May 27, 2015
[03:22] About Tim Ferriss
[06:33] Tim's Motivation For His Recent Ketosis Experiment
[15:43] Does Tim Self-Quantify?
[17:55] Use of Supplements
[23:44] Fat and Fast Caffeine Metabolizing
[26:37] Tim's Jiu-jitsu Choking Challenge
[29:27] Why Tim Always Does These Things with A Consequence
[33:33] Things Tim Learned Doing Parkour
[36:23] Trying To Lose Someone Quickly In an Urban Situation
[39:22] Why Tactical Shooting Was Tim's Favorite Episode To Film
[42:15] Tim and Experimenting With Temperature Manipulation
[46:04] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it Ben Greenfield. I just emerged from five days immersed in a wilderness survival program with my children. And needless to say, I was completely unplugged and didn't do much podcasting during that time. So in lieu of today's normal podcast, I'm releasing a special interview with the one and only Tim Ferriss. Now before we get on to that interview, just a couple of things. First of all, if you're curious about what wilderness survival camp I was at, go google The Twin Eagles School. The Twin Eagles School. It's up by Sandpoint, Idaho. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend although I am incredibly scruffy and look like Grizzly Bear Adams right now.
So the next thing is that this podcast is actually brought to you by Casper mattresses, which I truly appreciate, having not slept on a mattress for the better part of the past week. So what are Casper mattresses? Well they're quite unique. They're this new hybrid mattress. I've got one in one of the rooms in my house, and they're incredibly soft because they combine premium latex foam with memory foam. But what they've also done, and this might perk up your ears, is they've cut the cost of dealing with resellers and show rooms, and they've passed that savings directly on to you. So you can get one of these premium healthy mattresses for a fraction of the price. So it's obsessively engineered. It has just the right sink, it has just the right bounce, and here's where you can get a Casper mattress with a risk-free trial and a risk-free return policy. Meaning that you can sleep on it for a hundred days and just send it back if you don't like it. So the URL is casper.com/ben. And just use promo code Ben there, and you'll get $50 off towards any mattress purchase. That's casper.com/ben with promo code Ben. Easy enough. Okay, now on to today's episode with Tim Ferriss.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
“And as long as you manage your sodium, and potassium, and so on, I can get by on six hours instead of eight hours of sleep and operate with no handicap.” “I did the four, five blood tests a day with a Precision Xtra for my ketone levels, and I feel like now, after doing that for two weeks or so, that I can tell roughly where my ketones and glucose are.” “There's no biochemical free lunch, whether it's with smart drugs, or anabolics, or otherwise. The body is very, very smart and will compensate by downregulating receptors or decreasing natural endogenous production of fill-in-the-blanks.” “And in almost every case, there's some type of social or financial pressure for a reward or some type of loss of function.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield here. And today I am presenting to you a guy who is no stranger to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show, Tim Ferriss. Now three years ago, Tim appeared on this show with Ray Cronise in the episode “Tim Ferriss and Ray Cronise Explain How To Manipulate Your Body's Temperature To Burn More Fat.” Then two years ago, he returned with the Tim Ferriss cold thermogenesis episode. Well, now Tim is back because, believe it or not, he knows how to do more than just freeze his balls off. As a matter of fact Tim, who's well-known as a relentless self-experimenter, and author, and now TV star, has just launched “The Tim Ferriss Experiment” which is available on iTunes and probably other places too, I would imagine. And so far I've watched the tactical shooting episode, the rock n' roll drumming episode, and I've queued up the urban escape and evasion episode to watch next. Now if you want to check out any of the episodes or any of the resources Tim and I talk about, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/timtim. And at bengreenfieldfitness.com/timtim, you can check out everything that Tim and I talked about today. But Tim is also up to other things. The last time I saw you, Tim, you were eating copious amounts of cheese at a castle in Napa Valley. And so I think that's a perfect place to jump in. What is the deal with the cheese?
Tim: I've dialed back on the cheese a little bit because I felt like I was having it pushed through my pores like a human cheese cloth, but I have been experimenting with ketosis and the ketogenic diet again after about a 10 year hiatus. I followed the cyclical ketogenic diet in college, in parts of college, and experimented with cheese as carb loading combination of ketosis. But this time around, I'm doing pretty much plain Jane ketosis, but measuring it this time around with better tools like you and I have discussed. So instead of using keto sticks in your analysis, using the Precision Xtra primarily for beta-hydroxybutyrate. But that's part of that, as you are very familiar, you consume 70 to 80% of your calories typically from fat, and it's a very boring diet for the most part. But cheese is a very easy, portable way to have fat on the go. And it's a lot less messy than having like KerryGold splattered all over your laptop and books in your backpack. So that was the explanation for the cheese.
Ben: Yeah. And fewer diaper moments, potentially, compared to MCT oil.
Tim: (laughs) Right. Much less frequent disaster pants for sure.
Ben: I'm curious though, when I head Peter Attia on the show, we talked about how ketosis is definitely advantageous for economy and efficiency, particularly for endurance. Now I know you're not like a big triathlete or marathoner, so what was your motivation for using ketosis?
Tim: Yeah. My motivation was multi-fold. Number one, with the new tools at my disposal for measurement, I really just wanted to look at blood marker changes in following the ketogenic diet. And secondly, I knew I was coming up on a TV launch for The Tim Ferriss Experiment, and I wanted to be number one, very sharp mentally, and the brain runs very well on ketones, and wanted to be able to operate at a higher level cognitively, even in sleep deficit, or compared to my normal requirements. And pretty typical that as long as you manage your sodium, and potassium, and so on intake, in general it means increasing your sodium intake pretty dramatically, I can get by on six hours instead of eight hours of sleep and operate with no handicap mentally.
So those were a few of the incentives and reasons for wanting to use a ketogenic diet. Lastly, it just makes scheduling a lot easier insomuch as I don't have to take an hour long lunch break if I'm on a ketogenic diet because I can simply have coconut oil in tea and be fine fasting, multiple days if necessary, but generally speaking, having one primary meal at dinner time. For a host of reasons, it was the optimal diet for a very breakneck schedule that was highly dependent on cognitive performance.
Ben: Now I'm curious, you mentioned that you were tracking some biomarkers, or planning on tracking some biomarkers as you do ketosis. Have you done much of that yet? Like taken blood measurements?
Tim: I have some stuff pending. And what I have noticed, I could probably pull some of them up, but I don't want to chew up too much time…
Ben: My motivation for asking is that when I did ketosis, two biomarkers that I actually was a little bit disappointed in were thyroid and testosterone. And of course, those can manifest in symptoms like being cold a little bit more often, or low drive for example. Have you experienced any deficits like that in ketosis?
Tim: It's interesting that you ask because the two things that come to mind because I've done a lot of blood testing and what was very interesting to me about my response to ketosis, but not, sorry. My response to ketosis was similar insomuch, similar to my fasting experiments insomuch as both of them seem to make my sex hormone binding globulin skyrocket. And for those people who are not familiar with sex hormone binding globulin, among other things, it can render your total testosterone very irrelevant because it will bind to androgens like testosterone, and you don't get some of the nice benefits of that anabolic and androgenic hormone. At the same time though, I was looking at my blood tests, and I'm not doing anything, I'm not taking any extracurricular tools or injections at the moment, my testosterone, my free testosterone, and obviously these lab values and ranges depend on the lab you're using, but what some similar around 720 to way up at the top end of the range at like 950, 970.
So my testosterone has actually substantially increased. But if you look at my sex hormone binding globulin, I think with the LabCorp results, the highest range of globulin, it's something like 50 and my sex hormone binding globulin was 100. So I don't know what to make of that. I will say though that I have been, in the last week or so, experimenting with basically carb backloading at the end of the ketogenic day where I'll weight train and then have a higher carbohydrate meal during dinner. I did this partially because I was at an extended friend's birthday party and didn't want to be that one guy who didn't enjoy any of the food. So I was like, “Alright. If I know I'm going to party at night, I'm going to fast primarily for the beginning of the day.” And what I've probably put on 15 pounds of muscle since you saw me, and that was not that long ago. It's been pretty fascinating. Sort of inadvertent or haphazard carb backloading plus two-thirds ketosis has been kind of interesting.
Ben: That's interesting that you settled on that because backloading is basically what saved me from a lot of the deficits I was experiencing during ketosis. And basically backloading, it's essentially cyclic ketosis. What I found from testing is that you can easily be back in ketosis by the next morning after falling out of the low or no carb scenario in the evening, and especially if you stack that carb backload post-activity, it's extremely anabolic. Which is, of course, probably why you experienced the muscle gains. And that's interesting with sex hormone binding globulin as well, that it still stayed elevated. Because I guess, well my question for you is are you doing more like calorie restricted ketosis where you're getting into ketosis because you're so low on calories, or are you achieving it more from just shoving so many fats into your body that you're generating an ungodly amount of ketones?
Tim: I like to kickstart it with fasting so it's not low calorie, zero calorie. I like to kickstart ketosis with very low calorie. But if you look at my total daily caloric consumption, I do not think I am sub-maintenance at all because my dinners can be pretty massive. I had two dinners yesterday, that mostly through social engagements, but two very high fat dinners. What I find is that the muscle gain has been very surprising to me just because my protein intake is so low compared to any type of conventional weight training wisdom, if you want to call it that, maybe in quotation marks, and say one gram of protein per desired pound of lean body weight or something like that, and I'm getting nowhere close to that. I mean I'm getting probably, I would say at most, a gram per kilogram of body weight. I'm getting 50 to 70 grams of protein per day, maybe on a high end. And so I've just been kind of dumbfounded at how rapid the muscle gain has been. I mean obviously there's a highly anabolic component to insulin and carb backloading, but I've still been kind of puzzled. And it's been really fascinating to observe.
Ben: Yeah. And it's very strange because it actually doesn't really follow what you would expect from a biochemical standpoint. There was a study, I believe it was at University of California back in 2008 where they had women on a calorie restricted 800 calorie a day diet, and they were still packing on lean muscle. So there's something going on biochemically that we don't quite yet understand as far as satellite cell proliferation, and muscle fiber maintenance or growth even in the absence of calories. So that's interesting.
Tim: Yeah. It's really, yeah, anyway. We could geek out on this for a long time. But, yeah, it's very odd but very exciting to me at the same time.
Ben: Yeah. Interesting. Well I'm excited to see some of the results that you get. Are you eventually going to release on your blog any results of blood tracking, or biomarkers, or things of that nature?
Tim: I might. I'm definitely tracking it all and logging it all. But what form that will take, I'm not sure in terms of writing. I feel like I still have more research to do. And the fact I can't pinpoint why I'm gaining as much muscular weight as I am given my intake will bother me, so I feel like I need to do some more testing to at least come up with some hypotheses. But I am logging all the data. So I have all the blood tests and all that.
Ben: And to your knowledge, no one is secretly injecting horse steroids into your right but cheek or anything like that?
Tim: (chuckles) Yeah. I've been waking up with these bruises on my upper outer quadrant of my right buttocks. But besides that, everything's straight.
Ben: It's so weird.
Tim: The bovine-use only toothpaste then, I don't know.
Ben: Speaking of waking up with bruises on your butt cheek, do you actually do any daily quantification these days of other variables? Like we have a lot of listeners who self-quantify things like sleep, and heart rate variability, things like that. And obviously, there was an entire section of the Consumer Electronics Show this year devoted to just wearables. Are you really using many of those things, or doing much tracking and self -quantifying these days aside from tracking some of these ketosis markers?
Tim: I'm not. And part of the reason is that the vast majority of the wearables right now are accelerometers and I just don't find accelerometry very interesting if it's been used for counting stats for instance. But what I've been trying to do is to basically synchronize my perception with tracking devices. And what I mean by that is I did maybe four or five blood tests a day with the Position Xtra for my ketone levels, and I feel like now, after doing that for two weeks or so and noting down my mental state, and my mood, and my irritability on [0:16:22] ______ scale and so on, that I can count roughly where my ketones and glucose are. And in fact, and if you wanna see, this is not pure luck. And it is a little bit of luck. But if you watch the last random show I did, this [0:16:37] ______, I was like, “I bet your ketones are at 0.3 millimolars.” And he tested it and he was 0.3 millimolars. It was insane. And for myself, I'm like, “Okay, I can kind of tell when I'm now between 1.1 or 1.7 millimolars.” So I'm doing the tracking to calibrate my brain and observational skills so that I no longer need the device. But right now, I'm not wearing any trackables or anything like that.
Ben: Okay, yeah. Well, this podcast was originally going to be sponsored by Precision Xtra Ketone Monitoring, but I'll have to let them know.
Tim: If you could get me some strips for less than $5 a piece, I'd be really excited.
Ben: Seriously. I switched to breath for a while during my experimentation and settled on the same thing as you did that it's pretty easy to feel whether or not you're in ketosis and even in a deep state of ketosis once you get to know what it actually feels like.
Ben: So in addition to using ketosis for accelerating learning or for enhancing focus, concentration, et cetera during your filming of The Tim Ferriss Experiment, did you use other things? Like nootropics, smart drugs, supplements, things of that nature?
Tim: Yeah. So during The Tim Ferriss Experiment, I was following slow carb with the Saturday cheat day and not ketosis just because of the travel schedule. And so I was so insane that I found it at the time, and also because I was actually, for a host of reasons, mostly convenience related, I just found slow carb to be a more compatible diet for that period of time. The other tools that I use would include, and I think this is actually an important point to make for folks is that you don't need to be “in ketosis”, i.e. deep ketosis, to produce ketones. So I would consume, I would very often fast until lunch while filming, and I would have coconut oil, sometimes a tablespoon or two of caprylic acid, which is sort of a fractionated version of MCT oil.
Ben: Yeah. Damn tasty stuff.
Tim: Oh, it's delicious. Yeah. Jet fuel aside, it's not quite as bad the synthetic ketones, but it's pretty bad. So I would have that with tea, which was Pue-r tea, which is a fermented black tea, plus turmeric and ginger. And that is still to this day kind of my morning cocktail. And particularly with coconut oil, it really just sets the tone for the rest of the day. I didn't use a ton of pills and potions partially because, or outside of, in some cases, prescription medication that I had to take from all the injuries. So in the parkour episode, like I tore three out of four quadriceps in both legs, had partially torn ACL, torn infraspinatus in my left shoulder, tore flexor muscles in my right forearm. It was a mess. So I had anti-inflammatories, and I had some really powerful painkillers and what not that I did not end up using, but I had them just in case. And jiu-jitsu, same story. Kind of like broken floating rib on the first day of five days of shooting with Marcelo Garcia, the Michael Jordan of the sport.
So I didn't want to put a heavy burden on my liver by adding anything additional if I was taking any type of say, even ibuprofen. And that having been said, there were a couple episodes where I had a respite from the physical abuse. Like the language learning episode where I had to try to learn Tagalog, Filipino while I'm out three or four days to get interviewed on live TV in Tagalog for six minutes, I guess, which is a long time. I was playing around with a stack that works for me, although it's a very controversial stack that some people feel biochemically doesn't make sense, but CILTEP is the general name of the stack. But it includes typically, I think its forskolin and artichoke extract is another way to sort of McGyver a similar effect if it's combined with caffeine. And I respond very well to that. But what I found is that there's no biochemical free lunch, whether it's with smart drugs, or anabolics, or otherwise. The body is very, very smart and will compensate by downregulating receptors or decreasing natural endogenous production of fill-in-the-blank. And that is problematic if I am filming 13 episodes in 16 weeks if I need to be on point every single day, I can't afford to have two down days.
Whether you're taking ecstacy, or taking modafinil, say whatever, for a lot of people, there is a neurotransmitter and biochemical recovery period where you suck for a period of time. And I couldn't afford that, so I was predominantly, occasionally messing with something like a CILTEP, or even like a hydergine. And obviously, guys, I'm not a doctor famous in the internet. Hydergine's very interesting, but that's a prescription medication typically in Europe used for dementia and things like that. But predominantly, I'm really, I can count on maybe one hand the number of times that I used that stuff. I was relying primarily on fats and different types of stimulants found in tea. I also used the Yerba Mate, which is very interesting because you have not only the pharmacokinetics of caffeine where you have just a graph, imagine that people listening, that shows you kind of where it peaks and where it starts dropping off. I'm a caffeine fast metabolizer, so if I have coffee by itself without fats, I crash within about 20 to 30 minutes. And when you have something like yerba mate tea, you have not only caffeine, but you have theophylline, which is what you find in green tea, theobromine, which you find in dark chocolate. And all of those combined, since they have different graphs and different peaking periods, and half-lifes, and whatnot, I get a nice two to three hour period of a 20% mental gain. I was mostly taking that type of moderate approach. But then I was trying to ensure that I wouldn't crash and screw up at varying and filming schedule.
Ben: Now you mentioned something interesting there about caffeine metabolizing, and we've certainly interviewed folks from genetic testing services before in and have mentioned the fact that some people are slow or fast caffeine metabolizers. But you talked about how mixing coffee, or caffeine, with fat seems to slow the effect. In terms of how that actually works, have you looked into that at all? Talked to other fast caffeine metabolizes who found the same thing or was that just something you came upon?
Tim: I haven't. It's something that I chanced upon. And I think that there are a couple of ways to look at it, and one of my heroes is Richard Feynman. I think he says and he has a quote along the lines of [0:23:59] ______ most important thing is not to heal yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. So I think that on one hand, I'm inclined to want to say, “Okay, hypothesis A is that there's something fat soluble in coffee that binds to say, coconut oil, and that affects the metabolizing of the caffeine or whatever.”
It could be that something in the coffee besides the caffeine is making me tired 30 minutes later, and that is what is being somehow balanced and excreted, right? Who knows? It could also be that the fat is not extending the effects of caffeine, it's just that the MCTs are getting converted into ketones around the same time that I would normally crash so that I'm actually still crashing but the coconut oil is compensating for that by juicing the system with ketones. I don't know which of those is accurate. I just know that if I add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil, oddly enough, and this could be complete placebo effect, I find that the coconut oil appears to be more effective with the tea that I use, and butter appears to be more effective with the coffee that I tend to drink. And that could be complete BS, but for whatever reason, that is generally how I combine things.
Ben: Yeah. That's interesting. And my understanding of it from a caffeine standpoint is that there are a couple of psychoactive terpenes in coffee, cafestol and kahweol are these terpenes. And I believe they're carried across the blood-brain barrier when enveloped in fats, and those are normally not molecules that you would feel if you had a cup of coffee in the absence of fats. And so I think that's kind of the trick to this whole blending, whatever, any caffeine source, like yerba mate or coffee, with an oil source, like an MCT. I'm a fast caffeine metabolizer, but I honestly don't really do a lot of fats blended with coffee. But this has made me think a little bit about maybe starting to do that a bit more. Now I want to make sure we get a chance to talk about a few of the very cool adventures that you've been on during the course of filming The Tim Ferris Experiment. For example, you did jiu-jitsu, and one of the things you would up doing as part of your rapid learning of jiu-jitsu was a choking challenge. What exactly is a choking challenge and how'd that go down?
Tim: Yeah. The choking challenge was, I'm in New York City right now and it was held here in at the Marcelo Garcia Academy, which is one of the most dominant competitive jiu-jitsu schools in the world. Marcelo Garcia is like a 10-time world champion. He's pretty much the undisputed best grappler in the world, many people think, who's ever walk the face of the planet. And so I was training with him, and at the end of just four days, I had to roll with this world class brown belt, who's now a black belt, just choked out one of the Gracies. She tried to apply the guillotine choke as many times as possible, and I think it might have been a three minute period of time, or maybe 60 seconds, I can't recall. And the point was, during the week, to try to learn the macro from the micro, and I know this applies to many, many different things, but to not try to learn jiu-jitsu per se, because it's too broad, just like to learn Spanish is too broad, but you can learn jiu-jitsu through the lens of this one technique, this one submission called the guillotine choke, which Marcelo is very famous for. His particular variants on the guillotine is really brutal and called the Marcelo-tine. Really very technical.
So could I learn the transitions, the timing, the setups for all of jiu-jitsu by focusing on this one technique. Now that was the choking challenge. But you can do the same thing with trying to learn a foreign language by learning how to translate one poem, like your favorite poem, or your favorite one page fill-in-the-blank right? I mean it could be The Declaration of Independence into that language, Cardinal Mezzofanti, who is a famous hyperpolyglot, learned, by some accounts, he was tested in I think 32 languages, but was purported to speak up to 70. He used The Lord's Prayer. His version of the guillotine for learning languages was The Lord's Prayer. The Lord's Prayer, he would have native speakers translate for him into The Lord's Prayer. That's how he started taking up all these languages. But the choking challenge was trying to throw the guillotine onto those monsters (laughs), the Marcelo Garcia Academy.
Ben: That's one thing that I noticed was that in many of the episodes, like in the jiu-jitsu episode, you have to literally go in and fight with monsters. In the open water episode, you had to go into the choppy surf. In the drumming episode, you had to perform live on stage in front of this massive crowd. And you seem to always have some kind of a drastic consequence or embarrassing outcome at stake when you specifically are learning something. Why do you think it is that more people don't set up this risk component when they're learning new things or trying to achieve a goal?
Tim: I think there are several explanations. One is that they don't really want to do it. It's just something on their wish list. And I have those too. Like I wanted to be able to do side splits between chairs like Van Damme since I was 12. And pretty much every year, it's just somewhere on my like “It would be really awesome if” list. But “It would be really awesome if” is kind of like “someday when I have time and all the circumstances are perfect” type of list. I think that's one category. The second category is that people don't understand how valuable those incentives are in setting the stakes and how effective that can be at driving behavior change. People are like, “What?” So and so bets his friend, or they have a running agreement that so and so will pay his workout partner $5 if he misses a workout. I don't give a damn about $5. That's not going to change my behavior. In fact, it probably wouldn't. They underestimate the psychological mechanisms at play.
As an example, AJ Jacobs, writer for Esquire who's a buddy of mine, very good writer. And he's Jewish. But to finally lose weight, he knew what to do, he just wouldn't do it. He wrote a check to the American Nazi Party for a thousand Dollars and gave it to one of his friends and he's like, “Alright. If I don't lose x number of pounds by y point in time, I want you to mail this thing to the party,” and then that would put his name on record as having donated to the American Nazi Party. He lost the weight, long story short. I think we'd love to drown ourselves at “how to”, but the “why to” is a missing component that is really easy to engineer. Make a betting pool with some friends. I mean it doesn't have to be complicated.
Ben: Did you stumble upon that strategy or did it seem hardwired into you as just something that makes logical sense as you grew up and as you began learning things?
Tim: It's something that I think I was intrinsically aware of but really didn't start to think of as technique that could be used very elegantly. And so I had to think about how to get hundreds of thousands of people to change their diets and to lose weight. It's a very gnarly problem because it's harder for a lot of people to change their diet than to quit smoking. It's really just insane on some level when you look at how difficult it is. And I wanted to make it easier, so I started looking at outliers who had never been able to follow a diet then suddenly lost 120 pounds. I was like, “Hey, what are the triggers? What are the commonalities across the anomalies?” And in almost every case, there was some type of social or financial pressure, whether it was a reward or, very often, some type of loss or punishment. It wasn't enough to be like, “If you do this right, you will win this money.” It was like, “If you do this wrong, you come in second place, you're going to lose the money you put into the pot.” So it's like you're five people who have a weight loss competition over a quarter. You're not only eligible to win, but there's also a potential for loss, and that's basically the stick as opposed to the carrot is really undervalued in the US because we like to give everyone a trophy. But in fact, we'll try a lot harder to avoid losing a hundred dollars than we will to make a hundred Dollars. You see what I mean?
Ben: Yeah. It makes sense. Well, over in the show note, by the way if you're listening in, I'll be sure and put a link to the Nazi party for those of you who are wanting to lose weight fast. So a few other questions about the TV show, Tim. Parkour something that fascinates a lot of people. We have a lot of active listeners who would love to be able to move like that and tackle obstacles like that. What was one of the bigger tips you learned in parkour? Like for example, running up a wall is something that I think a lot of people would find a pretty cool skill to be able to do. Is that something you were able to master? Did you pick up any other little tips or tricks that lend themselves to being able to be described via audio?
Tim: Yeah, absolutely. I think running up a wall is an interesting example, and I did get to practice this a lot where the [0:33:42] ______ would propel you up a wall, namely like running up to the wall and then kicking off, but in a straight line upward don't actually work that well. So you're trying to redirect forces, you're actually making an impact on the wall with, let's just say you shin is as, hypothetically, 30 degrees off of the wall, as opposed to parallel to it. And then as you pop somewhat directly up, using a lift, almost like a reverse, like a [0:34:15] ______ or something like that. It's kind of like a reverse hypermovement, it's like a reverse hypermovement on one leg. You're using that terminal kind of hamstring movement, like kicking one leg back to then elevate your hips so that you can land on top of the wall on your feet as opposed to on your chest. So with parkour, whether you're doing something called a cat to cat, which is like jumping, kind of like broad jumping, and then landing on a wall where you catch both hands on top, or the movement that I was trying to tackle, which is very insane but beautiful looking, called the double kong, which is, obviously, unlike a single kong, two kongs in a row. If people out there…
Ben: Are you saying kong?
Tim: Kong like King Kong.
Ben: Okay, double kong. Interesting.
Tim: Double kong is an amazing move. If people can see that on YouTube, they can check out what I was trying to do in four days was to learn to do a double kong. That's how I tore one of my legs really badly. But you're constantly thinking about whether your hips are highest, shoulders are highest, or otherwise, and the relationship between the short of hip and shoulder elevation in parkour. And also redirecting forces. So like how can you take sprinting towards something and change that horizontal movement into a vertical gain, and the kong is a great example of that. So those are a couple of things that you can take a look at. But parkour was definitely the episode in which I got most injured…
Ben: Interesting. And I'll find a video of a double kong move, if anybody wants to see what that looks like, and put it in the show notes. How about urban escape? This one looks really cool. I've always wanted to take one of these urban escape and evasion classes because they look fascinating. And you can see, for any of you listening in, you can see if you go and watch the commercial of Tim, I believe, escaping from a zip tie by using a paracord. But in terms of evasion, the evasion component of urban escape, how do you actually lose someone fast when you're out in the streets or in an urban situation?
Tim: If you're trying to lose someone quickly, there are a lot of different techniques that can be used. But obviously, number one, you have to blend in or become difficult to spot. Part of, there are a couple of easy approaches there, right? So if you have a hoodie or something like that, just lose the hoodie so you change your appearance slightly. Going the wrong way one-way streets as a pedestrian makes it a lot harder for you to be followed by car. As does going to parking structures. If you have a little bit more time to prepare for such a thing, you can acquire other items that are very helpful, like a hard hat and a clipboard for instance. Anything that can give you that the position of invisible authority that people ignore is really effective for getting into just about any location you can imagine.
Ben: Are you allowed to do that during the class? Like can you go into like, whatever, a hardware store and get a hard hat and a clipboard?
Tim: I would imagine that you're allowed to do. I mean my case, if I was being pursued by people in the car or so I actually saw a Greyhound bus dropping passengers off and ran over, well I didn't run over to it 'cause it would've made it kind of obvious, but I walked over to it, I briskly walked over to it like I was trying to catch the bus. And then there's a guy getting off the bus, I was like, “Hey, man,” he looked like he was hard up for cash, had a baseball cap and I was like, “Can I give you 20 bucks for your baseball cap?” He was like, “Sure. Absolutely.” And so I bought his baseball cap. And that right there is a very easy switch, but it makes it incredibly more difficult for you to track someone, just with that simple type of switch of headgear. But in that episode, we kind of learned everything from it. You saw the zip ties, and we did handcuffs, we did getting out of duct tape, we did lockpicking, getting into cars that you can borrow, in quotation marks, in case of emergency. Very fun episode to do.
Ben: What organization did you go through to do your urban escape and evasion course?
Tim: I went to, I worked with Kevin Reeve, who is On Point Tactical.
Ben: Oh, interesting. Okay. I believe I subscribe to their blog, The On Point Tactical.
Tim: Yeah. Kevin's legit. He's very good with outdoor survival as well. He's one of the nation's best trackers. So the FBI and other organizations, even law enforcement organizations have use him and his services in the past to try to find missing children, and fugitives, and so on, which is pretty cool. So he's comfortable out of doors as he is in the urban jungle.
Ben: Now you also have an episode in which you are you are shooting a pistol, a rifle, and a fully automatic, something called tactical shooting. And I've heard you remark before that that was one of your favorite things that you did during the TV show shooting. Why was that your favorite?
Tim: It was definitely one of my favorite. Surfing with Laird Hamilton was pretty high up there too. But the tactical shooting was really fun because I was competing against a friend. In this case, I had a friend along for the ride, Kevin Rose. He's always hilarious, and very smart, and very good at kind of hacking this kind of stuff as well. And I enjoy anything that involves marksmanship. So archery, shooting, I just, I really enjoy how subtle it is and how the little things make a huge difference.
So if you're holding a handgun incorrectly with a short barrel like that, as soon as you teach them how to hold a handgun correctly, they go from you to grouping, i.e. how close the shots are together, it's the size of a wall to grouping that of a dinner plate. And then you make one small tweak on top of that, and then suddenly they have like groupings within a three inch circle. And you can make progress very quickly by minding the details, and I get very excited about anything that allows me to do that, where you can make quantum jumps with tiny improvements and changes. And then there is the Jason Bourne-like aspect of swapping between handguns, assault rifles, shotguns as you run through a course as quickly as possible, shooting targets at different distances. And there's something very gratifying about shooting metal targets also as opposed to paper targets. You're shooting stainless steel, so you hear the like [makes pinging sound] hitting the target is massively gratifying.
Ben: Yeah. It's very cool.
Tim: Yeah. It's super, super fun.
Ben: Have you caught much flak from the anti-gun movement?
Tim: I mean some people get their knickers in a twist about it, other people find it interesting. And my point is, this is not a political statement that I'm making, I'm treating it as a sport just like as you would treat a biathlon, say, in the Olympics. So there have been some people who get their feathers ruffled, but that's fine. I think that on the internet, 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. So you just have to expect that in advance so you don't change how you approach things.
Ben: Well I'll use, as the featured image of this post, for any of you who want to go check it out, a photo of Tim posing next to the targets with what appears to be a machine gun. It was a very cool episode. I recommend that folks check it out. So Tim, I've got one last question for you, kind of coming full circle. The last couple times you were on the show, you actually were doing cold showers and cold thermogenesis. I'm asking this because I started doing this, whatever, three years ago, around the time that I first had you on the show, and it's been hard for me to actually stop. It's like I have this habit now of just taking a cold shower every day and kind of exposing myself to something cold every week. Are you still doing much of that, like experimentation with temperature manipulation?
Tim: I am, yeah. The cold is really addictive because it's such an incredible mood elevator among other things. So I still do cold exposure. Certainly in the ocean not too long ago which by 52 degrees or so, something like that at this time of year. But I have also been playing around a lot with heat acclimation and trying to trigger heat shock proteins and things like that. And Dr. Rhonda Patrick was the first one who kind of turned me on to looking at that in a methodical way as a means of increasing growth hormone and so on. So over the last few months, I've been doing a lot of, not only heat exposure through dry sauna and steam rooms, but doing contrast therapy where I will go, I actually did this in my last podcast where I interviewed Rick Rubin, going from sauna or steam room to ice bath and back and forth is something that I've been experimenting with quite a lot.
Ben: That's amazing. That's Wednesday morning for me. I've got a giant cold swimming pool outside in my backyard next to a hot tub. My strategy is eight minutes of swimming in the cold, and then I'll go two minutes into the hot tub and do breath holds in the hot tub, and then go back into the pool. And three times through is about a 30 minute routine. And you feel amazing afterwards.
Tim: Oh, you feel incredible. Like all your worries just melt away. And I think there are very inexpensive ways to do it too. I mean you could use, a lot of CrossFitters will use a garbage can. And if getting the ice is a hassle if you live in a city and it means the car operates and you can use an app to order ice. That's the only thing I use [0:43:56] ______ buying bags of ice. And then you have that, and you could pair it with a hot shower. It doesn't have to be super expensive. But I'm still definitely very keen on playing with temperature, and I'll be doing more of that as well.
Ben: So folk, if you learned anything from this episode, it's that Tim Ferriss approves of you basically sitting in a garbage can. You could probably set one up in your front driveway full of old cold water to enhance your biology, and he's still doing it. So all of the resources, I took a lot of notes on everything from CILTEP, to yerba mate, to the double kong parkour move, to The Tim Ferriss Experiment TV show on iTunes, and you can check all that out at bengreenfieldfitness.com/timtim. And Tim, thanks for coming on the show.
Tim: Yeah. My pleasure, man. And if I could just leave one more suggestion for people. Also if they want to see the books, the podcast, the TV show all in one place, you can also check it out at itunes.com/timferriss. They put all of my various tentacles in one location for convenience's sake. But, yeah. Definitely also and your people to check out the double kong. It's an insane move. (laughs)
Today I present to you a guy who is no stranger to the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast: Tim Ferriss.
Three years ago, Tim appeared on this show with Ray Cronise in the episode “Tim Ferriss and Ray Cronise Explain How To Manipulate Your Body’s Temperature To Burn More Fat”. Two years ago, he returned with the “Tim Ferriss Cold Thermogenesis Episode”.
And now Tim is back, because believe it or not, he knows how to do more than just freeze his balls off. As a matter of fact, the relentless self-experimenter, author and now TV star has just launched the highly entertaining Tim Ferriss Experiment, which you can get now on iTunes. So far, I've watched the tactical shooting episode and the rock n' roll drumming episode, and I've queued up the urban escape and evasion episode next.
But Tim is also up to other things. Like eating copious amounts of cheese. And that's where we start in this discussion with Tim, in which you'll discover:
-Why Tim is experimenting with ketosis…
-How Tim recently put on 15 pounds of muscle…
-Why Tim isn't tracking variables like sleep or heart rate variability…
-Which smart drugs Tim used to accelerate learning during the Tim Ferriss experiment…
-Why Tim ensures there is some kind of potentially embarrassing outcome when he is learning something new…
-Tim's biggest tip to learn to run up a wall Parkour style…
-How to evade someone in an urban situation…
-Why tactical shooting was one of Tim's favorite episodes…
-How Tim is using cold thermogenesis…
Resources from this episode:
–The Tim Ferriss Experiment (TV Show on iTunes)
–Tim Ferriss Cold Thermogenesis Episode (podcast)
–Precision Xtra Blood Ketone Monitor (device)
–CILTEP (smart drug)
–Yerba Mate tea (drink)
–Pue-r tea (drink)
–Double Kong Parkour move (video)
–OnPointTactical (urban escape and evasion course)
[End of Podcast]