June 15, 2012
[00:21] About Dr. Jack Kruse
[02:07] What is Cold Thermogenesis
[08:33] Crossroad Between Longevity and Optimization
[11:13] How Does the Link between Sherpas vs. Astronauts Happen Biologically in Cold Thermogenesis
[20:46] Benefits of Cold Exposure
[27:22] Ways to Implement Techniques of Cold Thermogenesis into Training
[33:50] How Cold Thermogenesis May Affect Exercise in Hot Condition
[41:29] Effect on Combining Cold with Compression
[43:36] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield and for those of you who are listening, who may be in the paleo-sphere are most likely familiar with Dr. Jack Kruse and those of you who are not may have also seen some of the talks that’s been going on about something called cold thermogenesis. Dr. Kruse happens to be somebody who is quite the genius when it comes to this stuff. I’m going to tell you a little bit about him and then we’re going to delve today into how this concept of cold thermogenesis may help enhance human performance. So, Dr. Kruse is a neurosurgeon. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee where he heads the staff of Nashville Neurosurgery. He treats chronic pain, neck pain, and back pain. He is well respected as a guy online who’s putting out some great articles over on his website, jackkruse.com. He has extensive medical training and a huge passion for wellness and nutrition that shines through in his fantastic articles that you can read over on his website. And, today we are not really going to be talking so much about many of the things you may have heard Dr. Kruse talk about before, namely fat loss and how cold thermogenesis can affect that and leptin resistance, but rather, we’re going to go after human performance today. So, Dr. Kruse, thank you so much for coming on the call.
Dr. Kruse: No problem, Ben. Great to be here.
Ben: So, when I wrote you in, I asked if you wanted to come onto the podcast, you mentioned that you had seen some evidence that doing something like cold thermogenesis may help enhance human performance, but before we get into that, can we step back and have you explain exactly what cold thermogenesis, or what we can call “CT” for the rest of the podcast to shorten things up, actually is?
Dr. Kruse: Yeah, well CT, basically how I came upon it, was actually a fat loss strategy. But, the more I delved into the biochemistry and especially the neurochemistry in the brain, I started to realize that not only did it have huge impacts for people who are obese or diabetic, but it had some pretty huge implications for people who are elite athletes and performance athletes. And, a lot of my data and my study took me all the way back to 1969, ‘70, and ‘71 with the NASA astronauts. And, what NASA did when they came back from the space missions, because they had found not only huge amounts of weight loss, but they also had huge performance gains in some of the research protocols that they were running on the astronauts when they came back. They couldn’t be explained and the number one thing that you saw time and time again is they would talk about an expansion of VO2 max and their resting metabolic quotients. And, what NASA did when they could not find this in the regular exercise physiology literature, they decided to scour planet earth for someone who could do these kinds of things and where they wound up is at the Sherpas on the top of Mount Everest in the Himalayan Mountains. Most people who are exercise enthusiasts know that the Sherpas can do some pretty amazing things that most other human beings can’t.
Dr. Kruse: And not only that, they can do it without a lot of training which is really what makes them even more interesting. I’ve said many times before that one of the things that blows your mind when you actually start to study the Sherpas is that they can literally adapt to the mountain environment within two to three days before they go up to Everest. But, the people that are paying them, takes three weeks to adapt at the base camp environment.
Ben: Interesting. Not to stay off point too much, but what you’re saying reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer Simpson is training to climb up Mount Everest and the Sherpas are out in front of him doing cartwheels as he slaves away at the mountain. I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but it just came across my mind as you were saying that. So, NASA got to these Sherpas and what did they find?
Dr. Kruse: Well, what they found was that the Sherpas did have in fact the ability that the astronauts had and they realized fairly quickly that the one common tie to both of them was they both were in a cold environment. The difference between the NASA astronauts is they were only in a cold environment for anywhere from a few days to several days, but it seemed that the cold was the major tie. The problem was, they’ve never been able to figure out, even up until recently, exactly how this all works. I know you’ve had Ray Cronise on your podcast in the past to talk about this. I think the thermodynamics are worked out, but I guess the thing that I brought to the table when I came up with this about seven years ago, I really never told anybody outside of my family exactly what I thought I found in the brain, but I found a pathway in the brain that I call “the ancient pathway” that actually uses these principles. And, I believe that this pathway is not only in humans, but it’s in every Eutherian mammal that’s on this planet and it was used for ultimate survival when the age of mammals first occurred. Any of you who are into history, you’ll know that that age started at the K-T event which was when an asteroid crashed into the Yucatan peninsula. Dinosaurs went away and we came from little rodents that were under the ground.
The key factor there was that this pathway allowed us to survive in extreme cold and what happened after the K-T event is literally the environment on planet earth literally changed in seconds and that had never happened before. All previous extinction events usually were long drawn out processes, this one literally happened that fast. And, when you talk to the physicists and the bio-paleontologists and things like that, in other sciences, it became very obvious that through three major mechanisms, the earth became very cold very quickly. Now, we know, because you and are a talking right now and we’re both Eutherian mammals, that the survival strategy of K-T had to be successful because we wouldn’t be here talking about it if it wasn’t. Well, how does this work? It basically set us up to use the cold and actually increased epigenetic speed. And, if you know anything about epigenetics, epigenetics basically determines whatever happens in our environment changes the expression of our DNA.
So, basically, putting this all together, I realized very quickly, about seven years ago, that we could use cold adaptation to a huge advantage in many different aspects of medicine, not only for obesity, diabetes, but for performance and also for longevity. There’s a big controversy, especially among the elite athletes, and I don’t know where you fall on this, but I can tell you where I fall on it: most endurance elite athletes do not have good longevity. There’s a lot out there and if you know anything about [07:36]_______, he’s been collecting tons of these athletes over a period of time and I know that it’s a point of contention, but if you understand a little bit about biochemistry it makes complete sense when you’re a warm adapted mammal and you are using carbohydrates to fuel your performance, you’re creating humongous amounts of reactive oxygen species in your mitochondria. And, with the latest information that we have from Elizabeth Blackburn at UCSF, who just won the Nobel Prize for telomere biology, she basically has laid the path out to us that if you do this long enough, you’re going to deplete your stem cells and if you deplete your stem cells, you’re eventually going to die of some Neolithic disease. Now, that doesn’t mean that you cannot beat a freakin’ animal in terms of performance as long as you have a good stem cell supply…
Dr. Kruse: So, I think the key factor for most elite athletes to look at is there a crossroads between longevity and optimization. And, I believe there actually is, but I think most elite athletes do not understand actually how it works and what they have to do to get there. And, the number one reason is it costs to get total keto adaptation or to make triglycerides and muscles work for you well, it takes anywhere in humans 24 to 36 months to get to adaptation. Now, you know most Tour de France cyclists or, say, marathon runners, or you name the athlete, it doesn’t matter who it is, they’re not going to put three years of work in in order to get optimization. But, here’s the interesting thing: there’s a couple of, I would say empiric things that I have found since I started working with athletes who are doing this. I’ve got a couple real elite athletes – one of them just actually won the SCC decathlon two weeks ago and he’s a pretty young guy and he’s very talented and he was able to get adaptation much faster than all of us thought. I have a couple really young athletes, one that’s 8-years-old, another one that’s 11 and another one that’s 18, and what I have found is the younger they are, the faster the adaptation occurs to fat. And, I believe the reason for that is because when children are born, they have their highest percentage of brown fat that they’ll ever have. I think what as we become socialized and become modern hominids, we actually atrophy that fat. Even in, I would say, elite athletes who have low body fats, we really atrophy that fat and we become deconditioned to our brown fat. In essence, we lengthen the time to become keto-adaptive. So, if you start training for this earlier or we start selecting… Say we have Lance Armstrong’s kids and we start keto adapting them when they’re younger, they may not take 24 to 36 months to do it. But, say someone who’s 25, 26 who wants to go on the next round of the Olympics, probably going to take 2 to 3 years before you actually get the expansion of your VO2 max and your RER like the Sherpas got.
Ben: Right, right. And, there may actually be some conflict of interest there in terms of Lance’s owning part of Honey Stinger Waffle Company. But, kind of going back to the Sherpas and to the astronauts, both groups which you mentioned have experienced cold exposure, what exactly is going on in them on a biological or a physiological level that is somehow allowing them to sustain better levels, better VO2 max, higher levels of performance, lower levels of fatigue based off of that cold exposure? How does the link actually happen biologically there?
Dr. Kruse: Alright, I’m going to take you back to something you and most of your listeners know. Let’s talk about warm-adapted biochemistry because that’s what you guys know the best. Basically you know that when there’s three ways that our body stores energy for elite athlete. The first one is the very quick acting creatin phosphate; second one is glycogen in the liver and the muscles which is the one that most people talk about and that’s the one most warm-adapted exercise physiologists talk about. Basically that fuels replenishment of your ATP. When you glycogen deplete, the signal to your body is then to start to raise IGF1, which is growth hormone and testosterone. So, the reason why exercise has always been shown to increase lean muscle mass and eventually performance is because basically you’re getting a hormetic effect from glycogen depletion.
Dr. Kruse: Here’s where it gets really interesting. Now, to get that effect in most elite athletes, the fuels that they use tend to be a mixture of carbohydrates and usually some protein, but most of it is carbohydrates because that’s what most of the literature is about. The interesting thing is when you undergo a cold-adaptation phase, cold exposure alone also depletes glycogen. So, let me explain this to you so you get it loud and clear.
Dr. Kruse: You do not have to exercise one bit in order to get the same effect to deplete glycogen from your muscles when you cold-adapt. Now, I can personally tell you that is absolutely true in my experience because if you go back and look at my story, I basically tell people for basically the whole first year that I try to lose weight, I did absolutely no exercise while I soaked myself in freezing cold water.
Ben: And is that you shivering that’s burning glycogen or is there something else going on that burns glycogen?
Dr. Kruse: Well, you’ve got to remember fat people or obese people are a little bit different kind of cats and I want to explain that to you so you get it.
Dr. Kruse: Fat people have white fat, but basically the cold turns the white fat to brown fat. There’s actually a physiologic change that occurs utilizing norepinephrine and epinephrine. Basically that turns it to brown fat, basically then you take the fat that’s in that white fat and you burn it as free heat, but there is no ATP made. So, you’re emptying your fat cells at the same time the cold also gets rid of the fat cells so that you become insulin sensitive. Now, people who are already fit don’t have to go through that. But, the key thing is, they will not usually convert a lot of their white fat that’s left to brown fat until they get to about… in men it’s about 6-8% body fat, in women it’s about 15% body fat.
What happens then, instead of you burning calories as free heat from burning fat, you begin to have muscle shivering and that is when this ancient pathway that I found in the brain actually stimulated TRH in the brain. It actually goes right above the thyroid. You technically don’t even need a thyroid to do this. And, how this works is you actually stimulate something called uncoupling protein 1 and 3. And, you actually burn your glycogen off from your muscles just by shivering and it’s actually metabolically way more efficient to burn calories this way than it is to exercise. And, it seems so counterintuitive to people when I tell them this, but I’ve given people… I know Ray Cronise has worked out the math and it’s true. You can actually eat pretty much whatever you want as long as you can tolerate the cold. So, when I realized this seven years ago, I said I have to come up with a cold protocol that actually not only will allow me to reverse my obesity, but I want to see some of the physiologic effects that I can have.
I started talking to a lot of other doctors here in Nashville about some of the things that I was finding and they were kind of shocked at what I found. Then, we started talking to some athletes who started using it because most athletes today think that CT is basically a hormetic only effect. That’s not true because once that glycogen depletion occurs, the next step happens is that IGF1 and testosterone also increase in people that use CT. But, here’s the crazy part: when you do this with exercise and exercise alone, your post-exercise window when most people will begin to eat, you usually will get an increase of IGF1 about anywhere from about 200-300% even in elite athletes that have good muscle fibers. That’s a pulsatile effect. When you use CT, the effect of IGF1 is incredible. It goes up sometimes 3 or 4, sometimes 500%. Not only that, it’s sustained for much longer periods of time and if you know anything about growth hormone, one of the things that it does, it increases lean muscle mass and decreases fat. So, it’s kind of like the afterburner that comes with the program and if you know… I always tell people an elite athlete’s ability to perform optimally is a complete function of how their muscles recover. So, if I was to tell you that I can increase your IGF1, your testosterone, by cold-adapting and eating a cold-adapted diet and you would see an expansion of your VO2 max, that means that you’re improvement is going to rocket. And, the reason why we never see this, and here’s why it’s in our blind spot, is because the adaptation of mobilizing the triglycerides from your muscle cells is a very slow process in humans. It takes a while for us to upregulate all the enzymatic machinery, but when it kicks in, you will not believe it.
Let’s just do a third grade math question here, one molecule of glucose allows you to burn 36 ATP, one molecule of triglycerides allows you to have 460 molecules of ATP. Now, we know that ATP is what fuels us. So, if you’re an endurance athlete, which one is more metabolically efficient? See, I’m usually talking to people on this equation from a fat side and when we talk fat, we’re always talking diets, but diets always focus on decreased consumption. With elite athletes and the people that are listening to your podcast, they need to focus it on increasing their metabolic efficiency of their enzymes and their cells. And, what I’m basically telling you and the world is CT is absolutely the best Ferrari engine clean up that you can imagine.
Dr. Kruse: The problem is you’re just not going to get it for that marathon you’re going to run in three months or that bike race that you’re going to have down the road. But, do I think if you start to cold-adapt while you’re doing your other training, you can win, yeah. Look, Lance Armstrong, if you go back and look through all the things that are published out there about him and also many of the interviews that he’s given, especially his trainers, he’s publically said he’s used cold completely. Now that he’s doing triathlons, not only is he using cold, but he’s using earthing techniques and different things because his goals now have completely changed. And, you have to realize he’s an older endurance athlete. So, his metabolic efficiency is not what it was when he was younger. There was reports that his VO2 max was over 90. Most of the time that he won all the tours. Just by shear happenstance, see Lance, after his cancer and everything else, he doesn’t have the stem cell supply that he used to have. My belief is that his metabolic efficiency is going to fall off the roof. So, I think he’s using cold and earthing now to try to get as much as he possibly can out of what he’s got left.
Dr. Kruse: My belief is Lance is not going to like a long life because of what he’s doing to his body.
Ben: Interesting. Yeah, he’s certainly… We had Jeff Spencer, his trainer, on a couple of years ago and they were using grounding and earthing pretty extensively with that entire US Postal Team.
Dr. Kruse: Right.
Ben: Yeah. It’s interesting and I want to actually make sure that I draw the parallel here correctly. So, you’re saying increase in growth hormone, increase in testosterone, increase in metabolic efficiency are some of the main areas that an athlete is going to benefit from by using something like cold exposure?
Dr. Kruse: Yeah. Well, the things that… Those are the physiologic issues that you can track on your blood work and those are the things that I track. The other thing that you also need to track, obviously, especially if you’re say a warm-adapted elite athlete now, you always have to track your cortisol/DHEA ratio because that’s a big one because if that goes off the trolley tracks, you become catabolic and your metabolic efficiency goes really out the window. Unfortunately, that’s what happens with most endurance athletes that are out there who are just burning 350-400 grams of carbohydrates a day and that’s because most of the research out there is done utilizing a warm-adapted diet and not a keto-adapted diet. The point also has to be made here, we have other elite athletes like Michael Phelps who train in a cold environment in a 50 degree to 55 degree pool…
Ben: Which is cold.
Dr. Kruse: Yeah, it is, but I’ll have to tell you, he doesn’t eat the correct diet for his metabolism.
Dr. Kruse: Elite athletes that I’ve talked to get really excited when I mention this to them, I know the guys on my side have really gotten fired up about it, because I strongly believe that there is performance above Michael Phelps and Lance Armstrong. The reason for that is we have not yet seen the first elite athletes who are truly keto-adapted, eating a cold-adapted diet. I think when we see that, we are going to see ridiculous athletic feats. I don’t mean just breaking a world record by a couple of hundreds, I’m talking about Usain Bolt going down by a second. That’s what I think is possible because I think there’s still a lot of fat on the bone and the crazy thing that’s starting to happen now in the world of athletics that, this message that I kind of found 6, 7, 8 years ago, it’s not starting to get into the really young group of kids. I’ve got an 8-year-old named Stone and he is… I mean, when I tell you a Phenom, I kid you not. This kid just went to a gymnastic meet in East Tennessee about two months ago and he beat the 18 and 20-year-olds.
Dr. Kruse: And his sister Malia has been soaking herself in freezing cold water. She just won a national championship for tumbling here recently, I guess that was about six weeks ago, and they’re brother and sister. The older brother just got a full ride to University of Kentucky to play baseball and he’s also been cold-adapting, but not as long as his younger brother and sister. But, the crazy thing is, it seems to me, empirically, the younger they are, the shorter the window is for adaptation.
Dr. Kruse: People have asked me about that and I really think it’s because kids are more sensitive and have more percentage of brown fat than older athletes do. I think that’s something that we need to be mindful of. Also, these kids, if I told you what they ate, you’d probably die. When I tell you it’s total ketogenic, mostly eggs, bacon, complete fat, a lot of medium-chain triglycerides. The reason they’re doing that is because most people don’t understand the Krebs cycle well enough to know that there’s a huge metabolic advantage built into our biochemistry to eat ketogenic versus a standard warm diet and that happens because of what happens in Cytochrome1 and Cytochrome2 and it’s a huge factor. This is something that NASA actually found out about the Sherpas. When people became cold-adapted, they started to find not only did their VO2 max expand, but they had huge positive changes in their respiratory exchange quotient. In fact, if you follow RER when you do VO2 max testing on elite athletes, you can almost tell what kind of diet they’re eating by their RER.
Dr. Kruse: [25:19]______ has an RER around one, you can tell it was a carbohydrate fiend. For most of them are, people around 0.85 usually have a mix between carbs and protein. But, here’s the land that I live in: it’s an RER around 0.7 and that’s when you are completely fat-adapted and you can burn fat like you would not believe. The reason why there’s a big metabolic efficiency, if you remember before when I told you about the glucose issue and the triglyceride issue about the difference in ATP, well, to burn that molecule of glucose, we need to have, to make 36 ATP, we need to have 56 ions of magnesium around to do that. We only have to have about 108 ions to burn 460 ATP from triglycerides.
Dr. Kruse: So, if you can do that third grade math, you start going wow that means we’re definitely more metabolically efficient. Then when you consider the carbohydrates when you eat them have to come in and be burned at Cytochrome1, Cytochrome1 in humans and primates is the leakiest of all our mitochondria. So, what does that mean in English? It means that we create more reactive oxygen species when you burn fat it comes in at Cytochrome2 which is the FEDH2 and you have less or less. Well, what did Elizabeth Blackburn tell us? She told us tomorrow as the quicker we deplete stem cells. So, this is the first time where actually the biologic sciences are now starting to tell you why people who are endurance athletes die and die suddenly very quickly even though their facades look phenomenal.
Dr. Kruse: This is why it happens.
Ben: Yeah. It makes sense. Now, you’ve alluded a few times to soaking in ice and cold water baths and things of that nature, but for folks who want to get a look at the practical manifestations of using something like cold thermogenesis, what are some ways that folks who are listening in can practically implement some of these techniques into their life or into their training?
Dr. Kruse: Okay, well this one is pretty simple: I would tell most people, if you’ve never even heard of CT, just go to my website jackkruse, my last name is spelled K-R-U-S-E. I have an easy start guide where you can see the cold thermogenesis protocol laid out. When you first start, do not jump into a cold tub right away because you will ruin yourself. Okay, you need to cold adapt.
Ben: They’ll create a painful memory.
Dr. Kruse: Exactly. The good news for humans is it only takes us probably two weeks to cold-adapt. The skinnier or thinner you are, the faster you adapt. So, there’s some good news for you right off the bat. The way you start with this is basically you do face dunking. I go through the whole protocol there. You need to remove any makeup you have, you put the water just from the tap, usually it’s between 50 and 55 degrees, and you dunk your face in the water and hold your breath as long as you can. You record the time and then you keep dunking. You want to keep doing this until it gets really, really easy and you want to use your face. The reason why you want to use your face is because we all have something called a mammalian dive reflex and basically what you’re doing is you’re actually training your trigeminal nerve in your brain that there’s been an epigenetic change in your environment and it needs to start to pay attention to this. Now, for people who are overweight, there is a difference because remember my website is built for most people who are heavy. It’s not built for a lot of your listeners, but it always says to eat a high protein or high fat meal before the CT session and drink a cold glass of water. All the elite athletes that do this, I tell them do not eat the high fat or protein meal – that’s not necessary for people who are already in pretty good shape, but do drink the water. Okay?
Once you’ve finished the cold dunking, then you get yourself a very tight compression shirt and you start thinking about getting into that cold water and you want to put anywhere between 20 and 40 pounds of ice either on your torso directly and try to extend how long you have the ice on you for about five minute at a time until you get to about 16 minutes. It actually doesn’t take that long to do and you’ll start noticing that certain parts of your skin are numb and cherry pink in different places, you just never want it to get to white. It’s really hard to get to white when you use ice. When you get to the 16 minute phase, then you can remove the compression shirt and you can put the ice directly on your skin. Then, this is when it gets serious, you fill the bathtub up after that with cold tap water and if you want to protect your feet and your hands, you can wear socks and gloves and you can even put a knitted cap on your head. I don’t do that because I want the maximum effect of CT, but then I just start adding 20 pounds of ice to my chest or to the water and just keep going up there. I usually use a thermometer that floats in the water until I get it right around 50 to 55 degrees and you try to stay in it for 45 minutes. You can do that two to five times a week. Now, how do you extend CT easily without doing all this stuff in your bathtub at home? Well, when you get in your car, turn the AC and put it on as high as you can and blow it right on your face and you’ll start noticing that your hair will stand up on its own and you’ll start getting little goosebumps. That tells you that you’re burning calories as you drive around town. The other way you can do it is you can turn the thermometer down in your house, I also will sleep naked on top of the covers, and I put the thermostat in my house… it stays between 50 and 55 degrees pretty much all the time. I even have a special room in my house where I had an AC unit put in where it stays freezing. I keep my wine in there and I go in there all the time. Sometimes I’ll just lay on the tile floor in there naked and do CT that way.
Ben: Drinking wine?
Dr. Kruse: I mean, there’s lots of different ways you can do it.
Dr. Kruse: I think the cool thing about CT is that just because we can control our environment by having heated seats in our Escalade and heated houses, we can also do the reverse. But, it seems that we forget that.
Dr. Kruse: We can definitely make it cooler a variety of different ways and obviously also just drinking cold water and getting the temperature down. Believe it or not, just by drinking cool water 8, 9, 10 glasses a day, you’re actually stimulating the vagus nerve in your gut to get used to this environmental change. It actually helps you cold-adapt much faster. So, you just have to be creative about how you do it.
Dr. Kruse: But, I think in the modern world, it’s pretty simple to do.
Ben: Yeah and for people who, like myself, I live in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve got snow in the ground four months a year, the river next to my house is at anywhere from 35 to 50 degrees all the time except June, July, and August. It’s super easy to just hop in there and do something like that. I think probably listeners in Florida and Southern Cal and maybe down close to you in Tennessee, they probably have to be a little more creative in terms of finding ways to get cold exposure.
Dr. Kruse: Well, let me just tell you something you do need to understand, the ideal temperature is 50 to 55 degrees, skin temperature, to get the maximum effect. But, right now, today in Tennessee, it’s 93 degrees and I will tell you, if you get in the water, my pool water is about 72, your body temperature is 98. Even though it’s not ideal, you’re still cold adapting when you do that. So, I don’t want anybody to think that you’re not cold-adapting when you’re swimming. Swimming is a phenomenal way to naturally cold-adapt.
Ben: Yeah. It’s interesting, ever since I actually spoke with Ray, about a year and a half ago, on this podcast, Ray Cronise, and he told me about thermogenesis and some of the effects of it, I’ve been doing it and noticed a really big change from appetite to fat loss to how quickly I recover from workouts. Something that I wanted to ask you that I’m curious whether or not you’ve run into is how cold thermogenesis may affect exercise in hot condition. And, the reason I ask that is because for the past year and a half or so, I’ve actually had some breakthrough performances, specifically in triathlons that have been in cold conditions, IT World Championships last year, I won a gold medal for the USA and we were huddled in tents. It was so cold the morning of the race and it was just freezing, turn-your-hands-blue cold during the bike ride and I performed very, very well in those kind of conditions. I’m curious if cold thermogenesis and this activation of uncoupling protein would be good or bad for people exercising in the heat.
Dr. Kruse: Dude, it’s huge. I haven’t posted this yet, but I’m getting ready to. There’s a study that just… well, it didn’t just come out, a lot of people don’t know about it. I happen to have a family member who’s in the SEAL program and the SEAL program recently went through a huge change in their cold training program. The reason why is most of the people got booted out of the SEAL training because they always failed the cold protocol. They used to throw people in San Diego right in the water and really there was no rhyme or reason to what they were doing, but here’s the interesting thing: they took a Navy Seal and they did extreme cold adaptation, which is what I did when I lost my weight. Most people can’t tolerate this until they’re trained, but after dunking the Seal in 32 degree water, they made him run an obstacle course and at the end of it, he had to shoot a target for accuracy. And, after he cold adapted, his scores were off the charts, better than they were when the water was warmer.
Dr. Kruse: So, the military is now completely revamping their cold training because of these findings.
Ben: Do you think that’s because of increased cardiovascular efficiency or…?
Dr. Kruse: Well, we’ve got to realize what does the cold do. We talked a little bit about it, but one of the main effects of the cold is that it increases catecholamines and that’s why a lot of people that are athletes think well this is just a hormetic effect, but you have to realize when the cold is sustained for a long period of time, that has huge effects on the brain, humungous effects! It makes the brain work much more efficiently. So, you’re actually able to process thoughts better and that’s the reason this occurs. I tell everybody. Most people who are athletes think it’s all about the body, the body, the body. Let me just tell you something, the quickest way to change your game is to change your brain. Until you understand that, you just have no clue. Cold optimizes everything about metabolic efficiency and we realize that the brain and the heart, in exercise, take up 50% of the cardiac-stroke volume. So, if you can take those two energy hogs and make them both extremely energy efficient, that means there’s more energy for the rest of your body to do things. The military now is starting to realize that many of the studies that you and elite athletes base their training regimens on are just false. And, the reason they’re false is not because they’re not true, it’s that they only get studied for four to eight weeks.
Dr. Kruse: To study these effects longer term. And now that these are being done… We always like to say in science and medicine: anomalies don’t make science. And, that’s true, but guess what? Anomalies still have to be explained. I guess, that’s part of what I’m doing on my blog. I point out to people look, people are able to do it. The Sherpas can do what they do. Lance and Phelps did what they did for a reason. Now, they didn’t do everything right, but what we need to do instead of falling back on what’s on the literature and saying well look this is what Portman and Ivy say about carbohydrate post-meal training. We need to start looking at what really optimizes performance, what optimizes longevity, and we need to start testing it. What I’m happy about now is there’s a lot of endurance elite athletes that are starting to realize, hey look I’m not going to quit, but I’m concerned about potential longevity issues and they’re starting to incorporate a lot of cold training in their program. I have to give Lance Armstrong a lot of credit. He was probably the first guy that did it, but I think he did it because of his cancer history.
Dr. Kruse: I think it’s something that everybody who is an elite athlete needs to begin to dabble with. I guess where you guys would have probably the big problem is you have to realize you’re probably going to do what Phelps did: you’ll cold adapt, you’ll cold train, but you won’t eat the cold-adapted diet. That’s where the problem really becomes. You need to expand that VO2 max to ridiculous levels and when you start to see the effect of training, like I was telling you before we went on the call, there was a guy on my site named Barry from Dublin, Ireland. He works for Tour de France Bikers. You need to read that thread because he’s been cold-adapted for three years and some of the things I’m telling you here on this podcast, he’s already experienced. He’s using these techniques in his sport and here’s the crazy thing that I found: you know how when a guy like you who’s saying eating carbs to fuel your workouts, you lose a lot of your performance gains pretty quick. Here’s the crazy thing cold-adaptation: you can go for a month, sometimes even two months, and still put up a personal best. It’s keto-adaptive and that’s the part that just blows athletes minds. NFL players are finding this out now when they literally get in the cold tub, the guys that stay in longer find if they lift no weights, their performance the next week is off the charts.
Ben: Yup. Yeah. That’s interesting. Not the most pleasant thing in the planet to sit in that cold tub, but I think that you may find, and I’m sure you may have, Dr. Kruse and I, did that our tolerance seems to improve over time with cold adaptation.
Dr. Kruse: Oh yeah, it actually… I’ll be honest with you, for me now, it’s a joke. I can get in water and here’s the funny thing, I find water that’s 50 to 55 degrees actually uncomfortable, but the colder it is, the better. I don’t really talk about that a lot on my own forum and my blog because I’m dealing with people that are not cold adapted. I don’t want them to go lower than that because they can hurt themselves if they don’t know what they’re doing. But, the members on [40:56]______, I gave them a private webinar two months ago about deep CT, actually what I really did when I lost the weight and they were floored by some of the things that I told them about because I go pretty cold.
Ben: Yeah. Have you ever heard of this new brand of compression gear that you can actually stuff with ice?
Dr. Kruse: Well, no. The best exercise, and I would tell you and all your listeners, when you get off this podcast, go look up vasper.com and when you look at Vasper, you will freak out.
Ben: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve interviewed the guy who developed that technology. I haven’t actually released that interview, but I did it a couple of months ago. But, yeah, incredibly interesting combing cold with compression.
Dr. Kruse: Right. It has a huge effect for athletes. And, guess where that was tested? It was tested in the International Space C7enter up in the Space Shuttle. A lot of the things we’re talking about today, that’s where the theory is meaning to practice. I think that’s going to be the next 50 years where really elite athlete training is happening. The problem is, a lot of this stuff, a lot of these guys like Phelps and Armstrong are doing this stuff, but they’re not talking about it because they want to keep the edge over their competitors. That’s the truth! I mean…
Ben: That makes sense.
Dr. Kruse: That’s kind of how it works with elite athletes, but if I was in that world myself, knowing what I have in my head now, I wouldn’t waste one bit of time dedicating two to three years to become cold adapted because I think the performance games are going to astound people.
Dr. Kruse: Now, I guess it’s going to take somebody actually to put it up and put out numbers that just make other people go how in the hell did you do that?
Ben: Yeah. Well, folks, obviously we covered a lot in today’s podcast. If you need to go back and listen to it again, that’s fine. If you want to learn more about the ketogenic, low-carb diet, you can go back and listen to the interview we did with Peter Attia on how he’s putting that diet together and successfully performing with that. Of course, if you want to read Dr. Jack Kruse’s fantastic articles, check out his website which is a great website. You can go over to jackkruse.com and we’ll link to that in the show notes for this episode as well. You can also, of course, leave your comments over on the show notes if you have follow-up questions and feedback.
So, Dr. Kruse, thank you so much for coming on the call today and sharing this stuff with us. It’s fascinating.
Dr. Kruse: No problem, Ben. I appreciate it.
Ben: Alright. Bye-bye.
Dr. Kruse: Bye-bye.
If you haven't heard, Lance Armstrong was recently accused of doping.
But as I mentioned in the article “Ben Greenfield Admits To Using Performance Enhancing Drugs”, there are safe and natural strategies that go above and beyond banned practices such as doping when you want to improve performance.
For example, the topic of cold thermogenesis and cold thermogenesis how to has come up a few times on this show.
Podcast episode #187 answered the question Does Cold Thermogenesis Work For Fat Loss?
But what about human performance? Do the benefits of cold thermogenesis go above and beyond simply burning fat faster? And if so, how is it that cold thermogenesis could actually enhance performance for a guy like Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps?
I answer all these questions and more in this audio episode with Dr. Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon who has extensively studied cold thermogenesis and developed cutting-edge protocols for using cold exposure to burn fat and enhance performance.
We discuss some cool techniques (pun intended) and cold thermogenesis how to's in the show, and Dr. Kruse even discusses how athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps have benefited from cold thermogenesis.