Episode #163 – Full Transcript

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast #163 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2011/09/episode-163-fitness-nutrition-qa-grab-bag-part-1/

Introduction:  In this podcast, cross-fit diet for females, body pump, training with your spouse, how to figure out how hard to go during interval training, blisters, what kind of workout requires you to eat afterwards, using magnesium while exercising, does hard training make you allergic to foods, and sudden headaches during exercise.

Ben:                Hey, everybody!  I feel like it’s been a little while, probably because it has since we’ve actually had a podcast from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  Lots have been happening on the website since the last podcast.  If you haven’t been over there recently, you may want to check out the breakfast posts in which I really vilified Wheaties and then also gave away a bunch of breakfast that I consider to be extremely healthy breakfast, you should go check out those breakfast posts that were posted a couple of weeks ago over at BenGreenfiedFitness.com.  Also this week, 2 posts went up – 9 Proven Ways To Stay Incredibly Fit When You’re Traveling and also, 6 Essential Swim Gear Tools To Make You A Stronger Swimmer, so be sure to head over to that site.  If you just want to kind of keep track whenever a post comes out at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, just sign-up for the free newsletter over there.  And by the way, the entire site is in a process of being redesigned and it will be much easier to navigate when that happens, so stay tuned for that.  Now, before we jump into this week’s special announcements, let me remind you that a couple weeks ago in the last podcast, we started a podcast hash tag game where you would, on Twitter, tweet the craziest, strangest, weirdest thing that you saw at the gym and you put the hash tag after it “Weird stuff seen at gym”.  Well, I certainly had many of you come through and tweet weird stuff that you saw at the gym, here’s a few interesting ones.

Chuck:           A guy strolling on the treadmill with a walkman and munching from a package of gold fish.

Ben:                Interesting!

Jerry:             Water pipe breaking in ceiling above treadmill, shocked jogger who flew off back of treadmill.

Ben:                Wow, that sounds like a story.  I would have to hear a little bit more about that one Jerry, so feel free to tweet a bit more about that.

Tamaso:         A guy having a smoke after each workout session.

Dara:              A dude wearing only bib shorts in a spin class.

Ben:                Here is an interesting one, from Vegas Running Mom.  “I didn’t see this but was told by a lifeguard of a man swimming naked at 5 am.  He forgot his suit.”  That one struck close to home for me because I’ve done that.  I did it down at the Duke University swimming pool down in North Carolina – stressful day, middle of the afternoon, busy pool, I grabbed my goggles, my swim cap, walked out on to the pool deck, full money was just standing there, looks down before I jumped in and realized that I had not put on my Speedo.  So I half-walked, half-waddled back into the locker room and stood there for a second trying to decide whether I should get dressed and go back out there and face the embarrassment in front of the lifeguards and everyone else.  I did, I tried not to make eye contacts, slipped into the pool, did my swim and left.  And that was the only time I have ever walked out on to a pool deck naked, and hopefully the only time I ever will do that.  So, what’s this week’s podcast hash tag game?  It’s crazy exercises so, I’ll read your crazy tweet on the next podcast for the Fitness Hash Tag contest.  Just use Twitter to tell me your craziest new exercises or the craziest exercises that you’ve seen people doing at the gym.  Use #crazy exercises for this one.  Now if you go over to the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, I’ll show you how you need to actually phrase your tweet but you basically precede the tweet with “@BenGreenfield” and finish the tweet with #crazy exercise and if you have no clue what I’m talking about, with hash tags or Twitter, just go to the show notes for the podcast, I’ll show you how.  Alright, we have a jam-packed Q&A.  We’re doing 2 podcasts this week because there’s such a huge amount of questions in the database, some really good ones, so there will be a podcast release today (Wednesday) which will be #163.  Podcast #164 is going to come out Friday and we’re going to be churning through some of these awesome questions from listeners.  So that being said, just a few special announcements and then we’ll jump right in.

Special announcements:

Ben:                Alright!  Get out your calendar, mark your calendar next week, Wednesday, September 27th from 12:00-1:00 Pacific Time, I’m having a Live Facebook Q&A.  Now, this is going to be pretty cool because I’m using a brand new system on Facebook that’s going to allow you to hook up your web cam and your microphone, if you have a web cam and a microphone, and ask your question right there in a video box via audio and I’ll be right there to answer.  You and I will be side-by-side, we’ll talk back-and-forth and then go on to the next question.  Now if you don’t have a web cam or microphone, that’s okay.  You can also ask your question via text.  Now even though this Q&A is going to be live on Facebook, you don’t have to have Facebook to participate.  I’m going to put a link in the show notes that will allow you to participate if you don’t use Facebook and I’ll also put a link in the show notes that will allow you to participate if you do use Facebook.  Now the reason that I’m using this new method for the Live Q&A is because if it works well during our test run next week, I’m going to begin bringing a guest on and turning this into a little bit more of a debate, where the gloves are removed and I actually, either myself, debate folks in the health, fitness and nutrition sectors or bring 2 people on and have them go at it.  Can you imagine if we have the paleo diet go up against the vegan diet on a Live Facebook debate?  Anyways, look forward to that but next week it’s just going to be me, solo, and I’ll be appearing side-by-side with you on video and audio as you ask your questions.  So that’s Wednesday, September 27th, from 12:00-1:00 Pacific Time and I will put a link for that in the show notes for this Podcast Episode #163 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  A couple other things, the Podcast Awards are coming up and you can nominate Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast for the Podcast Awards at PodcastAwards.com in, believe it or not, the health and fitness category.  Don’t try to nominate me in the technology category or the nature category or the music category, put me in the health and fitness please.  So finally, the Jamaica Triathlon is coming up.  Now I would love to have you down there.  My wife and I are going to go, we’ve got a few other friends already signed up, a few athletes who I know are going and you can register with a 50% discount code when you go to TriathlonJamaica.com and just use the discount code that I have right there in the show notes, it’s a 50% discount code.  The race is on November 13th.  You can get pretty inexpensive tickets if you fly out of Miami or New York or Philadelphia.  It’s a pretty cheap flight down there to Montego Bay.  So I’d love to have you come join me at an all-inclusive resort, do triathlon, stick around, party and have a good time.  Alright folks, let’s go ahead and jump in to this week’s Q&A.

Q & A:

Sarah:            Hi, Ben, my name is Sarah.  My question is about what foods you would recommend and I know you’ve answered this before and you talked about it but I’m a little bit confused about your nutrition.  I’m curious of what foods you would recommend to a woman who would like to keep her body fat levels wanting to go down.  Not necessarily they don’t have to sky rocket down, just kind of fairly decline and still have a good amount of endurance during cross-fit workouts.

Ben:                Well this is a great question Sarah.  I’ve done cross-fit workouts, they’re tough.  Their mascot is Puky the Clown so go figure.  My brother does cross-fit pretty extensively.  He lives about a half hour from me.  His cross-fit gym is literally 10 minutes from my house so I’ve been over there, I’ve done cross-fit.  Cross-fit’s tough and the thing is, as far as human physiology is concerned, anyone who tells you that you can be burning purely fatty acids and no carbohydrates and do well during a cross-fit workout, needs to go read an Exercise Physiology 101 book.  The body, when it makes a fast twitch muscle contraction or when it needs to do intense efforts of less than 2 minutes in duration, must burn carbohydrate for energy.  Okay, it simply cannot make glucose quickly enough out of proteins and fats when exercising at very high intensities and so, well you can certainly go do a cross-fit workout in a carbohydrate-deprived state or in a fat-burning-only state or what would be called a state of ketosis, burning ketones or free fatty acids for energy.  You can do it but it won’t be a good workout.  You will not be able to achieve any types of PRs, you will not be on top of the board for the cross-fit workout and you’ll be kind of dragging.  You won’t get a lot of bang for your buck out of your workout and that can, as a matter of fact, be fairly stressful to your body to try and push through an intense 20 to 40-minute workout without any carbohydrates on board when you’re putting your body into a zone where it wants to be burning carbohydrates as a fuel or needs to be burning carbohydrates as a fuel in order for you to get up into that zone.  So the answer to this is kind of straight forward and kind of sort of complex.  This is why I devoted an entire book to this topic over at LowCarbTriathlete.com.  I know that it’s not LowCarbCrossFitter.com but it’s the same concept.  LowCarbTriathlete.com, that’s where the book Low Carbohydrate Guide for a Triathletes is, basically teaches you how to be in this, kind of close to a state of ketosis, burning lots of free fatty acids as a fuel, turning your body into a fat-burning machine but then taking the periods of time when you need to go hard and you need to go intense and making sure that you have carbohydrates on board for those times.  So you essentially are doing carbohydrate loading or at least a carbohydrate-based meal when you really need to.  Now if we were to take this type of concept and put it into something like a cross fit, let’s say you were going to do cross fit 5 days a week, Monday through Friday.  What you would want to do to put your body into fat-burning mode is apart from those cross fit workouts, you’d want to be eating (especially if you’re a female) a higher fat diet.  Okay!  To understand what a higher fat diet is, go back and listen to, for example, the perfect health diet interview with Paul Jaminet where we talked about eating lots of coconut, cold-water fish, avocadoes, olives, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, all of these type of foods is kind of like the staples in your diet along with some vegetables and small amounts of protein and then before your cross fit workouts, just load up on enough carbohydrate to get you through that workout and that’s typically going to be, probably around in the range of, for a female doing a hard cross fit workout, about 300-500 calories worth of carbohydrate.  So we’re talking about slamming a couple bananas and maybe a handful of nuts a little bit before you go out for your cross fit workout or having some easily-digested carbohydrate sources like a couple of sweet potatoes with a little bit of honey and enough time to allow them to digest before you head out to your cross fit workout.  And aside from that, the rest of the time you’re burning fats as a fuel and you’re just putting the carbohydrates into your body before go out for those intense efforts when you’re going to need them.  Now if you find yourself getting sick a lot, hitting a wall from a performance standpoint, it may be that you need to also add in 1 day per week (and this is something that I incorporate in the low carb guide for triathletes) 1 day per week where you’re carb loading or you actually have a carb loading cycle.  You’re either eating whatever you want when you want or you’re bringing your diet up to about a 50-60% carbohydrate intake diet 1 day a week and that may even be 1 day every 2 weeks depending on how you feel, you may need to tweak it but this is allowing you to top off your body storage glycogen levels, your storage carbohydrate levels so you can go into the next week of workouts without getting sick and without hitting a wall.  Okay, so that’s basically what it comes down to.  You cannot be in a state of ketosis or burning lots of fatty acids as a fuel and still go very hard.  You can still get a good workout but I mean really cross fit to get the benefit of cross fit, you need to be going at a very intense pace and if you are, pardon the expression, “half-assing” it through a cross fit workout because you’re in a state of ketosis and burning only fatty acids as a fuel, you’re not going to get as much bang for your buck out of that workout.

Emily:            What are your thoughts on body pump?

Ben:                Well, for those of you who aren’t familiar of what body pump is (and actually, I personally got into body pump a couple of years ago, actually I guess it was 3 years ago.  I was doing it twice a week as part of my workout) but it’s a barbell-based class that’s a full-body workout in which you’re working out for 60 minutes, you’ve got an instructor leading you through the workout, it’s pre-choreographed to music and you’re doing things like squats, presses, lifts, curls.  A lot of times you have like a little bench next to you that you can lie down on and do some of their ab-based workouts or their chest-based press workouts.  It’s moderate to high intensity, you burn anywhere from about 400-600 calories an hour during the workout, and it kind of targets what I would consider to be the muscular endurance zone.  So you’re either doing a moderate or a high number of repetitions with a low to medium weight.  Now if you already have a decent amount of muscle, this is a great way to maintain muscle or to kind of burn fat and tone the muscle that you do have.  If you don’t have a lot of muscle in your body and you’re trying to get stronger, you’re going to need to supplement a workout like body pump with, at least a couple times a week, doing a lower repetition-higher weight type of workout because a body pump class is not going to use a sufficient enough weight or a low enough number of reps to stimulate like a strength response or real muscle growth response.  The same can be said for something like triathlon or running or bicycling.  The type of weight lifting that has been proven in research to make you a more powerful, more economical, more efficient runner or cyclist is the type of workout that involves heavy weight lifting and a lower number of reps, not doing say like 20 bicep curls in a minute as you may find yourself doing during a body pump class.  So if I personally were doing body pump a few times a week, I would have a couple times a week where I was doing some heavy squats, heavy dead lifts, heavy overhead presses.  The form was good, some clean-and-jerk-type of power lifting exercises, and I’d supplement a class like that with those type of full-body, kind of barbell, heavy-based weight routines that stimulate what you’re not getting during a body pump class.  Now there’s always the caveat that goes along with advice like this and that is that if you don’t know how to properly perform heavy weight lifting exercises like Olympics-style weight lifting or power lifting exercises, you may be doing yourself more harm than good by incorporating them into your routine.  So if there’s really a big, huge question mark over your head when it comes to doing things like cleans or presses, things of that nature, you either hire a personal trainer or you go find videos that teach you how to do these things.  I’ve got many videos over at Youtube.com/BenGreenfieldFitness.  If I prescribed a workout to 1 of my clients that I work with and there’s an exercise that they don’t know how to do, either make sure that I film the exercise and upload it to our library on Training Peaks which is what I use to coach my clients or I direct them to a Youtube video that shows the exercise being performed.  So do make sure that you know how to do the heavy weight lifting type of exercises if you decide that you’re going to add them into a routine that has something like body pump in it, so great question.

Megan:           My question has nothing to do with nutrition but I think you might be able to help me out due to your relationship with your wife Jessa  Basically my husband is an all-star runner.  He won the FloridaStateHigh Schoolcompetition in the 5k and is now a 231 marathoner and he got me into running during our 1st year of college.  Now I’m addicted and by most standards, I’ve done a great job.  I’ve completed two marathons, sixteen half marathons, numerous smaller races, six Olympic duathlons and one half ironman duathlon.

Ben:                Wow, what a slacker!

Megan:           But I’m very slow compared to him.  I work very hard at it, training 5-6 days a week for the past six years.  My husband never makes me feel uncomfortable about my times and is very supportive but I find myself jealous of how good he is.  For example this week, we each ran a 20-miler and I had diligently built up my long run mileage 1-2 miles per week to get there and he just banged it out after previously running only a long run of 12 miles.  So the question is, does Jessa ever struggle with not feeling good enough compared to you and if so, how does she deal with it?

Ben:                The reason I answered this question is because I wanted to use it to kind of point out perceptions versus reality.  When I first got into triathlon and endurance sports, I was coming from a tennis and a body building background, very explosive, fast-switch muscle type of sprint sports and my wife was a cross country runner for the University of Idaho.  She had one of the top times in Idaho for the 1500-m run, she was a fantastic 5k athlete and a natural all-around athlete who is a great runner.  We would go on runs together and she would completely destroy me, okay.  My heart rate would be near maximum and I would be huffing and puffing my lungs out and she’d be beside me just chatting away.  Her run form is fantastic, she looks like a professional athlete when she runs and my run form, leave much to be desired.  If you see any videos of me doing a triathlon or crossing the finish line, you’ll notice all sorts of issues with my run form – I swing my arms too much, my right foot kicks out, I’ve got like an ugly little hip movement on my left side, and she’s just got this perfect little running form.  My wife can not run for 2 or 3 weeks and then go out and bang through 8-10 miles at about a 6 and a half-minute pace.  Whereas, if I don’t run for 2 or 3 weeks and I go out and try to do that, I’m more up around an 8-minute per mile pace and I feel horrible.  My wife eats whatever she wants and maintains about 8-10% body fat, I can’t do that.  If I eat whatever I want, my body fat will go up to anywhere around 10-12% on up but I start to get a little belly.  So what I’m saying here is that I actually think that in my case it’s just the opposite.  I work very hard for what I get in in triathlon, and to maintain the body that I have and my wife doesn’t and sometimes, I do get a little bit jealous about that.  Sometimes I do wish that I kind of have the natural athletic abilities that she has, but on the other hand, we all have advantages to the way that we’re built.  I get injured a lot less than she does because I don’t have the type of dense muscles that she does, I don’t have the type of joint tightness that goes with being a very good explosive athlete and I’m a little bit more mobile and less prone to injury.  I’m more patient when I go out and run because I’m not quite as good of an athlete, I’m better at pacing myself because I know that my limitations are greater and I’m a lot less likely to hit a wall or go out too hard early than she is.  And so if you start to think about it, there’s many ways that you can count your blessings and you can take the genetics that you have and that you were born with and come to appreciate the way that your body was built, and it may even be that there are certain mental or cranial activities that you excel in that your husband may not be able to do.  You know, I don’t know you, I don’t know anything about you.  You run over with this question, I don’t know what you do for a living but many times (and I’m sure we’ve all seen this, the folks who are the jocks, who are the athletes in high school) sometimes, they don’t get as good of jobs and maybe they’re not as smart as the geeks and the people who weren’t blessed with athleticism so there’s another way to potentially count your blessings (and I’m not saying that to insult all the really good athletes out there because there are a ton of incredibly successful and very smart people who are also good athletes).  What I’m saying is that if you’re jealous about your husband or your spouse and their abilities, the best thing to do is to sit down and think about all of the special things that make you unique (and I’m trying not to be too foofy here) but they make you unique, make you different from them and maybe even give you an upper hand in the things that they’re not good in.  And the other reason I answered this question is just to get and emphasize the idea that I don’t consider myself to be gifted in athletics, I work very hard for what I do and frankly, my wife doesn’t and she’s just naturally good at stuff.  So that’s my answer to that question and hopefully that helps you out a little bit and if you’re listening in, folks, and you have something to add into Megan’s question, go ahead and go over to the comments in the questions and the feedback in the show notes for Episode #163 and let me know what your thoughts are and help Megan out a little bit.  And then finally, remember, my wife does share what she eats, a ton of her cooking methods, her workouts and many of her thoughts in the Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle.  It’s pretty straight forward, put out a lot of kind of an insider content in there, filmed a lot more about our family, our kitchen, do a lot of private webinars and that’s just $17 a month over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/InnerCircle.  So if you want to get kind of closer to Jessa and see what she does and talk with her and get videos from her and some forum help from her just go join the inner circle.  I mean really, $17 a month is not that much money and I think that for what we put out in the Inner Circle, it’s well worth it.  Plus, you have 24/7 Q&A forum access to me as well.  So there you go, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/InnerCircle.

Matt:              I am pretty excited about incorporating high intensity interval training into my week.  In the past, I have never trained at a fast pace and just increased distance thinking this was making me fitter.  It looks like these high intensity interval training methods will make me fitter and faster in less time.  My question is, how do I judge a 170% or 95% of VO2 max?

Ben:                Well the reason that Matt is asking about this is because all of these studies that go into high intensity interval training, they use what’s called the percentage of VO2 max to measure the intensity performed by the subjects in these studies, and usually, the intensity is very high.  95% of VO2 max is like somebody pointing out a telephone pole about 50 yards away from you and telling you to sprint there as hard as you can and then you get there and you rest for 10 seconds and you sprint back, and they have you do that 8 times.  That’s the type of thing that we’re talking about here, with high intensity interval training.  95% of VO2 max is hard, a 170% of VO2 max is all out.  I mean, this is seeing stars.  It’s pretty tough to really do high intensity interval training the way that it was done in these studies but man, it gets you a ton of bang for your buck and it really is the way that you can train and get a lot done in a short period of time.  It’s the reason that folks can go out and do Ironman triathlon, using like the methods that I teach in Triathlon Dominator or other high intensity interval training methods, they go out and do an Ironman on 8, 9 or 10 hours a week, totally doable.  How do you measure your VO2 max?  Well, you can go to lab and you can get what’s called an indirect calorimetry test or just go ask for a VO2 max test, you can this done on a sports medicine lab, an exercise physiology lab, they hook a mask up to you, you warm up on a treadmill and then you gradually increase the speed and the incline until you are running so fast, so hard at such a high pace, at such a high incline or grade that you’re about to fall off the back of the treadmill and at a certain point, the amount of oxygen that you breathe in, it peaks, it plateaus and that’s your VO2 max.  You can find the heart rate that correlates with that VO2 max and that’s the percentage that you would do your high intensity interval training at.  If you don’t want to go to a lab, you can do what’s called a Cooper test.  In the link to the show notes, I will put a link to instructions for how to do what’s called a Cooper test and a Cooper test has been around for a long time (I think it’s been around since the 60’s) but all you need for this is a track, like a 400-m track.  You need a stopwatch, you need a whistle and you need an assistant (your spouse, your friend, whatever).  So you warm up for about 10 minutes or so, just jogging, and then you run as far as you can in 12 minutes.  So your assistant says go, they start the stopwatch, you take off and each time you go around and you complete a lap, your assistant is basically keeping track of your laps as you go around and after 12 minutes has elapsed, you record the total distance that you’ve covered to the nearest 10 meters and then what happens is you use the tables that are designed for the Cooper test and using these tables that show how far you covered in meters over 12 minutes, you can estimate your VO2 max.  Technically, it’s pretty simple – you take the distance that you covered in meters, you subtract the value 504 and you divide that by about 45 but you can just use a calculator.  I’ll put a link to one in the show notes.  You don’t have to go to a lab, you can approximate your VO2 max.  As you can imagine, not a pleasant test to just run as far and as hard as you possibly can at an all-out intensity for 12 minutes but measuring your VO2 max is tough.  There are sub-maximal measurements of VO2 max that exist like walk tests and jog tests and bike tests but in my opinion, they’re really not as good as just going out and doing an all-out test.  And if you’re unable, for medical reasons, to go out and do all-out VO2 maxes test, then by definition you would also be unable to do high intensity interval training so it’s kind of a moot point.  If you can’t to a VO2 max test, then you have no business doing high intensity interval training anyways.  So ultimately, once you go out and test, you can find out what your VO2 max is and then you can work out certain percentages of that VO2 max, basing the percentages that are prescribed on your heart rate.  So ultimately, I personally just treat it this way: When I’m doing a high intensity interval training session, I go as hard as I possibly can.  Okay, that sounds kind of stupid and, KISS (keep it simple, stupid) but that’s the way I do it.  So a simple intensity interval training session for me will be, I’ll do a 10×20 second sprint on the treadmill.  I don’t think about whether it’s 95% or a 120 or a 170% of VO2 max, I just check the treadmill up as fast as I can go until I feel like I’m going to fall off the back at the end of 30 seconds and then I get off and I recover and I go back and I do it again a little bit later on.  So that’s basically what it comes down to when you’re trying to measure VO2 max and also correlate it to high intensity interval training.

Natalie:          I am training for a marathon and I’ve been having issues with blisters.  I’ve gotten blisters before but usually only every once in a while.  This year, anytime I run over 3 miles, I get blisters on the inside of my big toe and the ball of my foot.  I’ve tried moleskin, foam toe covers, new shoes and new socks, nothing works.  Any ideas to get rid of these blisters?

Ben:                It’s pretty straight forward but what I would recommend that you do is use any of these type of supplements that are designed to kind of lube up skin on your feet before you go out and run.  Aqua Sphere is the one that’s probably the most popular, I get that a lot of times thrown into like my triathlon bag when I set up for a race or like at the expo for a triathlon.  You just put it around the areas that you tend to get blisters, it reduces friction and you don’t get blisters so it’s got the same textures like Vaseline.  I imagine Vaseline would probably work as well but that’s what you do, you just reduce friction and you lube up the areas that tend to get blisters.  What I use on my blisters after I get them is NuSkin, it stings like heck because it’s got alcohol in it so it kind of cleans at the same time that it covers the blister but what it does is it forms almost like this protective layer of artificial skin over the area that’s blistered and I swear by that stuff.  Sports medicine doc that I worked with for a few years said that’s what he used on everybody so I started using it, so that’s pretty much it.  I use Aqua Sphere and sometimes, it’s not Aqua Sphere, it’s whatever anti-chafing type of cream I can get my hands on but I use that where I tend to get blisters and I use NuSkin if I do get blister.  So that would be my recommendation if you’ve used all of these other things, would be just lube up the areas that you get the blisters and throw some NuSkin on the blisters that you do have.  If you’re listening in and you have more intense blister control methods, feel free to share them in the show notes for Natalie.

Chris:             In Podcast #142, you recommend consuming a large amount of calories after a hard workout.  Many more calories than I expected, 500+ an hour to recover properly, what would you define as a hard workout that would demand such high amounts of calories?

Ben:                Well, that’s a good question.  So if you take all of these studies that have been done on post-workout nutrition and eating carbohydrates and protein after a workout, they were all done in subjects who were almost completely depleted of their carbohydrate stores.  They went into the workout in a starved or fasted state, they did the workout in a study and then they gave them the carbohydrates to replenish their storage levels.  And yes, in many cases, it was in the range of 300-500 calories an hour for up to 4 hours following the workout, so that’s a lot of calories.  So the answer to your question, Chris, is that the only time that I recommend completely topping off your storage levels after you’ve finished a workout is it’s basically a 2-fold scenario.  One, you were starved or fasted going into the workout and then two, you’re going to be working out again within the next 8 hours, okay.  If you weren’t starved or fasted going into the workout and after the workout you probably have enough storage carbohydrate onboard where you don’t need to be eating hundreds of calories per hour to replace what you lost.  And furthermore, if you’re not exercising pretty soon after that workout anyways like within 8 hours afterwards, then just your normal appetite, your normal hunger and your normal eating patterns are going to be enough to restore your body’s carbohydrate levels over the next day.  So without any type of special control over 24 hours, you’ll completely restore your body’s storage levels of carbohydrate just by eating normally as you go through the day.  Now of course, the caveat to that is that in none of these studies where people are like on a low carbohydrate diet or burning lots of fatty acids for energy or in this state of ketosis.  And I know that because of the paleo diet, because of the low carb diet, because of the slow carb diet, because of the perfect health diet and because of all these different diets out there that are really designed to have people burning more free fatty acids as a fuel, that completely restoring your body’s storage carbohydrate levels, may not be something that you want to do anyways because you’re trying to get your body to burn fats as a fuel during the day.  And a case like that is kind of a moot point and this returns to what I started this podcast, we’re talking about and that is that it really depends on you.  If you’re trying to work out really hard and you’re working out and trying to burn lots of carbohydrates, you’re trying to bounce back really quickly from your workouts and your primary number one goal is intensity of exercise then restoring carbohydrate levels after a workout and working out with adequate carbohydrate levels on board is important.  If your goal is burning fat, if your goal is overall health, if your goal is controlling blood sugar levels or if you have any other goals related to not putting a bunch of sugar into your body or not putting a bunch of carbohydrate into your body, then this whole post-workout carbohydrate replenishment deal is not something that you really need to worry about and you just need to get used to burning fatty acids as a fuel.  So it really comes down to you as well, so it’s not just about your workout or what the studies say, it also comes down to what you’re wanting to burn as a fuel, what your body is wanting to burn as a fuel.  I would be happy to help you out.  Remember folks, I am a nutrition consultant.  I do personal coaching.  You can hire me to go over diet, go over your goals and design a diet that’s customized to your goals in terms of how much carbohydrate, how much fat and how much protein that you’re taking in.  So very easy to do, you just shoot me an email [email protected] and I’ll point you in the right direction.

John:              Can you advice whether you recommend using magnesium phosphate during an iron man?  I was considering taking it to try to avoid leg muscle cramps during the marathon.  If this is okay, when should I start taking it and at what dosage, and are there any potential side effects?

Ben:                Well, let me be very clear about magnesium because I’ve talked to Dr. Tim Noakes about this and Dr. Noakes, if you recall, is the person who came on the podcast.  He’s the South African physiologist, he’s got groundbreaking research going on that basically goes into the fact that we’ve been duped by the electrolyte companies like Gatorade and our bodies actually do not need to be taking in electrolytes during exercise because we have everything that we need stored inside our bodies already, far in excess of the storage electrolyte levels that have been suggested to us by companies like Gatorade.  So I asked Dr. Noakes if this was just for sodium or this was for all of the electrolytes when you look at the actual plasma blood levels of electrolytes following exercise and people who weren’t taking any electrolytes in and Dr. Noakes said this was included for magnesium as well.  So what this comes down to is that you may not really even need to be taking magnesium phosphate during any type of endurance event because your bones and your muscles store enough magnesium to release what you need and give it to your body to be able to use for all of those different enzymatic reactions that magnesium is used for during the actual event.  Now if you are getting leg muscle cramps during a marathon, remember that they might not be electrolyte-based.  In many cases they are fatigue-based or they are tightness-based.  So for example you’re getting calf cramps during a marathon, you may want to consider whether that’s due to you not running for long enough on the training surface that the marathon is on.  Perhaps that may be a calf flexibility issue and you need to do more calf stretching and it may not actually be a magnesium issue.  If you were going to be taking magnesium during a workout or during an Ironman or during a marathon, I would go back and listen to Podcast #82 that I did with Dr. Carolyn Dean, and Carolyn Dean is the author of the book “The Magnesium Miracle” which I own and I highly recommend as a read for any of you out there.  And during that interview, she recommends a type of mineral called an “angstrom mineral”.  Angstrom is not a brand or company.  Angstrom just refers to the size of the actual mineral.  An angstrom-based mineral is in a liquid format, it’s very small, and it’s something that you would tend to absorb and utilize very quickly if you were trying to take in magnesium during an Ironman.  Be aware that magnesium, a side effect of it is loose stool and diarrhea and so, you would definitely want to try this out in training before you try it in a race.  And also, bear in mind that my take on this issue now is that if you have a proper diet, if you’re taking magnesium on a daily basis, if you are occasionally salting your food in the days leading up to the race and if you have enough electrolytes storage onboard, you can go all day long easily during an event like Ironman without actually taking in electrolytes.  So you can use it.  If you use it, I would recommend you use angstrom minerals.  If you use it, you should try it in your training and I would avoid using much more than 500 milligrams during an actual event so you avoid some of those potential loose stool side effects and then remember that you may not need to take it at all.  In terms of magnesium, a ton of really helpful e-books on magnesium.  I’m going to put a link to those e-books in the show notes underneath your question, John, but there’s 3 of them available at PacificFit.net, some really good books on magnesium.  I go check those out for sure.  Dr. Carolyn Dean has actually contributed to those books and she’s got some really good things to say about the use of magnesium just in your day-to-day activity.

Patrick:          As training durations increased while preparing for Ironman St. George, I developed an allergy to tomatoes.  I first noticed it when I went to an Italian restaurant for dinner after a 110-mile ride and 4-mile run brick day.  I had some house dressing and immediately got a sore, scratchy throat that went away after a few hours.  I also noticed that for a day or 2 after the race, I’m curious as to how hard training loads may have messed up the PH balance in my body where something acidic like tomatoes could have this effect.

Ben:                Very interesting question, I thought, and nightshade allergies are certainly an allergy that is more common, an allergic reaction to nightshade vegetables and nightshade vegetables would include potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.  And specifically, there’s something in nightshade vegetables that are called “alkaloids” and alkaloids are kind of like natural pesticides.  So the way that a plant protects itself is it has these alkaloids in it and they can cause inflammation in certain animals or people who eat these nightshades and in some people, they only need a small amount of the nightshade, of the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes and some people would have to eat a lot of them to actually have like an allergic reaction but there’s a few different types of alkaloids that are found in these nightshade foods that people could be very sensitive towards.  Now anytime that you’re mounting an inflammatory reaction against the food that you eat, a lot of times that’s due to sympathetic nervous system fight-or-flight type of response.  Now because there hasn’t been a lot of research done on this issue and I couldn’t find any studies that looked into nightshade allergies and intense exercise, I would hazard a guess that the amount of training that you were doing during Ironman was stimulating your endurance training system enough, your parasympathetic training or your parasympathetic nervous system enough to where you probably had a little bit of over stimulation, maybe slight overtraining or over reaching effect going for that part of your nervous system and when that happens, your body can shift some of the load into your sympathetic nervous system and that’s why a lot of times when we’re over-trained, our heart rate can tend to raise in some situations.  We can feel nervous, we can feel anxious, we can get night sweats and we can have a hard time sleeping.  You get up to pee at night.  It’s like our body’s constantly in this kind of like fight-or-flight mode because our sympathetic nervous system is getting overworked due to it having a high workload shifted to it.  Now when you were exposed to something like this alkaloid, this potential inflammatory natural pesticide type of irritant, it is likely that if your sympathetic nervous system was in overdrive, it responded a lot more intensely to this night shade than it would have under normal circumstances.  So that in my opinion, is the most likely thing that was going on.  now the other thing that could be the case here is that when you’re training a lot, you deplete nutrients and minerals and vitamins much more quickly and you also tend to go through the type of things that digest foods much more quickly.  So you have lower levels of hydrochloric acid, you have lower levels of digestive enzymes, treating a high amount of sugar and kind of a lower amount of probiotic-laden foods than your stomach can handle, less flora so it could also be that your digestive track was actually just less healthy because of the amount of training that you were doing, so you had less hydrochloric acid in your stomach to be able to digest food, lower levels of probiotics, lower levels of digestive enzymes because you were in hot and heavy training and that actually depleted your ability to be able to digest foods as efficiently and that’s certainly a possibility as well.  I would suggest that anybody listening in who is kind of hard and heavy Ironman style training, not only make sure that you get enough sleep, that you get enough rest, that you not over-train your body but that you also be on a probiotic supplement, be in a digestive enzyme supplement and if you’re really having trouble and getting acid reflex and a lot of other digestive issues, you also consider getting on an HCL or hydrochloric acid supplement and stay far away from proton pump inhibitors and anti-acid medications, they simply do more harm than good.  They get rid of what you actually need to digest the food.  So hopefully that answers your question, I thought this was a really interesting question about the night shades and those are my thoughts on it.

Maria:            What vegan supplements do you recommend for general brain health support and memory function?

Ben:                Well, anytime that we’re talking about the brain, you need to remember the brain is made up of more than 50% fat.  Fat is actually 70-80% of the brain’s dry weight and a ton of these fats are Omega3 fatty acids.  So remember, Omega3 fatty acids are the type of fats you find in like cold water fish or like the meat from pasture-fed animals or wild game, a ton of Omega3 fatty acids in a human brain specifically.  So we’ve got all these Omega3 fatty acids and of course it should go without saying that a diet lacking in Omega3 fatty acids is going to be hugely deleterious to memory function and brain function.  That’s why my kids take like a kid’s liquid multivitamin everyday that’s chalk-full of Omega3 fatty acids.  They’ve been taking Omega3 fatty acids since the day that they were born.  I do it as well but gosh, I wish that my parents had given me Omega3 fatty acids when I was a kid because I’d probably be a super smart cookie if they had and I think that my kids are smart and starting to read already and doing all sorts of other cool things.  I think one of the reasons for that is because they’re getting a lot of Omega3 fatty acids in their diet and Omega3 fatty acids are a huge part of the brain.  Cholesterol is enormously critical for your healthy brain function.  Good cholesterol is what helps enhance the signal transport and the functioning of what are called the synapses in your brain cells.  They’re crucial for the electrical signals in your brain, so if you’re low on cholesterol, if you’re on a low cholesterol diet, that can also affect your brain.  Magnesium is enormously important.  Magnesium, I think I mentioned this before, it controls literally hundreds of different reactions within your body, what are called “enzymatic reactions” within your body and one of the things that it’s really important for is the proper functioning of your nervous system and if you don’t have a lot of magnesium, you can actually get other metals, specifically aluminum which is really associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  You can get many other metals binding to receptor sites in the brain that magnesium would normally be binding to.  So when we’re talking about the brain, definitely Omega3 fatty acids, getting enough cholesterol in your diet and magnesium, are all extremely important.  Another really important thing for the brain is Vitamin B, and the reason Vitamin B is so important is it’s used to make neurotransmitters or it’s used in kind of the manufacture of all the little neurotransmitters that your brain uses to transmit signals.  So like a full-on Vitamin B complex or foods that are rich in Vitamin B like meat, that’s also very important in your brain function.  Incidentally, Omega3 fatty acid deficiencies, cholesterol deficiencies, magnesium deficiencies and Vitamin B deficiencies are four of the most common deficiencies that you see in vegan and vegetarian individuals and so I thought this was interesting that Maria said what vegan supplements do you recommend for general brain health support and memory function.  I think it’s important to note that because I believe that people who are on a vegan or a vegetarian diet need to be much more careful than other people when it comes to their potential for risk, for not only Alzheimer’s but also some other brain type of issues in terms of like memory loss and even something as simple as mood disorders, I think those have potential to be a lot more common among people who are on a vegan or vegetarian-based diet.  so in addition to being on a full-on Vitamin B complex, magnesium, Omega3 fatty acids and trying to get enough cholesterol in your diet, which can be near to impossible on a vegan or vegetarian diet, I would consider some of these type of nutrients that have been used traditionally whether in Asian medicine like Chinese herbal medicine or even in modern medicine for kind of stimulating the brain.  So I would look into adaptogenic herbs, and if you go back and listen to the episode we did with Roger Drummer, he talks about that but I would use those to assist with your brain function.  I’m up to the point where I’m using that, almost every day now.  I would look into using a supplement called L-carnosine because L-carnosine protects your brain tissue against what’s called glycation especially if you’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet which tends to be higher in carbohydrate, I would really try to get some L-carnosine into your diet.  Not only do you need more of it if you’re on a higher carbohydrate diet but it’s really deficient in vegetarian diets.  You could look into something like huperzine, Tim Ferriss talks about this supplement in his book “4-Hour Body”.  It’s what’s called (get ready for a big word here) acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and what that means is it helps to increase the levels of acetylcholine in the brain and that can be a really effective treatment for not only improving your focus and your brain’s functioning but also decreasing your risk for Alzheimer’s.  I’m trying to think if there’s anything else that I’d recommend.  I guess the other thing you could think about would be what’s called phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylserine, in a lot of studies, they’ve used that to reverse brain degeneration and in those studies, they’ve used anywhere from about 1000 to 2000 milligrams of phosphatidylserine but that could help to improve your memory and your focus and your concentration and it’s sold as such at a lot of health food stores.  It’s kind of like a concentration and focus improvement supplement, so it’s called phosphatidylserine.  That’s another one to look into.  I personally think the ones that are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck though would be magnesium, Omega3 fatty acid, higher amounts of cholesterol in your diet and then, ironically, I don’t remember.  Magnesium, Vitamin B complex, Omega3 fatty acids and a higher amount of cholesterol in your diet, there we go.  Got to make sure I go take my brain supplements so I can focus.  Alright!  And incidentally, by the way, fish oil, be careful with it.  I’ve talked about this on the show before.  The ethyl-ester form of fish oil is pretty much useless, get the triglyceride form.  I’ll put a link in the show notes to the form that I use that I recommend that you get.  It’s made by a company called Pharmax and it’s over at PacificFit.net, that’s the one I’d recommend you use.  You get a package with Vitamin D; it’s the 2 highest quality supplements you can get.  One more question here from Carmen.

Carmen:        I was working out with a friend recently and she was doing some light squats, none weight-bearing, and some easy pull-ups on a gravity training system and all of a sudden got an excruciating headache that started at the top of her head and moved down her neck.  The headache subsided to a dull ache within 30 minutes.  Her head hurt for 7 days after the incident.  What could cause this?

Ben:                Well, I mean I could go through a huge list of potential things that can cause a headache during exercise or I could just tell you right off the bat.  This sounds like a classic vertebral issue.  What happens is if you look at your spine, it’s connected from the top of your skull all the way down to your tailbone and even an issue with the vertebra lower down in your spine can cause a headache but especially up more towards the cervical spine, at the top of your spine.  Any vertebral issues up there can cause that type of headache and that longer term type of headache that she’s experiencing.  Specifically, what we’d be looking at would be what’s called a vertebral subluxation.  I’m not a doctor, I don’t want you to misconstrue this as a medical advice but all it means is that one of the vertebra kind of shifted out of place and it’s putting a lot of pressure on the nerves and the vessels going up the spinal cord that could be causing that headache.  You go to a chiropractic physician who has a good reputation in your community, who preferably works with some of the local professional sports teams if you can.  That’s usually a good way to find the good chiropractic physicians, the ones who really know what they’re doing.  You go to a chiropractic physician who has a good reputation, good word of mouth, who’s recommended to you by multiple people, who you’ve researched and you tell them what happened, you tell them you suspect that you may have a vertebral subluxation, they’ll look at your spine, they’ll probably find that one of your vertebra’s out of place or one of your friend’s vertebra is out of place, they’ll pop it back in and you should be good to go.  So that is what I would do if I were in your shoes.  Folks, that is going to wrap up part 1 of our 2-part Q&A this week.  Now I know I went through a lot of information so if you have follow-up questions, be sure to ask them over at the show notes for this episode, Episode #163.  Look for Part 2 to come out Friday and be sure to follow-up on some of the special announcements earlier on, that Live Facebook Q&A coming up on Wednesday, September 27th from 12:00-1:00 Pacific Time or you can participate live with your video camera and your microphone.  Nominate this podcast to the Podcast Awards and while you’re at it, go give a ranking and a rating at iTunes.  It helps to push up the ratings of this show so we can beat out people like Jillian Michaels.  And then if you’re a triathlete, I’m telling you, come to the Jamaican triathlon.  What are you waiting for?  You only get to live once so show up, hangout.  I’m actually getting my tickets this week, I’m going to fly out atFort Lauderdale and head down there toMontego Bay.  Alright folks, that is going to wrap up this week’s podcast.  Thanks for listening in.

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

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