February 23, 2019
[0:00:56] Podcast Sponsors
[0:03:46] Guest Introduction
[0:04:34] Adventure on the Hardest Hike in America
[0:19:22] Health Benefits of Clams
[0:23:37] Concerns About the Level of Contaminants Found in Clams
[0:28:29] Podcast Sponsors
[0:30:29] What Craig Combines Clams with To Get the Highest Level of Efficacy
[0:40:33] Why Not Add Blue-Green AFA To His Ingredients
[0:43:02] Best Practices for Taking the Capsules
[0:46:35] About AltiFuel
[0:49:02] Closing the Podcast
[0:49:47] End of Podcast
Ben: I have a master's degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I've spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet, from SEALFIT Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and The World's Toughest Mudder, do 13 Ironman Triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world's top experts in performance, fat loss, recovery, gut hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
Hey, what's up? It's me, Ben, back for the weekend podcast for you. I've given you a weekend podcast. Did you know every weekend for the past 11 years, I've given you a podcast on the weekend? That's how much I'm devoted to amazing audio content. Got a good episode for you today.
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Alright, folks, as promised, I have one of the most frequent repeat guests to the Ben Greenfield Fitness show back on today's show, my friend, supplement formulator, endurance athletes, previously one of the best freaking swimmers in the world, a guy who specializes in altitude performance, and studying endurance specifically at altitude, and all things human performance in general. He's back on the show, Craig Dinkel.
Craig, the last time you were on the show, you were about to dive into, and I will link to it in the shownotes for this podcast. Folks, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/clam. I'll explain why in a second. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/clam for the shownotes. Craig, you were about to do the Hardest Hike. I think it was called, what, the Hardest Hike in the USA?
Craig: Yes, that's what some people like to call it, the Hardest Hike. This is obviously open to debate there. People that do these long-haul hikes of 2,000 and 3,000 miles. Those are damn hard. A lot of respect for those guys and girls not to dismiss that at all. I suppose it's a matter of opinion. The reason they call it the Hardest Hike in America, or certainly among them, is because it's about a three-week off-trail hike at altitude between 9,000 and 12,000 feet, above 12,000 feet at some points, 33 mountain passes, and as I say, off-trail talus granite, giant granite, some glacial fields, some frozen snow areas, some beautiful pastures and glades, and things like that.
Ben: It's the Sierra route, right? The Sierra High route.
Craig: Yes. I didn't name, but I'm sorry, it's called the Sierra High Route. Not to be confused with the High Sierra Trail, which is a trail. This is a route. It's got some trails out of roughly 195, 200 miles. There may be 30 miles of trails. You start on a trail, you go off-route. Then, there are points where it gets so rough and difficult that the guy who invented the route had to get back on trail to help people like me keep from being at too much risk out there. Yes, it's tough because it's at altitude, it's high, and it's hard on. You got to move slower because you have to use a lot of map and compass and terrain recognition up there. By definition, it's slower, it's an altitude, and you've got to move more cautiously. You can't just look at the ground and look up and wander through this like you can on a trail. That's one of the reasons they call it the Hardest Hike in America.
Ben: How'd it go? What happened?
Craig: I spent a lot of time. The one thing I did right was doing some custom supplementation and formulation to come up with something we're going to talk about today to help me out here. All the other research I did worked out pretty well. I had not done an extended long-haul hike. Again, three weeks versus the true long haulers can be from four to six months but this is still considered a long haul of sorts. I've never done one that's been that long and solo. I've done long weekends up in the Grand and other places higher, actually, even than the Sierra High Route. I had to do a lot of research on equipment. I learned all about ultralight hiking. All these people who go to do everything ultralight because it makes sense. You want to have the least amount of weight on your body because you're going for long distances, you're dealing with high altitude or high passes, or a number of high passes. You got to go light. So, I did. It's more expensive to do that. Ultra-light tents, ultralight sleeping bags, ultralight everything.
Ben: Titanium toothbrush?
Craig: That's right. Whatever it takes to lighten the load. People who do this stuff, I used to laugh at this when I first got introduced to this high-altitude hiking or it's Backcountry stuff when people would say, “Hey, it's all about ounces,” and I'd laugh and go, “What do you mean ounces? Let's talk about pounds here.” Plus, how he's younger and stronger and I didn't have that much difficulty with weight. I've learned a lot about this type of hiking, this specific segment of hiking, this long-haul and high-altitude stuff when it comes to ultra. Here's the big mistake I made. I spent months and months and months studying and planning and getting ready for this stuff, and the one mistake I made was I bought an ultralight backpack, which, on the face of it sounds like it makes sense. What I found out there and ultra lighters would tell me.
Ben: I feel like the story might not be ending well.
Craig: It depends on your point of view. I think it ends well. It ends up being really disappointing but I learned so much. I learned so much about what to do the next time around. Obviously, I've given something away there. There is going to be a next time. Bottom line is here's what happened. The ultralight packs aren't designed to carry weight the way the more sturdy Backcountry packs are designed to carry weight. Even though they have internal frames and they're strong, they're nowhere near as supportive as a more traditional Backcountry pack. My early advice to anyone looking at this kind of thing is you've got to buy the more traditional heavy sturdy pack that really straps that weight to your body and buttons it right down into your lower back where the weight has to be, even an adjustable one because as the weight load lightens up you can raise and lower the harnesses and get that pack to sit right where it's supposed to be.
Ben: I use Kifaru, by the way, for my hunting. One of my buddies, Aaron Schneider, over at Kifaru, he has, I think, 7,600 cubic inches their pack. It's pretty lightweight but it's got the built-in skeleton and the custom straps and everything that just fits like a mold to your body. That's the one that I've used in the past.
Craig: Yes, you nailed it. Those are superior packs for different application. The bottom line here is I bought a superior pack made for a completely different kind of event. What happened was, and I noticed it's right away but I didn't put it together right away, at the minute I started hiking up to the point where I go off-trail, I was having a hard time with the pack and my glutes were hurting more than they normally do. It didn't add up. It didn't make sense. I trained like crazy for this. I have had very, very short episodes of hypoxia, or very short experiences with getting acclimatized which ruined the day. Then, the next day I was perfectly fine. I chucked it up to–well you've been in Austin, now you're here in California you're starting at 5,000 feet. Now, you're going straight up. You start at 5,000 feet and then it's 5,000 more feet of just straight up. I never spent so much time going straight up as I had here, and, as I say, getting up to 10,000 feet right away in day one. I feel like a bit of a bonehead saying this because I should have spotted this right away, but it took me another day to realize that no matter how much I cinch that pack down onto my back, the way you just described it needs to mold and fit right into your back and sit at the right place. I had 45 pounds in this pack. It's rated to 40, it's a little bit of a tangent. It's rated to 40. What I learned about these ultra-light packs is immediately take off 25%, or 20-25%. This really shouldn't have more than I think, in my own view, 30 maybe 35 pounds. By that standard, I was 10+ pounds over. The short story here at this point is that weight was dropping below my back and into my glutes. Another critical mistake I made when getting measured for a backpack, raid on the cusp. Literally on the cusp between a medium and a large. I bought a large, the pack was too big. It is just too big. Between having a sturdy rag on my back, a quality sturdy rag on my back, and a pack that was too big. It wasn't sitting where it needed to sit. Frankly, it took me two days to figure out, “Holy what! I have really F’d up here.”
Ben: A lot of people don't realize the importance of the pack fit. When I get my Kifaru packs, I've bought three of them now, every time you get a new pack you have to fit it. It's like a half-hour long procedure for me because you put the pack in place and you tighten the shoulder straps, you tighten the waist belt, and you reposition the shoulder straps and the load strap, and then you put weight in it, and you do it again. It's quite a process. The other thing that I learned, by the way, competing in a lot of these Train to Hunt competitions is that you want your primary load to not be settled in the bottom of the pack. I would even, when I was doing the heavier, what they call the meat packs, in these Train to Hunt competitions, I would use really thick sturdy bubble wrap lined at the bottom of the backpack with a foot of bubble wrap, and then put my load on top of the bubble wrap to keep it more up around the thoracic spine, down around the loom bars, because you get that tightening of the hip flexors, the glutes turn off and you experience what sounds like you experienced while you're out there on the Sierra route.
Craig: Well, first off, I want to validate what you just said in terms of my own experience. I happen to agree with you 100% percent. That weight I had to carry, I think it was about 14 pounds of food because it's a 200-mile course and I plan to doing one resupply. Part of the problem not with the right pack, but with the wrong pack, is just what you described. I had that weight probably a little lower in the pack than it wanted to be or it should have been. That was driving the weight, in addition to water. I also had 30 ounces of, I had a bunch of water, the whole bunch of water that I was carrying too. I can't remember how much. It was a ton. Just a giant bladder full. I agree with you. You've got to get that weight higher up. In fact, the experts say, like you just did, get it into your middle-ish back. For me, I take it just a little bit further. I like it a little higher up. I wanted away from my hips. I don't mind the fact that it's up a little higher. It might, in theory, create a little more sway up there, but in my case, it doesn't do that. Like you, I like the strap, the weight that the pack right into my back. I'm pulling in the load lifters all the way down as far as they can go. I'm pulling the straps in just about as far as they can go. I'm pulling the hip belt in really as far as I can take it, so it's really just glued to my back. For me, I like that weight up even a little bit higher than the experts say. It helps keep balance.
Ben: We are so not talking about clams yet, but we will. I want to know what you end up doing. Did you turn around and come back? What exactly is going on now?
Craig: Boy, I'm blogging this story. It's funny. Some of it's really quite funny and silly, and I'm tempted to recount the whole experience. It ended up being three days with you here now, but I'm not going to do that. Here's the short version. I'll write about it. People can read about it. Short version is day two, I realized what was going on. Then, it became a question of, “Well, this is a two and a half to three-week treck, can I get to the first out, which is Bishop, California? Maybe, five, six days out and then you'll pull out there and try to figure things out. There are camping supply stores there. Sort this thing out.” I thought, “Well, that's foolish too because you're still going to have to go through five or six major passes, huge granite talus, all this stuff off-course.” It's like crossing the street. If you don't look both ways, you will put yourself at huge risk. Nothing could be easier than crossing the street as long as you look both ways. That's it. You don't look both ways, you're putting your life in danger. Same with diving. I'm a diver. I'm an avid diver. If you know the basic rules of diving, it's perfectly safe to do. If you don't know the basic rules of diving, your life is in peril. I think of these high-route hikes the same way. If you know the basics, you're in good shape. I do know the basics, but I also know that it's dangerous out there and it was the first time I was doing something like this at that length and solo. I just decided it was too dangerous, it was too risky with this problem, with this weight. You know what it feels to have the pack sitting improperly on your back, riding down into your glutes. Every time, every step uphill. Oh, beyond.
Ben: That's a lot. I remember when I would put 100 pounds of my pack to train and walk my kids to the bus stop, the first few times I did that, my wife got pissed because we missed the bus stop because I was so slow. Yes, I get it.
Craig: I had no choice. I just decided, “Look, I could maybe get to Bishop here,” but I thought, “that's as foolish as doing the whole thing,” because it's dangerous just to get the Bishop under these conditions with the weight crushing you, or you're hitting my medial glutes. At the bottom part of the hip belt, is rigid. That's not really pleasant there. The grind was too hard. I spent another day up there, thinking about it. I said, “I got to leave, come back do it again. I just plain screwed up. I'm in a potentially life-threatening. It's certainly difficult environment. This is not the way to go about it on a first time.” It was not easy, man. Very, very hard. I had a very cool Garmin GPS device that allowed me to keep contact with certain people. I said, “Hey, sorry to do this to you, but you got to come and extract me. You got to come and get me. I got to do this again next year.” Why does it take a year to do it again? Because 95% of the snowfall in High Sierras begins mid-October. This was in August when I was doing this. September was already spoken for me. I didn't have September to give to go back. I couldn't go in October because I'm not going to be dealing with the snow. I don't have snow background. I can't really go in June or July next year because the snowpack in the Sierras tends to be pretty high, unless we have a super bad snow either, which means it would [00:18:08] ______. That's why it has to wait a year. It's not like the hike I'm planning on doing now, which is called the Lone Star Trail 96 miles. You do that anytime. The only problem with that trail is, if you do it in the summertime, you deal with Texas humidity and heat. That's crazy. It's just uncomfortable, but there are no real weather issues with that. That you can do any time, but you can't do the high route anytime.
Ben: Crazy. Well, I know it was a long intro for folks who want to get to knowing why we're going to talk about clams. That's where Craig's on. I'm just glad you're alive, man.
Craig: [0:18:39] ______.
Ben: That's what [00:18:41] ______ back out.
Craig: We're going back. We're going back, definitely.
Ben: I'm personally signed up for about a 14-day trip to the Arctic Circle in 2020 where I'll be hunting grizzly, caribou, and Dall sheep up there. There will be a lot of floating, a lot of fishing, a lot of plant foraging, and a lot of time alone in the Arctic. I've got a long time to prepare for that. That's about a year and a half or so.
Craig: You're going to be shooting or bow?
Ben: Well, I'll have my bow and I'll have my handgun, and I'll have a rifle. I will have options.
Craig: You're going to have a lot of fun.
Ben: Yes. I don't know if fun's the right word, but it will be an adventure.
Craig: It's going to be a challenge.
Ben: I will slay some dragons, personally and physical.
Craig: Yes, for sure. That sounds fun.
Ben: What the heck is up with the clams, man? I haven't talked about clams a lot before on the show. They're not something I regularly order at restaurants. Although, I have spoken before on the show about the extreme nutritional benefit and nutritional density of shellfish. You, in particular, took a keen interest in clams lately. You send me all these emails on research studies on clams and stuff you're looking into. Fill me and the listeners in on this whole clam thing.
Craig: Well, this is nowhere near as long as that intro. I guess this would be really pretty short here. When I was creating the original formula, the AFA supplement, I struggled between using the grass-fed hormone-free desiccated liver B. Not because I don't like it. I love it. I lived on that stuff when I was training at a high level.
Ben: A lot of people don't realize it. Of course, if folks go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/clam, I'll link to the whole podcast we did on liver. A lot of people don't realize how good a good desiccated liver extract powder is if you're going to go do anything at altitude, or any alter endurance activity, in general. A lot of people think of liver for the hormone benefits and the fat-soluble vitamins, but it has some amazing altitude performance benefits.
Craig: Yes, it's a superior all-around ingredient, I think, of course, subjective. Everybody's got their point of view, and they should. I think it's a superior ingredient. There was a time when it was a mainstay of athletic performance. It's making a big comeback these days. The struggle was not any problem with desiccated liver by itself, but I already knew that clams had the highest amount of iron and B12 available that I know of. I used to think it was liver. But, back in the days when I was reconstructing my old formula to bring a current, clams came forward as, by far, a superior source of B12 which is critical for red blood cell production. As I mentioned some of our other chats, it combines with B9 for energy and red blood cell production. You get all of the B suite of vitamins in there, in the highest amount of them, but in particular, iron and B12. Of course, we know iron is critical for red blood cell development. When you're at altitude, you can have trouble with that. I wanted to get something–term that wants to come to mind is extreme. I don't know if that's the right word. More powerful, maybe, is the right way to put this.
Ben: More powerful than liver.
Craig: Yes. Liver is great, but I'm going to altitude here. I've always had clams, which, by the way, are not shellfish. They're actually a mollusk. People mistakenly classify them in the shellfish group, but they're technically not a shellfish, for what that's worth.
Ben: Well, they have a damn shell. They should be a shellfish. They got a really hard shell.
Craig: They do. They do. I just wanted something knowing I was going to be super challenged at altitude. As I say, I'd not done anything like this before. It's unsupported. Self-supported. Knew that I was going to be challenged. I wanted to try getting that into my system, instead of desiccated liver. I wanted to get a higher source of all of those great things into my body. That's why clams took front-and-center. I just decided to source them, to find them, to find the cleanest available that I could get. Get some betta ingredients, put this stuff together, and try it out. That is why I chose clams. Really, because it's just a more powerful, more potent version of the desiccated liver. There are other ingredients here we'll talk about, but the reason I made two variants of this product is that some people are shy of clams. They don't want them. I have the desiccated liver version of this product also because I do believe it's really important to get one or the other. For this particular application, I lean into the clams in addition to the other ingredients, because I believe it's more powerful. You get the higher values of the B suites. It also creates its own electrolyte circuit too, which is critical to chemical balance in the body, particularly at altitude.
Ben: When it comes to a lot of these things like liver, or algae would be another really nutrient dense compound, it's also a bio [00:23:32] _____. We can return to algae in a second because I did have a question for you about that. Clams, of course, also, I think, are something that can be concerning because as a fish that does do some of this [00:23:46] _____, there are concerns about the level of contaminants found in it, like a lot of other seafood-based sources, or algae, or liver, which is a filter. If you're getting your liver from an unclean animal, you do risk some amount of any of the fat-soluble toxins that haven't yet been removed via phase 3 from the liver and winding up in the liver that you eat. When it comes to clams, how are you sourcing those? How do you ensure that a clam is not going to be high in contaminants?
Craig: The only way you can do that is you have to take the time to find a source that, what they like to say, the better side of the industry likes to say is, wild farm raised. They do use seawater, regular everyday seawater, the water is filtered and depends where they raise these clams separate from the traditional ocean environment. That any potential contaminants are filtered out. Of course, in the desiccation processor or in a drying process, just like with liver, any other bacteria that might be there, which typically is not when you're dealing with grass-fed liver or you're dealing with farm-raised clam, are going to be killed in the process of enough heating it and turning it into extract.
Ben: Where are you getting your clams? Is that a secret?
Craig: I don't mind sharing that. No. Ever heard of Nantucket?
Craig: They're sourced out of Nantucket.
Ben: I've heard of that and I've heard of the Quahog Clam Bar in the “Family Guy.” [00:25:16] ______ I'm aware. You get it from Nantucket. You're not actually, just so people don't think that when you're taking clams out on a hike, you literally have a giant Ziploc bag full of clams. You're actually getting these and you're powdering them and encapsulating them?
Craig: Yes. Well, what I do is I source them from the company that grows some and has them converted into the powder that I need them to be. Then, they are combined with the other three ingredients that create this formula that I call AltiFuel.
Ben: Cool. Clams, when it comes to iron, this is the way that I like to couch things. I came across this when I was looking into some research on clams before I started taking the supplements that you sent me to guinea pig, which had the clam extract in them, which you mentioned was it's your original formula that, again, we talked about in previous podcast. It's clam instead of the liver extract. They've got more iron in them than an entire T-bone steak. Just a very small serving of clam. It's pretty crazy.
Craig: It is. If we step it up a bit here, I think a three-ounce serving of clams has somewhere around, you're not getting three ounces in my formula, so for those who are worried about too much iron which is an issue, don't worry about that here. I think a three-ounce serving of clam comes in somewhere around 1,500% of the RDA for iron.
Ben: Yes, it's like 20 or 30 milligrams. For those of you who aren't familiar with iron, you got two different forms, your heme iron and your non-heme iron. The non-heme iron is typically what you'd find in a lot of plant matter that you can make more bioavailable by consuming the plants in the presence of a high amount of vitamin C. Clams have both the heme iron and the non-heme iron. That's one thing that they have going for them. You get both the plant-based iron. Then, also the meat or the T-bone steak-esque based iron. Is there anything else, though, when it comes to clams in addition to the iron? I think, you mentioned minerals, decent source of minerals.
Craig: It's a phenomenal source of minerals. As I say, it completes an electrolyte circuit. Here's something I didn't know in my research. This is new to me. You may know this. What I did not know was that, just to make the numbers easy let's just say there's 100% of B12 or iron in a portion of some amount of clam that you're taking, or any heme iron, for that matter. It didn't, never occurred to me that all of it wasn't up taken by the body. It turns out it's not. Heme iron has the highest amount of bioavailability and uptake of the amount that you take. You don't always get, my understanding anyway, is that you don't get 100% of the amount uptaken into the body, as you think you do. Another reason I decided to go with the clam is because if I am taking 100% of something and I'm only absorbing 60 to 70 to 80% of it, well it's going to help me more. This is my thinking, anyway. It's going to be something I'm going to get more of where I need it most. That was an additional reason. It came along after the fact. That validated why I should be using clams in this formula at altitude. It's another reason why I use it.
Well, hello. I want to interrupt today's show because you may have heard my podcast interview a couple of weeks ago with his guy named Thomas DeLauer. We talked about how when you combine things like collagen and liposomal delivered medium chain triglycerides and omega-3 fatty acids, that it actually helps to effectively and sustainably keep your body in ketosis. Thomas formulated this thing specifically for people who are in ketosis to break through keto plateaus if you're just starting on a keto diet or you want to supercharge all the benefits of ketosis. It tastes like this amazing flavor of chocolate explosion in your mouth. I just put it on a tablespoon right now because he sent me a few bottles. I'm very much enjoying it. It's wonderful. It helps you avoid the keto flu too, which is really cool if you're doing low-carb and also exercising. Their patented liposomal delivery mechanism increases bioavailable, lu-be-ba-ba-ba. See, when you use too many big words in a row, that's what happens. It increases bioavailability by 20 times. That's what I was trying to say. It's good. You get 15% off a little bottle of this stuff or as many bottles as you'd like. You go to purathrive.com. At P-U-R-A-thrive, purathrive.com/greenfieldketo. That's purathrive.com/greenfieldketo.
Decent amount of omega-3 fatty acid. Then, the other one that I did I know that were pretty high in clams is Vitamin K2, which, a lot of times, I don't find in many of these animal-based proteins in very high amounts. A lot of shellfish, but clams, in particular, have a good amount of both the omega-3s and the K2. There's a lot going for it. Then, you actually combined. I wanted to ask you about this formula in general. Again, this bottles up in my cupboard. You sent it to me a few weeks ago. I've been experimenting with it before workouts and slamming down the clam extract. You actually have it combined with cordyceps, which we've talked about on the show before. Then, you've got rhodiola and ginkgo biloba. I think, those are the four: Cordyceps, clams, rhodiola, and ginkgo.
Craig: The critical point in that statement is not the typical rhodiola rosea, which people are familiar with, but a version of rhodiola called crenulata. Rhodiola crenulata. This is a really fascinating ingredient. Again, in a way, developing this formula, trying to research hypoxia, mountain sickness, acute mountain sickness, oxygen delivery, all of these things, and iron and B12 and B suite, and electrolytes. Something, again, you always push me, Ben Greenfield. You always push me, and I don't necessarily like it because I don't present myself as a scientist. You make me work harder than I'm comfortable doing. I'm better because of it. Because, you make me study this stuff beyond just, “Oh, this will work. The science is there.”
Ben: I don't like to have people on the show just talk another ass.
Craig: I'm telling it straight. I'm calling it like it is. You pushed me and it helps. Here's the thing about crenulata that I didn't know, and about hypoxia that I didn't know, and acute mountain sickness, is this particular version of rhodiola pushes back at both, and it pushes back at hypoxia. During my study, I was learning that the pulmonary pathways, sodium is a part of hypoxia. When you're going into altitude, the sodium in your body doesn't work the same way. There are breakdowns in the way sodium is pushed through the body. This is one of the things that contributes to having an hypoxic effect at altitude. Crenulata is studied. I have these phenomenal papers here which I'll link so you'll have all of them.
Ben: Rhodiola crenulata.
Craig: Rhodiola crenulata, specifically, is known to push back at hypoxia by helping maintain the sodium transport, the pulmonary sodium transport, in the body. That's one of the major things it does. I've no idea, no clue, that it would do this. I wasn't even looking for this when I was putting it together. After doing some research, I felt that look at hypoxia as a real issue at altitude, and anything that would help with hypoxia should be in the form. That's why this particular version of rhodiola is in the supplement. I hadn't heard of it that much before. There's this rhodiola crenulata. You normally see the adaptogenic herb, rhodiola rosea, used for stress, to a certain extent some amount of exercise performance, blood flow. It's common in traditional Chinese medicine, for example. This crenulata, I taught the research on it in terms of oxygen availability. Then, also, reduction of a lot of the hypoxia-induced membrane damage was really interesting, meaning that if you have altitude sickness, it appears that this is something that could actually help to reverse that or manage altitude sickness, if you do find yourself dug into that hole.
Craig: It's got a long history, actually, of being able to mitigate altitude sickness. It's one of the reasons I put it in there, of course. I generally don't deal with that, but a lot of people do. I thought that it made a lot of sense to not only put something together that would help with energy and red blood cell production, but also mitigate the possibility of AMS. It is a serious problem for some people and it can lead to much deeper problems if you get it. Generally, it's a gateway to bigger problems, depending on where you're at, what you're doing. If you're doing Everest, something like that, it's a serious gateway to bigger problems. For what I'm doing and for what most of the people that we talk to were doing it's generally not a major gateway. It's just a problem in and of itself. Usually, to mitigate it, we either have to stop, go back down a little lower, reacclimatize and move our way back up, or leave altogether if it doesn't go away. It can be a real pain in the neck.
Ben: Then, you put the ginkgo in there. Now, ginkgo biloba is usually marketed in the supplement industry for cognitive function, or for memory, or for attention. It's used a lot on these nootropic compounds. Why do you put that into an altitude performance, or sports performance, or blood flow compound like this?
Craig: I think, you just said it, blood flow compound. It's a vasodilator, also. It's very well known for increase in cognitive function. It has that nootropic effect but it's also got, what's the term for relaxing of blood vessel walls?
Craig: Yes. Well, there's another one. That what it does. When I go to altitude as low, I begin to feel at about 12,000 feet, my speech begins to slur a bit and my vision. That's low. That's not very high. At 14,000 feet, I talk funnier than I do right now, and my vision is slightly altered. It's not terrible. It's not anything bad at all. But you want to mitigate these things. Ginkgo is well-known to be a nootropic affecting blood flow through the brain and anything we can do just to help with a clearer head when you're moving up to altitude. I tend to move up quickly. I don't tend to move up slowly. I move up as quickly as my body will allow me to, which on this particular hike wasn't that fast. Some people like to move up to altitude quickly and you want to have the best benefits of blood flow that you can get from the beginning to the end of that day. In my case, it was 10,000 feet. It has a very strong nootropic effect and vasodilator for the rest of the body to do what I always say, to get blood and oxygen and nutrients where they need to go when you need it most.
Ben: There are other things a lot of people don't realize. Ginkgo, I like it for a lot of other things. It's amazing for the eyes. There’re some really good studies on ginkgo, and in particular, ocular blood flow. It can actually help quite a bit with vision. You eat your kale and your carrots and your eggs and all your sources of lutein zeaxanthin but supplementing with ginkgo or having some form of ginkgo biloba is really important for eye health. Then, the other thing that I like about it is this idea of cramping. A lot of athletes will cramp due to the alpha motor neuron inhibition, because they're asking their muscles to do something that the muscles haven't had to do in training, in a race, or in a competition. Sometimes, it's mineral depletion or dehydration related, which is less common than what people think. Usually, it's the former, which is why when you taste something salty, rather than eating something salty, it reverses the cramp.
Then there's the issue with hypoxia and blood flow. I believe it's called claudication when you don't get enough blood flow to a muscle. Ginkgo seems to reverse that when you're cramping due to lack of blood flow to an area. It's got a lot of cool things going for it. Then, the rhodiola crenulata that you were talking about. It also, especially if you load with it prior to going up to altitude, also significantly decreases the symptoms of the altitude sickness. It's got a lot going for it as well.
Craig: Well, in a way, I think, I lucked out with this formulation. It has four primary ingredients. The way that they interact with each other ends up being like a seven ingredient, eight ingredient formula. You just pointed out two of the things that crenulata is known to do. The push back at hypoxia and the push back at AMS. In a way, like I've said at the beginning of this, I don't know if I completed the top. But, way back when I was creating these first formulas to help me get a competitive edge in swimming, I fell a lot backwards into a formula that worked after a lot of study without the benefit of the Internet. It was just trial and error until we got it. Now, I had all the benefits of the Internet and be able to do research, a lot of these things just came up as a result of doing that research. I fell into this, also. I just fell into the hypoxia mitigation and the AMS. I was looking for something that would mitigate AMS, but I had no idea that I'd find something that would help mitigate, with strong scientific studies to back it up, hypoxia.
Ben: By the way, to interrupt you, for people who aren't familiar with AMS, because Craig's a swimmer, and that term a couple of times. It's just acute mountain sickness. It's what that is, AMS.
Craig: Once again, if you're thinking about the effects of altitude on your body, you're dealing with hypoxia just by being in that environment. You have some blood flow constrictions just by being in that environment. The ginkgo is a vasodilator. The crenulata pushes back at hypoxia. It also helps with the AMS. It's a trifecta rate on that front right there. I was very excited to discover it. I'd never heard of it before.
Ben: You have the option with the ginkgo biloba and the rhodiola too. I'm sorry, I'm blanking. What was the fourth, in addition to the liver or the clam?
Craig: Yes, cordyceps, which we've exhaustively talked about, cordyceps and its benefits; so, I won't kick that horse to death because you and I have gone into the science of cordyceps on previous shows. Your cordyceps, rhodiola, your ginkgo, and then you have the option of either doing the liver or the clam.
Craig: The only thing I just add very quickly. I agree with you and cordyceps. I just add two things. That's a vasodilator too, but that's not why it's in there. The primary reason I use cordyceps is because I believe in its oxygen-producing capabilities with the polysaccharides that we've talked about. That contain oxygen and release it at cellular level, and the APT production at a mitochondrial level. That's it. That's all I'll say about that. The APT and oxygen-producing.
Ben: Do you mean ATP?
Craig: ATP, pardon me, producing capabilities. Well, I got you to save me.
Ben: What did you get me to save?
Craig: I said, I've got you to save me.
Ben: The AFA, though. You and I have talked a lot before about this blue-green AFA. I try to pronounce it, but something, something floss [00:40:44] _______. It's algae. I know that you harvest that from a really clean source in Climate Lake. The bioremediant potential and the toxin potential of algae isn't an issue. We've talked on previous shows about chlorophyll and how that helps to build the blood due to the pyrrole ring in the chlorophyll, very similar to what you'd find in hemoglobin. It's got that blood building effect; but why wouldn't you have added blue-green EFA to these four ingredients?
Craig: It's a really great question. That's a really good question. Here's the primary reason. I have AFA mostly in the AFA formula because it also is documented to have a very strong nootropic effect. It's documented to have stem cell repair recovery. It really helps with muscle recovery a lot. I didn't think of it in terms of anything having to do with red blood cell production, because I figured I was going to move on over to clams here and try something on that level that would help with red blood cell production, and move that way, and see how that worked. I love AFA. I love chlorella. I love all the green algae. I think, blue-greens they do phenomenal things. I did consider it, but this is the way I wanted to go here. This is what I wanted to try, I wanted to see if I could come up with something. Plus, by the way, that's a plant. I'm a big plant guy. I love plants. I love vegetables, all that stuff. I really wanted the most powerful heme source to work with blood development that I could get. For that purpose, I think, and it's a subjective, people may disagree with me, but I think for that purpose, it is a superior ingredient. That's why I went with the clams over the AFA. I love AFA. By the way, you got to pick and choose. If you could get everything you wanted into a tablet, you'd have a 600-milligram tablet that people would have to chop up in their Vitamix with their shake. It gets to be a point of you got to pick the most superior stuff that works together, hopefully synergistically, so you get more than just the ingredients you're putting in there, but a combination of things happening as a result of those ingredients. I felt that I could get a bigger bang and much bigger blood hit with the clam component than the AFA component. One other thing, while AFA does have B12, it's a plant-based B12. While there's some bioavailability there, it's not as going to be as good as to clam.
Ben: How would someone actually use something like this, in terms of the way that you'd load with it? Would this be 30 minutes before you go out? Do you need to beat route, load with it for seven to 12 days before you get into a competition or altitude performance? What's the best practice for taking these capsules?
Craig: As I always say, I have to be my own clinical trial because I don't have the resources to do real clinical trials. I put these things together. I'm a big believer in finding the lowest dose that has the best impact on you because otherwise, the additional material is just wasted. By the way, on that subject, there are two studies out recently. I'm a type 2 diabetic. I struggle with blood sugar problems. I try everything. That's probably going to be something down the line I'm going to try to figure out. There's a recent study done where they had a test group, clinical study where they had test groups doing one, three, and six grams of cinnamon to see how it would impact blood sugar. There was absolutely no benefit to taking six or three. The six and three has got the same benefits if it's ones. I know a lot of people disagree with me on that. I used to be in that crowd of hyper loading and overdosing if you will, but I've just moved away from that. To answer your question, the ratios I have in here, I had to play with for a while to see where I'd get the hit and what works for me and I believe will work for you. I always believe if it works on me, it'll work on other people too, in particular athletes. I say, to take it about 30 minutes before you go. Get it strongly into your system. That's how I did it when I was in Sequoia-Kings National Park. I had three of these before I started walking up the 5,000 foot. I only made it halfway. I didn't take any at night because I feel the hit from it. I actually noticed I can't take it at night, it's going to keep me awake. It's all natural. There's nothing in it that's unnatural.
Ben: I, actually, haven't taken it at night before. Main thing I notice is I'll take it before sauna sessions and before workouts. This sounds silly, but one of the main things I notice is about 40 minutes later, all the veins in my legs start to pop. They look like fire hoses, especially if I hop in the sauna after I take it. Very similar with what I get from beetroot or any of these Viagra-esque natural compounds. I've been taking three capsules of the clam rhodiola, ginkgo, cordyceps blend. That's the main thing I've noticed, is huge amount of vascularity, which, of course, results in better detox in the sauna and a better blood flow during the workout, et cetera.
Craig: I don't remember or I don't recall talking to you about dosing, and when, if we did. Pardon me. It sounds like you fell into it the way I fell into it. Yours is about 40 minutes ahead of doing something. Mine's about 30 minutes ahead it gets into the system. It's interesting, the effect that you described. I've had people describe that from some of the other products where they start getting a basal lift. I just feel a lot too alive, too alive. It's too strong. I feel very alive, very alert, very aware, and very ready to go do something.
Ben: Ginkgo is probably part of that too, the awareness.
Craig: Yes, exactly. It's a huge part of it. All by itself, but also acting as a vasodilator, it's moving all of that stuff where it needs to go. Anyway, I don't want to take it at night.
Ben: I know you have the website. We have a ton of discount codes that I'll put in the shownotes on all of your stuff, because we've done multiple podcast episodes in the past, and there's some pretty fat discount codes that'll link in the shownotes. Is this stuff even available for people to get? Because, what's in my pantry now, I think, it has your hand scribbles on a printed label. We didn't even talk about this before the show. I just wanted to ask you mostly about clams. If people wanted to get this, does this supplement actually have a name, either the liver one or the clam one? Either one.
Craig: The clam version is called the AltiFuel3 cubed.
Ben: AltiFuel3, like A-L-T-I?
Craig: A-L-T-I F-U-E-L, AltiFuel. Altitude fuel is what it is implying. There's a 3 above the L at the end of fuel so that it implies cubed meaning more.
Ben: The AltiFuel, A-L-T-I, that one is the one that has the clams in it. Which is the one that has liver in it?
Craig: That is simply called AltiFuel.
Ben: Oh, they both are called AltiFuel.
Craig: They both are called AltiFuel. They're just different variants.
Ben: When you go to the website, is there an option there to choose which one you want to get?
Ben: Yes, it'd be very clear. Crystal clear.
Ben: I got you. Now, could you take both? Would that be redundant to pop a few capsules of the liver one and pop a few capsules of the clam one? I may or may not have done that already.
Craig: First of all, it's yes, absolutely. You've got to know your body. You really have to know your body here to do this, because they are iron strong and Vitamin B-complex strong. I need to say, know your body. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you're a high exertion athlete, ultra-runner altitude dude, to some extent like me, heavy. I've got swimmers that swim on with Bowman's team in Arizona, high, high, high exertion athletes. I think they can pretty well take this stuff without any consideration at all because they're burning at such high levels that this stuff is gone in a matter of hours, for those types of people. I don't think there's any problem stacking double. Well, let's call it double-stacking. No problem at all. But, if you're someone who is iron intolerant, check with your doctor first and ask questions. But, in general, yes, absolutely. I do. It doesn't mean you should, but I do.
Ben: Cool. Well, what I'll do is I'll put a link to all this stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/clam. Then, if you guys have questions, if you want to grab the discount codes that we have for all this stuff, if you want to listen to any of the previous podcast episodes that I've done with Craig, I will put it all over there for your listening pleasure. In the meantime, Craig, best of luck on this Sierra trail reattempt. I think, maybe you should eat a lot more clams beforehand.
Craig: We're going to be okay. We're going to make it. I wish I could blame it on the supplements, I have to blame it on a poor choice of backpack. I'm going to be fine. I'm going to get through it. We'll be talking about it later.
Ben: Cool, man. Well, folks, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Craig Dinkel, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at bengreenfieldfitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
When it comes to nutrition benefits, clams are interesting creatures that pack an impressive nutrient-dense punch.
For example, they are well known as a source of iron.
There are two types of iron – heme and non-heme. Heme-iron is more bioavailable, which means it is better absorbed and can be utilized by the body. Clams have both versions of iron, and a 3-ounce serving of clams can provide up to 24 mg of iron. In addition to Iron, clams are an excellent source of:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
The list goes on and on…and my guest on today's show, Craig Dinkel – a supplement formulator, ultra-endurance athlete, altitude specialist and much more – has studied and managed to harness the power these superfood sea creatures. On today's show, we take a deep dive into clams, his new Altifuel supplement, and much, much more.
During our discussion, you'll learn:
-About Craig's adventure on the Hardest Hike in America (which we talked about his last time on the podcast)…4:30
- Along the Sierra High route; At altitude (9-12k feet); 33 mountain passes
- Takes over 3 weeks to finish
- Pack ultra-light everything
- Big mistake: Bought ultra-light backpack
- Not designed to carry as much weight.
- Excess weight caused strain on lower back and glutes
- Get the weight higher up (mid-back or higher)
- Decided to pull out the 3rd day – potentially dangerous situation
-Why Craig initially sought the health benefits of clams…19:20
- Desiccated liver extract powder great for high-altitude events
- Clams have the highest amount of ironand vitamin B12 available
- Clams are a more potent version of the desiccated liver
-Concerns about the level of contaminants found in clams…23:45
- Use wild, farm-raised clams
- Small serving (3 oz.) of clams contain 1500% of daily iron intake
- Heme vs. non-heme iron
- Great source of minerals
- High amount of Omega 3and Vitamin K2
-What Craig combines clams with to get the highest level of efficacy…30:30
- Cordyceps, Rhodiola, ginkgo biloba
- Rhodiola crenulata vs. Rosea
- Maintains sodium pulmonary transport in the body
- Helps reverse altitude sickness
- AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness
- Cordyceps– Oxygen producing capabilities with polysaccharides
- Why not add blue-green AFA to his ingredients…
- Strong nootropic effect
- Helps with muscle recovery
- Wanted most powerful source to work with blood development; clams superior.
- Have to pick and choose what you think is the best
-Best practices for taking the capsules…43:00
- Find the lowest dose for highest impact
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–Altifuel supplement with clam option and liver option. Use code: BENA for 20% off plus free shipping.
–Biotropic Labs Code: BENA will save you 20% plus get you free shipping.
-My previous episodes with Craig Dinkel:
- Shattering World Swim Records On 25-Piece Fried Chicken Buckets, Climbing Mountains While Eating Defatted, Vegan, Grass-Fed, Argentinian Liver Anhydrate & Much More.
- Recovery For Aging Athletes, Cross-Patterning, A New Kind Of High Intensity Interval Training, An Oxygen Boosting Supplement Called “Oxcia” & More!
- A Potent Pre-Sauna Stack, How To Cleanse Your Blood Before Bed, 700%+ Endurance Increases, The Best Supplements For Altitude Performance & Much More With Craig Dinkel of Biotropic Labs.
- The Hardest Hike In America, How To Train & Eat For Altitude, Dangerous Ingredients In Supplements & More With Craig Dinkel of Biotropic Labs.
–Kion: The Recovery Bundle Contains Kion Flex, Kion Aminos Tablet, LivingFuel SuperEssentials® Omega 3EDA+. Use discount code: BGF10, and receive 10% off your order.
–Purathrive: Stay in ketosis, shred fat off your body, experience sustained energy throughout the day… and… break through plateaus to reach the next level that once felt out of reach.