July 2, 2020
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/qa-414/
[00:00:37] Ben's Big Night
[00:07:20] News Flashes: Therapeutic Effects Of Nicotine On Parkinson's
[00:20:53] Big Breakfast vs. Big Dinner
[00:33:24] Wim Hof-esque “Hyperventilation” Can Enhance Recovery Between Training Sets
[00:38:56] Easy Hack To Quickly Increase Your Heart Rate Variability
[00:45:03] Podcast Sponsors
[00:51:32] Q&A: What To Do About Very Tight Muscles
[01:07:25] Do Face Masks Cause Oxygen Deprivation?
[01:15:30] Why You Feel The Weather In Your Body
[01:18:50] Should You Put A Joovv Light In An Infrared Sauna?
[01:21:27] Closing the Podcast
[01:23:20] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
The benefits of nicotine, easy hack to increase heart rate variability, do face masks cause oxygen deprivation, why do workout before dinner, and much more.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, Jay, I'm excited. Tonight's a big night for me.
Jay: Are you getting laid?
Ben: Am I getting laid?
Ben: You know what, I'm probably not getting laid. I'm definitely not getting laid. Not in the way that you're probably imagining. I will be laying down for a long period of time, and that is because I'm getting my — I get a massage once every — well, I try to get a massage once a week, but really, what winds up happening is I get a massage, but once every couple of weeks. But I think I've been pretty transparent with my listeners that when I get a massage, I pull out all the stops, like I lay on my pulsed electromagnetic field table and I defuse essential oils and I play typically either Spotify tracks like the Johns Hopkins journeying track that they have on Spotify that they use with psychedelic therapy at the Johns Hopkins Institute, or else I'll play Michael Tyrells' Wholetones tunes or his tracks, which are super dialed in for listening feelings of love, and peace, and joy, just as woo-woo as you want to get. I haven't yet figured out a way to actually outfit my massage table with those like sound healing speakers where it'll actually vibrate the sound through the table. That's going on my radar though. I'm looking into it.
Jay: Could you just like put your Apollo on?
Ben: I could do that, but nobody wants to get a massage with something on their ankle because then the massage therapist can't work your ankle and you're totally screwed up if you get a full body massage and your ankle hasn't been attended to.
Jay: I guess that's true.
Ben: Yeah. Then you're just walking like a zombie all week.
Jay: Well, with you, I'm actually surprised, not like doing colonics, why you get a massage.
Ben: Oh, I'm not done yet. I'm not just colonic.
Jay: I thought you're going to say, “Well, actually in this case, I am.
Ben: Anyways, so I also take substances when I get a massage and I, in no way, endorse irresponsible use of any recreational drugs or anything of the like, and I'm sure we'll get a few people commenting that I'm being highly irresponsible in doing this, but —
Jay: Of course. Well, you have to tell us what substances you're using first, and then we'll see if you're going to say nicotine, then maybe not, but we'll see.
Ben: So, for tonight's massage — and we will talk about nicotine later on in today's show. I guess this might be kind of a drug show. But tonight's massage, I'll be doing 300 milligrams of ketamine along with 10 milligrams of a THC edible, along with three dropperfuls of this wonderful herb called the Aztec Dream Herb, which really just allows you to completely kind of go into almost like a dreamscape land, especially when combined with the ketamine. And then, I will also be taking a microdose of psilocybin along with lion's mane and a bit of niacin to enhance that entire effect. And then I will lay down on the massage table and have an amazing combination of deep meditation journeying in full body massage. And so, that's how I'll be spending my evening starting at about eight o'clock tonight, and typically, we finish up around 11:00.
Jay: I'm assuming you're being serious, not facetious here?
Ben: No. That's actually my way — that's the way I roll with massages. I just like to [00:04:01] _____.
Jay: You can take it that late? Yeah. You can take it that late and not like stay up all night?
Ben: Well, usually, I get up after my massage. And because I've been using medicines during my massage, I journal for about an hour, just flow journaling, writing down all the things that I thought about during my massage. And I told my massage therapist — she's really cool and we have this understanding. I'm like, “When we finish, I'm going to quietly shuffle off with my journal because I'm going to have a ton of thoughts rolling through my head and you leave.” And usually, I'll leave like a bottle of wine or a bar of dark chocolate out for her to grab on her way out along with a check if she needs check. And then I just go off and journal for about an hour.
And then, typically, I'm in bed by midnight or so. And my wife and I just have this understanding that on my massage nights that she's not going to see me and I'll be crawling into bed late. And because of massage — and I'll have to hunt down the research on this because there was an interesting research study I came across on massage therapy. And the fact that when you are really kind of laid out on a massage table, it does simulate a sleep cycle to a certain extent, light sleep, but sleep nonetheless. So, it's not like I'm shorting sleep.
Jay: Sure. Yeah.
Ben: Technically, even when I've looked at my Oura ring data, it thinks I'm sleeping for those two hours or three hours —
Jay: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah.
Ben: — because I'm being laid out on the massage table. So, it's not like I'm shorting myself on sleeping. I'll get up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow and feel just fine, although sometimes when you put those kind of substance in your body, there can be a little bit of neural oxidation or neuroinflammation that occurs. So, I'll take a little N-acetylcysteine and alpha-lipoic acid, some vitamin C, a few things to restore some neurotransmitters like Qualia Mind, for example. Qualia Mind is really good for that and a little 5-HTP. And then, I'll be fine and ready to rumble by the time I need to start my workday tomorrow. And so, that's what my evening is going to go, man.
Jay: That's pretty cool. I'm just curious. I mean, I know you've mentioned how you will utilize ketamine for massages, but, and it's maybe rabbit holing too much, but how did you come to the conclusion of all those substances combined, that's what you wanted to do tonight?
Ben: Experimentation. And, yeah.
Jay: Fair enough.
Ben: Typically, my massage is the time for me to kind of like mess around with the few things I've been wanting to experiment with anyways, and this stack using the ketamine with THC around 10 milligrams, a microdose of psilocybin with lion's mane and niacin, which is the Paul Stamets protocol, and then a little bit of this Aztec Dream Herb that I've been experimenting with that I actually am writing about in this week's weekly roundup. If anybody goes to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and signs up for the newsletter, I'll tell you more about the Aztec Dream Herb in the weekly roundup. But you combine all those things and it works out pretty well when it comes to being able to both get a really good deep tissue massage, and then also do a little bit of journeying and journaling afterwards. So, there you have it, and we actually have a monster show today. So, we should probably jump into our newsflashes where we can talk more about drugs.
Alright. So, everything that we talk about, links to studies, links to things that we mentioned during this entire episode you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/414. It's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/414. And of course, it seems as though nicotine is a substance — and again, I don't want people to think that this is like “Hamilton's Pharmacopeia,” the Netflix show, and this entire podcast is about drugs. Just so happens that my massage tonight combined with some of the interesting things have been coming out about nicotine dictate that — the first little bit of this podcast, we are talking about substances.
And, I thought it was really interesting because there was this study that came out looking into the therapeutic effects of nicotine on Parkinson's. And nicotine has already — and I think anybody who has been paying attention to nootropic literature or smart drug literature knows that as something that can elevate activity of what's called PGC-1alpha in the body, it can act as a little bit of a way to increase the mitochondrial production of ATP. And in fact, may also have some effects on diminishing oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in the brain, and also improving what's called synaptic plasticity or the growth of new synapses in the brain and neuronal survival of neurons, particularly dopaminergic neurons associated with dopamine transmission or production.
And so, although the delivery mechanism of a cigarette is probably not the healthiest way to get nicotine into your body, it does turn out that the molecule itself is not necessarily something to be vilified, aside from the fact that because of its effect on your dopaminergic synapses, your body can get a little bit addicted to that dopamine surge that you get if you were to like chew nicotine gum, or do nicotine spray, or use a nicotine dropper bottle or anything like that aside from a cigarette to get nicotine. And so, aside from the addictive potential, it's actually got some very cool things going for it. And this particular paper, which I'll link to in the shownotes, was looking at the effects of nicotine in terms of a potential for treating Parkinson's disease, which makes sense because one of the things that happens in Parkinson's disease is depletion of dopamine generating neurons in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, and also a part of the brain called the ventral tegmental area.
And so, it turns out that because you see in Parkinson's disease this combination of oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, what's called protein aggregation, similar to what you get with like amyloid formation in Alzheimer's or dementia, and then brain energy deficits, meaning a drop in ATP generation in the brain. It turns out that it seems logical that nicotine would be something investigated as potential therapeutic for Parkinson's because it acts on so many of those pathways. Now, the reason I thought this was interesting was because many of those same pathways are also what a lot of common nootropics or smart drugs are trying to target.
Ben: And so, even if one did not have Parkinson's, arguably, you could get some cognitive benefits, or some neuroprotective benefits, or some smart drug-like benefits from using nicotine. And so, what this paper goes into are all of these beneficial effects of nicotine, and so-called nicotine metabolites. Meaning that when you consume nicotine, there are certain, what are called alkaloids or metabolites that are found in a tobacco plant or produced upon nicotine ingestion that also have beneficial effects. One particularly interesting one is called cotinine. And cotinine is a component of tobacco leaves, but it's also one of the main metabolites of nicotine.
And you don't see a lot about cotinine right now in the literature. As a matter of fact, you can't buy it as a supplement. You can get it from a human clinical research website like Sigma Laboratories. You could get a little bit of cotinine in an ethanol solution or in little tablet that you could dissolve in Everclear vodka, for example, if you wanted to make your own tincture out of it. But cotinine is also quite fascinating because it seems to have many similar effects to nicotine with a slightly less addictive potential. Unfortunately, when I was looking at cotinine and the ability to be able to secure it from a lab website for dosing or for microdosing, it is about like five times more expensive than nicotine. And arguably, because it's a metabolite of nicotine, I'm not quite sure that supplementing with it would be as budget-friendly as just using nicotine itself, although that's something I'm currently researching about dosing. Actually, I'm in some discussions on a couple of Reddit forums right now, which is of course the safest place to do research.
Ben: Reddit Biohacking Subreddits. But ultimately, it's very interesting. And when you look at nicotine, probably the biggest issue with it, aside from the addictive potential, is it is a systemic vasoconstrictant. Meaning that if you have high blood pressure, or if you have erectile dysfunction, or if you have anything that would be associated with something that would be aggravated by vasoconstriction, narrowing of the blood vessels, you either, A, wouldn't want to use nicotine, or B, would want to combine it with something that would combat some of that vasodilation, like beat, or niacin, or even sildenafil like the component of Viagra, or something that would allow for vasodilation, or even nitroglycerin, for example. A small amount of nitroglycerin cream can help out with that quite a bit as well. So, you would need to take a vasodilatory substance at the same time as you use nicotine if you wanted to skirt some of those effects of the vasoconstriction.
But ultimately, the paper is really interesting. It got me taking a deeper dive into some of these metabolites of nicotine, like cotinine, for example. And I'll certainly let people know if I find anything else out about cotinine and the beneficial effects of that. But then, a couple of other interesting things that I saw in this paper was — it's actually really interesting because it turns out that people who smoke cigarettes and drink high amounts of coffee have a lower risk of getting Parkinson's disease just based on the antioxidant and the neuroprotective effects of both of those compounds. And so, it actually is interesting that smokers and coffee drinkers actually have a lower risk of Parkinson's. But I don't think it's because of anything in the cigarettes aside from nicotine.
And so, this idea of the author with the cup of coffee and the cigarette, or I think as I've said before, maybe the cup of coffee and the nicotine toothpick is being kind of like the quintessential, hunched over the keyboard, writing away all day. It actually is a pretty good combo, this whole idea of like having a cup of coffee, doing a little bit of nicotine. And it turns out that besides that PGC-1alpha ATP production that I talked about earlier, this paper on Parkinson's, which again I'll link to in the shownotes if people want to jump in even more to all these beneficial effects of nicotine, highlights that it's actually something that could be a relatively safe, aside from the vasoconstrictive and the addictive stuff I talked about, compound to use.
And then, a couple of other interesting things that I found as I was going through some of this literature was that the negative effects of nicotine, what they've looked into may also be able to be prevented with a specific substance that I've looked into for reducing a little bit of the side effects of oxidative stress that might occur from the vasoconstriction, and also some of the cardiovascular abnormalities that are associated with chronic nicotine exposure. And those compounds were basically melatonin, which is really interesting because we know that melatonin is a really potent antioxidant, and it turns out that that's something that can also be protective. And I forgot to say when I was talking about my massage, usually, I'll take a lot of melatonin right after that massage because I know that I'm again getting rid of any type of neuroinflammation — actually, high-dose melatonin suppository. I take about 200 milligrams of melatonin suppository.
Jay: [00:16:23] _____.
Ben: Yeah. And then, vitamin E, vitamin E is another one. And with vitamin E, it's actually important that you not use like a synthetic form of vitamin E, but that you use a form of vitamin E that has all your tocopherols and your tocotrienols in it, and this would be — what's the company? Designs for Health has a pretty good one. They have one called Annatto, and that would be an example of a full spectrum vitamin E that you could use. And it turns out it looks like it would be smart to use a little bit of melatonin and a little bit of something like a full spectrum vitamin E if you were going to be using nicotine regularly. But anyways, it's a quite interesting paper that's not just relevant I think as something that highlights some potential agents for Parkinson's disease, but just for you to wrap your head better around how nicotine works and some of the cool effects of it. So, there you have it.
Jay: Yeah. No. I think it's pretty cool. I was just thinking about kind of for those individuals who have either a family history of Parkinson's or a genetic predisposition to Parkinson's, something seriously to consider that isn't going to be super expensive or time-consuming, but may have those neuroprotective and preventative factors. So, yeah, I think it's a really cool article. And one of the things I also liked — and obviously, when you link to this, everybody will be able to see it, but there's a cool diagram that really just shows you the basic, even though it's rather complex, but basically what nicotine is working on that can help in regards to overall its neuroprotective factors like activating, or I should say inhibiting some protein misfolding, reducing oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, and like you said decreasing synaptic — sorry, increasing synaptic plasticity. So, overall, yeah, really cool article with a lot that really anybody can take from it, but especially those who have like a genetic predisposition to Parkinson's.
Ben: Yeah. And should you be concerned about the addictive effects, or should you be someone who actually is addicted to nicotine? There is one interesting hack that I'll use and this is very, very simple. I don't know if anybody is familiar with some of the research that's been done on black pepper. And black pepper is actually commonly used in kind of like natural medicine as something to wean people off of nicotine or cigarette addiction. And they've done a few small studies on black pepper and the essential oil of black pepper specifically as a way to reduce physical withdrawal symptoms from something like nicotine.
And so, what I have in my fanny pack is this little vape pen, and it's not really a vape pen, it's an essential oil pen and it has a little cotton swab. You put any essential oil that you want on the cotton swab. Like if you were traveling, you could put thieves essential oil on there. If you want a little bit of a cognitive pick-me-up, you could put like peppermint essential oil in there. But you can also put black pepper essential oil on one of these cotton swabs and just vape the oil. So, you're literally sucking on a vape pen, but it's not an actual electrical battery-powered vape. It's literally just a cotton swab inside this attractive-looking little wooden pen that you're breathing the vapors of the essential oil through, and that's made by a company called FÜM, F-U-M. And I'll link to all this in the shownotes, but you get some black pepper essential oil. You put it on this little cotton swab, you put it inside of the FÜM pen, and then you can pull on that when you feel like you might be craving nicotine or a piece of nicotine gum or nicotine spray or something like that, and it actually works pretty darn well.
Jay: Sounds potent as hell, black pepper?
Ben: Yeah. No. It actually doesn't taste that bad at all. I mean, it's just a mild, mild black pepper flavor. And sometimes I'll toss a little lemon or peppermint on there as well, just to give it a little bit better flavor, but yeah. So, there you have it. There's a little hack if you are addicted to cigarettes or nicotine or anything else. Plus, it's kind of cool because you can use it anywhere. It's not going to produce smoke or vape. So, I mean, you could literally use it on airplane if you wanted to. It's just essential oil. So, you might get kicked off the plane nonetheless by anybody who doesn't know. It's not actually vape pen, but yeah.
Jay: True, because there's like no vapor coming out, right, out of your mouth?
Ben: Right. There's no vapor, yeah, yeah, yeah. Alright. So, I think that we've gotten drugs out of our system.
Jay: Oh, maybe more [00:20:50] _____, but figuratively.
Ben: However, there are a few other studies that I wanted to mention that I came across. Two are regarding a morning versus evening eating. So, there was one new study that looked at — and this came out last month and they looked at eating breakfast versus eating dinner when it comes to which of those would be best structured as the highest calorie meal of the day. And so, they compared what would happen if you had a high-calorie breakfast versus a high-calorie dinner. Like if you were going to choose which meal of the day kind of be your big old — roll up your sleeves, pull up to the table, and do you punish a giant mess of eggs, and bacon, and your cup of coffee, and then side of sweet potato hash and do the big breakfast thing? Or, do you go light on breakfast, and instead for dinner, have a giant ribeye steak with some sweet potatoes and red wine and dark chocolate?
And it turns out that when you compare the structuring of those high-calorie meals, the food-induced increase of blood glucose and the insulin concentrations after a high-calorie feeding were much higher after a later night high-calorie meal versus morning high-calorie meal, which led the researchers to hypothesize that if you were going to have a larger meal, morning would be the best time to do it based on your circadian rhythmicity and the idea that you naturally are more insulin-sensitive in the morning anyways. And part of that might be to the natural cortisol release that occurs in the morning inducing a state of insulin sensitivity as well.
Jay: All the morning fasters just tuned you out, Ben.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, technically, if you were going to have a big meal, breakfast would be the meal to do it with, which is also interesting because we know that there are other studies that show a drop in appetite cravings or carbohydrate cravings the rest of the day, particularly when a high amount of protein is consumed with breakfast. We know that in people who have been yo-yo dieting, who may have a little bit of what's called leptin insensitivity, that a high protein breakfast along with ample amounts of light exposure in the morning and some kind of structured exercise session in the morning is one of the best ways to reinduce leptin sensitivity and reestablish normal metabolism after a period of time. Yo-yo dieting, like gaining fat, losing fat over and over again, etcetera.
And so, that's interesting. And then, this other study that also came out just shortly after the one I just talked about looked at the actual carbohydrate content of a morning versus an evening meal. And they looked at what would happen if you had a carbohydrate-rich meal at dinner versus a carbohydrate-rich meal at breakfast, which I'm often asked about because one of the things that I'm known for endorsing is an evening carbohydrate refeed, particularly in active people to restore your muscle and your liver glycogen levels, to allow you to have enough on board, to do a workout the next day, to take advantage of the fact that eating carbohydrates at night can help with your serotonin production and subsequently your melatonin production, and may assist with sleep or may stave off like waking up in the middle of the night with a little bit of hypoglycemia.
And so, I've always been more of an evening carbohydrate consumer versus a morning carbohydrate consumer. I basically just do cyclic ketosis. I'm in a state of fat burning or ketosis the entire day, have some red wine, dark chocolate, sweet potato, yam, purple potato, millet, whatever else. Kind of natural carbohydrates in the evening and then rinse, wash, and repeat, and that's how I go with each day. And that seems to really lend itself well to things like workouts the next day, to enhancing sleep cycles, et cetera, and that's just something I've been doing for a long time. But no surprises here, this study found that a carbohydrate-rich meal consumed at dinner instead of a carbohydrate-rich meal consumed at breakfast had a much higher impact on your blood glucose levels, technically from a deleterious standpoint.
Your postprandial glycemia after eating carbohydrates with dinner was much higher. And that was regardless of whether they were low glycemic index carbohydrates, like let's say, I don't know, quinoa versus high glycemic index carbohydrates like white rice. And so, both of these studies then would appear to be kind of like a nail in the coffin and say, “Okay. Well, A, don't eat a big dinner, and B, don't have carbohydrates with dinner.” But what neither of these studies looked at was the extra hack that I've always encouraged people to throw in here, and that extra hack is as follows. If you time your hardest workout of the day — and this is kind of like the part of my strategy, that's part of the strategy, like this is part of the saving your carbohydrates for the end of the day strategy. If you're going to have your carbohydrates at the end of the day, and you're going to have your big meal at the end of the day, be dinner, which I think is quite convenient because it's often the meal that we want to be most social for, sometimes that's the big family dinner, sometimes that's a trip out to a restaurant, like it's a lot easier for you to be in control of breakfast fully, then it often is for you to be in control of dinner fully when you might want to be out to a restaurant or at a party or engaging socially while eating.
And so, my reasoning here is, why not temporarily induce a state of insulin sensitivity and upregulate your glucose transporters so that a large meal with dinner or a lot of carbohydrates with dinner suddenly becomes far less deleterious from a glycemic stability standpoint. And so, what you do is any type of weight training or high intensity interval training session that you were going to do for a workout that day, you do sometime between about 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. before you have dinner. And it doesn't have to be right before. It can be 1:00 to 2:00, or arguably up to three hours before. And what happens is you induce a state of temporary insulin sensitivity that's very similar to what you'd have naturally in the morning. The only other thing that you could use for this would be like a cold soak, a cold water swim or a 5 to 10-minute cold tub type of thing, which is also an extremely significant way or extremely efficient way to induce a state of glucose sensitivity and insulin sensitivity.
And so, that's basically the way that you would take these studies and say, “Okay. Well, we know what these studies are saying, but what these studies aren't looking at is what happens if you change it up so that these people work out before the evening meal.” And even though I haven't seen the study, I can take it from my own personal experimentation, my blood glucose levels, total washout. Meaning, if I work out before dinner, and dinner is the biggest calorie meal of the day or the highest carbohydrate-containing meal of the day, it's just fine. I mean, my postprandial blood glucose returns to normal within an hour. I'm back in ketosis by the next morning and it's a non-issue.
So, ultimately, what this means is that if you are not going to work out in the late afternoon or the early evening, definitely choose for your higher carb or highest calorie meal of the day to be breakfast. But if you are able to do a workout in the later afternoon or early evening, or some type of cold exposure in the late afternoon or early evening, or both, and that's often what I'll do is I'll do a hard workout and then just do like two to five-minute cold soak, and I'll test my blood glucose, it'll be in the ‘50s to ‘60s before dinner with that strategy, it will rise up to about the 120s right after dinner. And by the time getting into bed, like I'm back in the ‘80s. And so, that's what I would encourage people to do would be to — yeah, like pay attention to studies like this, but also understand that you can hack your physiology so to speak, you can do some specific things that will make having carbohydrates at dinner or eating higher calorie dinner much less of an issue.
Jay: Yeah. So, a couple of things. Number one, I thought you were going to make your big hack being Kion Lean, and that was going to be your shameless plug for the day, but I guess I'll be the one to do it.
Ben: Well, yeah, that is true. Anything like berberine, or bitter melon extract, or like the new ingredient, we just added the Kion Lean, the InnoSlim, any of those can certainly help as well. Although I have to be honest with you, in many cases, if I've exercised prior to a meal and it's been an actual high-intensity workout or an actual weight training type of workout, it doesn't appear that adding Kion Lean into that scenario seems to induce any additional benefit. However, and I know we're getting into the weeds here, Kion Lean can assist with the conversion of white adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue after cold exposure.
So, if you wanted to get all the benefits out of the cold exposure, arguably taking a couple capsules of Kion Lean before you do the cold would be the time to take it if you were going to take it. But my strategy is that on any day, because I don't work out hard every day, but on the days that I work out hard before I have a higher carbohydrate meal, I don't see that there's a huge need to take Kion Lean or any other blood sugar controlling supplement, because frankly, a hard workout just beats the pants off of any supplement when it comes to blood sugar control.
Jay: Yeah. Well, that's very admiral of you to not try to sell your Kion Lean there.
Ben: Yes. Go do some burpees. Don't take pills.
Jay: Right, right. So, I know we're going a little bit long in this, so I don't want to overdo it, but the other thing I was thinking, if individuals want to continue their morning fasting because some people are in such a routine doing that way, would you just not recommend like, yeah, continuing to not do an over-amount of carbohydrates during the evening for dinner, but maybe just move those more towards lunch?
Ben: So, yeah, it's tricky because you get the sleep-enhancing benefits of the carbohydrate refeed. You take advantage of the fact that you can keep yourself in a state of fatty acid oxidation all day long if you're saving all your carbohydrates 'til the evening and it's like it doesn't take that long to duck out for even just like a two to five-minute cold shower before dinner. And so, there's very few cases in which someone can't hack this scenario to shift their carbohydrate towards the evening. And everyone who I coach or work with, we just see better results from a body mass standpoint, from a fat composition standpoint, from a sleep standpoint.
When I really do try to do everything possible to get folks to have the majority of their carbohydrates in the evening, I started this way back when a guy named John Kiefer came out with this program called the Carb Back-Loading protocol, and he was just seeing so many good results, particularly with these athletes that I started using it and I've just never looked back. And every time I've tried to shift that or I have a client who wants to do more of like the oatmeal or higher carbohydrate breakfast, it just doesn't work as well as having the carbohydrates in the evening. And again, there's a whole social component, too.
So, what you say about lunch, we do see some — I believe it's more of an Ayurvedic approach to have a light breakfast and a larger lunch. It's kind of European thing too, and then kind of like a moderate to light dinner. And that's okay, but the problem is that many of those cultures are like a post-lunch siesta type of culture. And so, if you have the luxury of being able to duck out and take a nap after lunch and press pause on the day and have like lunch be the biggest meal of the day, great, but I think for many people who work in a western society where post-lunch naps aren't really as much of a thing, and the world doesn't close down for two hours after lunch, like it doesn't say — I remember I was in Northern Spain with my wife and you just couldn't go anywhere after lunch because everybody was at home sleeping and all the businesses were closed.
And so, if having the big lunch makes you want to crawl under your cubicle and be completely nonproductive for a time when you're supposed to be at the work station, then that defeats that purpose, too. So, it all depends on how much control you have over your workday in your life. But yeah, there are some scenarios in which you could make lunch your big meal as long as you want to take a nap after lunch, but I'm still convinced that evening or later afternoon, hard workout plus cold, or even just cold all by itself, or hard workout all by itself, combined with saving the carbohydrates 'til the evening, it still for me just works and it works for most of my clients. And so, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Yeah. Alright. So, a couple other things. And again, I'll link to all these at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/414. I want to talk a little bit about recovery and heart rate variability. Now, most people are familiar with Wim Hof and Wim Hof style breathing and this idea of blowing off CO2 and using a more sympathetically stimulating breath of fire-esque type of breathwork protocol to increase arousal, or to activate the immune system, or to heat up the body prior to cold exposure, or something like that, like fully in, letting go, fully in, letting go. Or as Wim Hof would say, “Getting high on your own supply.”
And this idea of hyperventilation is not super relaxing, right? It's not something you want to do while you're laying in bed, when you're in bed doing something like a slow four-count in, eight-count out, more of the long exhales is best for activating the parasympathetic nervous system. We know that this type of hyperventilation or breath of fire, or what's also just called hyperventilation induced alkalosis, right, breathing off a lot of carbon dioxide, can be very stimulating. And they actually — well, they've done a couple of studies on this, but the last one was on cyclists and endurance and it found an actual pretty impressive effect of inducing alkalosis for high-intensity interval sprints.
And then this study that came out in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research last month showed that when you do rounds about 30 seconds of this kind of Wim Hof style breathwork in between weight training sets that what happens is you actually boost the effectiveness of the resistance training by being able to have increased training volume, and also increased speed of lifting, or lifting velocity. Meaning like if you're doing a set of squats, five sets of squats, and you're recovering for 90 seconds between each set of let's say barbell back squats, and at some point during those 90 seconds, you're going to do 30 seconds of hyperventilation before you get back under the bar and do the next squat, you'll be able to handle more volume and you'll actually also be able to lift the bar faster compared to if you've just done normal breathing.
So, it's almost like you're psyching yourself up with hyperventilation, and I would say the only thing that I would have liked to have seen in this study is a little bit of a discussion about the potential for dizziness or passing out or some smart safety protocols. Now, granted, a lot of the Wim Hof protocols you're going two, three, four, five minutes. And I've noted that more the dizziness starts to settle in once you exceed about the two-minute mark with Wim Hof style breathwork. And again, this is only 30 seconds. So, that amount of hyperventilation is probably going to have a little bit lower risk of making you dizzy or more likely to pass out. Nonetheless, it'd be something to be cautious about.
However, it does appear that this kind of like hyperventilation induced alkalosis can be a cool strategy to try in between your resistance training sets or in between a repeated pedaling sprint or high interval sprint performance. So, I thought that was pretty interesting. And I was literally just reading the study last week, so I haven't really tried this yet in a workout, but I am planning on experimenting with this a little bit. So, if I'm found concussed in my gym sometime next week from having fallen down and passed out and gotten a head injury, that's why. Fortunately, I have a soft rubber floor in my gym.
Jay: That's nice. So, yeah. One of the things that I've really been doing for the past, I don't know, maybe six months or so, is that all of my training, whether it's cardiovascular or if it's resistance weight training is I've been mouth-taping and just only doing nasal breathing. And so, I'm pretty sure if I tried to do this, only nasal breathing and not being able to utilize any type of mouth breathing, I feel like I really would pass out, and it wouldn't take very long for me to do it. So, I think if you do this, maybe step away from the mouth-taping if that's anything you do.
Ben: Yeah. And it would defeat the purpose because the whole idea of one breathing through the nose, or humming, or slowly exhaling, or doing anything like that during a workout would be to lower the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and train one to be more resilient in times of stress. Whereas this protocol would be more geared towards I want to max out. I want to lift as heavy as I can. I want to convince my body that it's running from a lion or getting attacked by a bear, and I'm going to use breathwork to just rip myself into a state of sympathetic activation. So, this would be the total opposite goal of something like the deep nasal breathing. And arguably, you could do both. You could use this sympathetic arousal type of breathing in between those five sets of squats, and then when you finish your fifth set, then you go into your deep nasal breathing and recovery. So, there's no reason that you can't play with two different styles of breathwork during one workout.
Jay: Yeah. I'd just be a little bit — try to consider the effects of too much sympathetic arousal if you did this quite often just because it seemed like it could be an absolute adrenal drag and cortisol drag, but it might just depend on how long you're doing your workout and how well you're recovering because — yeah. It's not that I'm against this. I think this is kind of a cool idea. I just would love to see more testing in it. So, go be our guinea pig, Ben.
Ben: Yeah. Alright, I'll do it. I'll take one for the team. Alright. And then, you'll be interested in this because I know you're a real nerd when it comes to heart rate variability, Jay, and that would be this — it's not a new study, but for some reason, it just came to my attention, and it was actually really intriguing. What they wanted to do was figure out a way to increase the heart rate variability with cold exposure. And we know that things like cold showers or cold face dunks are actually a way to stimulate what's called the mammalian dive reflex, and that can improve vagal nerve tone and cause a long-term increase in heart rate variability. And what they wanted to look at in this study was if they use this special little device that they made, it was like a cold application device, looks like a tiny box —
Jay: Yeah, thermode.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Like a little thermode. And if they use that on the neck, could they acutely increase heart rate variability to any appreciable extent? And what they found was that cold stimulation right around the neck region would result in a higher heart rate variability and a lower heart rate than in a control condition that didn't use the cold. It's an increase in what's called cardiac vagal activation, specifically with cold in the lateral neck area. And what they wanted to do and what they talk about in this study is potentially create some kind of a wearable that if someone is stressed out could be applied to the neck and induce a drop in temperature on the side of the neck, and thus, increase heart rate variability.
Of course, you could, I suppose, just have a little cooler or walk over to your freezer and grab an ice cube and just put that on the side of your neck if you were feeling stressed out and it might do the same thing. But it was interesting and that they actually did find that when the cold was exposed to the neck, you did see an increase in heart rate variability. And I think this is also interesting because there's this new sleep wearable called Ebb. And what the Ebb does is it's based on research from Stanford, I believe it was Stanford, that showed that when you cool the forehead if you have racing thoughts or if you have a hard time falling asleep, the cooling of the forehead actually causes you to be able to go back to sleep or to get to sleep faster for people who tend to dwell upon things or have racing thoughts when they're about to sleep.
So, it turns out that cooling the forehead could decrease sleep latency or help you to fall back asleep after you've woken up, and this is almost like a chiliPAD for your forehead. It's like this little headband that you wear that cools your forehead. And again, that's made by a company called Ebb, E-B-B. But you could theoretically come up with the same type of thing for the neck, like a little cooling device for the neck that if you were stressed out, you just flip it on and cool the lateral neck and it increase your heart rate variability and be a nice little way to passively activate that million dive reflex without you necessarily having to go find a cold tub to jump into.
Jay: Yeah, yeah. No, indeed. I found this extremely fascinating. I read this in detail a couple of times just because again, like you said, I'm a bit of a nerd. By the way, man —
Ben: Of course you did.
Jay: Crazy. Of course I did. Crazy, awesome article that came out a couple weeks ago. If anybody wanted to check it out, I think it was on your website. Dude, it was an awesome HRV article, but yeah, just try another shameless plug there. But anyway, I was reading through this, and a couple of things that I wanted to mention because I actually had a couple of clients asked me about this when you posted something, I think it may be on Twitter, where you posted this article, they read about it and they were asking me what they should do about it. A couple of things. When you look at the temperature they use, they were using anywhere from like 60 degrees to 65 degrees on the neck. And again, the lateral part of our neck is where the vagus nerve actually runs. There's many innervations through that area up to the more of the subcortical parts of our brain, our limbic system.
And so, it's really important to use the neck because they didn't find that the other areas, the cheek, and the, where was it, the forearm were nearly as much significance in results. But one of the things that I've been asked about from clientele is, “Okay. So, when I do this, what are the expectations? Should I be seeing like a huge jump in my Oura ring scores? Or if I'm wearing like a Lief Therapeutics device or a Polar H10 strap, what should it look like?” If you read this study, we're seeing numbers, the RMSSD, which is that time-domain [00:43:19] _____ number going from like 1 to 1.07 of an increase. Now, this was significant when comparing it to the control group. However, that might mean that you go from a 50 to a 51 at max from using this.
However, this is more of an acute thing, not something that's to be seen to bring that static score from a 50 to 70. You're not going to see that on your Oura ring score. So, I just wanted people to know that like, don't expect to use this hack and see these like crazy 20, 30-point, 40-point jumps like you would maybe from different types of breathwork practices. But again, the idea behind this is to stimulate that mammalian dive reflex to stimulate the parasympathetic response in the moment on an acute basis. So, I thought I'd just clarify just in case anybody tried to read through this thing. because they've — do you try to read through this thing unless you know a background in HRV?
Jay: It's going to be confusing.
Ben: Yeah. It's a little sticky. So, long story short is you'll see a slight increase with cold and it's supposed to be — what did you say, Jay, below about 60 degrees?
Jay: Yeah, yeah. What they used within this study was about 60 to 65, which is not very cold. Yeah. I mean, if you go out and get in your cold tub, what is it? Like 34 degrees or something, 35 degrees? So, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. It's about 33 right now, yeah.
Jay: Oh, geez, it's so cold. But yeah, but that's not to say that they didn't find significance. And I would say too, see what it feels like subjectively. You don't have to just go buy quantitative data if you feel like, you know what, subjectively, I feel a little bit better when I do this. Freaking do it.
Ben: Alright. So, there you have it. That's probably about as in the weeds as one could get about a study that simply involve putting something on your neck, too.
Jay: I could have gone for hours, man.
Ben: Yeah. Well, we've got a few cool codes to give you guys, a few little sponsors who have some cool stuff, some discounts. So, we're going to give those to you, and then we've got a few questions and answers. Jay, can you make a fireworks sound?
Jay: Oh, man, you put me on the spot. Oh, here we go, here we go. No, that was bad.
Ben: We'll have our audio editor maybe drag a fireworks sound in because it is, Happy 4th of July. So, we're going to have a massive sale in celebration of U.S. Independence Day. And even if you don't live in the U.S., I think you can probably take advantage of this. So, what this means is that at Kion, which is my playground for producing all sorts of cool, high-quality supplements and functional foods, yes, that's where you can get Kion Lean. But not just that, our Kion Coffee, our amazing clean energy bar, our top-selling Kion Aminos, which is a blend of essential amino acids, that's amazing for pre-workout or post-workout recovery. All of this stuff is up to 25% off all the way up until July 6. So, if you're listening to this podcast when it comes out, you got a few days to use the code, and the code is, drum roll please, or fireworks sound please, JULY4TH, J-U-L-Y-4-T-H. JULY4TH will save you up to 25% at getkion.com. That's a huge discount, 25%. That's a quarter. That means I'm going to be in rice and beans for a month, but you guys are going to get a great deal on supplements.
Jay: You said that's a quarter and now I could think about it just to get 25 cents off mine. That's not very good, man.
Ben: Twenty-five percent, baby. So, JULY4TH is the code, J-U-L-Y-4-T-H. And then also, ButcherBox, which sends these wonderful boxes of absolute carnivorous goodness to your front doorstep. They cut out the middleman. So, you save a ton on high, high-quality meat, 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage-breed pork, wild-caught seafood, if I can talk. Anyways, what they're going to do is they are welcoming new customers. They cut off the ability to take on new customers temporarily, but they just opened up their waitlist and you can reserve your spot today if you go to butcherbox.com/ben. You sign up to reserve your spot.
Apparently, there is a limited number of things like cows, and chickens, and heritage-breed pork, and salmon on this planet. And so, they did have to kind of like slightly slow down the rate at which they were accepting new customers, but they are accepting people onto the waitlist. And so, you go to butcherbox.com/ben. that will get you on the waitlist for unbeatable value for all high-quality, humanely raised meat that's guilt-free and that actually tastes pretty damn good, if I don't say so myself. So, check that out at butcherbox.com/ben.
Also, we have a question about red light today, and should you hear that question and want to mess around with red light yourself, the one that I use is called the Joovv. And the Joovv is low EMF, extremely high power. So, you don't have to stand in front of it for like an hour like you have to do with a lot of these devices. They've got large models for the full-body treatment, they've got tiny desktop models, they've got the Go that you can take with you anywhere on the planet, and it's a combination of red light and near-infrared light for things like wound healing, joint pain, inflammation, sleep, libido, skin rejuvenation. This thing is like a Swiss Army knife for light. And they're going to give anybody who's listening in a free copy of my book “Boundless” when you get a Joovv light. And so, if you already own “Boundless,” that's okay. That's why God made eBay. You can buy your Joovv light and then sell my book on eBay. And you go to joovv.com/ben. That's J-O-O-V-V.com/ben to get the book and any light that you choose.
And then finally, there's this cool little device. You use this thing, Jay, the PowerDot?
Jay: No, no. I've heard you talk about that. I might need it, man, with all this recovery from surgery.
Ben: Yeah, electrical muscle stimulation device. And what it does, it ties to your phone. Your phone has 13 different preset programs for everything from relieving pain to recovery to building muscle. When they sent it to me for me to try, and I put on the electrodes, I was expecting like this tiny little stimulation and this thing literally made my quad sore the next day when I applied it to my legs and ran it for just 20 minutes. So, now, we'll take it on airplanes, I'll take it on road trips. You can use it while you're watching a movie. And again, you can use it for recovery, but it also has a powerful enough stimulus to where you can actually utilize it for muscle hypertrophy or for potentiation pre-workout. And the cool thing is the app shows you exactly where to apply the electrode so you don't mess up and, I don't know, stimulate your —
Jay: Put it over your heart.
Ben: — quads in such a way that you rip your knee out of the socket. Yeah, or put it on your heart. And, I don't know, maybe it could act as a cheap-ass defibrillator. Anyways though, so it's called the PowerDot, it's called the PowerDot. A lot of people are using that, the NFL, the NBA, the MLB, the NHL, Major League Soccer, Tour de France, CrossFit, like they've all gotten bored in this thing because it's just tiny, sexy, incredibly convenient, and it works. And again, it works pretty darn well if you don't ask me, or if you ask me. So, it's called the world's first smart muscle stimulator, the PowerDot. They got a 30-day at-home trial and 20% off. And the way you get that is you go to powerdot.com/ben. Use code BEN at checkout. That will get you the 20% off of the PowerDot. So, check that one out, and it actually is a pretty impressive little device.
I think those are all of our special announcements for today. So, what do you think? Should we jump into the Q&A?
Jay: Yeah. We got some good ones. I'm excited.
Boomer: Hey, Ben. My name is Boomer. So, pretty much all of the muscles in my body are incredibly tense and tight, which has led to constant discomfort and continuous joint issues since I was around 15 and I'm 28 now. I foam roll and stretch every day, eat mainly organic whole foods and have supplemented with magnesium in the past, which did not work. Was wondering if you had any ideas of what could be wrong and what I could do to help out. Thanks.
Ben: Boomer is a cool name.
Jay: That's a sweet name.
Ben: I should have thought of that. Yeah.
Jay: That's such a southern name. I'm going to say south.
Ben: If I have another kid, I'm going to name him Boomer. I got River, I got Terran. So, Boomer just seems like a logical next step.
Jay: That's very exciting.
Ben: However, Boomer, dude, since you were 15, since 15, tense and tight muscles, this is really interesting. First of all, muscle tension is not necessarily a bad thing, right? In exercise physiology, it's technically called muscle stiffness or tendon stiffness. So, anytime you look at a sprinter, for example, they often have an enormous amount of muscle tension and tendon stiffness, particularly in their hamstrings and their calves. And do they have a higher risk of injury based on that tendon stiffness? Yes. And the flipside of that is that that active stiffness also preloads what's called the extracellular matrix in the tendon unit. So, they store more of the energy of impact when their foot strikes the ground and return that energy of impact as free energy, so this tendon will passively stretch and then recoil very quickly. And so, this is why people who are stiff tend to be very good explosive sprinters and jumpers, and have incredible verticals, and can run a 40 and 100 really, really well.
And so, muscle tension can be a good thing. Arguably, even endurance athletes, marathoners, triathletes, et cetera, if they are excessively flexible or if they excessively stretch, even they can reduce muscle tension or tendon stiffness to such a point that they actually decrease running economy and running efficiency. And so, it's definitely not a bad thing to have a certain amount of muscle-tendon and stiffness. And this is why you'll often see things like plyometrics and explosive exercise programmed into any athlete's protocol because one of the things that that does is it actually increases tendon stiffness, and that's a good thing in many cases.
However, the type of chronic stiffness or chronic muscle tension, that's something different. That's actually referred to in medicine as rigidity or rigor, this excess chronic muscle tension or muscle stiffness. And it's really interesting because this happens when a muscle or a group of muscle stays contracted or even partially contracted for an extended period of time. It's often caused by the brain sending nerve signals that tell the muscle to contract even when the muscle doesn't really need to be contracting or moving, and sometimes it can be a protective mechanism. Just an interesting little side here is that we know now that things like little hot sauce packets, and mustard packets, and extremely salty solutions are being marketed to athletes who cramp during training or during competition because it turns out that even the taste of something very salty or very spicy can near instantly reverse a cramp, and that's due to the inhibition of what's called the alpha motor neuron reflex that causes the cramp because the body is trying to protect that muscle, so it doesn't tear.
And this often occurs if you're in the middle of a race or a competition or a very difficult workout and central nervous system fatigue sets in and your brain wants you to just stop using muscles as a protective mechanism, you take one of those salt capsules that you're supposed to take if you're dehydrated and you instead rip it open and dump it in your mouth. And just that mere taste of something salty can instantly reverse a cramp. It's a really cool little hack that actually works. And of course, that's why a lot of companies now are selling like overpriced mustard packets of hot sauce packets and —
Jay: No more goo, just take a shot of Tabasco.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. You could literally just top off at Taco time on your way to a race and pick up some Tabasco sauce and dump that in your mouth. But it's interesting because there are many medical conditions and even pharmaceuticals associated with muscle rigidity, like we know the statins are at the top of the list for causing chronic muscle rigidity and even muscle wasting, and there's a host of other issues with statins and we don't have time to get into right now that we've talked about on other shows.
But there are also a lot of medical conditions that can cause this, compartment syndrome, which is — it's a muscle and nerve condition that causes pain and swelling localized to different areas of muscle tissue. Fibromyalgia, kind of this chronic [00:56:35] _____ disorder that causes muscle soreness or muscle rigidity. Lyme disease is associated with nerve damage that causes muscle rigidity. Parkinson's, which we talked about earlier, even pre-Parkinson's disease, that can affect muscle rigidity. Rheumatoid arthritis or even some autoimmune disorders can be associated with muscle rigidity. And so, first of all, this is one of those deals where if I was working with Boomer as a client, I would be talking with his physician, looking over all of his labs and running some tests to see if there were some underlying medical conditions that would be causing excess muscle rigidity.
And this excess stiffness or excess rigidity can also be associated with something as simple as excess sympathetic nervous system stimulation. And sometimes people with so-called cell danger response, or Lyme, or mold, or mycotoxins, or biofilm, or metal overload, a lot of times their sympathetic nervous response is even more pronounced. And you even see this in cases like, don't laugh, electro hypersensitivity, where people are just very electro hypersensitive to 5G, Wi-Fi, non-native electromagnetic fields, and sometimes it can be a cluster of a lot of stuff. Increasingly, I see a lot of people who will hire me for a consult to talk about poor energy levels, and we dig into their labs and they've got like poor methylation patterns. Thus, they have poor metal detox pathways. And then, they've also got some exposure to mold or mycotoxin or biofilm, sometimes underlying Lyme or cytomegalovirus, this cell danger response, excess sympathetic nervous system stimulation, and then that whole cluster puts them at increased risk for electro hypersensitivity.
And so, in people like that, you got to do a lot of stuff, like you got to clean up mold, mycotoxin, biofilm, do a metal detox, clean up the personal environment from EMF, and then also restore metalation patterns with like good methylfolate and organ meat consumption. It's a whole system. And typically, six to eight months down the road, the person feels amazing once you start to implement a lot of those changes. And I'm not saying that's the case with Boomer, but it is kind of interesting how many different things can affect something as simple as muscle stiffness or excess sympathetic nervous system response.
And really, putting aside all of the nitty-gritty kind of deep, dark rabbit hole muscle type of issues, a lot of times in many people, it's just basic, what's called inflammaging. And I have an upcoming podcast with a guy named Joel Greene in which we talk about young muscle versus old muscle and this idea of trigger points, or areas of hypoxia, or areas of fascial adhesions, or areas where the extracellular matrix around the muscle or around the fat even is laid down in disordered patterns just due to someone working out. And you see, there's a lot of times where people would do like traditional bodybuilding style workouts without implementing a lot of deep tissue work, foam rolling, et cetera, along with that.
And so, I am a huge fan of a lot of deep tissue work. And in the shownotes, I'll actually link to a video I recently shot of my own routine that I do once a week for deep tissue work, like a full-body foam rolling routine combined with my weekly or my every other week drug-induced massage session, and then a little bit of deep tissue work every morning, that seems to help keep me pretty supple as it is. But that can be a big, big part of it is just keeping this so-called young muscle with frequent deep tissue work. And again, like for me, it's a non-negotiable. Ten, 15 minutes every single morning, I'm doing deep tissue work, once a week longer session, and then once a week a massage. And that's what I find what it takes to actually just have the muscle feeling really good all the time. That's totally worth it to me, like that amount of time that I spend — and a lot of times, I'm listening to podcasts or audiobooks, so I consider it double time and getting smarter at the same time I'm doing some of this stuff aside from the massage. In which case, I'm laid out with my tongue outside of my mouth drooling on the massage table. But that's really, really important understanding this concept of keeping muscle young.
Another thing that I would consider here is the idea that there's also a psychogenic stiffness, it's called dystonia, and that's an anxiety disorder. And psychogenic stiffness is a lot of times a psychosomatic illness. That's again due to excess sympathetic nervous system stimulation. That's more of an anxiety disorder. And I don't know if Boomer is a very anxious person or has naturally had a lot of anxiety, but sometimes it can be as simple as that. Again, like I mentioned, in many cases, it can be autoimmune related. In other cases, it can be the type of medications that you might be on. In other cases, it can just be natural muscle stiffness.
And one thing that I should point out here as well is that flexibility is not necessarily something that is like the — I guess it's not really like the gold pot at the end of the rainbow that a lot of people paint it to be. And in many cases, having less tensile force in muscle is not that great of a thing. And multiple studies have been done on stretching. And stretching research clearly shows that stretching is not an effective warmup, it doesn't prevent exercise soreness, it doesn't prevent injury, it doesn't treat injury, it may actually cause injuries, and it doesn't enhance performance, right? So, all these reasons that people stretch in an athletic context, it doesn't seem to really work for that. We also know, however, that stretching from a pain management standpoint can decrease inflammation, can increase blood flow, does make you feel good due to the endorphin release, so it's kind of a little bit of a natural painkiller, and can also be useful for doing things like decreasing blood pressure and enhancing a parasympathetic nervous response.
So, stretching for pain and stretching for pleasure does have some benefits. Stretching for athletic performance has almost zero benefit. And furthermore, if you're stretching for range of motion and for flexibility, it turns out that deep tissue work, and mobility work, and traction, and a lot of these things that a guy like Kelly Starrett might talk about in his book “Becoming a Supple Leopard,” those are all far, far better for actual, true, functional mobility than just static stretching. So, stretching is just, it's blown way out of proportion in terms of its importance. And nonetheless, I do some stretching every day just because I find it very relaxing, if I'm taking a Pomodoro break after a few hours of work or I'm cooling down from a workout and just kind of getting back into parasympathetic mode. It is something that I find beneficial. I just think some people put stretching on too high of a pedestal or flexibility on too high of a pedestal. So, that's another thing to bear in mind here is you don't necessarily have to focus on being able to touch your toes, so to speak. It's more functional range of motion that's important.
And then, you're going to be super proud of me, Jay, because I am going to give a shameless plug here even though I failed to give a shameless plug earlier, and that is that, I think some people are aware, I spent last year researching all the actual human clinical research study that show compounds that can give a balanced inflammatory response of physical activity, have unique benefits for the joints, promote joint health, flexibility, mobility, support a healthy inflammatory response to physical activity, decrease exercise-related soreness and swelling, reduce temporary joint discomfort from overuse, and it's a blend of proteolytic enzymes, different Ayurvedic superfruits, particularly one we called haritaki, which is amazing for the joints, component of turmeric called turmerosaccharides, way different than curcumin and much better for joint inflammation. And that one is called Kion Flex.
Jay: There it is.
Ben: It doesn't work that well with a meal. It just acts like a digestive enzyme —
Jay: So, you're just going to stop there.
Ben: But yeah. At the end of the day, on an empty stomach, I found that a lot of people notice a really big increase in the good way that their muscles feel after just beginning to use a supplement like Kion Flex. So, especially if this is a medical condition, Boomer, I'm not a doctor, don't misconstrue this as medical advice, but if it's just like normal stiffness, soreness, et cetera, something like Kion Flex could help as well. But I would begin to look into a lot of these underlying medical conditions if it's something that's chronic that's been sticking with you for a long time.
Particularly, what I would look into is any neurodegenerative disease like lateral sclerosis or Parkinson's, any autoimmune disease, particularly things like lupus or even a form of arthritis or even rheumatoid arthritis. I would look into any type of bacterial or viral infection, including especially Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I would look into lupus and other chronic inflammatory disease that can cause pain and stiffness in the joints. I would look into this so-called cell danger response which Neil Nathan really does a good job highlighting in his book “Toxic.” And I would look into — gosh, those would be some of the big medical conditions I would look into. So, I realize it's a lot of stuff, but that's at least where I would start digging.
Jay: Yeah. I'll be quick on this, but to go back to the psychogenic aspect, because I think that's really important. So, when you've exhausted your resources, I wouldn't say necessarily go to that one as being the primary thing that you research first, but if you've done a lot of testing and other digging, and that's what we come up with, EMG-related biofeedback could be really, really helpful. So, Boomer, you could check out to see if there's any clinicians in your area that are board-certified in biofeedback and do EMG, which is muscular tension biofeedback. So, that could be really good.
And the second thing is, is that I have so many patients of mine who I see who complain about muscle stiffness and chronic pain, and they talk about it being systemic, and they're eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia. So, it's something to consider and to look into. And again, we take this one symptom, which is muscles in the body being incredibly tense and tight, and we can't necessarily just extrapolate and say, “Well, we can pinpoint it right away,” but it's just all these different pathways that we can search down and go down that are worth your time and effort, especially if this is kind of like keeping you back from doing the things that you love.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. So, hopefully, that's helpful, and yeah. I guess we'll go on to the next question. Hopefully, Boomer gets this figured out, but keep us posted, Boomer.
Liz: Hello. I've listened to your podcast and it has great information about the breathwork. I'm 61 and I just started back to work in a mammogram office front desk. I have to wear mask all day while I'm at work. This first week was rough, was so exhausted when I got home. I know I wasn't drinking enough water due to the mask and I felt that I was low on oxygen. I wanted to get your thoughts on how I can better take care of myself in this situation that this doesn't happen all the time.
Ben: Alright, the facemask thing. Are you still wearing facemask, Jay?
Jay: So, I'm required to. So, within the city that I'm in, going into any stores, you are required to wear them right now. I don't have to wear them while I work, which is interesting because I'm with patients all day or most of the day. A lot of them I'm still seeing virtually, but yeah, when I go into stores, I have to wear it.
Ben: Yeah. Governor Inslee here, bless his heart, here in Washington, just basically said that starting June 26, we can't go anywhere without a facemask. So, I ordered a bunch of really cool, colorful bandanas for me and my kids, which count as a facemask or a little bit more styling and N95. But anyways, a lot of people are freaking out about this whole idea of carbon dioxide poisoning and the dead space inside the mask, causing excess exposure to CO2, which I don't get because if anybody's been listening to all of the podcasts they've done on breathwork, not only are carbon dioxide inhalation treatments used for neurotic anxiety and panic attacks, and as a way to actually decrease, not increase anxiety, like if you listen to my recent podcast interview with James Nestor, we talked all about that.
But in addition to that, if you read a book like Patrick McKeown's “Oxygen Advantage,” he of course gets into this so-called Bohr Effect, which dictates that when you keep your carbon dioxide levels elevated, you actually allow for a scenario in which based on basic exercise physiology, oxygen more readily dissociates from the hemoglobin molecule and into tissue. And in addition to that, carbon dioxide relaxes the smooth muscles embedded in the airways, in the arteries, in capillaries, allowing for better, healthier blood flow and less turbulent blood flow. And this idea of just like carbon dioxide being metabolic poison is simply a myth, almost like the same way that an exercise science we thought for a long time, lactic acid makes you sore. Turns out lactic acid is used as a fuel substrate for exercise. It doesn't actually make you sore.
So, the problem here of course is we're not combining high levels of carbon dioxide with high levels of oxygen wearing a mask or combining high levels of oxygen or high levels of carbon dioxide with low levels of oxygen. And that does present a little bit of an issue. Now, what I'm saying here is I wouldn't worry about the carbon dioxide. Quit worrying about the carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is beneficial, but it's when carbon dioxide is high in the absence of oxygen that you have to worry, which is why in a lot of medical facilities, they're actually providing oxygen supplementation availability during breaks from the use of a respirator facepiece or a respirator and a face mask, and that of course is something that would be highly beneficial if you have the ability at your work place to be able to breathe supplemental oxygen occasionally when you're able to get that mask off.
But the problem is that that's not available to a lot of people. They do sell those little oxygen shots that folks who are, for example, exercising at altitude will use, and you can literally just buy them off at Amazon. They are called oxygen boosters, or these little portable things that are just like little oxygen inhalers. And that arguably, if you were to take the mask off, spray some of that into your mouth, it would actually give you a little bit of a bump in oxygen availability. The problem is that if the oxygen is not delivered when you're under pressure, when you're under altitude, like in a hyperbaric chamber, you're not going to see a huge increase in bioavailable oxygen. But having a few of those handy would not necessarily be a bad thing. Probably the most popular one is called a Boost. They have this thing called the Boost spray on Amazon that you could use. And so, that's one kind of sort of hack, and obviously, it's a pain in the butt to have to take your mask off and breathe in an oxygen spray, but that's one option if you didn't have access to supplemental oxygen.
Now, the other thing that you could think about is at Stanford, they're actually now researching, and there was a really great article about this on Stanford's website, where there is a laboratory team at the Prince Laboratory at Stanford that's figuring out how to split water, like collect water and run electrical current through it. And the electrons cause the water to split into pure hydrogen and pure oxygen, and then the oxygen feeds up into a tube, into the mask, and this is actually a way to be breathing pure oxygen while at the same time that you have the mask on. And the specific reason that this lab is doing this study, John Zoo (ph) is the research scientist who's in charge of that there, is they actually want to make it easier for people to breathe without dizziness or lightheadedness while they're wearing these masks for a long period of time.
So, that would be another thing to look into is some of this new research on mask, and it seems like with the pace at which things are progressing in terms of the research being done at the time of this pandemic that those might be available pretty soon. So, keep your eye on that research and I'll link to it in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/414. And then the other thing I would really focus on would be just increasing your efficiency in terms of your ability to be able to utilize oxygen. And for that, just basic breathwork. I have a whole breathwork article that I recently published. It's a five-week breathwork program that you could do for 20 minutes before you go to work or after you go to work to just teach yourself how to harness oxygen more efficiently when you are breathing without the mask on, and this idea of learning how to deep diaphragmatic breath, preferably through your nose, how to increase deliverability of oxygen to tissue by engaging in deep focus breathwork programs.
I think that this is a perfect time for anybody to jump into a better relationship with their breath and moving breath through their body. And I think that doing some targeted breathwork sessions would also be beneficial, but at this point, the main thing I want to get across is quit worrying so much about exposure to carbon dioxide. It does not appear to be that big of an issue. And aside from that, just when you can get the mask off and get exposed to oxygen by using one of these little oxygen canisters you can get on Amazon or supplemental oxygen along with breathwork at different time of day when you can do like these deep targeted breathwork programs, that's what I would be focusing on. And again, I'm not a doctor. Don't misconstrue this as medical advice. I'm not going to make any political statement here on whether or not I think we should be wearing masks, but regardless, those are a few things to think about.
Jay: Yeah. Totally, totally agree. I think that if people did not see the importance of breathwork before, hopefully, now that we've honed in on it so much — I mean, over the past year really, you've probably done it longer than that, but hopefully, that's making more sense now in days to be able to have this into a practice and then utilize it.
Ben: Yup. Okay. So, we're going to rapid-fire these next two questions for you guys. First question is from Mike.
Mike: Hey, Ben. Quick question about how weather affects your body. The most common example would be folks who get migraines right before a big thunderstorm happens. But in general, why do people feel it in their body? Why do they feel it in pressure or maybe measurable change in blood sugar when they are experiencing the brink of a thunderstorm when humidity and pressure reaches a crescendo and then they feel relief once the weather changes? How can someone be less sensitive to changes in the weather?
Ben: Yes, Mike, you can feel the weather in your body. It's very, very simple. It's just atmospheric changes in low pressure versus high-pressure systems. So, the fluid in your joints is susceptible to changes in atmospheric pressure as weather systems come and go. And typically, higher air pressure and warmer temperatures feel better on your joints, and lower air pressure and colder temperatures cause joint fluids and surrounding tissues to expand, and that causes nagging aches and nagging pains. That's one of the reasons that old people, especially people with arthritis or existing joint injuries move to Florida, right? It just feels better. You get higher air pressure, you get warmer, calmer weather, and you also tend to see a decrease in the headaches because there's a correlation between migraines and other headaches and drops in atmospheric pressure and air temperature along with increased humidity that could trigger pain in people who suffer from those kind of headaches.
And so, yes, your body does react to weather, again, because of air pressure systems. And when there's a cold front coming in, the barometric pressure will drop, that causes the joints to swell up and the pressure on the joint remains the same, that causes the swelling, that causes the pain. And so, my top tip for you is to move to Florida, and also to take a bunch of that Kion Flex that I talked about earlier. Now, I mean, really, maintaining blood flow — and again, this is something where this would be a good use case for stretching and for moving. Even I find that in the winter, for me, if I'm getting in front of some of these infrared lights that we talked about earlier from stretching, if I'm moving, if I'm keeping my joints warm, I get a lot less joint pain when the cold fronts really move in.
And so, yeah. I mean, you can feel the weather in your joints, and I think the best thing you can do — I mean, my top tricks are stretching, flexibility, blood flow, exposure to infrared light, using things that can increase the health of the joints, again something like the Flex supplement. And as far as being less sensitive to changes in the weather, I would not wish for that because it actually is pretty cool that our bodies can sense the weather. And I would not hope that you would want to disconnect yourself from that deep, intimate connection with the planet versus just making sure that you're keeping moving, keeping the joints warm, and paying attention to blood flow when that cold weather front does set in. So, hopefully, that helps you. And I'll link to a very interesting article from Outside magazine in which they did a pretty cool story on how weather affects your body and a few other things that you can do about it. So, I'll link to that one in the shownotes, and that's our first rapid-fire question.
Rob: Hi, Ben. Wondering if one were to get a Clearlight Sauna, does one also need the Joovv or could the sauna take a lot of the place of the Joovv for infrared light, et cetera? Thank you so much. This is Robert Curtis. Appreciate it.
Ben: So, this question is interesting because up until a few months ago, I would have said, “Yeah, you could take a Joovv light, which is going to produce near-infrared and red light and put that in one of these far-infrared saunas and get the best of both worlds.” However, what has happened recently is that the company Clearlight, they actually just came out with a red light and near-infrared light panel, meaning it produces 650 to 850 nanometers of lights the same as would be produced by something like a Joovv light. It's got this little variable optic setting on it, which means that the light is actually coming out at a bunch of different angles. So, they're called multiple cross acceptance angles, and that allows the light to penetrate your body even more deeply.
I have one in my sauna now and it just sits where the normal middle light heater would sit in the Clearlight Sauna, and it's instead a near-infrared, red light treatment, pretty much the same as something like the Joovv light, which of course enhances ATP production and stimulation of mitochondria. So, you're getting kind of the best of both worlds. Again, the detox effect and the heating effect from the far-infrared, and then you're getting all the ATP production and some of the other skin benefits from the red and the near-infrared light. And so, no, you don't any longer need to even put a Joovv light into an infrared sauna. You can just order your infrared sauna from a company like Clearlight and then you outfit that. You ask them for — they call it their light — I think it's called the Jacuzzi Light Therapy. And it's just this giant light therapy panel that goes right in the middle and you can have your cake and eat it, too.
So, if you're using a Clearlight, just know, it now has the option for adding near-infrared and red light to it, which is pretty nifty and inconvenient, if I don't say so myself. And I've been using mine quite a bit, actually. And aside from it being pretty bright, like you got to use the brightness in there, which actually, they did some studies on this. It's not damaging to your retina or anything. You don't have to wear sunglasses or tanning goggles or anything like that. It actually works pretty well. It's pretty convenient. So, there you have it.
Jay: Huh. Is the panel inside the Clearlight Sauna itself or is it outside just shining in?
Ben: It's inside. It looks just like one of the normal heaters in there, but it's —
Jay: Oh, cool.
Ben: — it's a light panel. So, yeah. There you have it. Alright. Wow. We had to rapid-fire those last few questions, but hopefully, you guys got some benefit out of them, nonetheless. And I'll put things in the shownotes for you to take a deeper dive if you would like at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/414 where you can get into the nicotine studies, the heart rate variability studies. You can leave your comments. You can leave your questions. You can leave your feedback. And although we don't have time today to give out any gifts, we are still — I know, but we are still setting out gift packs to the top reviews that are left on Apple podcasts or anywhere else where fine, fine podcasts are found.
So, if you go leave this podcast a reviewer ranking, not only does it really help to show out because it helps expose this show to a lot more people, because that's one of the ways that shows are found, is its really good reviews or ranking. So, it's good karma. If you love us and you don't want to get reincarnated as a slug, then go leave the podcast a review or a ranking. And on our next Q&A episode, we'll be sure to read one of the top reviews and send you guys some cool stuff. But in the meantime, we'll also work tirelessly, as we always do, on the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/414 to give you guys some good, good resources for a deeper dive. And in the meantime, Jay, this has been yet another whirlwind Q&A, man.
Jay: Yeah. It's been a fun one. Yeah, man.
Ben: Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Jay T. Wiles signing out from BendGreenfieldFitness.com. I may or may not talk to you again, if I can cuss myself in the gym during hyperventilation —
Jay: I'll just take over the show.
Ben: — but as long as that all goes okay. Alright, sounds good. Jay will take over. Alright, you guys, catch on the flip side. Later, dude.
Ben: Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
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News Flashes – Follow Ben on Twitter for more…7:20
- Interesting: Beneficial effects of nicotine, cotinine and its metabolites as potential agents for Parkinson’s disease.
- I would love to see how the outcome of this “big breakfast vs. big dinner” study may have changed if the subjects eating the big dinner exercised prior to dinner, which I personally do to mitigate the issues they discuss.
- Based on chrononutrition, glucose control is worse in evening after eating carbs BUT in my experience, this can be “hacked” with an afternoon or early evening workout session.
- This is cool. Wim Hof-esque “hyperventilation” can enhance recovery between training sets (blow off CO2 for respiratory alkalosis).
- Easy hack to quickly increase your heart rate variability (HRV).
- Cotinine: Beyond that Expected, More than a Biomarker of Tobacco Consumption
- FÜM vape pen (use code BEN10 to get 10% off purchases site-wide)
- Black pepper essential oil (use code BEN to get a 10% discount)
- Inhalation of Vapor From Black Pepper Extract Reduces Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
- Aztec Dream Herb (use code BEN to get a 10% discount)
- Pulse Centers PEMF
- Michael Tyrrell's Wholetones healing music (use code WHOLE10 to get a 10% discount)
- Qualia Mind (use code GREENFIELD2018 to save 15%)
- Designs For Health Annatto E (use code BEN15 to get a 15% discount)
- Kion Lean
- John Kiefer's Carb Back-loading
- Ebb Sleep Device
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What To Do About Very Tight Muscles…51:30
Boomer asks: Pretty much all the muscles in my body are incredibly tense and tight, which has led to constant discomfort and continuous joint issues. This started when I was 15, and I'm 28 now. I foam roll and stretch every day, eat mainly organic whole foods, and have supplemented with magnesium which did not work. Do you have any ideas on what could be wrong, and what I could be doing differently?
In my response, I recommend:
- Full body massage routine (deep tissue work)
- Book: Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett
- Kion Flex (use code BEN10 to get a 10% discount)
- “Cell danger response” in the book Toxic by Neil Nathan
- EMG “muscular tension” biofeedback
Do Face Masks Cause Oxygen Deprivation?…1:07:25
Liz asks: I love all the great information you share on the podcast about breathwork. I'm 61 years old and I just started back to work at a mammogram office front desk. I'm required to wear a face mask all day, which is absolutely exhausting. I know I'm not drinking enough water because of the mask, and I felt that I was low on oxygen. How can I better take care of myself in this situation?
In my response, I recommend:
- Ben's recent podcast interview with James Nestor – “Biohack your breath”
- Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
- Patrick McKeown's book, The Oxygen Advantage
- Oxygen spray booster
- Stanford research oxygen masks
- 5-Week Breathwork Article
Why You Feel The Weather In Your Body…1:15:30
Mike asks: In general, how do people feel the weather in their body? A good example is those who get migraines right before a thunderstorm. Is it the pressure? A measurable change in blood sugar, and then they feel relief once the weather changes? How can someone be less sensitive to changes in the weather?
In my response, I recommend:
- Kion Flex (use code BEN10 to get a 10% discount)
- Stretching/ flexibility routine
- Blood flow restriction
- Exposure to red light – Joovv (use code BEN for a free gift at checkout)
- How Weather Affects Your Body – Outside magazine article
Should You Put A Joovv Light In An Infrared Sauna?…1:18:50
Rob asks: I'm going to get a Clearlight Sauna for infrared therapy, and I'm wondering if I should supplement that with a Joovv device?
In my response, I recommend:
- Clearlight with the Jacuzzi Red light therapy tower (use code BEN for a $450 discount)
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