March 10, 2010
Podcast #85 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2010/03/podcast-episode-85-more-swimming-tips-plus-a-massive-fitness-and-nutrition-qa/
Introduction: In this podcast episode: the top three mistakes made by swimmers, too much fiber, how to decrease your sex drive, probiotics, binge eating in athletes, motivating yourself to work out in the morning, running for cyclists, energy drinks during workouts, late night exercise and sleep, triathlon training during busy weeks and should you wear flip-flops in the locker room? Man that’s a lot.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, it’s Ben Greenfield. Did you ever exercise late at night and then have trouble getting to sleep at night? That actually happened to me last night. I’m a little bit sleepy. And interestingly, we actually have a few listener questions in this week’s podcast about just that very thing. As a matter of fact, we have a ton of questions. Period. And so, we have a rather short featured topic today with triathlon coach Eric Peterson on the top three mistakes that swimmers make and then we’re just going to jump straight into this week’s Listener Q and A. There are tons of questions as you probably heard in the introduction so let’s not waste any time getting into this week’s content.
Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I’m here with Eric Peterson and if you’ve been to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com or you plan on visiting anytime in the future you’re going to start to see Eric pop up. And Eric actually lives pretty close to me. He’s across the state line over in Couer d’Alene, Idaho and he happens to be a triathlon coach. Incredibly great guy especially in times of the level of knowledge to which he’s taken himself. I met Eric about a year and a half, probably almost two years ago and I have seen him become a very knowledgeable triathlete and now a certified triathlon coach. Eric is actually a triathlon coach now over at Pacific Elite Fitness at www.pacificfit.net. He’s got some great articles that you’re going to see over at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com. And just a great resource and one of the things that Eric really specializes in is basically taking a look at swimmers and helping new swimmers get better in the water. He’s got quite a bit of experience himself in the water, having had a professional career in white water kayak racing. But basically now, not only coaches athletes online but does quite a bit of swim coaching over there in Couer d’Alene. So Eric, thank you for coming on the call today.
Eric Peterson: Thanks Ben. That’s quite a generous introduction there. Appreciate it.
Ben: Hey, no problem. So obviously being the swimming guy that you are, questions that I have for you today – or the main question that I have for you today is what are the most common mistakes or errors that you see beginning triathletes and beginning swimmers commit when they first get into the water and start swimming?
Eric Peterson: Well I’ll take this one… there’s three main common errors that I see or common mistakes. I’ll take them one at a time. Now first one that I see, very, very common is arm timing. If you were to imagine a swimmer – if you’re at water level looking at a swimmer at their side and imagine a clock behind them – a lot of times I’ll see one arm at 6o’clock out there in the pull phase while the other arm is at high noon. This is one of the most common mistakes I see. It causes all sorts of issues as far as staying… keeping your momentum going forward and breathing, causes all kinds of issues for people.
Ben: So you said when you’re looking at the swimmer from the back?
Eric Peterson: The side.
Ben: Oh, the side. And you’re going to see one arm – and is that when they’re reaching forward or when they’ve finished the actual pull.
Eric Peterson: It’s actually kind of mid-pull. There’s two things going on. One is that at mid-pull, one arm is facing straight down at 6o’clock while the other arm is recovering up in the air.
Ben: I gotcha.
Eric Peterson: So instead of having one arm out in front while the arm that just got finished pulling is recovering, you see one arm pressing down towards the bottom of the pool while the other is high up in the air. Now, there’s two things going on there. One is arm pull – keeping the elbow high during the pull and also during recovery are key to keeping your shoulders relaxed and not burning up your shoulders halfway into your swim. The second thing is that has to do with this is arm timing in your pull phase. One arm should be relaxed out in front of you as you reach, and that arm really shouldn’t move until your other arm is recovered and entering into the water somewhere between the top of your head and your arm that’s moving out in front of you. At that point there’s an exchange that happens.
Ben: So this almost reminds me – when you’re saying this – of something like the ketchup drill, except… it’s like you’re doing the ketchup drill but you’re not quite doing the ketchup drill. Is that kind of what people would be going for?
Eric Peterson: Yeah, the ketchup drill is a good way to help resolve this. I also use a device… as far as arm timing goes, I use a device called a swim stick. Now right now, I make those myself for all my athletes. And the swim stick is essentially a stick you can make out of PVC pipe and caps, a certain width and I make my swimmers basically hold it out in front of them and as they swim, they have to hold it out in front of them during the pull phase and they obviously can’t let go until their other arm comes forward and grabs the stick and let’s go for the next part of the swim phase.
Ben: Okay, cool. I’ve seen those before. They’re basically like a PVC pipe.
Eric Peterson: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. Very low-tech, but it’s a very effective tool for teaching people arm timing. And a lot of people struggle with it at first and most people hate the swim stick, but it actually becomes their best friend after a while because once you get the hang of it and it starts translating into your actual swim, you will find better balance in the water, you’ll find it’s easier to breathe, your speed increases. Several benefits come out of it.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. Cool. So that’s number one that you see is people basically are… do you think it’s because they’re dropping that arm too quickly? Is that the problem?
Eric Peterson: Yeah, a lot of people – either people drop their arms too quickly, they get a little too much in a hurry. They think that speed equals arm turnover where that isn’t necessarily true. There’s a lot of things that go into speed in the water. As you recently wrote, speed has nothing to do with strength. It has to do with technique and your profile in the water. That kind of leads me almost to my second point – my second most common mistake. Body positioning in the water. So if I may, the next thing I see is a lot of swimmers – let’s say their arm timing is all perfect. They’ve got the arm timing down, high elbows on the pull, high elbows on the return yet they’re shoulders are sitting very flat in the water. The high body is staying very rigid. And the way I explain it to a lot of swimmers is that if you look at a barge going through the water, they don’t move very fast. You’ve got this big wide, flat profile that you’re pushing against and when your shoulder’s flat, your body’s flat in the water you’re essentially looking like a barge and swimming like a barge. In contrast, if you look at a ship’s bow, it’s very vertical and very small in profile and that’s kind of the profile we want to approach when we’re swimming. So when you roll your body as you reach for the beginning of your stroke before you catch, you let your shoulder drop, the other shoulder will roll up and your body kind of comes up – I call it the balance point almost 45 degrees in the water – you’re presenting much less resistance to push against. Therefore that translates into free speed.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay, cool. Well that one makes pretty good sense. What’s your third one?
Eric Peterson: Third one is – this is one of the hardest ones to break – is bicycle kicking or run kicking in the water. And again you might see someone with great arm timing, great high elbows and they might even be getting their body roll down – hips and shoulders – not just shoulders by themselves. And they start wondering why they’re not going faster, and if you do an underwater video or take a look at them underwater, nine times out of ten, you’re going to see the kick originating from the knee and a lot of triathletes and runners especially… cycling and running are almost the same. A lot of knee movement whereas in swimming there isn’t a whole lot of knee movement. The kick actually originates from the core of your body first. And the way I try to help my students understand this is if they play golf for example, when you take your golf club back through your swing you don’t start by moving your arms first or (inaudible) wrists. You start by basically exploding at the core, rotating your hips, followed by (inaudible) and the club. That’s almost how you want your kick to happen, is you actually start your roll with your core and as your hips roll over then your kick starts to happen from the hip down so it almost like whips your leg into a kick, leaving your ankles nice and loose and you get that nice almost flipper effect with your foot.
Ben: Interesting. Gotcha.
Eric Peterson: So, what’s a great drill for that? One of the drills – I still do it, it’s hard to do but the doggie dig drill. It’s a great drill. It basically teaches kick timing which is very critical and the other drill I do is basically a one armed drill where you’re laying on your side, one arm out, one arm down at your hip and you kick from your hip, not using your knees and bicycling kicking there.
Ben: Did you call it the doggie drill kick?
Eric Peterson: Doggie dig drill. That one is more for arm and leg timing which is the other part of kicking properly, especially in distance swimming. As you pull with your right arm and you start to transition from one side of your body or one side of your roll to the next, if you time your core snap with your leg snap opposite the arm you just pulled with, it creates an incredible amount of torque to pull against. And the doggie dig drill helps that arm timing, leg kick timing happen. And it’s a fantastic way to teach people that. And so the bicycle kick versus the hip kick – there’s lots of times with the kickboard, kicking back with your arms above you, on your side with your arm out in front of you and your other arm on your hip, that will teach you in a hurry how to continue forward movement while kicking from your hip rather than from your knees.
Ben: What’s your favorite place to go to for looking at swim drill videos?
Eric Peterson: Well, there’s a few places. www.swim.com. Of course we’ve got links on www.pacificfit.net where you can go and take a look at some swim drills there. I also make custom videos for my students in the pool. Either I’ll do analysis with them sitting down on the screen and create specific drills for them or unique drills for them to address their technique issues. Or for example, as you know students can take videos of themselves and send them in to Pacific Fit for an online video analysis. Those are great tools and we can obviously always recommend different drills to help resolve different issues. Everybody’s unique in what they have issues with. It’s like running or biking. Everyone’s going to have little teeny tiny things that they may need to work on and there are different drills – there’s hundreds of different drills to work on different issues. Some drills you have to create just for one specific area. It’s a matter of being creative and understanding aqua dynamics and how the body moves in the water.
Ben: Awesome. Awesome. And for those of you listening in, obviously if you’re in the Spokane or Couer d’Alene area, you could easily look up Eric by going to www.pacificfit.net and pulling up Eric’s coaching page over there. And I’ll put a link to it in the Shownotes to this podcast. But the team over at Pacific Elite Fitness is offering swim video analysis for anybody anywhere in the world with a new piece of software that we’re using that allows you to actually send your video in and get it analyzed with voice markup, with angle drawings, with basically anything that your coach sees. Super easy. Comes with full instructions on how to shoot your video. You don’t have to have a fancy underwater video camera. You can do an over water analysis, and we can give you instructions for doing an underwater analysis as well if it’s something you wanted to do if you had one of those fancy new underwater cameras. And then the other thing was that if you are coached by Eric – if you’re listening and you are coached by Eric at Pacific Elite Fitness or you’re coached by me or any of the coaches; ask us because you do get a 15% discount on any of those video evaluations whether it’s swim or bike or run. So, Eric any other resources you’d like to recommend to the audience?
Eric Peterson: Yeah, one thing that I’m a big proponent of is swim visualization. And if you haven’t downloaded Mr. Smooth, I think that’s a great, great resource. I still stare at it at my screen sometimes before I go swim and try to visualize Mr. Swim in my head as I swim along during my workouts.
Ben: Yeah and that’s at www.swimsmooth.com right?
Eric Peterson: Correct. You can – for beginners, intermediates, advanced swimmers, you can change the – if you haven’t checked it out, you can look at the swimmer from underwater, from the side view, top view, front, back, 45 degrees. You can look at him in a million different ways and it’s a great…
Ben: It’s totally free, right?
Eric Peterson: Yeah, absolutely. 100% free, developed by – I can’t remember his name right now – but he’s a swim coach from Great Britain I believe.
Ben: Yeah, I know who you’re talking about. I’ve put some videos up about him on www.bengreenfieldfitness.com before. It’s Paul, and I forget his last name but yeah, he’s cool. He’s been doing stuff with us over at the Rock Start Triathlete Academy. I’ve had some of his stuff. If you go Google “swim smooth” or not Google it but do a search for “swim smooth” at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, you’ll find a review that I did of Paul’s Web site and his swim smooth application. So alright. Well cool, Eric thanks for your time today.
Eric Peterson: Yeah, no problem. I appreciate talking to you and I’ve learned a lot from you over the last couple of years and I hope I can pass on that knowledge to some students both locally and around the Internet.
Ben: Awesome. Go to www.pacificfit.net and look at the coaches and trainers. Click on Eric’s name or click on the link that I have to Eric in the Shownotes to this week’s podcast. Thanks Eric.
Eric Peterson: Thank you Ben.
Ben: Yes, that’s right. Today’s Listener Q and A comes after our interview just because the Q and A is so big and long and jam-packed with tons of fitness and nutrition advice. So here it is. If you have a question as you’re listening in, make sure that you email [email protected]. You can call toll free – and if you’re out exercising right now, just add this into your phone. You can call toll free to 8772099439. That number again is 8772099439 or email [email protected] and either way, that’s a fantastic method of getting your question in. If you’re an international listener, just Skype. User name is Pacific, like the ocean. Fit, like fitness. So that’s Pacific Fit. Okay, so the first question this week is from listener Lindsay.
Lindsay asks: I have a question regarding fiber and eating too much fiber causing gas. I love eating fruits, veggies at all my meals. I seem to always snack on veggies and fruits but I feel it’s causing me a lot of excess gas. I also make my own granola which has oats, flax seed and dried figs. When I am running, it’s often uncomfortable. I don’t want to reduce my fruit or veggies because it’s all I want to snack on, but it’s annoying to have what seems to be like excess gas. Any recommendations on how to curb this or changes to the diet that I could make?
Ben: First of all, Lindsay, you’re not alone. Big problem especially in active individuals. We eat more carbohydrate. A lot more times we eat more healthy food. More fiber ferments in the stomach, produces gas and basically you tend to have a lot of unhappy digestive side effects when you’re taking in things like vegetables, beans and legumes and whole grains and a lot of the things that you’re talking about. Now the first thing that you want to do is understand that soluble fiber is going to be a bigger issue than insoluble fiber. And if you go Google “soluble fiber” and “insoluble fiber” you’ll be able to find a huge list. But basically soluble fiber would be something like oats and insoluble fiber would be higher in something like wheat. So if you’re looking at a wheat bran cereal versus an oat bran cereal, the oat bran cereal would cause a bigger issue than the wheat bran cereal. Fortunately, most of the leafy greens in the salads that you’re talking about – that’s the insoluble fiber. That’s the type that isn’t really going to give you as much gas but the dried fruits and the nuts, big sources of soluble fiber and those can be an issue as well as any fiber supplements like the flax seed powder, metamucil, psyllium seed, any of that is soluble fiber and the soluble fiber can cause the gas. The other thing that will cause the gas of course are all the sugars that are going to sit in your stomach and ferment because the fermentation of those sugars will cause the release of gas byproducts, like methane. And you get that from beans, vegetables, whole grains. Especially some of the more sulfur type of containing foods like broccoli and cabbage. So all of that can give you the issues that you’re talking about. Obviously one of the things that you can do is time your intake of soluble fiber so that it’s not taking place prior to or close to your workout. So what you would do is take some of the oats and nuts, the seeds, the flax, things of that nature and don’t have those prior to a workout. Don’t have a big bowl of oatmeal before you work out. Go for an insoluble fiber source and you could even do something like a sweet potato with a little bit of yogurt or something of that nature. Now the other thing that you can do is you can look into this over the counter product called Beano. And Beano has something in it – it basically has an enzyme in it that helps break down sugar molecules more completely before they end up in your large intestine. It’s actually called alpha galactosidase, in case you cared. But basically the idea with the Bean is you need to time it the right way. You want to take Beano right when you start your meal. So with that first bite of food. And then that will give you the most benefit in terms of helping break down the sugar in that food. Typically, an anti-acid like a Tums or a Rolaid or something like that doesn’t really help quite that much. And I know I mentioned the yogurt earlier but if you tend to be lactose intolerant, that can cause an issue as well. And they have another kind of over the counter digestive aid called Lactaid. And that can actually give your body some of the enzymes that are going to help it break down lactose sugars. So what this comes down to is try Beano. Try Lactaid, and eliminate soluble fibers. Go Google “soluble fibers,” get a big list of them. Look at them, tape them to your refrigerator and try not to eat those within two hours prior to any of the workouts that you do. That will help you out tremendously. So great question.
Frank asks: I am sure this is not the standard question but my wife and I have very different sex drives and it’s a great source of frustration to me. Is there a way to decrease sex drive? I understand that male and female sex drive is tied to testosterone and is critical to sports performance and strength. So I’m hesitant to take things like licorice which is known to increase estrogen and decrease the testosterone-estrogen ratio. Any help would be appreciated.
Ben answers: Well, it is true Frank that licorice is one of those common remedies – kind of like the home remedy, the herbal remedy that would help somebody to decrease their sex drive, but it does do so by decreasing testosterone production. Don’t worry, if you’re eating a little bit of licorice after a workout or you like some of those black licorice chews, which I actually do quite a bit, that’s not going to decrease your testosterone. We’re talking about taking a high concentrated licorice source. There’s not even a lot of studies that have been done. It’s just one of those traditional herbal remedies to decrease testosterone. However, I would consider perhaps attempting to increase your wife’s sex drive rather than decrease your sex drive just because of all the effects that’s going to have on your health and human performance. So let’s talk about some ways that you could actually help to increase your wife’s sex drive. Now obviously somebody would be really rich if they had a drug that consistently was able to improve drive in women and do so effectively with no side effects. But there’s not a lot out there that actually does that directly. First thing I would recommend is if you can get your wife to do so, try and have her listen to the podcast on bio-identical hormone replacement that I did with TS Wiley. As well as read the book Lights Out by TS Wiley. Hugely important and beneficial in terms of stabilizing women’s hormonal levels. I would definitely check it out. The Wiley protocol, the book’s by TS Wiley and I will put a link in the Shownotes to the podcast that I did with TS Wiley. Usually with women, if you can increase the testosterone levels you’re going to be able to increase the sexual desire and that would be – a good way to work on that would be the bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I doubt that you’re going to be able to throw a testosterone patch on your wife without her knowing it, but that might be another alternative. They do make both pre-menopausal and peri-menopausal vitamins for women that are basically herbal cocktails of a bunch of different things that are supposed to improve and stabilize hormone levels in women. One is called InnerEssence. My wife actually takes that one. She doesn’t take it because she has a lack of drive, she does it for general health. But that would be one option – would be to try something like that as well. But I would definitely look into bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. See if you can actually improve her sex drive. Now as far as kind of returning to your issue of decreasing your sex drive, in addition to the licorice herb, you could drink a lot, you could not sleep very much. You could eat a lot of sugar, you could exercise too much and not recover well enough. All those things are going to decrease your sex drive but again, those would be not all that great for your health levels. So I wouldn’t recommend them. Alright. Interesting question though.
Robert asks: Now, first and foremost let me give you a huge shout out to you for making that neat job. I’m a regular listener of your educational, constructive podcast giving me all along a great motivation boost. Be it nutrition or training wise. So please keep us current and post even more valuable scientific updates you gave us thus far galore. Here goes my question. I’m drinking sour milk plus probiotic yogurt in order to restore this damaged intestinal flora of mine. Those products are plain, that is without chemical junk. The point is though, based on my linking to sweet taste, I make them sweet by adding artificial sweetener in order to limit additional calories. Does this affect/kill/damage/harm living bacteria in the yogurt and milk? Before eating or drinking the yogurt or milk I put some pills – artificial sweetener pills – into and drink it about one after thereafter. Your expertise based answer would assist me greatly.
Ben answers: Robert, it’s a fabulous question. And I don’t know what type of artificial sweetener that you’re using. Now, I do know that there was a study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health that was done over at Duke University and it found that Splenda actually reduced the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by about 50%. Of course your healthy intestinal bacteria are crucial to maintaining not only your general health but your ability to digest food, your ability to balance your good versus your bad micro-organisms that live in your gut. I would hazard a guess that if an artificial sweetener can kill good bacteria in your stomach, it could probably do so in the yogurt that you’re consuming. So I think you’re probably doing yourself a disservice if you’re using Splenda or sucralose as your artificial sweetener. Now there haven’t been any studies that have been done on something like aspartame, but aspartame – there’s a lot of kind of anecdotal evidence that that could cause what would be referred to as an excitotoxic effect within the body, which means that the amino acids in that can cause certain cells in your brain to become very excited and actually cause premature cell death. So you get a loss of brain synapses and a loss of a lot of the connecting fibers important to your neural activity. So, I would encourage you to go with a low calorie alternative like Stevia or Truvia. I’m not sure what country you’re from, but I believe they should have some form of a Stevia or root derivative sweetener that you could use as an alternative. That’s personally what I use – are the little Stevia packets when I want to sweeten something without actually getting the calories. Yes I will admit that not a ton of research has been done on Stevia but at least it’s natural and it has been used for a long time and I don’t see anybody dropping dead of Stevia related conditions, yet. So great question and I think the next question is from Robert as well.
Robert asks: Trivia: I’m doing endurance sport suffering from borderline hypoglycemia and exercise induced binge eating disorder. Am I free to ask you some helping questions in regard to this? Thanks in advance.
Ben answers: Huge problem. I see this in a lot of triathletes and endurance athletes. Not only the hypoglycemic issue with the inability to properly balance blood sugar levels but also the exercise for a long time, starve yourself and then eat a huge meal type of symptoms. It’s something common to our sport. Part of it is because we tend to fuel ourselves with a lot of high carbohydrate type of compounds, tend to get very high circulating blood glucose levels and high insulin levels and that can cause a subsequent insulin insensitivity when done chronically. So you get almost like the diabetes type 2 or the pre-diabetes type 2 type of symptoms. I’m just wondering how many triathletes who fuel themselves like this for life are going to develop diabetes when they’re 55 or 60 years old based off of eating the bagels and the cookies and the candies and the crackers and things of that nature. Now, in addition to that, it’s very easy to fuel yourself minimally during a four hour bike ride or a two hour run, come back, take a shower, get out of the shower, be super hungry and then basically punish 2000 calories or go through an entire pizza or go out to eat and eat all the bread, have a huge meal, and then have dessert because your appetite levels are raging from not fueling yourself while you work out. So a lot of times, for athletes, the issue with binge eating is a little bit differently than the issue with the general population, which is typically like emotional type of eating, trying to satisfy a boredom, basically forming a habit of getting home late at night, sitting around, being bored, eating a bunch of food. Athletes – a lot of times – it’s exercise related. Now, one of the most important things that you can do is bump up the amount of fuel that you’re taking in during exercise and for most guys, this is 200 to 300 calories an hour. And what that allows your body to do is not only exercise at a more intense level but also recover much more quickly because of the circulating amino acids and carbohydrate that can be used for storage energy or storage glycogen levels after the workout. So it tends to stabilize your appetite a little bit better. Now the other thing that you can do as far as the hypoglycemia is concerned and if you’ve been a long-time listener to this podcast, you probably know what’s coming next, but that would be to increase the amount of the healthy fats that you take in and the lean proteins. To eat more of the nuts and the seeds and the fish and the olives and the avocadoes and the olive oil and a little bit of cheese and some of the things that are actually going to help stabilize your appetite levels, balance out the intake of the high glycemic index carbohydrates and essentially stabilize your appetite. So that’s what I would recommend and binge eating disorder – when you’re eating a ton of food at one sitting – has a big problem in terms of not only the stomach acid production and the bio-production by the liver but also the huge bump up in the blood sugar levels, the subsequent insulin release, the subsequent cortisol release. Eating huge – 1000 to 2000 calorie meals at a time – is something that I would encourage you to do only every once in a while as a cheat meal or after you’ve done, say like a – let’s say you’re out there and you did an Ironman or something like that. That’s when you can just completely binge and go off the edge and really your body is so empty of fuel anyways, it’s not going to be that big of a deal. So that’s my response, Robert. Great question.
Jason asks: I am a cyclist. I’m interested in incorporating some running into my training schedule without compromising my cycling training and recovery. I know that running can provide benefits such as building bone density and strengthening some tissues which can be disproportionally developed in cyclists, which is why I’d like to make it part of my training. So, my question has three parts… Do you think that benefits can be gained from low intensity running on a weekly basis? (That’s in a cyclist.) If a run workout is performed at low intensity does this recovery-effort running compromise my bike recovery? And then lastly, if adding this workout is appropriate, where is the best place to position the workout within my cycling training schedule?
Ben answers: Well, running is important for bone density. There was a study done in cyclists last year that showed that whether it was due to the large amount of time spent in the non-weight bearing position or whether it was due to the large mineral loss from sweat, cyclists tended to be at risk for low bone density. Now running can cause that bone density increase based on the fact that it is an impact-based activity. Weightlifting, especially for the upper body, if you’re already running would also be important for making sure that across the board you’ve got your bone density issues covered. Now as far as injecting a low intensity running day, there’s not going to be too serious of implications for your cycling recovery if you’re running at that recovery pace and if you’re doing so preferably on a soft surface and using a prudent amount of volume in terms of increasing the amount of running volume, not only over and above about 10% per week if you’re gradually building your running base fitness as a supplement to your cycling. In terms of recovery, the only thing that I would recommend is that you not have your running day come before your hardest cycling days. Meaning that if you’ve got an interval-based workout or a big hill workout on the bike planned, don’t run the day before. Just because the micro tears that occur when you run, the calcium leakage that can occur can take about 48 to 72 hours to recover from. So basically give yourself a little bit of padding there the day after this recovery run that you’re doing. And really do make it a recovery run. Find out the heart rate when you’re running it, once you start to breathe hard and your legs start to burn, subtract 20 beats from that heart rate and that’s going to ensure that you’re running in that zone that causes more of the fat utilization, a little bit of less of the carbohydrate utilization, the energy drainage and the intensity that can cause a little bit more in terms of recovery implications. So, I think I answered all your questions. I guess the last thing you asked is if benefits could be gained from low intensity running. Not really. Running isn’t going to help you become a better cyclist at all. Now the flip side is true. Cycling can help you become a better runner but the reason for that is due to the increased endurance that you get in your legs, the increased ability to store carbohydrate and utilize carbohydrate but when you’re running, you don’t get that same crossover effect into cycling. Now of course there is the injury prevention component, the increased bone density can help you out just from a health perspective. So there’s that benefit for you. But you don’t get a lot of professional cyclists running for cross training because of the huge performance benefit it’s going to give them, because there really isn’t that much.
Mark asks: I’m a relatively new triathlete and I’ve been enjoying your podcast and I’ve employed your no food before bed and pre-breakfast morning movement strategy to burn fat. I’ve had decent results over the past couple of months but I have two questions I was hoping you could tackle for me. For my morning movement, I typically use the bike, either hopping on my trainer or my 20 minute commute to work. I have zero problems with riding a bike early, but if I try to run first thing in the morning, I feel incredibly stiff and even the lightest of runs is quite difficult for the first 10 minutes or so before I’m warmed up. Do you have any recommendations to help get me going more easily if I want to run first thing in the morning?
Ben answers: Great question Mark. Now if you’re talking about the morning fat burning strategy, remember that that only needs to be performed at about 50 to 60% intensity. And I personally will use that strategy when I’m trying to burn fat but a lot of times if I’m doing it in the morning right when I get up, it’s just a very brisk walk and if I’m halfway through that walk and my body feels like it wants to break into a jog and I feel loosened up and I’m not too stiff, then I break into a jog but you actually don’t have to run for that morning fat burning routine. It actually can be quite uncomfortable, pretty common for the body to be stiff and not want to run when you first get up. So take it into a brisk walk, get the feet moving and if you feel like running, run. If your body feels stiff, don’t. And as long as you’re walking briskly and swinging your arms, you’re going to get a ton of fat burning benefit because the importance here is to move but you don’t have to get up into your carbohydrate utilizing intensity. We’re just going to be down in the fat burning zone during that session anyway. In part two of your question, you say…
Mark asks: During the winter months I play ice hockey as a way to stay in shape and cross-train. The one problem I’m having is that I often play late at night and when I’m done playing, I want to go to bed as soon as possible, but I’m also hungry from the exercise. I’m not sure what or how much to eat as not to derail myself nutritionally. Can you recommend a strategy for times like these?
Ben answers: It’s a great question. That can be an issue. You go out, you do a hard exercise session at night – I was talking about this in the introduction to the podcast – you come back, you eat and you have a hard time sleeping and a lot of times that’s because you’re hypoglycemic because you didn’t eat enough, not to mention your body’s still amped up from the exercise. So a few strategies that I’ll use after a late night exercise session or when I have a day when I’m going to have a late night exercise session is number one, I eat a big meal. Okay, that’s a pre-exercise meal. So that you’ve basically topped of your energy levels so you don’t have to eat as much after you exercise. Second thing I do is I never let myself get hungry during that exercise session so I’ll bring a sport gel or a little piece of fruit and at least every hour I try and go through that. We talked about that earlier, making sure you eat during the training so you don’t have to binge after the training. When I finish the training session, I try to get my body temperature down as quickly as possible so that I’m able to sleep a little bit better and I do that by taking a nice cold shower right after I finish working out. Now if you get cold, it’s in the winter – whatever, it’s okay to gradually make that shower warm before you finish it up but try and get at least two minutes standing underneath that cold temperature to get your body temp down. When you get out of the shower, if you have access to a topical magnesium supplement and if you go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for “magnesium” – I’ve talked about that before – topical magnesium supplements can kind of settle you down, help you to sleep a little bit better and displace some of that calcium that can leave you sore if you’re hitting the sack right after you finish an exercise session. And then as far as what to eat right then, as soon as you get back try and get the fuel in. Don’t wait until after you’ve showered and done the magnesium and everything else, and go after a protein based meal. Assuming that you’ve gotten your carbohydrates in before the exercise session, taking in the fruit during the exercise session, you can do something – this is something I’ll do – I’ll take a little bit of plain fat free yogurt, I’ll put a couple scoops of protein powder in, a little bit of almond butter or a handful of almonds, a little bit of cinnamon, stir that up and it’s a nice little treat that will top off your energy levels and keep you satiated. If you have some lactose issues with the yogurt or you don’t like to take in milk-based sources, use a coconut milk – like a light coconut milk. Mix that with the protein powder and the nuts and it’ll work quite well. So that’s what I would recommend that you do. The nice thing about taking in the protein pre-bed is you also get a nice little growth hormone release when you amp up your protein levels right before you hit the sack. So great question.
Craig asks: Hi Ben. I love Delta-E and have just started experimenting with EnerPrime. I do have a bunch of questions, both about EnerPrime and Delta-E and a few other supplements that I’d love to know your opinion of. One, do you use Delta-E during exercise, or only pre and post exercise?
Ben answers: For those of you listening in, if you don’t know what Delta-E is, it’s kind of my preferred alternative to energy drinks. It’s a vitamin B, taurine, caffeine source with something called thiamine in it which is able to cross your blood brain barrier and give you a little bit more focus and it also improves your mood quite a bit so I use it during exercise. I use it prior to my triathlons. I take two of them about 30 to 45 minutes prior to get the caffeine into my system, to get the thiamine release and basically get my body amped up to get some of the benefits of the central nervous system stimulation. And then during the exercise session if I’m doing a long race like an Ironman, I’ll do it every three hours because the caffeine will tend to clear your system at about that point. Post-exercise, don’t really use it. So only pre or during. And a lot of times, I’ll just use it on its own like in the afternoon, even if I’m not exercising to give myself a little energy boost. I only do one a day. Don’t recommend that you do a lot more than that unless you have a big exercise session or a big race or event or something like that, and that’s when I’ll pop two about 30 to 45 minutes prior. I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes. It’s called Delta-E. So your next question is…
Craig asks: Do you use EnerPrime as your vitamin supplement? Do you think it takes care of that role?
Ben answers: And again, EnerPrime is something I’ve talked about before on the show. You can Google it. You can go over to Pacific Elite Fitness at www.pacificfit.net. I’ve got the ingredient label there and everything. But it’s a great question because EnerPrime is a greens supplement. It’s not necessarily a multi-vitamin. It does have vitamin A and vitamin E in it. The thing about EnerPrime is it has a lot of digestive enzymes and a lot of kind of metabolism boosters, super foods. It has what are called adaptogens in it. It’s got a lot of mushrooms in it for stabilizing your stress levels and improving your focus. But it’s not a multi-vitamin per se. Although many of these compounds help you to absorb and utilize the vitamins that you take in from your diet a lot better. And so, some of the things you’d be missing in EnerPrime that you could make up for in another vitamin source or in your diet would be some of the water soluble vitamins like vitamin B and vitamin C. Not a lot of vitamin K in it, although it does have the E and the A. And there’s also not a lot of vitamin D in it. If you’re taking Delta-E, you’re getting mega doses of vitamin B, so you’ve got that covered. Most people get enough vitamin C in their diet through fruit sources, but you may want to look at supplementing with vitamin C on top of the EnerPrime if you don’t have a vitamin source in your diet. Definitely supplement with a vitamin D source. EnerPrime is not going to give you enough vitamin D so you would want to include that in an alternative source. I use something called a vitamin D nanospray which is a sub-lingual spray. I do about 4000 to 5000 units a day. Now I’m not giving you medical advice. I’m not prescribing you supplements. I’m not allowed to do that. But that’s my take on EnerPrime – is that there are a few little holes that you need to fill if you take that. But that’s kind of the crux of my morning supplement routine – is the EnerPrime. And then your last question is…
Craig asks: I have four supplements that I have used that I would love to get your take on if possible. (And then you name, GSH Ignite, Protein Extreme Energy, Green Vibrance and NanoGreens.)
Ben answers: Okay, so here’s the deal Craig. I’m going to run through these with you. This is usually something that I do when I’m doing a nutritional consultation with someone. I do phone-based and online-based nutritional consultations with people from all over the world and this is one of the things they do, they list all their medications that they’re taking and their supplements and their food intake and we just kind of go through and break them down. So I’m going to give you kind of the mini version of that. But let’s just look at a few of these things that you asked about. First of all, this GSH Ignite. I looked into this and it’s basically one of the high anti-oxidant, anti-aging type of supplements. The idea being that if you can buffer a lot of the free radicals formed from eating, from exercise, from pollution, from just living – then you’ll actually be able to stave off the breakdown or the cellular death that can occur when free radicals rupture cell membranes. That’s the whole reason behind me taking this stuff called Solar Synergy that I’ve talked about before in the podcast. But same type of deal. That’s primarily the ingredients in the GSH Ignite are like anti-aging, anti-oxidant type of supplements. You’ve got the goji berry in there, the conjugated linoleic acid which is actually a fat source, cortaseps, beta hydroxyl, beta methyl burate… so the thing I noticed about this is it also has the flax seed oil in it, coconut oil, the CLA… so it’s kind of like your Omega 3 sources as well. Obviously a lot of this stuff is just great for you. The only caution I would give you with the high anti-oxidants supplements is don’t take too many of them because your body actually needs stress in order to adapt and respond and grow stronger. If you shut down free radical production completely or you take too many anti-oxidants, what can happen is that your body doesn’t respond to exercise the way that it would if you actually allowed it to be a little bit more stressed. And that’s why I would recommend that you focus on your real, real difficult exercise days or like your race or event days on taking anti-oxidants and taking like a high concentrated anti-oxidant, but that you not really worry about that quite as much on just a typical day. So just be careful with the anti-oxidants. The fact that this is giving you your Omega 3s along with that level of anti-oxidants, you need to have caution with, because you should be taking the Omega 3s every day. You shouldn’t necessarily be taking the high potency anti-oxidants every day. But you’re getting all these kind of mixed together in one supplement and that’s where you’ve kind of got to be careful with the whole shotgun approach when it comes to supplements. Now the other one you mentioned that’s made by the same company is the Protein Extreme Restore. I looked over the ingredient label on that. It’s basically a protein blend that has the immunoglobulins in it or the antibodies as well as the probiotics and you know, the one thing that I was able to look at was this has an egg based protein in it. If you tend to have an egg allergy or you have an allergen response to the albumen in eggs, you’d want to be careful with this and actually a lot of people do. I use a company called Unikey Health Systems for allergy testing and I would recommend that you look into whether or not you may have a sensitivity to eggs before you supplement with your primary protein sources and egg based supplement. Other than that, it’s got the immunoglobulins in it. That’s just a natural immune system booster. It helps you to form antibodies. Again, it’s got the coconut oil in there. Looks like a few other extracts, the turmeric, the royal jelly, some things that will help you a little bit with joint mobility. So again, basically a pretty good protein source for a protein supplement but I would look into the whole egg issue and make sure that your body is going to be okay with its primary protein coming from eggs. And then this other one that you look at – Vibrant Health – and if you’re listening in, just kind of listening to some of the things I’m saying about these so you know how to analyze your own supplements. Vibrant Health and this other one you named, Super NanoGreens. These are basically greens supplements, kind of like the EnerPrime that I just talked about, meaning that they’ve got freeze dried dried grass juices, spirulina, algae, all this stuff that are kind of considered nutritional powerhouses. But, they’re also meal replacement supplements meaning that that they have calories too, like carbs, protein and stuff like that. The EnerPrime is calorie free so it’s not something you’d take as a meal whereas these would be a little bit closer to something that you could use as a meal because of the protein and carbohydrate sources. So it kind of depends. If you want to take a green supplement and also let’s say have breakfast, have real food – I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these because you’d be going into calorie overload. But if you’re using these as a post-workout meal, if you’re using them as pre-workout nutrition, they could work out pretty well. As a matter of fact, I haven’t released an interview that I did recently with a guy named KC Craishy from a company called Living Fuel. But if you go over to www.pacificfit.net, I actually added one of these greens meal replacement powders to my recommended supplement protocol over there. It’s called Living Fuels Super Greens at www.pacificfit.net. And it’s a similar deal. It’s just one that I’ve found has one of the better profiles in terms of having everything from the Omega 3s to the super foods to the hemp and the pea proteins. It’s all vegan and vegetarian based. So it kind of comes down to the issue of there being more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to greens. Some have calories, some of them don’t but ultimately – any of them – you’re going to feel pretty good when you’re taking. So my recommendation there would be the EnerPrime or the Living Fuel Super Greens. Just because those are the ones that I’ve had success with. So great question.
Scott asks: I recently incorporated ground flax seed into my diet. A co-worker told me it helped him by increasing the absorption of the vitamins and supplements he takes daily.
Ben answers: Okay, I’m going to stop right there. Remember, if you take fiber with fat, fiber wraps around fat globules and can decrease the actual absorption of those. Okay? So if you’re taking a ground flax seed, it’s not going to increase the absorption of the vitamins and supplements that you’re taking on a daily basis. It may actually decrease some of those, especially the fat soluble vitamins and the Omega 3s. So caution with that. But you say…
Scott asks: Personally, I had been taking 800mg of magnesium daily without experiencing any of the diarrhea side effects. After incorporating the flax, I began to experience the side effects from too much magnesium supplementation. Ground flax does contain magnesium, but not nearly the amount of a supplement pill. What has been you experience with flax and this “increased absorption” phenomenon?
Ben answers: It’s not the increased absorption of magnesium, Scott. It’s the fact that you’ve taken already kind of borderline high magnesium levels and then you’ve added this soluble fiber source that we talked about earlier in the show into your diet. So basically you’re getting water overload in your large intestine and in your colon. That’s giving you this diarrhea issue. You basically have two options. You can decrease the amount of magnesium that you take in and continue to take the ground flax seed powder. So bump that down closer to the 400 or 500 mgs of magnesium that you’re already taking and continue to take the ground flax seed. Or eliminate the soluble fiber from the ground flax seed and keep your magnesium where it was before and get your flax from an oil source rather than a ground flax powder source. So get it from a flax seed capsule rather than the actual flax seed powder. So that would be my recommendation and while we’re on the topic of flax seed and flax seed oils, I did actually re-test my essential fatty acid levels. I’m sorry, I didn’t re-test them. I tested them. And unfortunately I have very low essential fatty acid levels. In other words, what I’m doing right now for my Omega 3 fatty acid intake is not working. It’s not working as well as it could be, and later on this week I will be recording my discussion with Dr. Cohen, the physician from Bioletics and we’re going to talk about why that could be. So stay tuned for more on the whole Omega 3 fatty acid discussion. Don’t freak out. You can keep taking your Omega 3 and your flax oil but we’re going to talk about this a lot more in future episodes.
So the next question is from listener Christine and Christine is doing my Ironman Triathlon Dominator plan. She wrote in with a question and I wanted to actually answer it on the podcast.
Christine asks: I have my Ironman scheduled for November 8th. I just have a few training questions. I am an attorney and I have a trial set for week 7 of training. The four days I will be in trial are about 16-18 hour days. At best, I’ll be able to get in 15 to 30 minutes on a treadmill around 4 am. Then, I am going to Italy about 5 weeks later at the end of May. I won’t have a bike and I think running will be the main focus. Are there any tips you can give me about these weeks that make training almost impossible?
Ben answers: Yes, absolutely. So, what you want to do during these weeks where all you can do is hop on a treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes is gradually increase the intensity when you get on the treadmill. Start with a brisk walk for about two to three minutes. Take that up into a light jog for another three to four minutes and then gradually increase that to kind of a tempo base by the 10 minute mark. Okay? So basically minute one through 10, gradual increase up to a pretty good steady run but starting with a brisk walk. So you’re going to ease yourself into this so that it’s not a mental or physical barrier for you to actually get on that treadmill. So don’t start all out, ease yourself into it. And then once you get up to that tempo base at the 10 minute mark, hold that until you’re five minutes before the time that you need to get off the treadmill and then bring yourself down to a brisk walk for one minute. Okay? So kind of cool down for one minute, and then bring the treadmill back up and basically run as hard as you can for four minutes. Okay? Just basically as hard as you can go. Now if you’re not able to go as hard as you can go for four minutes, what you do is you run for 20 seconds as hard as you can go. You put both hands on the rail of the treadmill, step off the treadmill, let it run underneath your feet for 10 seconds, then you get back on and do another 20 seconds and you go through eight of those 20 minute efforts with a 10 second recovery after each for the four minutes. It’s called the Tabata set. Okay? So it’s a 10 minute build to a hold of your tempo base, one minute recovery to four minutes of super high intensity. It’s a great way to get a lot of benefit off of a treadmill workout and also still be able to get on the treadmill without it being hard to start. So don’t start all out running. And then your other question about Italy not having a bike – when I am in a place for a long period of time and all I have access to is running and don’t have my bike on me – what I make sure that I do is include some form of activity that get my knees to bend to about 90 degrees so that I’m getting the same type of quadriceps and hamstring contraction that I’m going to get on a bike. Because if you think about it, on a bike you’re getting your knees all the way up to your chest and then producing the contraction. Whereas when you’re running, your knees might be bent at about 30 degrees maximum. So what that means is that I’ll do stair climbs and I’ll do step-ups, meaning that I’ll put my leg up on a platform, step up onto that platform real intensely and then step off. I’ll also do lunges and I’ll do squats. So if you can include lunges, squats, step ups and stair climbs, you’re going to at least hit some of your cycling muscles. So you can do those everyday or incorporate them either before or after your run to hit some of those cycling muscles. It’s a great question.
And we’re going to move on in just a second to another question. It’s a call in question but if you happen to be listening in and I’ve had these questions come to me a couple of times, you may hear children in the background. Loud noises and screams and shouts. It’s not because I’m recording the podcast in the middle of a daycare or in the middle of the playground but it is because I have two twin… I guess that’s kind of redundant… I have twin two-year old boys and I do not live in a large home and my office is in my home. My house is about 1400 square feet. That means I’m not going upstairs or downstairs. I’m basically walking into a room to record this podcast in my home office and the room is adjacent to both the living room as well as my children’s bedroom so I cannot escape to a quiet place in my home to record if I’m recording from my house. That’s why occasionally during the podcast, you actually hear kids in the background. It’s because my recording studio is right in my home. Will that change in the future? Yes, eventually because my kids are growing. I’m going to need to get into a larger home. I’m in the process of trying to rent or sell the home that I’m in now. For the next few episodes, you’re still going to have to bear with me as my children become older and louder. My apologies, okay. Let’s move on to this question from listener Jeff.
Jeff asks: Hey Ben, this is Jeff from Tampa, Florida calling. Hey I am a member of a nice gym here in downtown Tampa and just curious of your thoughts about wearing flip-flops in the showers. Don’t know if you make a regular habit of that. Is that overkill? Is it really needed if you dry your feet off well? What’s your take on that Ben? Thanks man, love the podcast and all the best to you. Bye.
Ben answers: Okay, it’s a great question Jeff. Locker rooms can be fungal and microbial breeding grounds due to the moist environment. It would be prudent, especially if you have a history of athlete’s foot and especially if you have any open wounds or sores or anything like that on your feet for you to wear flip flops when you’re in the locker room. That being said, I personally have never experienced those types of issues and I am in a locker room barefoot almost every day. Knock on wood. Now if you tend to have a problem with the fungal issues, and you tend to get athlete’s foot, etc. – in addition to wearing the flip flops in the shower I would recommend that you definitely listen to the podcast that I did on oil of oregano. I’ll put that as a link to the Shownotes for this podcast. Podcast number 85. But go listen to the Shownotes or go listen to the podcast on Oregano. Some really interesting information on there on anti-fungal and anti-septic treatments. I happen to keep a bottle under my kitchen counter and we’ll use it on a frequent basis on the kitchen counters. I’ll mist it in the living room, I’ll use it to clean things like bathtubs. It comes in very handy and I just put a few drops in a spray bottle and it works real well. You could do the same thing, you can keep it in your gym bag.
Alright. I think that wraps up all the questions for this week and you know what that means, it also wraps up this week’s podcast.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net