April 8, 2021
[00:00:46] News Flashes on HIIT
[00:11:52] Chicken Confit Recipe on Boundless Cookbook
[00:16:38] Topo Chico Appears To Have Cleaned Up Its Act
[00:23:18] Belly Fat Becomes Resistant To Fasting
[00:29:36] Weight and Aging Paradox
[00:40:46] JAMA On Caffeine And Exercise Performance
[00:46:39] Podcast Sponsors
[00:51:53] Boosting Nitric Oxide
[01:01:00] Should You Work Out Your Legs Every Day?
[01:06:33] When Does Fasting Become Unhealthy?
[01:12:27] How Much Carnivore Diet Is Too Much?
[01:21:14] Closing the Podcast
[01:24:23] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Does being overweight help you live longer, the dark side of fasting, the latest on caffeine and exercise performance, more Clubhouse live Q&A, and much, much more.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Jay, I'm feeling kind of guilty right now.
Jay: Oh, this always begs the question as to why. So, go for it.
Ben: I'm feeling kind of guilty because I did high-intensity exercise this morning.
Jay: You, bad boy.
Ben: I did the good old school, quick and dirty Pavel Tsatsouline style Russian kettlebell workout where you do 10 intense kettlebell swings, and then 10 push-ups, and I did 10 rounds of that with some nasal breathing on the Airdyne bicycle in between each. But the New York Times, hence my guiltiness, just released an article saying too much high-intensity exercise may be bad for your health. And now, a whole bunch of people have been asking me about that study and asking me if they should stop their high-intensity exercise. And the subtitle of that article says that HIIT, H-I-I-T, high-intensity interval training, may harm your mitochondria, the energy generators found in every cell of your body. And so, that's the news on the streets. And I thought just because we have a lot of people who listen in who are kind of into HIIT, we should probably address this issue.
Jay: That's worth it. It's worth discussing, man. I got sent this article by three different people, and then I sent it over to you and I was like, “Let me get Ben's take on this,” because I'm sure we're going to get into it, but it was one of those things I think that people, if they just see the initial title–and that's what a bulk majority of people is, they read the title, they read one sentence in it and they're like, “Okay. HIIT's out. Not doing it anymore.” But you still did it for some reason.
Ben: Yeah. So, a few things to think about. They had 11, men and women, so this was a massive study, and they were tracking things like their blood sugar level, their metabolic health. And what they did was four weeks of a pretty ambitious exercise program. Meaning that during the first week, they did a HIIT session that involved four-minute long intervals, five times on a stationary bike with three minutes of rest in between those four-minute long intervals. Okay. So, we're talking about a duration of intensity that is well in excess of much of the gold standard research on HIIT, which is like 10 to 30 seconds in duration. Okay?
Ben: These are four-minute long efforts five times through with three minutes of rest in between each. Now, during week two, they added an extra session, and they added in more workouts, and then also eight-minute spurts of all out peddlings. Not only they doubled the exercise times, now they're exercising for eight minutes in addition to exercising for four minutes. And I'm not saying their total exercise duration was eight minutes. I'm saying that was how long the intervals were that they were doing. And they continued this for four weeks with very little recovery, and not any so-called periodization to give people a chance to step back. But let's say that they had had adequate recovery. And let's assume that these people were recovered. Either way, what they did was then they measured things like blood sugar stabilization, they measured things like the health of the mitochondria using muscle biopsies, and they were showing that the mitochondria were only producing about 60 as much energy as they had during previous weeks throughout the course of the study. And also, they saw a high amount of glycemic variability, like a lot of see-sawing spikes and dips during the day in terms of blood glucose.
And so, here's what you need to understand in order to understand why, what happened to the people who were in this study. When you're doing high-intensity interval training, essentially you're breaking down ATP, okay? And you're breaking down ATP pretty rapidly. Now, ATP, when it's broken down, is converted into ADP and energy or this phosphate molecule. You cleave one phosphate molecule off of adenosine triphosphate, and then what you're left with is adenosine diphosphate, plus a phosphogenic energy molecule that can be burnt. And that's why when people take creatine, they say they have more energy. We talked about that in the last podcast episode. That was podcast–what was that, 425? So, today is 426. So, all the shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426.
And anyways, so that's why creatine phosphate can give you some extra phosphogenic pools to use to replenish ATP more readily. But regardless whether or not you have creatine on board, the ATP, when you're doing high-intensity exercise, gets broken down into ADP plus a phosphate molecule. That gets burnt, and then you're left over with AMP, adenosine monophosphate, and another phosphate molecule. Now, the thing is that there is evidence that once you completely exhaust the AMP, the AMP stores, you can actually limit the mitochondrial response, potentially even decrease the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy. And that occurs in one of two scenarios, high-intensity interval training duration that is too long, or inadequate recovery period time in between the efforts. Arguably, you could also say that another thing that could cause that to happen would be just not having enough calories or enough ATP on board. Meaning, doing a bunch of HIIT and, say, like a fasted state.
But ultimately, the lion's share of the research on HIIT shows that once you exceed about 30 seconds, you're actually getting to that point where you're exhausting your AMP levels to the extent to where your AMP to ATP ratio is going up and up and up. And so, what happens in that scenario is a whole bunch of lactic acid accumulation and a dip in the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy, the potential for overtraining. And a lot of the issues that have dictated, in my opinion, the smartest approach to high-intensity interval training being very short efforts with long recovery periods. Okay. So, that's why for me, kettlebell swings, for me to do 10 kettlebell swings takes me about 10 to 15 seconds. And then, I'm recovering for a good 60 seconds afterwards before I return back around to the next effort. And I like to recover via some nasal breathing on the bicycle, bouncing around, walking around the backyard.
But ultimately, this study was a very poorly conducted example of what high-intensity interval training should look like. And furthermore, when we see a lot of the complaints out there about heart attacks, heart attacks being associated with too much intense training, one of the reasons for that–and one of the reasons that some of the biggest damage from a heart attack comes after oxygen returns to the heart is because the heart uses up all the phosphate, the mitochondria start producing free radicals. And essentially, when all the adenosine has been broken down, there's not enough what are called adenosine ribose frames, this protein framework, to accept the phosphate molecules.
And then, you start producing ammonia in the heart, and you create this acidic environment where the heart, which would normally, ideally operate on ketones is kind of forced into this glycolytic state, very similar to what you'd see in, say, like an out of control cellular clump that's developing cancer due to excess glycolysis. And so, you're doing damage to the heart, you're doing damage to the mitochondria. And the reason for that is efforts that are too long with inadequate recovery periods, sometimes in a state of a caloric deficit such as fasted exercise. And so, once you put all those variables together, all this study tells us is how you should be doing HIIT the right way and what the wrong way to do it would be. Does that make sense?
Jay: When I first read this article, I was struck with something you and I had discussed. It was probably about a year or so ago when you first introduced me as an article that we posted. You first introduced me to the concept of high-intensity repeat training or HIRT training, which is basically just exercising all out, like close to 100%, which is what HIIT should be or what HIRT should be for about 10 seconds, and then giving like a pretty gracious rest period. So, for me, that's normally about 50 seconds. So, let's say if I go high-intensity almost 100% for 10 seconds on my concept rower, then for 50 seconds, I'm just going to do a light kind of easy breezy type row with nasal breathing exercises. And then, after that, hit another 10 seconds as hard as I can.
And then, I'll generally do anywhere from about 7 to 10 sets max. I mean, 10's really pushing it. And I've just found that, especially if I look at like data metrics, if I look at my Oura, if I look at my WHOOP, if I do exercises like that, more HIRT instead of HIIT, then I tend to have better biometric outcomes, I tend not to be overreaching or overtraining nearly as often. Whereas before when I was doing HIIT, I was just kind of like muscling through it. No pun intended, I was just saying, “Well, I don't care really what my biometrics say. This is what I'm supposed to be doing.” And I was overreaching, I was overtraining, I was getting HIRT. And so, for me, it's just been a much better option. And also, too, from a psychological perspective, 10 seconds is a hell of a lot easier than thinking about–what'd you say, eight minutes of high-intensity? You can't go eight minutes high-intensity. Maybe if you're doing like 60%, 75%, but not 85% to 100%.
Ben: Yup. Exactly, exactly. So, I'll link to a great article that appeared on the Breaking Muscle website a couple of years ago on how to do this so-called HIRT, which is essentially what we've just described, H-I-R-T, high-intensity repeat training versus HIIT, high-intensity interval training. And for most people, aside from the elite athlete who's trying to increase VO2 max, who's willing to put up with some of the potential damage that might occur to their heart, or to their mitochondria, or their oral metabolism from excess training, which is just kind of like a trade-off you make if you want to compete on the pointy-pointy edge of sports, I think HIRT is a far better way to train extremely short exercise, or interval training periods of 10 to 30 seconds in duration with very long recovery periods. One minute, like I explained I was doing this morning, is actually considered pretty dang short for recovery period if you're truly going all out. And gold standard is closer to three to four minutes.
So, hopefully, that's helpful for people who saw that study and were a little bit confused about whether or not they should be doing a high-intensity interval training. We actually jumped into the news flashes without actually even introducing the news flashes. And when we do open it up for questions, just so all of you who are on Clubhouse know, for people who want to ask questions live, you can definitely ask questions about some of these things that we discuss in the news flashes, but we're not going to open up the floodgates for questions right now. So, there was one other thing I wanted to mention, and then we'll move into the news flashes. I'm also super excited, Jay, because up on the Traeger grill on my patio right now, I've got a little kitchen experiment going on.
Jay: You had something going on last time with the whole wrapped meat thing, and now you got something new going?
Ben: Yeah. The Lomo Al Trapo wrapped meat. That turned out amazing. Go see my Instagram feed to take a look at that idea of wrapping a giant piece of tenderloin in a towel, soaking it in wine, adding a whole bunch of salt, and then tossing it on top of a giant fire. That worked really well. And I posted that to Instagram. It was a HIIT. My gosh, it's so good. You cut it and it's like filet mignon tenderloins. But what I'm doing now–and by the way, shameless plug, my cookbook just went on pre-order at boundlesscookbook.com, if anybody wants to try out some of these crazy ass recipes I come up with.
But here's my reasoning on this latest recipe I'm trying this morning. And this is super easy for any of you who want to try it, but I won't be able to tell you until tonight how it turned out. I'm taking my twin boys and my wife out to play tennis at about 6:00 p.m. Around 7:00, I'll come back and finish cooking this thing, and let people know how it actually turned out, and I'll put it on Instagram. But, Jay, have you ever been to a restaurant and had duck confit?
Jay: I have no clue what that is. I just know what the word duck is, and you said something that sounded French maybe.
Ben: Okay. Confit, C-O-N-F-I-T. I'm going to educate you. That's the ultra-slow transformation of meat into just like rich, crispy, skinned succulents. All it really means if you see that on the menu is they're taking the duck and cooking it in its own fat, or sometimes they'll use a different fat like lard, or olive oil, or something like that. But it's typically cooked, immersed, submerged in its own fat at a low temperature, not a frying temperature, but a very low temperature, 200 to 220 degrees or so for a good six to eight hours. And when you do that, and the meat is immersed in the fat, you get a tenderness on the level of like a deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey without a lot of the oxidative by-products that you're going to get from frying at a very high temperature.
But then, when you take that meat and you finish it by taking all that fat that it's been slow cooking in all day and give it a quick sear to get it crispy at the very end, you wind up with one of the most flavorful, wonderful, enjoyable pieces of, in most cases, poultry that you'll ever wrap your teeth around. And so, duck confit is one of my favorite things to order at this local French restaurant named Fleur de Sels that I go to. And so, these are kind of things I think about while I'm laying in bed at night. I thought, “Well, why can't I take just any of these whole organic pastured chickens that I've got in my freezer, a lot easier to get my hands on than duck? And why couldn't I take that and basically cover it with a whole bunch of suet, which is like the fat that you'll typically find around the kidneys? I got a whole freezer full of suet from US Wellness Meats. And so, I just drenched the chicken in a mix of suet and coconut oil, because I almost didn't have enough suet to cover the chicken, in a Dutch oven pot, and then put it on the Traeger at 220 for about eight hours along with a host of different spices and herbs. In this case, I used like dill, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, rosemary, thyme, et cetera, with a little bit of a bay leaf. And so, I put it on at about 4:30 a.m. this morning. So, I've been getting up kind of early. So, by around noon or so, I'll check it, I'll pull it from the grill, I'll stick it in the fridge to sit in that fat for a while. Then tonight for dinner, I'll take it out and fry it up for the family. What do you think?
Jay: Huh, man, it sounds really good. I love your adventurous spirit when it comes to cooking because I would have not thought of that, because I didn't even know what the hell it was, but it sounds amazing.
Ben: Yeah. So, if any of you listening and you get some extra coconut oil, or any other form of fat, or even like lard, or whatever laying around, and some chicken, try it, Dutch pot, cover it in fat, put it in the oven or the grill for about eight hours, and that's it. It's really kind of like a low-maintenance recipe, too, with whatever herbs you desire. So, I'll put that one on Instagram later on. So, that's at instagram.com/bengreenfieldfitness. The new cookbook, the boundlesscookbook.com. And I suppose we should jump into the news flashes.
Jay: Yeah. Let's get going.
Ben: Alright. So, a few rapid-fire news flashes before we jump into some discounts we want to give you guys, and then our live Q&A. A lot of people were pretty heartbroken when the news came out last year, or it may have been almost two years ago now, about our beloved Topo Chico water, which many, many people are huge fans of, especially if you live in Texas, being shown to contain a variety of contaminants including polyfluoroalkyl, which is abbreviated PFAS, which is a chemical substance that's linked to things like cancer and learning delays in children. And Topo Chico failed the test. They had extremely high amounts of PFASs. So, Topo Chico, last month, basically announced that it had upgraded its filtration system to ensure the continued safety and quality of Topo Chico into the future. And so, those of you who decided to forego your Topo Chico habit based on that study that came out a couple of years ago, the good news that I have for you is Topo Chico is now once again, thumbs up, low in PFAS. They've amped up their filtration capacity, and you can now drink Topo Chico again guilt-free. So, there you have it.
Jay: Yes. No. You don't know how depressed I was when that study came out, and I had to put it away because really, I had always drink Pellegrino and I really love Pellegrino, but there was something about Topo Chico that just had that bite to it. It's got that really crisp carbonation. I guess the mineral content just gives it a bit of a bite, and I missed it so much. And so, when I saw this, when I was reviewing for today and I saw this article up, I was so excited and so happy. So, I may have the sprouts after our talk today. Grab a 12-pack.
Ben: Yeah. And of course, Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner are also up there. And one thing I should note, for those of you who have seen me on the gram doing this, I take my Pellegrino now and I pour it through what's called like a water vortexer. It's this fancy copper water vortexer that basically, it structures the water. It causes the formation of these H3O2 molecules as it pours through this vortexing device. And so, you essentially return it to a similar flavor and electrochemical potential as you would get if the water were straight from the spring. So, you can take your carbonated bottled water and restructure it by pouring it through this device. Now, I'll open my Pellegrino, or my Topo Chico, or my Gerolsteiner, pour it through this vortexer. And I'll link to that one in the shownotes if you guys want to see what I'm using, this copper vortexer. And then, I pour it into a glass mason jar, and then drink out of that. And the cool thing about this vortexer is I use it on wine, like I drink the Dry Farm Wines, amplifies the flavor of wine. You can use it for scotch, for whiskey, for vodka, any of your hard alcohols. You can use it for kombucha. It not only aerates whatever liquid that you use it with, but it also structures it.
And so, I mean, playing around with liquids, the other thing is that that Infopathy device that I did a podcast on, the one that'll impart frequencies into water. I had a dinner party at my house the other day and I have a bunch of local biohackers who I had over. And one guy, he actually–Matt Blackburn, shout out to my friend Matt Blackburn, who's got a–I think it's the Mitolife Podcast. He said he was experimenting with the sildenafil frequency. That thing has–to basically impart the frequency of Viagra into the water that you're drinking. So, after that dinner party a few nights ago, I started doing in the afternoon sildenafil, and I am totally not kidding you, a near insti-boner after I drank the water. And I don't know how much of that is placebo effect. Admittedly, I should have done some type of double-blinded trial where I had my kids do it, and they don't tell me which water it is, and I drink that. But I have successfully repeated that experiment three times since. And every time, I get swole down under.
Jay: Really? Have you used it before doing a workout?
Ben: Have I used it before workout, the sildenafil frequency?
Jay: As like a vasodilator for the workout. You know how bodybuilders will use sildenafil for workouts and get the crazy pump?
Ben: I've used it before a mattress workout, I can tell you that.
Ben: But yeah. Actually, sildenafil is banned by WADA for that reason because it's such a potent nitric oxide precursor and performance-enhancing aid. I haven't really experimented with it much pre-workout, but that's a good idea, especially if you're doing like any of these oxygen-enhanced workouts just because you get even more blood flow. So, for any of you who are using like exercise with oxygen training, or even using hyperbaric oxygen chamber, anything you use prior to a session like that that will increase nitric oxide is actually going to improve the effects of that practice. And so, yeah, this would be something to try for that as well. But isn't that cool that I can actually make my own drinkable water Viagra without actually going to any, say, like fringe international online websites to purchase off-label generic Viagra?
Jay: Right. It sounds crazy, and you are right, it could potentially be placebo, but who cares? It's working for you. Keep it up.
Ben: Yeah. And for those of you who want to listen, that podcast that I did about that whole water device is at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/infopathy, and it's not even that expensive, I-N-F-O-P-A-T-H-Y. It's like a 200–I think 200 bucks.
Jay: Oh, it's not bad at all.
Ben: Which considering you've got access to thousands of chemicals, and supplements, and meds that you can infuse into your water, it's actually pretty cool. It almost feels like cheating.
Jay: Yeah. Sure. Does it reduce the amount of carbonation in your drink though? Because I feel like that would irritate me a little bit.
Ben: Like if you were to use Pellegrino, for example?
Jay: Yeah, yeah. Like when you put Pellegrino or Topo Chico through it because I kind of like my [00:22:49] _____.
Ben: Oh, no. We're talking about two different things. So, sorry to confuse, but the water vortexing device is the first thing I was talking about. And then, that Infopathy water charger is a second thing. Hopefully, it's not too–and I honestly use both, like I pour it through the vortexer and then put it on the Infopathy device. But neither seem to influence the carbonation that dramatically. And I'll link to all of these news flashes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426.
But there was also an interesting study, kind of some of that HIIT study, a little bit of fearmongering almost that came out that showed that belly fat becomes resistant to fasting and that a new study showed that fasting essentially makes you fat. This also is one that I received a lot of emails and texts about. And so, I thought I should clear up the error on this as well.
This was a study that was published in the Cell Reports Journal. And what they found was that in fasted rodent models, there was a change in both forms of fat in their bodies, both the visceral fat, the visceral belly fat, the fat tissue surrounding your organs like your stomach, and then the subcutaneous fat, the fat that's just underneath your skin. And they found that in particular, the visceral fat most significantly actually became resistant to the release of fatty acids in these fasted rodent models. Meaning that over time, as this rodent's fasted, the visceral fat became less and less capable of releasing its own fatty acids to produce energy. And of course, this makes sense from an evolutionary or an ancestral standpoint because when you are sending your body a signal, that there are not enough calories to go around, so to speak, that triggers like a preservation signaling pathway in visceral fat, and causes it long term to become resistant to releasing fatty acids, to breaking down fatty acids for energy because it wants to store them, right?
And so, they used a pretty cool, what's called proteomics form of measurement where they measured more than 85 different proteins and enzymes located in fat deposits to show that there were cellular changes occurring that made the belly fat almost like resistant to fat loss. And so, I went ahead and dug into this study a little bit more because the news flashes didn't really tell the whole story. So, first of all, what they did note across the board was an improvement in many actions that would be associated with improved metabolic health, like they found a consistent increase in mitochondrial protein content and an increase in fatty acid synthesis pathways that were associated with decreased inflammation and improved insulin sensitivity, which does make sense because as these fat cells become more insulin sensitive, they're able to take up energy more quickly, sup up energy from the bloodstream and store it. And they also saw an improvement in mitochondrial and metabolic health because the body became better equipped at being able to produce that ATP that we were talking about earlier.
So, it was good for the mitochondria, it was good for metabolic health. And despite that, they did note that the visceral fat was not able to break down quite as readily in these rodent models that were fasted. And so, when I think about this, there's two things that you should understand. A, this was long-term fasting without refeeds, long-term calorie restriction in the absence of refeeds. Now, once you introduce refeeds into the equation, like let's say you do some form of calorie restriction for, let's say four weeks in a row, but that calorie restriction is accompanied by like every Saturday or every Sunday, you're actually eating to slight caloric excess, or you're refilling your energy stores with a few meals that are actually giving you as much energy as you'd want, like you're eating ad libitum, completely satisfying your appetite. That appears to stave off any issues with like thyroid downregulation, resistance to fat loss, et cetera.
So, there's a difference between long-term calorie restriction and long-term calorie restriction with refeeds. Okay? So, I'm a bigger fan of including refeeds if you're trying to lose weight and you're using a diet approach to do so, restricting calories to do so. So, that's one thing. The other thing is that it appears that, and I'll get into this when it comes to aging momentarily, and the anti-aging effects of fasting, but it appears that many of the benefits of fasting don't necessarily come from the caloric restriction but from the so-called compressed feeding window. Meaning, it's not so much about restricting calories as it is about restricting the hours during the day in which you're consuming those calories, which is another feather in the cap for the intermittent fasting approach where you might eat your normal. For me, I typically eat 3,000 to 3,500 calories a day, but that's over the course of about 8 to 10 hours. And then, I've got another, anywhere from 10 to 16 hours during the day where I'm simply not eating.
And so, you'll get a lot of the benefits of fasting from that approach alone, and also be able to harness a lot of what they did show in this study, the improvements in mitochondrial efficiency, the improvements in the decreased inflammation in fat cells, the improvements in insulin sensitivity. So, ultimately, the big takeaway from this study is don't get concerned that fasting is going to make you fat. Instead, just don't fast long term without including refeeds and consider adopting more of an intermittent fasting approach than a strict caloric restriction approach. Does that make sense?
Jay: Yeah, yeah. Makes plenty of sense. Yeah. I think it's like you said, kind of similar to that article we talked about in HIIT, you see the headlines here and you think, “Okay. Therefore, we need to throw away fasting because I'm just going to keep belly fat and it's going to just continue to grow and not go anywhere. It's not going to bulge, no pun intended.” Done a lot of puns today. But I think that it's true that it's not that fasting in and of itself is going to be detrimental, it's just how you fast, just like anything we do in life. So, I think that those clarifications are extremely important.
Ben: Yup. Fully agreed. And then, kind of related to this, a pretty good blogger in the anti-aging and longevity realm, a guy named Josh Mitteldorf, he writes some pretty compelling articles based on research in the field of aging. And he's written a series recently called “Weight and Aging Paradox,” two-part series. And it's very interesting because there is this hypothesis going around, and it has been going around for several years that to a certain extent, being overweight may have a metabolically protective effect. Meaning, slight amounts of cushion, so to speak, may actually lower your risk of mortality rather than, as you would expect, increasing your risk of mortality. And it sounds paradoxical, like you're saying like being fat is going to help me to live a longer time.
But there was a study that came out of Ohio State University a couple of months ago, and it was based on the Framingham database, which has medical and demographic information, in this case, on about 5,000 people that they tracked over 74 years. And they found that the people who lived the longest were not only average weight when young, but they also gained weight, especially during their middle years. And the folks who were gaining weight as they aged actually showed a 40% basically–or I'm sorry, the people who maintained what would be called a low to normal weight all through their lives, they had a 40% higher risk of death, higher all-cause mortality risk than those that actually gained slight amounts of weight as they aged. And so, that seems a little bit paradoxical because we've always been told, as I alluded to a little while ago, that caloric restriction is associated with improved life expectancy in largely mammalian models, and also in yeast, fruit flies, et cetera. And when you step back and look at things though, this might suggest that calorie restriction doesn't necessarily extend human life capacity.
Now, there's a few things to bear in mind here. A, when they're looking at the actual association between weight and longevity, they're looking at BMI. And BMI doesn't necessarily differentiate body mass index, that ratio between your height and your weight, doesn't necessarily account for muscle. Meaning that maintaining, or even increasing muscle as one ages may be what's going on here, and it's not necessarily increasing weight, ignorant or agnostic of what's going on in terms of whether that weight is fat weight versus muscle weight, but instead is this idea that maintaining muscle as you age could have a protective effect on mortality. And so, that I think is something that isn't going to shock a lot of people.
And there still is good evidence for caloric restriction in humans, like they found that food shortages during World War II in some European countries are associated with a pretty sharp decrease in coronary heart disease mortality, which then increased again after the war ended. They've shown that when folks lose weight, it seems to, based on methylation measurements, kind of turn back the aging clock a little bit. We find that when BMI increases, again even though they're not differentiating between fat versus muscle, you seem to see an increase in C-reactive protein, a measurement of inflammation that might also be associated with an increase in aging, or at least an increased risk of mortality. We know that a loss in insulin sensitivity, which is sometimes associated with weight gain, may drive some different age-related diseases and that there's a strong correlation between BMI and obesity. But it still is interesting that in this Framingham study, weight gain didn't show up as a risk factor for faster aging.
Now, in his comments on this, Josh had some interesting ideas as to why this might be the case. So, first of all, there is that part about higher BMI possibly indicating more muscle mass, not necessarily more fat mass. I think that definitely plays a factor. There's also the emotional hypothesis, and this is interesting. But when they look at profile of mood state scores and they look at so-called happiness factors, people who are slightly overweight tend to be a little bit happier, have higher levels of life satisfaction. So, it's kind of interesting that by enjoying food and not necessarily being cold and drive-less your entire life, you may actually have a level of emotional enjoyment that might actually increase your lifespan a little bit. I'm not saying that by adopting an epicurean philosophy of eating fried chicken in bed with lard dripping from your cheeks like fat bastard in the old “Austin Powers” movie is going to make you live longer. But big, glorious family dinners, and celebrations, and outings, and going to some parties, and having big meals, that may actually allow for a decreased rate of aging, even though you might have a little bit more cushion, so to speak, compared to people who are calorie restricting their entire lives, or maintaining weight their entire lives.
Another thing that may happen here is they're not differentiating that much between brown fat, like metabolically active brown fat that you get from things like cold thermogenesis and cold training, for example, as playing a factor here. So, part of it might be, well, you don't necessarily have more fat overall, but you have more brown fat. And I think a lot of these polar bear swimmers in the bay area have shown that you can live longer and be fat if that fat is really good metabolically active brown fat because you have a robust cold thermogenesis practice. So, that might be part of it as well. Then, there's also this idea that I alluded to earlier that calorie restriction and being lean is not necessarily what would cause you to age more slowly or increase lifespan, but rather, it's simply time-restricted eating. And so, you could, for example, be normal weight, or slightly higher than average weight, or higher than average BMI. But if you're still intermittent fasting and having these compressed feeding windows, you're basically reducing your risk of that slightly higher weight being problematic, or the slightly higher calorie intake being problematic.
And so, there's a variety of factors to think about here, but ultimately, the big takeaway is that if you are constantly calorie restricting, maintaining very low body fat percentage, exercising intensively, and as we've already established, doing like too much, say, high-intensity exercise in a calorically deprived state, et cetera, don't fool yourself into thinking that that is actually going to help you live longer. It may actually decrease lifespan versus a strategy of intermittent fasting, eating really good nutrient-dense, and even sometimes calorie-dense amounts of food, exercising in a way that doesn't totally deplete you every time that you exercise. That appears to, based on some of the data that we're seeing, be a better strategy for longevity versus just strict calorie restriction and excessive exercise. So, I don't know if that's going to be a huge news flash for folks. I think that it's kind of intuitive for a lot of people. But especially in the fitness world, I think we still have this approach of beating ourselves up, calorie restricting, excessively exercising, having very long training sessions in terms of the time of the intervals that we're doing high-intensity interval training. And I don't think any of that is actually doing a good job helping us to live longer versus maintaining just a little bit of extra weight.
Jay: Yeah. You know, when you first started talking about this study, my first thing, especially when you mentioned BMI, was my mind immediately ran to the whole subject of muscle mass and how that factors into BMI. And I thought about myself. I mean, I'm actually considered overweight. However, right now, my body fat percentage is around 11% to 12%. I'm just really tall, I'm broad, I'm muscular. And so, those things make me in a higher BMI category, but I would believe that the things that I'm doing, especially from a fitness exercise regimen, are adding to my overall sense of wellness, but also, too, to longevity. So, yeah. I think that that's a huge variable in here.
And then, another thing you said, Ben, that was really interesting was the emotional component. I think a lot of times, people think that when you become depressed or anxious, but especially depressed, that people tend to just gorge themselves with food, and that's actually quite the opposite. That's a bit more of the other extreme that doesn't happen nearly as frequently as people who lose their appetite and don't eat nearly as much and they lose a ton of weight. And so, we have to remember, there's so many variables in here. And so, I don't think the study is just saying like, “Hey, the fatter you are, the happier you are.” You have to look at the asterisk beside that and see that there are different things that you have to parse for sure.
Ben: Right. You can be depressed emotionally eating fat and you can be, “I am loving life and having amazing dinners with my family,” normal to slightly high weight. And then, the other thing to bear in mind here is that the way that BMI is calculated dictates that people who are shorter are always going to, based on that calculation, have a higher BMI. And short people tend to live significantly longer than tall people. And we even know about Laron dwarfism where they've shown that these dwarfs have very low levels of insulin-like growth factor 1. And Dr. Rhonda Patrick, I believe, is probably the person who's talked about this the most. And there's this idea that slightly lower levels of growth hormone, slightly lower levels of IGF-1 may allow for longer life. And so, short people would technically tend to live slightly longer anyways, and that might skew this as well.
So, ultimately though, I think it's interesting to think about, and I just want to put a warning out there to people who are just living this extremely stoic lifestyle. You might be missing out on quite a bit of enjoyment and not even inducing the longevity benefits that you think you might be inducing versus sane amounts of caloric restriction or intermittent fasting combined with things like cold exposure, high-intensity repeat training, and some of those things that we do know could extend lifespan without excessively beating up the body.
Jay: Right. Indeed.
Ben: Now, there's one other thing that I wanted to mention that I think was super-duper interesting, and that was the latest research that came out on coffee. And this was–well, not coffee. Really, it was caffeine. “The International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand on Caffeine and Exercise Performance” recently came out, and some of the takeaways from that, if I could go through some of the bullet points, kind of rapid fire with you, I think were super-duper interesting, especially for people who like to have their coffee. So, a few of the things in this study, which was titled “The International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand on Caffeine and Exercise Performance.”
First of all, they did of course, no surprises here, found that caffeine improves physical performance dramatically in both trained and untrained individuals. And that if you abstain from caffeine for a certain period of time such as 10 to 14 days prior to an exercise session then consume caffeine that the magnitude of those effects is pretty significantly increased, particularly for aerobic exercise and aerobic endurance. And so, the other thing though that they found that was interesting was that some of the things that seem to be better in terms of a delivery mechanism for caffeine, specifically if you're consuming caffeine to enhance your workout or to enhance sports performance, is anything where the caffeine stays in your mouth. Okay. So, caffeinated chewing gum, mouth rinses. Meaning, literally, just like taking one of those caffeinated gels and swishing around your mouth then spitting it out, or some type of caffeinated mint, or gum, or any caffeinated substance, or even like a No Doz tablet or whatever, and just like keeping that in the mouth, energy gels, energy chews, those type of things specifically, or more significantly for aerobic exercise, have a really dramatic effect versus just like chewing and swallowing, or having a cup of coffee prior to your workout. So, actually, having it in your mouth seems to help out quite a bit.
So, those were a couple of things, but then there were a few other interesting takeaways as well from this caffeine exercise performance paper. There's a big individual response, big individual response. If you're a fast caffeine metabolizer with something as simple as your 23andMe results would show significant improvements in exercise performance via the use of caffeine. If you're a slow metabolizer, sometimes not only less performance improvements, but worsened performance in response to caffeine. So, if you'd take your genetic results and it shows that based on your CYP genes you're a slow caffeine metabolizer, you may actually want to avoid caffeine prior to exercise. So, that's something to think about.
Ben: Another one is that if you are not going to chew or suck on a caffeinated mint or a piece of gum during exercise, which appears to be the best way to take in caffeine during exercise, the best timing strategy appears to be 60 minutes prior to exercise. So, if you are going to have that cup of coffee or pre-workout drink that has caffeine in it, some people suck that down and then go work out. But it appears an hour before is when the best effects will kick in. And so, if you're getting ready to work out and you're thinking about your pre-workout, you may actually want to time your pre-workout, if it's a caffeinated pre-workout, up to an hour prior to your exercise session rather than right before your exercise session.
And so, that's another interesting takeaway. Caffeine did not seem to affect hydration status, exacerbate dehydration, or alter thermoregulation, even in high heat exercise environments. You don't have to worry about using caffeine during exercise, even exercise in the heat. Furthermore, caffeine also seemed to benefit athletes who are performing at altitude. It offsets the negative effects of hypoxia. And so, if you're competing at altitude, it turns out that that caffeine may actually be pretty helpful for that as well. And I'm trying to think if there were any other big takeaways. I guess the last thing to consider is that if you consume caffeine post-workout with your post-workout meal, if you're one of those people who wants to consume a post-workout meal, which as I've talked about in previous podcasts is something that's really only that necessary if you're going to be exercising again within the next eight hours, like if you're a two-a-day type of person. If you have your post-workout meal with some caffeine, you replenish your glycogen much more quickly.
And so, you can actually, if you're not going to take a take a nap or something like that, you can actually take caffeine with a post-workout meal, especially if you're an athlete. Again, that would be the person who's maybe in a tournament or competition where they got to compete again and they're refueling right after they competed once, or you're somebody who likes to work out in the morning, and then again the evening, having coffee or caffeine post-workout along with your post-workout meal, if that post-workout meal has carbs in it, will help you to assimilate those carbs more quickly, and you'll replenish your muscle glycogen more quickly if you include caffeine with your post-workout meal.
So, yeah. I really appreciated the ISSN digging in. This is in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition just laying everything out, really nice bullet point format on all the different ways to use caffeine during exercise. And I'll link to the full paper in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426. And I do realize we're getting a little bit long in the tooth with our intro, and I do want to allow time for some Clubhouse Q&As. So, I think we should probably tell people about some of the cool discounts and sponsors for today's show, and then dig into some Q&A. What do you think?
Jay: That's a good plan.
Okay. So, first of all, we have a big spring sale going on at Kion right now. Everything is going to be 15% off. Now, if we record these live for those of you guys on Clubhouse, sometimes some of these sales aren't going live until the podcast gets released on Apple, or Spotify, or wherever you're listening in. So, this technically doesn't go live until April 4th at midnight, which is like five days from now. So, you may have to sit on this a little bit. But as soon as April 4th at midnight rolls around, your discount code you can use for 15% off of everything from Kion plus 25% off of any of the bundled supplement bundles, all you need to use is code SPRING at getkion.com/bengreenfield. So, you go to getK-I-O-N.com/bengreenfield. Use code SPRING, starting April 4th at midnight to score the sweet dales from our Kion spring sale for our coffee, energy bars, aminos, creatine, you name it. You get 15% off. So, that's site-wide, and 25% off bundles, 25% off subscriptions. So, that's a good little goodie there.
Also, Organifi stepped up, and they're continuing their 20% discount. Specifically, one of the ones that they're really highlighting right now is their Organifi Gold, which is like the golden milk latte you'd get at Starbucks or the coffee shop, but like a healthy version of that with lemon balm, and coconut, and cinnamon, and black pepper, and acacia fiber. It makes this delicious, creamy superfood tea. My wife is hooked on this stuff. She does it with like coconut milk, or she also makes her own almond milk. Almonds, last time I checked, don't have nipples, so I have no clue how she's making almond milk, but she somehow figures out how to milk an almond. And she does this nighttime golden tea and absolutely loves it. And I'm probably less on the nighttime golden milk as she is, but I actually like in the morning, I like to put a couple scoops in a smoothie because I rotate the different powders I'll put in my smoothie in the mornings, and that's one that I really like. And so, Organifi has given everybody 20% off of this stuff. You go to organifi.com/ben. Organifi with an “I” dot com/ben. That gets you 20% off of anything from Organifi, which is a pretty good discount.
The other two discounts I want to give you guys, one is for this clothing company, Vuori. They make this amazing performance apparel. I'm actually wearing Vuori shorts right now as we're talking.
Jay: Me, too.
Ben: If you trust in the era of Zoom pants optional meetings that I actually am wearing pants, but let's say we're wearing pants or shorts, 90% of the time, this is the stuff I wear now. As a sponsor of the show, they just ship me their new gear when it comes out. I get to try everything out and I absolutely dig Vuori's gear. It looks good to wear to a cocktail party or out and about, but then you can use it for running, or training, or spinning, or yoga. It dries really fast if you like to swim. I love to use it when I travel because it's super light and just bundles up in my carry-on super easily. Twenty percent off of any of the clothes. And they do have clothes for women, too, at Vuori. And you go to vuoriclothing.com/ben. That's V-U-O-R-Iclothing.com/ben. That's 20% off there.
And then, finally, Paleovalley. Paleovalley, I've talked before about the benefits of organ meats. They have a really good organ complex. Basically, they took a bunch of different really high-end grass-fed, grass-finished beef organs, and they specifically took liver, kidney, and heart. So, you're getting three different organs all at once, grass-fed, grass-finished, and this stuff's like a multivitamin on steroids. So, if you don't like organ meats, you don't like to taste organ meats, you don't have the time to prepare or order organ meats, or hunt them down, Paleovalley takes all of the confusion and the hassle out of it for you. And this is called their Paleovalley Organ Complex.
I find it's really wonderful, too, for people who have like adrenal issues, for people who have like genetic methylation issues. There's a host of benefits to these organ meats. I personally, what I do is I take my organ capsules, and I break about four to six of them open, and I put them into my afternoon cup of bone broth. So, I get bone broth with organ in it. And it's an extra step to break open the capsules, but I like to stir it into the bone broth. It gives it like this nice umami flavor. And if you guys want to try this, you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/paleovalley and use code BENGREENFIELD10. So, it's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/paleovalley. Use code BENGREENFIELD10.
And not only can you do that, but I will put all of these discounts and all of the links to all the studies, the shownotes, the sponsors, everything that we talk about over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426. And I believe that now, we have reached the time in the show where we're going to open up the portals to Clubhouse. So, here we go.
Neil: Hey, Ben. How are you doing? Thanks for Sophia calling me up. I love listening to the podcast. I mean, I knew you were talking about maximizing your workout. I know you mentioned that you don't use like [00:52:02] _____or any of those type of–geez. First of all, I got a big question is, A, what do you do in terms of–what is your go-to for boosting nitric oxide? If you're doing some type of like KAATSU, or some type of blood flow restrictions that chain type, what you're doing to increase blood flow, or using any type of like a BPC-157 with your workout, what is your best pre-workout regimen that you use with your client. My patients are very aggressive, and what they want to use in terms of their pre-workout. I know you are as well, so I'm really curious to hear what you have to say.
Ben: Yeah. This popped up a little bit during the last podcast, Podcast 425, this idea about ways that you could increase nitric oxide naturally without the use of things like, say, Viagra. Or even arguably, supplements like arginine, or citrulline, et cetera. And so, we had a big podcast where we talked about all these different ways that one could increase nitric oxide naturally. Obviously, there are some of these foods that work really well like beets, or arugula, or any of these nitrate-rich foods. But the interesting thing is that–and I'm trying to remember which podcast this was. I think it was podcast–do you remember, Jay, the one where we did the big nitric oxide show?
Jay: I remember doing it. I want to say it was probably about five or six podcasts ago. So, maybe around like the 418, 419 area.
Ben: Okay. Alright, gotcha. So, one thing that we brought up during that show was it's really interesting. If you have a good oral microbiome, you actually convert the nitrates from those food sources into nitric oxide more readily. And so, what that means is if you are using mouthwash frequently, or using any fluoridated mouth product more frequently, like fluoridated toothpaste, for example, or drinking high amounts of fluoridated water from your municipal water supply, you actually decrease that conversion. So, maintaining a really good oral microbiome is one thing that's important for naturally increasing your nitric oxide levels.
In addition to that, photonic light, specifically from the red light spectrum, infrared, and even to a lesser extent, recent research has showed that even UVA and UVB can introduce this effect as well, can increase nitric oxide, which is why I think they've come out with several studies now showing that infrared sauna can decrease cardiovascular mortality risk. And probably, a big part of that is due to the management of blood pressure and other cardiovascular parameters via the increase in nitric oxide. Furthermore, they've shown that even if vitamin D levels do not increase appreciably, you actually see a lot of these cardiovascular benefits in response to UVA and UVB radiation. And the hypothesis from that is that UVA and UVB radiation from the sunlight may also do a good job increasing nitric oxide. So, sunlight/infrared saunas, in addition to a good oral microbiome, combined with nitrate-rich fruits or vegetables like beet or arugula, that's also a really good strategy.
There is one product, and I guess this would count as a supplement, but it's probably the most impressive one that's not Viagra that exists out there. It's made by my friend Dr. Nathan Bryan, who's probably one of the better nitric oxide researchers out there, and that's called Neo40. And you can actually get these test strips, these mouth test strips to test nitric oxide in your mouth. And the more red they turn when you put them in your mouth, the higher the levels of your nitric oxide are. And it turns out that for me, when I tested my nitric oxide levels using these strips, and combined it with Neo40, they would get bright, bright red using this Neo40. And so, a lot of people swear by that stuff. So, that's another really, really good way to do it.
What else? Jay, you got anything on your end for ways that you could naturally increase nitric oxide?
Jay: I think you hit on the ones that I would mention. I don't know if the question was fully natural because he was asking about things like peptides and whatnot. And so, I can discuss my utilization of different supplements, I put that in air quotes, which nobody can see me in, but that is actually something I was referring to earlier, and I wasn't supposed to be referring to it, which was nicotine. So, yeah. I think you hit on all the natural ones. But for me, a big one is just like a piece of Lucy gum before I work out. That's been probably the most.
Ben: Yeah. But nicotine, you should know, that's a vasoconstrictive. A lot of people will even develop erectile dysfunction with long-term use of nicotine. So, theoretically, nicotine would actually act in–like to counteract what you'd be looking for when it comes to nitric oxide, dictating that if you were using nitric–or if you're using nicotine for its exercise performance benefits, which it does have, you would actually want to be even more adamant about finding ways to increase your nitric oxide, or taking some kind of blood flow precursor prior to work out because nicotine may actually shut down some of that effect.
Jay: Yeah. I was actually thinking–well, I guess I know in as far as like dilating cerebral arteries, I know that it was effective, but I guess I didn't realize like from a muscular tissue perspective, it is the opposite.
Ben: Yeah. And especially for something like erectile dysfunction, it's also something that can exacerbate that nicotine use. So, you do need to be careful to really pay attention to nitric oxide levels, if that's the case. But for me, I like to think that I'm getting a huge nitric oxide boost every single morning because I get up, I do breathwork including nasal breathing, which is a really good way to increase nitric oxide, and something that I do during exercise. But then every morning while I'm drinking my coffee, or my cacao, or whatever I happen to be drinking in the morning, and kind of working on emails and articles, et cetera, I do 20 minutes of these Joovv red lights, like the red light therapy. So, every morning, I'm getting this big boost of nitric oxide. And admittedly, now that I'm drinking magical sildenafil water again in the afternoon, there's another boost right there.
And so, that combined with–we always have like roasted beets and arugula, and stuff like that in the refrigerator, we eat a lot of those, I don't use a lot of mouthwash or anything else that keeps my mouth super-duper clean, I don't have halitosis, don't worry, but I'm pretty careful to not like nuke all the bacteria in my mouth. Those are a few of the low-hanging fruits when it comes to nitric oxide. But I'd say sunlight, nasal breathing, exercise, and nitrate-rich vegetables along with a good oral biome is the best way to just naturally keep your nitric oxide levels elevated. And then, finally, as far as pre-workout stacks, go listen to my podcast with Milos Sarcev, the bodybuilder, because we get into some pretty potent pre-workout stacks.
Probably, just to tell you exactly what I–and this is going to get kind of weird for you guys, but I'll tell you exactly what I do pre-workout these days, whether it's–I'm doing my hard work out in the morning, which I'll do on a day where I just know–like this afternoon, we have family tennis. I'm not going to do my afternoon workout because I'll be out playing tennis with the kids. So, I did that kettlebell workout this morning instead. But what I do these days is like Jay, pre-workout, I often will pop a little nicotine lozenge, or a piece of nicotine gum. And then, as I have reported in the past, I get this Zen spray, which is like an oxytocin, peppermint, rosemary, Amazonian herb Rapé nasal spray from my friend Dr. John Lieurance. I do about three huffs of that per nostril. So, it feels for a moment like someone's punched me in the back of the skull, and it just amps up my sympathetic nervous system, my body temperature, everything.
And I also do about three drops of the sananga eye drops that we talked about in the last podcast, which make me go blind for about two minutes. So, this sounds like a pretty painful way to go into workout. But by the time I start the workout, I've got that nasal spray, the nicotine, the sananga eye drops, and I just crush it for like a half-hour. And what I also like about that is because I often do my hard workouts like later afternoon to early evening, I'm not putting anything into my system such as caffeine. That's going to interfere with my sleep later on because of the relatively short half-life of nicotine, and the fact that even like that Rapé and those eye drops don't interfere with sleep patterns. And if anything, I found the eye drops actually give you really cool lucid dreams or more intense vivid dreams. So, that's kind of my pre-workout right now. So, great question. Let's take another one.
Joey: Hey, Ben. It's me Joey. I wanted to know as far as like the leg workouts because I'm trying to stay pretty thin and trying to stay lean. I really listen to your podcasts. I get so much from what you offer the community. But as far as building muscle mass in my legs, can you do that every day? Is that something–I know the abs you can work out every day. Is building muscle mass in your legs, is that something you would suggest to do on a daily basis?
Ben: There are some exercise protocols out there that anecdotally, not a lot of human clinical research, but anecdotally show that strategies such as a daily barbell squat workout or daily stimulus of the leg muscle fibers even on a daily basis without that 48 to 72 hours of recovery that you would expect to be recommended for idealizing hypertrophy can actually allow for appreciable gains in muscle mass tissue in the legs. And so, doing a leg workout every day, if it were a formal leg workout, meaning, you got, whatever, squats, lunges, leg extensions, reverse hypers, glute-ham raises, whatever the case may be, that's probably a significant enough workout to where you're not going to get adequate recovery if you're doing that every day. And you should have a good 48 to 72 hours of recovery between those workouts.
But if you're doing more of what would be called like a steam workout where you're just stimulating those muscle fibers for a brief period of time and not causing an amount of calcium influx, inflammation, muscle fiber tearing, eccentric muscle tissue damage, et cetera, that would occur with a longer, more appreciable workout, you could theoretically hit it every day. And what I mean by that is, for example, one single squat set to failure per day, or having like a set course of walking, loaded lunges, or farmers walks that you're doing on a daily basis, I mean, there's a reason that Tour de France cyclists have thunder thighs and they're definitely not doing a cycling workout, and then taking three days off, then doing another one. They're literally hitting their legs every day. And I understand that that's non-weight bearing. It's less eccentric. It's more of almost like an endurance-based form of exercise with a significant amount of fast-twitch muscle fiber activation because of the little power those people are putting out during those interval training workouts.
But I would say it depends. If you're talking about leg workout and it's like cycling, running, rocking, hiking, et cetera, you could actually do something like that every day. And provided you have ample calories on board, you're not catabolizing muscle, especially ample protein on board, you could see some leg growth. And then, the other strategy would be shorter, kind of like triggering or stimulus workouts for the legs like a single squat set to failure on a daily basis that you might throw down before dinner, for example, to also upregulate glucose transporters and allow you to be more metabolically sensitive to dinner. You could do things like that. I wouldn't do a formal hefty leg training workout every day though. You're just not going to see enough recovery for growth in a scenario like that. So, that's kind of the skinny on the leg piece.
And by the way, the guy who asked that question, that was Joey from–shout out to Joey's Hot Sauces. That's the only hot sauce I use now. Joey introduced me to a few months ago. It's like all these organic red peppers and habaneros. And I've got like 12 bottles of Joey's Hot Sauce in my pantry. I'll give it out to people when you have dinner parties. I sell everybody this Joey's Hot Sauce because it's amazing and you don't get all the toxic ingredients. You're doing a lot of these condiments. It's kind of like a Primal Kitchen has their mayos, and their ketchups, and their mustards. I've got a whole pantry full of that, and then I have a whole pantry full of Joey's Hot Sauces. And I think Joey gave us a discount link somewhere, so I'll hunt that down and put it in the shownotes for you guys who want to try Joey's Hot Sauce blend. I guess that's a benefit of these Clubhouses is kind of like that dude got on last week and was pimping his mattress company. When people get on and ask questions, it's a little backend way to highlight their business as well.
Jay: I was just going to say I had one thing to say about that, too, because Joey made a comment that I'd just like to address because I think you're right. Like, if you're doing an all-out full formal leg workout, you're just going to end up overtraining, you're not going to give adequate time for recovery. And Joey had mentioned something like you can work out abs every day. And this is actually kind of–and I'm not calling maybe what Joey is saying necessarily a fallacy, but what I will say is that there are some individuals who they do believe that they can go in the gym, hit a hard workout on whatever they're doing, and then finish off with abs, and then just every day just pound abs. And they end up locking up their stomach, they don't see any gains, they're just always sore. And so, I think it's one of those things that–you'd listen to your body and don't overtrain these things because that is going to just lead to a detriment in your progress. So, I just wanted to clarify that. Like you said, you can do workouts on certain muscle groups each day, but I wouldn't make them formal all out just like to exhaustion with repeated sets. I think that single set to failure is probably a little bit better suited for people.
Ben: Yup, yup. Noted. Good question. Alright. Let's take another one.
Ariam: So, this is Ariam from Amsterdam. Thanks, Ben, for sharing all your knowledge. Really appreciate it. So, my question is I'm kind of a fasting enthusiast and I've done quite some fasts for over 72 hours. But are there any benefits for fasting over 72 hours? And is there a maximum until it's still healthy?
Ben: Oh, well, there's absolutely data that shows that once you exceed the 16-hour mark of fasting, you see a market improvement in autophagy. And then, in terms of like mucosal cell turnover in the gut, healing of the gut lining, et cetera, these longer fasts, even in excess of 24 hours, and these three to five-day water fast for people who do have appreciable amounts of gut inflammation, SIBO, et cetera, that sometimes if they can get past the discomfort of that extended caloric restriction, it can produce profound improvements, sometimes a complete reversal of a lot of gut issues. You also see improvements in insulin sensitivity, you see increased cellular autophagy, you can see, especially when combined with things like sauna, or the use of binders like charcoal, a decrease in metal accumulation and a release of toxins from the body. I mean, there's a lot that happens once you exceed the classic intermittent fasting type of window of 12 to 16 hours. But of course, there are all of the potential metabolic downsides of doing that frequently that we've already highlighted earlier in this show on the paradoxical relationship between caloric restriction and aging.
So, based on that, my general recommendations to folks from a fasting standpoint is as follows. For premenopausal women, fasts of longer than 12 hours done frequently appear to be not so good from an endocrine function standpoint, hormones, fertility, et cetera. So, most women I recommend a 10 to 12-hour intermittent fast on as many days of the year as possible without exceeding that 12-hour mark very often if at all. For men, it appears to be closer to 12 to 16 hours to harness a lot of, say, like the longevity, or the metabolic benefits of intermittent fasting, or restricted feeding window. So, premenopausal women, 10 to 12 hours. Men and postmenopausal women, 12 to 16 hours, 365 days a year if you want to. And then, to tap into some of these benefits of longer fasting periods, a couple of things. I like to encourage people one up to four times a month to do a 24-hour fast, such as dinner time to dinner time. Saturday dinner, put down your fork, don't eat again until Sunday at dinner, or Friday dinner to Saturday dinner fast. And that just seems to be something a lot of people can wrap their heads around and do one to four times a month such as just identify one day of the week where you're going to do a 24-hour dinner to dinner fast, a so-called OMAD approach, one meal a day.
And then, finally, some type of a quarterly cleanup where you're engaging in more significant levels of autophagy. Once in the spring, once in the summer, once in the winter, and once in the fall. You do something like a juice fast, like the one I recently wrote about, or a kitchari cleanse, or an ayurvedic cleanse, a so-called panchakarma type of cleanse, or a Valter Longo fasting-mimicking diet approach where you're eating 30% to 40% of the number of calories that you would normally consume over a four to five-day span. Or for those of you, masochists out there, even something as significant as a water fast for three to five days. And I personally, because I'm just supremely curious and like to immerse myself in all different forms of fasting, I'll just pick and choose when my quarterly cleanup rolls around what I want to do. If there's some new fasting protocol out there, sometimes I'll experiment with it. But every quarter, I try to do something that's a little bit more intensive when it comes to cellular autophagy.
And so, I've got the daily intermittent fast, the weekly up to one time a month, 24-hour dinner to dinner fast, and then the quarterly so-called cleanup fast. And that's what I do for myself. That's what I encourage for a lot of the clients who I'm working with, and it just works. It seems to be something people can wrap their heads around and it works. And so, yeah, you get benefits once you exceed 16 hours. And the benefits from an autophagy standpoint seem to improve and increase the longer that you go. But again, you just have to understand that there are some metabolic trade-offs when it comes to thyroid downregulation, endocrine downregulation, energy levels, enough glycoprotein to go around for healthy joints, et cetera. So, you just wouldn't want to overdo that level of fasting. And of course, this is also dependent on things like body type, how much storage fat you have available, your metabolic efficiency, and how long you might have been experimenting with things like low carb, or keto, or caloric restriction, or fasting, dictating your ability to be able to mentally or physically be able to handle longer fasts.
But ultimately, yeah, there's benefits to longer fast, but that doesn't mean you do it all the time in the same way that there's benefits to like hard and heavy weight training workouts, or sauna sessions, or cold sessions, but you wouldn't want to exceed them. Just like anything, fasting should be treated as a hormetic stressor. And especially for the longer, bigger hormetic stressors, if you're doing those, you do them more infrequently and typically follow them up with a pretty significant form of self-care. What I mean by that is if you've done a five-day fast, you want to spend like the next week or so eating some pretty nutritionally dense, even arguably calorie-dense foods so that you're reigniting the body's metabolism and endocrine status, so to speak. So, it's kind of like that feast, fast, feast, fast type of approach cycled throughout the year.
Great question. Let's take one more, one more question.
Anna: Hi. I'm Anna Pacino and nice to talk to you, Ben, and Sophia, and Jay. And thank you for having me. And Ben, you've been in my garage when Vinnie Tortorich and I were recording, and we filmed a video with your shirt off. I think he was painting something on your shirt, I can't remember, but I'm going to have Vinnie find that video from one backing vault. I don't know why he never put it up. But I didn't come up here to say that. I just want to say hi. I wanted to know, because you're talking about fasting, so perimenopausal women, of which I am a member of this group, I did a 28-day carnivore challenge. And because of my celiac, I don't eat eggs or dairy, so I can't tolerate them. So, it was very much a stripped muscle meat and the occasional organ meat challenge, and I really, really struggled with it.
In fact, I dropped about 17 pounds and I wondered if it was mostly because I was fasting because I couldn't choke it down. To use a less graphic phrase, I can't think of one. And then re-adding back in, so kind of getting to almost like a keto, I guess what they would call keto carnivore, adding back in vegetables and a few nuts, not too many, I don't want to tempt fate, I immediately gained back 12 of the 17 pounds, not immediately. It took about four or five weeks. But I was wondering, is that normal? Am I doing the wrong thing? I didn't enjoy the carnivore. I don't see that that's some place that I would go for the long term, but is it something that you would recommend like maybe for two weeks instead of 28 days? Or am I doing something wrong? What can I do better? Thank you.
Ben: Hey, Anna. Great question. Yeah, I remember doing that podcast in the garage with Vinnie. That was fun. I was down in L.A., the Vinnie Tortorich's show. And I think you guys–and then I'll answer your question. Didn't Vinnie just come out with some kind of like fat documentary like eating fat documentary?
Anna: Yeah. He has two documentaries out now. Since we've seen each other, he has two documentaries demystifying fat, fat, and fat too. I have two low carb/keto cookbooks, “Eat Happy,” and “Eat Happy, Too.” We're not very creative with our naming, our nomenclature, but we'll get there. But hi. Nice to see you, too.
Ben: Nice. Okay. Cool. We'll link to those documentaries in the shownotes. I actually haven't seen them yet, but someone's told me about them the other day, so I still have to check them out. I tend to convert documentaries to audio and listen to them while I'm doing things like hiking or riding my bike. So, I miss out on probably like half of the cinematic imagery in a documentary, but I just don't spend a lot of time sitting in front of a TV. However, I will either watch it and/or listen to it. To get to your question, yes, that's quite common to see some gastric distress, some blah feeling, et cetera, if you are shifting into, let's say like a carnivore diet type of protocol. There's a few reasons that can happen. One is that there's a pretty significant change in the gut biome when you dramatically change your diet from like high carb to low carb, from high fiber to low fiber, from vegetables to meat. The makeup of your bacteria shifts dramatically.
And, for example, as you cut out carbohydrates, which is quite common on a carnivore type of diet, the carbohydrate-loving bacteria tend to fight back. In many cases, you will get diarrhea as your biome shifts in a very similar manner as you might get diarrhea or some kind of Herxheimer reaction when you adopt a new probiotic or quit a certain probiotic. And so, there are some microbiome shifts that are pretty dramatic that seem to, in most people, diminish after about two weeks on something like a carnivore diet. But that kind of like liquid poo paint the back of the toilet seat type of phenomenon is not uncommon in people who adopt a carnivore diet. And a big reason for that is the shift in the microbiome. And I'm unaware of any special magical probiotic that you could take to reduce that effect. The only thing that I found amongst people to adjust it would be to start into a carnivore diet, but include things that help to bulk up the stool such as like a chia seed slurry, or like a sea moss gel. Of course, that would be considered cheating on a carnivore diet, but at least staves off some of the diarrhea issues. Yeah. Go ahead.
Anna: I did take HCl betaine, but I anticipated this because when I asked around everybody who was doing carnivore, “What's your biggest advice?” And the biggest advice was don't trust a fart. And so, I was like, “Oh, well, that's very telling.” And so, I did take HCl betaine stomach enzymes every time I ate, and I think that that helped because I managed to avoid what you're talking about. But yes, I just want to throw that out there.
Ben: Yeah. HCl will help. However, in most people, what helps even more is bile such as Ox Bile extract because when you consume fats, your gut releases this hormone called CCK, which is cholecystokinin. That makes your gallbladder contract and release bile that's stored there, then that emulsifies the fat and allows for the fat to be absorbed from other enzymes. And the gallbladder is kind of like a muscle. Like, if you're all of a sudden asking to produce more bile, it takes some time for it to do that. And so, some people will supplement with any digestive enzyme that not only includes HCl, but also some type of like an Ox Bile extract, for example. And believe it or not, liver supplement, or liver intake, or organ meat intake seems to help out with the bile production as well. And so, the one I like for this is Thorne's Bio-Gest. That's a pretty good digestive enzyme supplement that helps with bile acid production, also includes Ox Bile extract in it. So, bile is another one that can be very helpful, and that's one that you may want to consider in addition to HCl.
So, another thing that can cause kind of a blah feeling on something like a carnivore approach would be too much protein relative to fat. That's a very common cause of diarrhea is switching to a carnivore diet but doing more of the Costco ribeye steak for breakfast, lunch, and dinner type of approach versus the classic nose-to-tail approach that Dr. Paul Saladino is championing, which would be a lot more of the suet, the bone marrow, the bone broth, the organ meats, the fattier cuts of meat. And taking in more of the fat and then including bile, and even HCl to a certain extent, and avoiding just the lean proteins is another thing that seems to help out quite a bit when it comes to being able to digest better a carnivore-based diet. And also, avoid some of the hyper-ammonia that might be associated with a hyperaminoacidemia that might be associated with excess protein intake in the absence of natural amounts of fat.
That's why nearly everybody, even way back to the arctic explorer is like–what's his name? Vilhjalmur Stefansson, he was an early champion of the carnivore diet and he really suggested adding an additional fat based on this concept of what would be called rabbit starvation, or too much protein in the absence of enough fat. And then, the last thing is some people don't respond well to a carnivore diet if it is associated with a high amount of potentially inflammatory products like processed fat products, like processed tallow for some people who are including dairy, high amounts of dairy, which inflames many people. Egg whites versus whole eggs, non-ruminant foods, and especially non-ruminant foods that have been fed grains, like chicken and pork higher in omega-6 fatty acids, those would be two such examples, especially pork that isn't pastured pork, or pork that's been bred to be the other white meat lower in fat.
And so, paying attention to the actual sources and eliminating any potentially inflammatory sources of meat on a carnivore diet is also something that seems to help out quite a bit. But in a nutshell, if you're experiencing gastric distress, switching to a carnivore diet, understand some of that's normal due to the shifts in your microbiome, understand that a lot of it can be mitigated by including a good digestive enzyme with something like bile, understand that a lot of it can be mitigated by eating more of a nose-to-tail higher fat approach, and then understand that a lot of it can be mitigated by decreasing any of the potentially inflammatory foods that might be associated with dirty carnivore, like dairy and processed fats, and egg whites, or non-natural chicken and pork, et cetera.
So, those are a few of my tips, and I hope that's helpful. And I'm kind of to the point now on this podcast, by the way, where because I have another important phone call coming up in about 10 minutes that I have to be on, we will need to start to wrap things up. But before we wrap things up, first of all, I hope you guys are enjoying it when we do these live on Clubhouse. We'll continue to try to hurdle some of the technical issues that we run into. But if you guys really enjoy these Clubhouses, we will definitely keep doing them because it seems like we've got a decent number of people in the room, and people who are listening and asking questions. So, I'm totally game to keep doing this. Second of all–
Jay: Oh, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. I think it's fun. What do you think, Jay?
Jay: Oh, man. I love it. Yeah, it's really fun just to be able to interact. I mean, it's not that I don't enjoy the one-on-one calls that we have been, but having other people in the room to listen to us, it's fun.
Ben: Yeah. A few hundred flies on the wall.
Jay: Oh, yeah.
Ben: And they can hear all of our embarrassing live editing mistakes. And then, also, I'll put all the shownotes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426. If you like what we're doing, honestly, you guys, those of you live, those of you listening to the recording after it comes out, one of the best things you can do to support this show is not only to visit the shownotes and check out all the goodies that we have over there, support our sponsors, et cetera, but leave the show a rating, whether it's Spotify, or whether it's like Samsung, or Apple podcast, wherever you listen in, I realize it's a pain in the ass and an extra step, but if you go and just write one sentence and leave a review based on all these podcast algorithms, it's one of the best things you can do to support this show and to support our labor of love, so to speak.
And so, if you're able to drop in, leave review, it's tremendously helpful. Sometimes, even though it seems this is occurring with increasing rapidity and frequency, we don't have time to do special giveaways and goodies for people who leave reviews. We do occasionally do some cool giveaways to the reviews that we read on the show. So, we'll get back to doing that pretty soon. And then, grab my new cookbook, grab my new cookbook. I'll let you know on Instagram at instagram.com/bengreenfieldfitness how that chicken confit recipe turns out. I'll show you guys some cool photos and give you the whole recipe on Instagram, probably later tonight or tomorrow, assuming that it doesn't poison and kill my entire family. And then, the cookbook is at boundlesscookbook.com. Available for pre-order. It's big, it's beautiful, tons of cool photos, tons of amazing unique recipes, biohacked smoothies and cocktails, and everything from wild game meat to plant pestos, to just everything I tend to make on a regular basis is jam-packed into that cookbook along with plenty of science and fun anecdotes. So, you want to check that out.
And gosh, I think that's about all the time that we have. So, once again, Jay, it has been an absolute pleasure geeking out with you for the past hour and a half along with all of you on Clubhouse.
Jay: Indeed, man. Enjoy it. Can't wait for the next one.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben along with Jay signing out. Shownotes are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/426. Have an amazing, amazing week.
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…
- The latest on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) being “bad for you” and how to do HIIT vs. (high-intensity resistance training (HIRT)…01:00
- When you're doing HIIT, rapid breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) occurs
- ATP, when broken down, is converted into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and energy (phosphate molecule) that gets burned, leaving adenosine monophosphate (AMP) + phosphate molecule
- When AMP stores are completely exhausted, mitochondrial response is limited or the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy is decreased; occurs in one of two scenarios:
- HIIT duration that is too long
- Inadequate period of time in between efforts
- Exhausting AMP levels to the extent that AMP:ATP ratio is going up and up, resulting in:
- Lactic acid accumulation
- Dip in the ability of the mitochondria to produce energy
- Potential for over-training
- Topo Chico appears to have cleaned up its act. Hooray for all my tequila and lime that was piling up. Read about it…16:30
- Folks who excessively fast but can't seem to drop fat should be aware of this—don't long-term calorie restrict without re-feeds…23:20
- Weight and Aging: A Paradox Part 1 by Josh Mitteldorf…29:45
- And here's Part 2
- The latest takeaway's from JAMA on caffeine and exercise performance—I WILL unpack this in a future podcast episode…40:45
- Chicken confit recipe:
- Put a whole chicken into a dutch pot, (I used a pastured chicken from US Wellness Meats. Cover the chicken in spices and herbs, then put the lid on the pot and put it in the fridge for 12-14 hours. This will help you get crispier skin and dry the chicken a bit so it absorbs more fat. For spices, I used salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, paprika, dill, and bay leaves.
- Take the chicken out, discard any juices in the bottom of the pot, then cover the chicken in your fat of choice. I used beef suet, coconut oil, and lard. Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, etc. could also work. Drench that baby!
- Put the lid on the chicken and put it into an oven or grill (I used my Traeger Grill which gives a really nice, even cook) at 220°F for about 8 hours.
- Remove from heat, and either:
- a) refrigerate the entire pot, fat and all, to broil or fry the chicken at any point you want a quick tasty bite. This dish will stay good for over a week in your fridge, or
- b) fry in a cast-iron skillet with some of the fat, or put into a roasting pan and broil for about 6-8 minutes to get the skin super crispy (that’s my favorite method).
- Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner
- Topo Chico
- Water vortexer
- Dry Farm Wines
- Infopathy (use code BENG10 to save 10% off any of their devices)
- Mito Life podcast with Matt Blackburn
–The Boundless Cookbook: Optimize your physical and mental performance with nutritious and delicious Greenfield family recipes. This is your roadmap to a culinary journey that includes ancient food and wild game preparation tactics, biohacked smoothies, meat rubs, cocktails, desserts, and beyond—without any restrictive diet, limited ingredients, or tasteless “health foods”! Pre-order yours today here!
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Boosting nitric oxide…51:53
Neil asks: What are your go-to methods for boosting nitric oxide, and how do you increase blood flow before and during your workout?
- Q&A 425: The Official Clubhouse LIVE Podcast – The Link Between Sleep, Light & Temperature, Creatine & Bulking, Natural Ways To Increase Nitric Oxide, Do You Need Eye Protection For Light Therapy & More!
- Dr. Nathan Bryan
- Sunlight (UVA/UVB)/infrared saunas + nasal breathing + good oral microbiome + nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables like arugula, beet
- Joovv red lights
- Infrared sauna
- Biohacking Muscle Growth: How To Maximize Anabolism & Muscle Hypertrophy Using Targeted Delivery Of Nutrients To Muscle Tissue During Exercise, With Professional Bodybuilder Milos Sarcev.
- Q&A 419: A New Way To “Spot Reduce” Fat, Are Plant Anti-Nutrients Really That Bad, The Dark Side Of Daylight Savings Time & Much More.
Should you work out your legs every day?…1:01:00
Joey asks: Can you work out your legs every day like other parts of your body, like your abs?
In my response, I recommend:
- Joey's Hot Sauce (use code BEN20 to save 20%) (made by the guy who asked the question)
When does fasting become unhealthy?…1:06:30
Ariam from Amsterdam asks: Are there benefits for fasting more than 72 hours, and is there a maximum amount of time before it begins to be unhealthy?
In my response, I recommend:
- Daily fast:
- For pre-menopausal women:
- 10-12 hour intermittent fasting as often as possible but not exceeding 12 hours
- Frequent fasting done for longer than 12 hours is not good from an endocrine standpoint (hormones, fertility, etc.)
- For men and post-menopausal women:
- 12-16 hours to harness the longevity or metabolic benefits of intermittent fasting
- For pre-menopausal women:
- Weekly up-to-a-month fast:
- To tap into the benefits of longer fasting periods: 24-hour fast 1-4x a month (24-hour dinner-to-dinner fast (one meal a day)
- Quarterly clean-up fast:
How much Carnivore Diet is too much?…1:12:30
Anna asks: I recently tried a 28-day Carnivore Diet challenge, and really struggled with it. I just couldn't handle the diet with some preexisting conditions with celiac and whatnot. I ended up losing 17 pounds before I finally had to stop. Did I do something wrong? Is there a better time frame I could go with the Carnivore Diet?
In my response, I recommend:
- Demystifying fat: Vinnie Tortorich's FAT: A Documentary
- Betaine HCl and Ox Bile extract
- Thorne Bio Gest