December 27, 2014
[00:00] Introduction/About Roy Krebs
[01:20] How Ben Came About Trying CILTEP
[08:32] Artichoke Extract and Forskolin’s Methods of Action
[14:10] How to Find and Identify Your Rate Limiting Steps
[22:08] Roy’s Thoughts on “Coffee Work” and Focus@Will
[27:30] Pomodoro Technique, Ideal Time Balance, and Marinara Timers
[30:06] Ben’s Specific Day Task Schedules
[33:24] Roy’s Take on Float Tanks and Sensory Deprivation
[41:14] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a couple of months, then you know that I recently spoke at the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference, and I have to admit that I had just flown in from racing the Vermont Spartan Beast when I spoke at that conference. Now I was a little bit jetlagged, I was a little bit tired, I was slightly below my desired cognitive capacity prior to hopping on stage; so as I was wandering through the expo prior to getting on stage to speak, I thought “well why not just try some new-fangled smart drug that I’ve never tried before?” as one does.
So as you’d probably suspect, I don’t necessarily advise getting on stage in front of hundreds of people with some new nutraceutical in your body you've never tried before, but I occasionally live life on the wild side. So I grabbed a handful of this stuff called CILTEP, which is basically a mix of artichoke extract and forskolin and a few other things we’ll probably talk about in today’s podcast. I washed it down with a glass of water and then I gave my presentation. And lo and behold, I did not get sick, I did not vomit, I did not die (laughs), things went pretty well during the presentation. But ultimately, I got an e-mail a few weeks later from the folks at NaturalStacks who are the developers of CILTEP and they asked me if I was interested in interviewing their co-founder, this guy named Roy Krebs.
Roy is a former college football player, he is an ex-sushi chef and now he’s in charge of helping to develop the smart drugs that NaturalStacks makes and design strategies for hard-charging individuals to mentally dominate their cognitive tasks. So he sounded like a pretty interesting guy to interview and I figured I would get him on the show for you guys to listen in to. So Roy is right here with me today. Roy, what’s up, man?
Roy: Yeah. Hey Ben, thanks for having me on.
Ben: Yeah, no problem. So I know you’ve kinda got a varied background but I’m interested how you got from being a college football player to being a developer and designer of smart drugs.
Roy: (chuckles) Hmm, yeah. I’ve done a lot and it’s been an interesting background on how I came to starting NaturalStacks and working with nootropics and dietary supplements. First, I don’t like the word “drugs”. (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) Actually you know we had a podcast couple of weeks ago where we talked about the difference between nootropics and smart drugs, and I know they’re different. I haven’t really gotten out of the habit of just using the two words in the same vein. Yeah, technically, like CILTEP for example, is a nootropic, not a smart drug, right?
Roy: Sure, a nootropic or just a dietary supplement. Drugs are designed to treat a disease and we’re not doing that.
Roy: Drugs are regulated by the FDA; we are not. So yeah, natural dietary supplements. And actually our flagship product CILTEP was designed by Abelard Lindsay in a really interesting way that’s quite different from how other dietary supplements are developed. So Abelard is the senior programmer at Silicon Valley and has been extremely dedicated to brain hacking and medical research for probably about ten years. And so, the way that CILTEP was developed is he found some medical studies, some kind of thrown away past medical studies that showed a synergy between these two natural ingredients, artichoke extract and forskolin. And he posted the concept onto an online forum: LongeCity.org.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve heard of it. It’s like an anti-aging forum, right?
Roy: Right, a bunch of people who are trying to live forever.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve been there a few times; it’s incredibly nerdy and at the same time extremely fascinating. It’s just like a ton of rabbit holes you can go down.
Roy: A ton, yes. And there’s just a lot of it is research-based, which is what I like, and a lot of anecdotes of people experiencing things for themselves and explaining how that works. So he posted the concept, he posted some medical studies and the concept of CILTEP onto the forum, and this was about three years ago, and since then it’s become a very popular thread, it went viral, Tim Ferriss picked it up, Dave Asprey knew about it. And over about two or three years, thousands of people in that community, in the hardcore nootropics community, tried different ratios and different formulas of CILTEP until it got to what it is today.
So really, there was thousands of people who had tried it for themselves before we even brought it to market, which is really cool; we have this community-developed product that was proven before we even released it.
Ben: Just coz all of these different people on LongeCity and all these biohackers were out using it and talking about it?
Roy: Yeah, and they were experimenting for themselves so we were able to discover “okay this amount of artichoke is maybe a little too much” and they refined the formula over a few years. So it’s not like we just chose some random ingredients, threw it together and said this is gonna work for you. It went through three years of testing by all these hardcore biohackers before we released it.
Ben: Yeah, and do you consider yourself kind of well-versed in enhancing cognitive performance, specifically? I mean how did you come to find smart drugs as something that you’re interested in? Is this something that you’ve taken on as a passion? Is thinking faster enhancing mental performance?
Roy: Yeah, definitely a passion. I started getting into dietary supplements/nootropics because I was an entrepreneur and I was working from home and was having trouble getting through the to-do list and being focused and getting a lot of stuff done without much structure. And so I started looking at nootropics and was trying some things for myself then actually discovered CILTEP, and that’s when I got a hold of Abelard and we met for lunch in Silicon Valley and I talked about my vision for a company that would be very simple, transparent, all-natural ingredients, premium stuff all based on science, no fluff; and he liked the vision and we decided to work together and started NaturalStacks.
Ben: I wanna hear about some of the other strategies that you have for enhancing cognitive performance coz I know you’ve dug into this stuff quite a bit. But before we delve into the things that go beyond nootropics or smart drugs, whatever we’re gonna call them, you talked about the ingredients in this CILTEP stuff, like artichoke extract and forskolin, and on previous podcasts we’ve talked about aniracitam, piracetam, and fish oil, and Chinese adaptogenic herbs and all these ways that one can increase cognitive performance, but we haven’t actually talked about those two ingredients before, the artichoke extract and forskolin. Just for the nerds who are listening in, can you tell exactly how those work on a cognitive level?
Roy: Yeah, and that’s what makes CILTEP unique from what’s out there already is that it’s non-stimulatory so it doesn’t have any sort of jitters or anxiousness that come along with a lot of other nootropics or smart drugs. And so artichoke extract, we can get a little nerdy, is a PDE 4 inhibitor and PDE 4 naturally breaks down cAMP, which are the secondary messenger systems inside of your neurons, and forskolin increases cAMP.
Ben: So you’re keeping cAMP elevated by inhibiting the enzyme that would normally break it down?
Roy: Correct, and you’re also increasing cAMP with the forskolin.
Ben: And what is cAMP?
Roy: cAMP are the secondary messenger systems inside of your brain cells. So this enables your neurons to communicate more quickly and retain more information. And so what I like to say is it helps you be more engaged and efficient at whatever mental task you’re doing at the time.
Ben: I’ve never actually talked about cAMP before in that context; I’ve talked about cAMP actually in my book “Beyond Training”, about how it’s involved in mitochondrial signaling and specifically in aerobic performance. And one of the ways to upregulate mitochondrial density is to increase cAMP via high intensity interval training. I really wasn’t aware that it can also be used as a way to enhance mental function, however. So does it increase mitochondrial activity in the brain in the same way as it does in the muscle? Is it working on a different respect in the brain?
Roy: Yes, absolutely; it’s definitely a performance enhancer.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. But in the respective neural tissue, you’re talking about mitochondrial density or mitochondrial activity?
Roy: This is happening inside of your neurons and it strengthens the connection between the brain cells.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. So you said that’s what the forskolin or the artichoke does?
Roy: So the forskolin increases cAMP and the artichoke slows down the degradation of cAMP.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. Have you ever looked into what effect this supplement has on exercise performance? I’m just curious because cAMP is so integral to exercise performance, specifically for aerobic activity and I’d be curious of its effect.
Roy: Yeah, absolutely. Our main customer base so far has been cognitive performers, these are lawyers, professionals, students, but we are starting to get quite a few anecdotes back from athletes. Specifically, I’ve been talking with some professional baseball players who are using CILTEP before training; I’ve heard other “normal people” who are using CILTEP as a pre-workout and are able to get personal bests and also football players who are taking it before games, and I think it’s a mix of focus and concentration and mental, but also on a physical side as well, they’re seeing some benefits there.
Ben: Interesting. Yeah, and in the past I’ve talked a little bit about forskolin before as being something you take prior to workouts for enhancing the activation of muscle contractions through some of that cAMP upregulation but I never really heard of using something like this prior to a workout. So that’s how CILTEP works and you guys developed CILTEP as part of some of these supplements you do through NaturalStacks. But I’m interested in some of the other things that you found along the way that go above and beyond just supplementation when it comes to enhancing your performance with the use of anything, from lifestyle strategies to thinking strategies, etc. So do you have top strategies that you yourself use or you recommend to the people that you work with for cognitive tasks?
Roy: Sure. For actually both developing supplements and in business and lifestyle, I found that first identify the rate limiter. So what’s slowing down your performance, and when it comes to supplements it’s typically absorption. So all of our supplements are designed to optimize absorption, and so our creatine product has fenugreek extract and salt which help with absorption and our magnesium has the forms of magnesium that have shown to have the highest absorption, and that has made the supplements more effective. And the same concept is used with business or cognitive performance in general is the 80-20 rule, where you find out what’s causing the most results and what’s slowing you down, what’s the rate limiter and just avoiding that at all costs and increasing the things that you’re actually good at.
Ben: Okay, can you give an example or a few examples of how that would actually work in terms of finding or identifying your rate limiting step?
Roy: Sure. So personally, I guess starting a business, we’re just all over the place and once I’ve been able to identify what’s taking me the most time and what’s actually producing the most results, I’ve discovered several tasks that I’m doing everyday that are really slowing me down on my rate limiter and I’ve been able to outsource those to employees and really focus on the core stuff that I need to be working on.
Ben: Like what?
Roy: Like making larger deals with distribution, figuring out the next product, finding the rate limiter on the next dietary supplement we’re gonna create so we can put the best thing out there.
Ben: Hmm. So when someone’s identifying the rate limiting step, let’s say they’re working on their computer at their jobs throughout the day, are you talking about just organically thinking “hey this is taking me more time than it really should” or “I’m not enjoying this and it’s taking extra cognitive horsepower” or are you talking about using some kind of a software or program to quantify and track what it is you’re wasting time on or wasting cognitive effort on?
Roy: Yeah, you almost need to step back. If you’re trying to do it organically, you may not notice it so it’s great to track what you’re doing during the day, on a notepad or anything; “ok I took 30 minutes to do this, this took me two hours…” And then at the end of the day, going back and looking at it from a different perspective. When you’re in the battlefield trying to work, you may not notice the stuff that you’re wasting time on so yes, it’s best to use some sort of software or just take quick note of what you’ve done and seeing how long things are taking you.
Ben: Got it. So you’re not using a phone app or a piece of software, anything like that?
Roy: I’m not.
Ben: I’ve heard of one, it’s uhh… I forget the name of it, it’s like “manage time” or…
Ben: Yes, RescueTime, yeah. You ever use that one before?
Roy: Yeah. I have but I found that it might be good to use it to figure out what you need to be doing but then once you figure that out you may not need to use it.
Ben: Okay, got it. What’s another strategy that you use in addition to just identifying what your rate limiting step is?
Roy: Well, just the first thing before you wanna do anything is making sure that you’re getting some quality sleep. You’re gonna be really slowed down the next day if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, so I found that to be just the most important; making sure that you have some deep, deep sleep, and I’m sure you’ve shared some strategies for that, black out curtains, no stimulants four/five/six hours before you’re trying to sleep, making sure that you can fully relax, focus on your breathing and just let go when you’re going to sleep.
Ben: Do you use any apps for sleep like phone apps, binaural beats, any of that kind of stuff? Do you use technology to help you sleep or do you use earthing, grounding magnets, any of these new-fangled technologies that were all around us at that Bulletproof Conference?
Roy: A little bit; I’m pretty light on technology. I use a sleep induction mat sometimes, but I use that more if I’m just trying to relax during a no-good day, maybe take a quick rest. I have used the app “Sleep Cycle” to just track total amount of sleep and when I’m waking up, when I might be sleeping lightly; and that was really helpful to just get an understanding of how my natural sleep cycle works. Personally, I tend to go to sleep around between 11 and 1, and I typically wake up around 9. I’m in a pretty nice position, I haven’t had to use an alarm clock for years, which has let me just figure out my natural time to wake up and I found that really to be effective.
Ben: Hmm, interesting. So when you go to bed between 11pm and 1am, are you concerned at all about that being too light, like disrupting your ability to get into more deep sleep stages by shifting that night clock too far forward versus a 930 or a 10pm bedtime?
Roy: Yeah, I’ve noticed that if I push it a little too late, then I get into a new zone or I’m getting very focused again at maybe 1am and I wanna keep working. So I found it better to go to sleep between 11 and midnight, if I can. I haven’t really been able to go to sleep earlier, 9 or 10-ish. I guess my cycle is: right when I wake up around 9, I’ll have a Bulletproof coffee in the morning and I don’t eat lunch until 2 or 3 in the afternoon and then I won’t eat dinner until 8 or 9.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Roy: So my cycle’s kinda late.
Ben: One of the best ways to shift that cycle back is blue light; if you can work up earlier and then use a blue light box or blue light lightbulbs or get out in the sunlight early, and then your shift to complete red light in the evening, we covered this in a podcast a few weeks ago, you can actually shift your circadian rhythm into whatever time zone that you want it to be in.
Roy: Yeah, I’ve actually recently upgraded my office. I have all different colors coming from all directions.
Roy: One in my ceiling, with the remote, I do have them blue right now and then I have a light strip which has the same different color options, so I have been playing around with that and trying to get really red and orange later in the day. And up here in Seattle, I know you’re pretty close as well, Spokane, is that right?
Roy: And it’s starting to get dark early on.
Ben: Yeah, well you have the combination of the dark at night and then the grey all day long.
Roy: (laughs) Yeah.
Ben: So the sunshine is not a very hot commodity over there in Seattle. So you’ve got identification of things that might actually be rate limiting steps in your day to day activity, you’ve got increased amounts of sleep; what’s another way that we can get things done faster or another way that we can dominate cognitive tasks?
Roy: Sure, so you gotta be in the zone and you gotta be in the right mindset when you sit down to really do your work, and for me that CILTEP has helped me dramatically along with a little bit of caffeine and also creatine for the mental benefits. And then I like to minimize stimulants. Just a little bit of caffeine and avoid all other stimulants throughout the rest of the day, I found that it doesn’t help with focus at all. It helps with energy but not focus. So getting in the zone, and I think we’ll about this in a bit, is the routine to get into that zone. But another way to get into the zone is just making sure you have a comfortable work place and that means somewhere with limited distractions; so then, again, you can use apps to limit social media usage, you can use apps like RescueTime, you can use apps to limit your e-mail to come in at certain times during the day.
Ben: What do you think about a light amount of attractions, or distractions rather, such as working at a coffee shop to get a little bit of a buzz in the air as you’re working? A little bit of sound like background noise.
Roy: I’m not the biggest fan of coffee work. I can find that if I go into a co-working space or a coffee shop, I can be really productive for maybe an hour, an hour and a half, but then it really kinda tails off and it gets distracting for me. So I can quickly get into the zone there when I see other people around working and there’s a light buzz around; but for me, I can’t really sustain that. I work better for longer periods of time if I’m in a quiet space with less distraction.
Ben: What about these sounds or music like there’s a focused, I forget the name, it’s like a “focus app” or, it’s not the upgraded focus, that’s the brain trainer that Dave Asprey sells. It’s a website that allows you to select music.
Roy: Yes, I’ve used that as well, Focus@will is what it’s called.
Ben: Yes. Focus@will instead of using backgrounds sounds, noise like that to get you into the zone.
Roy: I like Focus@will, I think it’s great and I also sometimes play some light music. But for me, it depends on the task, so certain things like writing and researching when I’m really reading intentively, music doesn’t help me. It’s a little bit distracting, but when I’m doing other tasks, maybe it’s a little more big-picture stuff, or thinking or trying to come up with new ideas, then sometimes music does help me, so I think that depends on the task.
Ben: Do you have, on a day to day basis, the practice of following a routine or are you one of those people whose more into randomness when it comes to getting into the zone?
Roy: You know for me it’s really a mix of both, and maybe I lean more towards randomness. I always start the day with a routine and I find that that routine really helps me get into the zone. And then once I finish my routine and I get into my zone, then I work really completely random; different things that whatever hits my flow, so my routine in the morning is I’ll wake up with no alarm, I immediately go take some CILTEP, I make my Bulletproof. As I’m heating the water for my coffee, I’ll do a light stretch and movement of my body, loosen up what’s tight, and then I’ll jump on an inversion table and hang upside down…
Ben: I was actually, that’s so randomly in talk before this, but I was just hanging from an inversion table for ten minutes before recording.
Roy: So was I. (laughs)
Ben: For me it was because I was on an airplane yesterday, and I find I get a lot of spinal compression, and so when I hang from that inversion table, it applies traction to all my joints and re-lengthens my joints after a long period of time spent sitting but it also, of course, increases blood pressure to the head, increases the building of capillaries in brain tissue and makes you feel a little bit smarter when you start your day. That’s really cool that you use that as a routine.
Roy: Yeah, I’ve been doing it almost every day for probably three or four months now and I found it highly effective. So right after I wake up, I jump on it; I do some light stretching to loosen up a little bit and then I hang upside down for 10 or 15 minutes. And like you said, it just opens up all your joints and your back and you get this rush of energy into your head and when I stand back up again, I just feel amazing and I’m kinda ready to do anything, I’m standing up very straight, I’m sitting straight, I’m very open to what’s next.
Ben: Plus you can do inverted sit-ups just like James Bond or Sylvester Stallone.
Roy: I haven’t tried that yet.
Ben: You should.
Ben: I’ll hang for about two minutes and then I’ll do 5-10 sit-ups and hang for another couple minutes; it can turn into a little bit of a workout. So you’ve got your inversion table, your CILTEP, your Bulletproof coffee, anything else that you do before you start into your day’s routine?
Roy: I might listen to one or two songs just to get the mood feeling good, and then after that I’m just ready to attack, and I can sit down and work for 5-6 hours uninterrupted. I do have to take 10 or 15 minute breaks every hour; stand up, do some stretching, walk around a little bit, whatever it is like play with my dogs, but just breaking up the tasks, I’d say every 50 minutes, if you could take 10 minutes off it really helps you get back in the zone again.
Ben: Yeah, are you familiar with that new research on the technique that you just described, well they call it the Pomodoro technique, of course, 25 minutes on/5 minutes off. Are you familiar with the new research they did on the ideal minute versus break time?
Roy: No; what’s the ideal minute rates?
Ben: Its 52 minutes on/17 minutes off. So that’s the ideal work scenario if you’re gonna do that on-off type of strategy. I personally think 17 minutes is a little bit long, but 52 minutes on/17 minutes off is the ideal productivity schedule. Lifehacker website did a big story on this based off the most recent research so it’s interesting.
Roy: Yeah, well…
Ben: And you can of course use a stopwatch or a timer. There’s one called the Marinara timer which works really well; they set the ideal ratio of Pomodoro technique, it lets you set any number: you have 25-5, 30-10 and whatever but you can also set it for 52 on/17 off, so that’s supposed to be the ideal time.
Roy: Yeah. I’ve been doing about 50 minutes, but again, I don’t like to be so strict with it. If I’m really in the zone, I’m working on something, I don’t wanna break it up, and other times if I’m having trouble staying in that zone then I need to take a break maybe after 20 minutes. So I like to keep that a little bit random and not put it on a drill sergeant schedule.
Ben: Yeah, I hear you. So what about a to-do list? Do you use to-do lists or do you just kinda flow with whatever comes across your plate for that day?
Roy: It’s the same; it’s a mix of both. So I do use to-do lists, definitely, everyday at the beginning of the day or even the night before, I’ll write a to-do list for the day and it’s typically about three to five items. Of course I’m doing more than three to five things during the day but these are the three to five items that definitely need to get done that day. But the interesting thing that I’ve found, the thing that works the best is that I won’t create an order for the to-do list, I don’t have a priority for the to-do list. So these are the three to five things that need to get done, but I don’t say “this one needs to get done first, this one needs to be done second.” And then I work on those items based on my mood and based on my flow, based on what my mind is geared to do at the time. So I try to take advantage of my natural mindset and do what it wants to do, and I find that to be highly effective. I might be in the mindset where it just feels best to do this certain task at the time, and the other task I don’t really want to do that now and I’m not gonna force myself to do it first thing.
Ben: Do you use a strategy of putting specific task categories on the specific days? For example, like Tuesdays are the day that I shoot videos and so whenever I have anything associated with video: video editing, video shooting, video setup, anything like that; that all goes into Tuesday’s task list, and nothing to do with videos is allowed to distract me on any day other than Tuesday. Or reviewing my clients’ nutrition logs, that’s only on Saturdays that I do that, so if someone send me their diet for the week on Monday, this sounds cruel but they have to wait ‘til Saturday to get feedback because Saturday is the day that I’m able to devote my cognitive energy because I’ve identified that as my time to review nutrition logs. So do you do anything like that, have specific categories for each task on specific days?
Roy: No, not exactly. I found that if I look back through my to-do list, they’re all kinda random and I haven’t been able to categorize it like that. I can see how that could be efficient; get yourself in one zone and stick with that zone.
Ben: For me Monday is the free day; Monday is the catch-all day. For all the things that don’t fall onto the categories of the other days, so you can have a catch-all day too with that strategy.
Roy: Right, and Monday’s probably good for that, there’s always kind of a few headaches going on on Monday.
Ben: Well that’s a question that I get a lot. I’m curious how you deal with this, like emergencies, right? So you set up your to-do list and you allocate all your time and then there’s the emergency that comes across, the website crashes or all of a sudden you find out you have to do something like fix an app or go to a meeting or even go clean up a flooded basement or whatever. Do you have days or tasks or do you allot time to allow for emergencies?
Roy: No, I don’t. I just fit them in as they happen. And I think allowing the to-do list to be simple and no more than three to five things will let you fit in some normal day to day stuff and emergencies, and then take that on and attack the emergency, and I like to just make sure that whatever the emergency is that it’s fixed immediately and put all my attention on it. And once that’s done I’ll kinda go back to my routine.
Ben: Yeah, get it out of your head. Yeah, I think that that’s a really good point is when you’re putting together your to-do list for each day, put together slightly less than what you know you could do. It’s a very good strategy because stuff will inevitably come up, and if it doesn’t, then great; you got an extra 45 minutes to watch Shark Tank on Hulu or whatever.
Roy: (laughs) I like Shark Tank.
Ben: I do to. I’m bringing that up coz it’s like the one TV show I watch.
Roy: For the most part I keep it pretty random and I like to, if I’m just randomly pull a trigger and say “let’s go out and get some dinner” or “I’m gonna go on a walk right now” and keep it as random as I can; I think having the mindset that I can do that helps me stay in my routine for longer and helps get back into my routine.
Ben: Mmhmm, yeah. I’ve heard, through the grapevine, that you’re into float tanks and sensory deprivation. I’m curious how it is that you use that. I just wanna hear the routine. Do you use supplements beforehand? I know some people will get high and go do sensory deprivation so they get better visions. Some people stay in there for a long time, some people for a short time; what’s your routine when it comes to float tanks and sensory deprivation?
Roy: Yeah, totally; I love floating. I actually just scheduled a float for tomorrow morning. Shout out to Float Seattle; they’re my go to place and they have a great, very comfortable start-to-finish experience and their staff is always great. But I like to float at least I’d say twice a month and I typically do it in the morning. I find that it really sets up my whole day to be very productive and opens my mind to some new things. So I use it to just unplug and recharge the battery, clear your mind and just let new thoughts and new ideas come into your mind.
Ben: So it’s kinda similar to going to the gym, you just get up in the morning before you go to work, you just go lay inside a dark chamber floating in that mineral enhanced water for x number of minutes?
Roy: Yeah, exactly. And the typical float is maybe 60 minutes and now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m really enjoying a little bit longer, maybe 90 minutes.
Ben: That seems like a lot of time to be able to… you’re doing that everyday or just…
Roy: No, no. I’d say twice a month.
Ben: Oh, okay, I gotcha. I was like “that’s a long routine for every morning.” Wow.
Roy: I definitely like to do it if I could, maybe once a week but it seems that I’m doing it maybe twice a month. And I like to do it earlier in the week, if possible, and first thing in the morning; so, for me, I’ve had the best results on a completely empty stomach: no food, no coffee, just water.
Ben: And do you use your CILTEP before you go in there, into a float tank?
Roy: Sometimes. Sometimes I do and there’s quite a few floats now that are actually selling CILTEP because people enjoy it. I find with CILTEP, it helps me organize a flow of thoughts quickly and efficiently while I’m in the tank, but other times I enjoy just floating with no supplements, no food, no outside influences and I think that’s a really pure experience where whenever a thought comes into your head, you can just release it very quickly, and then just wait for epiphanies and new ideas to come out.
Ben: Yeah, and for people who aren’t familiar with floating, you said this place you go to in Seattle is Float zone?
Roy: Float Seattle.
Ben: Float Seattle, is that floatzone.com? Is that the one in Seattle that you go to?
Roy: No, I think its floatseattle.com.
Ben: Okay, Float Seattle; I’ll put a link in the show notes for folks. But if you don’t know what floating is, basically you visit any of these floating centers and you go inside this dark chamber that’s filled with water with the mineral content of something similar to the Dead Sea, so it’s impossible to sink. And you just lay there, suspended in this watery medium, floating in darkness and isolation and silence, left to your own thoughts and introversions and introspections. And you typically can come up with some good ideas or some personal insights that you normally would not have been able to if you were just maybe on a walk in the forest or something like that; it’s a very interesting form of sensory deprivation.
Roy: I find it highly effective that if someone hasn’t tried it, I recommend that they do and a lot of these float places have a first timer deal where you can get in there for your first time for a cheap rate and just try it out. And most people just have a profound experience; it’s just you and yourself. You can kinda hear your heart beat but nothing else, so there’s a thousand pounds of magnesium salts in one float tank, so like you said it’s highly blank, and the water’s supposed to be the same temperature as your skin. So it’s completely dark, there’s no sound, you can’t really feel anything because the water’s the same as your skin and there’s no tension because you’re so blank that all your muscles are completely relaxed. And so it’s just you and your brain for 60 or 90 minutes, and some pretty interesting things could come out of there.
Ben: Yeah, I think it’s really cool; all this stuff is. I mean if you step back and look at some of the things we’ve talked about in the past half hour, Roy, some of the things that folks who’ve listened in have learned have been about how to use things like artichoke extract and forskolin, the focusing music that we talked about that you could use in the background like Focus@will or this RescueTime app to make sure that you’re not doing tasks that are distracting you and are dominating your time. Using an inversion table; hang from that even if, for me I just do it twice a week for 5-10 minutes. Roy does it every day but if you don’t have an inversion table, get one; they’re cool.
Roy: They sell for a hundred bucks at Amazon.
Ben: Oh yeah, some people will pay to come home late for free.
Ben: You can use a timer like the Marinara timer or Pomodoro techniques; once a month or twice a month, try a float. That’s a really good idea too.
Ben: If you’re listening and this just seems like a list of stuff, I will put a list together as we we’re talking, and if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/thinkfaster, at bengreenfieldfitness.com/thinkfaster you can see some of the show notes to some of the things Roy and I have discussed. Is there anything else you wanna share with folks, Roy, about productivity, thinking faster or enhancing cognitive performance?
Roy: Yeah, I think we covered a lot of it. I would just say do your best to stay in that zone, just to remove negativity and be positive and try to get something done every day, and every day should have a purpose and if you have any sort of negativity holding you back, it’s gonna hurt you so just stay positive and know that you’re doing something productive and help yourself do that by trying to get to the zone with these tips.
Ben: Cool. Well thanks, Roy, it’s fascinating stuff. And again if you’re listening, you can visit bengreenfieldfitness.com/thinkfaster to check out all the show notes and the resources for today’s episode. You can also go to, if you want to try the CILTEP stuff, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/ciltep, C-I-L-T-E-P, to try some CILTEP. And Roy, thanks so much for coming on the call, man.
Roy: Yeah, awesome. I had a great time.
Ben: Alright folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Roy signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
I was a bit jet-lagged, tired and slightly below my desired cognitive capacity prior to hopping on stage this year to speak at the Bulletproof Biohacking conference.
So as I wandered through the expo, I thought to myself – why not try a new-fangled smart drug I haven’t tried before?
As you’d probably suspect, that’s not something I advise to do prior to getting on stage in front of hundreds of people, but I occasionally live life on the wild side, so I grabbed a handful of some stuff called “CILTEP” (which is basically a mix of artichoke extract and forskolin), washed it down with a glass of water, and then gave my presentation.
I did not get sick, vomit, or die, and things went pretty well during the presentation. I also got an email a few weeks later from the folks at NaturalStacks (the developers of CILTEP) asking me if I’d like to interview their co-founder Roy Krebs, who is a former college football player, an ex-sushi chef, and is now in charge of helping to develop smart drugs and designed strategies for hard-charging individuals to mentally dominate cognitive tasks.
Roy sounded like a fascinating guy, so I said yes. And now you get to listen in to our discussion, during which I ask Roy:
-How does one become a developer and designer of smart drugs?
-What is your approach to developing a smart drug?
-What are your top strategies for people to dominate cognitive tasks?
-What’s the best way to get things done faster: routine or randomness?
-Do you use to-do lists, or do you just “flow”?
-I’ve heard you’re into sensory deprivation and float tanks. What’s the best way to use those?
Resource we discuss in this episode: