[00:00:00] Morning Brew Chat
[00:05:27] News Flashes: New Studies on Low-Carbohydrate Diets
[00:12:30] Resistance Training During A Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet
[00:17:05] Fasting Is an Eating Disorder
[00:23:55] Optimum Exercise Intensity, Type, And Duration for Boosting Mood
[00:28:43] Special Announcements: BGF Premium
[00:30:03] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:57] Listener Q&A: Is Fasting Dangerous for Lean Females?
[00:48:50] How Newborn Parents Can Sleep Better
[01:03:11] C-Reactive Protein Levels and Tendinitis
[01:09:22] How Far from Your Body Should Infrared Light Be?
[01:16:36] Giveaways & Goodies
[01:20:16] End of Podcast
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast, the latest science on low-carb diets is fasting an eating disorder, should lean females fast, how to combat sleep deprivation, and much more.
Hey, Jay. I'm just curious. Before we record these podcast episodes, do you fuel your body with any crazy brews? Do you stick coffee up your backside or dose with psilocybin intranasally or anything funky like that?
Jay: What's up, Ben? I don't do that regularly, which, I mean, I guess is either a good or a bad thing, but I'll do get a cup of coffee.
Ben: Which means that irregularly, you do snort intranasal psilocybin with coffee enemas?
Jay: You have to remember, I'm employed by the federal government, so I won't respond to any of these questions.
Ben: Oh, yes. A theoretical Jay, however.
Jay: No. Theoretical Jay. It really just sticks to coffee and some L-theanine and water. I'm so basic like it's really sad.
Ben: Yeah. That was pretty smooth, how you even referred to yourself in the third person, the theoretical Jay. Very safe. You're well-versed at this. I, on the other hand, am neither a certified medical practitioner nor employed by the federal government, so I can talk just about anything with very little risk of litigation.
Jay: That's true.
Ben: I should say that I actually did come up with a pretty interesting recipe this morning off the top of my head that wound up tasting pretty damn good.
Jay: Tell me about it.
Ben: Well, I brewed coffee, and I did it French-press style, just because sometimes I like to make it thick as mud. I take my coffee. Of course, only Kion Coffee. Only the best will do.
Jay: Yeah. Shameless plug.
Ben: Yes, of course. And then once the French press coffee is ready, what I did this morning was I kind of went overboard with the ingredients, but this again wound up tasting amazing. I took a couple drop or folds of one of my favorite forms of stevia, which is organic butterscotch toffee stevia. There's this company called Omica Organics that does this really high-end stevia. So, I did a couple drop or folds of that, and then about a half teaspoon or so of salt. And I added this in a NutriBullet to something called MiCacao. And MiCacao, my friend Tucker Max turned me on to this. He doesn't drink coffee, but he drinks this giant piping hot cup of chocolate every morning. However, it's calorie-free. It has all the theobromine, all the dopamine enhancing compounds of coffee, or of chocolate, or cacao rather, but it's just kind of a blend of cacao nibs and cacao shells, like super high-end organic shit.
Jay: That's good stuff.
Ben: I, of course, can't stand the thought of just drinking that all by itself. That would be far too boring. So, I put that in —
Jay: You're not me.
Ben: No, I'm not Jay. I'm not employed by the federal government. I can eff up my coffee however I please. So, I took the cacao–about two tablespoons of the dry cacao nibs and cacao shells, this MiCacao stuff. And then I put the stevia on top of that. I put the salt on top of that. This was all in a little NutriBullet container. And remember, I've got my French press coffee already ready on the side. And then the last two things I put in there was a couple packets of Four Sigmatic. Yes, two packets of Four Sigmatic Lion's Mane. And then also, two packets of Four Sigmatic Chaga.
So, I've got all my medicinal mushrooms in there, my stevia, my salt, my cacao. And then what I did was I poured the super muddy coffee on top of that into the NutriBullet, and then blended it for about 90 seconds. And when you pour it out of the NutriBullet, it's like the texture of mud, like it's chocolate mud, and it tastes absolutely stellar. That's probably about a $10 cup of whatever I made, but man, well worth the smile on my face and the happiness that I derive from all that dopamine.
Jay: Oh, yeah.
Ben: Not only did I drink it, but I wrote down everything I did. I wrote down the whole recipe, and I'll put it in the shownotes for people.
Jay: Yeah, a good call.
Ben: Yeah. And you want to try this. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/399. You may or may not want to also add microdose of–brace yourself, you probably know what's coming next.
Jay: I know.
Ben: Psilocybin in there. I may or may not have done that.
Jay: Yeah. I could have done everything you just mentioned except for the psilocybin due to drug testing in the federal government. But everything you did, I mean, it sounds like a mushroom cup of joe, or I guess what I'd say a cup of mushroom with a side of coffee because that was a lot of mushroom.
Ben: Yeah, yeah, but it's good. I've got alkaloids, and dopamine, and theobromine, and all sorts of stuff floating through my bloodstream right now. So, what do you think? Should we do this?
Jay: Yeah, let's do this.
Ben: Alright. Well, as I alluded to in the introduction, a few new studies on low-carbohydrate diets. The first, and of course if you're a new listener, this is the time of the show when we go over some of the more compelling items of research and things that I've tweeted over at twitter.com/bengreenfield the past couple of weeks. This first one was very interesting. It was a study in Journal of the Frontiers of Physiology that looked at the effects of a 12-week very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet on maximal aerobic capacity, a high-intensity intermittent exercise, and cardiac autonomic regulation. So, basically, kind of like heart rate variability or autonomic nervous system activity. So, this was a 12-week study, which is a decent amount of time, like that's enough time for fat adaptation to occur versus some of these more slightly subpar, feed someone a low-carb diet for three days or for two weeks, or whatever the case may be.
Jay: Yeah. The 12-week was a good thing. I'm glad to see that.
Ben: Yeah. And then they tested maximal graded exercise test, which is essentially like a VO2 max test. They did high-intensity interval training session. They did what's called a 30-15 intermittent fitness test for maximal aerobic capacity. And they compared this very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet to what they call a habitual diet, which would just be kind of like a standard–I think it was around 50% to 60% carbohydrate intake. And what they found was that 12 weeks of a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet did not impair high-intensity exercise lasting up to 25 minutes, nor did it impair maximal cardio respiratory performance, nor did it impair autonomic nervous system activity, or like kind of suppressed heart rate variability, for example.
And so we already know from studies in the past, like Jeff Volek's FASTER Study, for example, that even though a low-carbohydrate or high fat or ketogenic diet does not enhance aerobic performance, neither does it impair aerobic performance. And this study goes on to show that it doesn't seem to impair high-end exercise performance either. That doesn't give you an advantage, but when you look at this in the light of some of the implications for overall stabilization of glycemic variability, and perhaps a reduction in some cardiometabolic risk factors, perhaps a reduction in some of the diabetic risk factors that may arise with a standard carbohydrate dosing for athletes, it turns out that this is something that you may want to look into.
I would say that the only failure of this study was that the supervised hit session and the 30-15 intermittent fitness test, which was the test for maximal aerobic capacity, those are conducted once a week. And so if you try to extend this study to kind of like a hard-charging athlete, an MMA fighter, an obstacle course racer, a CrossFitter, et cetera, or of course anyone involved in a sport that involves fluctuations between anaerobic and aerobic performance like soccer or tennis, you can't quite say that this parallels what a hard-charging athlete would experience.
And I still stand by my recommendations for those folks to indeed have your cake and eat it, too, so to speak, by staying in a somewhat low-carbohydrate state during the day, and then post-workout, and also in the evening, making sure that you get some kind of a carbohydrate bolus in your body. So, you're perhaps consuming 150 to 200 grams of carbohydrates a day, mostly in a post-workout or in an evening refeed scenario. But for the average exercise enthusiast, this is probably a study that you could take and say, “Okay. Well, I can't eat somewhat low-carbohydrate and still get away with enhanced performance.”
Of course, the final thing to note is that this study did not look into things like triglycerides, inflammatory markers, some of the things that tend to be more individualized in terms of genetic variation. In response to a low-carb diet, there are some people with a more deleterious inflammatory response to saturated fats. There are some people who do not do so well just from a pure gut standpoint due to, whatever, bile production or pancreatic enzyme production, et cetera, to a diet high in saturated fats. And there are some people who choose microbiome doesn't really agree with a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. But for the most part, this was at least an interesting study to show that you could limit carbohydrates and still be able to perform high-intensity intermittent exercise within reason.
Jay: Yeah, definitely. I like the points that you made. I'll also point out, because my field of study is in psychophysiology, so they looked at the heart rate variability aspects and I was a little bit disappointed with this study in the measurements they took, simply because they looked at a 60-second epoch of HRV measurement. And a 60-second epoch is actually very, very, very small. And so this research standard is a 24-hour Holter monitor or some form of EKG work. And so they didn't find major differences. They did see kind of like a slight increase in HRV. But my hunch is, and I think that there's other research, past research to support this, is that you might see more significant increases in HRV measurement should you look at more like a 24-hour standard deviation marker. So, that was just my one beef with it, but a minor beef.
Ben: Yeah. That's the issue with heart rate variability measurements. In general, if you look at a lot of the data even just something very simple from a self-quantification standpoint for people measuring HRV at home, the gold standard is three to five minutes in a supine position, wearing a heart rate variability kind of a chest strap. You know what, I find myself saying, I think I've said this like four times since we started the episode, kind of. I guess I'm on a kind of —
Jay: I haven't noticed. You're in a kind of [00:11:55] ______ chunky drink.
Ben: Drinking game for today's podcast by the time I say kind of. Anyways, it's an interesting study, but of course, we always, as we talked about in last week's podcast, need to make sure that we take a deep dive and investigate what was actually going on. In this case, not a great deal of exercise, definitely not a volume of exercise that a hard-charging or a professional athlete would experience. And also the heart rate variability measurements weren't really gold standard, but regardless, it's interesting.
Jay: Yeah, absolutely.
Ben: There was another very low-carbohydrates study that came out this past couple of months, and it was looking at resistance training during a very low-carbohydrate diet again for 12 weeks. So, a decent amount of time. And what this study looked at was eating a low-carbohydrate diet and also limiting calories. So, now we're talking about chloric restricted for the purposes of weight loss, low-carbohydrate diet. And what they found was a significant loss of total body mass in the group of this study that did not engage in resistance training during this low-carbohydrate, calorically restricted diet.
Now this is important because as we've known since, I believe, 2008 studies that were done at University of California, your body can hold on to muscle even in a calorically restricted state if a loading stimulus is present, meaning that as counterintuitive as it may seem to the laws of physics, your body actually engages in some amount of muscle protein retention and sparing of muscle even if you're restricting calories if you resistance train during the time that you are dieting. And so this study points out the fact that that's all the more important, it appears, if you're following a very low-carbohydrate diet.
So, the takeaway from this is if you're going to diet, you need to be lifting weights, period, whether it's a protein-sparing diet, or whether it's a low-carbohydrate diet, or whatever the case may be. It's a pretty handy tool in your toolbox to resistance train. Probably, one other interesting thing I wanted to note when it comes to muscle retention in a calorically deprived state was one other study that–I can also link to this one in the shownotes, but it actually used hyperthermia and heat treatments to stave off muscle atrophy and to maintain fitness in people who weren't able to weight lift.
This is often cited, the idea that sauna treatment or infrared sauna or dry sauna, even if you can't exercise, induces this heat shock protein response that allows you to retain muscle. What I should note though is that many of these studies, they're using very long periods of time spent in the heat, like this latest study was up to two hours.
Jay: Oh, wow. It's a long time.
Ben: In this latest study, they were also not using a sauna; they were using this crazy heat machine. I've never used one. It's called a pulsed shortwave diathermy machine. And so they were actually, just like using this machine, I believe this was over the quadriceps muscles to maintain muscle even when the person couldn't work out or couldn't exercise that muscle. Now I still think, especially based on some of the data that Dr. Rhonda Patrick, FoundMyFitness, has released that heat treatment, even just sauna treatments for 30, 40 minutes a day, if you can't lift weights, let's say you're injured or something like that, could still do a decent job maintaining muscle. But this latest study that showed really good results, they were using two hours of something called pulsed shortwave diathermy.
Ben: The reason I'm bringing all this up is, I would say that probably two of the very good things you could do if you're restricting calories, you're dieting to lose weight would be, A, lift weight, and B, if you can get in the sauna or do some heat treatments, all the better for muscle maintenance or to stave off muscle atrophy.
Jay: Yeah. Good idea. I mean, so my question to follow up is do you know if they've done any type of comparative studies looking at some saunas versus resistance training, or they not really gotten there yet?
Ben: No, but I suspect that as with most of these, we could almost call them biohacks that–the ones that require you to actually put in work, breathe hard, and sweat are the ones that tend to get better results. I mean, there are so many people that just want to jump on the trampoline, or stand on the vibration platform, or get in the sauna. And you do get to a certain point where you got to pick up the barbell and swing the kettlebell, especially if you don't just want muscle maintenance but you also want gains in fitness or improvements in cardiovascular parameters.
Jay: So, you're telling me I have to work for it?
Ben: Got to work. You got to put in the work. So, related to dieting, there is also, of course, a lot of talk in the media about fasting, and whether or not fasting is an eating disorder. And I think that I might be partially responsible, not to sound hubristic, but I think I might be partially responsible for this based on the long discussion that I had with Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, on my podcast in which he talked all about his one meal a day protocol and these long intensive fasts that he does. And within a couple days after that podcast coming out, everybody was questioning whether Silicon Valley wellness influencer, Jack Dorsey, had an eating disorder or some version of anorexia by fasting.
Jay: Screwed over Jack Dorsey. Way to go, way to go.
Ben: The New York Times last week published an article called “You Call It Starvation. I Call It Biohacking.” Welcome to the bro-y world of extreme dieting. Or is it disordered eating?
Jay: Bro-y, love it.
Ben: Bro-y, yeah. So, this article went into the emerging popularity of one meal a day, or even just intermittent fast, and question whether this was actually something that could be classified as an eating disorder, which I personally think is a little bit ridiculous. Meaning, to refer to fasting as a disordered obsessive behavior around food when fasting has been a spiritual discipline, well-recognized spiritual discipline, like voluntarily abstaining from something for a limited amount of time, whether it is certain forms of meat or fish or dairy or olive oil or wine, as we would see in like a traditional Eastern Orthodox Mediterranean type of protocol, to a Ramadan-esque fasting protocol, to any number of other religions that have some element of fasting in them, we know that there are a great deal of spiritual, not to mention, physical and physiological benefits that come from fasting.
And yeah, you could take this to an extreme level. And I believe we even have a question for this podcast about women who exercise, who are lean and fasting. But ultimately, the pros outweigh the cons to such a great extent, not only for the spiritual disciplines, but also for the physical and physiological benefits that I think for the New York Times to publish an article like this calling it an eating disorder, which I think is just a publicity play based on the fact that Jack Dorsey, for example, is, what do you call it, a lightning rod, I believe is the way that's described for any of these type of things.
I just think that there are too many people eating too much food regularly, snacking, grazing, et cetera, who are going to read this article and think, “Oh, gosh. I'm not going to do a 12 to 16-hour daily intermittent fast, or perhaps a Saturday dinner to Sunday dinner weekly fast because I might have an eating disorder and I might get labeled by the media as falling into this category. So, I was a bit disappointed in this article.
Jay: Yeah. And so, I want to give you my take on this, Ben, and listeners, just because this falls of course in my area of disordered eating, my area of–as a health psychologist, I have kind of a lot of questions being asked my way. And so I want to address this from my end. So, I'm going to probably get on a soapbox, so let me go.
Ben: Alright, do it.
Jay: So, I think that asking the question of whether or not someone with an eating disorder, especially someone with something like anorexia nervosa, should they be engaging in fasting, and then asking if fasting in and of itself is disordered eating, is completely two different subject area matters. So, disordered eating centralizes on this subjective, and I highlight that with subjective —
Ben: Wait, wait, you said kind of. Drink.
Jay: Oh, drink. Yeah, exactly.
Ben: The subjective perception of food intake as related to our body image in our physical status. So, if someone has a disturbance in the way in which their body weight or shape is experienced has undue influence of body weight or shape on their self-evaluation, or if there's a denial, the seriousness of their low body weight, and it's like characteristic of someone with anorexia nervosa, then my recommendation is to stay away from fasting. But again, the recommendations for someone with an active unmanaged eating disorder is going to be vastly different than someone who does not have an eating disorder.
Now, let's talk about fasting in and of itself, and let me make a semi-controversial statement. Can fasting lead to an eating disorder? And my answer is potentially, which is a great psychologist answer. I think that most of our listeners probably know about orthorexia, which is an actual thing. It's not a diagnosable disorder, but it is a thing. But if you don't know what orthorexia is, it's this obsessive behavior related to constructing a healthy diet. So, when we begin to place these extreme walls of rigidity in our thinking regarding food intake or lack thereof in fasting, to where it becomes that we start to have an unhealthy relationship with food, weight or body image, then it can become an eating disorder. So, it all boils down to our relationship with food. If our relationship with our food becomes toxic, then it may be time to reassess. But inherently, fasting does not qualify as disordered eating. Alright, end rant.
Ben: Yeah. I like your soapbox, and I'll link to it in the shownotes, not only this article in the New York Times, but also a wonderful article on fasting that The Art of Manliness published. And I think they put it in pretty good context. They say fasting interrupts and resets the hedonic treadmill. It restores an anticipation for eating that is long grown dull. In abstention, our normally saturated senses get a chance to recalibrate so that when we eat again, the food has a bit of its newness back and tastes better than ever. As the old saying goes, “Hunger is the best spice.”
And there are of course a lot of other benefits of fasting to go beyond that, but I do like this idea of stoicism combined with occasional hedonism, and it just makes sense. Everything in life operates very well on these work recovery cycles, feed fast cycles, and I don't think it's an eating disorder unless one falls into some of the categories that you were just elucidating. So, there you have it.
Jay: Right, right.
Ben: One other thing I wanted to mention for the news flashes, and this was a very cool new review that looked into the optimum exercise intensity type and duration for boosting mood, it was a systematic review in probably something that you read quite regularly with your feet up by the fireside, Jay, the Journal of Psychology.
Jay: I do.
Ben: This one collated evidence from 38 different studies that looked at how hard do you exercise, how long do you exercise, and what kind of effect that had on mood. And there were a few interesting takeaways. First of all, in relation to intensity, the optimum intensity appears to be moderate because apparently, low intensity is too dull, while high intensity is too unpleasant. So, if you're looking at the actual intensity of a workout session purely for boosting mood, not for fitness, moderate-intensity seems —
Jay: Yeah, that's a good clarification.
Ben: Yeah, seems about right. In terms of length, 10 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise was sufficient to achieve gains in mood. And there was very little evidence that going beyond 30 minutes led to any further gains in mood. So, if you're exercising to manage stress, to manage anxiety, to improve mood, to kind of like blow off some steam after a day at the office, you don't have to go to the gym for an hour-long high-intensity intermittent training session. You can literally go out for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity. For example, going for a long walk, and kind of like we talked about with–oh, kind of, drink. Like we talked about with high-intensity repeat training in last week's podcast, go for a quick sprint every time you get to a telephone pole or drop and do push-ups or something like that.
It really does not take that much to get this increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps with mood, and also to get some of the other mood benefitting effects of exercise. So, it was pretty interesting. Thirty minutes moderate-intensity exercise beats out low-intensity, beats out high intensity, 10 minutes suffices. More than 30 minutes doesn't really even seem to give you added benefit.
Jay: Right. They also mentioned things that I utilize within my clinic with my patients, like yoga and tai chi, qigong, which are low-intensity but does have a fair amount of research to support its efficacy in reducing autonomic arousal, in decreasing chronic pain. I know we're talking about mood now, but the autonomic arousal stress aspect is important. So, I don't want to throw those under the rug too because while they're not considered moderate-intensity exercises, they did allude to those being good as well.
Ben: And the best part of the article I think was the animated GIF of the bear dancing in aerobic gear. I thought that was really the key, right?
Jay: Pretty hardcore. Right. It reminded me of–yeah, it looked like an episode of Stranger Things going on.
Ben: Yeah. Never watched that, but I hear it's good. So, what is Stranger Things? That's a Netflix show?
Jay: Netflix show about some kids who just get caught up in some craziness and some strange things, and that's it.
Ben: Well, my favorite TV show, even though I rarely watch TV, is NBC's Songland because I have a keen interest in singing and songwriting, and then getting more interested in creating music. And this is a pretty cool show where singers and songwriters get up in front of four different producers/musicians and have their songs put to the test to see which one is going to get recorded as a single on one of the musicians' albums. It's a good show. I like it. It even has a–
Jay: That's cool.
Ben: Yeah. It has a podcast that comes along with it that takes an even deeper dive of like the TED Talk's podcast. I really like the TED Talk's podcast because [00:28:05] ______ TED Talk and then I can go–it's called TED Radio Hour, and I can go and listen to the details behind how that TED Talk came to be and special insider interviews with the author, et cetera. This is like that for music. It's called NBC's Songland. So, it's really good.
Jay: That's cool. Are you going to be auditioning soon?
Ben: No. Definitely not.
Ben: [00:28:29] ______ to open mic nights at a local Spokane bar. Anyway, so that wraps up the news flashes. We'll link to everything that we talked about over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/399.
Alright, first special announcement is this. We're going to get back into producing some insider podcasts, some of what we call premium material. I, right now, have about 300 hidden episodes of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show along with downloadable PDFs and secret videos and insider interviews. It's all available over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/premium. Or if you go to the Apple Store or the Google Store and you just grab the free Ben Greenfield Fitness app, you can also unlock the premium content within that. The reason I bring it up now is I have an interview, I'll keep it top secret, but I'm releasing it next Monday at the time this podcast comes out. So, if you want the premium content, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/premium. It is the shockingly high price of $9.99 a year. I know it's going to break the bank, but it's worth the rice and beans diet that you're going to have to get on by subscribing to the premium channel.
Jay: And 90% of it is just you serenading us with your guitar, is that right?
Ben: That's right. BenGreenfieldFitness.com/premium. It's a good idea though. Maybe I'll throw some music in there. This podcast is brought to you by Kion. We are right in the middle of our meditation challenge right now. But Kion, our offices are located in Boulder, Colorado. We basically produce amazing content, if you've never been to getkion.com and seen our blog there and the articles that we put out. Recently, we've been focusing on how to make the perfect cup of coffee, and just all the ins and outs of coffee and coffee beans in general.
You must go to getkion.com and just subscribe to the content there. But it also has, over there, all the different supplement formulations I've designed, as well as some of the new ones we're launching. The amino acids are wonderful, Kion, cacao, chocolate bar, our antioxidant-rich coffee. That is the perfect place to go if you want to shop for supplements and functional foods that have a big old stamp of approval from me. And I've got 10% code for everybody listening in. It's BGF10 over at getkion.com. So, getK-I-O-N.com.
Jay: It's got my stamp of approval too.
Ben: Yeah. Jay likes it. I've seen Jay doing some Instagram posts of the coffee. So, I know he's a fan. So, code BGF10 for 10% off site-wide at getkion.com.
And then another sponsor of today's show is Thrive Market. We may or may not have offended several people after talking about the love fest between Costco and Whole Foods and the illegitimate children that were produced via that relationship. I don't know. I didn't get any cease and desist letters from Thrive Market.
But today, may I instead focus on the fact that all of the foods that I order from Thrive Market, all of my favorites from their organic coconut flakes cereal, which actually tastes like real cereal, very frosted flakes-esque, except it's made from coconut meat, to their different versions of spirulina and chlorella, to the wonderful variants of dark chocolate that I get from there that's guilt-free with no added nasties to it, sprouted pumpkin seeds, organic nori wraps that are metal-free.
Everything that I personally order from Thrive Market if you just go to thrivemarket.com/ben, you can find. And if you go to thrivemarket.com/ben, not only do you get 25% off your first order, and you're looking at organic foods and natural products that are already 25% to 50% below traditional retail prices with about 70% of the stuff there, stuff you can't find on Amazon. But you'll also get a free 30-day trial to their entire healthy food membership program. So, it's a very cool company, very fun website to make your mouth drool as you look through all the different safe and non-toxic foods and personal care products and home cleaning products, everything they have over there. It's thrivemarket.com/ben is where you can go and find that and check out my pantry foods, all my other recommendations. We won't say anything else about Thrive Market because last week, it got a little out of control, so anyways.
Jay: It did. I had a buddy of mine at work tell me it was the greatest thing he's ever heard on the show. So, I'm just going to leave that there.
Ben: [00:33:27] ______ episodes, I guess. While you're at it, you can also visit the final sponsor for today's show, and that is Native. Do you know what Native is, Jay?
Jay: I know of Native sunglasses, but I don't know of this name.
Ben: Sunglasses used to be my sponsor back when I'd raced triathlons. This is a different Native. You may have heard the VICE episode in which I debunked a lot of the health myth that VICE put out. This was a couple of weeks ago. And one of the things that I talked about was the fact that while they claimed that aluminum-based deodorants and antiperspirants were just fine, there was a host of research showing that that aluminum can indeed build up in tissue.
So, what Native does is they make these very wonderful smelling deodorants filled with ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter and tapioca starch. I think the one I have up in my bathroom right now is coconut vanilla. It really makes me want to lick my armpit. It probably makes anybody I walk past, especially in a gym, also want to just shove their face in my armpit and lick it. Yeah, yeah.
Jay: Yeah. You think everybody's turning their head to look at your ass, but actually, they just to —
Ben: In a very friendly, like non-sexual way. Almost in more like a food sort of way. They want to lick my armpit.
Jay: Oh yeah, totally. Totally normal.
Ben: Yeah. Like a totally normal experience. And then they can pick my armpit hair out of their teeth. That visual should be enough to motivate you, to go grab yourself some of the fantastic Native products. So, you go to nativedeodorant.com, and if you use discount code BEN over there, that gives you 20% off of any of the Native products and may I, once again, highly recommend the coconut vanilla, although they also have lavender rose, cucumber mint, and eucalyptus mint. It's literally like turning your armpits into a fancy juice bar in my opinion. Yeah. So, nativedeodorant.com, 20% discount code, BEN. I think that's it, Jay. What do you think? Should go answer some questions?
Jay: Oh, I think that's it. Let's answer these things.
Jenny: Hi, Ben. This is Jenny. I have a question for the podcast. I know that you've written many articles on fasting and talked about it on the podcast previously, but I wanted to ask a follow-up question. You've mentioned that fasting doesn't always work so well for lean females. And I wanted to find out if it doesn't work well for lean females, do you mean that they should avoid fasting altogether, or if there is some sort of a protocol that you would recommend that would not negatively impact lean females with fasting, but that would also allow the person to gain the benefits of fasting? Thank you so much.
Ben: Well, as promised, we're going to talk a little bit more about fasting, fasting for skinny chicks. Is that offensive for me to say skinny chicks?
Jay: Everything we discuss here is only for skinny chicks, is that what you're saying?
Ben: Lean voluptuous females.
Jay: Yeah. I think that's worse.
Ben: Anyways, yeah, I have talked in the past about fasting, and especially fasting for lean and active females. So, the idea behind this is that in both men and women–now there's something called your hypothalamic pituitary-gonadal axis. It's called your HPG axis, and that controls your three different endocrine glands. So, your hypothalamus releases this hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone, and that tells your pituitary to release two things; luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, or LH and FSH as they're known.
So, LH and FSH then act on the gonads. So, the testes in guys, or the ovaries in women, or Jay. And in women, that triggers the production of estrogen and progesterone. And in men, it triggers the production of testosterone and sperm. So, GnRH, that gonadotropin-releasing hormone, the pulses of that are very sensitive to environmental factors, including things like light and activity, and of course food. So, there is some evidence that even short-term fasting can alter that hormonal pulse. And that in women, that appears to be more pronounced and it probably has something to do with this protein-like molecule that neurons used to communicate with each other called kisspeptin.
So, kisspeptin stimulates gonadotropin-releasing hormone in both men and women. And it's very, very sensitive to appetite-regulating hormones like leptin and insulin and ghrelin. Now, females tend to have much higher levels of kisspeptin than males, which means that females can be a little bit more sensitive to fasting protocols, especially the effect of those fasting protocols on fertility and endocrine relating hormones or endocrine regulating hormones like luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. And that's why, especially in lean females who don't have quite as many fats and cholesterols and DHEA and vitamin D, et cetera, to go around, that a regular fasting protocol, especially involving fasting periods that seem to exceed about 12 hours, that can actually inhibit things like menstruation and cause amenorrhea. It can limit luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone production so you can get a downregulation in fertility.
In some cases, you see a decrease in insulin-like growth factor to the extent where since IGF triggers the uterine wall lining to thicken and progress the reproductive cycle, that you again see a downregulation in fertility. And of course anytime you see a downregulation fertility, there's also a downregulation on things like drive, overall energy levels. You see a drop in estradiol or overall bioavailable estrogens. So, this can be a pretty big issue for females in any state of negative energy balance, but even in a state of positive energy balance just during periods of time where there is not enough fuel available combined with exercise. Now, this might be confusing to people —
Jay: I was saying, would you see this is more for individuals with like a certain body percentage or BMI? Or are we just talking about lean in general?
Ben: Well, of course, there are different female body types. I have a whole book called–it's a book I wrote about six years ago called “Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body Type.” And what I talked about in that book is the four different body types of females. It is ectomorphic, endomorphic, endo mesomorphic —
Ben: Endomorphic. How do I say that again? Ectomorphic —
Jay: Endomorphic, mesomorphic.
Ben: Mesomorphic. Endo mesomorphic which is kind of like pear shape, and endomorphic which is like apple shape. So, essentially, it's like your thin ruler shape, your apple shape, your pear shape, and one that's kind of in-between the apple shape and the pear shape. And so that, depending on what size fruit you are, is going to influence that because you're going to have different predispositions to holding on to a certain amount of body fat. But in most females, you generally see, once you get below about 12% to 13% body fat, some of these risk mechanisms with caloric restriction or intermittent fasting kick in.
There was a recent study that might confuse people because I tweeted about it and it was a study on time-restricted feeding in active females. So, we're talking about the exact population, relatively lean active females, and what they looked at was what happened when these females did resistance training and also intermittent fasting. So, this was an eight-week study in which they were intermittent fasting. I believe in this case, they were close to that 16-hour mark, and they were also resistance training. And what they found was that these women were, and this should come as no surprise to you if you're listening to the news flashes, able to maintain skeletal muscle hypertrophy and muscular performance improvements even in an intermittent facet scenario, provided that they were resistance training, right?
So, it was time-restricted feeding, plus resistance training that found that if you lift weights, that you are able to maintain body mass even if you're a lean active female who is intermittent fasting. The kicker here is that all this study looked at was skeletal muscle hypertrophy and muscular performance. They didn't look at long-term implications to LH and FSH levels, to estrogen levels, to even some of the other things we tend to see in lean female athletes. For example, the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research just showed that two of the biggest risk factors for lean female endurance athletes were very low vitamin D levels and thyroid dysregulation.
Alright. And so this study didn't look at any of that. It just looked at whether or not you could hold on the muscle, and it turns out you can, but that's not the whole picture. You have to look at the endocrine picture, and you have to look at the overall fertility scenario. And that does appear to, especially in lean active females who are working out during that fasted window, kick in, and especially kick in once you exceed that 12-hour mark. So, ultimately, I don't think that lean female should avoid fasting, but my general recommendations are as follows. If you're a lean active female, you really don't need to do intermittent fasting longer than 12 hours, like finished dinner at 8:00 p.m., start eating breakfast again around 8:00 a.m.
Furthermore, if you're a lean active female, I would not be doing hard exercise sessions that are catabolic in that fasted window. Meaning that if you're going to exercise in that fasted window, you're going to be better off doing a little bit of yoga, a little bit of swimming, easy walk in the sunshine, 20 to 30 minutes, et cetera, while you're in that fasted window, and save your workouts to be in a fed state. And this same advice holds true for any guy who wants to put on a bunch of muscle and get maximum protein synthesis.
If you're going to use intermittent fasting, do something easy and aerobic during the fasting window, and then save your hard weight training, for example, until, let's say 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon after you've had a lunch around 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. that has a decent amount of protein in it. And maybe you're also throwing in like 10 to 20 grams of essential amino acids into your system prior to that workout. We're just talking about people who want to maximize muscle gain or muscle maintenance, who also want to fast.
So, I think that's the best scenario. And if you're interested in the longevity enhancing benefits of fasting, the decrease in mTOR, the improvement in insulin sensitivity, et cetera, et cetera, all of the physiological variables we know that are beneficial for fasting. Well, if you are a lean female or say like a guy who wants to put on muscle, then you can do a longer fast, like get into that fasting window where cellular autophagy really kicks in, which is like 16 plus hours, but do it on a recovery day. Do it, let's say Sunday is going to be your totally easy day where you're going to laze around, you're going to watch a little TV, read a good book, hang out in a hammock in the sunshine, maybe do an easy walk or something like that, and you're going to fast from Saturday dinner 'til Sunday dinner. But don't fool yourself into thinking that squeezing in that three-hour hike or CrossFit Sunday morning session or something like that is going to do you any metabolic or endocrine or hormonal favors if you're also fasting at the same time. So, that's my general recommendation for Jenny.
Jay: Right. Yeah, good points. Would you say that you have the same exact recommendations in regards to like a fasting mimicking?
Ben: Fasting mimicking or an FMD diet being something that, for those you listening in, is like fasting but you're eating about 40% or so of the amount of calories you'd normally consume for about a four to five-day timespan. And anytime you're doing something like that, or let's say like a liver detox protocol, which would be what's called the kitchari cleanse, which I've talked about before on the podcast, any type of spring cleanup or quarterly cleanup for your body, I think it's very wise to, if you want to maintain normal hormone and endocrine status, to dial back the amount of exercise that you do during that period of time.
That's generally the period of time when I'm doing like a five-day kitchari cleanse where I'm eating kitchari and ghee and celery juice, protein restriction, 800 to 1,000 calories a day. I'm pretty much sauna, walking, a little bit of swimming, some yoga, using more the workout time that I normally be pumping iron for to do things like meditation or time with family. So, yeah, just don't try to have your cake and eat it, too. Horrible analogy, I guess, for a fasting scenario. But don't try to have your kitchari and eat it, too. So, yeah, I think that covers Jenny's question.
Jay: Yeah. I think it sounds very similar too to some of the recommendations that Joe Mercola has just made in his keto fasting book. So, correct me if I'm wrong on that, but that sounds pretty similar in content to what he would recommend as well.
Ben: Yeah. And I interviewed Joe and we talked about this, and even some of the historical aspects of fasting that I brought up earlier. So, I'll link to that podcast with Joe for people who want to take a deeper dive. And then the other really good guide is Jason Fung's–I believe it's called “The Ultimate Guide to Fasting.” Do you remember the name of Jason Fung's book? Complete Guide.
Jay: Complete Guide to Fasting.
Ben: He should have named it “The Ultimate Guide.” If I was in charge of things, that would've been “The Ultimate Guide to Fasting.” That's why [00:48:44] ______ bestseller because he didn't call it The Ultimate Guide.
Jay: That's it.
Jack: Hey, Ben. My name is Jack. Just wanted to say a quick thank you for the content you put out. It has helped make me better physically, mentally, and spiritually. I am 22, just finished my career playing college football, and recently commissioned into the United States Army. Quick question for you. You talked a little bit in Episode 398 about the physiological changes in men when they be fathers, which as of about a month ago, I am. My wife gave birth to identical twin boys just like you. As you know, all sleep schedules go out the window. Do you have any tips to improve sleep quality when I am bound to wake up every few hours? These boys have become my top priority, but my health and fitness is very important to me. Any advice would be appreciated. I love your podcast and will always be an avid listener. Thanks again.
Ben: Well, my recommendation, Jack, is get yourself some nice fancy foam earplugs. On top of those, add your Bose or your Sony or your Dre, high-end noise-blocking headphones. Pop a valium, put on a sleep mask, and let your wife do all the work. She will thank you later because you're more present during the rest of the day to care for the family and provide for the family. And that I think is perfectly reasonable logic. Wouldn't you say, Jay?
Jay: Yeah. I mean, brilliant reframe too because I mean, he's going to be much more available during the day. And that's exactly what his spouse is going to be looking for.
Ben: Right, exactly. You sleep until 7:00. You wake up. You kiss her on the forehead as she's sitting at the breakfast table with dark circles under her eyes staring at a soap opera because that's about all that she can do, sipping on her third cup of coffee. You're refreshed. You've had your 9 to 10 hours of sleep and you're about to go out and provide for the family and take care of those damn babies by getting them a paycheck. You've had a great night of sleep, and I just think it's a very–anything else would be almost unreasonable and selfish of her to put her foot down and require that you go out and actually wake up during the night or take on a feeding cycle. I mean, that's my opinion.
Jay: I couldn't agree more.
Ben: I just, tongue-in-cheek. Okay. So, what can you do? Well, being a father of twins and having gone through this myself, and also helped out a lot of people who are either shift workers, or maybe they're going out for buds training or anything else where sleep is going to be very sparse, but you do want to combat a lot of the effects of sleep deprivation, I have some specific recommendations for you. So, first of all, for improving sleep quality, when you're waking up every two to three hours, I am a huge fan of micro-sleeps or micro-naps, and getting yourself into that micro-sleeping or micro-napping sleep phase as quickly as possible.
There is some evidence, and I talked about this in the podcast that I did with Jim Poole from the company NuCalm, that in the right state, especially with the use of technology, 20 minutes of rest can simulate a full 90-minute sleep cycle. And in my opinion, the two best ways to do that are, number one, if you're going to use technology that NuCalm device, even though it's expensive, is absolutely amazing when you are low on sleep or sleep-deprived or need to squeeze in the equivalent of a full sleep cycle without laying there for 90 minutes to get through a full sleep cycle.
It's 20 minutes. And I've done that in a sleep-deprived state. Just the 20 minutes and you wake up and you're good to go. You kind of like slip into this in-between like an unconscious and a conscious state. It's very difficult to describe unless you've done it, but it involves an app to play sound, and then this vagal nerve stimulator that you put on. Yeah, it's expensive, but in my opinion, worth it if you plan on using it for the rest of your life. So, the NuCalm is very good.
Jay: Yeah. Does your Oura ring pick up that data?
Ben: No, because the Oura ring typically only kicks in during a full night of sleep, so no. Yeah.
Jay: Oh, okay.
Ben: The other kind of like poor man's version of this would be to go to YouTube and just grab any Yoga Nidra track. That's Yoga Nidra. And Yoga Nidra is something that can also do a pretty decent job simulating a sleep cycle without you actually needing to fall asleep. They're typically 20 to 30-minute sessions, and many people swear by those. I was using Yoga Nidra for a while before I bought the NuCalm. But in my opinion, NuCalm is better just because it's better living through technology to simulate a sleep cycle. But NuCalm or Yoga Nidra for micro-naps, whether during the day after you've been low on sleep or even at night when you just need to catch sleep in between feedings, both of those are decent strategies.
The other thing from a technology standpoint that I like to get you back to sleep faster after you have gotten up and done a feeding would be the SleepStream app. It's like a DJ for sleep. It can play binaural beats. It can play pink noise or white noise or cover up ambient noise in case you've done your feeding and it's your wife's turn, or you know that you've got a clear series of hours to sleep. The SleepStream app, of all the different apps out there– are others like Brain.fm and Pzizz and a whole bunch, but I think SleepStream is probably the most versatile. It's easy. It's like 2.99 on the Apple Store or the Android Store.
Jay: Yeah, it's cheap.
Ben: Pretty cheap, pretty versatile, and it has paid purchases within the app where you can add in extra meditation or different forms of binaural beats, or you could probably add in the sound of whales screaming on the ocean, which were some odd reason put some people to sleep.
Jay: Or kids screaming that could have a paradoxical effect, just a baby whining. You never know.
Ben: Baby whining, yeah. That would be a great addition to the SleepStream app. And let's talk next about what to do when you wake up and you are sleep-deprived. You know what, actually before I talk about that, about how to get through a sleep-deprived day, a couple of other things that will help you get back to sleep after you've done your feeding at night. Definitely keep a good pair of blue light blockers next to your bed stand. So, when you get up and you flip on the lights, you go in to see the baby, and maybe the baby monitor has a little bit of blue light flickering from it, or you're checking your phone while you're feeding the baby or whatever, you're actually not downregulating melatonin and getting that big boost and wakefulness that you get from seeing blue light.
So, I'm a fan of, right now, the company Ra Optics. They do really good red lens, blue light blocking glasses. Have some of those on your bed stand. And I would also install in both the nursery and in your own bedroom, and really anywhere in the night where you need to get up but still have a light, red incandescent bulbs. It's a bulb that is the most simulative, which is a word I think I just made up, of fire or torch light, complete absence of blue light in those type of light bulbs. So, red incandescent bulbs in the baby's room and in your room, master bathroom, anywhere where you're going to be getting up and wandering around during the night, and then where the red light glasses as well just because you're inevitably going to run into some scenarios where you're looking at some blue light as you're getting up and walking around as well. It will just help you get back to sleep faster after you've gotten up.
Jay: Yeah. The blue light blockers, especially Ra Optics, did wonders for me when my baby was crying like a madman in the middle of the night and my wife just couldn't take anymore. And we tap out, of course, like she should. These things, yeah, they worked wonders.
Ben: Yeah. They've got good wrap-around versions. The technology in those lenses is, in my opinion, as far as the wavelengths of light that they stop the best. So, grab yourself some Ra —
Jay: Yeah. Agreed.
Ben: And then a couple of other things that I would do to get yourself back to sleep fast, or one other thing that I would do would be CBD can work pretty effectively. The problem is a CBD capsule can take 30 to 40 minutes to hit your system. A CBD sublingual like an oil can take quite a bit of time as well, 10, 15, 20 minutes. And if every minute of sleep is valuable to you and you want instant absorption of CBD to help you fall asleep faster after you've gotten up, get a CBD vape pen. That's the fastest way to mainline CBD into your system. You can very precisely dose. I think a hit on a vape pen is usually one and a half to two milligrams. And for brands on that, there's a company called BioCBD that does some really nice vape pens. They don't have propylene glycol in them. I think they're a pretty good blend. They put some other relaxing nutrients in there like chamomile and valerian and some other things that you can vape. That one's decent. You could probably even take a hit and blow some of the vape into your baby's face to get your baby back to sleep faster, too.
Jay: I just had a visualization of that.
Ben: Hey, babies. [00:58:10] ______ endocannabinoid systems. So, yeah, give yourself a vape and share some with the baby. I'm joking, again, for people who take me seriously and leave a comment, “How dare you require your baby–“
Jay: Right, exactly. You're going to get those.
Ben: Vape pen. A few other suggestions. I think that the idea of rotating nights with your wife is sound advice because that allows you one night to get a full sleep cycle while your wife's up and down and getting some sleep, but not great sleep. And then the next night, you take a shift, and it allows you to, rather than going every single night of the week with sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep, to go back and forth between a good full night of sleep and then sleep deprivation, then a good full night of sleep and sleep deprivation.
I just think the idea of rotating nights with your wife versus rotating feedings allows you to go back and forth as far as getting a good solid night of sleep. I think that's one thing to think about. And then finally, during the day, research has shown that both short bursts of high-intensity exercise like 10 minutes of a kettlebell swing, or an air assault bike workout, or longer 40 to 60 minute bouts of easy aerobic endurance exercise are the two best forms of exercise to do if you're in a sleep-deprived state. So, for your workouts, you can either do quick 10-minute high-intensity bursts rather than like go into the gym for a hard 60-minute session. Break that into six different short sessions during the day, or just do easy aerobic endurance exercise, or some variant of both. But those are the two flavors of exercise that work best and even seem to combat some amount of sleep deprivation.
So, do that from an exercise standpoint. And then from a supplement standpoint, the two best supplements that I've found for combating sleep deprivation, one is any of the nootropics from the company Qualia, especially Qualia Mind or Qualia Focus. If you're sleep-deprived, five capsules of Qualia Focus, or I think it's seven to eight capsules of Qualia Mind for me. You can charge hard for like six to eight hours on that stuff. Have good word recall, good memory, good cognitive performance.
So, I'm a fan of those from a more natural nootropic standpoint. And then, of course, the anti-narcoleptic drug that's used off-label by many folks who want to enhance productivity in either a sleep-deprived state or just charge through a day without feeling a need to take a nap would be modafinil. And modafinil can work very well in these type of scenarios. You can build up tolerance to it. It can kind of alter your personality a little bit. I think it plays a little bit with dopamine levels to where you can–you can almost be a little bit more of a non-emotional workaholic when you're on modafinil, I guess is the best way to describe it. You're kind of–like a robot. So, it might not be the best thing to take before like a church potluck. But if you just need to get through the day in a sleep-deprived state, modafinil or Qualia Focus/Qualia Mind are all pretty good.
Jay: Right. Okay. So, you're saying modafinil to be taken during the day?
Jay: Because at first, I thought you were saying at night. I was like, “Holy crap, man. I'd be amped.”
Ben: Yeah. Take during the day when you're sleep-deprived.
Ben: So, those would be my biggest recommendations. Don't give your wife modafinil or Qualias, neither of those, or something you want in the breastmilk. The CBD, it doesn't appear that that's going to be a big issue for breastfeeding mothers, but that's something you want to talk to your physician about, I need to say. However, those are my biggest recommendations. And I will, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/399, link to all the different things that I touched on recommended there.
Jay: Yeah. Hey, so Ben, I would say one thing too that I kind of learned, I mean, wish I would have integrated into my routine as a new parent, is I'd also recommend to Jack to really watch out for overexposure to EMF when he wakes up. So, my opinion, turn off the damn Wi-Fi router and stay away from things that could be emitting EMF because that can keep you up, especially if you're super electro sensitive. So, that might be the only thing that I recommend also, too, like I ended up buying a phone case when my wife was pregnant to block EMF, [01:02:50] ______ Defender Shield or one of the other one. I forgot the other brand that's big, but that's kind of the only thing I might add.
Ben: That's silly. Electricity isn't visible. It doesn't affect calcium channels or cell membranes or anything like that.
Jay: It's one of my silly things.
Ben: Alright. Don't listen to Jay, [01:03:07] _____.
Ben: Here we go. Next question.
Jackie: Hi, Ben. My name is Jackie. I live in Japan and I've been a longtime listener to your podcast. I really appreciate all that you do for the community. I have a question for you, and I'm wondering if it's possible to have full-blown tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis in both feet and still have a C-reactive protein level of 0.01 to 0.03. Thanks in advance.
Ben: Alright. So, this is an interesting question. C-reactive protein or CRP, that's a protein that increases in the blood when inflammation is present or when infection is present. In some cases, following a heart attack or a surgery or a trauma, which is why if you go and get a blood panel, you do want to note to yourself whether or not you exercise hard the day prior because if CRP is elevated, your doctor might freak out until you need to go get a cardiovascular workout when, in fact, it's just because you were bench pressing the day prior. There's some evidence that that persistent low level of inflammation that is often indicated with elevated CRP plays a pretty major role in things like atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease, and a few other chronic disease risk factors.
So, typically, it's an hs-CRP test, and the question here is, is it possible to go and test your CRP and have it below but still have some of these full-blown injury type of mechanisms going on? And the short answer is yes, and it's just a matter of understanding the difference between acute versus chronic injuries, the difference between something like tendinitis versus tendinosis. For example, tendinitis, that's the inflammation of a tendon, results from micro-tears that happen when the musculotendinous unit is acutely overloaded with this tensile force that's too heavy or too sudden, and that's a very common issue with something like the Achilles tendon.
Now, tendinosis is a degeneration of the collagen, and that's in response to chronic overuse or chronic tendinitis. When overuse is continued after a state of tendinitis, for example, without giving the tendon time to heal and rest. So, that would be like a repetitive strain injury, the formation of scar tissue, and even small things like clicking a mouse repeatedly, that can cause tendinosis. So, it's one of these chronic repetitive motion types of issues.
Now, if you look at tendinitis, which is more of like this acute inflammation scenario, that is indeed associated with an elevation of many inflammatory markers. And this is why in the acute phase of an injury or in a state of tendinitis, many anti-inflammatory protocols such as, let's say pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, or icing, or hot cold contrast therapy, or the use of a variety of different anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like turmeric or glucosamine, et cetera, those can be pretty good at controlling that acute inflammatory state.
But after a while, sometimes the inflammation can subside to a certain extent, at least to the extent where a measurement like hs-CRP is not elevated, but pain and discomfort and a lack of mobility can persist simply because of scar tissue build-up, and almost like this low-level inflammation that's not necessarily detectable with something like a CRP evaluation. So, that's kind of the thing you need to think about is the difference between a chronic and an acute injury. And managing an acute injury does really come down to some of the common recommendations for rest, and ice, and compression, and elevation.
But when you look at a chronic injury, especially something like Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, in many cases, you need to do things like Graston therapy or scraping to lay down the scar tissue a little bit better, things like ultrasound or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, or infrared and red light therapy to allow for better healing and more oxygen delivery to the tissue. In some cases, eccentric loading, like actual lengthening of that muscle via things like reverse calf raises, especially for Achilles tendinitis, paradoxically seems to actually help that tendon to repair a little bit better.
You think about this this way with these chronic injuries is you want to strengthen them, especially with things like eccentric strengthening while also realigning that scar tissue with a lot of different myofascial techniques like deep tissue work and scraping. And then also, you want to improve oxygenation with things like pulsed electromagnetic field therapy or infrared light. And those are all protocols that can help out quite a bit with chronic injuries even if CRP is not elevated.
So, that's what I would consider when it comes to this. I mean, kind of a brief answer to the question. But ultimately, the answer is yes, it's possible to have both plantar fasciitis and full-blown Achilles tendinitis in both feet, and have a low C-reactive protein level. A couple other things I should mention is that I've done pretty extensive podcasts on both of those issues. If you were to go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and search for them, I have more extended treatises on what to do about either of those conditions.
And then the other thing, of course, is I would be remiss not to shamelessly plug Kion Flex. It is the most efficacious shotgun formulation for both acute and chronic injuries, works very well. I typically recommend folks pop 8 to 12 of those at night on an empty stomach when they're injured, and it's just a blend of everything from turmeric to cetyl myristoleate, to glucosamine, to a whole host of factors that can assist with the formation of collagen and elastin and fibrin, to decrease in fibrinogen, decrease in CRP. So, I would definitely grab yourself some Kion Flex. I know that's shameless, but I got to say it.
Darryl: Hey, Ben. I enjoyed the podcast and I have a question about my Joovv Go. What I'm curious about is how close you should put it to your body. And in particular, you mentioned your wife using it on her face, and I'm just curious how close she puts it to her face, how close she puts it to her eyes. I find myself, as I'm leaving this question, imitating you. So, that's interesting to me, but besides the point, here's the thing. In the manual, they say go two to six inches, but they do not mention anything about, “Don't put it right on your skin.” There are no warnings, right? So, when my knee hurts, I just put the Joovv Go right on my knee. I just lay it right on my knee for 10 minutes, and it feels better. But the face, I'm curious about that. That's what I'm curious about. I know it's a tricky question to answer, perhaps, but I appreciate it. Bye.
Ben: Well, I personally like to just take something like an infrared light device and duct tape it to my body. Typically, I'll leave it there until burning persists with extreme discomfort. And then I'll remove the duct tape, let it rest for a couple minutes, then put it back on. So, that's how I do.
Jay: Yeah, yeah. Reasonable. I think burn is a form of hormesis, right?
Ben: Yeah, exactly. No. Actually, with red light therapy, which my wife was using for some of the benefits to increase circulation and better oxygen delivery to tissue, like I was just talking about when it comes to Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis. But then she was also doing it primarily for a lot of the research-proven benefits for red light, for stimulation of the production of collagen and repair of the epidermis. It can work particularly well in situations where you have scar tissue, or stretch marks, or cellulite, or anything else like that you need to heal. Sounds gimmicky but there's actually good research behind cellulite, behind collagen, and behind scars, in particular, in response to red light therapy.
Now, infrared tends to penetrate more deeply into tissue and work on more elements like deep scar tissue, mitochondrial activation, ATP production, nitric oxide production, et cetera. But red light seems to work a little bit better on surface issues. If you look at something like the Joovv, typically, most of their devices are combinations of infrared and red light, which is why when you look at a Joovv panel, it looks like only half the lights are lit up. Well, that's because the infrared spectrum is not visible. So, you're seeing the red light, but they're generating both red light and infrared light, which is why I'm a big fan of those lights. I'm also a big fan of them —
Jay: That's what they like you to think is that they're on. I'm kidding.
Ben: No, I've measured. I have faith. I have faith that they're on. Yeah.
Jay: I have faith [01:12:24] ______.
Ben: Science every time. So, the idea is that in terms of the distance and the amount of time that you use something like a red-light device, it comes down to the key units of measurement for any red light-generating therapy, and this is why some are more expensive than others. The dose is measured as the joules per centimeter squared. So, that's the amount of energy delivered to any area of your body for any given time period. The power density is the power output from the light that's typically milliwatts per centimeter squared. And then time is the time of seconds of actually being exposed to the light.
So, if you use a device like a Joovv, for example, as an intensity of 100 milliwatts per squared centimeter, and you use that for 60 seconds, that would be six joules of energy that are being delivered. And when you look at the number of joules necessary for most of the beneficial effects of red light and infrared light, typically, with the device that has a power of around 100 milliwatts per centimeter squared, you can get all the benefits you need in about 5 to 15 minutes if you are 2 to 6 inches from the device, right?
That's why many low power devices–or even the sun. You need to be out in the sun for one to two hours to get that amount of infrared or red light. Many inexpensive devices on Amazon, unfortunately, because the power is low, you have to be in front of light for a long period of time, and then you also run the risk if it has a high amount of non-native EMF, which we've well-established, Jay is very concerned about. You're exposed with that non-native EMF for a long period of time.
So, that's why I'm a fan of, and Joovv isn't paying me to say this, but that's why I'm a fan of something like the Joovv because it's got high power resulting in the need for lower time exposed to the device, but low amounts of EMF, so you're not getting exposed to high EMF at the same time. So, using something like that 2 to 6 inches for 5 to 15 minutes is a decent amount of time to be in front of the device. However, there is zero evidence that there's any harm in putting the device right on the skin. The only thing you need to realize is that your time exposure or your need for a certain amount of time might decrease.
For example, that thing is right against the skin, especially if it's infrared light combined with red because infrared is going to–it's going to basically dissociate nitric oxide from a part of the electron transport chain called cytochrome c oxidase. You do that too much and you can create excess oxidation, excess free radical production. That's why more is not better when it comes to infrared and red light therapy.
So, the closer this thing is to your skin, the less time that you'd need. So, if I were literally sandwiching a device right on top of my skin, I wouldn't go any longer than about 5 to 10 minutes, if you're doing it that way. If you're 2 to 6 inches away, which is what most of the recommendations are, well, then you can go as long as 20 minutes, even though I think 15 minutes suffices. And my own personal protocol, just so folks know, is I own these Joovv panels. I have the one called the Joovv Elite, which is like six different panels. And then basically, I have one of those in front of me, one of those behind me. And every morning, I stand, sandwiched in between those two for about 10 minutes.
And this was an error. I used to say a long time ago, “I'll just leave that on while I work for an hour.” After looking in the research, especially on the cytochrome c oxidase piece, and the fact that more is not better, I don't go that long at all. And 10 minutes I think is like the sweet spot for me with that type of setup. So, yeah. I believe you have discount links for Joovv, all that jazz. So, I'll put a link in the shownotes. I don't know if it's a discount code or if you just use our special code and order from [01:16:32] ______.
Jay: You get a gift.
Ben: Some crap like that. So, yeah, that's it. Speaking of free crap, should we give something away?
Jay: Let's definitely give something away. I got a pretty sweet review by a pretty sweet individual. So, I'm going to read it out. This one is by guitr4God. I love it. That's hardcore. That's like–I mean, me as a '90s kid. I would have gone with that one, but guitr4God, and it's entitled “Only listen if you want to be stronger, faster, and smarter.” And it's a little bit of a lengthy one, but I'm going to go for it. Alright, here we go.
“After just a few episodes of the Ben Greenfield Podcast, I found myself going through my pantry, reworking my training protocols, and taking care of my body outside of my daily gym visit. As a casual “athlete”, I've always struggled to find balance between achieving the aesthetic look I want and being truly healthy. This podcast provides me a great understanding of the human body and nutrition, and I find myself less concerned about the athletics as they happen naturally. As I try to navigate the ocean of information in the health and fitness universe, Ben and his guests' knowledge have been a fantastic grounding point. My BS radar has been honed in and I feel more confident in my decisions. Plus, it seems every time I find something that Ben hasn't covered, he usually ends up talking about it shortly after. Look at that, being able to read minds. If you're like me and don't have enough time to sort through the hundreds of fitness podcasts out there, subscribe to the Ben Greenfield Podcast. You'll get everything you need.”
It was a good one. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I didn't know you can read minds, Ben.
Ben: No. You pick the reviews. I have to ask you, Jay. Are you a fan of like “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, or like “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, or “Moby-Dick,” or any of these annoyingly long novels link?
Jay: I am, which would only make sense why I [01:18:38] ______.
Ben: Yeah. I felt like that was a Jane Austen novel. That was nuts. Or maybe “War and Peace,” Leo Tolstoy, “War and Peace.”
Jay: Right, “War and Peace,” yeah.
Ben: Well, it was a good review. And so, we will send free shit out for that. And not just because it's long, but it was good. And if you're listening to the show and you go leave us a nice review on Apple podcasts or wherever fine podcasts are found and we read your review on the show, then we'll send you a free gift pack with a cool t-shirt and a beanie and water bottle, all BGF branded. Just email. If you hear your review read in the show, email [email protected] with your T-shirt size. We'll get some free stuff your way. It's got to be better than the Joovv hat, I'm sure. So, anyways, what was the name of that, guitr4God?
Jay: guitr4God, yeah.
Ben: Thank you for the kind review. Good, sir, with a unique handle. And I think that covers everything. Everything we talked about, it's over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/399. Hopefully, we offended all of the new mothers out there, all of the lean females, all the, I guess every newborn parents, and anyone with Achilles tendinitis. That's our goal is just to offend as many people and we record this show. So, hopefully, did a good job at that. And of course, anyone who fasts, you all have newfangled eating disorders, just so you know. Look into that.
Jay: Exactly. I diagnose you. No, I didn't do nuts of that.
Ben: Alright, Jay. Well, thanks, man.
Jay: Yeah, man. It's been a good one.
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.
Q&A Episode 399
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the button at the bottom of the page (or go to SpeakPipe), or use the Contact button in the free Ben Greenfield Fitness app. Click here for some tips on how to have the best chance of having your question featured on the show.
– The morning brew recipe Ben mentions in intro:
Alright, this recipe is fully loaded fuel that tastes like ambrosia of the gods. I tried it out this morning and my brain has been humming along quite nicely since about 5am. Here's the full recipe (yeah, you need plenty of ingredients, but it's worth it). Into a Nutribullet or any other heat-friendly blender, add the following:
– 2 heaping tablespoons of MiCacao mix (this is a mix of cacao nibs and cacao shells that gives you the experience of drinking pure chocolate with no calories)
– 2 packets Four Sigmatic Chaga mushroom extract
– 2 packets Four Sigmatic Lion's Mane extract
– 1 dropperful Omica Organics butterscotch toffee stevia
– 1 teaspoon of a good salt (I used Colima salt)
– 12-16 piping hot ounces of Kion Coffee
Blend on high for about 90 seconds, then open your blender carefully as contents can expand and get foamy (and the foam is oh-so-delicious). I may or may not have also put 0.5 grams of psilocybin extract into this mix, but that's your call. ;) Bon appetit!
- Turns out a very low carb diet doesn’t seem to impair high-end exercise performance but there are SO many variables to this that I’ll unpack in next podcast.
- If you are eating a very low carbohydrate diet and also limiting calories for the goals of weight loss, this study shows that you sure as heck better also be lifting weights.
- It's so ridiculous how the media thinks “fasting” is a newfangled eating disorder. They should read this.
- Interesting! A new review looks into the optimum exercise intensity, type, and duration for boosting mood.
– Click here to follow Ben on Instagram, and get ready for some epic stories about his morning, day and evening routine!
Here's Where Ben Is Speaking And Traveling Around The World Coming Soon
– August 3-4, 2019: Colorado Rockies Ultra, Beast, and Sprint Weekend – Aspen, CO. The mountains are calling! High in the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, team members from my company, Kion and I will be experiencing the immense beauty of Colorado while conquering climbs, crawls, carries, and traverses. We hope to see you there! Sign up here!
– September 12 – 15, 2019: RUNGA Immersion, Napa Valley, California. I attend this total mind-body reboot retreat each year with my wife, Jessa, to connect with a handful of friends and YOU can be one of them! I would love if you could join me at this retreat. Click here for details on this incredible event!
– September 27 – 29, 2019: Spartan World Championships, Squaw Valley, California. Right beside Lake Tahoe, this epic venue was once host to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Join me there for the greatest obstacle course race in North Tahoe Lake, Olympic Village, CA. Sign up here!
This Podcast Is Brought To You By
– Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.
– Native: Native creates safe, simple, effective products that people use in the bathroom everyday. Count on trusted ingredients and trusted performance. Shop at my link and save 20% off your first purchase when you use discount code: BEN
Is Fasting Dangerous For Lean Females?…36:00
Jenny asks: You've mentioned on the podcast that fasting doesn't always work well for lean females. So should lean females like myself avoid fasting altogether? Or is there a fasting protocol you would recommend that will have a positive impact on my health?
In my response, I recommend:
- A recent tweet: Intermittent fasting + resistance training IS effective fat loss strategy for females but they did not analyze long term effects on endocrine system, thyroid function, etc.:
- Get Fit Guy's Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body Type
- KetoFast book by Joe Mercola (and my podcast with him)
- Jason Fung's “Complete Guide To Fasting“
How Newborn Parents Can Sleep Better…49:30
Jack asks: You mentioned in Q&A 398 about the physiological changes that occur in men when they become fathers. About a month ago, my wife gave birth to identical twin boys, and as you know, all sleep schedules go out the window. Do you have some tips to improve sleep quality when I'm bound to be waking up every 2-3 hours during the night?
In my response, I recommend:
- Sleepstream App
- NuCalm (discount applied at checkout, 65% off the first month of any new monthly subscription)
- Yoga Nidra
- Qualia Mind or Qualia Focus
- Short frequent bursts of exercise or endurance, aerobic exercise
- Rotate nights, not rotate feedings
- Blue light blockers (Ben recommends RA Optics) when you get up at night to feed
- Red incandescent bulbs
- CBD Vape Pen (BioCBD is good brand)
C-Reactive Protein Levels and Tendinitis…1:03:10
Jackie in Japan asks: Is it possible to have plantar fasciitis and full-blown achilles tendinitis in both feet and have a C-reactive protein level of .01-.03?
In my response, I recommend:
- Mention chronic vs. acute
- Kion Flex
How Far From Your Body Should Infrared Light Be?…1:09:22
Darryl asks: How close to my body should I put the JOOVV Go? The manual says it should be 2-6″, but I oftentimes will put it directly on my skin to help heal an injury and it seems to be just fine. I also heard you say in a previous podcast that your wife puts the device on her face. Can you give some guidance on how close is too close?
In my response, I recommend:
- JOOVV Lights
Giveaways & Goodies
– This week's top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!