June 27, 2012
Introduction: In today’s episode, when to take sleep pills, pain meds and fat loss boosters. Also, fueling a long ride on a high fat diet, how to recover from and prepare for a race simultaneously, does eating low-carb raise your cholesterol, the skin-diet-hormone-exercise connection, menstruating on race day, taking a sleep aid the night before a race, Yohimbe for fat loss, how to incorporate burpees, the best way to decrease muscle, the different types of fatigue, and the hormonal effects of prescription pain medications.
Brock: Well, hello everybody. After a short hiatus, we are back. This is Brock at the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast. And as usual, here he is the man himself, Ben Greenfield.
Ben: I picked up my two words when I was in Japan. And it was konichiwa and erogoto.
Brock: And of course, hai!
Ben: And hai. That’s right. And people kept shouting stuff at me while I was doing the triathlon over there. It sounded like it was bido or something like that. It either means go or ugly American.
Brock: Or your leg is dripping down on your bike.
Ben: Yes. So, for those of you who are completely scratching their head right now, I just got back fromJapanliterally like last night. I was over there doing a triathlon that I almost didn’t go to because I got a flesh eating bacteria infection in my leg.
Brock: And he’s not joking.
Ben: No. I’m not joking. I blogged about it over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, I put a bunch of pictures over there. I didn’t embed it on the post because it would totally gross people out.
Ben: They’re optional to click on. I know some people did click on them and were sorry that they did.
Brock: That was me. I was sorry.
Ben: Anyways though, I did come down basically what’s called an mrsa which is nasty stuff. And I wrote an entire blog post about everything that I found out about it as I went through that. And how to make sure that you don’t end up where I ended up which was letting it go for way too long without identifying it. Not knowing what I could’ve done with it naturally and then just basically I’m going to wind up in the hospital and antibiotics which was not fun.
Brock: Not fun but at least it turned around quickly once you identified it and took the appropriate steps. It turned aroung quite quickly for you. And you were able to make it to the race and all that. But you did come close to and didn’t the doctor actually say to you that you could lose your leg?
Ben: Yes. He said if I would’ve waited a day, we would’ve had to take your leg. So anyways, read that and or more about over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and look at the pictures as you’d like to as well. And while you’re there, obviously it’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve had a podcast. So, check out some of the other articles that have come out recently. Like I blogged about the fittest man on earth.
Ben: I guy that we’re trying to get to win the Reebok Crossfit Games for 2013. So, check that out. We’d really go. I geeked out quite a bit on what we’re doing when you’re trying to get those extra few percentage points that you need to go from being really fit to being the fittest guy on earth and what you need to do. So, it’s an interesting article. So, check that out. Of course, I know a lot of people listened in to the podcast with Tim Noakes last week as a substitute for this one. It was on why Gatorade is telling about how much we need to drink is wrong and what you could do about it. And that’s all over there. So, check it out.
Brock: Okay. Twitter.com/BenGHYPERLINK “http://www.twitter.com/bengreenfield” is the place to go. And there have been all kinds of really cool stuff over the last few months. And this is the time that Ben highlights a few of those for us. What do you want to bring to the forefront?
Ben: Well, not to rain on the Chinese too hard. It’s not because I was in Japan and that I’m being biased towards Japanese food. But I did recently tweet that Chinese food makes you fat and links to a study on MSG. And it actually shows that even when you’re limiting your calorie intake, mono sodium glutamate in your food is statistically extremely significant in terms of your ability to increase what’s called your blood triglyceride content. And also the rate at which your liver churns out fat and your actual weight gain. As a matter of fact, that becomes even more problematic when you combine it with high fructose corn syrup intake. So, I linked over to the studies on this stuff. But MSG and the reason I said Chinese food is because we find it a lot in Chinese restaurants. But MSG in general is really not a good idea especially if you’re trying to lose weight. And it appears that it’s not so much like what people think which is getting the fuzzy head that affects your neuro transmitters. So, it gives you appetite cravings. So, you eat more. That’s not the case. It actually works on a few different levels. And one of them is literally the ability of the liver to just churn out more triglycerides. Another one is that glutamate acts as it crosses the the blood barrier in the intestine a lot easier if you’ve got leaky gut. Or you got poor probiotic content, etc which I think a lot of the people that are eating frequently at Chinese restaurants do. So, what it comes down to is to start looking at the foods that you’re eating. Like if you’re buying soups, packaged foods, and stuff like that, and still make sure that you’re eliminating MSG. I know that umami is considered to be one of those like the sixth flavor or whatever. It brings a lot of extra flavor potential to food. But there’s a difference between the umami that you might find in fermented soy like miso soup vs. the umami that you’re going to find from a synthetic MSG powder and their dumping into Chinese food when you go out to the restaurant. So, be careful.
Brock: And you can find not just Chinese food that has it. It’s in a lot of sauces and salad dressing that you’ll find just on the shelves of your super market.
Ben: Yes, like Campbell soup, absolutely.
Brock: And also, like you’ve said the deadly one-two punch of MSG and high fructose corn syrup. That’s pretty much every sauce that you’d be buying in the middle of the grocery store.
Ben: Yes. That’s a good point. We’re not talking about going out and ordering general kumpao’s chicken with a 34-ounce coke. We’re talking about the sauce you’re grabbing off the shelf that you’re seasoning your food with at home. You look on the back of it and MSG/fructose, that’s a pretty potent combo. So, be careful. I also mentioned about resveratrol and how resveratrol has been linked especially in a recent study in the Journal of Physiology to some pretty significant improvements in skeletal muscle strenght and cardiac function and improving exercise performance. The issue with resveratrol is two-fold. The first is that a lot of people are saying that it’s bonk and that doctor last year got convicted of fraud. The doctor at the University of Connecticuit, he had all these research associating resveratrol with cardiovascular health. The guy did, he falsified some of his lab results. There are literally thousands of other scientific studies and reports and on going research by a bunch of Universities and research centers around the world. It was showing that resveratrol has some pretty cool potent effects. And it’s basically because of the phyto-chemicals that you find in things like grape skins. So, in this case, it does appear to have some pretty potent effects when it comes to improving your skeletal muscles strength and cardiac function. Once again whenever I talk about resveratrol, a lot of people think automatically of red wine.
Brock: Red wine, that’s what I was thinking.
Ben: If you try to get as much resveratrols, people are getting in these studies from red wine. You’re talking about drinking ten liters a day of red wine.
Brock: Yes. That’s what I’m talking about.
Ben: As fun as that sounds, there are some deleterious side effects. So, you’ve got to go with a powder or capsule of supplement which is basically just like the extractic concentrated of resveratrol. So, I use Solar Synergy for example. That’s like a concentrated grape skin extract. That one’s made by Mt. Capra. There are resveratrol powders that you can get at a health food store and resveratrol capsules. But don’t chug a bunch of red win before you hop on the treadmill. That’s not the way to go about this.
Brock: Yes. That’s unfortunate.
Ben: I know, isn’t it? And then the last thing that I linked to was a great article by a guy that we’ve had on this podcast before. His name is Paul Jaminet. He runs the PerfectHealthDiet and he wrote Perfect Health Diet book. And he wrote a great article on why food fortification is not all that it’s chalked up to be and could actually be harming us. He goes into how much foods have been fortified. Everything from flours to cereals to just about any food that you’ll look at that’s been enriched with folic acid, iron, etc. And there’s acutally a pretty good link between excessive folate intake, excessive iron intake, excessive niacin intake, and all of these that they were throwing into and fortifying foods with synthetically. And chronic disease risk like oxidative stress, infections, cardiovascular risk, and a lot of issues that come with synthetic fortification of food. So, it’s a great article. And once again, it just comes down to the fact that getting your vitamins, nutrients, and minerals from special cake vs. getting it from fruits and vegetables is a whole different can of worms. So, it was a good article. I’ll link to it. We’ll put a link to at least those in the show notes. And then you can get the rest of that over at Twitter.com/BenGreenfield.
Brock: Yes. And make sure to go to Google+ because there are all kinds of great stuff and great articles being published there as well. And you can find that link in the show notes as well
Brock: Okay. Speaking of Google+ TheFutureofHealthNow videos, there are still lots of videos coming out from that group, isnt there?
Ben: Yes. There is. And TheFutureofHealthNow is basically an online free video series that I found. I’ve seen all the videos. I’ve actually downloaded a lot of them and listened to them as audios. But basically, it’s a great resource. There are some really good videos from people like Tim Ferriss, Dr. Daniel Amen, some anti-aging experts, some enhancing your brain power/mental focus experts. It’s really good stuff. They’re all totally free. They have an up-sell on there where if you want to be able to have access to the videos for a year, you can pay. But if you just want to go in and watch the videos and check them out for the next month. For a while the videos weren’t available. Some people were looking at my cliff notes on Google and asking why they couldn’t see the videos. They are available now. If you’re listening to this podcast and you just want to go watch them, follow the link that we’ve got in the show notes. And of course, like most of things that are free they ask for your e-mail address. It’s just one of those things that go with the territory. But it’s worth checking out. I actually got a lot out of the videos that I’ve been able to check out. I’ve gotten through almost all of them now. But I’ll be putting the cliff notes up at Google+ so you can always read about the video before you decide if you actually want to waste your time watching it. So, I’ve been talking about that stuff at Google+ so check that out. It’s called TheFutureofHealthNow.
Ben: I did. I did a blog post asking folks what they’d actually pay vs. what we were charging for the unlimited 24/7 Q and A form access to me and my wife and the monthly video seminars that we do. My personal diet and exercise log. It looked like ten dollars a month was more of what people were interested in vs. the 17 dollars a month. So, the BenGreenfieldFitness InnerCircle is now ten bucks a month. You can get access to all that stuff I just mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/innercircle. And the last thing, I’m talking about saving money and I know Brock would be stoked about this. But I talk about Living Fuel and like the Living Fuel super greens meal replacement powder that I take and the coco chia bars that I eat as an energy bar. And we just picked up a Canadian distributor for that stuff.
Ben: So, it doesn’t cost 40 bucks to shift toCanadaanymore. So, all you Canadian listeners can pump your fist. And all you Australian listeners still have to pay 30 or 40 bucks to get that stuff shifted toAustralia. I’m sorry. But hopefully we’ll eventually find somebody inAustraliato hook you up with that stuff as well. So, that is about it for the special announcements.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Alright. We’ve had a couple of weeks to pile up some extra listener questions. So, please everybody beware, when you submit your questions it is going to be probably four weeks at least before we get to your question.
Ben: Yes. Four weeks to a year.
Brock: So, don’t panic if you don’t hear your question right away. We will get to it. I archived them very meticulously and we’ll get to them eventually but keep them coming everybody. And let’s kick off the first question from Chuck and it’s an audio question.
Chuck says: Hey Ben, this is Chuck fromTampa. And I have a question for this week’s podcast. You’ve talked on the podcast recently about high fat diet and I view the same. But the question comes in terms of when I’m doing a really long weekend ride between three to five hours out on my bike. I’m assuming your doing the same thing. I know you’re training for things like Kona 70.3. So, what are you using as a fuel during those rides? I’m guessing that you’re not pulling out packs of almond butter and coconut milk although it’d be a good option. But I don’t see it being very feasible. So, are you using things like gels or do you have a concoction that you utilize? Or do you pack an avocado and stuff? So, please give me an update. I’d really appreciate what you use and what you suggest for someone like me. Thanks Ben and Brock. You guys have a great podcast and I look forward to it every week.
Ben: Well, this is a good question. And first of all Chuck, it’s pretty rare that I’m ever going to be sitting on my bike for more than a couple of hours. I don’t have the time. And my own philosophy these days is if I hop on my bike and I’m trying to get my body ready to ride 50 or 60 miles at a half Ironman. Or as the case maybe next month for the ITU Long Course World Championships in Spain, that ride is closer to about 80 miles in that race. I really a lot of times am not riding on my bike any longer than a couple of hours and not eating anything. I just basically will have some coconut milk and have some protein powder and then just head out and hammer for a couple of hours. And rarely do I actually eat anything. However, for example a couple of weeks ago I was doing a triathlon camp down in Kona. And one day we rode the full 112 mile bike course. I probably would’ve had the similar approach there and just have a little bit of fat and a little bit of protein. But after that 112 mile ride, I was also getting off the bike, running five miles, and then swimming 2k in the ocean. And so, in a situation like that I definitely had more carbohydrates. In that case I had what are called M’s Power Cookies which is a gluten-free cookie. They’re 400 calories a pop. And I went through about four of those during this ride. But it’s very rare that I’ll actually go for a longer training session like that and be sitting on a bike for four or five hours. In the past, when I have done that type of training leading up to Ironman and throwing in these four or five longer rides going into an Ironman event. I usually will just have some clear pure water. And then I’ll just stuff the back of my bike jersey with some food that I like, some real food that I like. So as far as bars go, I mentioned the Cocochia bars by Living Fuel. That’s a coconut/fruit-based bar. I usually go with something like that. Hammer bar is another brand that I like. I pretty much look for any bar that’s skewed towards protein and fat and that’s also gluten-free. And hammer bars and coco chia bars are pretty good for that. Usually, I’ll have a little zip lock bag and I’ll have some raw nuts and some dried fruit in that. I’ll have much on that during the ride. I pretty much stay away from gels. I use gels during a race. I don’t enjoy them. I save them for racing. I view those as gasoline. And they work. And I can redline for hours just eating gels. But when I’m out on training sessions, I feel like crap by the time you’re done and you’ve eaten all that sugar and they’re got the caffeine in them. So, I’m generally just popping some real food. I have a brand new book coming out through Endurance Planet over at EndurancePlanet.com about real food recipes for training. And that book should be out in a couple of weeks. We just came with the Altitude book. And you can check that out over at EndurancePlanet.com. And then the real food fueling book should come out pretty soon as well.
Brock: It’s awesome. Is that a cook book kind of thing?
Ben: Just recipes. And then the last thing that I should mention is that once I get back into doing a few longer rides because I probably will do during the month of July. That’s when I’m getting ready for this ITU long course race. I’ll get a couple of four hour rides in. I’m going to go with just basically the couple of tablespoons of coconut oil right before hand. And then the UCAN super starch during which is when we interviewed Dr. Peter Attia about it a few weeks ago. But basically, that’s a high molecular weight starch that has a really low release of glucose as its metabolized and a little bit lower insulin spike. And so, that’s what I’ll be using. But since I’ve interviewed him and since I have discovered that stuff, I really haven’t gotten a chance to do many of these longer rides. And then in the past, all I’ve done are just like I mentioned, raw nuts and dried fruit and stuff like that.
Brock: Are you still eating that coconut mana stuff?
Ben: Yes. But I don’t eat that when I’m training. That’s the stuff made by Nativa. That’s coconut meat mixed with coconut oil basically and some proprietary recipe that takes heaven is raining down awesomeness. But basically, it’s just something that I’ll toss into some protein powder or something like that. Or occasionally, I’ll just grab a couple of tablespoons out of the jar. And that’s good stuff too.
Brock: Cool. Alright, let’s move on to the next audio question that comes from Chris.
Chris says: Yes. Hi Ben, my name is Chris. I recently finished or completed a Olympic triathlon. And I’m actually signed up to do another one in four weeks. And I’m looking for suggestions about how I should prepare and train for that coming race which is now three weeks away. I’ve a good rest and recovery week. And I believe I’m in really good shape. And I’ll be ready in three weeks. But I don’t really have a clue as to how or what kind of training schedule I should follow and how quickly I should get back into intense training and tapering and so on and so forth. Any advice would be helpful. And thank you very much. Bye.
Brock: So, recovering and preparing at the same time. I actually find myself in that situation right at the moment. And actually, I believe you too, don’t you Ben?
Ben: Yes. When you finish a triathlon, you’ve got another one coming up later. There are a few little rules that I follow for sure. Like if it’s a sprint triathlon, generally you’re going to be fairly recovered from that within 48 hours or so. If you’ve gone all out during the race, you take care of your body and do a few easy workouts for the next couple of days. But you can literally just jump right back in training after a sprint triathlon. After an Olympic distance triathlon, typically you’re going to find is closer to three or four days before you’re really able to do hard swimming, hard cycling, or hard running again. And so for those first three to four days after an Olympic distance triathlon, I recommend that if you’re going to swim or bike or run to just make it easy. And if you want to do anything intense, try and be using muscles that you really weren’t using as much during the race. Like for me, I usually like to do some upper body weight lifting, some core. I’ll usually be playing some tennis or something like that. But because I like to do hard stuff almost everyday when it comes to working out, if I’ve done a triathlon, I’ll just work some different muscles on the days after the triathlon before you get back to the point where you can swim and bike and run hard again. So, in the case where you finish an Olympic distance triathlon and you’ve got another one three weeks later. Basically, those first three to four days are pretty easy if you do any swimming and cycling and running. But you can still lift weights and stuff like that. Just don’t hit the muscles that you were using during the race. Like I mentioned, you can do some upper body weight lifting, some core done on a circuit. And then jump right back in. And what you’re going to find is that if you’ve tapered for that Olympic distance triathlon for the recommended five to seven days, you’ll have lost a little bit of fitness. So, you take that first weekend after you’ve done your race and use that weekend to do some volume. Like getting your base back up. And then the next couple of weeks just focus on your race pace, on your intensity. And then, you jump back into it another five to seven day taper for that next race. So, it’s basically three or four days easy. And then that weekend, return to some volume. And then after that, throw some intensity back in and get back into getting ready for your race. If you step back and look at this, just to understand the concept. So, you’re basically doing recovery and then rebuilding and then getting back into the intensity that’s going to allow you to be able to go hard again during the race. After a half Ironman, it really depends. Like if it’s your first half Ironman like Brock by the way. He just did his first.
Brock: I just did my first run three days ago.
Ben: Yes. And are you sore at all?
Brock: I’m pretty sore in the areas that cramped really badly.
Ben: Yes. And Brock by the way, we actually had a discussion this morning. We think that maybe he took Tim Noakes’ advice.
Brock: I did. I went too Noakse-y on myself.
Ben: Yes. Basically, I think during the entire three hour bike ride, you had one and a half bottle of water.
Brock: Yes. It was maybe like a liter and a quarter. That’s like 1200 milliliters to me.
Ben: What’s that about like 45 ounces?
Brock: 45 to 50 ounces, yes.
Ben: And to put that in contrast, I was doing the same thing during my race inJapan. I was drinking to thirst. But drinking to thirst for me meant that I was taking in one hour what Brock was taking in the entire three hours of his race. So, Brock and I had a little discussion about drinking to thirst.
Brock: But I think we sort of uncovered an interesting thing with the “drinking to thirst”. I come from a marathon background like half marathon and full marathon. And you can push yourself a little further into dehydration in races that are shorter like that especially shorter in duration. So, I was thinking that my “thirsty feeling” is a lot more drastic than I should me letting myself get during something like a half Ironman.
Ben: Yes. You’re just a lot more bad ass than I am and have a higher pain tolerance.
Brock: Yes. It’s like I’m not thirsty enough.
Ben: Yes, I know. Drinking to thirst is anytime you’re remotely thirsty, you drink. It’s not like you wait until your lips are cracking to take a sip of water. I have no clue how we gotten on that much of a tangent.
Brock: Yes. We’re really got a tangent there.
Ben: In half Ironman, it depends on your experience. If you’ve just done your first half Ironman, it may take you longer to bounce back from that. And it maybe one of those deals where you’ve got a full week of super easy workouts before you get seven days out from your race. And you’re finally able to start doing some hard stuff again and getting ready for your next race. I personally, honestly am usually throwing down a pretty tough workout the day after a half Ironman. I’m usually at the gym doing some hard core interval-based workout or something like that. Hitting the weights for me is a lot of the times just because the week before a triathlon, I don’t lift weights or anything like that. So, I like to get back in and do a little bit of that. And it’s literally either the day after or a couple of days after. I did this race in Japan. And the day after I was taking a train all over Japan and every time I stopped I was walking around and checking out cities. And I hiked to get six or seven miles the day after the race. The day after that, I did a full on workout at the gym like a circuit-based workout at the gym where I’m stringing a bunch of exercises together. And I jumped right back into stuff typically after a half Ironman. And the more experience you get, the more common it is to just be able to jump right back in. And your experience will help you bounce back faster. And then after an Ironman, technically on paper based on lab studies that they’ve done in terms of clearance of inflammatory markers, it’s supposed to take about two to three weeks to recover from an Ironman. I’ve personally felt fine after an Ironman within about seven days. And that means that you’re pouring a lot of recovery tools out of the closet. It’s like you’re doing proteolytic enzymes, something like Recoveries or Wobenzym or any of these enzymes that break up fibrinogen. And it helps muscles to heal faster. You do those in an empty stomach everyday starting as soon as you cross the finish line of the race. You’re doing cold soaks once or two times a day like cold thermogenesis. You’re doing if you can get your hands on a little bit of electrostim to increase blood flow. If not, at least foam roller and some massage. You’re wearing compression socks and compression tights, eating an anti-inflammatory diet. If you pull at all the stops like that and I did talk about a lot of these in an article that I wrote. And I’ll be sure that I’ll link to that article on the show notes for you. This is episode number 198 by the way. So, anything I talk about that I say I’m going to link to, it’s 198 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. But basically, bouncing back from an Ironman and even something like that you can be fine within a week if you’re pulling out a lot of these stops when it comes to recovery tools. So, ultimately though for an Olympic distance triathlon, it’s a few days easy. Do a little bit of volume the weekend after the race and then start back into intensity to get you ready for your next race.
Brock: And remember, the reason that we are talking about this in the first place was that Chris actually asked because he’s got another race coming up. This is by no means what you have to do if you finished a race and you really just want to take it easy and get your life back for a little while. There’s no need to do any of these stuff that we’re talking about to jump right back into it. This is just if you do have another race scheduled. And often a lot of people do because it is race season inNorth America anyways.
Ben: Yes. And a lot of us are just addicted to exercise and neglecting punishment. I’ll totally admit that for myself. And after I finish a race, I don’t feel like sitting on my butt for too long.
Brock: But there is something to be said for really taking that time. And actually relaxing a little bit and maybe spending some time with your friends and your family instead of hitting the gym and hitting the pool.
Ben: It’s true.
Brock: There is nothing wrong with that. Alright, let’s move on to the next question. We’ve rat holed in the middle of Chris’ question and now we’re making the podcast very long. Here is Osa.
Osa says: Is the Low-Carbohydrate diet actually bad for you in long term? I am just concerned because there is a new study spreading around the web that says that low-carbohydrate diets significantly raise the risk for heart disease. What do you think about the article Atkins diet ‘raises risk for heart disease’ because of a surge in cholesterol levels?
Brock: I thought the Atkins diet was dead.
Ben: Yes. I mean whatever you want to call it Atkins diet. I don’t like Atkins just because it’s high protein.
Ben: I’m a bigger fan of high fat. It’s easier on your kidney and your livers. And it’s a little bit less acidic. But these studies are concerned because they’re saying that a high fat-low carbohydrate diet is a bad idea because it increases your cardio vascular risk. And the way that they are measuring your cardiovascular risk or your risk for cardiovascular disease is via cholesterol levels. But the fact is that that simply is a logical fallacy because cholesterol levels aren’t linked to heart disease at all. And fat really poses very low risk when you’re not eating a lot of carbohydrates at the same time that would allow that fat to oxidize. So basically, if you’re saying that a low carbohydrate diet increases heart disease risk, you’re saying essentially that a low carbohydrate diet increases cholesterol. And of course it does because you’re eating more fat. And that increase in cholesterol is going to put at higher risk of heart disease which is not true. So, if you step back and you look at this, it’s a very simplified view of cholesterol. Basically, in order for any cholesterol to increase your risk of heart disease, these lipoproteins that carry cholesterol around your body, a low density lipoprotein or LDL and high density lipoprotein or HDL. These lipoproteins have somehow the capability to work their way into the arterial wall in your coronary arteries and damage the wall of that artery. Now, the only way that a LDL particle specifically is going to be able to do this is if it is what’s called a small dense low density lipoprotein. Think of that like this tiny little bb that’s able to work its way into these small areas and in your arterial walls most normal lipoproteins carrying cholesterol around your body. If you’ve got a good intake of healthy fats and you’re not eating a lot of carbohydrates and especially staying away from processed carbohydrates, high sugar carbohydrates, and high glycemic index carbohydrates. Then these lipoprotein particles, these LDL particles are going to be big. They’re going to be buoyant. And they’re not going to have that small dense characteristic that allows them to work their way into your arterial cell wall. So, unless there are dietary factors present that are turning LDL into the type of particle that allows it to work it’s way into the arterial wall. There’s really not an issue there. The issue is when you have this small oxidized cholesterol. And that’s very easily measured via test. The current measurements for lipid profile are in my opinion worthless. Going out and getting a cholesterol test for HDL and LDL, it’s worthless. It’s because it doesn’t tell you anything because LDL is good and HDL is good. What you have to get measured are the actual particles, the protein particles that are on the surface of the LDL or the HDL. And one of those tests are called Apo B test. That’s a really good one. You can test your small LDL level. And a couple of ways that you can look at the actual particles’ size and the type of proteins that you’ve got on your lipoprotein particles. One would be called a VAP test. And you could Google that or there’s a website called TheVapTest.com. If you go to TheVapTest.com, that test will cost you about 40 bucks or so. And that’s a really good way to test truly your levels of small oxidized cholesterol particles that put you in the risk of heart disease. Another way that you could do this is via what’s called a LDL S-3 lab. And that looks at the size of the cholesterol particles as well. There is a website called Berkeley Heart Labs. It’s at Bhlinc.com. And Berkeley Heart Labs can also look at the cholesterol size rather than just the cholesterol themselves. And both of these tests especially we have insurance that’s relatively cheap like 15 to 40 dollars or in that range. So, ultimately if you find out that you’ve got small LDL particles and you’ve got the type of cholesterol that is going to put at risk of heart disease. There’s a pretty easy dietary fix. And for example, studies have shown that doing something as little as eating three eggs a day can reduce your small LDL significantly. Lowering carbohydrate intake specifically which is the way we got on this topic in the first place. That also can decrease the propensity of that LDL to get oxidized and for small LDL to form. Avoiding any type of low fat intake is also a good way to make sure that you’ve got big fluffy buoyant cholesterol particles and good cholesterol particles circulating around your blood stream. So, those are all of the ways that you can go about addressing this issue. But certainly, the idea that a low carbohydrate diet would be associated with increased risk of heart disease is flawed. While we’re on the topic of getting tested for this type of stuff, one new website I highly recommend that people check out is Wellnessfx.com. And Wellnessfx.com lets you get pretty much everything that I personally would ever recommend in terms of your blood and your hormone markers and everything tested. And then it puts you in touch with physicians and their network who can advise you based on your results. The lab testing itself is not super cheap. But the fact that you’re getting it all, you get access to an interface like an online interface that allows you to track everything. And then you’ve got access to practitioners who will actually work with you to get your numbers where they need to be. I think it makes it super convenient. And I’m a big fan. So, you should check out Wellnessfx.com. That’s a good way to get this stuff tested. So, that’s what my thoughts are on this whole low fat diet/heart disease risk deal.
Brock: Yes. And I think once again the media is almost to blame on this one giving the title of these studies like wrapping them up a neat little title just saying Atkins diet raises heart disease. It’s like a few weeks ago we were talking about the coffee. And one that said that coffee was going to save your life when the actual studies were showing that there was a moderate association between it. It’s just so much easy to package and sell it like this.
Ben: Got to sell newspapers.
Brock: Yes. Okay, the next question comes from Francis.
Francis says: I have been suffering from adult acne since I got pregnant with my one year-old. I take a good probiotic, fish oil, and eat what I consider to be very healthy whole food diet. I have celiac disease and adhere to a gluten free diet. I have also eliminated dairy but to no avail. I am currently training for a half marathon and I’m about to be training for the NYC full marathon and wonder what kind of hormonal changes occur as a result of endurance training. As someone who prides herself on a healthy lifestyle, it pains me to have acne as it seems like it must be something I am doing wrong. Have you seen any studies on the skin-diet-hormone connection?
Ben: Yes. There are a few different places we could start here. But basically, endurance training is hard on the body and training for something like the New York marathon which reminds me that I got to start training for it myself. Basically, everybody knows that there’s a certain strain on your body when you’re doing something like training for a marathon. You’re going to create cortisol. And cortisol is your stress release hormone that comes in response to the fight or flight running from a lion mode. And that’s what you’re just going to be in more when you’re doing excessive training. But one of the responses that you get when you get this increase cortisol release is a release in glucagon. And glucagon is the hormone that sends the signal to our liver to up-regulate blood glucose. It breaks down that liver glycogen and spike blood glucose so that we have energy that we can rely on for running from that lion. So, we get the glycogen broken down, the glucose released. And as soon as glucose hits your blood stream, one of the things that happen is your body releases insulin in order to shuttle that glucose into muscles. And it’s to be utilized as a fuel or stored away. And we get an up-regulation of insulin produced by the pancreas. And eventually, you go through this long enough. Surge in cortisol, surge in blood sugar, surge in insulin, you can get a little bit of hyper insulism going on. And when you’ve got a lot of insulin circulating around the blood stream and a lot of what’s called insulin-like growth factor right along with insulin. As well as a lot of adrenaline which is another thing that gets released when all this happens. One of the things that happen when all these things like insulin and IGF-1 and adrenaline get produced is increased sebum production. And I’ll link to the previous podcast that we did on acne and dairy. But one of the things that happen when you get sebum production is that you can get increased acne formation. And the other issue is insulin and insulin-like growth factor, those are growth hormones. You can tell just by the name of insulin-like growth factor. And it increases the growth rate of among other things your skin cells. So, when you’re triggering new skin cells to form, you’re creating more dead skin cells that have to be pushed up through your skin pores. You’re combining this with more and more of the oily sebum production by the skin cells. You’ve got these big lumps of dead skin cells and you take all this sticky sebum and dead skin cells and you put them together into big lumps. And you’ve got your skin pores pushing this stuff out. And all of a sudden you’ve got acne as being an issue. And that’s how all of this would work. The cortisol, insulin, glucose, sebum, and dead skin cell to acne release type of link. And so, one of the things that you’re going to want to do is make sure that you’re recovering properly. And that you’re limiting the amount of insulin that gets released from food sources. So, you’re going to want to make sure that you really manage your carbohydrate intake and managing the type of blood sugar spiking that’s going on. Inflammation itself in addition to just cortisol can cause some free radicals to get released that can damage cells and the cells need to be replaced or healed. And that also can cause this turnover of skin cells and put you at risk for higher amounts of acne. So, a big part of this is adequate recovery and making sure that you avoid sugar and high glycemic index foods. You’re already avoiding dairy which is great. But when I say adequate recovery, I mean not over training, training less, sleeping more, taking care of your body, and limiting the amount of cortisol that you’re producing. And making sure that you avoid any higher inflammatory foods and so in addition to avoiding carbohydrates, you’d want to avoid lots of omega six fatty acids. That would be nut oils, seed oils, and stuff like that. Taking some anti-inflammatory compounds. I really like turmeric. I like ginger. I like garlic. Probiotics have a good anti-inflammatory effect. Getting some of those things in the diet can certainly help with acne as well. And those are some of the ways that I would approach this. The other thing that you could do is let your acne get out of control and see if that gets you a few more compliments in terms of maybe think you’re a 14 or 15 year old girl again. And you can use that to your advantage as an anti-aging type of deal. You could get your acne going on so you look like a teenager once again.
Brock: That’s not a good idea.
Ben: I’m just throwing it out there.
Brock: I’m putting my foot down. Francis, dude, don’t follow that advice.
Ben: Hey everybody, I’m young and I’m going through puberty.
Brock: This is coming from the guy who just almost lost his leg.
Ben: Yes. You may not want to listen to everything I say.
Brock: Yes. Alright, the next question comes from Rebecca.
Rebecca says: I’ve been a distance swimmer for years and a distance runner for almost a year. And from these experiences, I know that when I have PMS or the first few days of my period, I’m just wiped out and achy. Sadly the race falls on what should be the first day of my period. I can’t alter this using birth control, so I just have to race through it, any advice to make it more comfortable?
Ben: Yes. This is an issue that surprisingly I’ve never had to deal with in my life.
Ben: No. I’ve never had to race on the first day of my period ever. However, I coach female athletes and I get questions about this. And so, I mean the whole menstrual cycle and taking into consideration when you plan your races or even when you plan your hard workouts. It’s certainly a reality that women need to deal with. And you first need to basically understand the very basics of the menstrual cycle because it can get extremely complicated. But when you look at it from a hormonal standpoint, basically the first day of your cycle would be considered day one of the menstrual cycle. And typically, there’s a lot of bleeding that goes on from anywhere from five to seven days. And then that entire day one when a period first starts only up until two weeks later so days one to 14, that is called your follicular phase. And then right around then, ovulation begins. And you get a surge in your estrogen levels. And you get a surge in the levels of another hormone called luteinizing hormone which is abbreviated LH. And that usually lasts until about day 28. And that’s called the luteal phase. So, you’ve got your follicular phase and your luteal phase. And during the luteal phase, you basically get a pretty big surge in estrogen and a growing surge in progesterone as well. So, basically that’s what you’re looking at when it comes to these phases. But during that luteal phase, that’s day 14 or so up to day 28. As you get this increase in estrogen, one of the things that can happen is your body starts to spare carbohydrates or to spare glycogen. Estrogen can do to a certain extent actually promote fat utilization. And so during that period of the cycle, that’s the last couple of weeks of the cycle. Typically if you’re going the racing or doing hard workouts, you need to surge your blood glucose levels a little bit higher than you normally would. And you may find that you’ve got increased carbohydrate needs during those final two weeks of your cycle. So, when it comes to nutrition periodization, you need to increase your carbohydrate intake for racing by anywhere from 40 to 50 calories an hour. So, if you’ve got let’s say you’re going to do a half Ironman triathlon during the last couple of weeks of your period, you may want to actually eat more carbohydrate. More than you would if you’re doing a half Ironman during the first couple of weeks of your period. So, that’s one thing to take into consideration. And the other thing that can happen just because you’ve got lower blood sugar during the second two weeks of your cycle is that it might decrease your propensity for exercise performance. So, if you’re trying to PR, days 14 through 28 may not be the best time to try and do that. So, that’s something to think about. Another thing that happens is during those last two weeks. During the 14 to 28 day period of time is a lot of times that is when there are some changes in your thermal regulation. And that’s a lot of times when you might feel a little bit of bloating and carrying a little bit of extra water weight. And with that elevation in core temperature and elevation in blood volume, some of that can affect your ability to thermal regulate. And it can cause a little bit of cardiovascular strain. So, that’s another reason why the last couple of weeks maybe tougher to PR if that’s something that you’re trying to do. It’s because you might be carrying a little bit of extra weight and also have a little bit more trouble managing heat during that period of time. Then you look at the first part of the period when there is some blood loss. And a lot of women get concerned that there might be a drop in iron levels. Like a drop in hemoglobin, a drop in hematocrit. There really hasn’t been much evidence to show that that’s going to cause anemia to affect your performance unless you’re going a lot longer than eight to ten hours. Once you get past that eight to ten hour range, that’s where iron and loss of blood could be holding you back a little bit. So, for example you’re planning on doing an Ironman during the first week or so of your period, that maybe something to take into consideration. And there maybe a little bit of iron deficiency there that could hold you back. I don’t recommend that you necessarily supplement with iron or something like that. It’s because there are some toxicity issues there. But it’s something to take into consideration. The last thing that you should know about is that when you’re in the last couple of weeks of your period during days 14 through 28, there are along with higher levels of estrogen. There are also higher levels of progesterone. And progesterone can basically trigger a little bit more hyperventilation. Basically, you try and blow off CO2 a little bit more quickly. And so, that once again may trigger days 14 through 28 not being the best period of time to compete. But returning to the issue here, we’re looking at the first day of the period as being just the end the day after that day 28. And you’re going to start to see as you begin your period and as you go through those first five to seven days a drop off and a lot of those effects that I talked about. But you do get of course some of the cramping, some of the bleeding that can make racing just from a logistical standpoint difficult. Some of the things that you can do that work well. White willow bark supplementation is something that may help quite a bit specifically with cramping. So, that’s one thing to look into. It would be white willow bark supplementation. Apple cider vinegar is another thing. It’s very easy to get your hands on like a Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, a few shots of that a day. That’s also been something from a holistic standpoint that has helped a little bit. As well as a Blackstrap molasses, that’s another thing that you can get easily at a health food store. You can keep it in your cupboard. And you can use that as well. You do a couple of tablespoons of that per day along with a few shots of apple cider vinegar and using a white willow bark extract like a capsule extract. All that stuff can help a little bit with cramping. It’s not necessarily going to help with blood flow or anything like that. But they do make things like menstrual cups. For example, there’s one that I am aware of called the diva cup that you could use for something like this. That supposedly holds up a little bit better in terms of padding and absorption and all that jazz when you’re trying to compete while you’re having your period. And that would be something to think about in addition to some of those supplements that I recommend. Ultimately, what this comes down to though is there are some definite changes in your body that occur during your period and the things that you need into consideration while you’re training. If I were a female and I’m not believe it or not.
Brock: You sound like one.
Ben: I just wanted to make that clarification. I would not be going after a PR during days 14 through 28 or probably during the actual period. If you’re going to plan to PR on your cycle, I would shoot for day seven through 14. That would be the best possible time to go after this. And again, it’s something that I’m a complete expert in especially on the logistical standpoint. These are just some of the things that I’ve just found from helping folks out and listen to what they have to say. And I am married so I do get to spend some time around this stuff as well.
Brock: Alright. Rebecca, I understand that we’ve missed your race. I think you’re racing in the beginning of May. And just due to the backlog of questions, we’re just getting to this now. But I’m sure this information will help you out in the future and any other women who are out there listening too.
Ben: Yes, if you’re still listening. And of course, all the men are no longer listening to me. They hung up on the podcast.
Brock: Yes. I hung up a long time ago. Alright, the next question comes from John.
John asks: Ambien/Zolpidem, what’s your take on the benefits of seven to eight hour solid sleep before a 100 miler or any other early morning five plus hour event if it means popping a pill. My alternate is three hours of sleep and a very painful morning. I’ve tried it both ways. Last year I ran a 100 mile PR after a great night of aided sleep, while the year before sans drugs, I struggled to stay awake through the hours leading up to the second sunrise. Do you have any other tricks or trips for ensuring a good night’s sleep and conquering pre-race jitters? I’ve read that amount of sleep the night before race morning is less important than the preceding days. Is the Ambien either banned or dangerous?
Ben: Yes. When you’re racing a 100 miler and you’ve got to get up as early as you’ve got to get up, you’re definitely going to be short on sleep anyways. I am really a big fan of guarding your sleep for those last couple of days leading up to the race. And I do geek out on it quite a bit. What I found to work really well in terms of enhancing your deep sleep as much as possible and shutting down some of those pre-race nerves. And even when you don’t have enough hours to sleep, at least helping you to wake up feeling somewhat more refreshed. I found that Somnidren-GH works really well. That is a supplement made by a company called Millennium Sports. It’s got what’s called a somatostatin inhibitor in it. Along with it are some compounds like gamma butyric acid and some magnesium which help you get into your deep sleep a little bit more quickly. You get a bigger release of growth hormone during that deep restored sleep phase. And then also wake up just feeling a little bit more refreshed. So, I found that that stuff works really well. You can actually add on to that because it has a ton of magnesium in it. You can add on about 250 milligrams or so of a natural calm magnesium powder. And that’s a really nice one-two combo. That’s one that works well. If you don’t want to use that Somnidren-GH stuff or you don’t like the taste or whatever, you can also do about 500 milligrams or so of the natural calm magnesium. And I like that as well. That works out pretty well. Hammer Nutrition makes something called an REM cap. And that’s a mix of melatonin and valerian root and some other sleep maximizing supplements. I don’t find that that works quite as well for me as combining Somnidren-GH with magnesium. But that’s something else that you could try is the Hammer REM caps. Those because they’re melatonin content would work a little bit better if you’re traveling and you’re out of your time zone for a race. That’s for something like that could come in a little bit handier. In combination with any of those three things that I just mentioned, I really liked that thing that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. It’s the EarthPulse. I’ve been using that a ton. I slept nine hours before my race in Japan. And that thing just puts out like a light. So, EarthPulse, that works really well. And that’s more expensive. It’s like a 400 or 500 dollar device. But somebody asked me about this and the way I explained it was to me one hour of deep sleep before a race, I figured that I’m willing to pay 20 bucks for that. I think in my opinion, it pays for itself after you’ve had a good 30 hours of deep sleep. It’s worth it. I mean that is one of the reasons that you work and make money. It’s to make your life more comfortable. And so, I’m not spending money on stuff like this. And it’s one that I found to work pretty well. So, the EarthPulse and those would be some of my main recommendation. As far as the actual sleeping pills, there are a few issues when it comes to this stuff. And one is that they can a lot of times decrease recuperative effect of sleep and keep you out of getting into that rapid eye movement sleep. And it can give you a little bit of a hang over, a little bit of drop in alertness the next day. And drowsiness can certainly hold you back in terms of being able to really ramp up into the intensity that you want to get into. There are a lot of other deleterious side effects of sleeping pills like health side effects. And I could literally talk for about an hour about some of the changes that occur in your neurotransmitter levels. And some of the ways that sleeping pills could eventually induce things like depression, like neurotransmitter deficits, and have some other pretty disastrous side effects. There’s actually a website that goes into this stuff with studies pretty well in terms of lapses in memory, lapses in well being and decreases in performance and stuff like that. It’s over at DarkSideofSleepingPills.com. I know it’s a really cheesy name. But it’s just a simple easy read. They keep it pretty updated in research and stuff. It’s written by an M.D. It’s called DarkSideofSleepingPills.com. But check that out and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. But I would try some of these natural methods instead of going after sleeping pills for sure.
Keerthi asks: I’ve heard contradicting things about Yohimbe HCL for fat loss all over the internet. And that it doesn’t work if there is any insulin response. So, it would be great if you could give your thoughts on this supplement and the right time, and at what dosage to take.
Ben: Yes. Yohimbe is something that has been proven by research to assist with fat burning and fat loss. And in the same way, Ephedra has got some really good fat loss research behind it. And it works in somewhat similar way. It increases adrenaline levels in your body. So, it has a nervous system effect. It’s got a double whammy effect though because it acts on your nervous system to increase adrenaline. It also acts on the receptor system of your fat cells, the part of your fat cells that regulate thermogenesis. And it increases activity in those areas. And so, it essentially shoves your hormone sensitive lipase towards a more fat burning state or increases activity of that fat burning enzyme lipase. So, there are a couple of different cool fat burning activities that it has. It appears that it may actually help you to produce more ketone bodies too. So, if you are in ketogenisis, it may actually augment some of the effects of being able to burn a lot of those ketones that are circulating your body. And it helps you burn through more of those free fatty acids as a fuel when you’re taking Yohimbe. The issue that I have with it is the same with I had with Ephedra in that it can cause extreme anxiety. A little bit of psychosis if you take too much of it. And it’s one of those things where you’re hitting the fast forward button on your body. You’re hitting the fast forward button on you metabolism. And you are burning more fat but you may also be eventually risking adrenal exhaustion affecting your lifespan and overall health down the road. And so, it’s one of those things that in my opinion because of its effects on adrenaline is something that you should use more. And consider more you would consider a drug. An illegal drug like cocaine or marijuana or whatever else, you’re taking it for that short term effect that you’re going to get. And you’re acknowledging that it may affect your health long term. Yohimbe, interestingly most of its strongest research has been to improve basically and I know this and we may mark this episode as explicit in iTunes, but erection and ejaculation. And it does so even more when you combine it with another popular drive compound called horny goat weed. I love that name. But basically, these two together, both enhance those two qualities that I just mentioned. And it would be something like in terms of bedroom activity, a fantastic supplement. Once again, you are over stimulating yourself with this stuff. But at the same time, if it’s worth those extra fireworks in the bedroom for you, that’d be another area where this stuff could come in handy. And there’s no pun intended there.
Brock: I’d just be worried about the anxiety part of it.
Brock: I’m sort of freaking out in the corner of the bedroom.
Ben: You’re like a mad psychotic sex addict. But seriously, yes it can certainly help with fat loss. There’s a lot of good research behind it. And yes, it has been shown to be more efficacious when you use it on an empty stomach and when you don’t have a lot of insulin circulating the blood stream. But in my opinion, any of these stuff that makes you burn more fat by shoving you into overdrive. It’s not worth it compared with better lifestyle modification like enhanced sleep, decreased stress, same levels of physical levels of activity, and having dietary self control.
Brock: Alright. Our next question comes from Steve.
Steve says: I recently discovered the exercise called burpees. I did two sets of 15 reps with about a minute rest in between and was gassed. I like to run and typically run 20 to 25 miles a week and enter a handful of 5k, 10k and half marathons a year. Ideally, I lift weights about two times and sometimes three times a week. My question is how and when to incorporate burpees into my training without messing up my running training?
Brock: What’s that called a squat thrust?
Ben: Yes or like a push up squat thrust jump.
Ben: Well, burpee is and by the way I love burpees. I mentioned that I worked out after that half IronmanJapanand a couple of days later. I was doing a hard workout in the gym. It was one of those tiny little Japanese hotels. By the way, everything there is shorter. Like my feet hang off the bed and the TV’s are small. And my head hits the ceiling in the bathroom.
Brock: And how tall are you, six feet?
Ben: I’m 6’3’’.
Brock: Oh, okay. So, you’re taller than usual but not extraordinary.
Ben: Well, I’m a giant among men over there apparently. Anyways though, I went to the hotel gym and this was inNagoya. And the gym basically had a vibration platform. It was just cool. It was actually a pretty intense vibration platform. It was very vibratory. And then there was this almost like bucking bronco type of thing or just like the seat that you sat on that’s just bucked all over the place. And it tried to hold on with your thighs, your core, or whatever. And you need to hold on to these handles because this thing just moved around as you clasp it between your crotches. It felt slightly perverted. But that was another exercise machine that they had. And there was basically like a treadmill and a stability ball. So, I’m not wanting to do the little pelvic thruster rotator machine. Now, the workout I did was basically I did five minutes on the treadmill. It’s just like a temple run. And then I did 15 push ups, 25 squats, one minute holding an isometric squat on that vibration platform. And then I did 25 burpees. And I just did that as a circuit five times through. And the toughest part was you’d finish the burpees and you’d jumpstart on the treadmill. And I mean it’s an extremely metabolic workout. I was dripping with sweat by the time I was done 45 minutes later. But that’s the issue with burpees. It’s extremely metabolic. And so, what happens when we’re talking about proper recovery and cortisol which we’ve mentioned in a couple of responses so far. It’s that you can literally just be pushing yourself too hard everyday if you’re combining burpees in your weight training routines with runs. So, that means everyday you’re going fairly metabolic. I’m not a fan of every weight training session being a metabolic type of crossfit workout session with burpees and all that stuff. Unless you have days in between those workouts that are easier days where you’re not producing a lot of that lactic acid and not pushing your body quite that hard. And what that means is that if you do a workout where you’re incorporating a bunch of burpees, your next days run should not be like an interval run or an intense hill repeats. You’ve got to take into consideration that you did metabolic work the day before. Just know that your body needs some rest and recovery. And so, for a more advanced athlete, you might be able to go two, three, or four days with doing metabolic work before you take that easier day of recovery. For some advanced or more like a pro athlete, they can do a good one to three weeks of hard work before taking one or two easy days. But ultimately, understand that if you’re going to throw burpees into your routine that you need to take into consideration that that is high intensity metabolic work. And it could mess up your run training unless you adjust your running to be easier. And take into consideration that you’ve gotten some of that harder effort done during your weight training session. Ultimately, for pure runners who just want to get really good at running, I’m a bigger fan of using running for your cardiovascular and your metabolic work. And then you’re using weight training for just your strength and your power. You’re not using weight training as the time to get your heart rate up or do a lot of circuit work but just to build up some strength. Do some squats, do some dead lifts, do some presses, and save the metabolic stuff for your actual runs.
Brock: Yes. I have used burpees a few times in the middle of winter. When it’s just too crappy or too dangerous to get outside to do some hill training or do some high intensity intervals to do actual run stuff. I’ll use burpees to do a few flights of stairs in my apartment and then do some burpees then do a few more stairs. And I replace a hill training session like that.
Brock: They’re for small confined spaces or just not being able to get out of the house because it’s -40.
Ben: Yes. They’re one of my standby exercises when I’m traveling. If I’m staying away from a conference and I don’t have a chance to workout. Every time I go to my hotel room I’ll just do 25 burpees. And I’m sure the folks who are living below me or even up above me when I’m slamming my hands in the ceiling after a burpee, they’re thinking that there’s too much activity going on in the hotel room. But honestly folks, I’m just doing burpees. That’s all that is.
Brock: By yourself.
Ben: By myself.
Brock: Alright. The next question comes fromErin.
Erinsays: I am a 25 year old female, 5’3’’, and 120 pounds with a naturally very low body fat percentage. Ever since I was young, my body has always carried a lot of muscle especially in my upper body like the shoulders, biceps, and triceps. While I do love working out and have participated in a variety of different workout styles and intensities like yoga or pilates, crossfit, endurance training, and etc. I always have the same bulkiness to my upper body and I don’t like it. Can you offer me any advice to get rid of the muscle but still maintain a good fitness level? As of lately, I have been trying to solely do cardiovascular training like swimming, biking, and running. And I eat a pretty low protein diet. Do you think I should try a hypocaloric diet?
Ben: Well, anytime you’re resorting to something like starving your body to get rid of excess muscle, it is going to become hard on your body. When you put yourself into a catabolic state and I don’t want to kick a horse to death but I mentioned cortisol a couple of times already. But you are getting that surge in cortisol, surge in catabolic hormones, and sometimes an increase in inflammatory markers like homocysteine and CRP. And some of these elements that show that your body is fairly stressed out. And that can be tough on you. It can be tough on your immune system. It can be tough on your well being. And it can certainly limit your ability to have better performance. And I know that it sounds like the way that your body looks maybe more important to you than actual performance gains. But you do say that you want to get rid of muscle and still maintain a good fitness level. So, rather than just straight up saying that you’re going to eat very few calories and you try and cannibalize my body or eat a really low protein diet. What I would instead consider doing is just tweaking your workouts to where you’re doing a little bit more metabolic work for your upper body. And doing more strength work for your lower body so you’re bringing yourself back to alignment. I mean this is one of things that I talk about quite a bit in my new book over at Getfitguy.com. And it’s truly more for the female parashapes for what’s called in the book the mesoendomoprh female. That’s small upper body, stronger legs, bigger hips, weaker shoulders, and weaker arms. It’s a fairly common female shape. It’s why it’s named after a fruit or maybe the fruit is named after it. I don’t know. But you know parashaped females a lot of times recommending metabolic work for the lower body, walking, running on the treadmill, cycling at a high cadence low resistance. And you’re doing an elliptical trainer at a high cadence and low resistance. And doing more upper body work. Doing body presses and pull-ups at a heavier weight to bring your body into better alignment and tone the legs and strengthen the upper body so to speak. And we look this from an opposite scenario essentially. This is a girl who’s got a bigger upper body and what sounds like proportionately not so quite big legs. And that’s fairly unique female frame. You usually see the opposite. But in a case like this, yes. I’d be doing more rowing, swimming, arm ergometers, stuff like that for the upper body. And then for the lower body, doing more squats, lunges, step-ups at a heavier weight. And so, you’re looking at tweaking your exercise routine that way.
Brock: Did you say arm ergometers?
Ben: Yes, arm ergometers.
Brock: Is that the thing where it looks like you’re pedaling a bike but you’re doing it with your hands?
Ben: Yes. I actually like those. They’re in most gyms around here. A lot of times if I don’t have time to squeeze in a swim, I’ll just do a 3000 meter row. And then I’ll throw in five minutes on an arm ergometer. And they actually work really well for upper body work that’s more metabolic. So, that’s what I would be doing. If you’re going to go low calorie at all to cannibalize muscle, what I recommend that you’d do is throw in a fasted morning workout with some amino acids. And don’t go hypocalorie and fasted workouts everyday because they can be tough on the body. But four or five days a week, do something like that. And then just give your body adequate calories the rest of the time. And do more metabolic work for the upper body and more resistance work for the lower body.
Brock: Okay. This next question comes from Don.
Don says: My question is about fatigue. Is fatigue from lack of sleep different from fatigue after a workout? As a truck driver, my sleep patterns are erratic so that lack of sleep is a chronic problem. Is the efficacy of a workout affected by this type of fatigue? Further to this, and I know you’re not a fan of energy drinks, but I find that a Red Bull can make an otherwise difficult workout more doable. Will this affect the efficacy of the workout?
Ben: Well, it depends on the workout. There was actually a study that just came out. It was this month I believe. I don’t remember. I just saw it recently. But it was in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And it was about how sleep loss affects male collegiate weight lifters. And they literally gave these guys 24 hour sleep loss, essentially an all-nighter. And then they tested testosterone. They tested cortisol both before and after the weight training session. They had them do snatches, clean and jerks, front squats, and heavy stuff. And they tested their fatigue, their confusion, their mood disturbance, their sleepiness, their performance, their hormones. And they didn’t really notice any aversive effects of an all-nighter on weight lifting performance at all. But at the same time, there was another study that they did on swimmers. And they did something similar where they took swimmers. And they basically had them maintain their normal sleep-wake patterns. And these were college students. So, their normal sleep-wake patterns are pretty crappy. And then they had them extend their sleep to ten hours per day which is a lot for six to seven weeks. And they saw some significant difference in swim performance after scheduling an extra sleep for these collegiate swimmers. And they had another study where they reported a similar performance on a basketball team that was doing free throw shooting and game play and stuff like that. So, I think when we take some of the research that I’ve seen and we look at it. If you’re doing an intense cardiovascular metabolic session, I think that sleep loss is going to affect it deleteriously. If you are doing something that requires a great deal of focus like playing a basketball game and shooting free throws and stuff like that, sleep loss is probably going to deleteriously affect that as well. It doesn’t appear from what I’ve seen that if you just need to pick a heavy object off the ground. Sleep isn’t going to necessarily affect that too much at least not acute loss of sleep. I think that chronic loss of sleep long term could certainly affect that. So, ultimately for most people that are doing something like weight lifting and fitness, you’re going to be doing some metabolic work. You’re going to be doing some movements that if you do them wrong they certainly end up harming you. And I think that in those situations you have fatigue and lack of sleep is going to affect you. If you’ve got to lift some heavy weights, it might be okay. But even that, research has only lifted the short term effects of lack of sleep and not chronic lack of sleep. As far as drinking a Red Bull to make the workout more doable, yes the Red Bull is going to help. You’re going to get caffeine that’ll improve alertness and so will a little taurine, some little b-vitamins in that. The problem is that you’ve also got a lot of sucrose. You’ve got a lot of glucose. If you’re doing the sugar-free stuff, you’ve got acesulfame potassium and aspartame instead of the sucrose and the glucose. And so, you’re going to get either the neurotoxic effect of the artificial sweeteners or the acidic effect of the regular sweeteners combined with the soda. And you’d be better off if you just need that short term boost of grabbing a powder that has caffeine and b-vitamins and taurine in it rather than Red Bull. And any time you’re drinking an energy drink, it’s going to be less healthy for you than just grabbing some powder and mixing it in water. So, there are a lot of different brands out there. I’ve talked about the brand that I use before. It’s called Delta-E when I need a pick-me-up like that. But ultimately, just like I mentioned with my answer with Yohimbe. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. And there’s going to be long term side effects down the road if you’re pushing through lack of sleep and fatigue and band aiding that with energy drinks.
Brock: Yes. Peter is going come and kick your ass.
Ben: That’s right. Look out Paul.
Brock: Okay. But just to go back to the beginning of his question. The very beginning he asked is fatigue from lack of sleep different from fatigue after a workout.
Brock: So, you definitely talked a lot about the sleep fatigue but how about the fatigue after a workout.
Ben: Yes. Fatigue after a workout is usually glycogen depletion, some lactic acid formation, some oxygen debt. Fatigue after a lack of sleep is typically a disruption of neurotransmitters and imbalances in hormones. And so, yes it’s pretty different fatigues that we’re talking about there.
Brock: Yes. So if you’re already fatigue from a workout, obviously the Red Bull will help or the energy supplement or whatever will work in a different way. I feel like that would be where the sugars would actually be kicking in more so than the b-vitamins.
Ben: Yes exactly. And that’s a good point. In that case, it’s your body taking up sugars to replace sugars that you’ve burnt during the workout that’ll be giving me a little energy burst. But I’m still definitely not endorsing the use of Red Bull as a recovery drink for sure.
Brock: Yes. I think the fact that Red Bull is actually outlawed in a number of countries around the world. It’s illegal and it’s probably a good reason not to drink it.
Ben: Yes. The only time I endorse Red Bull is with vodka or rum and high amounts of all-nighters. So, that’s really the only time that I think this stuff is worth it.
Brock: For some reason I could just picture you with a glow stick in one hand and a Red Bull in the other.
Ben: Yes, and a pacifier.
Brock: Yes. I won’t describe the rest of the scene. Our final question comes from Andrea.
Andrea says: I’m a personal trainer and recently worked with a client who has been on prescription pain meds long term due to back surgery. He recently got tested by his doctor and was told that he has low testosterone due to the long term vicodin use. The doctor is supplementing his testosterone, and the client is now losing weight and feeling less fatigued and depressed. I was shocked to learn that prescription pain meds could affect his hormone levels to such a degree. Have you ever heard of this? And if so, what kind of nutrient deficiencies or hormone problems could long term pain medication use create in female athletes?
Ben: Yes. Basically, as she mentioned like an androgen deficiency and there has been multiple studies that have shown this with pain pills. Particularly the opioid I see in oxycodone and roxicodone and oxycontin and all these. Typically when we’re talking about pain pills, these are the ones that you’re talking about. But opioids unfortunately, they act on your pituitary hormone which is responsible for initiating testosterone production. As well as, luteinizing hormone, this is a very important precursor for the leydig cells and the testes and also the ovaries to produce testosterone. And they act to basically shutdown a lot of that production. They can also suppress your adrenal hormone production. They can inhibit the activity of the entire endocrine system itself which is responsible for producing hormones in general. And so, women who are taking a lot of pain pills are eventually going to stop having menstrual cycles and have decreased drive. They could also have decreased sex drive from the loss of progesterone. Guys are going to get fatigued, depression, erectile dysfunction, and decreased drive, all of the stuff that goes along with a decrease primarily in testosterone. And so, there are certainly some issues if you’re using pain meds long term. Unfortunately, you’ve had a back surgery and it’s so tough to just get by without using something to shutdown the pain. I was even on hydrocodone for days there with my mercy just because it was getting so hard to even sleep. It was because my entire leg was inflamed. However in most cases, I like to before actually encouraging opioid consumption to shutdown pain. I like to encourage that you something natural like a COX-2 inhibitor. A natural COX-2 inhibitor which is basically and COX-2 is involved in the production of prostaglandins and that pain response that you can get. I like doing a natural extract. Phenocane is one that I recommend quite a bit as an alternative to something like ibuprofen or Advil. And it’s basically a curcumin and turmeric extract combined with some other natural compounds that decrease prostaglandin inflammation and are natural COX-2 inhibitors. That’s something that can workout quite a bit. We talk about this a couple of weeks ago in the interview with Dr. Kruse about how cold thermogenesiscan really improve the ability to handle pain. And also pain tolerance as well as shutdown pain. It’s like cold baths, cold soaks, cold showers, ice baths, stuff like that. That’d be another thing to think about as well. But ultimately, I have heard certainly that prescription pain meds are going to affect hormone levels. And I wouldn’t be worrying about nutrient deficiencies as much as actual hormone problems. I haven’t seen any evidence that shows that you’re going to experience nutrient deficiencies or effects with your gut health like you would with something like anti-biotic. But endocrine system and adrenal system, anything opioid based is going to throw a real wrench in that stuff.
Ben: Yes. Honestly, I’d just sell it to some high school kid.
Brock: You’re full of terrible ideas today.
Ben: No. But seriously, I mean there is a time and place for opioids. They are natural plant based extract. And there’s a reason that God made Poppy. But once again, you’ve got some side effects similar to when you’re using sleeping pills or similar when you’re using Yohimbe. And it dictates that this stuff is meant to be used in a certain time and a certain place and certainly not chronically.
Brock: Alright. Now that’s good advice.
Ben: There we go.
Brock: Alright. And that wraps it up. And we should probably wrap it up because we’ve really gone on and on with this one.
Ben: We have. Not only did we start late because of microphone problems and still we’re going on like an hour later than we usually wrap this thing up. But we went on. So, okay, I guess that’s a good place to end. Check out the show notes. What did we say Brock, episode 198?
Brock: Two more to 200.
Ben: That’s right. And it’s over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. We promised we’d do something special for 200. I don’t know what it is. Maybe we’ll record from an airplane or something. We’ll figure it out. But anyways, BenGreenfieldFitness.com episode number 198. Leave your comments underneath the show notes if you have follow-up questions. Leave your ranking over at iTunes. Leave a donation while you’re at BenGreenfieldFitness.com if you’d like. And I have a few great interviews that I’m getting prep to release. And so, stay tuned for those. I’ll probably pushing one out to you guys as early as this Saturday so until next time, thank you for listening.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net
June 27, 2012 – free audio podcast: When To Take Sleep Pills, Pain Meds and Fat Loss Boosters Also: fueling a long ride on a high fat diet, how to recover from and prepare for a race simultaneously, does eating low-carb raise your cholesterol, the skin-diet-hormone-exercise connection, menstruating on race day, taking a sleep aid the night before a race, Yohimbe for fat loss, how to incorporate burpees, the best way to decrease muscle, the different types of fatigue, and the hormonal effects of prescription pain medications.
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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from Chuck:
When you follow a high fat diet and go for a really long bike ride (3 to 6 hours) what do you use to fuel during these rides?
Audio Question from Chris:
Recently complete an Olympic Triathlon and is signed up for another one 4 weeks later (now 3 weeks away). He had a good rest week and feels like he will be ready but would like some suggestions for training and tapering.
~ In my response, I mention the article “How To Bounce Back From Ironman With Lightning Speed“.
Is the Low-Carb diet actually bad for you in the longterm? I am just concerned because there is a new study spreading around the web that says that low-carb diets significantly raise the risk of heart disease. What do you think about the article Atkins diet ‘raises risk of heart disease' because of a surge in cholesterol levels?
~ In my response to Osa, I mention the Superhuman Food Pyramid.
I have been suffering from adult acne since I got pregnant with my 1 year old. I take a good probiotic, fish oil and eat what I consider to be a very healthy –whole food– diet. I have celiac disease and adhere to a gluten free diet. I have also eliminated dairy, but to no avail. I am currently training for a 1/2 marathon and about to be in training for the NYC full marathon and wonder what kind of hormonal changes occur as a result of endurance training. As someone who prides myself on a healthy lifestyle it pains me to have acne as it seems like it must be something I am doing wrong! Have you seen any studies on the skin-diet-hormone connection?
~ In my response to Frances, I mention another podcast we did on Acne.
I've been a distance swimmer for years, and a distance runner for almost a year, and from these experiences, I know that when I have PMS / the first few days of my period, I'm just wiped out and achy. Sadly the race falls on what should be the first day of my period. I can't alter this using birth control, so I just have to race through it. Any advice to make it more comfortable?
~ In my response to Rebecca, I mention making sure to control estrogen levels, and thispodcast we did on estrogen dominance.
Ambien/Zolpidem: what's your take on the benefits of 7-8 hours of solid sleep before a 100 miler (or any other early morning 5+ hour event) if it means popping a pill? My alternative is 3ish hours of sleep and a very painful morning. I've tried it both ways: last year I ran a 100 mile PR after a great night of “aided” sleep, while the year before – sans drugs – I struggled to stay awake through the hours leading up to the second sunrise. Do you have any other tricks or tips for ensuring a good night's sleep and conquering pre-race jitters? I've read that the amount of sleep the night before race morning is less important than the preceding days'. Is Ambien either banned or dangerous?
I've heard contradicting things about Yohimbe HCL for fat loss all over the internet and that it doesn't work if there is any insulin response. So, it would be great if you could give your thoughts on this supplement and the right time, and at what dosage, to take it.
I recently discovered the exercise called “burpees” – wow! I did two sets of 15 reps with about a minute rest in between and was gassed! I like to run and typically run 20-25 miles a week and enter a handful of 5K, 10K and half marathons a year. Ideally I lift weights about 2x – sometimes 3x a week. My question is how and when to incorporate burpees into my training without messing up my running training ?
I am a 25 year old female, 5'3”, ~120lbs with a naturally very low body fat percentage. Ever since I was young, my body has always carried a lot of muscle, especially in my upper body (shoulders, biceps, triceps). While I do love working out and have participated in a variety of different workout styles and intensities (yoga/pilates, crossfit, endurance training, etc), I always have the same bulkiness to my upper body and I do not like it! Can you offer me any advice to get rid of the muscle but still maintain a good fitness level? As of lately, I have been trying to solely do cardiovascular training (swim, bike, run) and eat a pretty low protein diet. Do you think I should try a hypocaloric diet?
~ In my response to Erin, I mention GetFitGuy.com.
My question is about fatigue. Is fatigue from lack of sleep different from fatigue after a workout. As a truck driver, my sleep patterns are erratic so that lack of sleep is a chronic problem. Is the efficacy of a workout affected by this type of fatigue. Further to this, and I know you're not a fan of energy drinks, but I find that a Red Bull can make an otherwise difficult workout more do-able. Will this affect the efficacy of the workout.
I'm a personal trainer and recently worked with a client who has been on prescription pain meds long term due to a back surgery. He recently got tested by his doctor and was told that he has low testosterone due to the long term vicodin use. The doc is supplementing his testosterone, and the client is now losing weight and feeling less fatigued and depressed. I was shocked to learn that prescription pain meds could affect his hormone levels to such a degree. Have you ever heard of this? And if so, what kind of nutrient deficiencies or hormone problems could long term pain medication use create in female athletes?