October 12, 2011
Introduction: In this podcast, how to get rid of soreness really fast, yawning during exercise, when to have carbs for lunch, does conjugated linoleic acid work for fat loss, can you take greens supplements instead of eating vegetables, how do you determine your ideal weight, a supplement called moringa, dealing with cravings from lack of sleep, and getting rid of back pain from running.
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and I am officially back from competing in Ironman Hawaii and back to my regular podcasting schedule. We have some really great podcasts coming up this month. I’ve got David Minkoff coming on to talk about some fantastic new tools he’s been using specifically in his clinic down in Florida to help people with sports performance, with fitness, with recovery. I’ve also got Tom Naughton coming on the show to talk about his movie “Fat Head”. I’ve got a couple of guys who are bite scientists coming on to talk about basically the things that you can put into your mouth in terms of Mouthwater Technology that can make you or make your workouts a little bit more productive and much more, but today, I’m going to be getting to a lot of the questions that have piled up over the past couple weeks as I’ve been gone down to Ironman in Kona and so I’ll be going through those with you after just a few special announcements. So let’s jump right in to this week’s podcast from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Ben: Well, first of all, for those of you interested in what I’ve been up to or those of you who were even remotely interested in triathlon performance, recovery workouts things of that nature, you’re going to want to check out the Kona Diaries at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. For seven days I recorded not only what I travel with healthy fitness and nutrition tools, what to pack and bike bags for something like an Ironman and interesting how two videos like that but I also really went through a lot of the physical, the mental and the emotional things that you experience when you’re going into something like an Ironman. So I think that you’ll get a lot out of going back and checking out the videos and the posts that I’ve been doing the past week over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and out of those Kona Diaries posts. Just be careful because if you haven’t done an Ironman before, you may get the bug to want to do one after watching some of those. So we’ve got that over on the website and in addition to the podcast guests that I just mentioned, I’d like to hear some of your suggestions from people you would like to see me interview or possibly debate here on the podcast. The way that I am going to take guest submissions for this month is via Twitter and so to suggest your guest for the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, in 140 characters or less, you have to tell me who I should interview on the show and why. You simply address that to @BenGreenfield on Twitter and use hash-tag #podcastguest, so address it to @BenGreenfield, use hash-tag #podcast guest and if you have no clue what I mean by that, just go to the show notes for this episode, Episode #166 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and you’ll get a good idea of how to use Twitter (which is free) but also how to phrase your question. Okay next, over at the PodcastAwards.com, I would be forever indebted to you if you’d vote for the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast over at Podcast Awards. You can actually vote everyday between now and October 27th and while I don’t necessarily expect you to vote everyday, at least vote once for the podcast, so that’s over at PodcastAwards.com. And finally, for those of you who are compulsive travelers, fitness enthusiasts or triathletes, November 13th we’ll be headed down to Jamaica for a triathlon, my wife and I will be, and I’ve got a 50% discount code if you want to join us. The discount code, I’ll put it over on the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and you can register for that over at JamaicaTriathlon.com. Check it out, that’ll be a good time down there. So that about wraps it up for the special announcements. We’re going to have a quick message and then get on to this week’s listener Q&A.
Listener Q and A:
Ben: So if you have a question for the show, there is a handy-dandy Ask Ben button on either the free iPhone app or the free Android app which you can grab by surfing over to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and clicking on either of those apps in the side bar there or click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page. And also on the show notes for each podcast, there’s a contact form where you can input your question that way. I would just ask that you search the website for the answer. I have a really good search engine built-in to the website, it’s a Google-based search engine. Just search for the phrase that you’re curious about. It’s probably about 95% likely, I’ve addressed it before so be sure to search before you ask your question. That being said let’s go ahead and jump in to this week’s question and the first comes from Christine.
Christine: I like to do indoor cycling and I’ve noticed that for the first 10 or so minutes, I yawn several times. Can you explain this?
Ben: This is a good question because this has happened to me before when I exercise, I’ve had a few of the athletes who I worked with ask me about this and yawning is kind of a mystery. They use to say like, exercise scientists or body scientists use to say that was because your body needs more oxygen. What happens is when you’re taking your kind of normal, shallow breaths, many of the air sacs in your lungs or what are called your alveoli, those are really used and they partially collapse and the theory that’s been around for a while was that the brain kind of triggers a yawn to cause your alveoli to stay in use, so the yawn moves a lot more air into the lungs. However, the issue is that research studies have looked into kind of depriving people of oxygen and they’ve found that even when people get up to the point where they’re giving them 100% pure oxygen, people would still yawn. So it’s possible that yawning has nothing to do with oxygen deprivation or collapsing of the alveoli in your lungs but instead just a method that the body uses to prepare for physical activity. What happens physiologically when you yawn is it bumps up your blood pressure and it bumps up your heart rate and they’ve actually documented like elite athletes like Olympic athletes or paratroopers right before they jump off of an airplane, they found that they tend to naturally yawn, probably as a way of gearing up their bodies to get ready to perform. In terms of sleep deprivation, there is also of course a link between yawning and sleep deprivation, it may also be for the same reason – simply to wake you up and give you energy but ultimately when it comes to exercise, because yawning does cause that deep breathing, that increase in blood pressure, that increase in heart rate, it’s likely that that’s why you’re yawning as you’re starting into your workout and not because you’re bored with indoor cycling.
Ann: In your Low Carbohydrate Guide for Triathletes book, you recommend a low carb lunch but I assume on the days I do weight training just before lunch, I should add some healthy starches for lunch.
Ben: This is kind of a myth that you have to eat carbohydrates after your workout, and the reason for that is that most of the research that’s been done that shows benefit from taking in carbohydrate after a workout was done on people who were starved before their workouts. So the only reason that you would need to eat a carbohydrate for lunch after you’ve had kind of a pre-lunch workout is if you didn’t eat any breakfast or you didn’t eat any carbs at all for breakfast. Let’s say you woke up, you had maybe two or three eggs for breakfast, that would be a case where by the time you get to your workout, you likely don’t have many carbohydrates onboard, you’re going to do a pretty good job depleting them as you’re working out prior to lunch assuming that your workout is anywhere near the intensity necessary to get a good fitness response and then at lunch, that’s when your body would need some carbohydrates to replace what you lost if you’re trying to work out hard. But in most cases if you’re having like a piece of fruit with breakfast or maybe a little oatmeal or sweet potato or something of that nature and a lot of people really do have carbs with breakfast, there’s no need to add in extra starches for lunch. I’m a bigger fan if your goal is carbohydrate control or weight loss or controlling blood sugar to prioritize carbohydrates in the am, for example for breakfast or for your morning snack, and kind of taper carbohydrates off as the day progresses, as your metabolism decreases, as your levels of activity may decrease, as you prepare for bed or things of that nature, carbohydrates just become less and less crucial and more and more likely to kind of throw off your blood sugar levels. So in most cases, you don’t really need to focus much on carbs for lunch. You take me for example. Today, I had a two hour tennis match. It was from about 11:30until 1:30and I was going to eat lunch after that tennis match, I did eat lunch after that tennis match. Now for breakfast, I had oatmeal. I already had carbohydrates in my system; I wasn’t concerned about replenishing carbohydrates that I burned during tennis because I knew they were already in my system from breakfast. So I had avocado, olives, spinach, tomato salad and that did just fine. That’s mostly fats and very little carbs but ultimately, my body didn’t need the carbs because I’d already had them for breakfast. So hopefully that clears that up for you and, of course, if you’re listening in and you have comments, questions or feedback, just surf over to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and leave them on the show notes for this episode which is Episode #166.
Dino: I have a question about CLA. I just want to ask about CLA for cutting weight in preparation for a marathon.
Ben: And CLA, its short for conjugated linoleic acid and this is something that is certainly marketed for fat loss. The way that it probably would work for something like fat loss is it reduces the expression of some of the enzymes that your liver particularly uses, the one called fatty acid synthase and another one called acetyl-coA carboxylase and by doing so, it can kind of reduce the amount of fatty acids that are circulating in your bloodstream or sent out by your liver and in doing so, it could cause some fat loss as you tap into your body’s own storage fat as well. Now of course, anytime that you look at studies that are associated with a supplement, you want to see whether there’s been any studies that are done that have been done in humans, you want to see if there’s been any studies that have been done in humans that are similar to your body and when you look at CLA, you see a lot of studies in mice that show some increase in lean muscle mass and some reduction in fat mass in mice. And when you look at CLA in humans, you see only a very small decrease in body fat percentage when it’s used in regular people doing healthy doses of exercise, statistically very close to insignificant manner of fat loss. However, in overweight people, it is found to reduce fat loss pretty significantly in terms of reducing your fat mass. So the issue is will it work for someone who is, maybe healthy, lean, training for a marathon? Probably not so likely that it would work compared to if you are say overweight and you have storage body fat to rely on or significant amounts of storage body fat to rely on. So it’s one of those things where you always need to take into account where the research has been done. I heard a really great article or, I’m sorry, a great recording on Bad Science and this is one of Ted Talks. I’ll send out a tweet on that talk a little bit later on this week but it was a Ted Talk entitled “Bad Science” and I just went in to some of the things you want to think about when you’re looking at studies and so, I would say that most of the research I’ve seen on CLA indicates that it could work pretty well for overweight people but really for like healthy exercising people may not really give you much bang for your buck.
JT: Can I take greens super food powder stuff instead of eating veggies? I hate vegetables and I need to get my greens somewhere, this sounded like a good option.
Ben: Well, JT is probably referring to some of the things I’ve talked about in the show before. For example, during the day, a lot of times as a meal replacement, I’ll use something called Living Fuel Super Greens. It’s called Living Fuel Super Greens and its about 250-300 calories for a little meal of it that I’ll mix a lot of times with coconut milk or water or almond butter and it’s a huge pack of vegetables and probiotics and digestive enzymes kind of in a powder form. Another one I’ve talked before is Capra Greens which is kind of like a greens mixture of tons of different vegetables (alfalfa, kale, broccoli, spinach, blue-green algae, spirulina, etc) that they kind of mix in the water and it’s got some minerals in there as well. EnerPrime is another one I’ve talked about before and that’s got 32 different types of vegetables and “super foods” in it that really do give you a big boost of energy and can really help not only give you what would be called a very alkalinic, non-acidic meal but also give you a lot of the vitamins and the minerals and the nutrients that you are getting in vegetables. The greens powders and the greens capsules that you could take, those also tend to have a lot of fiber in them so you aren’t missing out on much of the fiber from a vegetable either. My primary concern is with something called phytochemicals though, and phytochemicals are these naturally-active compounds that you find in plant foods and they protect us from a ton of diseases. There’s been research that shows that the phytochemicals you find in vegetables can reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease and stroke and high blood pressure and osteoporosis and a ton of different things and the issue is that there’s been close to a thousand different phytochemicals that have been identified and these thousand different phytochemicals (and by the way, there’s probably a lot more of them than that) these are just the ones that have been identified so far. They’re found in a huge variety of different foods. So you’re looking at everything. If you were to go down the list, you’ve got all of your different fruits – your apples, your berries, your pears, your grape fruits, all of your citrus fruits, your kiwis, your papaya, your pineapple, these all contain different types of phytochemicals and the same way bok choy and broccoli and Brussels sprouts and kale and onions and pumpkins and anything you can think of, scallions and garlic and spinach, all of these also contain different types of phytochemicals and so it’s very unlikely that if all you’re doing is a greens supplement and you’re not doing any fruits or vegetables, then you’re going to miss out on kind of the full spectrum of phytochemicals. That’s why I consider the greens supplements to be just that, supplements to a healthy diet. Now granted when I’m traveling, say if I’m flying overseas or something like that, it’s very unlikely that I’m getting my hands on some fresh vegetables or fresh fruit unless I want to pay $3 for a piece of fruit at the airport. And in a situation like that, greens powder really saves my butt in terms of giving me a very good dose of non-acidic minerals and vitamins and nutrients and super foods and anti-oxidants and all these other good things but ultimately, once the plane touches down or I’m at wherever I’m going to, I really try to get my hands on fresh vegetables just because eating a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables is ultimately the best way to get exposed to as many different phytochemicals as possible. The other thing you really want to think about is anytime you isolate nutrients from a food group, it may be less effective and tomatoes are a perfect example or if you take the lycopene that’s in a whole tomato and you feed it to man, it’ll reduce the risk of prostate cancer significantly but that significance is decreased when you just feed them like isolated lycopene. So you need to take into consideration that nature has developed fruits and vegetables and they’re at the point where all of the different chemicals that are in them work very well synergistically together and when they’re isolated and placed in a powder form, sure you still get benefit but it may not be as much as you get from fruits and veggies. So I’m a big fan of greens supplements like the Super Greens and the EnerPrime and the Capra Greens and all that but you still need to eat your fruits and vegetables if you really want to get full health benefit out of food.
Matthew: What is the best method to determine a realistic healthy weight?
Ben: Well, this is a good question because there’s a lot of different healthy weight concepts or calculators out there and the important thing to understand is that there are several different ways to calculate an ideal weight or how much you should weigh for your height. So the first and the most popular that you see is called body mass index and I’m not a big fan of this but basically, it’s a measurement of your weight in relation to your height and specifically to your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared and that’s not something that you necessarily can figure out in your head, most of the time you got to figure it on paper but ultimately, the problem with taking the BMI is it doesn’t take into account the fact that part of your weight may be due to muscle and not fat and so you’re going to find that some of the fitness folks in the world like say an Olympic sprinter, they’re going to be considered overweight and a high risk of cardiovascular disease if they’re measured with the BMI because a high BMI is considered to be classified as overweight or obese but if you have a high amount of muscle mass compared to your height, you will fall into that high BMI category, so I’m not a huge fan of the BMI. Another way that you could figure out if you weigh the right amount is with the waist-to-hip ratio measurement and all you do is you measure your waist circumference, you measure your hips circumference and there are certain ratios that are considered to be better or worse. So for example if you’re a guy and your waist-hip ratio is more than 1, that indicates a higher risk of cardiovascular issues and if you’re a girl and your waist-hip ratio is more than 0.9, that also indicates you have a high risk of cardiovascular issues. However, again there’s people who have different shaped bodies and I’m actually in the process of writing an entire book about this. The book, it’s slated to come out next May, and it’s about kind of achieving your dream body based on your body type, but the issue with the waist-hip measurement and the waist-hip ratio is that people who say have an apple-shaped body are going to have a lot different result from using that ratio than a person who has like a pear-shaped body but that can be just the natural shape of the body and not necessarily indicate a risk of heart attack. So I think the waist-to-hip ratio is kind of sort of okay but really doesn’t give you much in terms of knowing if you’re at your ideal weight for your height. Body fat percentage is pretty good. I’m a big fan of body fat percentage because if your body fat percentage is fairly low, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re coming into a weight that’s going to be a good weight for like having a nice body or say like competing in sports. So for men, typically the essential amount of fat that you need to survive is about 2 – 5% and the women is closer to about 10-13% in most cases. And in people who are really fit, guys are usually in about the 6-13% range and girls are typically in about the 14-20% range in terms of being pretty fit athletes and as the body fat percentage goes up and it gets closer up to the 20s and the 30s, that’s considered overweight or obese. But again, it doesn’t necessarily give you much in terms of actual straight-up weight. And the way that you can actually get your ideal weight is based on a formula that was developed by a guy named Dr. Halls and that formula is based off a couple things. It’s partially based off of a bunch of data from down in Australia and that data was simply a survey of a lot of people that asked people to describe what they perceive to be their own ideal weight and also what they consider to be overweight for them and then this weight calculator combines the results of that survey with other data that’s actually measured people, that measured people’s weight, that measured people’s height and basically provide like a huge data set to compare those Australian data against. And so using these two sets of data, this Dr. Halls crated a formula and it’s called “The People’s Choice Formula for Ideal Weight” and when I plugged my data (my age and height and everything) into this, it spit out an ideal weight of about 184 which is very interesting because when I’m exercising at a healthy level, maybe about an hour a day and I’m eating kind of when I’m hungry and not focusing too much on weight loss or not training a ton for Ironman, my weight naturally kind of stabilizes somewhere between 180 and 185, and so it actually nailed my ideal weight fairly accurately and it’s based off of a lot of collected data. So what I will do is I’ll put a link to that calculator on the show notes for this episode, Episode #166 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I’ll put it underneath Matthew’s question and that’s a decent calculator for giving you a ballpark and it’s one of the better ways to go versus like doing BMI or waist-to-hip ratio.
Melanie: A friend of mine has started taking some products that are supposedly supposed to promote weight loss and energy. The primary ingredient in most of the products is moringa. I did a bit of research on moringa and supposedly it is a miracle cure for everything and I did not come across any alarming side effects. Have you ever heard of these products and do you have any knowledge about moringa in general?
Ben: Well, moringa is one of these plant-based extracts that probably falls into the same category as like goji berry and acai berry and all of these plant-based extracts that are typically picked up and marketed by multi-level marketing companies as hard-to-get extracts from deep in the jungles of somewhere and because they are so rare or hard-to-get, they justify charging a lot and a lot of money for them. I’ve said this before in a lot of cases, an isolated super nutrient put into an overly-priced wine bottle is a lot of times no better than you just grabbing blue berries from the grocery store. And moringa, when you look at it, actually has a pretty decent profile in terms of what this plant and this tree actually have and if you look at like the leaves of the moringa plant, they’ve got a lot of the essential amino acids in them, a fairly high protein content when it comes to plants, a good amount of Vitamin A and Vitamin B and Vitamin C, a lot of minerals. Where were the moringas actually grown, they do feed at the cattle and they actually use it in cattle to cause them to gain weight because it’s got higher amounts of protein in it. It’s got decent amounts of a lot of your essential fatty acids in it and so yeah, it’s got a lot of good stuff in it. There are no peer-reviewed research studies that I am aware of that I could find that looked into things like the fat loss benefits of using something like a moringa plant or really many health benefits in general. I saw a few names drops in terms of likeJohnsHopkinsUniversitydoing studies on it etc. but couldn’t find any actual studies that showed any like weight loss benefits particularly, which is what it’s typically marketed as. So ultimately this is stuff that’s not going to hurt you that doesn’t have deleterious side effects that I could come across but that you’re likely going to be over paying for versus just like say grabbing something similar in terms of like essential amino acid and protein content like getting your hands on some decent spirulina powder and getting some chia seeds or flax seeds, so the one thing about this is just like any of these plants that you’ve never heard of before, have names that maybe hard to pronounce or come deep from the jungles of somewhere, a lot of times you are going to be way over paying for them so just be careful when it comes to that.
Todd: I hate running! That’s why I swim and I box. However, I’ve recently started playing deck hockey and that involves a lot of running. I’m getting more muscle and joint soreness after a hockey game than any other activity and it lasts a full day afterward. Do you recommend any foods, supplements or stretches to help speed muscle recovery so I’m not sore the next day?
Ben: Well, the reason that I decided to answer this question on this podcast is I just did Ironman Hawaii as you may know and I’ve done seven Ironman triathlons now. Typically it’s at least five to seven days before I even remotely feel like exercising again before the soreness and the stiffness disappears from my legs, before my muscles aren’t tender to the touch and before I feel like I’m actually starting to bounce back from that difficult event. Well, this last Ironman was an exception even though I went faster than I’ve ever gone before. Within 48 hours I was exercising and within 72 hours, I was totally soreness-free, which is unheard of for an Ironman event and something that I’ve personally never experienced before. Like I said today, this is three days after Ironman and I played a two hour long tennis match today and felt fine. So there are certain things that I personally did to decrease soreness after Ironman that Todd could certainly use for his post-workout swimming and boxing as well. One of the things that I did was what is called “proteolytic enzymes” and these are originally used by surgeons to help patients bounce back more quickly from surgery. There are several different supplements you can find that have proteolytic enzymes in them but they do their best work from an anti-inflammatory perspective when they are taken on an empty stomach. One brand that I think has a very good spectrum of proteolytic enzymes is called RecoverEase. Another brand is called “bobizymes” but these are simply enzymes that you take on an empty stomach and they do a great job at battling inflammation and helping the muscles to repair and recover. Another one is glucosamine chondroitin blend and the one in particular that I took has a lot of natural inflammatories in it like turmeric and feverfew bark and ginger and garlic and a lot of these things that can vastly reduce soreness and inflammation. The one in particular that I took is called CapraFlex and what I did after Ironman was I took five of those and I actually took another five a few days later. So I didn’t take a ton of those but I certainly took some of those natural, kind of power packs anti-inflammatory compounds. Alternatively, you could just get your hands on some fresh garlic cloves and some ginger root and some turmeric and some cumin extracts and use those type of things as well and those are certainly all natural anti-inflammatories but this one that I took also had a glucosamine chondroitin blend in it which really helps your joints bounce back. The other supplement that I use was a new one I’ve been experimenting with, I actually loaded with it for four months prior to Ironman and this one was called Extreme Endurance. It’s really designed more for sports performance but it’s got a black pepper extract in there and also an extract called papain and both of these can help a little bit with inflammation soreness as well and I do believe that that had a role to play also. From a non-supplementation standpoint, the other things that I did was I have a transdermal magnesium spray and I just soaked that all over my legs and rubbed it in twice a day since Ironman. In addition, I wore some compression pants that went down just below my knee and these ones in particular (I did a video of them over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com once and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes) but they’ve got little pockets in them that you can put ice packs into and so I wore these with the ice packs in them and it was kind of like taking an ice bath and then of course I also wore them on the plane on the way back along with compression socks. And then the last thing that I use was a couple of times after the race, I use one of these electro-stimulation units and I’ve talked about that before in the podcast, too, and I’ll put a link to that episode also in the show notes underneath Todd’s question but electro-stimulation, basically it involves like pads that you place on the muscle and they cause your muscles to contract and relax without you actually having to go out and exercise or pound the joints and so allows for a lot of blood flow and really helps to milk a lot of the soreness out of the muscles. So those are some of the methods that I would personally use. You get some proteolytic enzymes, something like a CapraFlex with some natural like herbal-based anti-inflammatories like topical magnesium, compression ice, electro-stimulation. Sounds like a lot but folks, I’m back to my normal life. I got five days of my life that I normally wouldn’t be able to do much other than just sit around and I’m already out playing after Ironman so certainly it worked well for me. I’ll also throw a discount code for Extreme Endurance in there under Todd’s question and a link to that website and that is about all of the things that I would start into Todd so hopefully that helps.
Valerie: I’m a non-competitive runner and I‘ve been experiencing nagging piriformis pain and sciatica which radiates down to the back of my knee for the past six months. I struggled to complete a marathon last weekend and I’m not taking some time off to resolve. Will taking a few weeks off from running along with stretching and rolling be my cure or is there a regimen that you can suggest to rid me of this pain once and for all?
Ben: Well, this is a great question and the piriformis is an interesting muscle, it kind of lies deep behind your glutes and it’s responsible for externally rotating your hip joint when you go out on a hard run or especially if you’d like some hill repeats or something like that, that muscle can get really sore. When I get a massage, I make sure and have the massage therapist work on the outside of my butt and kind of deep into that area and it really helps to free up that muscle and keep it from getting inflamed or becoming too tight and the reason for that is when the piriformis muscle becomes too tight, it impinges on a nerve called the “sciatic nerve” which is the largest nerve in your body and the sciatic nerve supplies all of your low extremities like your legs with all their motor function and their sensory function and so what happens is you get this tight piriformis, it impinges on the nerve and you get a bunch of pain radiating down your butt and your thigh and even up in your spine, you can get a headache when you have sciatica. So a lot of times you’ll get a doctor tell you you have a herniated disk or a back issue and a lot of times it’s just a super tight piriformis. So really, one of the best ways to get this muscle (and this sounds really dumb but it actually works) is you simply sit in a chair and you lean over and you put your foot on the outside of your knee and that works tremendously as stretching these external rotators. The pigeon stretch in yoga is another really good one where you lie down on the ground and you kind of pull your leg underneath your body, so you’re using your body weight to stretch that external rotator. Another really good one that you can do just like while you’re standing, waiting in line, is you simply put your feet about a shoulder width apart and you keep your toes straight ahead, you dig your heel into the ground (just choose one toe to dig down into the ground) and then when you dig that heel into the ground, you simply rotate your foot left and then right multiple times, about 10-20 times per foot, and that actually unlocks these external rotators of the hip because when you drive your heel down, these muscles will relax and then when you rotate back and forth, it helps to kind of unlock the rotators and that can relieve a lot of pressure on the sciatic nerve. It sounds really simple, again, but it really works. Of course ultimately, you want to get to the root of the problem which is that you probably have weak external rotators or tight hip flexors which is a lot of times the case in people who sit a lot. So, two things I’d do – make sure you stretch out your hip flexors every single day. Typically, lunging stretches are the best way to do that and then strengthen your external rotators. Do lots of like side-to-side movement, exercises that you could look up like over on my YouTube channel over at Youtube.com/BenGreenfieldFitness would be fire hydrants and hip hikes. Those would be probably the two top ones I’d look into, fire hydrants and hip hikes and do those, start them into your program and do those every other day until those muscles are completely fatigued and as you build-up the strength and function in the external rotators it’ll really help your piriformis not to become over tight and overworked. So, great question. I hope that helps.
Matthew: As a graduate student, my lab hours are extremely variable and often involve me waking in the middle of the night for a few hours of work. When this happens, I find myself waking with incredible hunger more so than a normal morning craving. Do you have any suggestions for curbing this hunger either before I go to bed or when I wake up?
Ben: So this is interesting! Basically you’re waking up and then going back to sleep but the sleep is interrupted and this is one of the reasons to really prioritize deep sleep to do things like I do like wear a sleep mask or earplugs or use a white noise app or take magnesium before you go to bed and do a lot of the things that keep you from getting up at night because when you interrupt deep sleep, it really can cause you to have a craving, food cravings later on in the day when you wake up. There’s a lot of different chemicals and neurotransmitters that are involved with food cravings and some of the biggest ones when it comes to sleep, one would be serotonin and serotonin gets released after you eat carbs like sugars and starches and it helps to calm you and improves your mood and makes you feel good. That’s made from tryptophan (that’s why we can kind of feel tired after we eat some turkey or some warm milk) and high levels of serotonin can help control your appetite and satisfy food cravings and kind of provide a feeling of wellbeing and calm and when you’re low on sleep, you can be low on that serotonin chemical. Dopamine and norepinephrine are another couple that you can be kind of insensitive to when you’re low on sleep. These are released after you eat protein like meat or poultry or dairy type of foods and they’re also formed from another amino acid called “tyrosine”. And probably the last one you’d want to be aware of is one called “ghrelin” and ghrelin is a neurotransmitter and it really gives you this super strong, irresistible urge to eat (sounds closer to like what you have when you wake up) and high levels of ghrelin can also really cause you to crave food. So ultimately, I would come at this from kind of like a one-two combo standpoint. A couple of things that can suppress ghrelin release are protein and water. So first thing I do when you get up in the morning is I drink about 16 ounces of water, just get a ton of water in and then make sure you get in a lot of protein because protein can suppress some of those ghrelin levels. So do something like include like a whey protein for breakfast or just have like 30, 40 grams of protein as your breakfast and just mix that with some kefir or some coconut milk, throw a few almonds in there for flavoring and just do something like that. Alternatively, another way that you could step up the levels of amino acids which are going to be used in the formation of these neurotransmitters I talked about like serotonin and dopamine is you could take like a whole amino acid supplement, in capsule or powder form, right when you get up along with that 16 ounces of water or when you go back to bed after you’ve woken up at night. So like the one I used is called master amino pattern or MAP, that’d be something to look into as well. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes, but combining basically protein and water, it would be really the best way to go and if you throw amino acids in them, it’s just also going to be a huge help. Just make sure it’s a whole amino acid supplement because that’s what your body’s going to need to help with the formation of these serotonin and dopamine compounds. So hopefully that helps and kind of gets you over this overeating, interrupted sleep cycle and again folks, I’ll put a link to everything that I talked about today over in the show notes and then a couple of folks that actually called in and I’d like to play their messages for you.
Johan: Hi Ben, this is Johan calling you from Wales in the UK. I just wanted a call to say, first of all, congratulations on your fantastic success at the Hawaii Ironman and to say that was if I’m not in the sub ten our bracket yet, I wanted you to know about how I’ve been getting on with the Triathlon Dominator program and to report to you that this year, in my Ironman, I knocked two and a half hours of my overall time and I put this stone wholeheartedly, 100% to following the program that you have in your manual. I committed to it, I did it word-for-word and the result was spectacular. Two and half hours off can’t be bad. This next year I hope to repeat the program again and knock some more time off so Ben, thank you ever so much. Keep up the great work, bye.
McCoy: Hello, my name is McCoy Smith. I used the Marathon Dominator program and I dominated my marathon. It was actually my first real marathon that I really trained for and I ran that in three hours, 28 minutes and 46 seconds. I missed qualifying for Boston by just five minutes change. Again, that was my very first marathon I ever done using Ben’s program. Three weeks later, I went and ran a half marathon and I PRed at it by taking over two minutes off of my time, total time of 1:56 had changed. This program is amazing. My family, we always time to call the junk miles out and with the amount of time that I was putting in to the plan, I should have been compared with the other runners. I should’ve been running 60 miles a week but I wasn’t, amazing. I also done the Ironman Triathlon Dominator program and I highly recommend that as well if you’re going to be looking to do in some tri’s and know you’d be looking to do eight to twelve hours a week. These programs rock, it’s what Ben is doing, use them.
Ben: Alright folks, I’ll put a link to both those programs, the TriathlonDominator.com program and the MarathonDominator.com program, in the show notes. I get great joy out of helping people achieve goals like this and I know that when I place stuff like that in the podcast, trust me I know it sounds like a shameless commercial okay, but it just makes me swallow up with pride when people call in and tell me about the success that they’ve had with the programs that I write. I mean this is why I live my life, to help people achieve their goals. It’s what I’ve been called to, it’s what I do, it’s my job and yes, when I play stuff like that, I’m pretty much playing it to basically let you, the listener, know that I have these things out there, I created them for you and you’re going to have success with them. So again, I know it sounds like a shameless commercial but hopefully you’ll understand why I play stuff like that and it’s not too annoying for you. Alright! Well that being said, that is going to wrap up today’s show so again, remember to vote for the show over at PodcastAwards.com and also leave me a Twitter @BenGreenfield, tell me in 140 characters or less who I should interview on the show and why and use hashtag podcast guest when you do that. If you have any other questions, comments or feedback on the show, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and leave a question there on the show notes for this episode, Episode #166 and while you’re over there, be sure to take a look at the Kona Diaries if you hadn’t had a chance to check those out yet. Thank you for all of your support, thank you to those of you who have donated to the show. It helps tremendously, specifically with that helps with this to support the money that I have to shell out each month to pay for the downloads of the show. So that helps tremendously and I appreciate all of your support and thank you for listening. This is Ben Greenfield, until next time, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
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