Episode #230 – Full Transcript

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Introduction:  In today’s episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast:  Is it possible for a vegan to be a healthy endurance athlete?  Also:  What causes side stitches, how to get through a tough workout or race, healthy ways to heal road rash, what to eat after gallbladder removal, and how to eliminate motion sickness?

Brock:  I just got back from probably the coldest, crappiest, slipperiest run I’ve had all winter and I’m trying to cheer myself up a little bit.  Can you help with that, Ben?

Ben:  Here, this will cheer you up.  Be glad that you did not take a spill and tear your pack and bruise your rib.

Brock:  Is that something you did?

Ben:  Last week, yeah. I guess we haven’t podcasted since then but yeah, I can’t swim, I can’t lift, I can’t…

Brock:  Oh man!

Ben:  I’ll actually go into the chiropractor after this to see if my ribs actually shifted out of place but I’ve got a torn booby.

Brock:  Were you running or snowboarding or what were you up to?

Ben:  It’s actually a pretty dang sick 12 inches of air that I got on my snowboard.  And my wife was witness to this epic jump.  I cleared the ground by good foot, landed and proceeded to yard sail for about 20 feet or so.

Brock:  I love that term.

Ben:  Her comment when she skied up to me was:  “yeah, that was a really, really huge crash for a really small jump.”  Hopefully that cheers you up.

Brock:  It actually does.  It really does.

News Flashes:

Brock:  As always, to get these and other interesting news flashes everyday of the week, follow Ben on twitter.com/bengreenfield.  Make sure to go to Google+ and look for Ben Greenfield Fitness and Facebook as well.

Ben:  That’s right.  And I’ve certainly been putting in a lot of tweets and Facebook posts in the past couple of weeks because (I don’t know of anybody noticed but) there actually wasn’t really a podcast last week.  It was an interview but it wasn’t the usual Brock and…

Brock:  I wasn’t there. There wasn’t any banter. Well, there was a little bit of banter.  Actually, I think you and I’ve forgotten his name.

Ben:  Paul Jaminet or as we call him here in Washington, Jaminet.

Brock:  That’s a great last name.

Ben:  Yeah. We did a Perfect Health Diet interview but I ended up…I was at Triathlon Business International last week and then I went from there over to do some fitness videos for Fox in New York.  And then went from there over to New Jersey to Team Timex Training Camp.  Between all of that, I never actually got a podcast done.  I was just thinking, maybe, it would fly near the radar of our loyal podcast listeners but I’m guessing a few people might have noticed your absence, Brock.

Brock:  Well, though the Perfect Health Diet interview was interesting enough that I think it probably ______[0:03:57.4] with everybody for the week anyway.

Ben:  There we go.  News flashes this week:  I found a few cool things.  There was a study on electro stimulation which we actually talked about a couple of weeks ago when I did a podcast with that guy who trains elite athletes with electro stim. I was having a conference with him this Thursday about how I can use electro stim a little bit more intelligently in my own training.  I’ve actually still been doing about 3 times a week.  I used to use electro stim just for recovery and now I’m using it for full on like strength and explosive strength sessions.

Brock:  Those are in addition to the normal training that you’re doing.

Ben:  Yeah. One thing that I found it to be really useful for is pre-workout training.  So before I go out on a bike ride, I’m doing this session on my quads where I turn electro stim up on like the explosive strength fall on, hard core contraction mode for about 20 minutes while I’m standing there just listening to my MP3 player and it takes me through this series of contractions and then I go out on a ride.  And I’ve found that it’s just exploded my riding in terms of my power and my cadence.  It’s almost like it wakes up more muscles so it’s really interesting. 


There’s a study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research this month called Restoration of Work Capacity of Skeletal Muscle with Electrical Myostimulation. This study took 19 long distance runners.  And these are good runners and they divided them into 2 groups.  They had a control group and then a group that was getting shocked.  What they were doing was, they’re putting them through a series of electro myostimulation or electrical stimulation.  And what they found was that there was an elevation of stroke volume and cardiac output in the folks who were running with the EMS and that actually improved performance, meaning that the people who were going through this EMS protocol had better performance than the people who weren’t using it.  And the researches hypothesized, of course, that that was due to improved blood flow in the running muscles that were stimulated and improved what’s called venous blood pump which is the return of the blood flow back up out of the muscle.  It was interesting that they actually found this to be fairly efficacious and helping runners to get faster.

Brock:  Awesome!  Any way to get faster.  That’s what I say.

Ben:  Yeah.  A couple other things that I found:  concurrent training in male runners (another study on runners).   And this one looked at the influence of strength training vs. muscular endurance training vs. no resistance training at all in runners.  And this one looked at a bunch of male runners and they took one group and just had them do the regular running routine and they took another group and had them do strength training, basically like resistance exercise, plyometric exercise, and they did an endurance training as well.  And then they had a third group who did what’s called endurance strength training which should mean basically like low-weight-high-rep kind of stuff.  So essentially, you have a no-strength training group, a high-weight-low-rep group, and a high-rep-low-weight group.  And they looked at all 3 groups and both of the groups that strength trained, regardless of the type of strength training that they did, they had a better jumping capability, better running economy, higher VO2max and higher peak velocity when running. And so there was a definite correlation between strength training and an improvement in running. Furthermore, in a 3k time trial, the only group that ended up having a significant increase in their 3k time trial performance was the group that did the high-weight-low-rep strength training.  And that’s probably because they were simply training their body to recruit more motor units to recruit more muscle fibers when they’re running and this produced more power, more pump off the ground.  It was a really interesting study and just goes to show you that…

Brock:  So more power over a shorter distance.

Ben:  Exactly.  It verifies what I’ve always said and that is that runners, cyclists, swimmers, endurance athletes should not be training endurance in the gym, should not be doing like P90X and these workouts to exhaustion in the gym.  If their goal is to use gym time or weight time to get better at their sport, the gym time, the gym time is used to load the body to actually lift and push around heavy stuff and then you do all the light stuff when you head outdoors unless doing P90X or crossfit, that kind of workout or something like that just makes you happy and plus there’s a big smile across your face, by all means, keep it up if that’s the case.  But if it’s just performance that you’re going after, lift heavy stuff.  All right, folks may have noticed that kind of a little hack up there and it turned out that Brock and I were timed about 10 seconds apart, let’s say on Skype.

Brock:  Maybe more.  It wasn’t conducive to good conversation.


Ben:  So I’d say something and Brock could hear me 10 seconds later.  If it’s not a little awkward, that’s why.  Anyways though, we’ll plough on, jumping in the last study that came across my radar.  This one kinda went after the whole deal that we’ve been taught by many personal trainers and nutritionists that snacking boosts your metabolism, right, Brock?

Brock:  I love to snack.  Boosting that metabolism through the roof.

Ben:  You snack a lot during the podcast.

Brock:  Yeah. I’ve got like a bag of chips, bag of doritos, a bag of…no I don’t have any snacks.

Ben:  I thought maybe you’re a poor crunch guy.  Anyways though, consuming smaller, more frequent meals is, of course, often abdicated as a means of controlling your body weight.  But this study looked into fat oxidation and perceived hunger in people who have higher meal frequency. They compared people who were eating 6 meals a day vs. people who are eating 3 meals a day and they found that increasing meal frequency from 3 meals a day to 6 meals a day actually did not boost the metabolism, did not cause people to burn more fat and in fact, increased hunger and the desire to eat. There’ve been other studies similar to this in the past that have shown that once you get up to 3 meals, you don’t get any additional benefit.  And now this one shows that not only do you not get any additional benefit in terms of boosting your metabolism but it, in fact, may actually just make you more likely to eat and kinda stoke your appetite. And the probable reason to this is that the big fluctuation in blood sugar, the inability to teach your body how to be a fat burning machine, the continued rise in insulin, spike in insulin throughout the day that may leave you insensitive to insulin, just good to show you.  Even in hard training athletes, I’m not a big fan of really much more than a breakfast, lunch, dinner and then either a pre-workout or post-workout meal, and that’s it.

Brock:  Now, when you eat only like let’s say, 2 meals a day, the big danger that they always say about skipping breakfast, let’s say, is that later in the day, you’ll get hungrier and you’ll wanna snack in the evening when it’s bad.  So, how does that measure up against if you’re eating a whole bunch of small meals throughout the day anyway, will that sort of balance out?

Ben:  Well, there have been studies that have looked at breakfast and studies have, indeed, found that habitual breakfast eaters tend to do better in stabilizing weight and tend to have lower fat mass than non-breakfast eaters.  And the reason for that is likely not something magical that happens when you eat breakfast necessarily.

Brock:  No, but it boosts your metabolism first thing in the day.  It makes you burn more calories throughout the entire day which is often what people say.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s highly unlikely.  Instead, what it is more probably and indicator of is that regular breakfast eaters tend to simply have more stabilized eating schedules and do a better job at tracking and knowing and being aware of what they’re eating during the day.  And I certainly know that’s the case with me.  I do a much, much better job when I’ve got a regular meal frequency, a certain time that I’m eating during the day and often the same type of things that I’m eating.  I have these 3 different breakfasts that I tend to go between – one’s kind of a protein blend, one’s the high fat coffee and one is basically avocado and eggs.  And I know that any of those 3 meals eaten at a specific time in the morning, keeps me going until 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon and when I stray from that, when I jump into maybe eating some pancakes or waffles that Jessa’s made the kids or I mix things up and maybe go out for breakfast, it just throws off my routine.  And a lot of times, I do end up not eating quite as well or end up eating more than I would the rest of the day and maybe it’s just my stupid little type A-ish eating thing but I just find that having regular reliable meals at a predictable time seems to be the best thing for me especially when it comes to keeping lean and keeping my appetite satiated.

Brock:  Yeah. I actually found the same thing since I was in the Paul Jaminet interview you did on the weekend, I thought it would be interesting ‘cause he said that he often goes for 23 hours or he pretty much never eats breakfast.  That was he said, so when he finishes dinner, doesn’t eat anything until at noon or 1:00 the next day and I was, “Oh okay, I’m gonna give that a try”.  Yesterday, I made it to about 17 hours and I completely lost my mind and I stopped at this Mediterranean place on the corner and got a huge ______[0:15:01.3] with rice and potatoes and all this stuff and then I got  home and eat a banana and a whole bunch of almond butter at 7:00 and then was finally, I go, “Hey, I’m gonna be all right.”  So if I had just had my normal breakfast, I’m sure I wouldn’t have that 4000 calorie bowl less of starch and stuff right in the middle of the day.


Ben:  Yeah. And the only thing I remember about a guy like Paul Jaminet’s…you and I are training for triathlon pretty intensively and he’s training for making a rocket science blueprint.  Anyways though, it all depends on your level of activity.

Brock:  That’s a good point.

Ben:  Speaking of activity, let’s go ahead and surge forward into the special announcements.

Special Announcements:

Brock:  Surging forward into the special announcements, what have you got for us today, what kind of specialness?

Ben:  One big, big special announcement and that is that we’ve got our speaker line-up set in stone for the Become Superhuman Live event and a couple weeks ago, I did a walk through the venue which is gorgeous. Everything from the hotel where everybody is staying and gets this kind of room blocks and it’s also where we’re doing The Morning Boot Camps with Ben for the people who decide not to do the morning real run with Brock, who will be at Become Superhuman.  As a matter of fact, our podcast will be live from that event. But I also got a chance to walk through the conference center – our actual auditorium where the speakers are gonna be presenting really cutting edge performance and nutrition advice to folks is beautiful. Just gorgeous wood tram and plush red seats and it’s really, really cool space. It’s a topnotch facility.  As I was going through it and looking at the facility, at our lunch rooms, at our party rooms where we’re gonna be doing rat parties and we’ve got this gorgeous cocktail event that takes place on Saturday night – that’s way up on the top floor of the hotel and this ballroom that oversees the Spokane river, complete with Superhuman cocktails which is my own little concoction and lots of really good eats including bacon wrap scallops for you.  And by the way, the entire menu is just topnotch.  I went back and forth with the caterers and they were like, “Wait, wait, why can’t we do garbanzo beans, why can’t we do, aren't lentils healthy?” and I just basically went through the entire menu and it’s super, super clean.  Actually, my event manager who goes to some of these health events and attends some of these from motivational speaker events to performance events and things like that are on the country, she said, this was the first time she’d seen someone actually really, truly focus on every aspect of nutrition being rock solid. So food’s gonna be really good and this is a pretty epic event that I’m losing a lot of money on but it’s gonna be very, very cool.  So if you’re listening in to this podcast, this is pretty much crunch time and if you don’t register now, you’re not gonna get in.  You can register over a superhumancoach.com.  The speakers we’ve got coming in right now are: Dr. David Minkoff, who’s gonna be talking about fixing your body with advanced alternative medicine tools; we’ve got Dr. Phil Maffetone coming on to talk about optimizing your biology; Jimmy Moore’s gonna be there. He’ll be talking about using nutritional ketosis from maximizing weight loss and health and kinda revealing his journey over the past year as far as testing and what he’s found as far as the practical in’s and out’s of ketosis. Monica Reinagel a.k.a., the Nutrition Diva is gonna be there talking about the inflammation factor.  Ray Cronise, who just had a big article come out on Wired Magazine is gonna be talking about thermogenesis, cold exposure and weight loss. Dr. Justin Mager from Wellness FX will be there talking about using blood, sweat, and tears biomarkers to become superhuman.  My own personal physician, Dr. Todd Schlapfer would be there talking about nutrition strategies for superhuman stress control.  Nora Gedgaudas will be there talking about carb cravings, appetite cravings, cultivating a natural mental edge. Dave Asprey, the bulletproof exec will be there. He’ll be going over microtoxins and superhuman performance. Huge range of speakers.  There’s a few more folks that’ll be there.  The list goes on and on.  It’s gonna be epic.  So if you haven’t yet gotten into that, grab your plane ticket to Spokane, superhumancoach.com and it’s gonna be pretty cool.


Brock:  It’s gonna be very cool.  I’m so excited.  I actually thought it was next week.  I was getting so excited, I bumped it up a whole week.

Ben:  Yeah.  You could show up next week and maybe and kinda sit around…

Brock:  I didn’t realize that we were actually getting head to head with our My Run vs. your Boot Camp.  This is sort of a popularity contest.

Ben:  Well, I wanted to give folks an option to come get beat up by me or go run with Brock.

Brock:  You’re gonna get beat up if you run with me.

Ben:  The other thing…yeah.  So there’s that – the Become Superhuman Live event, of course.

Brock:  Oh yeah.  We’re talking about special announcements, not just the event,

Ben:  That’s right.  The other thing is that I just posted…we do MyLists for the show every single podcast. If you go over to facebook.com/bgfitness, there’s a MyList. And a MyList is basically a list that we create with helpful resources of things that we talk about on each show.  And today, we will be talking about vegans and vegetarians and performance.  And one of the things that I put together over on MyList this week was basically a stack that includes all of the different things that a vegan or a vegetarian would wanna supplement with if they’re really putting their body through a ringer like Ironman, ultra running, marathoning, stuff like that.  You can check that out over at facebook.com/bgfitness.  And the other MyList that I published this week was what I call My Get Fit List which is just a list of all the little things that I have around my house from my homework and equipment all the way up to my inversion table and my ellip to go but all the little things that you can have around if you wanna optimize your fitness and jut have all the right stuff around your house – little things to the big things. Check both of those MyLists over at facebook.com/bgfitness.

Listener Q & A:

Robin:   Hi Ben! My name is Robin. I’m calling from Poughkeepsie in New York State. I have 2 questions.  First, could you explain what causes side stitches or abdominal cramps and how to prevent them.  I frequently get them when running and it’s really uncomfortable.  And could you talk a little bit about developing mental strength when exercising in terms of developing the ability to push through when things get hard and things get tough and how to really get off from a performance without feeling tired or weak.  Thank you. Bye.

Ben:  All right.  Side stitches. You know what the geeky term for side stitches is, Brock?

Brock:  I’m afraid, I don’t.

Ben:  The acronym is ETAP which stands for exercise-related transient abdominal pains.

Brock:  Ah…Nice!

Ben:  There’s actually a really big study that was done in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise several years ago on side stitches and why they happen.  So they took almost a 1000 different athletes who participated in 6 different sports.  They looked at running, swimming, cycling, aerobics which is like the headbands and the puffy socks and the leotards.

Brock:  Of course!

Ben:  Of course.  Basketball and horse riding.  And I would imagine they were looking at the people, not the horses but I could be…What they found was that, of all those athletes, swimmers were actually at the top in terms of the population who had the most trouble with side stitches.  And runners were close behind. Horseback riders were actually up there, too.  But the folks who were least affected were cyclists. The interesting part of this was that a pretty significant number of those athletes also said that they had shoulder tip pain which is discomfort at the bottom tip of one of the shoulder blades. And that’s kind of an important clue for understanding where side stitches come from because the tip of that shoulder blade down there is basically a referred side of pain for the diaphragm which is your main breathing muscle.  What that means is that pain that emanates from the tip of the back of your shoulder blade could actually have its source in the diaphragm which is that muscle separating your thoracic and your abdominal cavities. And many side stitches actually originate with an issue going on with the diaphragm because if you look at all of these different organs that are inside of our abdominal cavity, they bounce up and down.


This is one of the reasons that a runner, for example, would get more of a side stitch than a cyclist.  And all of your internal organs that are bouncing  up and down especially with an impact-based movement like horseback riding or running, your liver, your stomach, your spleen. These are supported by these little ligaments that hang down from your diaphragm.  So every time these organs are bouncing up and down, they’re pulling down on the diaphragm. Now, when that bouncing happens as you’re breathing out during exercise that creates a lot of stress on the diaphragm.  And that results in pain, it results in discomfort and it results in what we describe, more often than not, as a side stitch.  I don’t know if you have experienced this, Brock, but have you found that side stitches tend to appear more in your right side than your left side.

Brock:  When I think about it, I think I get it more on my left but I can’t say that I’ve actually taken notes.

Ben:  Interesting!  Well, I’ll get to why.  You might be in the minority.  You might be a freak.  I’ll talk about why you might feel it on the left a little bit more.  It has to do with your pollen, actually.  But stitches on the right side of the abdomen are much, much more common and that’s because your liver is on the right side of your body and your liver is the heaviest organ in your abdominal cavity so that’s what creates the greatest downward force on your diaphragm and a lot more than what the stomach or the spleen, which are on the left side of your body, might create.  Perhaps you just really have a heavy stomach, Brock.

Brock:  Probably.

Ben:  Anyways though, there’s a lot of friction that can occur between the diaphragm and the liver as well because the liver tends to kinda ride up into the upper right side of your abdominal cavity especially during exercise. That results in that side stitch and especially happens more often on that right side.  Now, one really easy remedy for side stitches is to change your breathing pattern.  If you look at a runner, a lot of times, breathing and side stitches are linked together because breathing and stepping patterns are coordinated.  Most athletes breathe out on the same leg.  So if you happen to want to make yourself cross-eyed, go out and go for a run and try and figure out when you’re breathing out.  And in many cases, you might find that you’re only exhaling when your right foot hits the ground.  That’s actually very common.  They’ve done a study.  There was one study in the Journal of Science that looked at runners and found that most runners breathe out when their right foot hits the ground. And unfortunately, what that means is that as you’re breathing out and your diaphragm basically springs upward when you breathe out, that increases the tension on those ligaments and so you’re breathing out, your right foot hits the ground, the jolting action of that foot lifts your liver upward and then that falls back suddenly where your diaphragm is still in its up position so that creates a bunch of pressure on the diaphragm which goes into this painful spasm that we deem as a stitch. Now, of course, one easy fix for this is you change your breathing pattern.  You try and focus on breathing out as your left foot hits the ground rather than as your right foot hits the ground.  That’s a simple fix but something that can help a lot of folks.  A few other things that you can do is you can actually try and grunt just a little bit as you breathe out and that action of grunting or almost like groaning like a Monica Seles type of “argh” as your foot hits the ground.

Brock:  She’s a tennis player, for those of you out there who don’t know.  A very noisy tennis player.

Ben:  Yeah. She’s about 2 octaves higher than that.  That can help out.  That somehow relieves some pressure on the diaphragm when you actually make that audible as your foot hits the ground.  So that’s one thing that you can do and I’ve actually found myself naturally doing that sometimes when I get side stitches or grunt or groan as that foot strikes the ground.  That can help a little bit.  But there are some other things that you can do, too.  First of all, most runners breathe incorrectly when they’re running. This is something that I’m gonna talk about at the Become Superhuman event just to folks who are attending there about how their posture and how their breathing is during the event itself.  But I’ve really been focusing lately on deep diaphragmatic breathing when I’m standing in line, when I’m sitting in the car, when I’m sitting in an airplane, when I’m sitting in a conference. Deep diaphragmatic breathing through the nose and out the nose where as you breathe in, that breath originates from deep within your belly and as you breathe out, it also originates from within your belly or deep within your rib cage. So shallow chest breathing is one of the ways that you can really overstretch your diaphragm.


And that’s one thing that you can focus on both when you are and when you aren’t training is good belly breathing.  Another thing is your abdominal muscles and focusing on strengthening your abdominal muscles. I’m a big fan of side planking and front planking for this.  But basically, weak abdominals are going to not be able to support your internal organs and they’re gonna jostle up and down more if you’ve got weak abs.  So that’s another thing that you wanna consider.

Brock:  That’s interesting.  Both of those things – the deep abdominal breathing and also the strengthening of the abdomen, I think a lot of people don’t actually think of breathing that low.  Everybody thinks that breath really happens from the middle of the chest to the shoulders but that should be the last part. When you’re inhaling the last thing to move really should be your upper chest.  It should all be going into your stomach at first. That’s interesting.  Both go together really well.

Ben:  Yeah.  And it’s something you simply have to train yourself to do.  I’ve even found for once a week, I’m still doing my 10 by 30 seconds – 10% grade, 10 mile an hour sprints on the treadmill and I’ve even found folks sing on deep diaphragmatic breathing for that, deep belly breathing for that.  It’s helped tremendously.  You’d be surprised at how hard you can be going and still focus on proper breathing.

Brock:  Yeah. I’ve doubled the length of my duration of plank (front plank) by doing diaphragmatic breathing during that.  I went from being able to hold it for 3 minutes to over 7 minutes just by changing my breathing.

Ben:  And that’s a really good point. You can combine abdominal exercising like planking with deep breathing.  I mentioned that of course, in addition to the liver, the spleen and the stomach tend to pull down on the diaphragm.  So the more full your stomach is, and this is just logical. Most of us know this. The more downward tug on the diaphragm this gonna create and the more likely you are to get a side stitch.  So just not drinking or eating too much before you go out, that’s something that I think a lot of people already or kind of aware of is not taking in too much fuel especially if you’re running or doing a sport like swimming, for example, would be another example.

Brock:  And so is that the left side then if you haven’t eaten or drank too much?

Ben:  You’re gonna notice it more on your left side if it’s more of an eating or drinking too much issue.  But the other thing that you’ll notice is that if you tend to have any type of bowel inflammation or if your large intestine just based off your anatomy tends to rub a little bit more in the inside of your abdominal wall when you’re running, that can also cause stitch-like pain in both your right and your left side ‘cause the large intestine tends to span your abdominal wall. And in folks for whom that occurs, focusing on going back and forth between exhaling on the right side and exhaling on the left side can help out almost like switching every few minutes in terms of your breathing pattern and not sticking to one specific breathing pattern or not getting locked in to one specific breathing pattern, that can help.  But the other thing that can help out a lot of folks is just paying attention to clean eating before you go out for your run, meaning that you’re gonna avoid things that might tend to cause a little bit more inflammation like gluten, like caffeine, like alcohol. ‘Cause I know that up there in Canada, you tend to throw back a few…will it be Kokanee before you head out?

Brock:  Yes, Kokanee or most in Canadian. Both of those companies make us sports drink that we consume while we run.

Ben:  Nice. And then soy and dairy tends to be big trigger, too so you may wanna consider a food elimination type of diet as well to focus on the side stitches and that I know for a lot of folks that I worked with has made a significant difference.  I’ve cleaned up the diets of athletes who I’ve worked with and had them report all of a sudden like “My side stitches went away”.  And because all the programs that I write out also includes strength training for the abs and also include one of running economy and efficiency work,  who’s to say how much the food elimination worked vs. the strengthening vs. the work on the breathing patterns but ultimately, there’s something to be said for cleaning up the diet especially before you run as well.

Brock:  Great!  Everything is gonna work in correlation with everything else.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  Those are the main things as far as the side stitch is concerned and some of the things that I would definitely go after.  And as far as being able to push through difficult efforts, I know that we have another question.  Maybe we should play that question.

Brock:  Yeah.  Let’s jump in to Adam’s question here before we get carried away.

Adam:   Good day, Ben!  It’s Adam from New Castle, Australia.  I tend to fall out when I’m doing a lactate session of say 10k.  I start out mentally tough but through the middle of the run, I start _____[0:35:10.2] or I tend to question myself till I start and get negative thoughts in my head and then I tend to come out the other side of it, actually start to finish off the session really well.  I just wonder if you get any advice about that middle section of the run and how I can become mentally tougher and take out the negative thoughts.  Thanks, mate.


Brock:  All right.  Yeah. So pretty much Robin and Adam are talking about what I believe you refer to as the pain cave.

Ben:  The pain cave.  I run a private mentorship and mastermind group for personal trainers. That’s over at superhumancoach.com and we recently had a guest, Chris Jansen come in and gave an hour-long presentation on how to prepare your clients and prepare your athletes to better be ready for that pain cave that they encounter during a workout or during a race.

Brock:  Chris actually referred to it as the fear cave more than the pain cave which I thought was actually an interesting way to look at it.

Ben:  Right. Exactly. Because we have this trepidation about going hard and there’s certainly a lot of workouts from aerobic driving to the gym or getting to the gym and have butterflies in my stomach about a specific workout.  What I wanna share with Adam and with Robin are just some of the really practical techniques that I personally use.  Rather than delving into the whole psychology behind the pain cave or the fear cave, I just wanna get in to some really practical takeaways. One big, big thing that I do and I think I’ve mentioned this on podcast before is, I tend to count.  Maybe that’s a method of distraction.  Maybe it’s a method of setting intermediate goals, meaning that from counting to a 100 over and over again, not only is the action of counting distracting me but it’s also…every time I reach to a 100 that’s reached a mini goal.  So I think it’s a combination of distraction method as well as the mini intermediate goal method.  But for me, a lot of times during a race or even during a hard interval workout, I tend to count quite a bit.  Maybe I have a little bit of mild autism as well.  I don’t know.

Brock:  So are you counting steps or are you counting cracks in the side walk or trees or what are you counting?

Ben:  I count steps.  So for me, a lot of times, I’ll even set up an interval workout where if I’m planning on doing a 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy 10 times through, I will count for that first interval how many steps it took me for 2 minutes.  And then rather than using time to time the rest of the intervals, I’ll just count my steps because I find that that tends to motivate me more.  And a lot of times, for example, during a half Ironman, let’s say, during a special like the last 10k of that half Ironman, I might just be counting to a 100 over and over and over again.  And that’s it.  And that’s one method that I’ll use.  I mentioned intermediate goals.  Another thing that I’ll do is I will set up goals that I’m gonna get to like the next tree, the next rock, the next telephone pole. If I’m in a race, a lot of times I’ll set up a goal of getting to the next mile marker or kilometer marker or even the next arrow that points which way to go. And many times, I will combine counting with those intermediate goals, like I’ll be like, “Okay, as soon as I get to the next aid station, I’m gonna count to a 100 and then I’ll get to the next aid station and for that I’m gonna count to a 100 again. And a lot times, those intermediate goals end up getting closer and closer the closer I had to get to the finish line, meaning, in the last mile, I might count to a 100 every single time I pass anything that is a sign or a chalk on the sidewalk or anything that has to do with the race.  So I distract myself a lot with those little intermediate goals that I’m running to rather than just focusing on the finish line.  That’s even what I tell a lot of my Ironman triathletes: “If you’re standing on the starting line of an Ironman triathlon, don’t focus thinking about the end of the marathon.  You’re focusing on that first _____[0:39:12.6] or the first loop of the swim and when you come out, you’re focusing going through T1 and then we put the bike typically in any of the 5-10 different little intermediate parts that you’re getting through and the same for the run. And so it’s all about tiny little achievements that you’re reaching throughout the day especially if people are doing longer events. The next thing that I recommend focusing on is to know your reason, meaning that if you don’t have a really clear reason for you doing the hard workout or you being in a difficult race, then that’s gonna make it really hard for you.  So for me, for example, if I am doing a 10 by 30 second sprint workout on the treadmill, I remind myself over and over again that I’m teaching myself how to be mentally stronger and I’m also teaching my legs how to handle bigger amounts of lactic acid, I’m working on VO2max and my lungs and I focus on all the little achievements that that workout is giving me rather than just thinking about how much it hurts or for example, during a race, I will focus on why I’m actually there at the event, whether it’s someone or a sponsor or something that I’m trying to impress, whether it is somebody in my age group who I’m trying to beat, whether it is a PR from an event that I did the year before.


I always have something firm in my mind that is my reason why to finish that particular event. So that’s another really, really important thing is to have some reason that goes above and beyond just crossing the finish line or finishing the workout.

Brock:  I remember you wrote a whole blog post about that race that you did in Spain last year, how you were concentrating on just finishing the race so your kids didn’t think you’re a quitter.

Ben:  Yeah. Exactly. That was what got me through that was I knew that my boys were at the age where they were with grandma back home and I knew that she had the race pulled up and I just want to show them that I could pull it off, that I could at least finish and for me, it was a matter of just showing my boys that I wasn’t a quitter.  That’s another thing that you can do is think about people who are depending on you finishing anyway.  Another thing that I’ll use especially for hard workouts but that I will use sparingly is music.  So I don’t listen to music during easy workouts. What you’re actually feeling far between for me these days because I’m really time-crunched so for me, most of my workouts are pretty hard.  And I will pull out music to get me through hard workouts or I will have mantras that go through my head or clips of music that go through my head when I’m doing races where you’re not allowed to have music or MP3 players or whatever but music, I especially like techno music like I subscribe to the TS podcast, the Planet Perfecto Podcast, Felix Cartal’s Weekend Workouts Podcast and the State of Trance Podcast. I can rely on any of those podcasts to kinda be chocful of tunes that are gonna push me during a hard workout because that up tempo beat, for some reason, is what really gets me going.  Some people like 80’s butt rock and some people like jazz and I know for example…

Brock:  Did you say “butt rock”?

Ben:  Yeah. 80’s butt rock. Hare rock like Jordan Rap is a pro triathlete. He talks about how he’ll use music for the opposite effect like he’ll listen to classical music prior to his race ‘cause he wants to use music to calm himself down prior to going out and really pushing hard.  For me, I find that I actually need music to really get me pumped up especially before a hard workout.  And I could see where at listening to really, really hard rock before something like an Ironman or a marathon or an event where you would wanna start out too hard to potentially come back to hurt you.  When you’re doing most of your workouts each day are in the range of 30-60 minutes of just super hard get in, get out, get it done, music can help you dig in to the pain cave for those.  And then the last thing that I’d recommend would be just to use a lot of the social proof that we have available at our fingertips these days, everything from Strava to Endomondo to Runkeeper to Map My Run, Map My Bike, any of these type of tracking devices can be tied in to Facebook, tied in to Twitter, tied in to any number of social media outlets where when you head out for hard workout, if you announce to the world that you’re going out to do a 56 mile, always be pushing ride to get you ready for an Ironman triathlon so you go out and do a half Ironman ride. Well, if you kind of announce that to the world and you’ve got your Map My Bike set out to send a post to Facebook every 10 miles to show your speed and stuff, if you know in the back of your mind that somebody in the world is watching, most likely you’re just annoying people by blowing up their Facebook or Twitter or their Twitter feeds.  Still though, there’s something mentally that happens that pushes you and I’ve done that before like my mom was about 70 miles away and I remember a couple of times when I was doing Ironman, I’d call her on the phone and be like “I’m gonna ride to your house and I’ll be there in an x number of hours.” And just knowing that mom was there looking at her watch and tapping her foot if I was late would kinda push me during that ride.

Brock:  Standing in the doorway with the apple pie.

Ben:  That’s right.

Brock:  That’s how I picture America, by the way.

Ben:  Exactly. Sitting in the rocking chair in the front porch with her shotgun.


Brock:  Exactly.

Ben:  But yeah.  Just knowing that someone out there is watching can help you out quite a bit with the workout as well and I know even when I’ve gone with my wife to the gym and told my wife on our way to the gym what workout I’m gonna do, I’m more likely just knowing that she’s there at the gym and I’m there at the gym and she happens to be someone who might be watching me then, I’m more likely to finish that workout than to stray from it and do something different or something easier.  Using social proof and kind of announcing your intentions to the world can help out as well.  Not to dwell too long on the pain cave tactics but those are some of the things that I would do:  count, distract yourself with intermediate goals, know your reason, remember some of your tougher sessions and be able to draw back on those, use music and then use social proof when you need to.

Craig:   Hi Ben!  This is Craig from Birmingham and I wondered if you had any tips for healing surface abrasions, road rash, cuts or things like that.  Thanks.  Bye.

Brock:  Sounds like somebody had a wipeout.

Ben:  Yeah.  I’ve delved with everything from road rash to embarrassing marse scars going up and down the back of my leg to recent pretty decent size scar in the outside of my hip from that crash racing in Thailand and I’ve tried out some different things and found out that some stuff works and some stuff doesn’t.  First of all, I try and stay as natural as possible.  And this is no surprise to people who have seen me at restaurants take olive oil from the middle of the table and use that as a skin moisturizer especially if I’m going out to eat after event swimming or something.  Olive oil is really, really good moisturizer.  It’s one of my favorites.

Brock:  So is coconut oil.  Love it.

Ben:  Actually coconut oil works well as a moisturizer, also works well in your armpits as a deodorant because it has really good antibacterial effect.

Brock:  There you go.

Ben:  The bonus is that  it makes you smell like a giant sexy coconut.  But some of the things that I found to work really well:  There’s this specific type of essential oil. You can get it from Mountain Rose Herbs and I’ll put a link in the show notes and also, I’ll link in the MyList for this episode. It’s called Helichrysum Oil.  And Helichrysum Oil is what I use on the marse scars on the back of my leg when I got that nasty staph infection 7 months ago and it was literally eating its way into the bone at the back of my leg.  That leaves some pretty significant scarrage and I found that the Helichrysum Oil really helped that to heal because there is an area higher up on my leg where I didn’t put it and I was more using it kind of the back of the hamstring where basically was kinda more visible area and noticed a significant difference in the areas where I was using that Helichrysum Oil.  Helichrysum Oil works really well especially for scars.  Now as far as the initial healing period, I’m a big, big fan of Manuka Honey and Manuka Honey has some really good antibacterial effect so it will work well to keep an area clean.  But especially for burns and for road rash, that’s something that I keep around. It’s fairly expensive so I don’t really eat it much even though it is chocful of amino acids and some anti allergenic stuff and good for immune system support.  I more tend to put it on wounds and of course, you’ll want to make sure that you have no honey bees or wasps in the vicinity when you’re walking around with Manuka Honey smeared on a road rash.  And it also tends to be sticky as you can imagine so, a lot of times, you’ll want to put the Manuka Honey and then of course, bandage it well so that honey isn’t getting on your clothes. But I’m a big fan of Manuka Honey as well for healing stuff up more quickly.

Brock:  I was actually supposed to find out that my girlfriend is emergency room nurse and they actually use that kind of stuff at the hospital as well.

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.  So those are 2 things:  The Helichrysum Oil and the Manuka Honey.  And then the last thing that I keep around is this Liquid Bandage.  Usually, it’s referred to a New Skin. I’ll put a link to that.

Brock:  Second skin.

Ben:  Yeah.  Second skin.  I’ll link to it in the show notes but it closes up the skin basically and has a little bit of alcohol in it as well.  It tends to sting quite a bit but you paint it on like fingernail polish almost.  I’ll use that a lot of the time on blisters, for example.  I’ll paint that on a blister and then kinda shake my leg or blow on the area where I’ve applied that to cover up and kinda make this protective covering.  I’ll also do that if I’ve got a cut and I’m gonna be doing something like traveling on airplane or going to the gym or going anywhere where I might be exposed to something getting into that cut, something blood-borne, I’ll cover it up with that New Skin, with that Liquid Bandage and that’s gonna give you a lot more of a seal than just like using a band aid or something like that.


Those are the 3 main things that I keep around: The Helichrysum for healing up a scar after the initial healing period has taken place; the Manuka Honey in more of the acute healing period; and then the Liquid Bandage for the smaller stuff – just a little cuts and scrapes.

Dave:   Hi Ben!  Hope you are well.  My name is Dave and I’m in Brighton in the UK. I’m currently doing a Brighton marathon but then after that, I’m going to be starting Ironman training.  I’m going to try and do Ironman Austria next year, June 2014.  I’m interested in your 9 Month Ironman training plan but I have question about the nutrition element. I’m a vegan and I’ve noticed that on the sales page that it tends to ______[0:51:21.7] meat and so on.  I’m just wondering, is there a scope in there for vegans or what do you suggest ______[0:51:29.7].  Okay.  Thanks mate.

Ben:  Well, I think the triathlon training program that Dave is referring to is probably my Triathlon Dominator Program. It might be the Tri-Ripped Program as well. Both of those programs, I include meal plans with.  And because I’m an omnivore and I eat meat, my meal plans tend to be skewed towards allowing for the consumption of fish and grass-fed beef and eggs and things of that nature. Although I am not of the mindset that it’s impossible to be a healthy endurance athlete or good athlete in general in any sport and still be a vegan or vegetarian. I just think that it’s more difficult and that you really have to cover your bases especially form a supplementation standpoint, to be able to get some of the things that meat is providing you especially when you’re beating up your body and requiring it to repair and recover more intensively than someone that maybe a vegan or a vegetarian and not have to supplement because they’re not beating up their body and tearing up muscle fibers and depleting the body of vitamins and minerals and nutrients to the same extent.  That being said, they have done dietary analysis that showed that vegetarians tend to eat a comparable amount of protein as people who eat meat but the bioavailability of that protein tends to be reduced, not a ton but usually, it tends to be reduced by about 10% in a typical vegetarian diet.  Even though they haven’t done similar studies on vegans, I would imagine vegans tend to do a little bit better job getting protein and especially people who are really aware and doing lots of soaking and sprouting and fermentation to really make proteins and foods in general more bioavailable, they probably tend to have a little bit less finish with bioavailability than someone who’s just like eating foods that haven’t been soaked or sprouted or fermented.  But one thing to realize is the bioavailability issue and there’s some evidence that there’s just something about meat that makes meat a better quality protein for the body to use specifically for muscle building and hormone function compared to non-meat sources. For example, there’s one study that compared hypertrophy and strength gains in men who are doing resistance training who are on either a vegetarian diet or an omnivorous, meat-eating diet.  And the meat-eating group had significantly greater hypertrophy than the vegetarian group and they gained more lean mass, they lost more fat mass and they had a higher fiber area of the actual muscle fiber and that grew by almost 10% compared to the vegetarians.  Now, granted this was all based off of self-reported food journals but it’s suggestive that when you’re eating meat, it’s easier to repair muscle and experience some of those strength gains. And there’s another study in the British Journal of Nutrition that looked at muscle mass in women who are eating a vegetarian diet with that of women who ate meat.  And the meat eater had significantly more muscle mass.  Aside from having less muscle mass, a typical vegetarian or vegan tends to eat less cholesterol from their diet.  They tend to rely a lot of times on soy protein sources for a substantial part of protein intake and that leads to high amount of phytoestrogens in the diet and because of that, you tend to see vegetarian or vegan athletes having lower free testosterone levels and lower anabolic hormone levels.  And that might also be another reason for lots of the lean muscle mass.


The other thing that you need to bear in mind is nutrient deficiencies and there are common nutrient deficiencies for vegetarians and vegans.  I’m gonna explain how we can mitigate some of those especially in a heavily exercising vegetarian or vegan athlete.  But the main ones are iron, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.  And then there’s also a few other things that a lot of vegetarian/vegan athletes and the one interested in being active should focus on getting and that would be amino acid, taurine, carnitine, creatine, glutamine, glycine and carnosine.  Those are some of the main owns that you wanna focus on and I’ll explain how you can get some of those starting off with protein and protein malnutrition. Vegetarians or vegans would tend to eat adequate amounts of protein can still experience some deficiencies in specific amino acids.  And there’s a study in the Journal of Nutrition that looked at plasma levels of a bunch of different nutrients in a group of Africans who ate their traditional vegetarian diet and they compared them with a group that ate an omnivorous diet – a group of Africans from a nearby region. And neither of these groups were supplementing or anything like that. What the results showed was that the vegetarian group had significantly less muscle mass and low levels of taurine and glutathione and also much higher levels of homocysteine than the group that ate meat.  They also have less lean body mass.  Now, when you look at this homocysteine issue, high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the bloodstream is something that is an indicator of an increased risk of heart disease and also is linked with greater stroke risk and hardening of the arteries. And typically, high homocysteine levels come from vitamin B deficiencies, especially vitamin B12 deficiency.  But in this particular vegetarian group, they actually were eating eggs and they were eating dairy and so they had normal concentrations of those vitamins.  And so what researchers believed in the study was that the high levels of homocysteine in these vegetarians was due to deficiency of amino acids and specifically, very low levels of something called glutathione.  And we’ve talked about glutathione on the show before but it’s a very, very important antioxidant that’s made out of 3 amino acids – glycine, glutamine and cysteine.  And those are very, very easy to get in a carnivorous diet but very tough to get in a vegetarian diet and low glutathione is a big issue with vegetarians and it’s something that I highly recommend that vegetarians and vegans and especially vegetarian and vegan athletes rapidly deplete glutathione levels with exercise supplement with.  So what I would recommend is that you not only ensure that you get enough vitamin B.  And I’ll talk about how you can do that in a little bit but also that you supplement with something like a liposomal glutathione.  So oral glutathione tablets and capsules aren’t very well absorbed. IV glutathione is but it’s hard to get your hands on so liposomal glutathione that you spray in your mouth, you hold under your tongue for about 30 seconds and then swallow. That’s something that I really think that vegetarian and vegan athletes should be utilizing.  The other thing, in terms of actual amino acid precursors from glutathione for glycine and glutamine and cysteine, you’re gonna find those in pretty decent amounts in a lot of dark leafy green vegetables so making sure that you’re getting that spinach, bokchoy, kale, mustard greens, things of that nature is gonna be super important.  And then the other thing that you’d wanna look at for taurine which is another thing that can help out with the function of your nervous system and your neurotransmitter production and is another one of those amino acid deficiencies. We were talking about the protein issue.  You can get some taurine from seaweeds, you can get some from eggs or you can take taurine in its supplement form.  So, big picture here when we’re looking at things from a protein standpoint for vegetarians and vegans, the main things that I would focus on would be getting adequate glutathione, getting adequate taurine and then focusing on really getting enough dark leafy green vegetables so you got some of these precursors like glycine and glutamine and cysteine.  Make sense?


Brock:  It does.  I’m just surprised.  I think the biggest thing that people think of when you picture a vegan or a vegetarian doing any sort of exercise is a lack of protein.

Ben:  Yeah.  And I really don’t think it’s a lack of protein as much as a deficiency in specific amino acids. So I would more encourage just going up to things with a sniper rifle, getting glutathione into the diet, supplement with taurine if you’re not doing eggs and also getting some seaweed into the mix as well.  There’s another source of amino acids that I was gonna talk about when I mentioned omega 3 fatty acids and DHA but I might as well mention it now.  And that would be spirulina or chlorella. That’s another really, really good way to get amino acids in.  The other thing that I really like about that is that when you look at a lot of these traditional seeds and nuts and flaxseeds and things like that that a lot of vegetarians or vegans are utilizing is that the problem with them is that they contain what’s called ALA.  And the omega 3’s that you actually need are EPA and DHA.  And the body only converts a maximum about 10% of the ALA that you eat and to EPA and even less than that in the DHA. So you’d have to eat huge, huge amounts of something like flaxseed to get enough DHA.  Omega 3 fatty acids are super important especially for exercising individuals for their anti inflammatory effect. And for that reason, I recommend an algal source – spirulina, chlorella, using something like the handful of Energy Bits which is this chewable tabs that you can use.  Using a green supplement that’s rich in spirulina or chlorella but focusing on that DHA source which also, incidentally, is gonna contain some of those amino acids as well.

Brock:  So it’s just way better than trying to get it from flaxseeds or chia seeds or walnuts or almonds.

Ben:  Way better.  Yup.  Another thing, I mentioned vitamin B12.  And if you don’t eat meat or dairy or eggs, it’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin B12 without some form of supplementation.  You wanna make sure, if you’re using B12 that you’re getting it in its methylated form because methyl allows B12 to actually be adequately absorbed.  It’s essential for nervous system function, it’s essential to avoid anemia, it’s essential for a lot of this amino acid absorption and utilization and so any vegetarian or vegan who is not doing much in wave eggs and dairy, I highly recommend similar to my recommendation for liposomal spray in the mouth glutathione to do liposomal methylated vitamin B12.  I’m gonna link to this stuff in the show notes for folks.  What show is this, by the way?

Brock:  230.

Ben:  So I’ll link to this over at bengreenfieldfitness.com in the show notes for 230 and I’m also making a MyList for some of the stuff just to kinda jug your brain. So we’re looking at needing liposomal glutathione, liposomal vitamin B12, preferably some kind of a spirulina or chlorella algal source of DHA if you’re not doing much  seaweeds, sea vegetable type of stuff, adding in some taurine.  And then just a couple of other things to pay attention to:  Zinc is a pretty common deficiency especially among vegetarians and vegans because of the phytates that present in many plant foods.  So if you’re not soaking and sprouting and fermenting your plant foods, you’re going to not be inhibiting the activity of a lot of these phytic acids and so that’s going to affect your ability to absorb minerals. And so zinc and iron deficiencies tend to be common and even more common in people who are eating a lot of plants especially plants that haven’t been prepared properly.  You can get zinc and iron by supplementing or eating dairy and eggs.  If you’re not doing dairy or eggs, you may wanna consider adding some zinc and iron into the mix in terms of mineral supplementation and also making sure that you’re soaking and sprouting and fermenting the plant sources that you are eating.  That’s gonna be important as well.  The last thing that I wanted to get into was nutrients for athletic performance. There’s ample evidence that people who don’t eat meat tend to have deficiencies in 3 things – creatine, carnitine and carnosine – the 3 Cs.  Vegetarians have been shown in studies to have significantly lower muscle of carnitine content and also reduced capacity to transport carnitine into their muscles.  And carnitine is what allows you to, a lot of times, mobilize fat for energy.  So, especially, for an aerobic athlete, having adequate carnitine is really important and you can get that in supplemental form.


The carnosine, that’s an amino acid derivative that you store in your fast twitch muscle fibers and you use for anaerobic energy production like sprint, harder efforts, stuff like that.  You’re gonna find it in eggs and dairy in small quantities and meat in really large quantities. And a lot of vegans and vegetarians are gonna tend to be deficient in carnosine as well. That’s another one that I would look into.  And then the last one, for creatine, low levels of creatine is gonna reduce power.  It’s gonna give you less capacity to build or maintain muscle.  Creatine is something your body can make out of the amino acids methionine, glycine and arginine, so you don’t have to eat meat to be able to make creatine.  Vegetarians who are getting enough methionine, glycine and arginine can form creatine.  Many vegetarians and vegans, though, test low on creatine levels and I would recommend that you do something like just a basic creatine monohydrate powder or capsule.  That’s gonna be a decent way to get that stuff.  Big picture answer to this would be a Gold Standard supplement stack. Vegetarians or vegans would be liposomal glutathione, liposomal vitamin B12, some type of spirulina or chlorella algal source, zinc and iron if you’re not doing dairy and eggs and then creatine, carnitine and carnosine.  And that would be a really, really good way to amplify your performance while eating a plant-based diet.

Brock:  And of course, make sure that you’re getting a good source of those vitamins or supplements as well as all the food you’re eating, too.

Ben:  Yes.  Or just be born as Rich Roll and that would be good to help you a little bit, too.

Brock:  Yeah. It’s against the law to bring up endurance sports and vegans and not mention Rich Roll, which actually, you did a really interesting interview with, probably about a year ago now, you could search for that on the website and take a listen to what Rich Roll had to say.

Ben:  Yeah.  I had Rich Roll on the podcast and interviewed him for an article I wrote in Lava Magazine as well about how to do a plant-based diet and still be an endurance athlete.  There you go.

Chris:   Hi Ben!  This is Chris in Connecticut, 47 years old.  My question is I had my gallbladder removed about 10 years ago and I’m wondering if there’s any considerations I need to make as far as diet goes.  I workout about 5 days a week, I’ll struggle to keep my weight down. Just wondering if there’s any tweaks or supplements I should be taking to counteract the removal of my gallbladder.  That’s it.  Thanks.

Ben:  All right. First of all, if you can avoid gallbladder surgery or gallbladder removal, by all means, do it.

Brock:  I don’t think there’s anybody in the world out there who isn’t trying to avoid it.  I don’t think Chris ever said, “You know what I’m gonna do today?”

Ben:  Yeah. But if you struggle with gallstones, a lot of times, conventional medicine will just say, “Well, let’s get rid of the gallbladder”, when in fact, there are things that you can do to protect your gallbladder and cleanse your gallbladder.  So, one thing that you should think about is that your internal organs need to be cleansed, they need to have circulation, they need to be massaged in a way just like your muscles or like your skin.  Massage therapy is something that can move lymph fluid around your body, can stimulate your skin, and it can also can have a really, really good effect on your internal organs as well.  And there is a specific form of therapy called Taichi.  Have you heard of Taichi before, Brock?

Brock:  I’ve seen the old folks doing it in the park early in the morning.

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Those gentle movements with Taichi actually can be stimulating to your liver and your gallbladder and pancreas.  If you’re somebody who struggles with gallstones or issue with your liver and your kidneys, your internal organs, your organs will move around when you’re doing Taichi and you can actually benefit from those similar to the way that you’d benefit from getting a massage on a sore muscle.  Vibration platform would actually have a little bit of a similar effect in terms of moving lymph fluid around and kinda gently massaging some of your internal organs.  So I would look into those 2 ways that you can take care of your internal organs.  It’s why a lot of times, I think people who exercise tend to just, in most cases, if they’re not overdoing it, have healthier internal organ function anyways ‘cause they’re moving more lymph fluid around.  But I would focus on some of those things for just overall gallbladder health as woowoo as Taichi and vibration platforms might seem but certainly something to pay attention to.


But if you’ve actually had your gallbladder removed, a lot of times, the number one supplement that you’ll see recommended is Bile Salts because your gallbladder is what helps you to churn out those bile salts.  But the thing is bile is actually made by your liver, not your gallbladder and so if you haven’t had your liver removed (I’m assuming that he hasn’t), basically, what you need to do is support your body with the type of things that are going to help your liver produce bile so that you can emulsify fats a little bit more easily in the absence of that gallbladder.  One of the main things that is going to help your body to produce bile is cholesterol.  Now, there are some types of fats that you can eat that don’t even need bile at all to digest.  And that would be things like coconut oil, medium chain triglyceride oil, palm oil, any of those short or medium chain triglycerides don’t need bile to be digested.  But most fatty foods need bile to be digested and in kind of a cool positive cycle when you consume those foods, the cholesterol in those foods helps you to produce more bile.  So a lot of gallbladder removal diets will tell you to remove fatty foods – don’t your egg yolks, your cream or butter.  And I would actually recommend that you do consume those foods so that you’re giving your liver the cholesterol that it requires for the production of bile.  And avoiding fat is going to compound any problems that you have with digesting fat in the long run because you won’t be getting the cholesterol that you need to produce bile especially if you don’t have a gallbladder.  So you can create a vicious cycle if you avoid fat after gallbladder surgery.  So I recommend that you consume healthy fat. Once you’ve got those sources of healthy cholesterol coming into your body, you’ll want to give your body what it needs to stimulate bile production.  You wanna basically train your liver to produce adequate bile that you need when you have meals that contain fat.  Now, one of the things that you can do is when you consume a meal that contains fat, you can use something called Bitters.  And bitters are herbal extract really rich in minerals.  Something there has been used for thousands of years as kind of this ancient tonic for stimulating the liver to produce bile.  And they’re a little bit more popular in traditional Asian medicine for their digestive benefit and their cleansing properties but pretty much any health food store in the US – Amazon, any of these type of places, they will have Bitters.  And if you just have a little bit of Bitters like even a teaspoon of Bitters and a little bit of water in the morning and in the evening, or for example, when you’re having a high fat-containing meal…

Brock:  Or Gin and Tonic.

Ben:  Or Gin and Tonic.  Exactly.

Brock:  That’s where I like my bitters.

Ben:  That’s right.  That can stimulate your liver to produce adequate amounts of bile. And so that’s the other thing that I would recommend in addition to eating a diet high in cholesterol would be to use Bitters to stimulate bile production.  I’ll put a link to some Bitters in the show notes.  And then the last thing that you can do if all else fails is you can use Bile Salts but that would be kind of a last resort.  Bile Salts are definitely going to be doing what your liver is supposed to be doing on its own.  And I’m never a fan of replacing what your body is supposed to be doing on its own.  But you can use Bile Salts in a pinch and that’s something that you would just take with your meal but it’s a better idea to eat a higher fat diet along with Bitters rather than to use Bile Salts or to eat a low fat diet.

Thomas:   Hi Ben and Brock!  I’m Tom from the UK here. I’m leaving a message for my partner’s dad because he suffers from motion sickness when someone else is driving him but mainly when he goes swimming.  That means he can’t or doesn’t want to take part in any triathlons anymore which is a real shame.  So I wondered if you got any advice or pointers on how you might be able to get over motion sickness. To explain a little bit, when he goes swimming, he basically can swim fine.  It’s not the actual swimming but he gets really swelly head and then throws up.  It’s pretty unpleasant when you’re in say, it’s worse when there’s waves but still even in the pool, has motion sickness.  Any help you can impart on this will be great.  Thanks a lot.  I love the podcast.  Cheers.  Bye.

Ben:  Did he just a “really swelly head”?

Brock:  What was that?

Ben:  I love accents.


Brock:  Me too. This show gets so many awesome accents called in.  Thomas, you aren’t at the top of the list.

Ben:  Yeah.  Whenever you’re moving your head a lot, you’re in churning water, you’re swimming, you’re gonna tend to aggravate motion sickness and aggravate nausea especially if you’re prone to it in the first place. And I think a lot of swimmers move their heads more and move their bodies more and almost rotate a little bit more than is necessary.  I find that when I swim with one of these swimming snorkels and I’m doing my repeats thrown in some 25’s, throwing in some 50’s in the pool with a swimming snorkel, it helps me stabilize my head and focus on getting rid of all the little unnecessary twitches and moves and rolls in my body when I’m swimming and so not only would I recommend that Thomas’ dad consider getting a snorkel.  And you can go to Swim Smooth and grab one of their snorkels.  That’s my favorite website for just getting any swimming device.  They’ve got lots of good stuff on there.  I get all my paddles and fins and all that jazz from Swim Smooth.  But using a snorkel in your training and training yourself to keep your head a little bit more immobile when you’re swimming, not churn around so much trying when you do roll your body to take a breath.  You try and imagine that your head is in line with the rest of your body and not moving independently of your body.  Swimming with a snorkel can really help you with that.  Snorkels are also legal in many swimming events and many triathlons.

Brock:  They’re legal but you can’t actually podium if you’re using one.

Ben:  Is that what it is?

Brock:  Yeah.  You’re not eligible for age group or words if you’re using a snorkel but they won’t take it away from you or disqualify you.

Ben:  You’re also not eligible for coolness factor points.

Brock:  Or maybe you are that coolest factor.

Ben:  You are the unique snowflake with the snorkel.

Brock:  Yup!

Ben:  So, use a snorkel. Train yourself to move your head less when you’re swimming.  And then a couple other things that you can use:  One would be earplugs.  Using earplugs when you’re in the water especially when you’re in the cold water, it can help out quite a bit.  I recommend wax earplugs like those…(I forgot the company that makes the wax earplugs.)

Brock:  Is it EAR?

Ben:  I don’t think it’s EAR.  I’ll remember.

Brock:  They make all kinds.

Ben:  I keep them next to my bed.  Actually, I’ve got them stuck in my ear before when I’m sleeping.  I had to go to the doctor once and get them removed so be careful.  They’re Max Silicon Earplugs.  That’s something that you could use would be earplugs.  The other thing that you could use would be this acupressure points.  They actually make wrist bands that are acupressure wrist bands or also known as Sea-bands for seasickness.  And they stimulate these points on your arm that are traditionally acupressure points for relieving nausea or seasickness or motion sickness.  And they just have this little plastic point on this bead that puts pressure right where you’re supposed to get pressure put for relieving nausea.  You can get them for like 10 bucks.  And that’s something you could wear while you’re swimming to reduce motion sickness or reduce nausea.

Brock:  I remember myth busters did an episode on the TV show – the Discovery TV show Myth Busters, they did an episode about motion sickness and they used those wrist bands and I can’t remember if they actually busted that one or they confirmed it but that’d be interesting thing to go back  and watch for you.

Ben:  Yeah.  And it’s definitely worth trying.  They just put pressure on the specific acupuncture point that could help relieve nausea and motion sickness.  The other thing that I’d recommend you look into, of course, is ginger and ginger is one of the more popular remedies for motion sickness.  You can do ginger chews.  You can boil ginger and eat some of that with breakfast before you swim.  You can use a ginger supplement just like a ginger capsule that you can swallow about 30 minutes prior to going out for that swim.  And it works for some people.  It doesn’t work for others but it’s definitely worth messing around with would be the use of ginger.  You may even smear some ginger tincture on your wet suit and get that ginger just saturating the water as you swim through it or pay someone to ride a stand a paddle board upfront and sprinkle ginger flakes on the surface of the water as you swim.

Brock:  You’re full of practical ideas today, aren’t you?

Ben:  So you go with your earplugs and your acupressure wrist band.  We’ll put a link to that stuff in the show notes and those are some of the things that I would certainly try for the “really swelly head”.


Brock:  All right. Well, before offends all of England, lets’ wrap up the show.  Make sure you go to iTunes and leave a review and a ranking for us, please ‘cause that’s always helpful for the show and make sure to check out the Superhuman event if you haven’t signed up yet, it’s do or die time.  Come and join us and you can vote for which one of us you like better by going to Ben’s crappy Boot Camp or my Awesome Run.

Ben:  You look like a baby.

Brock:  And make sure to check out the MyList at facebook.com/bengreenfield and yeah, I think that’s about it.

Ben:  Have a wonderful week.



Feb 20, 2013 free podcast: Is It Possible For A Vegan To Be A Healthy Endurance Athlete?  Also: what causes side stitches, how to get through a tough workout or race, healthy ways to heal road rash, what to eat after gallbladder removal, and how to eliminate motion sickness.

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Listener Q&A:

As compiled, edited and sometimes read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.

Robin says @ 00:22:11
He frequently gets side-stitches and abdominal cramps when he is running and is wondering what could be causing them and how he can avoid them. He also would like to know how to develop mental strength – the ability to push through when things get tough.

Adam says @ 00:34:59
He finds that when he is doing a lactate session, of 10k or more, he starts off tough through the middle of the run but then he starts to get negative thoughts and question himself before coming out the other side and finish off the session really well. He’s looking for advice about the middle section and how to become mentally tougher and take out the negative thoughts.

Craig says @ 00:45:33
Wonders if you have any tips for healing road rash, skin abrasions and/or cuts.

~ In my response to Craig, I mention: Emu oilHelichrysum essential oil organicManuka honeyLiquid bandage.

Dave says @ 00:50:44
Is currently training for a marathon but will then start training for an Ironman. He is planning to use your 9 month training protocol but he’s noticed that you recommend a lot of meat and he is vegan. Is there scope for vegans in there? He can’t be the first to ask (especially after your appearance on Rich Roll’s podcast).

~ In my response I mention TriathlonDominator.com or Tri-Ripped.com and
Chris says @ 01:07:45
He had his gallbladder removed about 10 years ago (he is 47 years old now) and is wondering if there are any tweaks or considerations he needs to make in his diet or any supplements he should be taking due to his lack of gallbladder. He works out about 5 days a week and does struggle to keep his weight down.

~ In my response to Chris, I recommend Bitters and Bile salts.

Thomas says @ 01:14:00
He’s looking for advice on how to control motion sickness. It happens in the car when someone else is driving but the biggest problem is when he swims. Looking for advice or pointers on how to get over motion sickness in water. He can swim fine but he gets a “really swelly head” and then throws-up. In the ocean but also in the pool.

~ In my response to Thomas I mention practice snorkel swimming, I recommend wax earplugs, and acupressure wrist band.

Read more https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/02/230-is-it-possible-for-a-vegan-to-be-a-healthy-endurance-athlete/

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