Ben: Hey podcast listeners, so this week I’m actually sitting at one of my favorite coffee shops, pulled over from the side of the road because I wanted to give you a podcast this week. It’s been an incredibly busy week but I have gotten a lot of intersting Listener questions and so I want to address three of the most compelling questions on today’s podcast. One is about hydration. One is about night time eating. And one is about junk food and kids. In addition, I’ll have a few special announcements. A little bit brief on the podcast this week. I’m especially busy right now. Heading down to Atlanta this weekend for a book promo on the 100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism book and then I’ll be going down to race the New Orleans Half Ironman triathlon down in New Orleans, Louisiana the following weekend. I do have some great interviews lined up for this spring through April and May but this next couple of weeks are going to be fairly hectic. I will be getting podcasts out to you, however. So, go ahead and sit back. If you’re like me right now, grab your mug of herba matte. I have to say my energy drink of choice would be the Delta-E vitamin B taurine caffeine jolt type of poweder that I mix into water. But right now I’m actually sitting at a coffee shop drinking a glass of herba matte. So if I begin to sound incredibly hyper and my voice speeds up and the podcast starts to play large driving rock music rather than the gentle lulling tones that you usually experience, that might be why. Let’s go ahead and move on to this week’s announcements.
Jason: Ben this is Jason here in the northwest. I just had a question about alcohol and diet stuff. When you’re working out I find it’s really hard to stay really hydrated especially in the summertime. Is there anything else diet wise that will help me retain water and stuff like that for hydration, especially in the summertime when it’s hotter? Thanks.
Ben answers: Well that’s an interesting question, Jason. I could have swore at the beginning of that question you mentioned alcohol and I’m not going to go into to much detail about that here because most of us know that alcohol can dehydrate you and if you’re worried about staying hydrated on a hot summer day, one of the first things you may want to do is make sure you’re not permanently glued to a margarita glass over the course of that hot summer day. But in addition to that, I’d like to use your question as an opportunity to introduce a certain type of supplement that some of the people in the audience might not be aware of. It’s called glycerol. The idea is that when you consume a supplement called glycerol, extra water that you ingest with that supplement can be held in the body for several hours. This can especially be useful if you need to enhance your performance during an athletic event that takes place in a hot or humid condition. But there’s quite a bit of controversy over whether or not glycerol actually works. Basically what it is is it’s actually a little bit similar to alcohol as you would guess with that OL ending. It’s a three carbon molecule and it occurs naturally in your body. It’s actually stored in your body fat and when you ingest a supplemental form of glycerol which you can get from a lot of sports supplement type of outlets, what it does is it causes your body to absorb and increase the concentration of water that’s stored in the tissue. Now obviously if you were to take in too much water, it would cause swelling. You can actually get water intoxication and that’s one of the concerns with glycerol. You could get for instance swelling of the brain or swelling of the eyes or just a little bit of increased weight that might actually detract from your sports performance or detract from the benefits that being super hydrated might give you. So, there are some studies that have been done on glycerol that show that there could be a slight amount of benefit. There was a study in 1990 that investigated whether or not glycerol hyperhydration altered sweating, regulation of your body temperature or your cardiovascular function. What they found in this study was that when you ingested glycerol it didn’t significantly reduce the exercise heart rate, but it could potentially improve evaporative cooling of the body during exercise in a hot environment. And the reason for that is because your body actually uses blood to help cool you. It shuttles blood out to your extremities and that’s one of the way it cools off your body and when you have increased water on board, you’re actually able to give the blood a little bit more volume to assist in cooling. Now there were also a couple of other studies that were done in 1994. These were only with fairly small populations of just about a dozen subjects. And in one population, moderate to high endurance fitness athletes were given either glycerol supplement with water or given just a regular water supplement and the subjects who had the glycerol actually exercised an average of 94 minutes before they were fatigued versus only 73 minutes for their counterparts. And when they threw carbohydrate into the mix and started giving both the groups carbohydrate, the glycerol group was able to exercise 123 minutes before fatigue versus 99 minutes for the non-glycerol group. But there really wasn’t much of a change in core temperature. And there wasn’t really much of an observed change in blood volume so the way that glycerol actually worked during the study turned out to be unclear. There was another study done in 1991 that gave subjects glycerol solutions about every 15 minutes and there was really no effect found. But the glycerol wasn’t used to hyperhydrate the individual prior to exercise. It was used during exercise and in my experience glycerol is something that you actually have to take leading up to an event to actually allow it to work. Now, so there’s not a ton of research and not a lot of research has been done with very large numbers of subjects on glycerol. But if you were wanting to try this out during one of your exercise sessions in the heat to see if it would work, the greatest amount of hyperhydration that has occurred in any studies that I have seen to date was in 1996. And during that the glycerol ingested started about 2 and a half hours before exercise. And that was basically a 20% glycerol solution. That’s glycerol mixed in water and about 5 ml of that was consumed per kilogram of body weight. So 5 ml per kilogram of body weight. And then 30 minutes after, another 5 ml per kilogram of body weight. 15 minutes after that, another 5 ml per kilogram of body weight. 15 minutes after that, 1 ml per kilogram of body weight. And then another 30 minutes after that, 5 mls per kilogram of body weight. And then the individual began exercise one hour later. So the total volume of water ingested was about 2 L which I think might be just a little too excessive and if you were to get a headache or blurred vision or anything along those lines while trying to use glycerol, you may want to exercise caution. Now I personally don’t use glycerol for sports performance. However, as I’ve mentioned there has been a little bit of evidence that suggests that it may help you to hyperhydrate but you’re probably going to want to use caution with that as a supplement. Now typically glycerol is going to be found in liquid form. The one company that I’m aware of that has it, a company that I dealt with in the past that puts out fairly high quality supplements is called Hammer Nutrition. And they have something called Liquid Endurance. And that’s what it is. It’s glycerol. If you go to the usage information link on their website, their instructions are that you would take one tablespoon of their product per 100 lbs of body weight and you consume that three times daily for three days prior to the event. So, different type of loading protocol than was inspected in that max loading research, but that’s a lot less water that you would have to drink because they say to mix it into 16 to 28 oz of water. So basically you’re drinking three water bottles a day with a tablespoon of glycerol in each water bottle for three days prior to the event. So if you’re somebody who’s going to compete in a hot event and you want to experiment with this stuff prior to using it in the race, it may be something that actually works for you. If you’re somebody who just wants to use it for a day to day hydration, outside of sports performance you’re probably better off just using that old standby equation. Take your body weight, divide that in half and that’s about how many ounces of water you should drink during the day.
Now my second question this week was from Listener Steven. Now Steven is actually an athlete that I coach back in Philadelphia.
Steven asks: Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night; I usually go to the bathroom drink a half glass of water and go back to bed. But sometimes I have a little craving and sometimes have a handful of one of your trail mix recipes that I have stored in the fridge, or a 1/4 or 1/2 of a Bumblebar with the water. Is this OK to do? Are these items OK or would you recommend something else? Is waking up in the middle of the night with a craving an indication of not getting enough of a particular nutrient such as carbs?
Ben answers: First of all, that Bumblebar that Steven mentioned was just a certain type of bar that I personally use in my program. Just kind of a snack bar. Not as something necessarily to eat during a workout but something – it’s kind of a seed nut based bar that you use during the day. And it’s called Bumblebar. They’re actually made right here in my city in Spokane. But I’m a big fan of those bars. They’re gluten free, high in healthy fat content. But to return to Steven’s question, if you’re waking up in the middle of the night with a craving, typically there’s something going on that is causing your body to wake up. And in most cases, what I found with athletes or with people who are frequently exercising is it is a matter of not taking enough calories and specifically not taking in enough calories after a workout. What happens is after a workout your body’s muscles are depleted of a lot of their carbohydrate stores and if you don’t adequately replenish those carbohydrate stores or those glycogen stores after a workout, you may find yourself laying awake at night staring at the ceiling, fantasizing about ice cream because your body is basically craving that nutrient intake. The problem is that if you get up and eat then, your body is going to be a lot more likely to take some of what you eat and have a pretty high increase in the hormone insulin. Which just isn’t the healthiest thing to be doing to your body late at night. It would be better to be making sure that you consume adequate amounts of nutrients after your workout. What I mean by that is typically you want to eat anything from a three to a 1 or four to a one ratio of carbohydrate to protein. Depending on your body size, it’s usually about 200 to 400 calories and that should preferably be within 20 minutes after a workout. Now if you’re still having trouble sleeping, one of the tricks that you can use that I’ll do sometimes is use protein as a bed time supplement. Basically your body has something called human growth hormone and that’s not the type of hormone that, ladies, if you’re listening, is going to make you bulk up. It’s basically a hormone that helps you form lean muscle and burn fat. And circulating levels of your growth hormone follow a certain circadian rhythm so they’re going to peak while you sleep and they’re going to kind of ebb in the morning. Well if you consume a high protein snack before going to bed you’re actually going to provide your body with the raw materials necessary for maximizing growth hormone production. So what I would recommend prior to bed, if you’re still having trouble sleeping is actually drink a protein supplement that’s preferably not full of artificial sweeteners or colors or flavors but is literally just whey protein. Or protein isolate or even better, a complete protein source and that means it’s going to be slowly released over the course of 8 to 12 hours rather than a little bit more quickly released by your body. Now there’s a great article on complete proteins. For more information on complete proteins that I just linked to this week from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, it was written by one of my friends, Joe Stout. And if you want to check that out, just go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and it’s actually the blog post that comes right before this podcast episode. Check that out because it really gives you the full amount of information on complete proteins versus whey protein isolate. But either way I would recommend something like that before bed if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Now the last question that I received this week was from listener Karen.
Karen asks: I’m afraid my kids are addicted to junk food, but unfortunately Ben, I can’t just start feeding them goat’s milk and quinoa like your kids or they will run away forever. What’s your advice on changing my children’s diet?
Ben answers: The goat’s milk and quinoa reference may be to the fact that I actually post pictures of my children on a personal blog and I know that some people that go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com end up over there watching videos of my children and the strange things that I feed them. Quinoa and goat’s milk are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. However, you are correct. That may freak out your kids if they’re used to Mickey D’s chicken mcnuggets. So first of all, here are some ideas for you. My ideas for substitution. If your kids are hooked on some things that you’ve been giving them in terms of junk food. Some junk food alternatives. Instead of French fries, what you can actually do is you can make baked sweet potato fries. They taste just as good. You can sprinkle them with just a little bit of sea salt. Yeah you could even put some ketchup out there. I know ketchup has high fructose corn syrup but when we’re talking about a box full of McDonald’s French fries, the high fructose corn syrup is just a drop in the bucket. So sweet potato French fries that you can bake. There’s recipes for those all over the internet and basically all you’re doing is just slicing up a sweet potato and grilling it in the oven from anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. They’re very, very tasty and you can keep them in a zip lock bag, in the fridge. Give them to your kids. Great substitute for French fries. For ice cream, I’m a big fan of using a low fat frozen yogurt or even taking a plain fat free yoghurt that you can get at the store and you can mix almond butter in there or some peanut butter. You can put a little bit of dark chocolate like dark chocolate chunks. You can sprinkle some cinnamon in there. You can put some frozen blueberries in there. But actually it comes out tasting pretty fantastic and it’s much, much lower in fat than traditional ice cream. Sorbet is also a great alternative to ice cream. For chicken, I would just definitely recommend that you give your children baked or grilled children rather than fried. And if you serve those up with the sweet potatoes, they’re still going to love you versus the fried chicken and the French fries. If your kids are liking donuts or pastries for breakfast, try and get to that halfway point. You can use bagels, you can use English muffins if they still like a little bit of that chocolaty taste. Use something like nutella which is kind of a chocolate hazelnut spread. Just use a little bit less. All you’re trying to do is give them some of that taste that they’re familiar with while pushing them just a little bit in the direction of general health. So a chocolate donut with cream in the middle versus a whole wheat English muffin with chocolate hazelnut nutella on top – the latter is going to be a little bit healthier for your kid and they’ll still enjoy it. Chocolate chip cookies. Your kids like chocolate chip cookies, think about things like graham crackers, fig bars, vanilla wafers, like a fruit and caramel dip. You can get those prepackaged at the grocery store now. Just chopped up apples with a little bit of caramel, any of those are going to have a little bit less of the trans fats which are a little bit more damaging and they’re going to be usually slightly lower in sugar content as well versus a chocolate cookie. And then for potato chips, if your kids are really liking that crunch – I know they may not be willing to switch to carrot sticks but think about things like pretzels and they do have rye pretzels out there that are fantastic, a little bit lower on the glycemic index or the sugar release. Try unbuttered popcorn. You can do baked potato chips rather than regular potato chips. Soy crisps and rice crisps are two of the things you’re going to find in the snack food aisle of a lot of grocery stores now. All of those are great alternatives to junk food and they’re still things that kids are going to kind of like. Now as far as restaurant eating is concerned, just don’t be afraid to make some substitutions. For example rather than a big plate of macaroni and cheese go for chicken and vegetables or spaghetti with tomato sauce. Always whenever you can try and convince your child to go with water or go with milk or even with ice tea as an alternative to the diet soda and then you can even if you want to have them skip the fries, you can take along a little bag of the soy crisps or the rice crisps or mini carrots or grapes or any type of fruits and vegetables to have around. Most restaurants would be pretty understanding if you have a little bit there. But that’s only when you have the kids and you’re able to play the kid card. Bringing your own giant zip lock bag full of carrot sticks and grapes when you go out with your spouse to a fancy restaurant may not be the best idea.
So that’s all for this week’s Listener Q and A. And I realize this is a little bit shorter podcast than usual but I’m going to be trying to bring you content the next couple of weeks even as I’m going through some busy times. So keep those questions coming. Remember we’re giving out that free Training Peaks premium account to the best question that we get or not really the best question but the first question that I get via audio this week. And remember the toll free number to call is 18772099439. You can Skype pacificfit.net or you can email me [email protected] with any of your questions. Hey remember to leave us a ranking in iTunes and check out all of the links to this week’s Shownotes as well as some of the blog posts for this week. I put out a couple of interesting posts on there including one that is a book review about a book called Combat the Fat. And if you haven’t seen that , I recommend that you go check out that article. So until next time, this is Ben Greenfield checking out from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com.
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