Introduction: In this episode: TRX training, getting moody after workouts, weight loss plateaus, a drug called feraheme whether women should use protein or L-carnitine, recovering faster from injuries, using balance balls for chairs, when to take multi-vitamins, lifting heavy before a race, metallic tasting nuts, blood in urine after exercise, aspartate in supplements, organizing vitamin intake, and swimming faster.
Ben: Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield the day before Thanksgiving 2010 podcasting to you from Thailand and I’m actually here in Thailand to do a couple of triathlons. It is nice and warm. I left snow in my backyard and I’m here drowning in a pool of my own sweat. Anyways, I will be raising money for a schoolhouse here in Thailand to repair a roof on a schoolhouse. And if you’d like to donate to that effort, be sure to click on the links that I will put in the Shownotes to this podcast. And if you listen to this podcast anytime before December 7, 2010, you’ll be able to go click on that link and donate to support that cause. So today we have a ton of Listener questions. We will be returning to the featured interviews next week but too many questions. Don’t want this podcast to go on for too many hours because I know you have important things to do. So let’s jump right in to this week’s content and special announcements from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Ben: Now if you have a question, you can call toll free to 8772099439. You can Skype to username pacificfit or you can just email to [email protected] and as a matter of fact, this week, I am going to reinitiate offering a free membership to my body transformation club to the best question that I get each week whether it be via voice or via text. The best question that I get each week will get instantly entered into my body transformation club and that is the insider club where I actually send out postcards to your house once a week and give you access to a secret part of bengreenfieldfitness that’s full of extra videos, recipes, workouts, things that nobody else has access to. So make sure you think carefully when you ask your questions because the best question will get entered for a free month to that body transformation club. It’s normally $7 a month but it will be free to the person who asks the best question. So the first question came in via Twitter actually and one of my Twitter followers aneonekread23 asks…
aneonekread23 asks: @bengreenfield Any thoughts on TRX?
Ben answers: TRX are those bands or suspension systems that allow you to actually hang from the suspension system itself or use the suspension system in a variety of different moves whether you’re doing strength and flexibility, balance, mobility workouts, etc. Very popular and growing in popularity across gyms all over the nation, all over the world and I am a fan of them when it comes to functional strength that doesn’t take up much space, that’s highly portable and that really teaches you how to use your body and move your body without sitting down like you would at a weight machine in a gym. Now there are some drawbacks to suspension training. There are some things you can’t develop with it. For example high amounts of power, high amounts of muscle mass if that’s something you’re going after. Strength in certain planes of motion are difficult to achieve with the TRX system as well. So take for example a football linebacker. If they did all their training with the TRX suspension system they wouldn’t have the strength that they’d need to push somebody on the line or to explode out of the starting position. The same could be said for example for a tennis player or a golfer who needs a lot of that powerful rotational strength that can only be developed by lifting with free weights or lifting with cables. If the goal is muscle mass, the muscles do need to be subjected to forces that are powerful or strong enough to be able to tear the muscle fibers. Once you’ve gotten pretty good at TRX suspension training, while you’ll still burn calories, improve balance, improve some of your functional strength… if you’re going after building muscle, probably not something you should focus on as the sole means of your training. So that being said, if you’re going to use TRX you could do it anywhere from two to four times a week. If you want to add in a little bit of power, strength or some of the movements that address the sport or the activity that you’re training for, that would be helpful. Of course, TRX is not going to burn a ton of calories. So you would still want to include strategically placed fat burning cardio sessions as well as high intensity cardio intervals in any type of TRX system. But ultimately it’s a lot better than many of the other things you could do in the gym and I do like it when I walk past the TRX class and I see all the people in that class that would probably normally be working out on machines and allow them to be lazy actually working out on TRX and TRX is tough to be lazy on. So you do need to use your full body on it and it’s got that going for it.
Darrell asks: I am 45 and exercise to keep fit. I do a powerlifting workout 1 or 2 times a week. All of my workouts are early in the morning. By late afternoon on those power workout days, I have a significant mood change. I become short tempered and prone to overreact. Is there something metabolic that can cause this type of reaction? Are there any general recommendations for tuning my diet to avoid these mood swings?
Ben answers: Well weightlifting does have a pretty pronounced effect on your psychology and especially with the heavy weight that powerlifters lift, there’s a hormonal response – a response of testosterone and also something called growth hormone that can trigger brain activity associated with aggressiveness and narcissism and this has been observed in studies. You don’t have to be taking steroids to actually get that aggressiveness that sometimes is associated with weightlifting or powerlifting. It’s a simple hormonal response. It’s completely natural and for that aspect of powerlifting and weight training and the aggressive tendencies it can cause, that simply has to be channeled. So I would recommend that if you don’t already compete in some sporting event like basketball or tennis or soccer – something that allows you to let out your competitive tendencies or aggressive tendencies that you could be stimulating while you’re weight training or power training, that would be highly encouraged. The other issues is that weight training or powerlifting is a very glycolitic activity and what that means is you’re going to use a lot of your muscle’s carbohydrate stores and whereas a long slow cardiovascular bike ride might simply deplete or utilize primarily fat or fatty acids, when you weightlift you aren’t using fat. You’re using carbohydrates and it can dump your blood sugar down very low, very quickly. So if you’re finishing a weight training workout or powerlifting workout and you aren’t well fueled going into that workout or you aren’t replenishing your fuel afterwards, then I would take dietary measures to make sure that some of the moodiness that you’re experiencing is not simply a hypoglycemic response – a low blood sugar response. And you could simply do that by drinking a sports drink during your actual workout. You could do it by taking in a pre-workout meal, a good meal two to three hours before your workout, a snack beforehand. Or you could do it by replacing what you burned 20 to 60 minutes after your workout to bring your blood sugar levels back up. Now as far as supplementing measures you could take like nutritional supplements – if there is any type of imbalance going on with serotonin and dopamine which are neurotransmitters that if imbalanced can cause stress and depression, anxiety, even anger outbursts… you may want to look into radiola – that’s a natural fungal extract that can optimize the balance of serotonin and dopamine. You could look into St. John’s Wort which is actually used for depression but it can also be used for stress relief. Look into valerian root which is an herb that’s very good in terms of its calming ability – valerian root or valerian tea. B complex vitamins. Taking a vitamin B supplement. That may offer you some relief as well and amino acid supplements specifically like thiamine or glutamine may be something you can look into taking a few grams of those following your workout. Finally look into maca root. Maca is kind of a real stabilizing supplement. It can be used in cooking. You can get it as a ground up powder. You can also find it in many supplements and you may want to look into something like maca root as well to stabilize your emotions. So interestingly, females can also experience this but females don’t have a testosterone response that’s anywhere near the response males have to resistance exercise. So when females experience that aggression it’s typically due to a growth hormone response and it’s always less amplified in females than males. But it’s an interesting question and something that power lifters and weight lifters definitely struggle with. And you don’t have to be juicing to actually get that response.
Erik asks: I recently suffered muscle strains to what I believe is the upper hamstring. What is the best way to recover without losing fitness and minimizing recovery time?
Ben answers: A couple of resources I would point you out to, Eric, because we’ve talked about recovery many times on the show before. The first would be my manual entitled How to Recover Like Wolverine From X-Men and all that goes over are supplements that can help with injury recovery. Anything from vitamin C all the way down to omega 3 fatty acids. But the other thing that’s more comprehensive and I’m going to put a link to this in the Shownotes is a presentation that I did for USA Triathlon on advanced techniques for faster injury recovery. And in that presentation I go over what the cumulative injury cycle is, how inflammation causes friction and pressure and tension in the muscle, how that can lead to adhesion and fibrosis and if you don’t know what those words are, you’ll know after you go through this PDF and how that makes the muscles weak and tight and kind of keeps you on that cycle of pain. I talk about some traditional techniques. I also talk about some newer fringe techniques. But some of the things I include in that presentation as far as the things I discuss for helping injuries to heal faster are ultrasound, electrostimulation, massage therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to a limited extent, cold laser or infrared therapy, vibration therapy, acupuncture, magnets, kinesio tape, topical therapies, topical anti-inflammatories, and I also go into nutrition techniques some of which are covered in Recover Like Wolverine, some which are not, including protolytic enzymes, iron, branch chain amino acids, fenocain, glucosamine chondroitin. Basically everything you would need and I also give some practical examples. Now the PDF that I put up on the Shownotes to this podcast –podcast number 121 – it’s free. It just has some notes on it. You can scroll through it, see some of the things I’m talking about. However if you want the actual USA Triathlon webinar and you want to hear me talking as I go through it, then you may want to just shoot me an email in about a month or so. That should be available. Sometimes it’s not available right after I give the presentation and because I just gave the presentation a few weeks ago, I don’t think it’s available yet but it should be available very soon. I’ll put resources for both of those – the free PDF and the free Wolverine recovery manual in the Shownotes and anybody can go there and download those. I’ll put a link to those right next to Eric’s question in the Listener Q and A section of the Shownotes.
Gabriela asks: I would like to know your opinion regarding the intake of Whey Protein and L-Carnitine for women?
Ben answers: Well first let’s discuss L-carnitine. It’s been around for a little while and L-carnitine actually regulates fat oxidation. It’s responsible for the transportation of fat into the mitochondria so the fat can be used during the fat burning process metabolically. Your body can make a little bit of L-carnitine as long as you have enough lysine and methianine to amino acids on board as well as a good vitamin profile. Or you could supplement with L-carnitine and most of the studies show that it is fairly safe. When you’re taking it, you’re usually on about 3000 to 5000 mgs per day. If you’re taking it up to the extent that you need to for any type of fat loss or weight loss type of response and it can be really useful in terms of accelerating the fat burning response. There’s been several studies that have been done on it. They’re promising. Not a lot of damaging side effects have been associated with it and again, it just aids in the release of your stored body fat or your triglycerides in the bloodstream. It transports long chain fatty acids across your mitochondrial membrane which is where energy is created and where metabolism happens. So, essentially you take fat, you exercise or you utilize oxygen – you add L-carnitine into the mix and you actually burn a little bit of extra fat. So, it’s essential amino acid. You should be able to get your hands on it pretty easily and for women or men, it can help. So as far as whey protein goes, for anybody who is trying to eat a little more vegan or vegetarian, you definitely want to go with a rice or a pea or a soy based protein but whey along with egg protein is a really great whole protein source and it’s been studied and found to augment muscle size, muscle strength as well as be a good lean source of protein that really doesn’t do much damage. Unless you’re taking it in very, very high amounts. If you’re getting up towards the 1.8 plus grams per pound of protein per day, that’s getting to be a lot of protein. That can do some damage to your liver and your kidneys since protein breakdown is performed primarily by the liver and the excess waste is excreted via the kidneys. So you get a lot of protein, you can start to tax the liver and the kidneys quite a bit. Now as far as some of the other issues with it. if you are lactose intolerant, whey protein is a milk derivative so people who are lactose intolerant will want to avoid it or else take a lactate enzyme when they use whey protein. Most whey protein products will show that they’re derived from milk on their label. I personally use a whey protein product derived from goat whey and I do a lot better with that than the whey protein products that are derived from cow’s milk just because the size of the protein is much different and I handle it much easier as far as digestion and also interestingly as far as lactose intolerance from that goat whey product. The one that I take is Mt. Capra double bonded protein. Whey protein can make you fat too. It’s not 0 calorie. It is calories. If you’re just taking in whey protein day in and day out in excess in addition to what you’re currently eating, it’s going to make you fat. However if you’re using whey protein discriminately as a meal replacement such as post-workout, if you’re using it decrease the amount of starchy or sugar based carbohydrates that you’re taking in, it can be very helpful for fat loss. It would definitely be something that you could take along with L-carnitine and see good results from and there’s really no evidence that women need a special type of protein. It’s just taken on a case by case basis and depends on how you do with lactose, how you do with milk based products and the same can be said for L-carnitine in regards to no additional effectiveness for women versus men.
Richard asks: My wife was doing a cleanse. She lost 25 lbs over 2 months but has hit a plateau. Her calorie intake is about 1000 per day. She also just started exercising. This coincides with her plateau. She also feels her time of the month impacts her loss. I am interested in your thoughts.
Ben answers: Typically cleanses put you on a very low calorie diet combined with things that are going to clean out your digestive tract – herbs, enzymes, things of that nature and they can result in pretty significant and fast amounts of weight loss. The problem is that once you stay on that very low calorie diet for a prolonged period of time, you can begin to see a drop in metabolism. There have been studies that have shown both. Some studies show in some low calorie diets, it doesn’t happen. Some studies show it does happen. I found with all my clients that whether or not the metabolism is dropping or not, there’s always kind of a plateau in weight loss and that’s usually after about six to eight weeks of a very low calorie diet and weight loss just kind of slows to a halt. You start to crave food a lot more. You start to feel weak. You get lethargic and you just all around feel kind of down in the dumps. So the way that you would get past something like this is you would want to implement what’s called a reefed. And a reefed means that you take anywhere from two to four weeks and you eat at a caloric balance or even slightly higher than the number of calories that you’re burning during the day. Typically the carbohydrate content of the refeed diet is a little bit higher as well than what you were taking in during the very low calorie diet and oftentimes that will up your weight loss. It’s kind of counter intuitive but you’ll find that after you go through a reefed you will start to lose weight again. Or once you drop into that caloric balance. But you can also start to lose weight again even if you drop back down into kind of a low calorie cleanse kind of diet. Now I personally think that the yo-yo back and forth between a cleanse to a refeed is not quite as good in terms of a lifelong diet as much as maintaining calorie balance during the entire week or eating at a caloric deficit during the entire week and then having a meal or a day where you reefed. That’s a lot more conducive to life, you know where you have the Friday night where you go out on a date and that’s your refeed or you have the Saturday brunch and that’s your refeed or maybe Sunday all day is your refeed, assuming that you’re pretty good the rest of the week. Now you can definitely take that too far. A lot of people do and they go from Friday night drinks all the way to Sunday night feasting and essentially ruin the entire week of being at a caloric balance or at a caloric deficit. But people who can be at caloric balance or caloric deficit during the entire week and then really have self control during that refeeding meal or refeeding day can really go for a very long time losing weight constantly versus doing the kind of yo-yo cleanse, lose a ton of weight, drop off on the weight, refeed and keep your fingers crossed that you’re not going to do damage to your metabolism from doing that cycle over and over again. So as far as her period goes, obviously water retention is something that happens during PMS and that can cause that increase in weight. It can cause bloating. It’s really not exactly clear how it happens according to the Mayo Clinic. But what other studies have shown is that using something like a natural hormone replacement, something like a progesterone may actually help to stabilize or decrease that weight gain that occurs during PMS. Now, it’s also possible that due to a low fat intake during your wife’s cleanse, she has low hormonal balances. Period. Low levels of estrogen and progesterone, etc. It could be that she has adequate levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone and I actually have a few women that I work with who are taking a natural progesterone cream and it’s really helped them in terms of the water weight that they gain due to water retention during the premenstrual phase. And it’s basically just a cream. I don’t sell it. I do not personally have any affiliate relationships or anything like that with anyone who sells progesterone cream. You got to be kind of careful with that in terms of hormone replacement therapy because they obviously can do damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. The people who do work with me that are taking it are people who I actually do nutrition consulting for and coach and I really only do much in terms of advising them as far as hormone replacement therapy working hand in hand with some of the doctors that I consult with. But either way it’s something to look into. I would definitely make sure that you look into it though, not as kind of a crap shoot hormonally but as something that you systematically analyze. A good resource for you to listen to would be the interview that I did with Dr. Wiley on natural hormone replacement therapy. That’s Dr. Wiley. Another good resource for you would be a website called www.johnleemd.com.
chunkybearcub asks: @bengreenfield what do you think about feraheme injections for exercise induced anemia?
Ben answers: And feraheme is an over the counter – it’s not an over the counter – it’s a pharmaceutical drug and it’s marketed as something that can be good for iron deficiency anemia and it was specifically created for adults with chronic kidney disease and essentially it’s basically like a ferritin replacement and it initially had pretty good safety and efficacy results. However, a few months after it was released there was a big – not a scandal – but a big newsbreak that hit the newsfeed that there were a lot of people being hospitalized with anaphylactic or allergic reactions to feraheme and one or more deaths that may or may not have been directly related to the intake of it. And as an intravenous form of iron, you do have to be careful in terms of toxicity symptoms but also allergenic responses. I would really be careful with something like this especially with the amount of safety concerns that are floating around about it. I would look into instead maybe a ferritin pyrophosphate supplementation. Ferritin pyrophosphate being something that is pretty good as far as a natural supplement for anemia. Ferritin simply being your body’s natural iron storage protein. I would of course eat foods that are higher in iron. It’s pretty easy to find lists of high iron containing foods. One of my favorite websites for looking into things like that is www.whfoods.com. But as far as ferritin pyrophosphate goes, ferritin testing – things like that – the folks that you’d want to talk to are the people over at Bioletics. They do a pretty simple ferritin test they send to your home. You can check and see if you’re ferritin deficient and then they can advise you from there and that’d be something good to look into versus taking a pharmaceutical drug. Now I’m not a doctor. That’s not supposed to be medical advice. I’m just giving you the information that there have been some pretty severe allergic reactions associated with those feraheme injections.
So next we have a call in question from Listener Justin.
Justin asks: Hey Ben, this is Justin. I had two questions for your podcast I wanted to put out there for you. The first one is I’ve been reading a lot about how bad it is to sit for you and I was wondering if one of those balance ball chairs you see sometimes would help out for people who are sitting for a long time at work. Another question I have is I take my vitamins and fish oil right before I go to bed just because I take the Peter Gillham’s Organic Life vitamins and some fish oil and my stomach is always growling at me at night when I’m laying down to go to sleep. So I was wondering if there was an optimum time to take the vitamins?
Ben answers: Dude, Justin, was that the Jeopardy music playing in the background of your music? I got to ask, was that intentional or do you just listen to Jeopardy theme tunes as you drive your car down the road? Balance balls for work. Everybody knows that the balance ball is that great big stability ball that ranges from 55 to 75 centimeters and it’s been used for a long time by personal trainers and fitness programs or by therapists for injury rehab and prevention. And it’s because of its ability to cause you to engage in spinal stabilization based on the active contraction of your core muscles when you sit on the stability ball. And it was first introduced by Swiss therapists to help improve balance and equilibrium in children with cerebral palsy but it’s gone on from there to really become popular at gyms for “functional” exercises, which it is good for when used correctly. There have been some smaller studies done on the ball and whether or not folks who use those who have recurring back pain can actually eliminate the back pain by substituting those balls or by training with the balls in a sitting type of motion. And those studies do show that there are benefits in terms of muscle activation, in terms of co-activation and co-contraction of many of the stabilizing muscles that are firing when you sit. And those are specifically happening when you are sitting on the ball with your feet flat on the ground and your hips and your knees at a 90 degree angle, preferably with the hips just slightly higher than the knees. If you’re sitting on a ball that’s too small for you then your hips will not be slightly higher than your knees and you will probably not get that same type of stabilization. Now if you sit on the ball in this manner, then it can help out quite a bit and it can also eliminate some of the back pain that occurs when you sit in a chair. However, I personally have tried to use a stability ball as a chair and I find myself over and over again progressing into a slouch and it’s just as easy to slouch on a balance ball chair as it is to slouch on a regular chair. So I would recommend that if you sit on a balance ball, that you take a picture of someone sitting correctly on a balance ball or find that diagram of sitting correctly on a balance ball and you know what, I’ll put a picture in the Shownotes to this podcast. Print out that picture, put it on your work station like your computer, your desk, wherever so you have that right there to constantly remind you how to sit properly on the stability ball. If you do that, then it’s probably going to work out pretty well for you. If you don’t, I can’t guarantee that you’re not going to progress into a damaging sitting pattern whether you’re on the stability ball or not. But ultimately it can help out quite a bit in terms of its use as a chair. I have a stability ball and a regular chair at my office. Frankly I spend most of my time standing at my standing work station but the ball is the second choice, the chair is the third choice. Now to address the second part of your question about when to take vitamins, I actually have a really big article coming out in Lava Magazine that covers not only when to take vitamins but also when to take antioxidants, high fiber supplements, fast supplements, everything. Especially in relation to triathlon training and racing. But as far as vitamins go, you’re usually going to have a vitamin supplement containing your major fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and then your water soluble vitamins – vitamins B and C. Now fat soluble vitamins are usually best absorbed when you consume them with foods that contain fat. That would be like an animal fat or a vegetable fat or whatever. Vitamin B and vitamin C – water soluble vitamins – can a lot of times give you a little bit of nausea and even some acid reflux when you take them on a light stomach. So typically those also should be consumed with a meal. But if the meal has too much fat in it, it can interfere with the absorption of those. So ideally you would eat a meal that’s got some fat in it but not like butter soaked omelet or sausage and gravy or something like that, with your multivitamin. But ultimately the multivitamin should be consumed with food. So, as long as you’re not eating a super super high fat breakfast that would be a good time to take your multi. And one exception to that would be vitamin B12. If you’re taking a high dose vitamin B12 supplement, that’s actually best absorbed on an empty stomach. So I personally don’t even take a multivitamin. I just take EnerPrime and then I add in a little bit of magnesium and vitamin D and some of my Omega 3 fatty acids. If you’re taking the Organic Life liquid vitamins, that’s a great multi. If I were going to take a multi, that’s the one that I’d take and I would recommend that you take it with breakfast in the morning. And for those of you who want to check out that liquid multivitamin that he’s taking, I’ll put a link to it in the Shownotes.
Christian asks: I noticed that I race significantly faster at long distances if I lift heavy weights during my taper weeks. Why?
Ben answers: What Christian is referring to when he says taper weeks are those weeks kind of leading up to a – I believe Christian is a triathlete. So on the weeks leading up to triathlons, he’s saying that if he lifts heavy he finds that he races faster. Well primarily what this is due to – and this is something I talk about in great detail in a book I’m working on right now called Ultimate Weight Training For Triathletes – what happens is when you lift heavy you increase the amount of water units that your body has to activate in order to produce a force. And a motor unit is a muscle fiber or a bundle of muscle fibers in the nerve that enervates those fibers. So if you’re thigh muscles have x number of motor units in them and you do a light squat, you may not need to recruit that many motor units. But if you do a heavy squat, you are sending a message to your brain to neurally recruit a higher number of motor units unless you’re activating a larger number of muscles. Well once you hop on a bike, sure you’re not doing anywhere near the weight that you did when you were squatting. However, you retain that muscle memory in terms of your ability to recruit a higher number of motor units and thus you’re able to produce a greater amount of force or power. Now, there are a few smaller things that may be happening – specifically the hormonal response that we talked about earlier in terms of a testosterone or a growth hormone response to heavy lifting actually accelerating not only your competitiveness or aggressiveness but also your ability to recover. Now, those two things combined – assuming that you’re recovering properly from lifting heavy – can help out quite a bit when you are in a race. I would caution you or even just tell you that if you lift a heavy weight, you don’t have to lift to exhaustion to recruit that high number of motor units. So for example, if you’re doing a very heavy squat, you don’t have to squat 10 reps to failure. You can simply do 3 to 5 very high squats at a fast pace even at a weight you would normally try and lift 10 reps to exhaustion and still experience that high amount of motor unit recruitment and that benefit. It’s a great question and that’s what happens, Christian.
Aaron asks: My best friend and I just experienced what is known as “pine mouth”. We purchased a bag of pine nuts to throw on our salads. A few days after consumption we were experiencing a hard to describe taste in our mouths. The metallic taste hit us both at the back of the mouth at the back of our tongues and came on strongest just seconds after chewing and swallowing. It lasted one week after only eating the nuts at one meal. Can you explain what is going on here?
Ben answers: This is something that’s actually been reported by a large number of people in terms of pine nuts causing this pine mouth type of taste. Now interestingly this phenomenon has been pretty widely reported and it is only happening with a particular species of Chinese pine nuts. A research center found that among all the pine nuts, it was only this one – and it’s kind of a smaller, duller, more rounded type of pine nut that can actually cause this metallic taste disturbance. These Chinese pine nuts have a different type of fatty acid in them versus a regular pine nut and the hypothesis is that it’s this fatty acid and the way that it feels in your mouth that can actually give these Chinese pine nuts a different type of taste. It’s not due to a toxic effect, it’s not due to heavy metals in the pine nuts themselves. It’s simply due to a different fatty acid profile. Now interestingly, to date, there have been no extensive studies done since the January 5th, 2010 study that found this to be an emerging problem that have identified why those fatty acids can cause that taste in the mouth. So, unfortunately I can’t hypothesize too much other than the fact that there’s something going on in terms of the way that fat possibly due to some type of salivary lipase is interacting with either a neurological activation of a taste sensation or either some type of physiological or chemical reaction on the tongue that’s causing that metallic taste. It’s really weird but either way, that’s an interesting question, interesting sensation to all of you who thought you were crazy about getting that metallic taste in your mouth following pine nut ingestion. You’re not. It’s actually been observed and it’s been observed in a research setting. So, you could just not eat pine nuts. I guess.
Jen asks: I have been using your Shape21 program. I have lost 10 lbs in three weeks and run 1 mile per hour faster. The only problem is I’m having is blood in my urine. My urologist cannot see anything wrong. I guess this happens with running. I have had this problem before with marathon training. However it seems to be more frequent and I am running at a lower mileage.
Ben answers: Bloody urine with exercise. It’s something that I’ve seen happen before. I’ve had it before after a triathlon and it’s something that happens a lot with long distance runners. The medical term for it is hematerrea. And one of the main reasons for it is because you get impact of the walls of the bladder while you’re running. So this repetitive impact time after time can cause damage enough to the bladder wall to where there’s a little bit of bleeding that happens and some of that blood ends up getting into your urine. The same way that excess friction might cause your nipples to bleed or the inside of your thighs to chafe. Another reason could be a problem with the permeability of the filtering apparatus in your kidney. Inside your kidney, there’s basically a network of blood vessels that surround a membrane and the membrane is called your glomerelous. And whereas normally blood doesn’t get through the glomerelous when you exercise, it may increase the permeability of the glomerelous and allow red blood cells to actually collect in the urine and typically stops once you stop exercising. And then the last thing could be a hemoglobin problem and that can occur when red blood cells are actually physically damaged as they pass through the blood capillaries of your feet while you’re running, as your foot impacts the ground and this can cause a release of the hemoglobin in the actual cell and the hemoglobin ends up getting excreted in the urine and causes that red color in the urine. So, any of these can happen and one of the things that can increase your susceptibility to this is if you are increasing in the intensity or the impact nature of your activity or if you are taking something that is considered an anticoagulant or a natural blood thinner. Now some of the things that are natural blood thinners would be anything that’s high in what’s called salacylites and that would be like a lot of these herbs like curry powder, cayenne, ginger, thyme, cinnamon, peppermint. Taking in large amounts of any of these… and interestingly, oregano as well which I know I recommend in the Shape21 program, could cause enough blood thinning to where if you combined it with enough impact based exercise, you could get some blood in the urine. A high intake of vitamin E could also cause that as well as high intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Now, if you are naturally susceptible to having thin blood and have this hematerrea and you’re taking oil of oregano which I recommend in Shape21 and you are taking Omega 3 fatty acid which I recommend in Shape21, it is possible that that could be causing the blood in your urine. What I would do is I would not take the oil of oregano and I would back off the Omega 3 fatty acid intake. Cut that down just a little bit, pay attention to it. See what happens to it and that may have an effect. The other thing you may want to do is for the high intensity interval sessions that are in that program – especially if you’re doing the advanced nature of that program, then you may want to substitute. Instead of doing running for the high intensity intervals, do a non-impact like bicycling or elliptical trainer. Now of course Shape21 – I have that at beginner level to where an elderly person could go in sedentary and start into the beginner program and do ok all the way to advance which is something that I did for about six months. Got super ripped. But it definitely kicked my butt. So there’s different levels in that program that you can access and either way you may want to just look into the supplements that you’re using and look into dropping down the impact nature a little bit. If you’ve seen a doctor and they’re not too concerned, I’m not too concerned. But again it could be something to look into from a blood thinning and an impact perspective. I will put a link to Shape21 in the Shownotes. Although for those of you who are waiting for Black Friday to roll around, you may want to wait until Black Friday. Hint. Hint.
Rob asks: In an earlier podcast, you addressed aspartic acid and included some general caution about aspartate. I would appreciate it if you would please explain more about its function, effect and dosage in supplements, specifically in Lean Factor.
Ben answers: And for those of you who don’t know what Lean Factor is, it’s basically just what it sounds like, kind of a leaning up supplement that I recommend for people who are wanting to burn fat or build muscle. And aspartic acid, just to rehash what I went over in a podcast a few weeks ago, basically it is – well it’s also known as aspartate which is basically a chemical base of aspartic acid. It’s found in a lot of supplements. It’s found in a lot of foods as well, both animal and vegetable sources but it is an excitatory neurotransmitter which means that in the brain it can cause at high dosage levels excitotoxicity or the actual damage of nerve cells because the nerve cells are actually getting killed off by aspartate. Now you got to be taking pretty high levels. We’re talking about drinking a few diet Cokes during the day, using a lot of aspartame – the artificial sweetener – taking in a lot of that type of stuff – NutraSweet, Equal, using that on a regular basis. You definitely want to take caution. You’re going to find this a lot of times in supplements. Dietary supplements. And the reason for that is that when you bind a mineral like a magnesium or chromium to an aspartate – that’s called a salt – and basically what it does is it increases absorption of whatever you’ve attached to the aspartate. That’s why you’ll see this a lot of times in supplements and you will see an aspartate bound chromium I believe it is in Lean Factor. Now typically the amount of aspartate that’s used in the dietary supplement as a binding agent is a lot lower than what you’re going to get in NutraSweet, Equal or things that have high doses of artificial sweeteners. However, I am in touch with the company that makes Lean Factor and I’m trying to find out exactly how much aspartate they actually use as a binding agent in that. And I will do some research and eventually get back to you on this Podcast or via email so we can do some comparisons between the levels in that and the levels in something like a packet of Equal or a can of diet Coke. So it’s a great question and good on you for paying attention to nutrition labels and what’s in your supplements.
Jessi asks: Have you ever discussed the best way to streamline the way in which you take supplements? I know you’re not a “supplement whore” as I think you’ve dubbed it, and I’m no “slut for supplements,” but I still find it difficult to organize the few that I do take into daily/twice daily doses. Should I line everything up for a week’s worth of doses? If so, do you put the supplements in baggies? Pill containers? Pockets? Or do you just dip into the bottles from where the supplements originally came?
Ben answer: Yes, all of the above. Whatever works for you. What I personally do is I have one shelf in my refrigerator where all the bottles of my supplements are and when I’m at home I essentially just dip into the bottles. It takes me whatever, 30 seconds in the morning and 30 seconds in the evening to just grab what I need from each bottle. And for me that’s the easiest way to go versus using one of those seven day a week supplement pill dosage containers. Although that is something that I do know some people use. And that would be something to look into. When I travel, a lot of times what I’ll do is get a small Tupperware container. I put all my supplements in that small supplement container and just take that and dip into that one container kind of picking what I need out of it rather than traveling with a bunch of bottles. Obviously that means that I have to differentiate between the colors of different capsules or how they look, how they feel, how big they are, how little they are and for me, I’ve never really had a problem with that. But ultimately it’s what works for you. Probably the best solution would be the seven day a week pill containers that you can get from any medical supply store, you can get from any pharmaceutical store, a lot of grocery stores even have them but yeah if you swing by a WalGreens or RightAid or something like that, just get one of those weekly dosage distribution containers that’s marked Monday through Sunday and that’d be the easiest way to go if you’re struggling with this. But to answer your question, I personally just dip into the bottle straight from my refrigerator. When I travel I dump them all into one Tupperware container and do it that way and yeah that’s what works for me. Personally if you’re listening in and you have something that works for you, leave it as a comment on the Shownotes for episode 121.
Nicki asks: Can’t seem to get any faster swimming. I did my first Ironman swim in 1:07 and average about 1:35-1:40 for my100 meter pace. Is there a point where you can only be so fast for swimming? I’ve had stroke analyzed, got some personal coaching, but just can’t seem to swim faster.
Ben answers: Let’s say that you are doing everything right biomechanically. You’ve had your swim stroke done, you’ve gotten a swim coach. Everything is going on right from a technique perspective. Then what this may be is something going on mentally and subconsciously. Typically in sports, you have this central governor or you have this – essentially it’s like a mental mechanism that kicks in that tells you how fast you can go, how far you can go, how well you can perform based on what you’ve convinced yourself subconsciously that you’re able to achieve. So the trick is that you have to override the subconscious and the best way to do that is through visualization exercises. So Michael Phelps does this a ton. Basically what you do is you go to a quiet place. You can put on some calming music if you’d like, as long as it’s not distracting you. You close your eyes and you visualize with as much detail as possible the results that you want to achieve. In your case, you would want to close your eyes. You’d want to visualize yourself swimming an Ironman swim course. You currently swim at 1:07. You want to visualize swimming in 1 hour. You’re visualizing a high turnover, powerful stroke entry into the water. You’re visualizing the clock, what it says. Your watch being at 60 minutes when you come out. The transition clock saying 60 minutes as you’re coming out. Visualize yourself running through, getting on your bike, go back to the beginning, do it again in even more detail. See the wake behind you. See the water, feel the water, see the fish if you’re swimming in the ocean. Feel that coldness against your head or your skin and feel the wetsuit touching your skin. Get into as much detail as you can. Visualize it over and over and over again. I’m talking about every day. Now if you are really in a perfect place biomechanically, that will allow you to swim faster. Not enough people use visualization because it seems kooky and it seems ineffective, but there have been studies that have shown, for example, with tennis and golf players that people who practice inside their head everyday can do just as well as people who are practicing 3 to 5 times a week. So there’s a lot to be said for visualization, training the subconscious. You have to do it day in and day out for at least 30 days to see results. Try it out and tell me how you do. I do a lot of visualization before I race to overcome my own fears and my own reservations about how fast or how well I’m able to do and it helps me a out quite a bit. So I hope that’s helpful Nicky and I hope that was helpful for the rest of you who asked questions. Remember that the best question coming next week is going to get free access to my Body Transformation Club. We’re also going to be getting back to the interviews next week, so I hope you enjoy that. And I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast. Please leave it a ranking in iTunes if you haven’t yet and write a review as well if you haven’t yet. Now if you like this podcast, be sure also to check out Get Fit Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips podcast over at www.quickanddirtytips.com. It’s a shorter podcast. It’s about 5 to 10 minutes long. I put it out along with an article on a weekly basis and it’s all focused on health and lately on nutrition. The last couple of episodes have been on whether or not muscle building supplements are actually worth the money. So we get into whey protein, creatine, nitric oxide and beta alanine in those episodes. So until next time, this is Ben Greenfield signing out from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a great week.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net