November 3, 2010
Introduction: In this podcast: How Do Navy Seals, Jet Fighter Pilots & Ironman Triathletes Get That Extra Edge, sitting vs. standing at your job, is grazing unhealthy, a recovery supplement you put into your coffee, using amino acids during training, which days of the week should you workout, jogger’s nipple, triathlon bikes vs. road bikes, eliminating sweat smell, natural alternatives to antidepressants, and what tests to ask for at your doctor.
Ben: Hey folks, Ben Greenfield here, podcasting to you from Spokane, Washington in the USA. I have an interview today in this podcast number 118 with James Autio and James is a very interesting guy. Very brilliant guy actually. He’s acted as a consultant to some of the top athletes and the top performers in the planet. He is so intelligent that we actually had to split our interview into two parts and what you’ll here today is part one. I’m going to warn you that he actually gets pretty in depth when it comes to the importance and the science behind reducing stress between competition and also performing to the best of your mental and physical abilities. And so just be ready for that. So we’re going to have James Autio’s interview after today’s Q and A. And first we’ll have a few special announcements so let’s get started.
Remember that if you have a question, you can call toll free to 8772099439. You can Skype to username “pacificfit” or you can email [email protected]. And the first question here comes from Listener David.
David asks: I just read an interesting article on MSNBC’s website that suggests that even if you exercise regularly, sitting at a desk for any significant length of time is killing you. I’ve heard you talk about standing during the day, but this can be awkward for many jobs. Any comments on the article?
Ben answers: So after looking at David’s question, I headed over here to look at this article for MSNBC. And the article is titled Why Your Desk Job is Slowly Killing You. And I want to give you guys some anecdotes from that article specifically some of the research studies that were cited in that article. Starting off with a 2006 University of Minnesota study that found from 1980 to the year 2000, the percentage of people who reported exercising regularly remained the same but the amount of time people spent sitting rose by 8%, which kind of makes sense to me as things become more industrialized and we spend more time in front of computers at computer jobs – that makes sense. In a clever study, Dutch researchers created a sort of historical theme park and recruited actors to play 1850s Australian settlers for a week. The men did everything from chop wood to forage for food and the scientists compared their activity levels with those of modern office workers. The result was that the actors did the equivalent of walking 3 to 8 miles more a day than the desk-bound men. No surprise there. But pretty interesting study. A 2010 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that when healthy men limited their number of footsteps by 85% for two weeks, they experienced a 17% decrease in insulin sensitivity, raising their diabetes risk. I’m going to go on to look at a little bit more about standing versus sitting. Standing more can burn about 1500 calories while you’re at work. Whereas if you’re sitting at a desk, you burn about 1000 calories. You can get about 500 extra calories by standing during the day. That goes a long way in explaining why people gain 16 lbs on average within 8 months of starting sedentary office work which is what a study at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington found. Another study looked at the lifestyle habits of more than 17,000 men and women and found that women who sat for almost the entire day were 54% more likely to have a cardiovascular incident than those who sat for almost none of the time. A British study, a really old British study, published in 1953 examined bus drivers versus trolley conductors and at first glance, the two occupations appear to be pretty similar but bus drivers were more likely to sit down for the entire day whereas the trolley conductors were running up and down the stairs and aisles of the trolleys and the bus drivers were found to be nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease compared to the trolley conductors. One of the things they cite during the study is what they call inactivity physiology, which looks at how exercise affects an enzyme in your body called lipoprotein lipase. And what lipoprotein lipase does is it breaks down fat in the bloodstream to use as energy. So if you don’t have this enzyme, you end up storing more fat than you end up burning. And one study that was looked at found that when rodents were forced to lie down for most of their waking hours, this lipoprotein lipase enzyme plummeted. It dropped significantly. But as soon as the rodents were forced to stand around most of the time, the gene was 10 times more active. So that’s pretty significant. Just knowing that the simple act of standing can amplify the activity of the primary fat burning enzyme in your body by 10 times. That doesn’t even go into the fact that you’re decreasing muscle stiffness, increasing blood flow and lymph circulation, enhancing your immune system and activating a lot of really cool things the more that you stand. So this study goes on and on but I think you’re kind of getting the idea here that it’s a good idea to stand versus sit when you have the opportunity to. This is something that I focus on a lot of the time. In every situation where I’m given the opportunity to sit down – for example when I go to renew my driver’s license and there are chairs there or when I go to the doctor’s office and I’m given the opportunity to sit in the office, I always stand as much as possible. Even when there’s a lot of peer pressure and a lot of social expectations to sit, try and stand wherever you can. And the other thing that I do – and this is something I have more freedom to do because I work out of a home office more of the time – is I stand on the job. I have elevated work stations that mean that when I put my computer on those work stations, it’s at eye level when I’m standing. About half the time, I record this podcast in the standing position and the other thing that I do – whenever I am in a seated position for more than hour, my rule for me personally is that I have to do 100 jumping jacks. So if I have three hours worth of writing that I’m working on, I don’t like to write when I’m in a standing position. I just find that I don’t write as efficiently, but what I’ll do is I’ll sit down and every hour I’ll stand up and I’ll do those jumping jacks to keep my blood flow circulating and keep my metabolism sparked. So this is really interesting stuff. The other thing that you can do is if you really want to go all out, you can get a workstation that you put onto a treadmill. It’s called a TrekDesk. So let’s say you have a treadmill and you want to be able to walk slowly while you’re on that treadmill, you’d get a ton of fat burning enzyme benefit from doing this. A TrekDesk costs about $400 to $500 and I’ll put a link to one. One place to get them… I found them for pretty cheap on amazon.com. I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes for you David or for anybody else listening in. But basically you attach it to your treadmill. You can put a computer up there, and you can actually work, read, study while you’re being lightly active on your treadmill. This isn’t going to be a full-on exercise session. But if you’re looking at losing weight and getting as many calories burned as possible during the day – good way to do things. Between getting a treadmill on craigslist and picking up one of these TrekDesks, you could probably create your own standing exercising work station for under $1000. Considering how much a personal trainer costs, supplementation costs and how many calories you’d burn with this move, it’s actually a pretty good idea. So there you go David. Great question, great link to an article and I’ll put a link to that article as well in the Shownotes for those of you who want to read the full article.
James asks: When you graze, is there an increased risk in regards to constantly elevated blood sugars? I know it will make a difference if I’m grazing on candy and processed food items, but what if I’m grazing on highly nutritious food items?
Ben answers: You know, my wife and I did have this discussion in Inner Circle Podcast number 4, James. And we went over studies that looked at irregular versus regular meal patterns as well as 3 or more meals in a day versus 2 or fewer meals in a day. There was definite benefit found with a more regular and higher frequency meal pattern when caloric intake was equalized. Meaning that if you’re eating the same number of calories on a daily basis, you’re going to have a higher metabolism and you’re going to experience more weight loss or less propensity to gain weight when you spread those meals out during the day into several portions and eat them frequently. Now as far as grazing and consistently elevating blood sugars, yes. That can be an issue. Especially with overweight people who are trying to get their bodies to tap into storage adipose tissue and teach their bodies how to burn fatty acids, if they’re constantly eating like a squirrel because they heard this was a good idea whether on this podcast or in any other number of books or magazine articles, they could really be doing themselves a disservice when it comes to training the body to burn fat efficiently. I know a lot of overweight people will have the almonds, the fruit, the energy bar, the trailmix and a couple of servings of leftovers that they take with them to work during the day or have access to during the day and by constantly consuming those – by constantly keeping the blood sugar levels elevated, yes you can inhibit your ability to tap into fat. This is one of the reasons that – another thing I recently mentioned in the Inner Circle Podcast – that intermittent fasting is so effective. Because what you do is you wake up in the morning with empty carbohydrate levels, empty liver carbohydrate levels and you can really enhance the activity of the fat burning enzymes by engaging in light physical activity – whatever, cleaning the house, going for a walk, staying active for a few hours in the morning before you eat breakfast – there’s something in your body called ketones which your body can actually burn very efficiently as a fuel. And ketones are formed from fatty acids. The body runs just fine on ketones. A lot of us, if we’re used to constantly high levels of circulating blood sugar and we quit snacking as much and begin to burn ketones, we feel like we have a drop in energy. But really that’s the body just tapping into those extra fat levels as long as we’re not in a state of constant starvation. That’s fine. So yes, I would recommend that you have periods throughout the day where you actually have your blood sugar levels not being constantly elevated. Now the way that I personally do this is I quit eating by about 8 pm at night. And after 8 pm, typically the only thing that I’ll do is water or sparkling water and gum and then I actually do a late breakfast now. I will eat breakfast most days now at about 9 or 9:30. So I’m literally injecting a 12 to 14 hour fast into every day. And I find that it’s far, far easier for me to stay lean. For me to have a six pack, for me to be at racing weight for triathlon when I’m using that strategy. So yes, I would recommend that while you should eat more than three times a day or three or more times a day, and you should engage in consistent and regular eating patterns, you should also go through periods of time where you teach your body how to burn fat as a fuel, how to survive on fat as a fuel and how to actually have a little bit of an appetite kind of nagging you at the back of your mind. Being hungry every now and then is ok. The same goes with exercise. Its’ ok to do some starvation sessions every now and again where you teach your body how to efficiently burn fat as a fuel. You shouldn’t make that a regular practice because it’s tough to get a lot of benefit physiologically out of those sessions even though you get a lot of fat burning benefit out of them. So for example, once every couple of weeks, you could go on a two or three hour bike ride or hike where you’re really not taking in anything except water. And again that can break down your body if you do it regularly but in moderation it can really help in terms of allowing you to tap into your fat stores more efficiently. So good question James.
BrockSky asks via Twitter: What do you think of www.caffedicorsa? I use it after a long run, in a lattè, with a banana and a handful of almonds.
Ben answers: So I looked at this caffedicorsa and basically what it is, is it’s a powder that’s designed to add into black coffee. It’s about 110 calories and it contains protein and carbohydrate. So it’s meant to be used as a recovery beverage. Great idea, especially considering that caffeine can actually enhance the uptake of some of those carbohydrates and carbohydrate should be taken in with protein post workout anyway for best effect. When I look at the ingredients, there’s maltodextrin which is kind of a long chain sugar – a bunch of chain of sugar molecules stuck together, skim milk powder, whey protein isolate, fructose, natural and artificial flavor and sucralose. There are a few ingredients in here that you may have heard me before kind of disapprove of on the podcast specifically sucralose which is basically a sugar molecule with some chlorine attached to it which has a little bit of a neurotoxic effect and then skim milk powder – for those of you who are wanting to avoid dairy. Some of the hormones and issues with our modern dairy supply or any of you who have lactose intolerant – this would definitely not be your best choice when it comes to post workout recovery. So it kind of comes down to the same problem with about 90% of the nutrition supplements that we get questions about on this podcast and that is specifically the burning desire of the people who make the supplements to have them taste very sweet but to have low calories. So in fulfilling that need they put a lot of artificial sweeteners in them. And in this case also include a dairy base which for anybody who’s wanting to avoid dairy, for anybody who’s following a paleo diet, for anybody who’s lactose intolerant, would not be such a good idea when it comes to dietary inflammation or a lack of eating clean so to speak. So I wouldn’t – this isn’t a supplement that I would recommend. It’s an interesting idea to add stuff into your black coffee but I mean why not take a couple scoops of for example the Mt. Capra cold processed double bonded whey protein which is just stevia, cocoa and whey protein and add that in, and then if you want a little bit of sugar, really drop some raw honey in there. If you don’t even want the raw sugar, throw some stevia in there. But basically there’s really no need to be using this in my opinion. I personally wouldn’t use it. So I hope that helps and good question. Interesting concept.
Joel asks: I’ve been experimenting with using amino acids in capsules during long training runs and marathons. I seem to notice a positive effect. Do you know of any research that supports this apparent effect and do you have any experience with this yourself?
Ben answers: Absolutely Joel. The research on that has been around for quite some time in terms of the use of branch chain amino acids during exercise. They’re very anti-catabolic. That means they can stop muscle breakdown or slow muscle breakdown during exercise. They can help you exercise at a higher intensity. They reduce your rating of perceived exertion, which means that when you’re exercising hard you don’t feel like you’re exercising quite that hard. And that’s because of the presence of the amino acids in your blood stream. Your body is a little less apprehensive about metabolic stress and about muscle cannibalization because it knows that amino acids are present or can sense that amino acids are present and of course if you have those amino acids circulating in your blood stream during and after the workout, it’s going to have an anabolic effect, meaning a muscle building or tissue recovery type of effect. And it’s also been shown to preserve your muscle stores of carbohydrate as well. Now branch chain amino acids go by various names. The ones that you see most common are the three essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine – and you’ll find that a lot of people who do energy gels nowadays take Gu Roctane for example. They’re putting branch chain amino acids into the energy gels and that’s smart because you get your carbohydrates, you get your branch chain amino acids. You stave off fatigue a little bit longer and you improve recovery and typically the amount of amino acids that have been used in most studies are about 3 to 5 grams of branch chain amino acids as far as what you can top out at. And most people are getting that in their diet but as far as taking it in during exercise, you could use something like one of these energy gels. You could do what you’re doing, Joel, and that’s actually use amino acid capsules. Now you mentioned that you were using the Master Amino Pattern and that’s the one from David Minkoff. We talked to Dr. David Minkoff about that Master Amino Pattern before on this podcast. If you want to listen to his interview about that, just go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for MAP. But that’s not only branch chain amino acids. It’s actually a full amino acid spectrum. There may be a digestibility issue when it comes to taking in all the amino acids versus just the branch chain amino acids. You’re still going to get that same effect of staving off fatigue and having an anti-catabolic effect, but I can’t guarantee that there may not be a little bit more blood flow going into the stomach. Maybe a little bit more increased need for digestion when you’re taking in a full amino acid spectrum, the same way you would take in when you’re taking in a steak for example versus when you’re just taking in the branch chain amino acids. So I would recommend that you use caution with those, as far as actual studies that have looked into the use of whole amino acid supplements during exercise, the one that comes to mind for me is very recent. It just came out in the October 2010 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And in that study they took a carbohydrate beverage and they essentially replaced a good part of that carbohydrate beverage with a whey protein isolate. And they actually found that aerobic endurance was improved at exercise intensities near the ventilatory threshold. So fairly high exercise intensities with the addition of the whey protein isolate, even though that made the drink that people were drinking in contain lower total carbohydrate and total caloric content. So I believe that when they added the protein, it came out to be about a 3% carbohydrate, 1.2% protein supplement. So about a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio versus a pure carbohydrate protein containing drink or a pure carbohydrate containing drink. No report in the study of gastric distress occurring among the participants and this was 15 trained male and female cyclists. I know for me, from a personal point of view, that when I take in for example the Mt. Capra Double Bonded Protein I mentioned earlier – that’s the whey protein that I use – when I take that in during exercise and I head off to do an exercise session, I tend to kind of burp it up a little bit versus when I just use the branch chain amino acids from something like a Gu Roctane. So for me personally I find some digestibility issues. I guess what this comes down to is using yourself as a case study of one, and if you can tolerate either a whole amino acid capsule or a whole amino acid source in a drink during exercise and you feel fine with it, research suggests that it could indeed help you. So I hope that’s helpful Joel and we’re going to move on to a question from Hunter.
Hunter asks: I’m completing my first year of participating in road races and triathlons. My work schedule has changed to four 10 hour shifts a week and now have Thursdays off as well as the weekend. How could I make best use of the added opportunity to train on Thursdays?
Ben answers: Well Hunter, here’s a couple of rules to think about when you’re adding in an extra training day or having this extra day to train and trying to decide what to do on it. If you’re still doing your long running and your long bike workouts or kind of your key workouts on the weekend which most working folks do – the tougher or longer workouts on Saturday and Sunday – you want to consider the idea that delayed onset muscle soreness is going to peak after about 48 hours. So for a Friday workout, you’re going to peak in soreness on Sunday. For a Thursday workout, you’re going to peak in soreness on a Saturday typically. So the way that I would recommend that you structure your week is that you look at the muscles you’re going to be using during your key session. Let’s say you have kind of a 15 mile run planned on Saturday. So that’s going to be one of the key sessions for you during the week. You really want that to be a high quality 15 mile run. Well Thursday, it would not behoove you to go out and do track work. To go out and run 8x400s on the track, because that intensity is going to cause some muscle damage that’s going to peak on Saturday. Now for me, I would be more prone to doing 8×400 on the track on a Thursday and then go do a long run on a Friday because I know that my body won’t really be feeling the effects of Thursday too much until Saturday. At least from a muscular perspective. So that’s one thing to think about. Not using the type of muscles that you’re going to be using on one day in a workout 48 hours previously for example on Thursday. So on Thursday you could go out and do a bike interval session or a swim session, but if you had a long run on Saturday, I’d recommend that you not run on Thursday. And the same goes if you were going to have a key swim on Saturday. Let’s say Saturday is going to be the swim where you’re doing a 6×500 meter hard swim workout on Saturday. Well Thursday, you don’t want to go out and do a bunch of bench pressing and cable work and weight work or another swim interval workout on Thursday, because again 48 hours out, you’re going to feel that delayed onset muscle soreness quite a bit. And mentally if not physically, it’s going to hold you back from being able to achieve the quality of training that you’re looking for on Saturday. So think about this whenever you’re putting together your week of training – look at what you’re doing 48 hours prior and make sure that’s not going to inhibit the workout two days from that point. I’m not saying that hormonally you’re not going to be feeling it as soon as immediately after the next day after a tough workout, but as far as the way that your muscles feel and respond, it’s going to be a couple of days before your muscles get so sore that they may hold you back a little bit from achieving a high quality session. So my recommendation in terms of you having the opportunity to train on Thursday, is that if you’re doing your long run and your long bike workouts on Saturday and Sunday, I would recommend that you maybe do some core work, some upper body cable or weight lifting work and some swim sessions on Thursday. So you have some legs left for Saturday and Sunday. Good question.
Our next question is from AnksH who asks via Twitter – oh by the way if you want to ask a Twitter question, just go to Twitter.com and follow me. Follow Ben Greenfield and ask your question, and the other benefit from following is I kind of dish out little tips all day long over at Twitter
anksH asks via Twitter: Have you touched on joggers nipple and what can be done to heal or protect them?
Ben answers: That’s a very interesting way to phrase that question. Have I touched on jogger’s nipple. Ok, so jogger’s nipple is not something that just happens to joggers or runners. It happens to anybody who can get nipple chafing from the friction of their shirts. If you cycle or row, weight lift, work outside for long periods of time, whatever. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a male or female or thin or thick or whatever. Anybody can get jogger’s nipple. I get it myself when I go on long runs wearing a singlet or a t-shirt. What can you do about it? A few different things you can do about it. The first is that you can wear the right type of clothing. A lot of synthetic fabrics are stiff and they can really irritate your nipples and lead to bleeding or inflammation or soreness. So loose clothing and especially synthetic fabrics are going to be more likely to cause jogger’s nipple than a tight fitting top. Anything that can wick sweat away that’s a little bit tighter fitting like a Lycra or silk fabric can help out quite a bit, whereas a synthetic fabric like a cotton would be something that you really would not want. Especially something that can get wet or absorb sweat which can really make the irritation a lot worse. Women of course can wear a supportive bra so that will help out and of course men have that advantage of being able to run with their shirts off when it’s warm outside. But as far as clothing goes, make sure that you choose the right types of tops. Don’t just go running in a cotton t-shirt. You can actually put surgical tape over your nipple. You can put a bandaid over your nipple. If you have hair around your nipple it can help to shave that or trim that hair, especially before you put that tape or that bandaid on. They make breast shields for breastfeeding women and you can actually get those. You can get them a lot of times in just the regular grocery store where they have the breastfeeding equipment and it might be embarrassing for you guys to go grab some breast shields but that’s a good way to prevent jogger’s nipple. And of course another trick is you can use any type of lubricant like a cream, a Vaseline, a diaper rash clean. Chamois cream – the same type of cream that cyclists would use inside their shorts – that can help out. And basically kind of keeping that skin hydrated and lubed up can help the clothing move over it a little more quickly, move over the nipple a little more quickly. The next thing as far as treating the nipples if they do become irritated, if you get that friction effect – creams that have lanolin in them is a good way to keep that friction or that irritated area moist so it doesn’t get irritated even more. And if your nipples end up to be cracked or bleeding, you want to treat those the same ways you would an open wound. You can clean them, you can put a little bit of antibiotic ointment on them which will prevent infection. If they’re bleeding, cover them with a bandage until they heal. When you shower, try to avoid using soap because that’s going to dry out that irritated area even more so try to keep shampoo and soap from getting onto your nipples as you’re showering and then rather than towel drying, just basically let your chest and nipple area air dry and then apply some cream on there or some lotion to keep them moist. Believe it or not, one of the best ways to heal that type of chafing would be to expose your nipples to sunlight and that will help heal the irritated area. Women just make sure that you are not in view of any of your neighbors while you are exposing your nipples to the sunlight. I don’t know if you can get arrested for that, but it’s possible I suppose in some states. So, anyways I think that sets a record for the number of times that I’ve been able to say nipple in a podcast. So thank you for the question anksH and I hope that helps.
Next we have a call in question from Listener Andrew.
Andrew asks: Yes, Ben. This is Andrew Cohen and I just recently did an Austin half 70.3 and I did it on a mountain bike and I’m interested in taking the next step to get a mountain bike or a road bike – I mean a tri bike or a road bike. I was kind of curious, what do you recommend? Do you recommend a tri bike or a road bike? I plan on doing a tri maybe one to two times a year and just wanted to get your opinion on it, thanks.
Ben answers: Well first of all Andrew, let me say that’s pretty hardcore to do a half ironman on a mountain bike. You are a greater man than me. I guess if it was an x-terra I’d do it, but Austin 70.3 on a mountain bike? Yeah man, I’ve ridden that course. I wouldn’t want to do it on a mountain bike. We actually ride that course down in my camp. Ok, so the difference between a road bike and a tri bike – just to kind of go over the basics for you, this is something that could take up an entire podcast but road bikes are really made to handle well in a ton of different circumstances where you’re climbing, you’re cornering, you’re riding in packs, you’re sitting upright and that upright position allows you to have maximum power transfer when you’re pedaling especially when you’re climbing and also a quick response time when you’re in a pack of riders. What’s called the seat tube angle puts you in a position where you’re using your real powerful glutes and hamstrings and as a triathlete that should be concerning to you if you’re on a road bike because those are the same muscles that you primarily use when you are running. And in addition, it’s very rare in a triathlete that you have to climb, corner and deal with other packs of riders quite frequently. Most triathlon courses are relatively flat compared to most road biking courses and the arrow position allows you to simply get down into a – I like to think of it as a comparison between a semi-truck and a sports car but on a tri bike you’re in that semi truck position, just pointing and hammering and going straight forward and not turning too much, not climbing too much, not cornering too much and not navigating around other riders too much. So tri bikes work well for that, whereas road bikes are kind of designed for a little bit more versatility, power transfer from the glutes and hamstrings but you’re not able to run as well off that road bike. Tri-specific bikes they have a different seat tube angle that’s usually steeper – that seat tube angle. You tend to use more of your quadriceps than you do your glutes and your hamstrings. You tend to use a little bit less power when you’re on a tri bike even though you’re in a more aerodynamic position so often times the speed tradeoff is pretty equal or even more advantageous in the direction of the tri bike. You’ll typically have the ability to be in the arrow position a little bit more comfortably on a tri bike and there’s some small geometry differences between a tri bike and a road bike like the chains stay around the bottom of the bike is a little bit shorter. That allows your hips to stay a little bit more open when you’re riding in the arrow position on the tri bike. But primarily the most significant difference is the steepness of that seat tube angle and the presence of kind of an arrow position cockpit. So it really depends on the type of riding you’re doing. These days a road bike and a tri bike are going to be economically pretty similar in terms of pricing. If you want to do a lot of road biking, a lot of cycling with your local road riding group then it might benefit you to just get a road bike, but get a set of clip on arrow bars that you can put on that road bike for when you do triathlons. You’re still not going to benefit from the seat tube angle of a tri specific bike but that would be kind of the best of both worlds to do something that way. That’s what I did for the first five years that I did triathlon. I just had a road bike with some arrow bars and it worked out fine for me. If you’re planning on primarily specializing in triathlon, get a tri bike. That’s what I would recommend. One great resource for you would be www.synergysport.com. That’s where I get most of my cycling equipment these days. They’ve got road bike frames, tri bike frames and they’ve got them really inexpensively. So check out synergysport.com. That’d be a good resource for you.
Christian asks: How do you get the sweat smell out of heart rate monitor strap or iPod arm holder?
Ben answers: Yeah, that can be a problem. That embarrassing stank that you get on those accessories that you wear when you are exercising. Well any of those straps, any of those Lycra elastic band type of things – you can just wash those with warm soap and water. You can also put them in a washing machine. What you don’t want to do is put them in the dryer because they’ll shrink but you can clean all that stuff in a washing machine. Just make sure you take the heart rate monitor part of it off first. As far as the monitor itself, a lot of folks try to use alcohol when they clean those. Don’t use alcohol. You don’t want to use that when you clean the heart rate monitor. You can basically just rinse the monitor with plain, clean water. You can put a little bit of salt on there and then dry it off with a soft clean towel, and that’s all you need to do. One of the things that I use quite a bit to wipe down all my equipment and that I also use when I don’t have a chance to shower – I’ll spray some of this on to get rid of that sweaty smell is called Action Wipes Spray. I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes but they make a wipe and they also make a spray and if you go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for “Action Wipes” I interviewed the lady who invented them on the podcast. So it was really interesting. It started off as basically a sex lube type of business and then changed into cleaning for sports and a sports performance spray. Interesting story that she tells on the podcast. But basically it’s called Action Wipe Spray. It works really well. I keep it in my garage next to all my cycling equipment. Use the stuff to clean my bike, clean myself off after a workout. So, that’s what I would recommend Christian.
Rodrigo asks: I suffer from anguish and anxiety and have been taking clonazepam (similar to Prozac). Is there any suggestion you could have on some other supplement which does not need a medical prescription, which really is a pain and makes it twice as expensive?
Ben answers: Alright, so first of all, as you guys may have heard me talk about on the podcast before, I’m definitely a fan of natural alternatives. I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice Rodrigo. But there are some disadvantages to drugs and antidepressants like Prozac, specifically an increased risk of violent or suicidal tendencies being the most significant. And then the fact that these are called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, they actually really do mess with the blocking or re-absorption of serotonin in your brain. And sometimes that’s not the best thing to be blocking serotonin. Now there are some things that you can do that will give you an antidepressant like quality from a supplementation and also from a natural treatment perspective. So a few of the things that I would recommend that you look into would be foods that contain tryptophan, folic acid and vitamin B. All of those things can help to keep your serotonin levels under control without necessarily blocking the re-uptake of serotonin in the brain. So walnuts would be one example. Walnuts are really great in terms of their omega 3 fatty acid content and the content of something called urodine which is a natural compound that can help to elevate your mood and stabilize those serotonin levels. Dark chocolates, another thing that can help out quite a bit with that. Chicken and turkey both help with tryptophan and vitamin B6 levels and all I want you to do is write these down and try to incorporate them creatively into your diet. So it’d kind of be the antidepression diet. Salmon or mackerel, those have the omega 3 fatty acids in them. Very important for brain stability and controlling depression. Definitely recommend anybody who is depressed and anxious, etc. you’d be looking at including these omega acids and omega 3 fatty acids in your diets. So salmon and mackerel, great source of those. Similar to chicken and turkey – cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese both have tryptophan present in them. Again very helpful in stabilizing the serotonin levels. The folic acid in some vegetables and specifically spinach can help you to maintain optimum levels of serotonin as well. Citrus fruits – what you get from citrus fruits are dopamine. That’s a really important neurotransmitter that a lot of people tend to be deficient in or unresponsive to with depression to and citrus fruits give you a lot of that dopamine production without giving you the same type of inflammation that a processed sugar will give you, with the processed sugars being able to produce dopamine as well. But a much, much higher risk of some other problems with the sugars. Whole wheat – if you don’t have gluten issues, if you don’t have weight issues, that has a pretty rich carbohydrate complex. That can help in the production of serotonin. Interestingly enough, popcorn as well can help with that. Again for people who are trying to lose weight – whole wheat and popcorn can be two of your worst enemies. If you’re not worried about that and you just want again some of that serotonin stabilization, those are a couple of things that you can try out and apart from those anti-depressant foods, look at water too. Water is really, really important in maintaining our natural chemical balance in the body and make sure that you’re staying naturally hydrated. Take in at least several bottles of water throughout the day and water intake needs really vary according to the water content of the food that you’re consuming. The more natural and raw the foods that you’re consuming are, the more fruits and vegetables, etc. that you’re consuming, the lower your needs for water are. But most folks should be at least taking in – if you can close your eyes and picture a water bottle from a bicycle – you should be at least taking in about five or six of those on a daily basis. The equivalent of five or six of those on a daily basis from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed at night. Now, as far as antidepressant supplements, look into St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort is an herbal anti-depressant. It’s been used for a long time. It’s been clinically tested. It’s been proven to be effective in mild or moderate depression states. A lot fewer side effects than those prescription drugs. Another one would be something called 5 hydroxy tryptophan and we talked about how some of these foods can naturally increase tryptophan, you could go straight to the source and just get your hands on some 5htp as well. Again, results that are kind of comparative to the prescription medicine but a lot fewer side effects. Straight up omega 3 fatty acid like a fish oil or a flax oil or an Udo’s 3-6-9 oil – any of those oils or all of those oils, including those on a daily basis would be really important as well and something I would highly recommend. Now I briefly mentioned amino acids and I’ve been talking about tryptophan and that would be one example of amino acid you could use. There’s others out there. Tyrocine is one, phenalalanine is another. So L-Tyracine. L phenalalanine are both two compounds that you can get your hands on at a health food store. There’s another one called SAM-E. And that can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, of what are called phosphotides which can increase the binding of neurotransmitters through receptor sites in your brain and increase the serotonin and the dopamine effectiveness. I totally blank on what SAM-E stands for. It’s something methianine. But basically it’s an amino acid as well. Couple of other things to look into – this is something I discovered down in Hawaii. I go down there quite frequently and a lot of folks down there use their equivalent of legal marijuana – it’s called kava. You can find kava online in powder form or droplet form. It’s kind of like a tea. It’s got a real, real kind of soothing, stress relieving quality. Really cool for anxiety, for depression. It kind of makes your mouth a little numb when you take it in. You feel kind of similar after trying that kava as you would after you’ve smoked a joint. But it’s legal and it’d be something to look into as well. It’s called kava or kava root or kava powder. And then ginkgo biloba is another one. We’ve talked about gingko biloba and its effectiveness for people who are training at altitude, but it can also normalize your neurotransmitter levels. It can increase blood flow to the brain. It can improve mental acuity. A lot of folks use it for memory as well. And it can not only help to combat some of the side effects that you get with anti-depressant drugs but it can also really be used to improve mood so whether you’re on anti-depressants and want to take that to help combat the side effects or whether you want to use that in addition to some of the other things that I just finished talking about – gingko biloba would definitely be something to look into as well. Again I’m not a doctor. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I don’t want you to think I’m prescribing these things but if I were having to deal with depression or anxiety, if I had something happen in my life that put me at a high risk for that, these are some of the things I would get into right away if I were in your shoes. Last thing, final thing to look into from a treatment perspective would be biofeedback. And what biofeedback is, is it’s a type of therapy that kind of teaches you to exert control over your involuntary muscle and brain wave activities. So you learn to respond to the signals that your own body is sending to you. I personally have done biofeedback once. And I didn’t do it because I was depressed. I did it to basically check it out because I had some clients ask me about it. I found a biofeedback practitioner. They hooked me up to a computer, asked me questions, looked at the response of some of my physical parameters like blood pressure and heart rate to these questions and if I would have done that as a regular treatment session, I would have learned how to basically help my own body calm down more so to speak and less anxious in situations. So it essentially teaches you how to have more control over the response of your mind and your body to certain situations. So biofeedback can be useful not only for depression but also just helping your body with for example sports performance. Read a book. If you really aren’t convinced that anti-depressants are that bad for you, read a book that I’ll put a link to in the Shownotes. I think it costs like a dollar on Amazon. But it’s called Prozac: Panacea or Pandora and it’s written by a gal who’s really considered kind of the leading expert on these serotonin uptake inhibitors and she’s testified as an expert witness in a ton of court cases involving anti-depressant drugs and violence and has written a book. I would read the book. It’s called Prozac: Panacea or Pandora. And I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes for you to check out. If you just want to learn a little bit more about anti-depressants and why they might not be the best thing to take. Then we have one more question from Peter.
Peter asks: I have recently focused on healthy fat intake, vitamin d, and other supplement strategies. Bioletics testing is an option for me but I have good health insurance from work and plan to get blood work done soon. If you had to get a complete assessment of your health using standard blood tests available through a physician, what tests would you request?
Ben answers: Well first of all, for those of you who are listening in, when Peter talks about Bioletics, Bioletics is what I use to test my hormones, my blood, saliva, urine, metabolism, everything. And I do all that via home kits that I send back and forth between my house and Bioletics. And I’ll put a link to Bioletics in the Shownotes even though I know that’s not what Peter is asking. Peter is asking about what you would ask for at your doctor – common blood tests that would be covered by insurance. So, if I were going to go get a blood test, some of the things I would ask for and some of the things that your doc would probably do anyways, but just so you know – definitely ask for a complete blood count. So a complete blood count looks at a wide variety of blood parameters. But specifically, it’ll tell you if you’re anemic and it’ll especially be useful if you can combine it with a ferritin test which can look at a very important iron storage protein. So get a complete blood count but combine it with a ferritin test and the complete blood count will also let you know if you have any type of infection because it will give your white blood cell count. Now in addition to that, it can help your doctor confirm if you have a clotting issue. If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, it can even be useful for diagnosing leukemia. So complete blood count, definitely look into that and make sure you combine it with a ferritin so you get the total look at that anemia. Because even if you have a regular red blood cell count, if you have low levels of ferritin you’re still not going to have the iron storage protein that you need to adequately deliver oxygen. Get a basic metabolic panel. Or what’s also just called a metabolic panel. That’s going to look at a lot of different nutrients and electrolytes. A lot of the byproducts of kidney filtration in your blood. So you’ll get a glance at your glucose, your sodium levels, your potassium, your CO2, your chloride, your blood nitrogen, creatinine is another one that that will give you. It’ll give you and your doc a really broad view of problems that could be going on in your kidneys or your respiratory system. It could give a good look at your insulin or your blood sugar stabilization levels. Look at whether you’re adequately hydrated, whether your heart is operating properly, if there’s any inflammatory markers in your blood stream. So look into that. There’s also a complete metabolic panel which actually tests just a few more components than the basic metabolic panel, but as a baseline the basic metabolic panel would be good to get. Get a lipid profile so you can look at your cholesterol and your triglyceride levels. You know cholesterol is blown way out of proportion than it should be. If you’ve got super super high LDL levels, real low HDL levels, it definitely could be a strong indicator of heart disease especially if you’re predisposed to that in your family. So lipid profile can be useful. I think people put a little bit too much emphasis on lowering cholesterol levels. I think the fasting glucose levels and levels of something called small oxidized cholesterol as well as levels of inflammatory markers in your bloodstream like creatine kinase are really more important than your lipid profile. But I think it’s worth taking a look at – the cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well. So get a lipid profile. Look at your CK and your triponins. Those are inflammatory markers and those will both test to indicate heart or excessive muscle damage. And especially if you’ve had a heart attack it will tell you that right away. But that’d be something useful to take a look at as well, is the inflammatory markers like creatine kinase and triponin in your bloodstream and those can also be done on a simple blood test. There’s a test called prothrombin that you can order as well from your doc and that will test to see how well your blood clots. So a lot of times folks who are on blood thinning medication will get that one, but it will also indicate any type of bleeding disorders. If you ever go in for a surgery, let’s say you get in a car accident or a bike accident, it would be nice if a doc could look at your previous panels and see prothrombin time just to make sure that there’s not going to be a bleeding problem for example while you’re on the surgical table. Next thing to look at is a thyroid test. Don’t just get the TSH test which is what they’re going to give you automatically. Which can be one indicator of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, but make sure you look at your T3 and your T4 as well, because TSH is just one part of the picture when it comes to your thyroid hormones, to understand that more completely, go listen to any of the previous podcasts that we’ve done with Dr. Roby Mitchell. Go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for Roby Mitchell. A couple of final tests to look at. Look at the sedimentation rate. That’s another test for inflammation in your body. Tell your doctor that you want a sedimentation rate test and they’ll know how to interpret that. And then finally get a hepatic function panel. Pretty basic panel. It will test your liver. It will look for things like jaundice, really any type of liver issues but it’s called a hepatic function panel. So those aren’t all the – I mean all the tests you get for blood would fill up an entire book. And I’m not a doctor, I haven’t gone to medical school so I’m not trained in all of the blood tests. I’m not a phlebotomist, I don’t work in a lab. But those are the things I would ask a doc for if I were to go in and get a blood test and just want kind of – not a complete snapshot but a pretty good snapshot from a blood standpoint. I would still recommend that you not neglect getting a look at salivary testosterone and cortisol. I would recommend that you still take a look at your urinary mineral loss via the type of testing you get through Bioletics for urinary mineral loss. Check out urine PH for at least a week to track your PH levels. Those are some of the main things I’d look at. If you can get an amino acid test and a fatty acid test, those would be two good things to look into as well. I personally from personal experience don’t know if that’s a blood test that your doc is going to be able to give you or that your insurance is going to cover – the amino acid test or the fatty acid test – but I would highly recommend that you look into those as well. And that would be about it. So, I hope that is helpful Peter. It’s a great question and yeah that about wraps up our questions for this week. So great questions you guys. And quick message before we move on to today’s highly mentally stimulating interview with James Autio from Bionx Supermodel.
Now during this interview with James Autio, you will hear me mention his company Bionx and Bionetworth as well as the particular supplement that we’re talking about called Bionx Supermodel. I will put a link to that in the Shownotes. And again I will warn you that James Autio is a very smart guy and he gets pretty in depth in this interview. I had to split it into two parts and I still had quite a time really getting as much information as I needed to get about Bionx from James Autio, but if you’re really interested in what goes on when a supplement is created and what type of things you need to think about when you’re looking at what you put into your body, you’re going to want to listen in to this interview and just so you guys know, I have tried this Bionx Supermodel stuff he talks about for about 30 days and it is something that I’m comfortable recommending.
Hello folks, this is Ben Greenfield and on the line today I have a theoretical biologist and systems engineer named James Autio. James is the president and the founder of a company called Bionetworth as well as a company called Equine Ergogenics. He attended a polytechnic institute in New York and the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, Tennessee and he not only graduated in high school as a valedictorian but he went on to – he had a range of other honors. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength Conditioning Association and he was employed at Lockheed Missiles – a space company for nine years in the missiles systems division in the process and control laboratories. He founded Bionetworth in 1989 and the Equine Ergogenics in 1996 and using those companies he develops training regimens for business professionals, Olympic track event cyclists, road cyclists and power lifters as well as state of the art micronutrient products for business professionals and athletes. He also designed 8 molecular nutrient systems and custom engineered ergogenic formulas for thoroughbred and standard bred race horses and now he’s helping everyone from corporate executives to physicians to attorneys, financial planners, computer programmers, Olympic world and national champions in many sports including triathlon and professional cycling, major league baseball players, world record holders in men’s professional sprint cycling, touring PGA golfers, world record holders in swimming, former USTA number one ranked players in tennis, breeder’s cup winners and a host of other professionals who rely on the advice that James Autio gives them to reach their peak performance. Now he’s also written books. He’s written Confessions of the Human Genome as well as a book called The Digital Man Trap: An Operating System for the Human Organism. He also developed and presented a presentation to have the unified theory of fitness, aging and disease – a new theory of fitness based on the flow of energy and the integrity of information. Now, in case you have not gotten the idea yet, the man we are going to talk to today is very intelligent and knows quite a bit about sports performance enhancement, about anti-aging and about a host of other issues that we’re going to discuss today when it comes to reaching your potential and taking your potential to the next level, specifically when it comes to employing the rate of micronutrients in that pursuit. So James Autio, thank you for coming on the call today.
James Autio: Wow Ben, that’s a long list. Over the course of those some 20 years, I didn’t realize all that transpired, but I guess it did and it’s interesting how life evolves like that.
Ben: After introducing you, I believe we have five minutes left for the actual interview.
James Autio: Yeah, I guess so. The business did begin in 1989 but for me, philosophically I have to go back to when I was 13 years old when I met my mentor and he helped me with strength training back then and back then it was all about bodybuilding and Weider magazine and in my teens I really got into that. I was a very slight built person. Strong for my size and really got into weight training and discovered supplements back then. But back then, all there was milk and egg wheat or milk and egg protein and very sugary products for gaining weight and my goals back then were all about getting bigger and stronger. And that’s the way it was back then. But then what happened was when I was working at Lockheed, I began to see how large systems are developed. I worked for four years in the trident missile systems division where there’s a building longer than a football field where the missiles systems are developed and you see a long assembly line and you see all these different departments developing all these different parts and it’s very, very complex. And you begin to get a feel for what it takes to build really complex systems. And at the same time I was training people part time for weight lifting and working with power lifters and so I had no exposure at all to endurance training at that point and I went all the way through my late 20s and at one point I weighed 227 lbs and was really big and strong and had met some people that had really started the sports nutrition industry back then because that was in the Bay area and that’s where Champion Nutrition started and Unipro was and so I kind of saw the ground floor, how things were going for sports nutrition back then and then at the same time at my day job as working at the missiles division in Lockheed, and so I just came to some insights on where things could go because the direction it was going in sports nutrition, I ultimately saw the dead end. But I wasn’t sure on how to apply systems engineering to improving athletic performance yet because I hadn’t put all the pieces together. Well then I left Lockheed and then I came down here to San Diego in late 89 and then started the company Elite Performance Technologies which ironically is the same name as I was calling myself even in the 80s even before I started the company. And so what happened was in 89 was that I began to invite athletes to come in and consult with me. I was advertising at that point in the competitor magazine with Bob Babbitt who’s still running the magazine and I had ran ads in there and then people would come in and then I bumped into a guy by the name of Zach Copeland and he was a national criterion champion and then became a national sprint champion on the track in cycling and his dad had done Ironman five times and held several world records for his age group in track cycling and then he referred me to Gary Allan who was a downhill skier and into kind of extreme sports – very strong guy and for his size but I didn’t realize that his brother was Mark Allan and Mark Allan the triathlete that we all know. So Mark Allan came in, this was 1990 and so at that point what happened was I have this business where what I did was I went out and used my systems engineering thinking and went out into the market place and just pulled every product out there that has some kind of benefit that I could put together in a system to assemble for an athlete, customed for that person based on upon a one on one consultation. And so Mark Allan came in and we talked about triathlon. I didn’t know anything about triathlon back then. As I said I had no background in endurance sports. I was just learning about that. And I put together a system of products based upon what was on the market place. It wouldn’t matter what the manufacturer was, it depended on what the functionality of that particular ingredient profile for that supplement would be and I would cobble it together so he would have a system that was best appropriate for what he was trying to do. And so then more and more athletes came in. I started thinking and in 1992, seven of the top 11 athletes from California that competed in the Ironman were clients of mine and the top two guys were clients of mine. And people began to hear about what I was doing. And so people would come in and they would sit down with me, but I didn’t realize – I had no background in business. I didn’t realize what a stupid business model this was. This was great for engineering, executing a solution for an athlete at least I was using state of the art back then, but the problem was it was a really bad business model because people would write down what I’m recommending and then they’d go shop someplace else. So, it was really, really bad and then the other thing I noticed was that a lot of the things that I really wanted were not available in the marketplace at all. So I came to the realization that sports nutrition is not what’s important here because the body has no idea what a sport is. It has no idea whatsoever. It just responds to stress. It adapts to stress according to its programming, which is not all genetic. Some of it is epigenetic which if we have time we can get into. That’s a new field that’s going to become dominant very shortly. But basically a biological system is stressed and it adapts to stress so the field of exercise physiology, although it has meaning to us humans from the outside looking in, from the inside looking out, it has no meaning whatsoever. It’s just going to deal with the stress and adapt to stress. Like Ironman for example, it’s probably thinking it’s being chased by a bear for nine hours. So it’s going to do the best it can to adapt to that and of course the training process, in order to do the Ironman is beyond what we’re designed to do. So we’re always operating on what I call the right side of the human performance envelope. People have heard the term “pushing the envelope” but they don’t really know what that means. People have a visceral feeling for what that means, it kind of means you’re going pedal to the metal. But what it means biologically is much more profound. So if you imagine a graph of where you are measuring performance – that’s P – and then improved performance would be a delta P and on the horizontal access you have stress so for improvement it would be based upon a positive delta f… so if you have this parabolic curve, the top of that parabola would be the optimum stress for you to have a maximal performance result. That seems very hard to know what that is. Even the very best uses of scientific measurement are very difficult because we don’t even really know what that is yet, so you can do all kinds of different tests for measuring your watts and your heart rate and doing all kinds of blood testing, all kinds of testing and really you have to do this all the time frequently. Not just once every three months. It has to be done almost daily. To monitor that, you don’t really know. So you end up having to bracket those relationships of stress to performance. So, what happens is on the left side of the curve I call this “pulling the envelope.” Pulling the envelope is a mirror image of pushing the envelope. Pushing the envelope – to give you a good visual example… I have clients that are Navy Seals or people who are doing 8000 meter climbing like Steve Unch that we had in the K2 expedition in 94 – there group was going to climb K2. It’s the most dangerous mountain in the world, slightly shorter than Everest but far more dangerous. They were going to paraglide from the summit. And so when you’re dealing with those kinds of stress profiles, it’s much more than you’re going to have than in dealing with Ironman or a marathon or even Race Across America…
Ben: Now what about the stress levels of just regular life?
James Autio: Regular life, you have… ironically what you have and if you just want to look at the West here where we have the obesity epidemic is that when you have too little stress, that creates a very interesting dynamic and a stress that is going to accelerate aging. Part of my new theory that I’m working on in unified theory of fitness is going to examine and detail… and what happens there is when you look at the mammalian life cycle beginning with an embryo and then you have early development and then you have adolescence and you have maturity, and then you have senesis. So you have all these different phases of the mammalian life cycle that it’s not just going day to day that there is – it looks like what is happening is that at the level of the nervous system is where more centralized control takes place. In the last 50 years, the media has hammered home this genome-centric idea to where intelligence is for some reason… it has a focal point of what your DNA is. And that’s just not correct. A better analogy is to look at your DNA, your genome as a library but the library is not the librarian. So you may have these great genes but if they’re not expressed, then they don’t mean anything to you. So the question is what is the causal agency in how your genes are expressed. Well the source of that is not the library, it’s the librarian. So what’s the librarian? Well, the librarian is not some central aspect of the brain because a bacteria has the mind but it doesn’t have a brain. In other words, a bacterium perceives its environment and responds to its environment and it’s very successful at it. In terms of persistence it’s far better than humans. They’ve been around a long time and they’re going to be around a long time. So if you measure intelligence – that’s your capacity to adapt to the unknown – very simple organisms such as bacteria are going to be the most successful and persistence is what matters. And at the level of an individual… phylogenetically, it’s looking at the species. And that is the proper term for fitness, really, is only used on the level of the species. But we have used the word fitness to apply to an individual organism. For example, Mark Allan is super fit. We use that terminology. If you look at the word fitness, the word “fit” implies two… it implies an interplay between an organism and its environment. So when you look at that, “fitness” is kind of a misnomer when we talk about it in the context of individuals. Conditioning is far better. That much I can assure you, the word fitness is never going to go away because it’s so indoctrinated in our culture.
Ben: Gotcha. Well if I could interrupt you quickly, just in the interest of the limited time that we have available on the call, can we talk a little bit about what steps that you took when you realized some of these concepts that you’re right now outlining in terms of creating something that would enable someone to be able to handle the stress of something like Ironman?
James Autio: Very good question. That’s really about the way that it was poised, is that getting back to what I was doing as a business, I came to the realization that because there are missing components out there – because everything is done through the lens of sports nutrition and not through the lens of an organism, that you have holes in the approach of what you can do in terms of applying micronutrition to increasing what I call your adaptive yield. And if we have time we’ll get into this, because this gets into the real meat of what you have to do if you are an elite endurance athlete and you want to improve your performance. It will roll out like the Manhattan Project if we have time to do it. And so, what I did was I began to – I first came to the realization that I had to make my own product. That was first and foremost. The other thing that happened which was kind of an odd sense of timing but it worked out to be serendipitous was that some guys came in from the race track at Del Mar because the retail shop where I had my business was a few miles from the Del Mar race track where they race thoroughbreds and some guys came in, they saw that my store was focused on sports nutrition. They go well what do you have for horses? I go “What are you talking about?” So we started to talk about it, and I recommended some human products that would be for their application and they started to work. And so what I did, my first products that I designed custom were for horses.
Ben: So were you designing these products in some kind of a laboratory?
James Autio: What I did in the very beginning was I would look at what was on the market place and get my Excel spreadsheet out and I would look at the nutrient profiles that I was looking for. Kind of like starting with a clean sheet of paper where you have a blue sky. That’s in fact what I call the way I do things now. The Blue Sky Project. You start with a blue sky saying what if I had this? And you begin that way. So what I did was I assembled the nutrient profiles that at that point were a first approximation to be what would ideal in my model for horses. So I had a product called Vitamax and then another product called Muscle Repair Factors. The Muscle Repair Factors and the Vitamax, they were products that were designed to reduce inflammation in the race horse. They weren’t about ergogenic benefits. It wasn’t about increasing aerobic power at that point. It was the first problem I wanted to deal with – was dealing with inflammation because if you don’t deal with that on the race track or in the Olympic equestrian – Olympic equestrian, you have the same drug testing standards that you have for humans. That’s IOC standards. World Anti-Doping Agency. And so horses have to pass those stringent tests. So I put together – I was using chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate in the early 90s before people had really even heard about them. The first application was horses. So then my first human project was called Rejuvenal which if that product were still on the market today, it would still be the best natural anti-inflammatory available. It’s interesting that you’re going back almost 20 years. That’s the case. But that’s what happens when you take a cosmologic approach and put something together. And so Rejuvenal was that first product and at that time like Mark Allan was my client from 1990 to the time he retired along with several other triathletes – that they began to use the products that I was developing myself. And then to shorten the story a little bit, I then created a product called Muscle Repair Factor. There’s another one called Aerobic Power Amplifier and then Cellular Damage Protection and then I had a multivitamin. So I ended up with a system of six products that cost like $400 a month in 1993, 1994 and it was far and away better than anything anybody had ever seen.
Ben: Now why was it better? What makes say an expensive supplement or say the type of supplements that you were creating better than what you go and get at vitacost.com.
James Autio: Ok. If you begin to look at human metabolism in the way directions are going in biology, what we’re seeing is a trend toward bioinformatics. And bioinformatics is a way of computer modeling given inputs and outputs how a biological system is going to adapt to a specific stress. We’ve all heard about the genome – genomics. And then we’ve heard about the proteum, which is this set of proteins that comes from the process of going from DNA, RNA to protein. So that’s proteomics – the science that deals with the inventory and changes of the concentrations of those within the cell. And then metabolomics is dealing with a model of the entire cell, of all of these small molecular molecules and the dynamics given a particular stress. And then it keeps on going, like a transcriptom is looking at all the gene expression products that you have in a given organism. The physiome is the grandiose holy grail of all these “omics” which is looking at a model of the entire human being. So what happens here is that the field of nutrition which macronutrition has its roots going back to 1850 in Europe, and in my book, The Digital Man Trap, I go into the details of how things transpired. And micronutrition in the United States goes back to the 1940s and came from a context of the post-depression area of the 30s and then in the 40s, you had World War 2, and what happens is when Army soldiers were being recruited, there was a high failure rate due to malnutrition. So the concept of the RDA came from the crucible of the failure rate of draftees into the US Army. And today we still have that same mindset. Everything, like if you pick up any bottle of supplements on the market, it always says – a percentage of that is called Daily Value – it’s all based on the idea of what is the minimum of essential nutrients… now this is an important point. Essential nutrients are nutrients that the body cannot make itself. So therefore it has to come from the diet. Everything else – there’s a synthetic pathway anywhere in the body to make something, then it’s not considered an essential nutrient. Like the orotates for example is considered to be a vitamin up until the time when somebody came up or discovered the synthesis of orotates or orotic acid in the body so then they’re scratched off the list. But see the problem with that is it’s not about optimal function, it’s only about what is the minimum to prevent a deficiency disease such as scurvy or beri-beri or pellagra. And then rickets. So that’s where we are today. Our thinking of nutritional theory – micronutritional theory – is still rooted in that. My theory, what makes this different now, Ben… getting into why this is better is that the thinking I’m using is I’m adopting the thinking that is coming out of big time systems engineering such as making missiles or Raptor fighter planes or a driving submarine. How do you design something for optimal functioning? Not minimal functioning, to avoid catastrophe. That’s the difference. Ok, so now when you start with that framework, now everything changes. For example, let’s just take a look at training for Ironman. I’m putting this in the context so your audience can understand this, is that when you’re training for Ironman and you’re doing a high volume of endurance training and if you’re training smart, most of your training is going to be just in excess of maximal lipid power. Now we all know about VO2 max. VO2 max doesn’t matter in Ironman. And even the lactic threshold doesn’t matter at Ironman. What matters is what it is to your maximum lipid power. Maximum lipid power is the greatest rate of fats that you can metabolize because why that matters in a race like Ironman is because that is going to ultimately determine how you’re going to finish the race because you’re going to be glycogen depleted. Now your VO2 max depends on having maximal glycogen stores and VO2 max is not a constant. People think VO2 max is relatively constant. In a 24 hour period, it would not vary. That’s totally wrong. At the end of Ironman, you could take a Mark Allan who say has a VO2 max on the bike of let’s just say for example, it’s 80. His VO2 max on the bike at the end of Ironman is not 80. It’s most likely going to be 40% less than that. And the reason for that is the maximal amount of power that you can produce when you’re glycogen depleted is going to be equal to your maximum lipid power. That’s what you train for. So I got into these kinds of concepts back in 1992. Dr. Ferrari walked into my store and I didn’t know who he was at that time and he walked in with Mirano Argentin, Tony Rome and Jerry Tripolini. So we started talking, because Dr. Ferrari is of course Italian but he speaks very good English. So he saw my products and he saw all the other products that I had there and he was looking at things he had never seen before in his life.
Ben: For the listeners, can you tell listeners really quickly who Dr. Ferrari is.
James Autio: Well Dr. Ferrari – he’s gotten a bad name for being involved in drug doping. But see the thing about Dr. Ferrari was he was the protégé of Dr. Concone when the whole concept of lactate testing was used to break the Allan record in cycling. So he’s an MD who is an avid cyclist himself. He’s very fit and he has been a consultant to the top endurance athletes in the world not just in Italy but in the United States. I consider him to be the most knowledgeable person in the world on endurance training.
Ben: So he walks into your office with these three guys.
James Autio: He walks in with these three guys and he wanted samples and I gave it to him and then he – for a couple of years he was training all of his guys there in the off-season because San Diego is considered to be flat but we actually have some clients at Mt. Pelemar which is quite strenuous. There are some good 45 to 50 minute climbs that will stimulate grades you’re going to see like in the tour. And so he came back and he wanted more. So he became a customer. He was supplying products to all the people he was training. This is important because here’s a guy that can – he can get anything he wants in the world and he was buying my stuff. And here’s Mark Allan using my stuff, and others I can’t give you their names because I don’t have permission. But you’d be surprised at some of the people that have been using the products I had made. And so, when he went to South Africa, they actually sent him to South Africa, and then he set up for me to do retail sales in Italy for retail stores up until 96 because the laws changed and now you can’t even ship vitamin C over there. So what happens was with the system of products that I had… I was invited to the Atlanta Falcon’s training camp in 1994 by Bill Goldberg who we all know as the pro wrestler but he was a legendary defensive lineman for the Georgia Bulldogs and played on the Rams and the Panthers and Falcons. And he invited me to camp and so I got the chance to talk… you can’t do this today. This would never happen, but in 94 I got the chance to talk to virtually everybody on the team. They got samples of my products and the complaint was there was too many bottles. Even today, people have 15 to 20 bottles. Now this was 6 bottles of 6 functional different products.
Ben: So, in order for people to take advantage of this research that you’d been doing and the supplementation protocol that you put together, they had to be popping a lot of pills.
James Autio: They were popping a lot of pills and there were a lot of bottles and it was unwieldy. So that’s where I got the idea that I need to integrate this synthesis into one. And so Bionx One was born in 1995. Fastforwarding today, Bionx Supermodel is really the 6th generation that I’ve evolved.
Ben: Now can I ask you a quick question. If you take a bunch of supplements and you put them all together into one product, do you have to do things like control for one product say interfering with the absorption of another?
James Autio: Yeah you do and that’s a very good point. That’s a big mistake that people make especially in mineral nutrition. Minerals – when you look at manganese, magnesium, copper – they all have a valence of 2 if they’re in ionic form, meaning that they’re pad ions with a valence of 2 and you have what’s called competitive inhibition in the small intestine, which means that some minerals are better absorbed than the other because of that property which is called competitive inhibition. So it’s possible to have high levels of minerals and you end up forcing a deficiency because you’re competitively inhibiting one to where you don’t even absorb it at all. Iron also fits into that category. So the way to get around that, you have to use co-true covalently bonded minerals which Albion Labs has all the patents on. And those patents are enforceable. So what that means is that in all the products that I make, I use Albion Labs minerals because they do not have competitive inhibition. Instead they use an absorption mechanism such as small proteins. The di and tri peptides which means two or three amino acids stuck together. And that’s what you have with Albion Labs minerals. You have a couple of amino acids that are bonded to the minerals and the minerals get smuggled into the body. And this is how you avoid problems of competition. So we’re turning to this idea… going back to the concept of why this is relevant to the triathlete – is that when you are doing the kind of training volume that is required to improve your maximal lipid power as much as possible – in other words, say you’re training optimally. You have great coaching. You’ve got a guy like Mark Allan doing your coaching. So you got somebody who knows what they’re doing. You are applying the right kinds of stresses. You’re doing everything right except when you look at this – you have the process of getting back to the very beginning of our discussion – we were talking about stress and adaptation. Well all of the focus that we see in sports for the most part has been on creating the right stress which is training. But when it comes to adaptation, you don’t see a whole lot that’s been going on. Yes, there’s been improvements in macronutrition. Yes, of course. When it comes to other dimensions, basically there’s 6 dimensions of inputs that you have to tune in order to improve your performance and today we’re discussing… the focal point is micronutrition, but you have five others such as sleep and stress management, endurance training, stress training, balance, agility, motor control and macronutrition. So you have to tune all of these variables. The biggest upside an athlete has when they’re operating at the right end of that performance envelope which is where they’re pushing the envelope where adaptive response is running really thin – because remember it’s not about sports, it’s about what are we programmed to do. Well we’re not programmed to deal with chronic stresses such as training for Ironman or jumping out of planes at 20,000 feet at 3o’clock in the morning with 500lb gross weight like these Navy Seals who weigh 200 something lbs. They have a 200 lb pack and then they’re going down into some cold environment in Afghanistan and people are going to shoot at them. We’re not designed to do that. So what has to happen is if you have supra normal stresses, you have to begin to think in terms of supra normal adaptive tools. So this is why this approach is superior to anything else out there. It’s because the mindset and the focus is adapting systems engineering tools and networking theory and also piggybacking on the research that’s being done in bioinformatics and applying it to nutrition. This is not nutritional genomics. Nutritional genomics is a big upgrade over nutritional theory but it’s still not what I’m talking about. Nutritional genomics is about optimizing nutrition given your particular genome. What I’m talking about is what the nutrition profile that you need if you are training for something that the body is not designed to do and you’re at the far end of the envelope. So in terms of what this means – I was talking about this parabolic curve. At the top of the parabola is optimum training, giving you optimal stress and you have your peak performance. But see, the tendency is to fall down the right side of the curve and what you have there are decreasing marginal returns. Decreasing marginal returns means that if you increase the strength, what that means is your yield or your performance is going to suffer. And so what happens is in training for a triathlon or any sport like this where you’re pushing the envelope is that you reach a point – every athlete reaches a point that I’m talking about, and this is where I want you to pay attention. Everybody reaches the point where there’s going to be a limiting factor so that you will no longer have a positive delta P and despite what you do by increasing delta S, stress, you will have a declining P because you’ve reached a point of negative diminishing returns. So getting back to tuning in inputs in order to improve your performance up until the point where you are reaching your genetic ceiling or what I call more really your phenotypic ceiling which is the phenotype is the impression of your body, your stoma that is the ultimate manifestation of changes to your genome and epigenome and all these omes I was talking about. At that point, you have increasingly negative returns because you will have bumped up against a micronutritional variable that is a limiting factor in your ability to adapt. And that’s very, very, very important. You will never achieve that using conventional nutritional theory. Even nutritional genomics will not – that’s the deal with that type of problem. That has great value for the average person because it helps fine tune what they need, but it’s not dealing with what I’m talking about.
Ben: Right. Well I get the impression that with the knowledge that you have in developing the micronutrition that you’ve developed the way that you have, you could probably go on for hours. It sounds…
James Autio: I do a seminar in a couple of days.
Ben: I’ve seen the PDF and will make that available to folks in the Shownotes. The actual PDF that contains some of the information you’re talking about as well, but if we could I’d like to get into the meat of the final product that you’ve actually developed over the course of all these professional athletes that you’ve worked with over the years. In terms of the ingredient profile, I know that there’s a large range of ingredients that have come to fruition in this final product you’ve created. But can you kind of give the brief – almost the layman’s overview of what’s in this and what it’s called. It’s Bionx. It’s called Supermodel.
James Autio: Bionx Supermodel. Because the term Supermodel, I’m not using it in terms of the Milan…
Ben: The fashion industry definition of supermodel.
James Autio: Not that. Even though that is a supermodel. A supermodel actually predates that and just to give an example of a supermodel… deeper blue IBM computer that beat Gary Kasparov in chess, is that there are many chess programs out there like the ones that you can buy for $50 and put on your PC will beat virtually every human alive. But here you have a case of a computer that cost many millions of dollars because that’s what it’s going to take to beat Gary Kasparov. And so a supermodel is that. So if it is a model of what is the best that is possible given what engineering has to offer…
Ben: So basically if you had… returning to this concept of a blank canvas or a blue sky, if you could take the ideal pieces of micronutrition and put them into the human body, that’s your definition of the supermodel of micronutrition.
James Autio: That’s right. And it also has another important principle and that’s scalable dose design. And so when you look at micronutrition as it’s been presented for the last 50 years is that the dosage that you would give to a 350 lber from the NFL is the same that you would give to a female 85 lb typist that’s 30 years old. And something there really falls through the cracks. And so in pharmacology, my brother is an anesthesiologist and they live and die by dosage per kilo. And there’s really not even dosage by kilo but dosage by kilo of lean body mass. Because fat tissue, even though it’s metabolically active, it’s far less so… you have to look at the overall metabolic activity. So in micronutrition, I don’t know why this idea hasn’t been universally accepted, but it won’t probably because there’s tremendous inertia, but you need to have scalability in micronutrition just like you would with anything else. So all of my products at the very high end, like when I had them for race horses… it was called Rejuvenal 2 which was $2000 a month for a race horse which is nothing considering a lot of horses are racing for $100,000 a week. If you could have a small 2% improvement in performance then that’s what you need to do. But you need to have a dosage that’s applicable for an 1100 lb animal which works out to be about twice the dosage of what you’d have for an animal. So one important principle of the Bionx Supermodel is it has a scalable dose design. And so, by allowing – we’re using a delivery technology that’s called a caplique in one of the two bottles. And it was originally designed for the pharmaceutical industry because what it allows is that through taking two hard shell gelatin capsules and putting a band around it as opposed to a gel cap which is very limited in what you can do with it – with a caplique you can have multiple solid and liquid components and have a homogeneous blend and do all that simultaneously. So what this allowed for me is that with laboratories… which if you have time to get into… you know, quality control… laboratories was acquired by HEM Innovations several years ago, a publicly traded company in Canada. And HEM acquired gel caps and so by having these two companies operate under the same parent company, it allowed me to come in and design a product which has never been able to be used before. As you take the entire spectrum of what is possible in solids and liquids and create in just two bottles a fully scalable dose design. And that’s the Bionx Supermodel. That’s the overall concept of it. Now when it comes to what’s in the product, it’s that the process works as follows. I pick the best quality single nutrients that are on the market for every category. And so why am I doing this? I can use it as a selling point. By listening to me, you can tell I’m not a sales person. I’m not that. The whole purpose of doing this is that what I need to do is you need to have the best possible nutrients in these ingredients in order to have the best possible outcome. Just kind of like if you were a chef, you’re not going to use crappy ingredients for your recipe. You’re going to use the best that’s available. It’s the same idea here as anywhere else. Like in the military, the reason why a toilet seat on a cargo plane costs $800 is because it’s a mill speck toilet seat. And we all laugh about that and the waste, but if you examine what the idea is, it means the joke is that it won’t melt on Venus and it won’t crack on Pluto. So you know that toilet seat is not going to fail is the point. Yes, it cost $800 but cost is no object if you’re on something that’s mission critical, you must make sure that every subcomponent is at the highest level of quality otherwise you’ll fail. And here’s why. If I have 1000 components, each of a reliability of 99.9%. So each one is 99.9% reliable. If I assemble them in a serial architecture meaning that each one is linked to the other kind of like dominoes… I knock over one domino, it’ll knock over all thousand of them. The problem with that is that in a serial design – when you look at the outcome, the outcome should be… when I tip the first domino, the thousandth domino will fall. The problem is that it’ll only happen one out of three times if each domino is only 99.9% reliable. Because you have to raise it to the thousandth power. And this is what people don’t understand. They don’t think about the non-linearities that we have in the body, which means you could be just on the precipice of some major change in the body and either for good or bad. And getting back into this whole concept of employing networking theory to nutrition, is that in networks we have nodes and we have links. Just like on the computer. You’ve got a page. You’re looking at a page on the computer and then there’s a link to that. You click on that link, it takes you through to another page. When you have a ratio of links to nodes of .5, it’s a situation where all of a sudden you have global conductivity. So if you’re below that threshold of conductivity in a network, you have only local communication. In other words, Mary can talk to Jane. But Jane can’t talk to Alice. When you just have one connection between each node, just a ratio of 1:2 then you have global conductivity which is called the small world effect. We’ve all heard about this through six degrees of separation that you’re six phone calls from the Pope, right? The same concept in metabolism is called the metabolic diameter. The metabolic diameter is if you look at the entire metabolic – like in biochemistry you have all these different reactions that can concur in a cell, is what you have is that if you look at all these impossibilities of converting one reactant into another product, is that if you add up the shortest pathways that are available for every connection that you have between every node that you have in metabolism, it has a metabolic diameter of 2.56 which means that it’s really tightly regulated. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it assumes that all of those pathways are working. So it’s kind of like this. If you look at a map of the United States and all the highways, it’s kind of like looking at that. But as you zoom in, you may see certain highways are blocked. For example, in the body, it’s quite possible that a particular enzyme which is what a link is in metabolism – an enzyme helps lower the activation energy to convert one… if you can convert a reactant to a product. Let’s just say that a mineral of manganese which activates an enzyme is missing. And here’s where it gets back to how important micronutrition gets to be when you’re talking about… when you’re (inaudible) your limit. You’re straining all the redundancy of your body when you’re doing something beyond its design limitations. And so what happens is that you have to pay attention to every detail. You could go buy a multivitamin. You’ll cover all your bases with essential nutrients but that’s not the problem. The problem is there might be something – 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 enzymes away. In other words, there’s a pathway… say the body is trying to assemble V and you’re at A. Everything is working smoothly through M but Q is missing. Well unless there’s another roundabout way to get there, you’re dead in the water. There’s an old saying. Remember this from Benjamin Franklin. He said “For want of a nail, the shoe is lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost and for want of a horse, the rider was lost being overtaken and slain by the enemy. All for want for care about a horseshoe nail.” What that means is that you when you’re training for Ironman, you’ve got all of your horses taken care of and all of your riders and you think you’ve got everything covered but you haven’t taken care of the nails. And the nails become mission critical. So the biggest upside somebody can make in sports performance when they’re at the limit is micronutrition because nobody’s doing what I’m talking about, and I’ve been doing this for 15 years.
Ben: Now the discussion about the nails and the nails that you’ve put into Bionx Supermodel, this might be something that for those of you listening in, we may need to actually split this into two parts. Because we’ve gone for about 45 minutes now and I know people are anxious to hear about what exactly is in this final product, and so what I’m going to do for those of you listening in is I’m going to release this part of the interview to you as part one. And in part two, James and I are actually going to discuss what is in Bionx Supermodel and how to use Bionx Supermodel. If you’re the type of person that wants to jump ahead of the game, I’m going to put a PDF in the Shownotes to this interview that will allow you to jump ahead and look at what exactly is in Bionx and how to use Bionx and how to get your hands on Bionx Supermodel. And I will be bringing that to you along with the Shownotes to this podcast as well as a link that allows you to get your hands on Bionx Supermodel. So James, let’s go ahead and continue this discussion in part 2 and go on and talk about what’s in Bionx. Would that work for you?
James Autio: Definitely. That would be fine.
Ben: Ok, we’ll do that.
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