hey, it’s sunny there in Canada, huh?
Brock: It sure is, it's actually the, we've win in the teens in the Celsius range here.
Ben: There are snowflakes the size of like small poodles coming outside my house.
Brock: Oh, I'm sorry.
Ben: No, that's okay I like snow.
Brock: That's good okay. We're both happy then.
Ben: Yup! As a matter of fact I have a race coming up. I'm going to do that in the snow, it's a snowboard-bike-run. You get on your well, I'll be on a snowboard, you can ski as well but you, if they take you up to the top of the mountain and you ski down to wherever the snowline happens to be for that year. You transition to the mountain bike it’s about like, I think seven or eight miles of kind some technical downhill riding and then transition to a five-mile trail run.
Ben: Yeah! It should be fun.
Brock: Yeah! That's really a good idea.
Ben: By the way, I wanted to mention that I just got back from Galveston, Texas, where the 70.3 Triathlon was and took a lot of video down there. People who are triathlon junkies listening in who want to see like Lance Armstrong cross the finish line.
Brock: Get scooped by some dude.
Ben: Basically, just a bunch of Lance Armstrong videos. I kind of had with me and the camera and I had choices of what I wanted to cover. So, I pretty much just followed Lance around all day and I put all the videos up at EverymanTRI.com. So if you go to EverymanTRI.com, you can see things like Lance Armstrong getting passed in the last second of the race by some guy who ran up, sprinted up behind him and took him by surprise. It's just kind of funny that he succeeded.
Brock: I took everybody by surprise. I was watching the feed and I didn't see where that guy came from. He just all of a sudden came out of nowhere and Lance actually kept his composure, I was expecting him to. If I was him I would have gotten a little more pissed.
Ben: He kind of stormed out. I filmed it and then that night ESPN wrote in and they wanted to use my video and so it ended up on ESPN the next day and they were questioning on the video whether or not the guy that passed him should have passed in. I was just sitting there smiling about the fact that my video was on ESPN for a little $89 camera. It was like some good video, you should go watch it EverymanTRI.com. So I’ll quit blabbering about Texas and we can move on.
Brock: Alright! So you can follow all the latest in nutrition and fitness and all that kind of stuff on Twitter.com/BenGreenfield and you can also find Ben Greenfield Fitness on GooglePlus and in both of those places there have been all kinds of cool stories this week. What do you want to highlight this week?
Ben: Few things that came to my attention this week that I think that folks would find interesting and I tweeted a bunch but these were few of the things that kind of stood out. The first was a look at kind of a big study that came out that investigated the way that people live their lives and specifically how they work and this study was called “Sitting Time In All Cause Mortality” and looked at a lot of folks in, specifically Australia and their lifestyle and how much they sat their age group, how fat they were, how much they exercise. Just all of these different variables that could be associated with cardio-vascular disease or diabetes or just mortality and dying early. And regardless of how much people exercised, prolonged sitting specifically sitting for five hours or longer without getting up or doing anything was associated with an increase risk of death. So even in people who were going to the gym for a couple of hours after they finish their all-day job, if you sit for a long period of time what happens is your blood, your lymph fluid collects you just basically have a lot of factors that occur which increase your risk of death and so even if you're really physically active, even if you're training for an Ironman Triathlon if you got a desk job, dude, I recommend you do what I do if you're going to be sitting for a long period of time. For me, it’s usually an airplane or occasionally at the office even though I have a standing work station. I get up if you're ever sitting for more than an hour, get up. My rule is you get up and I rather do jumping jacks or I do pull-ups on a pull-up bar that is above the door of my office but either way, something. So Brock’s probably had to do jumping jacks now.
Brock: Yeah! I actually, for the last few weeks, three times a week I'll set my alarm and it will go off every hour and just like you like doing pull-ups or some eighth tap. I've been doing push-ups or planking. So every hour the alarm goes off and I have a standing workstation but it just breaks up. Even if you're standing, you're standing still maybe like slouching it breaks up the day so nicely just every hour or so just go and do something like jumping jacks or push-ups or squats or whatever.
Ben: That's a good point. Even if you have a standing workstation, it can give some of those muscles that you're using to stand a little bit of rack.
Brock: I get in to some terrible positions even though I'm standing and I've seen other people in standing workstations. They just get all hunched over or leaning on one elbow and standing on one foot. I guess it’s still better than sitting in a lazy boy all day.
Ben: Yeah! That's a good point. So stand more and make sure you have good posture. Stand up straight. Another interesting study looked at the effects of ten weeks of lower body unstable surface training on what that did to your performance. So we’ve all seen Bosu balls that you can stand on at the gym or maybe like these little air pillows that increase your balance requirements while you're exercising. Maybe you're standing on top of them and doing some overhead dumbbell presses or something like that. What they found was that when you train on these balanced devices before looking at healthy-trained athletes, in this case NCAA Division 1 Collegiate Men’s Soccer Team, the training on an unstable surface actually reduced the effectiveness of training sessions, reduced the ability to sprint, reduced the ability to jump and the thought here is that for some of the activities that are explosive activities, powerful activities, activities where you want to recruit as much muscle as possible. If you're doing those on an unstable surface, you're actually decreasing your ability to recruit as many muscles as you can because you're spending time trying to balance and your body kind of automatically protects itself and recruits fewer muscle produces less power. You actually get less benefit from the training session. Now if you're training for ballet or something, maybe some other type of activity where a greater amount of balance is required, perhaps training in an unstable surface does have benefits but for just pure power or strength or sprinting ability or jumping ability, training on these unstable air pillow type of surfaces isn't doing you any favors for those specific training sessions.
Brock: So, if the exercise itself is supposed to be balanced like if you're building up your appropriate reception or you’re building up your stabilizer muscles then obviously its good but if you're just trying to get explosion and strength and stuff that are very interesting.
Ben: So don't do any of your explosive, power, strength training, standing on a Bosu ball or using these air pillows or anything like that. They do have a time and a place but it’s not for those types of workouts.
Brock: Very cool!
Ben: The last thing I wanted to mention was the study that came out that looked at what happens to specifically a hormone that’s produced by your liver after endurance exercise and there's this specific hormone produced by your liver called Hepcidin and hepcidin functions to increase your iron storage, prevents you from losing too much iron. But the other thing that it can do is decrease your actual absorption of iron from dietary supplements or from food and it turns out that this absorption blocking effect is really amplified for about six hours after you do endurance exercise. Now the reason that this is important is because I know there's a lot of folks and especially a lot of female endurance athletes who take iron supplements and the time of day to take an iron supplement based off of this study that showed that hepcidin rose and iron absorption decreases after workout would be kind of like earlier in the day preferably several hours prior to your workout or at least six hours after your workout but don’t time your irons like if you get up in the morning and you go for a run like a five-mile run, you come back and whatever you grab your vitamins and you’re supplementing then you take them before you eat your breakfast. Bad time of the day to take iron. Better would be before bed at least six hours after that workout or if you're working out in the later afternoon or early evening, in the morning. So just want to throw that out there to anybody who is using an iron supplement.
Ben: That's it!
Brock: Okay! So it’s time to talk about what's been going on at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Ben: Special announcements would be first of all, if you've got kids or you yourself are planning on ever partying or having specifically a birthday party, go read the article that I released this week called How to Create a No Guilt Birthday Party Meal for Your Kids or You. In it I not only walk through exactly what we did for our kids’ birthday party and how we kind of set up their eating, their cake, their ice cream, just everything in a way that didn't really affect their gut, their brain but also hackle what you put in to your kids body. Your body affects your brain, your mood, your well-being, your propensity towards hyper activity. That's basically that kind of gut-brain connection and I linked out to some really good articles as well. I would highly recommend that even if you don't have kids that you review that article because there's a lot of good information there. And then the other thing is that last Friday I released the two-part interview. Did you get chance to listen to that one Brock?
Brock: With the Zen of aging?
Ben: The Zen of Aging: How to Stay Fit and Look Amazing as You Get Older, and one of the guys that I interviewed on there was Cary Nosler who's 65 and then also Elizabeth Ruiz, an older of kind of like masters female triathlon coach and both of them had some really good tips for how to stay fit and look amazing as you get older so listen to that. I would say that's a really good one.
Brock: And they definitely walk the walk too.
Ben: They do. They look great and I put some pictures of them up there on the post. Tune in this Friday for a very good interview if you are doing any type of endurance sports, listen to the upcoming interview. We dove deep. I get Doctor Stacy Sampson. We dove deep into what to eat when you're exercising. I mean, we covered stuff that I've never talked about before on the show. I learned a ton, fantastic interview. That will come out this Friday. And then as far as events, I know we do have some listeners over in Dubai. I'm going to be going over there May 11th and 12th. I'll be presenting a conference on How to Become Superhuman, so it's an interactive workshop that goes into performance, fat loss, digestion, recovery, sleep, brain performance, sexual health and hormones and I’m just basically going to be doing a 48-hour intensive with folks, teaching everything they need to know about how to get the most out of your body. So I’ll put a link to the PDF in the show notes about how you can register for that. It's open to anybody who’s over in Dubai and stay tuned to this Podcast in BenGreenfieldFitness.com because I'll also be presenting that same seminar in the States a few times this year but the dates haven't been picked yet and neither have the locations but I know for any Dubai listeners I will be coming over there, May 11th and May 12th and I will put the details in the show notes.
Brock: Is that connected with The Superhuman Coach stuff that you're also doing at SuperHumanCoach.com?
Ben: At SuperHumanCoach.com, I'm teaching trainers and coach the same type of modules but you're basically, you'll be tested on them. There's going to be a pass rate that's required to actually get my stamp of approval on having passed those modules. We're having our first teleseminar actually this weekend for anyone who is a member over at SuperHumanCoach.com. So if you haven't gotten in yet, go over there but the teleseminar will be going into great detail about how the entire courses work for the year. We'll look for that and essentially what it’s going to do is turn you into somebody who I will definitely endorse and send folks to for coaching for you to work with and it's really kind of a year-long intensive where you'll learn for me using a kind of a mentorship type of program. We'll be doing seminars every month and you can learn more of your trainer or nutritionist or coach over at SuperHumanCoach.com.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Alright! We've got a number of really great questions this week and we're going to start off with the audio questions like we always do and this question comes from Kelsey.
Kelsey: Hi Ben and Brock, Brock and Ben. This is Kelsey. I have a question. I have always heard that if you want to eat before you go to bed, you should keep a lean protein and stay away from carbohydrates but I was going through my e-mail the other day and I got an e-mail from a new nutritional theory Ben and this guy is an Olympic gold medal swimmer whose name is Garret Webber-Gale. And it’s the whole nutrition series and he just has this little link where you could hear parts of it. So I click on the Eating-Before-Bedtime link and he says that he always used to eat lean protein before he went to bed to help build muscles but that his nutritionist told him that if he eats just protein before he goes to bed it's going to be stored as fat and not going to help him to build lean muscle and he recommends eating complex carbohydrates with small amount of protein is okay before going to bed to replenish your body. So those just seem contrary and opposite to everything I've ever heard and in fact I think you mentioned in a fairly recent Podcast that you've read a study about eating protein before bed and how it does indeed help to build muscle but maybe I’m mistaken. So I just want to know the truth and I'm hoping that you guys can enlighten me. So thanks a lot, enjoyed the Podcast.
Brock: Okay! So carbs or protein or what the heck should we be eating right before bed. If we should be eating before bed at all, really I guess.
Ben: Right! Well we can tackle the protein thing first. I actually mentioned this, I think about two weeks ago in the News Flash, that this last month that they did a study where they gave young men in this case who were physically active. Protein supplement prior to bed and they found that during the night that protein supplement increased the rate of protein synthesis. Now when we talk about protein synthesis, basically what happens is you've got in your genes what’s called Messenger RNA and that's produced by something called transcription in a specific part of your cell. And what happens is that through a series of chemical processes and gene expression that creates amino acids which are used for protein synthesis and by consuming protein at night it turns out that while you're sleeping that protein synthesis increases and it increases significantly by about 22% compared to someone who doesn't eat protein prior to bed and in this case, even just like ten to 20 grams of protein is enough to trigger a response. Now the outcome of doing that would mean that you would be able to either repair your body more quickly, recover more quickly from exercise or if putting on muscle is a goal that you have, you'd be able to put on muscle more quickly. If you've had adequate protein throughout the day and you've refueled after your workout adequately there's really no need to eat that type of protein before bed but the protein synthesis would absolutely help you and know that protein is in most cases not going to get converted to fat unless you're in a hypercaloric state and by having protein before bed, you're actually getting more calories than you're burning. In which case if you're not lifting weights, if you're not exercising, you're basically going to do, you're going to put your liver and your kidneys under a lot of stress in terms of metabolizing those unnecessary proteins and ultimately you're going to take on more calories than you need to take on. You're going to cause a pretty large insulin release because protein can cause a release in insulin and you're not going to be doing yourself any metabolic favors. If you're working out in a later afternoon or early evening, you're trying to put on muscle, trying to improve your body's ability to repair, recover a little bit of protein before bed is not a big deal at all. And I personally, at night, quite a bit I'll do a scoop or two of protein with some coconut milk.
Brock: Okay! So I was going to say that ten to 20 grams of protein what does that look like sort of in a real world situation?
Ben: Yeah! In most cases that's like one to two scoops of like protein powder.
Brock: More like a couple of eggs?
Ben: Yeah! You mean real food not like engineered? I didn’t know that existed. A couple of eggs, you’d be looking at that would be 16, 18 grams of proteins or so. Even like a small to medium sized chicken breast those type of things. But in most cases that are really, if you haven’t had enough protein earlier on in a day or you're trying to put on significant amounts of muscle. But ultimately there are no studies that indicate that protein is going to do metabolic damage unless it is over and above your actual protein needs the rest of the day or you're putting yourself into a hypercaloric state. Meaning that by eating extra protein you're also eating more calories than you're actually burning and yes that means that the simple calories in, calories out equation does make sense here and there's nothing magical that happens if you are eating protein at night and its more food, more calories than you're actually burning you may gain weight and like I said, also put your liver and kidneys under a little bit stress.
Brock: Which has nothing to do with the timing really, it doesn't matter if you’re eating out in the morning or at the night that's just in excess.
Ben: Yeah, lunch, breakfast, whatever. Now carbs at night, we found out last year and I announced the study, carbs at night do not make you fat. Specifically the reason that I say that is they studied and this was a study from Israel of a bunch of overweight or obese folks who were eating a lower calorie diet and they compared folks who were getting a high amount of their carbohydrates with dinner versus people who were having their carbohydrates kind of spread out throughout the day. And the people who ate a large amount of carbohydrates at night actually had a greater success at weight loss and better appetite control the next day by eating more carbohydrates for their evening meal. And I went into this in detail actually when the study first came out on a Podcast but there are some biochemical things that take place and an adjustment of your hormones the next day when you have a higher carbohydrate meal in the evening. For one thing that you need to realize is that these people were on a 1,300 – 1,500 calorie diet. They were already eating a low amount of calories and by having extra carbs at night they weren't putting themselves into the hypercaloric overfed state. So, to actually cause lipogenesis or formation of fat from carbohydrate, one of the things that have to take place is that carbohydrate feeding at night needs to be overfeeding. It needs to actually put more calories into your body than you've actually burnt the rest of the day. If you're on a hypo calorie state and you're eating, in most cases 1,200 and 1,500 calories from most people is far for your calories and you're actually burning. Your body isn't going to take glucose that you ate at night or carbohydrates that you ate at night and convert it into anything resembling fat. That glucose is just going to stay in the form of glucose and get used as fuel and granted you do get a little bit of an insulin release and it could be that over and over again that insulin release could potentially cause your cells to become insensitive to insulin and maybe increase your risk for diabetes but that’s all hypotheses. It's never been shown in any studies that if you are eating fewer calories than you are actually burning, you're on a low calorie diet and you’re eating carbohydrates at night that the amount of insulin that those carbohydrates release will increase your risk of chronic disease. There’s actually no research that shows that. So if you're already eating a low calorie diet it doesn't matter if you put your carbohydrates in the morning or in the evening and in some cases it's been shown that when you put them in the evening it may actually help you to lose weight. So now we can of course flip out on its head and look at studies that have investigated the effects of carbohydrate to fat ratio on evening meals and what happens in overfeeding people and what has been found in studies like that. There’s specifically one back in 2002 that said some people with high fat diet and some people with high carbohydrate diet at night. In both cases a variety of metabolic changes took place in both people that would potentially increase your risk of chronic disease and put fat on your body. In the people who are eating on a high carbohydrate meal it was more of an issue with glucose and insulin. And people who are eating in a high fat meal it was more of an issue of really high circulating triglycerides and release of fats from adipose tissue. But in both cases there were some metabolic changes that were pretty unfavorable. However, if you look at what they were feeding people in a study like that, we are talking about right around in the range of 3,500 calories for dinner. So when you’re seeing out there articles that say high carbs at night are going to cause damage or large amount of fat at night is going to cause damage, 3,500 calories is what we are looking at as kind of a ballpark figure for overfeeding on carbohydrates or fat at night and to put that in a context, that’s like four huge plates of pasta or from a fat perspective basically like an entire carton of ice cream. So yeah in a case like that, that's where any type of eating at night is going to be an issue but in a hypo caloric state where you're burning more calories than you're eating, carbohydrates are fine in the evening, protein is great because it appears to help with overnight protein synthesis and recovery and with fat levels that again don't put you in to a hyper caloric overfed state, those are also fine. That's why I personally at night just do a little bit of coconut milk with some protein. That's really what I have most evenings and if I am going to have a snack in the evening. So, ultimately there is nothing magical that goes on with the whole protein versus carb equation and I think that we worry about it more than we actually need to.
Brock: I think it was one of those things that people use that as a strategy to do some weight loss. The rules were put in place and they can sort of spread as a way to control your caloric intake was don't snack after dinner, don't snack before bed kind of thing and that's great if you are actually trying to cut down on your caloric intake and that's one way to sort of reel yourself in but it seems like that idea has just so proliferated and become some sort of one of those hoaxes or myths that you talked about last week.
Ben: Right, exactly and incorporating larger meals in the evening in a weight loss routine, if we’re talking about pure weight loss here, it may actually help you to minimize the loss of fat free mass or to minimize the loss of muscle and so that's another thing to think about as well and that was based on a fairly recent study that looked at how people did when they are losing weight as far as like how much muscle their body's rave will hold on to versus cannibalizing your only muscle tissue and just because large evening meals can potentially increase the release of growth hormone when you're sleeping and potentially help you to like I mentioned increase your protein synthesis while you’re asleep. If this is just from a weight loss perspective again eating a big dinner there's really not a big issue with that as long as it’s not putting you over the top in terms of calorie consumption. Last thing I wanted to mention here was that for most of us snacking at night does put us over the top in terms of calories. I mean if you really sit down and you write everything down, for most people telling folks to stop eating after eight pm or stop eating after dinner is a great way to not get them to eat too many calories just because eating at night tends to be mindless boredom eating, eating that's done while watching tv, playing on a computer, etc. So there’s certainly some lifestyle implication here too.
Brock: Alright! Let's move on to the next audio question from Patrick.
Patrick: Hi Ben and Brock! This is Patrick from Dallas. My question today has to do with heat susceptibility. When I was 18, I ended up in a hospital with exhaustion and dehydration and for a couple of IV bags I was relieved but now I'm 32 and ever since then I've been struggling with the heat susceptibility and like I've said I've lived in Texas so majority of my training takes place in heat. And I find that I don't believe this has anything to do with dehydration or not taking in enough fluids in during workouts but that it has more to do with just my body temperature. I have found that after a hard hot workout if I run a cold bath and just thinking my chest and my head I submerge instead for ten or 15 minutes where ice bath isn't available I'll get crazy headaches within about 24 hours afterward with each training on back-to-back days, a little tough during the summer. So can you help me out of this? I'll appreciate it. Thanks Ben. Bye!
Brock: Wow, he gets crazy headaches.
Ben: Yeah! This heat exhaustion is really interesting because if you look at what's going on basically you got these things that your body makes called heat shock proteins and in a situation where you've got a lot of heat shock proteins your body is able to have a greater amount of what’s called thermo tolerance and you have less propensity for heat exhaustion and heat injury. This actually gets pretty interesting because one mechanism that's related to how these heat shock proteins actually work is in your GI tract and specifically what can happen is when you're engaging in strenuous exercise or on hot exercise you get inflammatory release in your body what are called cytokines and this elevation in cytokines that happens when you are actually in a hypothermic or heat producing state. What can happen to that is it can affect your gut barrier and specifically your got permeability. And we actually will be talking about this more in this upcoming Friday Podcast on nutrition but what can happen is that when your intestinal cells become more permeable they release endotoxins and what happens is when these endotoxins are released your body essentially almost has an allergenic reaction against these endotoxins in the bloodstream produces antibodies and you have this full body inflammatory response and it is one of those things that is associated with heat exhaustions. It's almost like this toxic reaction within your body and a big part of that can be based simply on the integrity of your gut barrier what’s called your epithelial barrier. Now, one of the things that can influence your susceptibility to not only the endotoxins that are released but also your propensity to produce all these cytokines that can cause that increase in intestinal permeability is your genetic predisposition to how many heat shock proteins you have and the effectiveness of those heat shock proteins because as your heat shock protein count goes down, your ability to produce heat shock protein goes down your reaction to those cytokines. The production of those cytokines when you are exposed to hot conditions is going to go up. So part of this is genetics, some people are simply more susceptible to heat and more likely to get heat exhaustion especially from exercising in the heat. Simply because they don't accumulate as many heat shock proteins or produce as many heat shock proteins. Now that's one side of the equation and that's the side of the equation that you have to deal with because it probably means that you come from an ancestry that didn't really have to deal with the heat too much. Maybe like in an urban climate, colder climate whatever Swedish northern European that type of thing where you really didn't genetically have a lot of exposure to heat and exercise in heat. But the other idea, this is the gut permeability issue and interestingly big factor here with gut permeability is the health of your gut. Not only your gut flora and the presence of good bacteria in your gut but also how your gut was formed as you were growing. It's kind of hard for people to hear because it's not like you can hit the rewind button and change this but anybody who grew up drinking formula got the short end of the stick when it comes to the formation and the integrity of these epithelial membrane in your gut because colostrum found in mother's milk is one of the prime components via which your body forms this barrier and so if you grew up drinking formula rather than being breast fed, you actually will indirectly increase your susceptibility that has some serious issues when it comes to gut permeability from exercising in stressful conditions. This was something I mentioned about a year or so ago on the show was how before like a race in hot conditions something like a triathlon in hot conditions you could actually help yourself out by using something like a colostrum supplement the week of the race or the few weeks going into the race because it will improve your gut health and specifically studies have shown this significantly decrease your gut permeability during exercise which limits those endotoxins that are released, which limits your propensity for heat exhaustion and if you grew up and weren’t breast fed and you were raised on formula, I would recommend you think about taking colostrum year round just to basically really help your body form the gut it was supposed to form when you're a baby. That's one big thing that I think about and the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to this heat exhaustion issue and at your question. Now because this cytokine release is an inflammatory response and because the body produces antibodies against the endotoxins that are released by these intestinal cells, it's possible that by having heat exhaustion once because this is like an allergenic response that you're body could go into a more hypersensitive mode after that first bout of heat exhaustion which may be why you have a harder time now. And again if that's the issue then I would definitely come at this from a limiting endotoxin release standpoint and getting some colostrum and a good dose of probiotics into the system year round.
Brock: The other issue here would be that one of the things that really causes a lot of headaches and that type of issue when it comes to exercise in the hot weather is a big drop in blood pressure.
Ben: Cold weather exercise, cold exposure that causes an increase in blood pressure. Basically, when you increase blood pressure without having to increase your heart rate, it prevents your body from losing too much heat and it helps to sustain your normal body temperature and so that's why when your body is exposed to bouts of cold it will increase your blood pressure a little bit and just the opposite happens when you’re exposed to exercise in the heat you get basically an increase in the size of blood vessels and you get a decrease in your blood pressure. Your heart doesn't have to work quite as hard in a case like that. Now when you get that drop in blood pressure it can cause headache. This is actually one reason that when it gets warmer outside the number of migraine headaches in people who get migraines actually tends to go up because of that drop in the blood pressure, drop of blood flow to the brain. The thing that could aggravate this drop in blood pressure would be one thing that comes to mind a low carbohydrate diet because I know that's popular now. I know a lot of folks who are doing the low carb thing or the paleo thing or the ketogenic thing. Your metabolism of salt gets very different when you start into a low carbohydrate diet and specifically your kidneys begin to excrete more sodium and you actually need to increase your daily intake of electrolytes, your daily intake of sodium, and so I would make sure that you're getting adequate sodium even though Patrick mention that he's getting electrolytes in. Just look at your over-all diet especially if you’re on a low-carbohydrate diet and begin to do things like you see salt more frequently. Maybe introduce like a mineral supplement into the diet, like one of these liquid mineral supplements you can get when you’re drinking minerals everyday. And then the other thing that can also cause the same type of issue, same type of drop in blood pressure would be a deficiency in specifically the hormone called aldosterone and low aldosterone causes your kidneys to excrete a bunch of salt that lowers your blood volume and that lowers your blood pressure. Well one of the things that causes you to have an aldosterone deficiency is over training or adrenaline exhaustion and technically that could include like surgical removal of the adrenal glands or something of that nature. But in most cases training too much, inadequate recovery what happens is you get this drop in aldosterone which is associated with the drop in blood pressure and that can cause headaches and really low energy. So you may want to go get tested and look at your testosterone, your cortisol, specifically your testosterone and cortisol ratio. If that's really low it could indicate some type of adrenal problem and that can be addressed through something as simple as rest, taking some time off using some of the Chinese adaptogenic herbs that we talked about on the show few weeks ago and just basically kind of giving your body a break. So that could also be an issue as well but I really suspect that in your case, it’s an issue of the one-time heat exhaustion causing kind of a hyper sensitivity to this endotoxin release in the gut and that is the biggest issue here. I would look at the blood pressure. Maybe do some testing on your blood pressure to see if it's really low but also really come at this from the gut health stand point.
Brock: And that's the colostrum.
Ben: Yeah! Colostrum specifically like that if I were going to go after one thing I would experiment with that one.
Brock: Cool! I actually have similar experiences as Patrick so I'm listening very closely and I think I'm going to try the same thing. Maybe Patrick and I should team, exchange stories in the few weeks.
Ben: Yeah! And I interviewed the guy who owns Mt. Capra, not the guy who owns it but the chief scientist from Mt. Capra, Joe Stout, I interviewed him on the Podcast. He talked about that CapraColostrum stuff and I can put a link to that in the show notes. That's the stuff I keep around the house again. I take it just a few times a year like before Ironman Hawaii, those types of situations but that is one that I'd recommend now I know it was good Colostrum.
Brock: Great! There you go. Let's move on to the next audio question from Mike.
Mike: Hey Ben, I have a question here for your Podcast. This is Mike. I was wondering if you ever heard of company called Longevity and I was wondering what your thoughts on their products. Also, there's a supplement for triathletes out there called Six for Men. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on that as well. Thanks! Bye.
Ben: So this Six for Men triathlete supplements that Mike talks about is not really a triathlete supplement per say just like for anybody I think. But I do know that they market to triathletes. It's one of those shotgun supplements. It's a bunch of different nutrients like Co-enzyme Q10 and Vitamin D, some antioxidants like Astaxanthin, Folic acid, some stuff for sexual health like Saw Palmetto, energy stuff like green tea extract and B Vitamins and then also some greens in there, some ginger roots stuff like that. So it's basically a shotgun supplement that's got a bunch of stuff in it. I've never taken it. I don't really even know how much it cost, honestly. But I don't see any red flags or something like this. I mean it seems to have a decent nutritional profile. The only issue and I think I have mentioned this before, sometimes with shotgun supplements you're getting not enough of certain nutrients and you still got to kind of step up your intake like most supplements like this, they step up Vitamin D to a 1,000 to 2,000 international units. Somebody needs like 8,000 to 10,000 international units. You still got to introduce some other stuff. Ultimately though I mean it’s kind of Gold standard for looking at it if you should be taking kind of a multi-spectrum complex like this is just to get tested and see where you're deficient in and see if it covers your deficiencies. I'd never liked the shotgun approach when it comes to stuff like this versus kind of trying to identify via using the type of blood testing that we talked about last week, what your deficient in and what you need and then adjusting accordingly based on that because it's so easy these days to customize your supplement profile based off of what you need and if your Vitamin D levels are fine then maybe you don't need 8,000 and 10,000 international units of Vitamin D a day. If you're exercising for a half hour a day, you don't need to dump of bunch of antioxidants in your body. As a matter of fact, my guess about Longevity, I'll talk about that in a second with this whole antioxidant issue but ultimately I don't think that this is a bad product. This Six for Men stuff doesn't have a red flag it’s like artificial sweeteners and I don't think it's got a bunch of nasty fillers in it that I could tell.
Brock: I think the biggest danger with taking those and I actually take something that’s similar to this Six for Men is called Seven Systems and I fully recognize them probably creating a little bit of expensive pee when I take the shotgun stuff because there maybe some things that I’m not necessarily getting that I need but there's definitely some stuff I'm getting that I probably have enough of and I'm just going to be peeing out. But there is that whole convenience factor.
Ben: Exactly. Being able to grab a handful of stuff and just kind of cover your basis that way and I agree with something like that for sure. They're definitely the convenience factor and I personally don't really use a shotgun supplement per say. I have a few selected supplements that I take based off the testing that I've done. But if it works for you, go for it if you feel a little better. But like I mentioned I would be kind of careful with the whole antioxidants thing in it, it relates to Mike's question about Longevity supplements and I actually don't know if Mike was referring to a specific brand of supplements called Longevity.
Brock: Yes, it's hard to tell.
Ben: If he was, I’ve never heard of that brand but I mean supplements that are marketed as anti-aging supplements are a dime a dozen and one of the things that most of the supplements contain is high doses of antioxidants and one of the things that concerns me is if you look at how ourselves age those antioxidants might actually not be doing you any favors. Because when you look at your body you've got these mitochondria that are in your cells and mitochondria are your power houses of energy production. Damaged mitochondria or basically like a loss of mitochondria is one of the ways that human’s age. In your mitochondria you've got all of these different structures that are used for what’s called electron transport or the electron chain transport and there are free radicals that are produced when you make energy along these chains and those free radicals can kind of leak out of the mitochondria and they can cause damage to your DNA that's housed in that mitochondria and there are specific parts of the mitochondria closest to your DNA that if those specific parts of the mitochondria leaking a lot of free radicals it can potentially cause your mitochondria to kind of turnover more quickly. So the response by a lot of anti-aging scientists or people making supplements is that they just want to get rid of these free radicals and put as many antioxidants into the body so that we are not getting all of this cellular damage and we can live longer. But one of the things to realize is that even though we’re taught that free radicals are bad for cells, it appears now based off of a study that's been done on mitochondria and how they produce these free radicals is that free radicals can increase the turnover of mitochondria and cause your body to actually kind of create new mitochondria, new fresh mitochondria that can increase the longevity of the cell. And if you're eating a bunch of antioxidants supplements, high dosed antioxidants supplements they could interfere with that process instead of prolonging your life they could actually cause you to have a decreased life span because you're losing mitochondria more quickly or getting more mitochondrial damage because your body isn't really kind of learning how to protect itself. So when you look at a kind of healthiest, longest living organisms on the planet or even look at like the oak in Allen’s for example, you'll find that the mitochondrial density is really high and what you can find when you're completely shutting down free radical formation or introducing really high dose antioxidants into the body is that that can actually cause you to be less able to produce mitochondria or have a higher mitochondrial density so that's why you need to be careful with the antioxidants especially if you don’t need them. Like if you're just producing tons of free radicals if you’re like an Ironman triathlete, I think you should be taking antioxidants because you're creating unnaturally high amount of free radicals and you're body may need a little bit of outside help so to speak. But for somebody who's exercising, 30 minutes a day, five days a week I don’t think you do yourself any favors by taking one of these supplements that's marketed for longevity that's basically high dose antioxidants. Does that kind of make sense?
Brock: Yeah for sure! Really like it’s just a balance , your body is such a fine balance if you're producing enough and you're getting enough of the antioxidants in it will take care of itself. You don’t need to be hammering everything out at your body because it’s pretty getting rid of the stuff on its own when it needs to.
Ben: Yup! Exactly, so there's a certain amount here that we are trusting the body and allowing it to adapt to the damage that we are putting it through and when we get to the point where we're putting excess damage on our body then we may need a little help but day to day life we don't need a bunch of extra antioxidants over and above what we get from healthy amount of vegetables and a little bit of fruit. Now, there are other things that I would use to live longer and if you really want to live longer and we look at the top ten killers from heart disease to cancer to stroke and all of that, we can form a kind of a list of things that can help us to live longer. When I saw Mike's question I kind of wanted to make a little list and so I'll tell you what I kind of came up Brock. Are you ready?
Brock: Bring it on!
Ben: Drum roll please! My Top Ten Ways to Live Longer: Number one would be, don’t smoke and avoid second hand smoke.
Ben: So, yeah!
Brock: Who knew that was bad?
Ben: Seriously, people sometimes tend to forget this kind of stuff. What I mean is that don't hangout in bars that have a lot second hand smoke. Limit your number of Vegas trips over the course of your lifetime where you’re hanging out in the Casinos that have lots of smoking around and be careful around smoke. So number one would be don’t smoke. Number two would be avoid heavy drinking. Interestingly, if you talk to most people who have lived a long time, one of the things that they say is that they've never had a drink and that doesn't sound very fun to me but you do need to be careful with heavy-drinking. And if you're finding yourself going on a bender every couple of weeks or maybe even doing something, I know people do this, saying you really love red wine and your foodie and you've going through a bottle or two of red wine on the weekends I would certainly be limiting that if you want to live longer. There is definitely evidence that shows that sexual activity activates various hormones that can improve your immune system and decrease your stress levels or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and all sort of other good things. So, have sex regularly that would also in addition to not smoking and not drinking heavily would be another way that you could increase your life span.
Brock: Unfortunately all three of those things seem to go together really well.
Ben: I know! Figure out a way to have more sex without smoking and drinking more and you have unlock the key to long life. Be careful with snacking and calorie consumption, lower amount of calories and even putting in some intermittent fasting like we talked about with Cary Nosler in last week's podcast, another great way to live longer basically not causing your body to go on to overtime processing calories and instead not being afraid to be a little hungry over once in a while and throw in some intermittent fasting where you're not even half your bed time and having a late breakfast those type of long periods of time between meals can help out a little as well. So throw that in there. Of course, exercise. I think most of the people listen in the show are already exercising but exercise and exercise in moderation. A little bit of aerobics, a little bit of interval training, a little bit of weight training, throw in a long hard workout every now and again to challenge your body and that can definitely help to improve your life span. Don’t sleep too much and make sure you get enough sleep. About anywhere from seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal so try to get to bed at decent time. Don’t sleep in too long and both of those things had been shown to help to improve your lifespan. Take care of your gut. Specifically, you want to make sure that you keep yourself regular. You don’t want a lot of fecal matter building up in your colon and you want to make sure that you are taking care of your gut flora which is your body is primary way of building up its immune system. So use probiotics, get yourself enough fiber, enough vegetables, a little bit of fruits and if you have a nice bowel movement, one or two times a day, that's a pretty good indication that you're keeping the inside of your body fairly clean, so regular pooing is an important component to living longer, believe it or not. Mental exercises, playing memory games, using the things that challenge your brain introducing yourself to new things like musical instruments, travel, new experiences, that's pretty important in living longer. So throw that in there as well and then my last two most important things would be number one, be grateful. I talked about this a little bit last week but feeling gratitude, I’m actually reading a book about this about kind of the science of stress and what kind of things can decrease stress and gratitude. Finding things to be grateful for and then specifically telling people who you’re grateful for, feeling a way to be thankful for the good things in your life is a really important way to live longer and that goes hand in hand with friendship and hanging out with people and being in social situations, just basically being really grateful for the people around you and making sure that they know it, huge component to living longer and decreasing stress. And then the last thing would be to avoid hospitals. That's one of the most dangerous places on the place of the planet, a hospital. So hospitals are filled with bacteria and medical airs and you've got a fairly good chance of dying when you go to a hospital or at least increasing your risk of death so be careful there to.
Brock: Wow! I'm not going to tell my girlfriend that because she's an emergency room nurse. She goes to a hospital every day.
Ben: The patients are a much bigger risk due to complications but you do certainly need to be careful in a hospital. If I were your girlfriend I would just make sure that she takes care of her immune system specifically, like I mentioned it earlier the gut, make sure she's on a good probiotic regimen and maybe using some oil, oregano and that can certainly help out.
Brock: And that whole gratitude aspect of things, I think it seems to be. Did that book that you're reading just comes out recently?
Ben: No it’s been out a little while, the author I'm blanking on the actual name of the book, that's a problem when you read books on a kindle nowadays.
Brock: Yeah, you never see the cover.
Ben: I noticed that like I'll be reading books and I won’t remember the name of the book because you never see the cover. I think it’s called The New Science of Gratitude, I believe that's the name, I’ll have to look it up and put a link in the show notes.
Brock: The only reason I ask is because I noticed that recently especially like on Facebook and Twitter people are talking a lot about gratitude in there and maybe like once a day or every couple of days certain people in my news feed just say “I'm grateful for so and so” or “I'm grateful for such and such” and I don't think they're getting it quite right by doing it on Facebook.
Ben: Yeah! I mean the way I do I just every night before I put the kids to bed everybody has to go around and say what they are thankful for that day.
Ben: That's the way we do it and if you want to really geek out on the science of it, you can get something to test your heart rate variability. You can look at what happens with your heart rate variability, how it becomes more normalized and you can literally train yourself to think thoughts of gratitude and thankfulness and you can watch what happens to your heart rate variability which is associated with stress and recovery and it just normalizes almost immediately. It's called the state of cohesion so that's something that goes above and beyond what we are talking about right now but I've got this heart rate variability unit called an emWave 2 and I can test myself and basically see how feelings of gratification actually help to relieve stress. So there you go, your key to living longer, you can now turn off the Podcast and never listen again because you're ready to go live 120 to 200 years.
Brock: You could've turned it off after we said don't smoke.
Ben: Probably! Yeah.
Ben: We're just going to change Ben Greenfield Fitness to be a big giant don't smoke sign.
Brock: Yeah, DontSmoke.com. Let's move along to our next question, it's another audio question from Jared.
Jared: Hey Ben, this is Jared from New Orleans. Hey, I had a quick question regarding swimming. I started on my journey to become a triathlete a couple of years ago and I first started with running. Gradually I got built up and so I can run 30 miles without stopping. Then after two years I instituted the bike and I've been on the bike for about six months and I'm up to doing about, well the most I’ve done up today is 81 miles and now it's time to institute the swim. So a couple of years ago I mean a couple of weeks ago, I started instituting swim. So my question is as I dig dipper into technique, are there any specific YouTube videos that you will recommend or prefer more than others that would help me in my techniques. I have had recommended to me some videos on YouTube called The Total Immersion Videos, Prolonged Distance Swimming in Triathlon and so I was going to start checking those out. So, I was wondering if you had any helpful tips with regards to that I've got a local triathlon coming up here in May and then Ironman Miami in October. Thanks much to both you and Brock. I appreciate your work with the Podcast, both of them every week and I really enjoy them.
Ben: So a pretty quick answer to this one for Jared. First of all, Swim Smooth, I'll put a link to Swim Smooth in the show notes but I love their stuff, their videos, their workouts, all their recommendations, their blog, all of that is rock solid. I highly recommend them over the total immersion technique of learning how to swim. Total immersion is really good for beginner swimmers trying to learn good form. But when you start to get in to things like triathlon in open water swimming and you turn on Eurosports or Triathlon.tv and watch these ITU World Championship Athletes out there competing in triathlon, you don't see anything even closely resembling a total immersion swim style which is a swim style that encourages these kind of long beautiful glidy type of strokes out there in the water. You see short powerful choppy swimming, see lots of lunging in wide arms and a lot of stuff that looks messy but that really allows you to swim very fast in open water swimming or triathlon style swimming. The most important thing to consider is that a big part of this comes down to your body type, your limb length, your body fat percentage and that's again one of the reasons that I really like the Swim Smooth method of learning swimming because they actually have six different body types that they break you down into and a specific way to learn swimming and to become a better swimmer based off of your body type. Now full disclosure here, I am personally in anticipation of going pro as a triathlete at the end of this year, working with the guys over there, literally like sending them videos and they're helping me tweak a little bit of my swimming. That's how much I trust them and like what they do and I'm getting faster, I'm shaving literally seconds off how long it takes me to swim 100 meters which is significant. So I highly recommend them and anything you're going to find in their website and I'll put a link to it in the show notes.
Brock: They have that animation of Mr. Smooth swimming along there and when the last like six months I'm gone from being one of their six types of swimmers, I was a bambino. I've booked for four to six months ago I think I typed myself as a bambino and once a week before I go to the pool I'd watch that animation from some different angles. Get it really good in my mind so I could see every aspect of the stroke and then while I was swimming any time I’d notice that let’s say my feet we're starting to drag or I wondered where my arms were I thought about that animation and just was I actually doing what I saw in that animation. I found that to be incredibly helpful.
Ben: Yup and that's something you can download right there off the site as well so we'll put a link. What Podcast episode is this?
Brock: It's 189.
Ben: Okay. So go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com, check out Podcast number 189 and we'll put a link to the stuff right there.
Brock: Okay. So our next question comes from Bob.
Bob: If I train myself to be ketogenic, is that purely for health and fat burning? What about racing? Do I still eat the gels, etc. before and during a race or is that counter-productive?
Ben: First of all, we've talked about ketogenesis on the show before. I won't go into it in a great deal of detail here but basically it means that your limiting the amount of carbohydrates that you consume so that your body is preferentially burning fats and what are called ketones or kind of forms of fatty acids as energy and that can really do things like improve your life span which we talked about earlier and that kind of comes into that no snacking kind of introduce some intermittent fasting approach that I talked about to reducing your risk of chronic disease to turning your body into a machine that preferentially burns fats over glucose and subsequently kind of sparing the amount of carbohydrate that you use, thus increasing the amount of carbohydrate you may be able to draw on during long exercise sessions. Now being in a state of ketosis could potentially mean that you're giving up on some of the finer components of athletic performance in an acute situation. For example, if you're in a state of ketosis burning fatty acids for fuel with limited amounts of carbohydrates on board. If you're going to the track and you're doing a Sprint Rip based workout and you're burning through more than the 400 calories of carbohydrate that are stored in your liver and you’re kind of running into a little bit of woe because your muscle carbohydrate stores a little bit of lower being in a state of ketogenesis. Yeah, your track workout might not be as fast. You also, if you're in a state of ketosis, you may not be able to go out on a 100 mile bike ride quite as fast as you really want to go versus if you had a lot of carbohydrate on board just because when you get down to the nitty gritty of things and we're looking at the real pointy end of being fast for long periods of time you do need a little bit more of carbohydrate on board than ketosis is going to give you. But when you look at kind of a trade off, how much you gain in health, how much you reduce your risk of chronic disease and metabolic syndrome like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, things like that, being in a state of ketosis is a very good place to be restricting sugar, restricting carbohydrate is a good idea. Now the way that I approach this paradox because I do want to be fast, I want to do things like go really fast and be on the podium in Ironman Triathlons or win races. My solution is most of the year I keep myself in a state of ketosis, eating a low carbohydrate diet and really limiting the amount of sugars I take in and really not even using sugars or sports drinks during long rides or long runs or things of that nature. And then during the week of or the few days leading up to my highest priority races during which I know I’m not only going to be really hard but also going for really long period of time and asking my body to burn lots of carbohydrate for long periods of time. During those few days doing that last week I will increase my carbohydrate consumption and sometimes get up to about 80% carbohydrate intake and this is something I write about in my Low Carbohydrate Diet for Triathletes over at LowCarbTriathlete.com. I give race week instructions and the carbohydrate consumption is significantly higher eating a lot more brown rice, white rice, sweet potatoes, yams, things of that nature and really kind of stepping your carb intake but it's very acute and it’s not like you're doing that all year for several months during the year just for that short period of time and then during the race you're also taking in a lot of sugars for that period of time and then you're going back into your ketogenic state once that’s kind of over and that's certainly bad for your body. It's certainly not doing your health any favors when you're taking on all those carbohydrates but there’s kind of that trade off between going fast and feeling really good during that race and then also being in a state of optimum health can't have one of the other it's impossible. So just that trade off that you make and incidentally, if you want to maximize your performance as much as you possibly can while also being in a state of ketosis, I am going to be releasing an interview next Friday about this. I'm going to be talking to a fellow who puts his body through quite a bit of exercise about 20-25 hours a week but pretty much keeps himself in the state of ketosis constantly. Like he doesn't even do what I do, he doesn't carb load during the most important weeks and I'll be talking to him about the strategies that he uses and some of his tips and tricks for burning fat as fuel pretty much year around and getting through a lot of exercise and even doing a lot of intense exercise at the same time so stay tuned for that. But in terms of being in a state of ketosis and balancing that with strategically timed carbohydrate doses during the year, that's how I do it.
Brock: Cool! So it's slightly counterproductive but not to the point of being really that bad and if you want to be fast, you've got to do it.
Ben: Yeah! That's the way that I look at it. It's one of those things where to me I don’t do Ironman triathlon because its healthy, I do it because I like it and it's probably taking some years off my life but I'm going to accept that because I'm enjoying it.
Brock: Fair enough.
Ben: Unlike sex which I also enjoy but apparently is adding years to my life.
Brock: Absolutely! Maybe it’ll balance out if you have, never mind. Our next question comes from Stephanie.
Stephanie: I need some advice on how to manage my tendonitis in my foot once and for all. In fall 2010, I completed my first marathon. During the end of my training, I start to develop pain in the inside of my left foot. I pushed my way through the race but was left limping for a week. The pain subsided enough to allow me to start running in April 2011. However, by August, I had to cease running due to extreme pain on the outside foot. MRI determined that I had tendonitis and I spent three months in Physical Therapy. My foot’s gotten better but it is still not 100%. What do you suggest in terms of stretching, foam rolling, etc., to enable me to slowly begin a running program again? I’d like to try a marathon in the fall of 2012.
Ben: So we get questions like this a lot on the show and I know it can be incredibly frustrating. When you've got these issues with feet, with knees, with legs and we get so many questions like this that I want to step back for a second and look at the big picture here in terms of what's going on with tendonitis and what's going on when you really want to do something kind of push through the pain, so to speak. So let’s look at tendons first just to make sure, go ahead and turn off the podcast if you’re a physician or you’re really familiar with anatomy, but tendons connect muscle to bone. So, the specific structure of a tendon is going to vary from tendon to tendon but the components of the tendon are the same it's basically collagen fibers, water and basically like soft tissue substance and it's all of the components in that main soft tissue substance of a tendon that give a tendon what’s called viscoelastic properties. What that means is that a tendon can stretch and then it can return to its original shape. So tendons connect muscle to bone and they have the ability to stretch and then return to their original shape. And when a muscle which is attached to the tendon contracts, that tendon straightens out and it becomes tighter. Now, some tendons like the Achilles tendon or the biceps tendon those are wrapped in what are called Synovial Sheaths. And when a tendon is wrapped in the sheath the blood supply for that tendon comes primarily from the sheath that surrounds it and that sheath also contains a little bit of flu adaptor to reduce the friction between the tendon and the sheath when the tendon lengthens as the muscle contracts. Now whether we're looking at the tendon like the Achilles tendon that's got the sheath around it or a tendon such as like a tendon in the foot that may not have the synovial sheath, every tendon has this structural breaking point and when you have stressed that supplied to the tendon the tendon's going to get longer and if that stress or if that force goes above and beyond the strength of a tendon can handle, the tendon or some of the soft tissue in that tendon will eventually rupture. Some of the fibers can tear. Now there are different grades of tendonitis or basically this type of rupturing of the tendon. We've got like a grade one/two tendonitis which is really mild. You can usually continue to compete and there's a little bit of pain with extreme exertion. And then we got a moderate tendonitis which is also called the level three or four tendonitis and that gives you pain with extreme exertion that pain continues for a few hours after the activity. It's really tough to exercise at high levels but you can still perform at a decently normal level. And then severe tendonitis is when it's hurting all the time through the day through the night even with lower intensity exercise and that's when we've got kind of a full blown chronic inflammation. So when we get actual tendonitis it's always some type of repetitive loading of that tendon that exceeds the ability of the tendon to handle the load and then we get pain and we get swelling and we get decreased functional ability of whatever joint that that’s occurred around. And multiple things can cause this, increase in your volume too quickly or too excessively using improper technique, having a training surface that's too hard, having inappropriate shoes, having muscle imbalances, having a previous injury that hasn't had enough time to recover. But when we get this inflammation that occurs and tendon becomes painful and it begins to weaken, the tissue begins to breakdown and there are a lot structural changes that occur in the tendon when this happens. I mentioned that the Achilles and the biceps tendons have that synovial sheath that surrounds them, that can get a lot thicker and we get reduced blood flow to the tendon. You get areas of abnormal tissue that are known as fibrosis and those get laid down within the tendon, the connective tissue in the tendon can really thicken. You get a lot of adhesions or what are called scar tissues that are laid down in and around the tendon and the longer you exercise when the tendon is in that inflamed state, the more this connective tissue thickening and scar tissue formation occurs and you get to the point where you are literally structurally changing the tendon in a way that is irreversible, in a way that makes it less and less likely every time it gets injured to be able to lengthen as the muscle that it attaches to contracts and in a way that not only makes it more likely to rupture or produce inflammation in the future but makes it less pliable, less resistant to stress, more sensitive to pain, have poor circulation so it heals less quickly. So you got to understand that the body has finite capabilities and when you lay down scar tissue and you increase the thickness of the connective tissue and the thickness of the sheath that surrounds the tendon, this is stuff that doesn't go away so you have to take care of your body and when it starts to hurt you have to be careful not to push through. Now certain things can help to break up scar tissue. Deep tissue massage for example is one thing that can really help. Proteolytic enzymes which I talked about I think last week on the show can decrease the amount of fibrinogen that can build up and cause some of this scar tissue formation. Things that help to increase blood flow like ultrasound, like low level laser light therapy, even injections like prolotherapy, all of these things can help to get more oxygen and nutrient rich blood to tendons help to break up the scar tissue. But ultimately when you exercise on a tendon that has tendonitis present you're still going to increase the amount of scar tissue that forms no matter what you're doing to fight against that. So, what I would be doing is I would be doing as much as possible in your foot to break up scar tissue and help for healing to occur more quickly and that would include like the laser therapy, prolotherapy, massage in the area where the tendonitis was taking place, use of proteolytic enzymes, use of good oral anti-inflammatories like ginger, turmeric things of that nature and then allow the foot to heal. You say your foot has gotten better but it's 100%. I say wait until it’s 100% and then in the mean time keep your fitness up with zero impact that would mean basically aqua jogging and then progress that to bicycling and then progress that to elliptical and then progress that to running. But the big thing, the big picture here that I want people to understand is that you're body can get to the point where it simply can't be fixed when you're pushing through these tendon issues and every time you do that over and over again, the weaker and weaker in the last pliable the area becomes so just be freaking careful is what I'm trying to say.
Brock: I'm sure you've got some body parts like this too Ben but when I was a teenager I ripped my hamstring very badly and of course being a teenager I was stupid and then didn't let it heal and just continue to do everything as normal and now I'm 40 years old and whenever I go to a new massage therapist and without a fail as soon as they get to my hamstring area they'll sort of pull their hands off in shock and say “what happen to your hamstring?” because they can actually feel like one of them explained to me it feels like a crumpled up paper bag when they run their hands up and down my hamstring. It changed so drastically that now I'm almost, like its 25 years later and massage therapists could tell as soon as they touch me.
Ben: And everybody is going to have certain errors to their body that are like this but you find the people who refuse to rest and recover and they’ll just keep pushing through tendonitis they'll have a lot more of these issues.
Brock: Alright, so be smart everybody. Okay, so we've got two questions here with very similar sorts of thoughts Rob and Lee. Both talked about having one of them has a bicep is larger than the other, the other one has a peck that’s larger than the other, they both are right handed. They both are using dumbbells and concentrating on trying to keep the effort between the arms equal but they're still having problem with one side being bigger than the other and they’re both concerned with how they're going to get that part of the body to catch up, so to speak.
Rob: I lift a lot of weights for strength training. I notice one peck is significantly larger than the other. When I train I use dumbbells so I can’t overcompensate with a stronger side. I’m right handed, and my right peck is smaller. Why does something like this typically occur? Could it be related to one side being dominant and used throughout the day? What would be the way to fix this?
Lee: I have currently noticed that my left bicep is longer or larger than my right bicep. I am right handed and have always consciously made an effort to work both arms the same amount. Do opposite biceps normally grow at the same rate? My concern now is how to get the right bicep to catch up to the left one.
Ben: I saw this and Rob said he has his left peck bigger than his right peck even though his right side is dominant and Lee has kind of a similar issue his left bicep is longer and larger than his right bicep even though he is right side dominant. So this all comes down to a muscle balance issue and especially if you will look good with your shirt off walking down the beach. Symmetry and balance is important that's actually I mean they've done studies and they've found specifically in women looking at men, one of the primary things that women judge a guy by in terms of his sex appeal is that symmetry, so in addition to of course having a great personality. But the issue with Rob, so Rob is right side dominant, his right peck is smaller than his left peck. That occurs when you have a right shoulder that's really strong or right deltoid that's really strong cause you do a lot of activities during the day with that deltoid from brushing your teeth to lifting a fork, to just turning the steering wheel more often so you doesn't have to work as hard on your right side. Whereas on the left side the left shoulder is a little bit weaker than the right shoulder and the amount of work done by the left peck is similar to the amount of work done by the left shoulder. So in a situation like this, on whichever side that the peck is bigger, that means that on that side the shoulder is weaker and in the same vein on the side where the peck is smaller that means that the shoulder is stronger. So, what I would be doing in this case if your right peck is smaller than your left peck is I would be strengthening the left shoulder so that the left peck is doing a little less work and the left shoulder is kind of catching up to the right shoulder in terms of strength and I would also be doing exercises that support your shoulder blades or your scapula because a lot of times when one shoulder is a lot stronger than doing more work than the other it indicates that there are issues going on with the ability of the shoulders specifically to retract. So if you're a guy or in fewer cases a girl listening in and you've got one side of your body specifically one side of your chest that's bigger than the other side of your chest, do a lot of pull-ups, do a lot of seated rows, and then strengthen the shoulder specifically focus on strengthen the shoulder on the side that has the bigger peck and that will help to bring you more into alignment. So I'm pulling back here into my body building days, my knowledge from my body building days because you spend time staring yourself in the mirror trying to figure out how to fix things. Similar issue with the left bicep being bigger than the right bicep in this case it is because your right shoulder and your right peck are strong enough to where your right bicep doesn’t have to work quite as much. Hence, on your left side a weaker left peck, weaker left shoulder it means that the bicep has to work more. So in a situation like this I would focus on really strengthening the left shoulder complex and the left peck and you can do these types of things through single side exercises and then you can at the same time do a little bit of extra biceps work for the right side. But generally in any case like this where one muscle part is bigger than the other you generally want to go one level up from that muscle and figure out why that muscle part that's bigger is being forced to work more and typically you're going to find something higher up the chain that is weak and you address that deficiency and then alignment begins to occur. So make sense?
Brock: Yeah! And I was just going to throw in that sometimes it’s hard to sort of visualize what body part that might be so that what I find to be really helpful is to actually stand in front of a mirror and in this case with your shirt off and watch your body as you do the motions of your curling, you’re doing bicep curls, stand with sideways, stand front, stand as far back as you can without not being able to see and watch which muscles are being engaged when you're doing that activity and that's a great way to figure out which muscles you might need to concentrate on.
Ben: Yep. Cool. So stand in front of the mirror and flex a lot. Put on some good music like Eye of the Tiger.
Brock: And invite lots of friends over too because they'll love watching you do that.
Ben: Full body mirrors.
Brock: Alright, our last question comes from Gerald.
Gerald: I wanted to get your thoughts on the best way to lose fat that accumulates between my waist and my neck. My legs are very strong and have little fat, if any. I seem to accumulate my fat up north. I know you can’t target belly fat loss. However, I thought I heard you mention a good fat loss program for this scenario on one of your podcasts. If you could point me to that podcast or any articles you have I would appreciate it. By the way I’m 38, have a desk job, eat organic food, drinks eight cups of water during the week and raw milk and takes calcium. I also take a great vitamin from Dr. Ron and cod liver oil. I’m a husband with six children and not as active as I want to be.
Ben: Alright, cool! So he eats well. He still got the issue with belly fat. The issue here is that belly fat is different than other kinds of fat specifically belly fat is visceral fat. You got this visceral or deep fat that wraps around your inner organs and if you have a big waist or big belly it means you’ve got higher amounts of visceral fat. Visceral fat is kind of the bad stuff, you’ll also hear them called inter abdominal fat but it's packed between your stomach, in your liver, in your intestine and your kidneys and visceral fat basically is highly correlated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation and a lot of other issues and that's because it tends to produce hormones and chemicals that can cause these type of issues very highly correlated with a lot of risk factors that can cause you to die faster. The issue with visceral fat is that they've found that it responds best in terms of being able to get rid of it, to things like higher intensity cardiovascular intervals or frequent weight training. For some reason, that type of stuff does a really good job at helping your body to reduce its formation of visceral fat and this is really important. I mean we started off the show talking about the cytokines that can be produced as a response to heat, early on the show. Visceral fat just pumps out cytokines like they're going out of style, cytokines like two monochrysis factor and interleukin-6, both of which are associated with insulin resistance, inflammation and visceral fat is also really close to the portal vein which carries blood from the intestine to the liver. So when the visceral fat is releasing all these things those enter the portal vein, they can travel through the liver and they can influence the liver's production of things like low density oxidized cholesterol which increases the risk for heart disease as well as some compounds that can again contribute to insulin resistance. So don't just pat your belly and kind of be proud that you've got a big old belly, there's some serious issues that make belly fat. In my opinion, a lot bigger issue than like arm fat or leg fats. The fact that you’re eating healthy is good but visceral fat is going to respond a lot better to introducing some good exercise. The exercise protocol I would use would be two to three high intensity interval sessions during the week. I know you got limited time especially you have six kids, you shoot for anywhere from 15-30 minutes on these high intensity interval sessions. Like my book Shape 21 at Shape21.com. That's got some really good interval training sessions mixed with resistance training sessions in it. I mean that book, that was the first book I ever wrote and honestly I revised it a year and a half ago to make the nutrition recommendations a little bit more in line with what I've learned since I originally wrote the book but the exercises haven't change too much. I mean I've known for years and ever since I've wrote that book interval training and weight training are two of the best ways to get your body fit fast and that's what that entire book is based around. And in some cases that two a day, you do a little bit of body weight training in the morning and some interval training in the afternoon. Some cases some weight training instead of body weight training but I would use something like that honestly if you wanted to blast away that belly fat as fast as possible. So understand that the abdominal fat is the serious issue. It's not just the belly. So it goes into a lot more than that in terms of increasing your risk for chronic disease and understand that just eating well doesn't get rid of it. You got to be doing high intensity interval training and weight training to really make a dent in it. The last thing and I don't know how stressed out you are Gerald but stress is highly correlated to visceral fat formation and so getting rid of stresses in your life and finding ways to deal with any type of stressor is super important in reducing your propensity to build that visceral fat.
Brock: And I think next time you release the Shape 21 book, you should rename it Blasting Away Belly Fat.
Ben: Yeah! I think that may have been taken. Plus it's just a lot of words to put on in front of a book.
Brock: True Shape 21 is a little more catchy.
Ben: That reminds me we've got one month until, here's a mouthful, Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body Type comes out.
Ben: That's a big book that's a good one so stay tuned for that. It tells you how to identify which body type you are and kind of tweak your exercise and your eating program based on body type.
Brock: Very cool!
Ben: Stay tuned to this podcast. We’ll kind of let you know when it's ready.
Brock: That does it for this one.
Ben: It does. So we'll put links to everything that we talked about in the show notes for this episode, episode number 189, right? Okay, cool. Some handy dandy new donation buttons over there at BenGreenfieldFitness.com that allows you to donate one dollar, five dollars, ten dollars or $20 to the podcast and they're bright and clickable over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. So nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Help us out. Help us keep this thing going and those donations are truly appreciated. And then stay tuned, like I mentioned, for a great podcast I'll be releasing this Friday. Possibly Saturday on nutrition, sometimes I release on Saturday because I want to get folks a chance to get through this podcast before we blast on to the next. Yeah! That's it.
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