October 27, 2010
Introduction: In this podcast episode: A lot of questions about fitness, nutrition and much more.
Ben: Hey folks, Ben Greenfield here and I’ve just returned from a triathlon in Jamaica called the Rose Hall Triathlon. And it was a great time. Beautiful race, but very little Internet access where I was staying and so I have a huge backlog of questions that I’ll be addressing on this podcast. We cover a wide range of topics and I promise that you’ll get a lot out of listening in. Because of the number of questions, we actually aren’t going to have an interview today but we’ll get back to our interviews next week along with an Inner Circle podcast released later this week as well. I know I promised you the Inner Circle podcast last week but due to lack of Internet access I was unable to upload audio and so that will come out later this week and that Inner Circle podcast will be touching on the importance of breakfast and also tons of ideas – healthy ideas – for breakfast and for lunch for both kids and adults. So wait for that later this week, and right now we’re going to go ahead and launch right into the Q and A. There are a few special announcements but why don’t you just access those on the Shownotes so we can jump right into the content. And remember that the Shownotes are over at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and this is episode 117.
Erin asks: Hi Ben, this is Erin Mera. I have a question. For quite a while now, I’ve been experiencing some aches and not necessarily a pain in my right quad while riding the bike. As I’m training for Ironman Arizona and as my rides are getting longer, it seems to be getting worse so it’s like fatigue and ache only on the right side. And it comes and goes immediately when I get on the bike and continues throughout the ride or it will start later on in the ride. It really doesn’t matter, but it’ll come on when I’ve got more resistance. So like hills or when there’s wind. Went out for a flat 90 miler yesterday and there was a lot of wind. We averaged about 18 miles per hour.
Ben answers: Well Erin’s question goes on for a little while, but basically she winds up saying that no matter what she does it seems to ache and not necessarily hurt, just in that right section of the thigh. And often down into the outside of the knee just a little bit. Well when you’re experiencing something like this and it’s not actually an issue of not having enough water or not having enough fuel on board, typically it’s due to one of two possible factors. The first is that there’s some issue going on with the nerves and the bundles that run down from your spinal area and your low back joints down into your leg. Now if there is a misalignment or misalignment of your sacroiliac joint or of your spine, then a lot of times those nerves aren’t going to work the way they’re supposed to and a lot of times you’ll find it occurs on just one side of your body or the other. Typically the more immobile hip is going to have a little bit less nerve activation for the muscles going down that side. So it could be that your right sacroiliac joint is actually stuck and you may need to go see a sports chiropractor to actually have that adjusted so you have better neuromuscular control on that right side. The other option is that there may be some actual muscle tightness and inflammation going on and a lot of times you’ll experience that more on both sides when it’s an issue. But occasionally and especially if it goes hand in hand with poor mobility on just one side of the hip, that can also be an issue. So what I recommend you do in that case is begin to use a foam roller and get some deep tissue massage on that right side and it may be that you need to combine that with about one to two weeks of not doing much cycling to allow the tightness and inflammation to subside as you work on making that part of your body more mobile and combining those two factors, making sure that your sacroiliac joint is adjusted along with making sure that the soft tissue along the outside of that affected leg is mobile would be the best option. So that’s what I would go after if I were you and best of luck, be sure to email me and let me know how it turns out after you start into that protocol.
Bethany asks: After my second baby I experienced a fairly significant diastasis recti and have been avoiding crunches, back-bends, and front planks upon advisement these may worsen the split. Are there any other exercises you think may be useful for helping the split close?
Ben answers: Well diastasis recti is basically a separation of the abdominal wall that typically happens post-partum. And really is defined as a separation of the abdominal wall after a woman’s had a baby by more than about two finger widths. And the problem is that if you engage in traditional abdominal exercise, you can tear it even more and really destroy your abdominal function. So there’s a few different exercises that I’d recommend that you do. One is pretty straightforward. All you do is you lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor just like you’re going to do a crunch or rather than doing a crunch just take your hands and put them on your abs with your fingertips pointing down towards your pelvis. All you’re going to lift is just your head while you press down and in with your fingers in a motion that would almost be like you pushing the abdominal wall back together. So you can do a series of three or four sets of 15 to 20 headlifts as you push each time. Nice, slow and controlled. The next exercise that you could do is kind of similar but what you do is you get into that same position but you lie on top of a long towel and you wrap that towel’s ends around your midline and you basically pull on that towel in the same motion as if you were pulling each side of your abdominal wall together as you again try and lightly sit up and bring your head up to look at your belly button. So again, what we’re trying to do is get your abdominal muscles to contract in the direction that will help to strengthen the area that can bring that split together. And then finally the last thing you can do is again lie in a crunch position and as you exit, basically extend one of your legs along the floor as your heel kind of scrapes along the ground until that leg gets to extension and then inhale and bring that leg back to its starting position so the heel is dragging along the ground back in and then you repeat that with the other leg. And you can do these exercises everyday as you’re watching TV, you’re lying on the ground – you could do them as a circuit of several repetitions of each exercise and continue to check for each week with those two fingers to see if that separation is more than two finger widths apart. And that should help you out quite a bit. Be sure to go over to my other podcast, the Get Fit Guy over at quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/exercise where I just recently recorded an episode and wrote an article about how women post-partum can actually get rid of the stomach – get rid of the baby stomach and while that outie belly button that you have after you have a baby is really something that can only be fixed through a tummy tuck or a staple surgery, you can still get a flat stomach back without risking injuring your abdominal wall post-pregnancy with some of the exercises that I put up over there. So be sure to check that out.
Greg asks: I train with a triathlon team for Ironman and Half Ironman distance races. The front runners tend to form a tight peleton during bike training, drafting heavily and taking turns with the lead. I’ve avoided this because it seems like I would be cheating myself out of the workout. For example if we had a 100 mile ride, if I was in a peleton, would it turn out to be an effort of a 70 or 80 mile ride?
Ben answers: Well this is a pet peeve of mine too Greg and for any of you out there that are training for a triathlon and go out and train with a group and get a group in a big group of a big pack, you’re really not racing the way that you’re going to be racing in the actual triathlon itself unless you’ve got a separation of three to four bike lengths or around 10 meters between each rider in that group. So for example, when I teach my triathlon training camps, I tell the riders to actually maintain that split so we’re not out in one big group trying to take turns pulling like a cycling team. We’re trying to stimulate the same type of conditions that we’d get if we were in a triathlon because in most triathlons, you’re not allowed to draft close to the wheel of the rider that’s in front of you so if you’re training with other triathletes, what I’d recommend and you can tell them that I recommended this if it helps you and gives you a little backup but basically tell the guys well look we need to practice, if we’re going to make each other better triathletes, is to actually distance ourselves between each rider by about three to four bike lengths and you can still take turns doing pack style riding. You’ll get a lot of – especially the pros doing this in Ironman races, pro triathletes doing this in Ironman races where you’ll have six cyclists – each cyclist separated by 10 meters but they’ll take turns with the rider at the back going up towards the front and then the rider at the back of that pack after a while going up to the front and so every 5 to 10 minutes, the leader is changing in that pack ride. But they’re still split up by at least 10 meters or at least several bike lengths. So that’s the way that you can train in an almost what it would be like peleton while still maintaining a lot of that triathlon style training and the other thing you can practice is actually making your passes in about 15 to 20 seconds which is required in most triathlons now and as a matter of fact in many of the WTC triathlons, you’re now required to pass the entire group when you begin to pass. So some things to bear in mind, some things to practice when you’re training on the bicycle for a triathlon.
And then we have a question from Rick and Rick sent me a link about a swimmer’s unfortunate death during a race because of heat exhaustion and this was something that happened quite recently and he was wondering if I had any thoughts on this topic that I could share in the podcast. For those of you who don’t know, this was during a 10k open water swim race. What happened was one of the swimmers who was a very successful open water swimmer and a pool swimmer, he was found dead floating about 400 meters from the start of the actual race itself. And one of the issues was that the water may have been a temperature that was too high to actually be swimming at the intensity and distance that these folks were swimming in. And my thoughts on this is that if this type of news makes you nervous about going out and doing a triathlon or an open water swim, I would definitely recommend that you train yourself in the conditions that you’re actually going to be competing in. So if you’re going to swim in a warm water race – for example, I just got done competing in Jamaica. I was getting very hot towards the end of that triathlon and while that was a fairly short triathlon, if it would have been longer it would have been prudent for me to actually do some wetsuit style training in my pool which tends to be at warm temperatures so that my body becomes acclimated to the heat of the water I’ll be racing in. And then the other thing that you may need to do in the same way that you would use a walk run strategy during a marathon in very hot water is if you’re in an open water swim race, you may need to stop every buoy – stop and tread water, let the core temperature come back down a little bit and then keep going and it may sound counter intuitive to actually going fast but if you’re worried about overheating that’s a strategy that you can use. You may want to consider using a swimsuit, just like a jammer or a one piece type of Speedo if you’re a male or a two piece suit if you’re a female and foregoing the full on one piece triathlon suit or the skin suit or in some cases the wet suit. So there’s definitely a tradeoff between speed and safety when it comes to this type of swimming but ultimately, it’s your individual choice on whether or not you’re going to compete in a race at which you’re putting yourself at risk when you’re swimming in hot water that may put you at risk for an overexertion injury. And while my thoughts and my condolences go out to the family of this swimmer, Fran Crippin, who died in this race, it is also the individual’s choice to compete in the race and the individual’s choice to compete at the intensity that they compete in regardless of whether the race director chooses a venue that may be too hot to swim in. I think that ultimately in most cases, whether it be this or any case where there might be a liability involved, ultimately in most cases it’s the responsibility of the athlete and the individual to prepare themselves for an event, prepare themselves for the environment that they’re going to experience in the event and then also make adjustments during the event if any type of overexertion or overheating becomes an issue. So it’s an interesting article and what I’ll do for you folks is I’ll put a link to that article in the Shownotes so you can read about this open water swim where the swimmer died from overexertion. And incidentally the temperature in this race was in the high 80s which you’re not going to find in many triathlon events unless they’re in a very warm water climate. So just use caution. Use prudence and prepare yourself accordingly if you’re concerned about swimming in hot water. You can acclimate yourself by swimming in a warmer pool and wearing preferably an older wetsuit if you have two wetsuits so you’re not degrading the wetsuit too much from the chlorine or else swimming in your wetsuit but rinsing it with fresh water immediately afterwards. So let’s go ahead and move on to the next question.
Ron asks: You spoke about taking “fish oil” for joint improvement. How often and in what form do you use it?
Ben answers: This is the first part of his question. Now I actually use a few different forms of oil Ron. I use a vegan based blend of different types of oil like flax oil and hemp oil and that’s in a blend called Udo’s 3-6-9. It’s put out by a gentleman named Udo Erasmus who has written a great book called Fats That Kill, Fats That Heal. And he’s actually going to be coming on the podcast for an interview here in the next couple of months. But that’s something I simply take a tablespoon of each morning and it’s essentially like WD40 for your joints. Very high and good Omega 3 ratio and I simply take a tablespoon with breakfast each morning. You need to be very careful not to allow it to get to a high temperature, not to cook with it. I don’t put that into my oatmeal or anything like that because it does degrade and form what are called free radicals at higher temperatures. But that’s how I take that. And I also take a couple of pharmaceutical grade fish oil capsules from Bioletics and that’s a brand called Pharmax and it’s a lot higher dosage of fish oil than you can get at a typical health food store or a typical grocery store. So that’s called Pharmax by Bioletics and I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes. Incidentally I also get that Udo’s 3-6-9 oil from Bioletics as well. So I take a tablespoon of Udo’s each morning and then two of the Pharmax capsules in the morning with breakfast and then two of them later on in the day. The only time that I don’t take those is if I’m eating fish that day and then I’ll kind of back off on the fish oil a little bit because I’m getting some of those good healthy fats from the actual fish and the skin of the fish.
Ron asks: I’m also curious about protein. Taking it 6 times a day seems like a lot. Is this due to your body size and consumption of calories? Would you recommend this to someone who is 175 lbs or do you need to take a hard look at each individual’s need for fueling?
Ben answers: Yeah, absolutely Ron. You do need to take a look at each individual’s need for fueling. Now, I personally recommend a range for most people of 30 to 40% protein intake in terms of the total percentage intake of your diet. And that is something that you can really tweak by doing something like metabolic testing or going over to the folks at Bioletics which I just mentioned and doing a metabolic questionnaire through them. The other option is you can simply follow the general range of going for about 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight assuming that you are frequently exercising and breaking down your muscle tissue and although that’s higher than what the FDA might recommend in terms of their food pyramid – in most cases that higher protein intake, if it’s from smart healthy lean sources that are primarily organic and preferably clean protein sources such as the organic double bonded whey protein that I take, then you’d be fine with something like that. And you ask me if we cover nutrition at the training camp that I do each year and yeah absolutely. We cover lots of nutrition. We talk quite a bit about it during the camps and that is something that does come up at the camps and I make sure that I really try and ensure that no one leaves camp with big question marks over their head about how they should be eating. But in terms of your questions, I would definitely recommend that you incorporate some Pharmax capsules and Udos if you want to be really upping the fish oil and the Omega 3 fatty acids that you take and then also look for about that 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of protein or look into doing the metabolic typing through Bioletics to find out your exact protein intake needs.
Kevin asks: I am a 61 year old male, I exercise regularly and am very fit. But recently I had a routine blood test that showed bilirubin at 23 and Alt at 37. All other results are normal. Do you think the increased levels are due to increased exercise and strenuous activity?
Ben answers: Well for those of you who don’t know what those two tests are that he mentioned – bilirubin and ALT – those are tests of your liver enzymes and the reason a physician would test something like that is to look for problems with your liver, look for possibility of hepatitis, for liver inflammation, jaundice, blockage of your bile ducts, psoriasis, basically any type of liver issue is why you would get something like bilirubin or ALT looked at. They’re enzymes that if found at high amounts in your urine, can indicate liver injury or liver inflammation. However, they’re usually – if liver inflammation is an issue – they’re usually accompanied by a lot of other symptoms like weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or swelling, a little bit of yellowing of the skin. Very dark urine could indicate high levels of those enzymes but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a liver issue going on. Basically a lot of different issues that will go hand in hand with those high liver enzymes which you don’t want to look at all by themselves as being indicative of a liver issue and the reason for that is because when you exercise your muscles release these enzymes as well. Your muscles actually have some ALT and bilirubin in them and so as you’re exercising and breaking down muscle tissue, damaging muscle – your muscles can release these enzymes and then if you go get a blood test, the enzymes are high, you end up freaking yourself out thinking that you have liver disease when really that may not be the issue especially if the enzymes aren’t accompanied by the presence of other symptoms. So, what I would do is if you are exercising very hard, lifting weights, breaking down the muscles quite a bit and not including a lot of recovery in your program, you may be experiencing more inflammation and more muscle breakdown and higher activity of these liver enzymes or these muscle breakdown enzymes than would be good. In a case like that you may want to inject an easier recovery day or rest day every few days into your routine and the older you get – you say you’re 61 years old – the older you get, the more important something like that is. However, simply a snapshot single one time level of these blood tests showing high especially if you’ve been engaging in an exercise program during the time they were taken or before the time they were taken is not something you need to get too stressed out about. Regularly high levels of these enzymes accompanied by a lot of other symptoms of liver disease would then be something that you’d want to worry about, but I wouldn’t freak out about these in isolation.
Christian asks: Why do I often have trouble staying warm for several hours after a long workout?
Ben answers: Well there’s a couple of reasons for this Christian. The first is that most folks who are working out for longer periods of time – I know especially a lot of people listening to the show who may be endurance athletes or triathletes – you tend to have a lower body fat percentage first of all, and that’s simply going to inhibit your ability to stay cool. But you combine that with the fact that your blood is shunted to your extremities during exercise and after you finish exercising, what happens is your body tends to try and get that blood back into your organs, into your gut, into your tissues more located towards your core and less located towards your extremities after exercise and so what happens is because blood is one of the main ways your body regulates temperature, you tend to get cold as blood rushes away from your extremities and your body cools down especially if you’re wet or sweaty after a workout. So if you’re having trouble staying warm especially after a long workout, a few things you can do is make sure that you rehydrate adequately so that you’re basically replenishing your blood volume and giving yourself what you need for temperature regulation. A couple of times when I’ve gotten really cold after a long workout, I’ve done a magnesium bath in about 102 to 105 degrees to basically warm the body back up but also give it back some of those minerals that it lost during training. During a nice long cool down can help out quite a bit in terms of getting that blood to not just rush straight back in and away from your extremities after the workout. And essentially not just finishing a long workout and sitting straight down to eat a meal without giving your body a chance to cool down and possibly even warm back up. But this is pretty typical especially for endurance athletes after a long workout to have difficulty staying warm and it’s one of the reasons after for example an Ironman triathlon, you’ll see a lot of folks shivering even when it’s 70, 80 degrees out there. They’re being wrapped in these space age warmth blankets there in the medical tent after the race just because the body tends to shunt all that blood away from the extremities and you cool down pretty quickly. Plus you lose all that adrenaline and everything else that was helping to keep you warm and helping to keep you focused during the workout.
Steve asks: I am a college student who have been training and competing in triathlons for about 10 months. I have always been skinny. I am probably about 5-6% body fat. I am a pesco-vegetarian. What can I do to increase my body fat percentage?
Ben answers: Well, you kind of sort of answered your own question. Pesco-vegetarian means that Steve will basically – he’s a vegetarian but it’s modified and he can eat fish. That’s the pesco part of vegetarian. You may also see pesco-ova-vegetarian as another term that’s thrown around. That means he can eat fish and eggs. Vegetarians are pretty notorious for not eating enough healthy fats. And kind of shying away from fat thinking that it might make them fat. What I would do Steve, if I were you is get some coconut milk into your diet. Get some avocadoes into your diet. One of the things that you could do for example is get a vegan type of protein or vegan type of meal replacement like the Living Fuel SuperGreens which I’ve talked about before on this show. Or a rice protein, a pea protein, a hemp protein. Mix that up with coconut milk so you’re getting some healthy fats along with it. Take that in. You can mix up a guacamole or an avocado and you can have that with some tomato, with some salt, in the afternoon as a snack. You can also even make like a chocolate pudding by taking avocado and mixing it with chocolate milk – a little bit of vanilla bean, a little bit of carob powder, and that will make a real nice chocolate type of pudding that’s higher in the type of good fats that are going to increase your body fat percentage without giving you a lot of damage in terms of oxidation, transfats, free radicals – things of that nature. You heard me talk about the fish oils and the Udo’s oils. You can also introduce those to get your body fat percentage up in a healthy way and then throw in some of those other Mediterranean fats. Lots of nuts, lots of seeds, lots of olives, extra virgin olive oil. Some flax seed oil. Basically increasing your fat percentage, up to the point where it’s about 30 to 35% of your daily diet. And doing so in a way that’s 100% comprised of healthy fats. A lot of people don’t take in enough fats and vegetarians are especially notorious for that.
Deb asks: This year, I’ve been plagued with ongoing foot injuries. It started with a bad case of plantar fasciitis this spring — and the plantar fasciitis has since healed but I’m now plagued with a severe bruised heel on my other foot. Are there any modalities that can help? I’ve got orthotics, heel cups, I tape it, ice it, heat it, massage it and do the best that I can to stay off it.
Ben answers: Well heel bruises are a pretty big deal. As a matter of fact, I interviewed a guy named Telmund Knudsen on this show last year. He was attempting to run across the country barefoot. Had to drop out a few 100 miles in because of deep, deep heel bruises that basically kept him from running. And the heel bruise is basically – what happens is you have this bone in your heel called the cocaneus and it’s protected by this pad of fat and especially in heel strikers – when you repeatedly pound that heel like during running – that fat pad gets pushed against the cocaneous and essentially gets broken down. You get a little bit less of a protective layer and you start to get heel pain and heel bruising, heel damage, inflammation, bleeding and really it’s one of those issues that requires very strict rest in staying off the feet. Now you’d want to rest until there’s no more heel pain, but obviously you just can’t lay around. When you are walking around, you’d want to pad your shoes with a heel pad or some shock absorbing insoles. You definitely want to make sure that you’re not walking around in old shoes because those shoes are going to take on some of the duties of that fat pad that’s getting compressed and pushed up to the side of the foot leaving less protection for your heel bone. So you’d want to make sure that you wear shoes, like neuro shoes. There is a taping protocol for heel pain. And there’s actually a step by step guide online that will show you exactly how to tape your heel for heel pain, and I’ll put a link to that step by step guide in the Shownotes. But, really this is one of those issues where sometimes it can be two to three months of not aggravating that heel and using non weight bearing exercises like a recumbent bicycle or aqua jogging to maintain your aerobic capacity while that heel heals. So, it’s a really tough situation – the heel bruising – and it’s something that’s one of those drive you crazy, stay off your feet rest type of injuries. It looks like you’ve tried the heel cup, you’ve tried taping it, you’ve tried orthotics. This may be just pure rest that you need at this point. There’s really no fringe techniques that I’m aware of like the laser or the ART or anything like that, that would necessarily help you or I’ve seen evidence that can help with the heel bruising. But if you’re listening in and you know of something that may be able to help Deb out than definitely leave it as a comment in the Shownotes for episode 117.
Peter asks: What’s your take on Yakult? I understand probiotics are good for digestive tract balance, but how do I know if I need to take it?
Ben answers: Well Yakult is actually a probiotic and it’s one of these Japanese probiotic milk like products that essentially is made by fermenting skim milk with bacterial strain. And it develops into a very sour yogurt like substance. So what they do is they mix this Yakult with a bunch of sugar and it’s actually quite interesting because Yakult has about 18% sugar. So for every 100 grams of Yakult, it’s about 18 grams of sugar. Just as a comparison, Coke is at about 10% sugar. Orange juice is at about 10% sugar. So almost twice as much sugar in this as you’d get in Coca Cola or a big glass of orange juice or orange juice concentrate. So high, high amounts of sugar. And it’s interesting, I always think, when you mix with sugar with probiotics because yeah you balance out the sourness with some sweetness but at the same time sugar is one of the main things that can feed yeast and bad bacteria in your gut and so you aren’t really doing yourself much of a favor when you’re taking a probiotic but then mixing a bunch of sugar with it. The same is typically a problem with keefer. We see a lot more of that in America. Keefer now is usually flavored. Even yogurt is usually flavored. A ton of sugar just because these substances tend to be sour on their own. That’s why for probiotics, I’m a big fan of just going for a capsule if you’re going to do probiotics. And as a matter of fact, because the different types of probiotic strains are very good for your body to be exposed to, you can actually just grab a probiotic off the shelf at your local health food store but switch probiotics every month or two so you’re always introducing new probiotic strains into your body and that will really help with your gut health. If you’re going to just get started off with a good probiotic, I like the one that Mt. Capra makes called Capra Biotics. That’s a good one. Millennium Sports also makes a probiotic blend. But that’s my recommendation – to actually get on a probiotic capsule rather than taking a probiotic liquid because the probiotic liquids are so sour that they have to actually mix them with a lot of sugar to make them palatable.
Troy asks: Hi Ben I’m new to fitness. My wife and I got a gym membership to LA fitness. My question to you is where should I begin? I know the first thing I have to do is quit smoking but with that aside where is a good place for me to start?
Ben answers: So this is one of those kind of newbie questions. You walk into a gym and you’re not really sure what to do or where to start. So, I’m just going to give you an idea David of something you can do. Machines are a really good way to get started with workouts, especially when you’re just a beginner. Machines being the pieces of equipment in the gym that kind of guide you through the proper form and they’re a little bit less likely to leave you injured versus doing a pure free weight barbell, dumbbell medicine ball type of workout. Especially if you’re not being supervised by a personal trainer. The problem with machines though is you’re sitting. A lot of times especially if you’re sitting the rest of the day – if you have a computer job, if you have a sedentary job – sitting is the last thing you should be doing 100% of the time when you show up to a gym. So here’s an idea for a workout that I really like to do that gives you a good combination of learning new free weight exercises but still giving you some time on the machines. So you pick about four to five different machines in the gym and you make sure that you know how to use them properly. You set the seat height properly and then you go and you do one set of about 12 to 15 repetitions on one machine. Let’s say like the machine chest press. And then what you do is you go find a set of dumbbells or a barbell and you do an exercise that stimulates the same muscles that you worked on that machine. So it would be for example a dumbbell bench press let’s say. So you’re doing a machine chest press then you go and do a dumbbell chest press. And then the last thing you’re going to do is what research has shown to really make a weight training routine allow you to burn fat a lot more quickly and that’s a cardiovascular intensity injection right into that routine. So you could do for example 25 jumping jacks. So you’ve got machine chest press, 10 to 15 reps of that to a dumbbell chest press, 10 to 15 reps of that. And then you do your jumping jacks. Say 25 jumping jacks then go back around to the beginning. And you do that 2 to 3 times, then you move to a new machine. And on that next machine you again do a machine based exercise, then you pick a dumbbell or a barbell exercise that works those same joints and then you do another cardiovascular injection like a bike ride or running in place or jumping rope or something of that nature. Then you go back around to the beginning. If you go through 4 or 5 different machine based stations this way, that’s going to be a 30 to 40 minute workout that will hit just about every major muscle group and give you a great routine. I actually in my body transformation club recently wrote out a full routine for folks to do this week that was really based on that same type of concept. So, that’s a really good place to start. As far as other tips for you, I would actually really recommend that you check out that Body Transformation Club. One of the reasons I put that together is so that folks would basically just get a postcard each week from me that kind of took the guesswork out of what they needed to do for that week, gave you some recipes, gives you some exercises and essentially kind of makes it so you just sit back and do what it says on the postcard and on the secret page for the Body Transformation Club. So I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes as one good way for you to get started and kind of know what to do when you walk into a gym.
Michael asks: I just bought a Kurt Kinetic Fluid Trainer. (For those of you who don’t know, that’s an indoor bicycle trainer. ) Do you know where I can find some free online workouts?
Ben answers: Michael, there’s a couple different references for you in terms of having some workouts that you could do on an indoor bicycle trainer. Google sufferfest. Sufferfest used to be free. Now you pay for these workouts but they actually work out really well. They’ve got videos of cyclists on them. They’ve got really upbeat music. You put it in your iPod or your computer. You put it on, you watch it and it brings you right through the workout. Those are really motivating. They last anywhere from about 50 to 75 minutes. Not free but pretty dirt cheap. Another thing that you can do is kind of a budget option. Again not free but really, really good workouts. It’s called Indoor Training Workouts in a Binder. That’s the name of the book. I’ll put a link to that book in the Shownotes. But it was written by Dirk Frial. He’s actually a friend of mine, great cyclist and these are really, really good workouts that will take a lot of the boredom out of doing a bike workout on an indoor trainer. So it’s called Indoor Training Workouts in a Binder. Check that out for some indoor training workouts as well. And then you can also just try out some creative workouts to do on your own. Essentially if you’re going to write your own indoor trainer workout, the way that you do it is you start off with a warmup. So you do a five to 10 minute warmup and then you choose typically one area of your fitness that you want to improve upon. So it could be your bike skills in which case you’d do for example single leg pedaling or super fast cadence intervals. It could be your long term endurance. So you do two 20 minute efforts at your maximum sustainable pace with about a 10 minute recover between each. It could be your lung capacity or VO2 max. So you do several e to 4 minute hard efforts. Or it could be your strength, in which case you turn the intensity up really high and do five 5 minute efforts that are real, real high intensity but a slow cadence. Almost like you’re climbing a hill. And then you finish up with something fun whether that be like putting on your favorite song and riding as hard as you can for five minutes while the song is playing or whether it be – if you’re in a room with someone else and they’re also doing a trainer workout – like my wife and I will do this sometimes – we’ll just race for a little while and we’ll motivate each other. Kind of give each other a time period to go for and we’ll say ok we’ll go as hard as we can for three minutes or four minutes or five minutes or 10 minutes or until the end of this movie. Basically you structure the workout just like that. So you’ve got your warmup, you’ve got your main set that’s focusing on one specific aspect of your fitness. You finish with something fun, then you cool down. As far as free workouts, you could go Google for free indoor cycling training workouts. That type of thing. But the problem is that a lot of them aren’t written the right way. They’re written as basically spinning workouts. And there are some real issues with spinning workouts and if you want to know what those issues are, go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for Jennifer Sage. If you go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for Jennifer Sage, you’re going to find some articles that she’s written at the website that really go to show you why indoor cycle training workouts or spinning workouts – the type of workouts that you get at most gyms are way, way off base in terms of giving you the bang for your buck. So go there and do a search for Jennifer Sage and she also has a pretty cheap e-book that’s got a bunch of workouts in it as well. So those are some resources for you for your indoor trainer.
Gerry asks: I’m looking at improving my nutrition. In Canada a vitamin product called 7 Systems is a daily packaged product that is endorsed by several Canadian athletes. Could you have a quick look at the ingredients and give your opinion on this product?
Ben answers: So I looked at this product called 7 systems and basically it’s one of those kind of shotgun type of supplements that shoves a bunch of stuff into one set of pills and you take a bunch of pills on a daily basis. I think it’s 9 pills a day for this one. And it’s got your vitamin profile, calcium, magnesium. It’s got ginseng. It’s got co-enzyme Q-10, alpha lipoic acid, glutamic acid, a bunch of different type of anti-inflammatories and things that an athlete would take for healing like glutamine and MSN and glucosamine. Those types of thing in it and it’s all put together conveniently into this one package and you take nine of these capsules per day. Well I do like when I go to their website that they do have a laboratory certificate of analysis from Douglas Laboratories. For those of you who don’t know, Douglas Laboratories is compliant with some of the highest recognized standards of quality from anything from the FDA to the European Union, Health Canada. Basically Douglas Laboratories is pretty well respected in the pharmaceutical and supplements industry for being a good lab as far as the supplements that you’re taking actually having what the manufacturer is advertising is actually in them. So I do like this supplement. Some of the things that it doesn’t have in it – it doesn’t have Omega 3 fatty acids in it. So if you’re taking one of these Shotgun style supplements, you’ll want to make sure that you’re still supplementing with an Omega 3 fatty acid, a fish oil or flax seed oil or some type of Omega source. The other thing that you’d want to look at is vitamin D in this. There’s only 160 international units of vitamin D. To put that in perspective, I personally take 4000 to 5000 a day of vitamin D. They’ve also got some stuff in here that may make you think that you’re just getting a wallop like vitamin B. They’ve got 53,000 of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B. I can’t guarantee that you’re not going to urinate a lot of that out, or not absorb it. They kind of cover the bases with a lot of these anti-oxidants and co-enzyme Q10, some of the things your body needs in terms of the electron transport chain for producing energy. Some of the stress stabilizers like ginseng. So really it’s not a bad supplement. It’s an interesting question because I’m in the process right now of researching a supplement called Bionx that’s kind of similar. It’s got way, way more in it. But it’s one of those supplements that’s so expensive, you’d really only take it if cost were not an issue and I’ve got about 2 to 3 hours worth of interviews that I’ve done with the chief scientist at Bionx that I’m eventually going to get released on the podcast here once I trim some of it down. But, typically what you just need to be prepared for when you take these shotgun style supplements is that it’s going to be a lot of pills that you’re popping on a daily basis and they’re typically going to be pretty expensive. The 7 Systems one though is one that looks like it’s got a good laboratory certificate of analysis. It’s got a decent profile. You’d still be wanting to take extra vitamin D, extra magnesium and extra Omega 3 fatty acids if you were taking this. But it’s got a pretty decent profile. So always little things that you want to look for when you’re popping vitamins like this, but this is one of the least offensive or at least damaging one that I’ve seen out there from all the questions that people write in and ask me about supplements. Not a lot of artificial sweeteners and things of that nature.
Patrick asks: What kind of things do you look for when reading nutrition labels? I recently heard of the following two rules of thumb: 1g of protein per 2g of carbohydrate to balance insulin response and 1g or less of saturated fat per 100 calories. Do you agree?
Ben answers: I do not agree. First of all I rarely read nutrition labels, because I rarely eat foods that come packaged. If you’re spending a lot of time reading nutrition labels, something is wrong. I probably look or consume a food that has a nutrition label on it once every couple of days. So, really that’s one thing to bear in mind. The next is the saturated fat issue. I used to preach this as well. You always look for low levels of saturated fat. The problem is that in a lot of cases, saturated fat is not a problem. You take coconut milk for instance – most people shy away from coconut milk because it has 20% plus levels of saturated fat in it, but really that type of saturated fat gets used fairly efficiently as energy and really is not the type of fat that is going to cause cardiovascular disease or weight gain when consumed in moderation. However, the type of places where you’d want to look for high levels of saturated fat and be very careful would be for example like in packaged baked goods or carbohydrate based products because a lot of times that saturated fat is not healthy. It’s typically more of a non-natural type of saturated fat or a hydrogenated based fat that tends to be a lot less healthy for you. A lot different than the type of saturated fat you’d find in something like avocado or coconut. Now as far as balancing out the protein with the carbohydrate and looking for a gram of protein for every 2 grams of carbohydrate. I got news for you. Protein is going to cause an insulin response just like carbs. Fat is going to cause an insulin response. All insulin means is that when you consume a food, insulin is released to allow that food to get stored away as energy. Insulin response isn’t necessarily bad. What’s bad is an insulin response accompanied by a very high blood sugar level. So, if a product has a ton of carbohydrates and a ton of sugar in it, yeah by consuming protein along with that, you’re going to be able to slow down that sugar release just a little bit and possibly down regulate the insulin response but the problem is that if you’re looking at a nutrition label and you’re looking at a nutrition label that’s combined with you also holding in your hands a product that has a high sugar level – again something’s wrong with this picture. Why are you consuming something that has so much sugar in it that you’re having to tell yourself you got to eat a bunch of protein with it so that you make sure all that sugar on that label isn’t hurting you. So that’ something to be real careful with as well. I have done a podcast in the past where I kind of went on a rant about all the different deceitful things that they’re able to put on food labels and nutrition labels. For example, trans fat – if a product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, they can say that it contains 0 grams of trans fat. Even though a product can contain a lot of trans fat. For example, if you get something that contains 0.45 grams of trans fat in a serving and one package contains 18 servings, the label is going to show you that that product has 0 grams of trans fat even though the entire product actually has 8.1 grams of trans fats. The other thing you got to look at is the servings per container. A lot of times you’ll drink a drink now. You’ll get an energy drink and it’ll say 80 calories and you look closer and it’s got three servings per container even though there’s only 16 oz in it. And nobody of course is going to drink just 5 or 6 ounces of that energy drink. You’re going to drink the whole thing. So really it’s 240 calories, not 80 calories. Also be real careful with sodium. Sodium levels on a lot of things that are purported to be healthy tend to be very high. If you’re seeing sodium levels about 20%, I would not be touching any of those packaged products. The other thing you want to look for of course on the nutrition label itself or the ingredient label are the presence of artificial sweeteners, things of that nature. Because I literally ranted about this for a good 15 to 20 minutes on a podcast, what I’m going to do is put the link to that podcast in the Shownotes. And this was podcast number 79. I’ll just put a link to the full transcript so you don’t even need to download and listen to the podcast. You can just read the transcript. And all the podcasts are fully transcripted now so you can just read through them if you want.
Darrell asks: I have 2 preschool daughters, so, from October to April, our house is pretty much a large petri dish for flus and colds. Illness usually kills my exercise regime and causes me to the opportunity to give in more easily to sweet, high starch, low value foods. The result is a longer than necessary down period and a very real amount of inertial to overcome before I can get back into the rhythm. Any advice you can provide?
Ben answers: It is true that kids are vectors for flus, colds, things of that nature. They tend to carry quite a few of those. So what I would recommend is you bump up your immune system. A few very simple things that you can do. You can take oil of oregano. If you haven’t listened to the interview that we did about oregano at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, you really need to listen in. A few drops of that underneath your tongue every night really can amp up your ability to fight the type of airborne things that your kids are coughing and sneezing around the house. You can put it in cups, you can drink water out of the cup in the morning. Oil of oregano is something I always begin to include in the fall and winter, cold, flu season. Really amping up vitamin D levels which are huge in terms of supporting your immune system, taking a few thousand international units of vitamin D on a daily basis during that season can help out quite a bit. Vitamin C maybe a little bit, the problem is you got to take 2 to 3 grams of that. That can upset your stomach a little bit. So vitamin C, I’m kind of iffy on. If you’re kind of concerned and you know for a fact there’s a cold, flu going around, vitamin C is something you can take a little bit of. Of course making sure that you get enough sleep is going to help you out quite a bit. Making sure that you’re exercising to keep your immune system active. Keep your lymph fluids circulating. That’s very important and when you actually do get sick, keep exercising. Just basically maintain aerobic exercise instead. A lot of times when I’m sick, what I’ll do is I’ll kind of wear a couple of layers of clothing, do an easy walk on the treadmill. Really get a good sweat going on. Go take a cold shower. A lot of times, this will basically make you feel as if you’ve detoxed a little bit. Maybe a bit of a placebo effect going on there. I can’t guarantee that you’re sweating a lot of “toxins” out of your system but that always helps me feel a lot better, just getting the sweat on, taking a cold shower and essentially kind of cleaning myself up a little bit that way. But the best thing you can do is amp up your shield with the oil of oregano, with vitamin D, exercise, adequate sleep, possibly a little bit of vitamin C. Last thing I would recommend is if you just want the full on shotgun approach of not getting sick is go with Enerprime and that’s the superfood multivitamin type of thing that I take every single morning without fail. I’ve gotten sick once in three and a half years now since I started taking it. I’ve been sick one time. And actually that was the time I ran out of Enerprime. So I recommend that you take that and you can give that to your kids too. And none of this is intended to be medical advice. I’m not a physician but that is what I would do if I were you, try out some of that stuff. I’ll put a link to the Enerprime in the Shownotes. But definitely listen to that interview on Oregano as well.
Jeffrey asks: I have had neck surgery 2 years ago and chronic issues with my low back. I changed to a mid-foot strike with the help of Vibram Five Fingers (and for those of you who don’t know, those are the shoes that you wear that basically look like a sock that fit around each toe) and Nike Free running shoes. My back issues are almost nonexistent and I am feeling great. What is your opinion of mid/fore foot striking and minimalist shoes?
Ben answers: First of all, go listen to the interview that we did with the guy who invented these mid/fore foot striking shoes. His name is Danny Abshire. So go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com. Do a search for Newton running shoes or do a search for Danny Abshire. Listen to the interview with him. But basically when you heel strike you tend to put your foot into the ground in a direction that goes forward in front of your body. Based on the laws of physics, the ground produces a ground reaction force that pushes back against you, sends this force up to your joints through your knees through your hips up into your back and can really cause some issues especially if you’re at risk for things like arthritis in the back, bulging discs, low back stenosis, things of that nature. So mid/fore foot strike can help. The problem is if you switch to that style of running, you need to ease yourself into it because you set yourself up at a risk for injury to some of the fragile bones and ligaments towards the front of the foot. If you go straight from striking on that heel pad of your foot which was designed to absorb a certain amount of impact in moderation to striking on your mid and front forefoot. I personally am a heel striker. I have tried the mid to fore foot striking and I am slower when I do it. Now maybe that’s an issue with me. I may not be spending enough time practicing it, maybe not incorporating it to quite the extent that I could when it comes to combining it with a high cadence or a high stride turnover. But ultimately I simply have yet to find a way that I can change from being somewhat of a heel striker to really doing that mid/fore foot striking and really not slowing myself down. One of the reasons for that is that I’m long limbed. And long limbed folks, because of that long leg swing, tend to be a little bit more of a heel striker. It’s just the way that we move. Shorter people with shorter limbs tend to find it easier to do that leaning forward, mid to forefoot striking. And the same goes along with the minimalist shoes. You need to ease yourself into those if you’re going to use them. Now I personally during the spring and summer, I go barefoot running once a week to strengthen my feet and to allow myself to have a little bit better neuromuscular feel for the ground. But again, I ease myself into that. Once the weather gets nice I start off with just an easy run down a few blocks and back in my bare feet and by the end of the summer I can easily run two to three miles in my bare feet or my socks or a minimalist pair of shoes. So, minimalist shoes, mid to forefoot strikes – they’re good but you got to ease into that stuff and not just start into it hardcore or you end up risking some injury to your feet.
Mark asks: I realize that my protein intake is lower than it probably should be so I have considered using whey protein powder to increase my protein intake but am not quite sure how to incorporate it. Would it be more beneficial to replace the chocolate milk with a whey protein drink and then eat my normal oatmeal in the morning? Should I drink the chocolate milk and mix the whey into my oatmeal to consume more protein with my first meal? Or should I try something else entirely? I have heard that heating whey powders to high temperatures can detract from the proteins’ benefit, but I have also noticed that you mix whey into your morning oatmeal. What is your take on cooking with protein powders?
Ben answers: So a few questions wrapped up in here. Let’s first tackle that heat question. It’s true that heat can denature proteins and what that means is when you denature protein, the actual structure of the protein begins to unfold. Then you have the weak bonds within that protein, they’ll begin to unfold and that can actually reduce some of the biological activity of the protein. So I really don’t recommend cooking with protein especially something like a whey protein powder or any protein powder at a high temperature. When I put protein powder into my oatmeal, I’m cooking my oatmeal on the stove top. I’m bringing it up to a boil. The oatmeal is in there or the quinoa is in there to soften up the grain. Then I’ll ad my other constituents and the last two things that go in are a little bit of almond butter and a little bit of whey protein and as soon as those go in, the burner goes off so they’re not even getting up to boiling temperature. And as long as you’re keeping any type of milk or any type of proteins below about 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 degrees Celsius or so then you’re going to be doing a lot less damage in terms of denaturing. So high heat cooking with protein powder is not a good idea. Lower heats where you’re stirring it into a bowl of oatmeal that’s been warmed up, not really that big of a deal. It’s a bigger deal if you’re doing that with a fish oil which is a lot more unstable at even temperatures that are just below boiling and you can cause a lot of issues with doing that with a fish oil or a flax seed oil or any type of oil. But with powder – protein powder – not as big an issue. Now as far as how to incorporate that protein powder, a few different ways that I’ll do it is I’ll stir whey protein into cold coconut milk. Sometimes I’ll put a little carob powder in that or a few carob chips to sweeten it up, give it a little chocolate or occasionally throw a few raisins or bananas in there. Another way that I’ll use whey protein powder is I’ll mix it up with just kind of an overripe banana and a little bit of water. Another thing that you can do and this is something I’ll do when I’m traveling a lot is I’ll just travel with a zip lock bag of it and stop at a coffee shop, ask them for a cup of hot water, mix the protein powder in with that and grab some cinnamon from the coffee shop, dump a bit of cinnamon in there and eat it up just like that. So, I would recommend that if you’re doing the chocolate milk on a regular basis, you may reconsider due to the dairy – some of those lactose issues, some of the insulin like growth factor issues, some of the problems with the hormones and the steroids in the dairy. I’m not a huge fan of doing a lot of dairy. I would consider replacing your chocolate milk – if that’s a cow’s milk with a coconut milk, an almond milk, rice milk, something of that nature. Soy milk can just tend to be a little bit inflammatory in the digestive tract. Not a big deal. I don’t want to scare people away – getting too strict here with the milks. But basically you could get away with just doing your whey protein with some fruit and an oat or quinoa or something like that in the morning and not worrying too much about having the chocolate milk along with that. And you could do a chocolate milk later on in the day or just do a regular recovery drink, a regular meal later on in the day instead. We actually just talked about chocolate milk in a previous episode. I believe it was episode number 115 and some of the problems with the milk and some of the comparisons of chocolate milk with some other recovery drinks. And while chocolate milk is superior from a recovery perspective there are some other issues with the milk part of chocolate milk that could take up an entire podcast and actually has. If you go do a search on www.bengreenfieldfitness.com for cow’s milk versus goat’s milk, you’ll be able to hear a little bit about that. And one of the reasons my kids were raised on goat’s milk after they finished breastfeeding. So speaking of kids, the final question is from David.
David asks: I am the coach of a 4th Grade boys traveling basketball team. I would like to give the parents and kids some recommendations on what to eat between games to properly recover and fuel for their next game and to avoid the costs of fast food. Chocolate milk is the only thing that comes to mind. Can you provide me some recommendations I can pass along to them?
Ben answers: Absolutely David. So let’s talk about some of the common things that you can use in terms of post workout meals. So although ideally you should have a protein mixed in with some carbohydrate in about a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio, sometimes that’s not ideal or logistically feasible to get your hands on. One of the things you can do is have the parents prepare a snack mix at home and just keep it in the freezer, put it in big gallon zip lock bags, have them put some unsweetened coconut flakes in them. Some almond nuts or macadamia nuts, a little bit of dried papaya or dried mango or some raisins or some craisins or some cranberries. And they can even throw a few charob chips or chocolate chips in there, put those in and give those kids a little zip lock bag full of that as their snack in between or after games. Another thing you can do is you can bake sweet potatoes, you can wrap them in aluminum foil, you can package those with some of those instantly transportable almond butter or peanut butter packs that you can get at a lot of health food stores. Open up the sweet potato, throw the nut butter on there and that works out pretty well also. Some bars that I really approve of and endorse include Bumblebar… is a good one. Lara Bar is a good one. Cocochia bar is a really good one and interestingly these folks that make the Cocochia bar, they just came out with a new product which is essentially just unsweetened coconut shavings mixed with chia seed and that’s all it is. It’s got a little bit of a natural sweetener in there but it’s like a Trailmix of coconut and seed. If you go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com – you know what I’ll do – I’ll try and find that stuff. I just found out about it, literally just tried it myself for the first time a few days ago. But I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes. So it’s called the Cocochia Snack Mix. Some other things you could do is you could actually pre-prep and put in some Tupperware containers, batch cook some quinoa or amaranth or millet the same way you would cook a brown rice. Mix that with some almond butter and some cinnamon raisins or some feta cheese with a little bit of chicken and stir that up. You can basically refrigerate it, bring it into the game, keep it on the cooler and have the kids eat that. In a pinch, even just a piece of fresh raw fruit with a handful of nuts can also work out pretty dang well and still be pretty good for the kids and any of this stuff is going to be superior to Gatorade, McDonalds, pizza, etc. Grocery store runs with the kids post game can also be great as well. They can essentially go to the produce oil, grab a piece of fruit, run down into the nut section and grab some nuts or over to the deli area, grab a little bit of deli meat or even a little bit of cheese like a fat free lean yogurt, anything of that nature. We always do grocery stores when we’re on the go even if it’s after a triathlon or something like that on the way home. More often than not, we’ll do grocery store runs rather than a fast food run and grocery stores are kind of like the forgotten convenience and affordability when it comes to getting quick snacks for kids rather than stopping at Mickey D’s or Burger King or any other fast food outlet. So try out some of those things and essentially just look for fresh stuff, mixes of fruits and nuts or have the parents prep at home and bring to the game and you’re going to be doing the kids a huge favor whereas kids don’t have to worry about weight gain in most cases, what you’re trying to do is teach them habits that are going to help keep them healthy for life especially after their metabolism starts to slow down and they begin to kind of amp down in terms of their physical activity. You get a lot of pro athletes even that eat like crap. You take people like Michael Phelps and Jusain Bolt and they’re very fast, they’re very good. However, close your eyes and think of a washed up fat older athlete who used to be in their prime and that’s basically what those people are training them to do by having pure nutrition. Whereas the folks who have the real, real healthy nutrition are going to be able to stay healthy for life, have a great body for life even after they finish their high intensity athletic career. So there’s my short rant for the day.
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