August 5, 2021
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/keith-rabois/
[00:01:18] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:18] Guest Introduction
[00:08:03] How Keith Measures His Health Through His Heart Rate
[00:12:20] A Typical Workout For Keith Rabois
[00:22:54] How Ben And Keith Track And Manage Their Sleep
[00:28:55] Keith And Ben's Big Wins In Caring For The Body And Brain
[00:33:09] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:46] cont. Keith And Ben's Big Wins In Caring For The Body And Brain
[00:45:48] Supplements And Biohacks Keith Uses To Enhance Sleep
[00:50:42] What Keith Rabois Has For Breakfast
[00:57:40] What A Typical Day Looks Like For Both Keith Rabois And Ben
[01:04:10] What Things In The Fitness And Biohacking Industry Excites Keith
[01:08:53] Flaws with the exciting, yet underachieving personalized health services and products industry
[01:12:39] Closing the Podcast
[01:14:21] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
Keith: Here are my goals. Tell me what you do. Take whatever test you need to take, and throw it through whatever machine or whatever combination amount of machine you need. But then, tell me what I should do to achieve my goals.
Ben: What it is you're excited about? What do you think the future will look like about the fitness industry as a whole from your perspective as an investor or somebody who's involved with it on a personal level?
Keith: I have a vision of how it should evolve. But, I’m looking for an entrepreneur who wants to do all the hard work where I can just give them the capital.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, every so often, I get the opportunity to interview someone who you may not consider to be some type of fitness, nutrition, health, longevity, biohacking expert, physiologist, scientist, but instead a super intriguing and super successful person who utilizes a lot of these concepts in their own life. And, today's guest is no exception. So, I think you'll dig this show.
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Alright, folks. My guest on today's show is Keith Rabois. Now, if you're involved in the financial industry, in any way whatsoever, you're probably familiar with this guy. He's an entrepreneurial executive. He's an investor. He's been instrumental in multiple startups since the early 2000s. He's provided seed capital to companies Airbnb and Lyft and YouTube and Wish and Yammer. And, he also co-founded OpenDoor, which is a home selling startup and has led investments for Doordash, for Stripe, for Thoughtspot, for Affirm, for Even Financial, for Piazza. And, he's a former Paypal exec as well. But, he's also, and this is something that, perhaps, flies under the radar just a little bit, pretty keen on things like fitness and sleep and heart-rate tracking and personal optimization, to the extent that I thought he would be a great guest to have on today's show, because it's often quite interesting, for me, at least, to hear how guys who are super successful from a business and a financial standpoint but also happen to be healthy and fit managed to pull that off. And, it's always interesting when I get somebody like Keith on the show because you go from the white coat wearing lab scientists in some exercise physiology lab to the actual person out there managing a job, juggling a lot of tasks, and still being able to optimize their body and brain.
So, as you hear Keith and I chat today, if you want to access the show notes for anything we talk about, any resources, anything like that, you're going to be able to find them over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Keith. It's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/K-E-I-T-H.
Keith, welcome to the show, man.
Keith: Pleasure to be with you.
Ben: I’m happy to have you on. And, like I mentioned, I’ve heard you actually in multiple podcast interviews, because I actually like to listen to some podcasts about investing and business. I’ve heard you discuss how you do have a pretty intense interest in health and longevity and fitness. And, I’m just curious if you've always been into caring for your body, or is that a habit that you've developed of late?
Keith: I’ve always been pretty convinced that there's a strong connection between how your brain forms, how healthy your body is, and that there's not two different worlds, that you can't be successful in thinking if your body isn't healthy and fit. Obvious example, to start with baseline fundamentals rudimentary basic principles, is you need sleep to be healthy and you need sleep to perform mental tasks. But, in fact, there's more connection between your fitness level and your heart rate and your ability to think and be creative and be decisive. And so, I’ve always connected all of these things together in my life and tried to integrate them and made them a priority. So, I don't think I’m trading off work in technology and investing and entrepreneurialism versus health and fitness. I think they're symbiotic. And, I try to maximize my performance just like an athlete would. Just the way I deploy my skills is slightly different and measured by different metrics than an athlete would, but that the training program, the regiment, the thinking behind it is very, very similar. Just like the best athletes, they're pretty optimized on their athletic performance, but some of the data is in their mental performance, their mental ability. That translates back into my world, my professional world. But so, yes, I’ve been getting eight hours of sleep, for example, for all of my life.
Ben: I definitely want to talk a little bit about sleep. You mentioned there that heart rate is something that you actually take into account. And, you hear people talk about cardiovascular health, for example, and blood pressure and things along those lines. But, getting into the nitty-gritty, when you say heart rate, what exactly do you mean by that? What are you doing with heart rate, or I suppose, with, if you also are alluding to this, something like heart rate variability?
Keith: So, I measure three things associated with heart rate. I have a resting heart rate, two-minute recovery, and an HRV variability. So, they're all used somewhat for different purposes. Resting heart rate is a pretty good measure of overall health. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty good proxy. I was reading research last week, in fact, that it might predict your likelihood of suffering from cancer.
HRV, I use differently. I use HRV as a way of measuring whether I’m overtraining or recovering enough. So, I like to train twice a day, but there'll be times when my HRV is lower than normal. And, I back off the intensity in my training until my HRV is in a more normal zone. So, I use that as a proxy for how much recovery and rest am I getting against how much extortion and stresses in my life.
And then, the best single metric I use that I actually optimize my training for is what's known as a two-minute recovery, which is basically just means exactly what it sounds like, which is you take your body to as intense an exercise as you can tolerate, and then you stop. And then, you see how fast and how strongly your heart rate recovers after two minutes. And, if you knew nothing else about somebody, about what their two-minute recovery was, you could predict a lot about their health, not just their fitness.
Ben: I remember taking the two-minute heart rate recovery test way back in exercise physiology classes as a metric of how quickly the heart is able to actually recover post-exercise. Have you found meaningful methods to actually reduce the amount of time that it takes the heart rate to recover after bringing yourself to maximum exertion?
Keith: Absolutely. So, most of my training is focused around increasing my two-minute recovery. And, they're improving, which is basically increasing the delta. And so, high-intensity interval training is probably the best way to do it. Hill-incline running, for example. Some sports are pretty good. Start-and-stop sports, where your sprint, stop, start, sprint, stop. So, soccer, for example, can be a pretty good way to train. But, I actually prefer these high-intensity training programs now. I think like a Barry's Boot Camp style workout, and I found significant success by using those programs to improve it.
Ben: Actually, I’ve never taken a Barry's Bootcamp, but I totally get the concept of high-intensity interval training with interval, of course, being the key for the heart rate recovery because you are pushing hard and then allowing the heart rate to recover, and then pushing hard again. I personally do that, typically, three or four times a week, using either the hell bike out in my garage, that Airdyne bike with the arms and the legs, or this machine called a Vasper. It's similar to a full-body exercise machine, but it has blood flow restriction cuffs on it. So, there's a little bit of wow an added variable there.
Ben: It circulates icy cold water through these blood flow restriction cuffs. And, it's a spendy little exercise. I think it's a $70,000 cardio unit. But, in terms of high-intensity interval training, it's next level. But, this idea behind the amount of time that it takes the heart rate to recover in between these intervals and then the tracking of the resting heart rate, I’m curious if you've actually found that, as your two-minute recovery time improves, if you've seen that your resting heart rate also drops accordingly or your HRV increases.
Keith: I think there is a correlation. I have noticed correlations in both of those over the years. Probably, not a strict one-to-one mapping, but overall, as I’ve improved my two-minute recovery, my resting heart rate has dropped and my HRV has tended to improve.
Ben: Now, what would a typical workout look like for you? If you were going to do, specifically, a cardio workout designed to enhance two-minute recovery or some flavor of interval training, whether you want to describe what you're doing in a Barry's Bootcamp or what you might be doing on your own, what would a typical workout actually be for you?
Keith: Sure, a typical workout is about 50 minutes. And, it's probably subdivided roughly half into cardio and roughly half into resistance training, typically with weights. And, I’d swap back-and-forth, you call it every 6 to 10 minutes between the two. So, imagine two or three sets of each.
The cardio component would typically be a mix of jog-run-sprint, jog-run-sprint, jog-run-sprint. So, bring the heart rate up max, bring it back down, not all the way, but where you can breathe relatively normally, and then sprint back up, and then vary the incline. So, try to do the same on a flat road, a flat ground surface, and you can obviously sprint faster, typically. But then, increase the incline and try to maintain as much of the speed.
And then, there's different cycle. There's different patterns of up and down you can vary at 30 seconds at the highest intensity or 60 seconds at the highest intensity, or vice versa, and rotate that around somewhat for mental variety. I’m not sure how much the physical training part really requires that, but up and synchronized to music. So, I think music has proven to be very effective for improving performance. It, also, is very effective for improving emotional tolerance of intensity training, which is related. There's a lot of good studies. They're collected in a nice book written by Professor McGonigal at Stanford called, “The Joy of Movement.” There's a lot of the research on the effect of music, particular kinds of music, in athletic performance. So, my workouts are already synchronized with EDM-style music.
Ben: Have you ever heard of, by the way, of high-intensity repeat training instead of high-intensity interval training? They call it HIRT versus HIIT, where you're only exercising for 10 seconds or less. So, the concept here is you would reduce the amount of lactic acid buildup, but still allow for enough intensity to give a little bit of a cardiovascular stimulus. So, it would be 10 seconds as hard as you can go while you're out in a long walk, say, every fifth telephone pole or something like that, and then total recovery but for a much longer period of time than you do with HIIT. Have you ever messed around with something like that?
Keith: I’ve never done that. I’ve done more something of, maybe, a hybrid in between 20 seconds of intensity and 10 seconds recovery. That seems to work. I would worry about the 10 seconds whether you can really bring your heart rate up. I’d like to bring my heart rate up to, basically, max. I know most people guide you to 80 of max, but I like to bring it up pretty damn close to max. And, I don't know if, in 10 seconds in most activities, if you could get anywhere. You might need closer to 20 seconds.
Ben: That's the tricky part, is because until you're up to 20, and usually even close to 30 seconds, you're really not tapping into carbohydrate. You're just splitting phosphagens. It's like the creatine phosphagenic system. And, once you get going for about 30 seconds or more, you're burning sugar. But, as a byproduct of that, you're also producing lactic acid. And, some of the champions of this H-I-R-T versus the H-I-I-T training, they're citing research that shows that you can get long-term degradation of the mitochondria and some heart scarring if you're doing repetitive efforts that are 30 seconds in duration or longer.
Probably, the guy that talks about this the most is a Russian kettlebell trainer named Pavel Tsatsouline. And, all of his training is based around 10 seconds quick snappy kettlebell swings, and then you're just walking around for a minute or so, coming back, and then doing those short snappy kettlebell swings again. And, I personally get the idea of being careful with excess high-intensity interval training, especially these intervals that last longer than about 20 seconds, but I think that doing a little bit of both, to me, seems to make sense. Hit that super high-end super powerful 10 seconds or less system, and then also work in a few workouts where you go in 30 seconds or longer. So, you hit both systems, really.
Keith: I guess it depends partially on what you're optimizing for. So, if I were optimizing for performance, think athletic performance, I think I would be more sympathetic to the 10-second training. I’m not sure I’m as sympathetic for other purposes. I do agree, though, that there is some danger on the heart scarring. It's a very vigorous debate of — I’ve actually been studying this a lot myself. I think it's unclear, too, whether it's the tests for heart tissue scarring that are sensitive to high-intensity training or, in fact, there's underlying damage. That even alone is a big data. I've actually interviewed five world-class cardiologists trying to get to the bottom of this. And, they have very conflicting answers.
Ben: The most recent one, it was actually really recent. It was in the Journal of Applied Physiology. And, I think it was just in June where they found that elite athletes had mitochondrial impairment from their intense workouts. But, these were folks who were doing… we're talking Ironman Triathlon, 20-plus-hour per week level with multiple, multiple HIIT sessions per week. Whereas, a lot of the research that I’ve seen on heart health with more moderate amounts of HIIT, like a couple of Tabata sessions a week or a couple of HIIT sessions per week that are, maybe, 15 to 30 minutes in duration, those seem reasonable and even beneficial for cardiovascular health. Whereas, I think it's the excess HIIT that develops the problem with, not only potential for mitochondrial degradation, but then some of the — I don't know if you've ever gotten a calcium scan score.
Keith: Yes, that's exactly what I’m referring to, is there's a lot of evidence that elite athletes score high on a calcium score, which is not what you want. It's actually normally quite scary. However, there's also some research that says it's actually not. Although, your calcium score is high, it isn't increasing your chance of a heart event. That's what I’ve actually been debating with all these cardiologists.
Ben: You're actually right, because I got a calcium scan score in LA last year. I went down there. And, I wanted to do a story on what could a middle-aged man do when it comes to every last test known to science to find out the health of your ticker, like a flow scan score and a resting EKG and an exercise EKG, etc. And, a calcium scan was part of that. And, the doctors were a little concerned because I think my score was around 35 or 40. And then, upon further digging, what I found out was that athletes who have high calcium, it tends to be this really small dense tightly packed calcium that is not the type of calcification that produces the same amount of heart disease risk as someone who has developed calcification due to, let's say, chronic inflammation or a poor diet or excess sugar or vegetable oil consumption or something like that. So, it appears to be the patterning of the calcification being different in athletes and being an issue that, despite a high calcium scan score, doesn't really make you as prone to cardiovascular disease.
Keith: I had the same issue. I actually did get an initial screen on a calcium score that was high, then was alerted to this research. And, given my propensity to do this training, at least, half of my cardiologists are convinced that you're right. The other half still are a little bit more traditional and believe that any calcium score that's elevated is a signal of significant risk for a primary cardio event. But, in any event, I think the more research that's being developed suggests your version is more correct. But, this is all being developed in real-time.
One thing I do, though, back to the training, where is the line, I definitely measure the total minutes per week that are in each zone. And, I, maybe, go close to the line of what's recommended. But, I typically will only be in the max heart rate zone over an entire week for somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes. So, that's, maybe, not ideal a little bit too high, but it's definitely not at the crazy level where you're taking on a significant incremental risk.
Ben: I think it was James O'Keefe who was the exercise science researcher who came out with most of the data that shows, really, a ton of the risks in terms of exercise decreasing life span set in when you're exceeding on a daily basis an hour of moderate to high cardiovascular or 90 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise. And, there's not a lot of people aside from, again, some of the fringe Ironman triathletes and the people who are just hammering all day long who are getting anywhere close to that. So, I think the dose is the poison in this case.
Keith: The most I would do in a day that would qualify in that range would be 40 minutes. And, that would be in a pretty intense day.
Ben: And, most people who can do high-intensity interval training or think they're doing it for 60-plus minutes, if you can do an hour of HIIT on a regular basis, you're a beast because true high-intensity interval training, those intervals are actually pretty tough. And, most people who think they're doing HIIT are scratching the surface of how hard they should be going during the actual interval portion of the HIIT training.
Keith: Absolutely. I was looking at my workout this morning, which wasn't that rigorous. It was on the easier scale of what I would do. And, it was only three minutes in a peak cardio zone. It's 15 minutes in a true cardio zone, and 25 minutes in a pretty lightweight zone, and then 4 minutes of warmup. So, the distribution is very different than a lot of people's intuition.
Ben: What are you using to track? What's your wearable of choice?
Keith: So, I wear an Apple Watch, partially because it's the easiest device to use for lots of purposes. I actually like the social features. I have maxed out. I share my data with 40 friends in track back-and-forth. So, it's the most social product. And then, I output it into an app that's called Zones, which is the best I’ve seen for visualization of the data.
Ben: I haven't heard of Zones before. I'll also look that one up.
So, when it comes to the other thing that you mentioned in your introduction about a couple of things that you're into tracking, you also mentioned sleep. Are you using the same thing for track and sleep, the Apple Watch?
Keith: I do not use Apple Watch for tracking sleep, partially because I think it drains the battery. Secondly, it's also not very accurate. So, if you're going to track your sleep, it's really critical that you can engage in accurate sleep stage discrimination. And, any wrist-worn device is not going to be very accurate for discriminating REM sleep for just deep sleep. And so, most of my life, I’ve been using old-school Zeo, Z-E-O, devices. Zeo went bankrupt as a company 9 or 10 years ago. But, I’ve been able to scavenge or hunt together a reasonable number of old Zeo machines. But, I’ve not found anything that's accurate enough for my taste since Zeo. However, at Founders Fund, we recently invested in a company that is developing a head-worn device that will be more accurate than Zeo that will correctly discriminate between deep sleep and REM sleep.
I do use also an Eight Sleep mattress. The major function of Eight Sleep mattress is it lowers your core body temperature using cooling, which induces more deep sleep. But, there is HRV tracking and overall sleep tracking embedded in the mattress. And so, I do triangulate some of that data.
Ben: I didn't realize Eight Sleep was actually tracking that as well. I use the ChiliPad which circulates the cold water under my sheet while I’m asleep. The thing that's kept me from using some of these more advanced mattresses and even some of the head-worn wearables that'll measure. I think one that I looked into was Dreem. That'll measure the EEG signals, which, as you've alluded to, that could be a more accurate way of determining sleep stages than, say, some of these wrist-worn or finger-worn monitors. The thing that's given me a little bit of pause is this idea of nervous system recovery during sleep and the idea of being unplugged from an appreciable amount of non-native EMF while you're asleep, like Wi-Fi signals and Bluetooth and signals bouncing around the room. So, do you consider any of that stuff when it comes to your sleep space?
Keith: I haven't. I’ll have to investigate that more. I understand the logic or the concern, but I haven't studied whether the eight hours when you're sleeping, it's critical to be completely divorced from that and how much damage you get from Eight Sleep mattress measuring HRV or some head-worn device like Dreem. The one I funded is not Dreem, but I haven't really studied that too carefully.
Ben: Generally, what I look at is whether or not something that is gathering data can be shifted into airplane mode during sleep, gathering data during sleep. And then, once you connect… I wear an Oura ring, for example. And,. I can just put it in airplane mode. It'll collect data. Then, I can upload that data the next day.
And, I’ve noticed, because I had what's called a building biologist come to my home and do a walk through with a meter of the areas of the house where there were larger amounts of, say, radio tower signaling, cell phone signaling, non-native EMF, etc. And, one of the places that he recommended I really focus on was the bedroom. Again, because that's where a lot of the nervous system repair and recovery takes place during sleep. So, if you can take a third of your life, approximately, when you want to optimize repair and be unplugged that it could be a prudent choice to do.
So, I did that and I actually did notice, because I quantify a lot of this stuff, too, a significant rise, a 5 to 7-point rise in HRV during the night of sleep, which would technically indicate a good impact on parasympathetic balance.
Ben: So, I’m not this way everywhere. Obviously, my office is plugged in. We're talking on the internet right now. I use my phone. But, when it comes to sleep, I just basically have this metric now where, when I walk in, and I’ll do the same thing in hotel room now, pretty much anything that can be unplugged or placed in airplane mode, I’ll unplug or place in airplane mode. And, I’ve found that to have a dramatic impact on sleep.
Keith: Interesting. I’m going to have to test that out. That's a significant data in HRV. And, maybe, the Eight Sleep can't really be put in airplane mode right now. But, I suspect, with product iteration, it should be able– Some variant of that is definitely possible.
Ben: And, there are certainly ways to mitigate some of the damage. Really, I think the main issue is, according to what I’ve looked into, the calcium influx that occurs in the cell in response to some of the electrochemical adjustments in response to this non-native EMF. So, if you can do things like supplement with magnesium before bed, which helps that to offset the calcium influx.
Keith: That's what I do, too.
Ben: I also do that when I fly on airplanes for the same reason.
And then, two others that seem to have an impact on some of those functions that get affected by non-native EMF during sleep are ketones. You could be in a state of ketosis, obviously, by adjusting the macronutrient composition of your dinner or just taking something like ketone salts or ketone esters prior to sleep. And, that's another one that I’ve looked into and found to have a little bit of efficacy behind it. And then, the last one is NAD, which is obviously a pretty popular anti-aging molecule these days. But, the magnesium, the ketones, and the NAD seem to be the top three for mitigating some of those effects of non-native EMF if you do have to be exposed to that during a night of sleep.
Keith: Well, that's great because I actually naturally do two of those three things. So, I have, for many years, done NAD supplementation. And then, I’m a significant magnesium proponent as well. So, I don't do the ketone stuff, but maybe I’m getting some of the benefits anyway or some of the offsets.
Ben: You probably are. And, I want to ask you about your diet here in just a little bit.
But, what I thought would actually be interesting, and this will probably rabbit hole as we go along, is, we talked about sleep and we talked about your workout flavor of choice, but I’m just curious, for you, what are some of your big wins when it comes to your own day in life, as far as caring for your body and brain, if you want to, maybe, walk the listeners through what your morning routine might look like or what some of the things you might be weaving into your day at work might look like or even your evening routine. And, I might interrupt you a bit as we go, but–
Keith: Yeah, the fundamental building block is starting with the eight hours of sleep. So, I reverse-engineer that into my schedule. I’m trying to go to bed as early as I can and as consistently as possible. So, let's, to be specific, say try to fall asleep at around 10:00 p.m. Might drag, maybe, by 30 minutes, but try to be as consistent as possible. And then, I’ll typically wake up, as you might expect, somewhere around the 6:30 to 7:00 a.m. zone. That leaves a little bit of a window where my body doesn't feel stressed. God forbid I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m not going to get eight hour of sleep. So, I like having a buffer.
Typically, I don't have to set an alarm clock, which is also a good metric for, first, are you getting enough sleep? And then, B, it seems for me, at least, and I don't know if there's research on this, causes loss of difficulty of falling asleep if I know I can just wake up at any time. Once I set an alarm clock, it causes artificial stress, I think, in my brain.
Ben: Actually, they've done research like that in medical students where they found that when they know they're going to be woken up, like when they're in the hospital or whatnot, and needing to catch up on a few hours of sleep before they're back but they're on-call, that sleep is disrupted. Even the mere fact of knowing that something is going to be waking you up actually disrupts sleep, which is super interesting because an alarm clock technically fall into that category.
Keith: Well, it certainly has applied to my life. I sleep poor sleep when I have to set an alarm clock.
Ben: For a flight or something.
Keith: Yeah. Now, flight, typically, it's very rare when I need to set an alarm clock, certainly, averaging at most once a week. So, I think that's allowed me to sleep better, but it also ensures that I’m getting the proper amount of sleep as well. So, that's one technique. But then, I wake up. And then, I will typically immediately jump into a workout. So, when I say immediately, 30 minutes or so, I’ll have all these supplements that I’ll consume, basically wake myself up. And then, I will try to do an early morning workout, like a high-intensity program. And, that would typically be the 50 minutes. Then, I might relax, shower, [00:31:42] ____.
Ben: You're doing that fasted, that workout in the morning?
Keith: I’m actually not doing it purely fasted. I know I should in many ways, but I feel I need– So, it's more of a mental crutch, but I feel I need some energy. And so, I will typically have a protein bar of 20 grams of protein, 220 calories or something. Otherwise, I just feel mentally drained. And, it's psychosomatic. Maybe, it's not real that if I go into a high-intensity workout without any food, I just feel weaker. I don't enjoy that feeling. It surely would be better for body composition, if nothing better, if nothing else, to go into a fasted state, but I’ve never found I can do it intentionally. So, I just basically give up on that.
Ben: What's a Celsius drink?
Keith: It's a branded combination. A lot of athletes are actually using it. It's becoming a fairly popular brand. It was pretty obscure a few years ago. You can find them in many places now. It's a combination of the active ingredient in green tea and mostly caffeine.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show. I’m honestly shocked every time I see a bodybuilder, a so-called fitness influencer, or anyone else really promoting these things called branch-chain amino acids or BCAAs. Aside from the fact that BCAAs can turn only three of the nine essential amino acids your body needs, BCAAs can cause all sorts of issues, like messing with your serotonin levels, depleting B vitamins, deleteriously affecting your blood sugar, and a whole lot more. In my opinion, these things are a waste of money and not good for you.
However, essential amino acids are a whole different ball game. They're great for energy, for preserving muscle. Especially, during fasting, people use it to help them sleep. I take 20 grams before I go to bed at night. It's like steroids. It's great for cognitive performance. It's like the Swiss army knife of supplements. And, I’m blown away by the number of people who talk to me at airports or at conferences or whenever I’m out in public, they'll come up to me and they'll just be like, “Dude, those Kion Aminos, what the hell, what's in those?” And, I tell them no illegal performance-enhancing drugs, just pure essential amino acids, fully legal, fully beneficial. And, you get 10% off of these bad boys, if you go to GetKion.com. That's GetK-I-O-N.com/BenGreenfield. GetKion.com/BenGreenfield. We'll give you 10% off of these wonderful, wonderful bad boys.
This podcast is also brought to you by my sauna, my actual sauna in my basement, that I just got out of about 15 minutes ago, followed by a cold plunge. That's my favorite way to start my day. If I had my dithers, I think that's a word, I would literally do sauna and cold pool every single day. I wish I had a tiny one I could put in a suitcase when I travel. I get my heat-shocked proteins, my red blood cells, my growth hormone, increased recovery time, well, I should say decrease recovery time from workouts, less muscle pain, less inflammation. I sweat out heavy metals. I sweat out chemicals.
And, I’ll live longer. I swear, I’ll live longer, because the latest Finnish studies, even though I’m not a male Finnish participant in a study, statistically show that it probably is doing a pretty, pretty good thing for your longevity. My sauna is made by Clearlight. It comes with a lifetime warranty, full-spectrum near, mid, and far-infrared heat. This is like the Cadillac of saunas. I don't know if I’m supposed to say Tesla now, the Tesla of saunas. Who knows?
But, you get a discount if you go to HealWithHeat.com. Mention my name when you talk to these folks. They'll hook you up with a perfect sauna for your needs. You go to HealWithHeat.com and just mention my name, which is Ben Greenfield, in case you didn't know that. And, they'll take care of you. So, let's get back to today's show.
The interesting thing about those morning workouts that are fasted, I ran into the same issue myself, and then I started doing, basically, a carb-loading protocol where I don't eat carbohydrates the whole day. So, I’m in a state of fatty acid utilization, burning ketones, vegetables, healthy Mediterranean style fats, proteins throughout the day. And then, at the very end of the day, I’ll typically have anywhere from, depending on the day's level of physical activity, 100 to 250 grams of carbohydrates with dinner, sweet potato yam, rice, red wine, dark chocolate, what have you. And then, I get up in the morning and do a fasted workout.
And, what I find is that, as long as I’ve had carbohydrates the night before, typically, like you just alluded to, the first two to five minutes of the workout you feel a little bit flat because you don't have the supplements in your system. Although, I do do some caffeine. I’ll do some black coffee or a little bit of tea or whatever prior to workout. But, aside from that, no actual calories. And, what happens is, when you begin the workout, the adrenaline and the norepinephrine and everything that gets released as you start working out, that caused your liver and your muscles to start to dump some of the glycogen that they sucked away from the previous evening's carbohydrate feeding. And so, that bumps your blood glucose up, rather than you getting the blood glucose elevated from, let's say, a drink or pre-workout meal prior.
And, once I started doing that, I began to be able to just crush the morning workouts. But, it takes that evening carb refeed. And then, I’ll do a 12 to 16-hour overnight intermittent fast, get up, work out, be able to burn those carbs from the night before and feel fine. But then, if I restrict dinner, if I do what a lot of folks are doing now, where they'll eat at 4:00 p.m., to optimize sleep, not eat anything after that. But, for me, if I have a 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. dinner with 100, 200 grams of carbs and I’m working out 8:00 a.m. the next morning, I feel great. So, that's the flip that I switched to allow me to do the fasted morning workouts and still feel like I could push the envelope.
Keith: I haven't tried the carb-loading before bed thing or dinner. Maybe, I’ll try that a couple of days and just see how I feel. I do have this sensation often of the first three to five minutes being the most difficult because of the adrenaline and all the other variables I find, for example, if I am a little sleep-deprived or, God forbid, I’m still hungover or something, the first three to five minutes are really painful. But, if I can make it through that, more time travel. I’m somewhat famous among my friends for landing in the new time zone and immediately going from the airport to a high-intensity training program. And, similarly, once the adrenaline kicks in, I can handle it. And, the first three to eight minutes are pretty brutal.
Ben: That's a suck fest. I find that much more so for a post-travel exercise routine than a early morning or morning exercise routine. I’ve shifted just based on this whole concept of airline radiation and inflammation and disconnection from the surface of the planet, which is one reason why they found, for example, astronauts to be just so physiologically effed up when they get back from space travel, is actual disconnection from the electrical conductivity of the planet. What I now do after I travel is, typically, take the shoes off or wear one of those pairs of earthing or grounding shoes that keep you connected to the earth. And, typically, for me now, it's either a long walk in the sunshine, or if I can hunt down a body of water, that's amazing. If I can go for a swim post-travel, I’ll choose that nine times out of 10 versus hitting the gym nowadays.
Keith: That makes sense. So, certainly, the natural sunlight is clearly outstanding. One of the benefits of living in Miami is I can find natural sunlight much more easily and much more consistently. But, I’m going to try the carb technique before dinner and then try a few days of not having a protein bar before my workout, because it clearly is better for body composition training to do that.
Ben: A lot of people ask me about fat loss throughout the course of the year. And, I think one of the best methods for fat loss is to wake up, do your morning workout in a fasted state, so you're tapping into your own fatty acids versus any fatty acids or calories that you've consumed from a pre-workout meal. And then, I always finish with about three to five minutes of cold. Probably, a cold shower, cold soak, cold jump in a lake, a river, ocean, or whatever I can find near a hotel or at my house. And, the cold shifts your body into a huge state of fat-burning, simply because you're burning more calories to generate heat. And, I do that almost 365 days a year, morning fasted, workout, finish with cold. And, specifically, for body composition, it's just absolutely amazing.
Keith: So, I am a very big fan of cold plunge, 54 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes, etc., post-workout. I don't currently do that enough, but I’m building into my house a cold plunge pool that will allow me to do it every day. Unfortunately, the construction of it is taking much longer than it should with various permitting issues and engineering issues. But, eventually, I will get it to every day. So, I’ve only been able to do it on an ad hoc basis, but I’m really looking forward.
Ben: You're getting one of those cold plunge systems in your house?
Keith: Yes, I’ve used it before for athletic training when I travel for specific kinds of training. I have some friends who have access to one. So, I really enjoy it. I found, I haven't done it consistently enough to see the fat loss benefits, but I feel the benefit the next day. So, I can do a very vigorous, let's say, legs workouts: squats, deadlifts, lunges, everything. And, if I can do a cold plunge after, the next day, I’m fresh, ready to run, ready to play soccer, basketball, with almost no impact from the day before his training. Whereas, typically, I would feel some lactic acid the day after a heavy squat day. And, it can power through mentally on a treadmill or in a high-intensity exercise. But, it probably has some performance attributes. If I’m playing tennis, basketball, or soccer, that I don't really enjoy, I have degradation there.
Just pretty excited about the cold plunge. Last year, during COVID, I went to Iceland for 10 days. And, fortunately, we were living in a house that had a cold plunge in the backyard. So, I was able to use it every day. And, it felt great. I wasn't training aggressively enough to take advantage of all the benefits. One of the disadvantages of being in Iceland was I was deprived of my normal workout program. But, the benefit was I cold plunging every day.
Ben: It's funny that you actually had to have a cold plunge in Iceland. Although, in Miami, it makes better sense. I’m not going to rip you for saying that 54 degrees is cold because that makes sense if you're Floridian. I keep mine at about– Well, I have one of these done-for-you chiller system cold tubs. It's made by a company called Morozko. It'll maintain 32 degrees when it's 110 degrees outside. It's literally right inside my office. I can see it from here. And, I’ll go jump in that during the day. Sometimes, a couple of times a day in the summer. It's a full-body cup of coffee.
And, it does have a lot of benefits. I think the only thing is that, and you may have come across this as well, it is that research shows that, as you've already experienced, the drop in core temperature and the drop in post-exercise muscle soreness, even the next day, is pretty profound, especially, with cold water immersion, even more than those cryotherapy chambers. There's some people, though, that still eschew that idea and avoid the cold plunge post-workout because they've heard that it blunts the hormetic response to exercise, it blunts mitochondrial adaptations or muscle growth. But, I looked into the data on this and you have to get the muscle core temp to drop by– It's 3-plus degrees. And, that takes a good 10-plus minutes in pretty significant cold for that to happen.
So, if you're just jumping in a cold bath for, like I do, two to five minutes after the workout just to get the core temp down, you're fine. But, I think the people who do themselves a disservice are the people who exercise and then get in the cold for 10, 20 minutes. That's where you see a law of diminishing returns, or that's where you'd want to save the cold plunge for later in the day, a few hours after the workout after your body's had a chance to mount its own endogenous antioxidant defense and upregulate mitochondrial production, everything you'd look for after work out, and then you do the cold later on in the day. But, a quick cold soak post-workout, you're spot-on. It's great for the next day soreness and for being able to come back the next day just as fresh.
Keith: I tried to max. I tend to keep it in the zone of 8 to 10 minutes, maybe, 12 minutes absolute max. I was taught, but I’ve never independently verified that 54 degrees was the ideal temperature for this. But, you don't really need to go colder to get the benefits you're looking for.
Ben: Well, you're right. You're right in that most the research has shown that to get the benefits of cold, you got to be at 55 or lower.
Keith: Got it.
Ben: But, the reason I go 32 is it's a time hack because they've also done a lot of comparisons of longer soaks at slightly elevated temperatures versus shorter soaks at very cold temperatures. And, you get the same benefits from just a couple of minutes at 32 degrees as you would from 8 to 10 minutes at 55. So, if I can give myself an extra eight minutes every day by just doing colder water and a shorter soak, even though it's a little bit more of a suck fest, I like to do it that way.
Ben: But, really, you get the same benefits either way. It's just a matter of how much time you want to invest.
Keith: That makes sense. That makes sense. But, I am definitely looking forward to, hopefully, by January or so, I’ll have this whole, maybe, earlier set-up at my house. And, I can take advantage of this.
Ben: It's a pretty sweet setup. That'll be cool for you to have.
So, one thing I didn't ask you as you were talking about your sleep was, before you go to bed, are you taking any supplements to enhance sleep? Or, do you have any, I guess, biohacks in the bedroom that you use to enhance your sleep besides that Eight Sleep mattress?
Keith: Yeah. So, I do have several things. And, none of it's– Well, very few components are rocket science or anything radical. But, classic ambient temperatures. It's pretty cool in my bedroom, ideally, 65, 64 degrees, blackout shades, sleep with an eye mask, etc., etc., etc. All basic stuff, consistent sleep. I try to eat dinner relatively early, not the 4:00 p.m. But, for all intents and purposes, I’d really like to be eating closer to the 7:00 than later. Not always possible, certainly one disadvantage of Miami’s people, also, in New York city people eat out later. But, I will typically be on the earlier end of the spectrum. If I can eat at 6:30, 7:00, I’m pretty happy, almost not really thrilled about eating past 8:00 p.m. because I think it does at the margin impact my sleep.
Second, I do take a supplement produced by a company called Thorne called Recovery Pro, which is a combination of supplements designed for recovery from training, but also sleep enhancement.
Ben: They recently discontinued Recovery Pro, I think. So, I’m hoping you've stocked up on it.
Keith: I think they remixed it. Different formulation, but you can buy something, actually. They also sell some of the active ingredients separately as a pill. This is like a cocktail you mix with water before bed. But, in any event, I’ve been doing this for a few years. I think it's effective for me. I don't really know. I take magnesium supplements, as we discussed, on an ad hoc basis. So, I have a jar of supplements near my bed. And, if for whatever reasons, I feel like I should take one, I’ll just grab it. I also do use one drug that's been very effective for me, called Rozerem, R-O-Z-E-R-E-M, that's designed for reducing issues with sleep onset. It's pretty magical. It's fairly underrated. Not that many people know about it, even though I think the profile of the drug is incredible. It has almost no side effects and is extremely effective.
Ben: So, it's not a diazepam like a Valium?
Keith: No, it has a very different impact. It's also allegedly non-addictive. But, the good news and bad news is you can't use it on an ad hoc basis. You basically have to take it every day. But, I found it to be incredibly effective for me, in both avoiding sleep onset issues, which I used to suffer from, and time travel. But, it is the kind of thing that you can't just use once a month.
Ben: Interesting. I’m just looking it up right now. It's acting on a similar mechanism of action as melatonin. That's interesting.
Keith: Yes, it feels like melatonin on steroids in some ways. It's not exact. That's a simplification. But, directionally correct.
Ben: That's interesting. I use, especially when I travel, as a sledgehammer for sleep to realign the circadian rhythm, high-dose melatonin. I actually have this doctor in Florida and I get a melatonin suppositories from him because they slowly release into the system while you sleep. We're talking a lot. It's like 200 to 300 milligrams of melatonin. One of the side effects of that is, of course, you're a little bit drowsy when you wake up. And, for the same reason, that avoidance of blue light at night is a good idea, because the blue light suppresses melatonin. Just getting blasted with sunlight as soon as you wake up, that banishes all the grogginess that you get from high-dose melatonin prior to sleep. But, that Rozerem doesn't leave you groggy at all in the morning?
Keith: No, I can't discern any difference between Rozerem-induced sleep and natural sleep. Unlike with melatonin, which I almost never actually use anymore. Having read “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, I think the proper use of melatonin is for time travel and time adjustment, not for general sleep issues. I think it isn't effective for that because it actually doesn't align the curves of sleep in circadian rhythm correctly. But for readjusting to a new time zone, it's effective.
I do try to get 8 to 10 minutes of natural sunlight every morning, ideally, between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m., which is the most effective time. In Florida, it's actually pretty easy to do. Obviously, living in other places, it takes more of a conscious effort to do that. But, I think I’ve never really found myself groggy in the morning, unless I’ve taken extra supplements for some reason. The drug itself, Rozerem, doesn't induce it.
Ben: That's interesting. Cool. I’ll look into that one.
So, we got to your morning. You get that morning workout in with your pre-workout bar. And then, are you also having breakfast at some point after your workout?
Keith: It depends on the day. So, what I’ll do is, typically, post my workout, I’ll have a traditional protein shake. And, that's going to be mix of protein, yogurt, banana, something of that type. That may be sufficient for me. You're probably talking 300-ish calories size. In some mornings, that may be enough to motivate me through lunch. Some other mornings, depending on where I’m going next, what meetings I have, I may have a more traditional breakfast instead, like scrambled eggs, sometimes yogurt and granola. That's pretty variable. I’d say, maybe, four days a week, it's just protein shake and go to work. The other three days, it's more of a traditional breakfast.
Ben: And so, if you decided to do that carbohydrate backloading, your carbohydrate refeeding in the evening, then the only adjustment you need to make would be to, instead of having things like yogurt or bananas or blueberries or other forms of carbohydrates in the morning smoothie, you'd shift it. So, it's like more, whatever, nut seeds or nut butters or coconut milk or bone broth or stevia or all fats and proteins, and then take all those carbohydrates you'd normally have in the morning and shift them into an evening scenario.
That's the only issue with doing that carbohydrate feeding, is you can't have your cake and eat it, too. So, if you're going to save all the carbohydrates for the evening, you got to decrease them for the breakfast and lunch feedings but. And, that's what I do. I have a smoothie every morning at some point after my workout. Typically, I wait around an hour or so, just because if you fast for a little while post-workout, you get a little bit of an increase in growth hormone and testosterone. But then, I’ll just put a bunch of ice and bone broth and stevia and salt and some coconut flakes and stuff like that, all protein and fat-based compounds in the blender, and have, some people would consider to be almost a ketogenic smoothie for my post-workout meal. And, that allows me to save the carbs for the evening.
Keith: That makes sense. The one thing that I do differently is, and maybe there's more modern research on this, I still subscribe and adhere to the old-school advice about having the protein smoothie within 20 minutes of finishing your workout.
Ben: So, it's accurate, but like a lot of nutrition information, that's trickled-down advice from the bodybuilding and the pro athlete sectors, because if you do not eat within about 20 to 60 minutes following your workout, if you don't do that recommended protein carb refeed, what happens is that, if you are going to work out again within eight hours, the glycogen and amino acid levels aren't fully replenished to the extent to where you could throw down a really good workout routine within eight hours.
Keith: I'm not.
Ben: But if you're not one of those people who's doing a hard pro athlete or bodybuilder-esque two-a-day routine. I’m not talking about a short workout in the morning and a sauna in the afternoon or something. I’m talking about crushing it in the morning and then having scrimmage or practice or another just rip-you-wide-open session later on in the day.
What they've shown in research is that, by eating ad libitum, just by eating your normal diet for the next 24 hours after your workout, by the time you get to the next morning's workout, everything's topped off just fine as it is and your body's repaired properly and everything. So, it depends. And, for most folks, it's the pro athletes or the bodybuilders, etc., who need to worry about prioritizing the timing of the post-workout meal, if that makes sense.
Keith: That makes tons of sense. So, I think the way I’d probably start applying that now is on days where I’m definitely going to do two vigorous workouts to, maybe, prioritize the timing. And then, on days when I know I’m going to basically do one primary workout, I just eat my normal diet.
Ben: Exactly. That'd be prudent.
[00:54:46] Hacks In The Workplace
So, you get your breakfast in. I’m assuming, at some point, because you appear on paper to be a successful executive, you are actually working at some point.
Keith: Yeah, unfortunately, I do do work. I, typically, do a lot of meetings, probably, call it somewhere between 6 and 10 meetings a day.
Ben: Now, when you're working, are you one of those treadmill workstation, Pomodoro breaks to swing kettlebells type of guys? Are you moving throughout the day?
Keith: No, none of that. Partially, by meetings in my work, it really entails conversations with other people. And so, I think that would be more distracting. And so, even if I were convinced of the benefits, I don't know if it would be a realistic option. I do think there are benefits of a standing desk, etc. I’ve experimented with those over the years. But, I’m still meeting with a lot of people, one-on-one conversations, conference rooms with five people, where that wouldn't really be very effective. I’ve read some recent research that was very intriguing about the benefits of trying to do work while you're on a treadmill, but I don't know if it'll translate that well to the kinds of things I need to do.
I just basically am separating that part of my life. When I’m at work, focused meeting with colleagues, my phone's away. I’m just dialed into listening to what they have to say, helping them try to address and solve and prioritize their problems and challenges. And then, as soon as I can escape that, I’ll go back to being healthy and focused on my own stuff.
Ben: I think the treadmill research, it's mostly based on the idea. And, there was even like the ancient Greek practice of these walking universities where students would learn as they were wandering. You do get an upregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is like miracle growth for the brain. So, if you're engaged in learning, let's say you're going to watch, I don't know, a documentary, or even maybe you're going to review a video of a deck that somebody sent you or something like that, then there actually is something to be said for moving as you digest that–
Ben: –because you might be able to assimilate it better. But, if it's more of a complicated board meeting or discussion that's a little bit more involved or something where you're not learning but you're also producing information, sometimes, it can be distracting. I’ll sometimes do Zoom calls with my team and things like that on the treadmill, but because a great deal of my work involves writing and authoring and working on articles, I can't produce very great content while I’m moving, for example, on treadmill, and doing those types of things.
Keith: That makes sense. Unfortunately, there are times when I’m trying to assimilate and learn. And, maybe, I should be moving more. But, I think, often, I need to take notes and need to be interacting. And, I don't think the movement really works so well, or at least no one's created a perfect product for that yet. But, the research is pretty interesting and fascinating. I was moderately unaware of it until recently.
Ben: Yeah, it's interesting. So, you get through the work day. And then, I think you mentioned early on in our discussion that you try to do two-movement sessions in a day or two workout-ish type of sessions in there.
Keith: Ideally, yeah. So, ideally, after finishing my work, I will go do a second high-intensity training. So, my ideal schedule is one in the morning and one late afternoon or the evening. So, that's what I’m going to do today. For example, I worked out. My first program was 8:20 a.m. to 9:10. And then, I’m going to do another program at 4:45. That's ideal for me. Now, sometimes, I have to batch them more tightly together. Logistically, often on a weekend, for example, sometimes, I’ll actually do them back-to-back, which is mostly time efficient. So, from a professional standpoint, it's great to be able to do back-to-back, showering once, one protein shake, etc. But, I think my body actually prefers the recovery for the eight hours or six hours or seven hours in between.
Ben: I agree. And, that might be based on some of the nutrition information I was sharing with you earlier about this idea of nutrient replenishment needing a certain period of time to restore amino acid pools and for the nervous system to recover, etc. So, that spacing of about six to eight hours, that works very well for me also. I’m typically working out sometime around 8:00 or 9:00. And then, when I’m finishing up a lot of my work, typically, around 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.-ish, that's when I’m returning for another session. Although, for me, I’ll save the more complex– A lot of times, I’ll do something more cardio-ish or sauna or cold pool, etc., in the mornings. And then, for the more complex activities, let's say weight training, your body temperature peaks, your reaction time peaks, your testosterone peaks, your grip strength peaks. All these things peak in the afternoon to early evening. So, I’ll do whatever the more complex routine of the day is, typically, later on in the day, if I do have the luxury of time to do it two a day.
Keith: And then, I will do that, too. So, on days where I’m only doing one high-intensity training program, then I will do strength training. And, that'd be a quick session, but very heavy weight. So, it's the complement to the kind of activities that are difficult to do in a high-intensity session. So, I’ll do 15 to 30 minutes of heavy backloaded squats, pull-ups, heavy dumbbell rows, etc.
Ben: So, when you finish that afternoon or evening workout, I didn't even ask you this, but are you actually eating anything between breakfast and that workout? Do you have a lunch break?
Keith: I do. Well, I don't have a lunch break, but I do have lunch. So, I will typically [01:00:16] _____.
Ben: It sounds like your lunch equals a salad and replying to emails.
Keith: Yeah, I will either be working through a lunch meeting where I have food, but I’m consuming while I’m working, or catching up on emails, definitely, over lunch. Or, maybe, I’ll get a 15-minute break and go grab a sandwich or something like that. But, it's typically tightly compressed time and more of a utilitarian meal.
Ben: And so, you are basically working through lunch. You get to the end of the day. You throw it on that workout. And then, as you're going between the workout and dinner, anything else that you're doing between that period of time to get yourself ready for your evening wind-down routine?
Keith: Not really. Ideally, I’ll try to figure out, so find some time to either catch up on emails, if I’ve been in meetings all day with other people. Or, if I have 15 to 30 minutes spare, I will read a book, long-form of content. Sometimes, I’ll do that in the morning if I have extra time or excess time. Sometimes, I’ll take a nap. That depends on– I’m pretty proficient at 20-minute naps, but I need to be in a place and environment where I can easily find a bed that's comfortable. And, that's not always possible. Today, I may have time before my 4:45 to take a quick 20-minute nap. And, I’ll feel great. I’ll have more energy in my brain. I’ll be much more alert if I can get a 20-minute nap in between.
Ben: I agree. I’m a huge napper. And, I’m at the point now where I’ll just crawl under a desk or a conference table, just wherever I happen to be. But, I always, always, in my work bag, I’ve got a really good sleep mask. I use one called the MindFold, which is actually one that a lot of plant medicine practitioners will use to completely block off light for a psilocybin ceremony or something like that. I found this mask, and it just works fantastically. So, I use this MindFold mask, over-the-ear noise-blocking headphones. And then, I’ve got this app called NuCalm. And, it's got a bunch of different options on. But, it has this 20 to 30-minute power nap function on it that'll just blast me off to the middle of nowhere, even if there's a bunch of people talking in the room. And, I lay down with all that stuff on. And then, typically, I’ll use at least one wearable that lulls you off to sleep. There's one called the Apollo. It produces this micro vibration around your ankle, around your wrist, wherever you tend to wear it. And, it will induce a brainwave response that actually is very relaxing. So, I’ll either put that on, or there's this newer device called Hapbee. I don't know if you've heard of that one, but it uses a magnetic signal to simulate. You could use it for wakefulness. It's like it'll simulate theobromine or caffeine or nicotine, but then it'll also simulate CBD or melatonin. If you've got too much caffeine prior to bed, it'll simulate adenosine. And so, typically, for my naps, I’ll take about three minutes just hooking myself up to all that stuff. And then, I can go dead to the world anywhere on the face of the planet. But, it does take a little bit of better living through science to really be able to check out for mid-afternoon nap.
Keith: I’ve never been able to artificially nap. If I can get a nice comfortable bed with a cool temperature, I can have a really effective amazingly revitalizing nap. And, I have to try to find a way to sleep in some unusual environment. I just can't do it.
Ben: I get it. Well, it's funny because when I interview business execs or super successful people, always at the back of my mind, during the interview, I’m thinking, “This is a busy and important person. They probably have a whole bunch of important things to rush off and go and do.” And so, I want to be respectful of your time.
However, I would also be super remiss not to ask you, as a guy who's actually not only in the investment industry but also keen on fitness, about what some of the things you are excited about in terms of the future of the fitness or the health optimization or the biohacking industry? What it is you're excited about? What do you think the future will look like, whether it's customization, personalization, home workouts? What are the type of things that get you excited about, if you could riff for a little bit about the fitness industry as a whole from your perspective as an investor or somebody who's involved with it on a personal level?
Keith: So, we've invested in a couple of areas. Improving sleep, enhancing sleep. I mentioned Eight Sleep, for example, but that's not the only one. Anything that would improve the quality of sleep, I think, has massive benefits for health, fitness, basically, happiness. It's probably the best thing we could do for a lot of human performance, is to increase quality of sleep. Second, we also like to invest in areas that extend human lifespan. That's an area that I think is very raw. And, we're just seeing the first generation of founders of entrepreneurs and companies there. But, obviously, I'd be very interested, personally and professionally, in that area.
Home fitness, we have invested in. I think there's some benefits to investing in the home fitness world, but it's not clear to me yet when the world reverts back to normal, how much of that's durable, how much of that just becomes part of a hybrid mix? So, instead of going to, let's say, a gym five days a week, I now go three days a week, and then I do two workouts at home. I think there's some mixes of behaviors for people who are interested in stuff.
Ben: I guess that assumes that things will revert back to normal. Isn't there some law of human psychology that dictates that, once we introduce a law or a principle, like mask-wearing or a little bit more difficulty in terms of the ability to be able to attend a class at a gym without jumping through a bunch of health safety hoops, that it just stays that way? I forget the name of that law. And, obviously, this is [01:06:22] _____.
Keith: I actually don't know where the residual lands. But, I suspect we'll wind up in some hybrids. So, I’ll use a Peloton bike once in a while, for example. I have one. If I would need an extra cardio session without as much drain, I’ll use that because it's very efficient. It's at home. Usually, not bringing me into the top cardio zone. But, it's a nice cardio complement. I’ll do stuff like that. We've invested in a company called TEMPO, which has strength training-based programming for home that basically uses real resistance weights. We're looking for opportunities.
I think the bigger area for innovation that, maybe, transcends all of these would be the personalization. So, I think most of nutrition advice, maybe, even most of health advice, suffers from a flaw of the averages problem, that on an average population, X or Y or Z is good for you or bad for you. But that most people are not average, and that the advice is, therefore, incorrect for them. I think this is what accounts for these conflicting studies that we see in the media. Bananas are good for you or they're bad for you. Eggs are good for you or bad for you, etc., etc., etc. I think the reason why is there some subtle differences in the population that they were tested on, and that different people respond very differently.
Ben: There's a huge amount of biochemical individuality. That's the whole magic of self-quantification and it becoming increasingly affordable. But, the ketogenic diet that helps one person can produce inflammation and increase risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia and malabsorption of saturated fats and a whole bunch of issues in somebody else. So, I see the same thing in that there's a huge need, preferably, via a great deal of AI and automation, if possible, to develop more personalized exercise and health and nutrition and supplementation prescriptions based on self-quantified data. But, it just seems such a young industry, which actually surprises me. I thought we'd be farther ahead.
Keith: I would have, too. I would have guessed it would be further ahead. I think part of the reason why is no one's developed a great non-invasive way to personalize yet. So, the stuff I’ve seen that is effective requires blood draws. And, those are tolerable, but they're not tolerable every day, necessarily, or not tolerable every day to a mainstream productized sense.
So, I think, as we can develop proxies that are accurate enough for personalization that don't require consistent blood draws or require, at least, micro drops of blood, then I think we can see some commercialization at scale of this stuff.
Ben: And, there are companies that are doing that. Well, you brought up Thorne. Thorne has its home test kits now. There's another company called Base. There's a couple that are doing urine measurements, like Vessel. But, nobody has an all-encompassing solution now. And, even those companies that I just named, the only recommendations that you're getting are what supplements to take or what dietary adjustments to make. And, there's still no exercise or lifestyle or, say, biohacking recommendations. They're still pretty niched when it comes to the universality of the recommendations.
Keith: And, I think that's the problem, is “normal” people want someone to guide them or something to guide them. Like, “Here are my goals. Tell me what to do. Take whatever test you need to take, and throw it through whatever machine or whatever combination amount of machine you need. But then, tell me what I should do to achieve my goals. And, simplify it for me, like, “Eat this, don't eat that.” Change your workout program from X to Y, more intense, less intense, whatever the cases are.”
But, right now, you can only, if you know you have a specific concern or issue, you can find these tests or quantification techniques and isolate it. But, being isolated feedback without knowing the context of everything else you do in your life or whatever your goals are really isn't that helpful to most people.
Ben: Exactly. And, that's the problem. Your CRP is elevated. You're at high risk for heart disease. You need to go in for a workup and avoid high-intensity exercise, when, in fact, your CRP is elevated because you lifted weights the day before.
Keith: Exactly. There's all those dimensions. And, the canonical examples are just simple glucose sensitivity and insulin spikes. There are people who can eat pizza with no insulin spike. And, there's people who can eat chocolate chip cookies and some people can eat bananas with no insulin spikes. But, you need to know that for you. And, it's very liberating if you happen to be one of the people who can consume your favorite foods without insulin spikes. But then, you might be surprised that things that are otherwise healthy for other people that don't cause insulin spikes actually do affect your body, like apples or something. So, being able to tune your diet. But, that's only on one dimension.
Ben: And, even those recommendations, all they're looking at is the microbiome response to a food and how that would affect blood sugar levels or the insulinogenic, like the pancreatic response. But, even those tests don't take into account the fact that, in some people, let's say almonds, which you wouldn't expect to spike your blood sugar at all, if someone's allergic to them, you get a sympathetic nervous system response. The liver produces glucose in the very same way as we were talking about earlier when you're warming up for a workout. And, you get a blood glucose response to a food because you're actually intolerant to it. When most doctors would say, “You have high blood sugar. Eat almonds as one of your staple foods because they're a low glycemic index food.” There's so many variables that I think that the development of an AI or automated platform to interpret and then self-quantified data and then prescribe exercise and health and lifestyle and dietary modifications based on that, there's just a long way to go still. But, it's also exciting. I think that [01:12:28] ____.
Keith: It's extremely exciting. I have a vision of how it should evolve, but I’m looking for an entrepreneur who wants to do all the hard work where I can just give them the capital.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well, we've been going for a little while, and I want to be respectful of your time. But, if people want to get inside your head and learn more about what you do or tune into your thoughts more, where's your most prolific platform? Would it be Twitter, Instagram, a website?
Keith: I use Twitter, just @Rabois. I combine business advice, technology advice, startup advice, health and fitness activities, research that I discovered that I find interesting, readings that I find. So, that's probably the easiest way to track me.
Ben: Awesome. Cool. I’m going to have to go over there and follow you right now because I just realized I don't think I actually follow you on Twitter. So, to make that happen. Keith, thank you so much for coming on the show. For those of you listening in, again, I took notes on everything Keith and I talked about in this discussion. I feel like I can talk to you for another hour. But, at this point, we'll call it a show. But, I’m going to put all the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Keith, for any of you who want to take a deeper dive. And, you can also leave your comments, your questions, and your own feedback over there at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Keith.
Keith, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this with us, man. I love what your wealth of knowledge.
Keith: It's been a pleasure I learned a lot. I’m going to have to follow up on a lot of your suggestions.
Ben: Yeah, no more bananas in the morning smoothie, I guess. And, I’m sorry about that. And, also, no more saying that 54 degrees is cold, aside from that. Alright, well, Keith, I’ll catch you later. And, everybody else, thanks for listening in. I’m Ben Greenfield and Keith Rabois, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the show notes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned, over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I’ve ever recommended for hormones, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more.
Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this, and every episode help to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the show notes, to use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Keith Rabois is the General Partner at Founders Fund. He has a unique background as an entrepreneurial executive and investor. Since 2000, Keith has been instrumental in driving five startups from their early stages to successful IPOs. He has provided seed capital to another ten companies that are currently valued at over $1B, including Airbnb, Lyft, YouTube, Wish, and Yammer.
Since March 2013, Keith has served as a senior partner at Khosla Ventures (KV), a technology venture capital fund founded by Vinod Khosla. He specializes in funding early-stage companies with a primary focus on consumer, financial services, and health care innovation. At the same time, Keith co-founded Opendoor, a startup that transforms the painful process of selling a home into a delightful and immediate experience. At KV, Rabois has led investments in a broad array of startups including, DoorDash, Stripe, Thoughtspot, Affirm, Even Financial, and Piazza.
Over the prior decade, Keith Rabois forged several of the most important new social and commerce platforms. Keith began his career in the industry as Executive Vice President of Business Development & Public Policy at PayPal and subsequently served in influential roles at LinkedIn and as a chief operating officer of Square.
But Keith is also a bit of a fitness and optimization nerd, often heard championing the value of fitness, sleep, and heart rate tracking, and recently leading ‘big tech' scions in Miami fitness bubble, as a recent news article cited “The former PayPal exec, who has invested in LinkedIn, Square and Yelp, is teaching a Barry’s Bootcamp class in Miami with tech industry insiders,” where Keith was quoted as saying that he believes the future of fitness in a post-pandemic world will be a combination of at-home meets in-person workouts.
“I think the future will be a hybrid. Resistance training is a critical ingredient for everybody’s workout and it’s very difficult for people to do strength training at home. People need both guidance and form correction. I think some people will allocate some time to training at home just for convenience, then people like to get inspired with in-person classes — running next to someone on a treadmill urges you to run faster; seeing other people lifting dumbbells encourages you to lift heavier weights, plus you’re in a community meeting new people and engaging with new people. Some people will take one or two classes a week and then exercise on their own,” Keith Rabois said.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-How Keith measures his health through his heart rate…08:30
- Measure 3 things for heart rate:
- Resting heart rate
- 2-minute recovery heart rate
- Heart rate variability (HRV)
- Training is focused on improving the 2-minute recovery rate
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), hill-incline running
- Barry's Boot Camp
- Airdyne bikeBen mentions
-A typical workout for Keith Rabois…12:20
- 50 minutes
- Half cardio, half resistance training, typically with weights
- Cardio is a mix of jog, run, sprint; vary the incline
- Music is highly efficacious in improving performance and emotional tolerance
- The Joy of Movementby Kelly McGonigal
- High-Intensity Repeat Training (HIRT)
- Pavel Tsatsouline
- Article in Journal of Applied Physiology: Short-term intensified training temporarily impairs mitochondrial respiratory capacity in elite endurance athletes
- Calcium scan score
- The Goldilocks Zone for Exercise: Not Too Little, Not Too Much by James O'Keefe
- HIIT may be more difficult than it sounds
- Zones For Training app
-How Ben and Keith track and manage their sleep…22:55
- Accurate sleep stage discrimination
- Zeo devices(now bankrupt)
- Eight Sleep mattress
- ChiliPadmattress cover
- Oura ring
- BGF podcasts with building biologist Brian Hoyer
- Hunting Down EMF In Your Office, Bedroom, Gym & Beyond: Is Your Home’s “Dirty Electricity” Wrecking Your Sleep, Your Recovery, Your Health & More? The Official Ben Greenfield & Brian Hoyer Low-EMF Home How-To.
- The Intriguing Science Of Building Biology (Along With A Complete Analysis & Surprising Results From Ben Greenfield’s So-Called “Biohacked Home”).
- Find devices you can put in “airplane mode” to reduce EMF exposure
- Supplement with magnesiumto offset calcium influx
- Ketone salts and esters
- NAD supplement
-Keith and Ben's big wins in caring for the body and brain…28:55
- 8 hours of sleep is the foundation
- Alarm clocks cause artificial stress in the brain
- 30 minutes or so after wake up, do a workout (HIIT)
- Eat a protein barto get some protein before working out
- Celsius drinkand green tea for a caffeine spike
- Carbs the night prior aid in workouts in a fasted state
- Earthing sandals
- Natural sunlightand walking on the ground barefoot
- Cold shifts the body into a fat-burning state
- Morozko Forge(use BENFORGE to save $150 on the COLD and FILTERED Forge)
- 55°F or lower for best effects; Ben goes at 32°F for a bit of a time hack
-Supplements and biohacks Keith uses to enhance sleep…45:48
- Cool temperature in the bedroom, around 65°F
- Blackout shades
- Eye mask
- Eat dinner somewhat early (around 7 pm)
- Thorne Recovery Pro
- Rozerem(melatonin on steroids)
- 8-10 minutes of natural sunlight every morning
-What Keith Rabois has for breakfast…50:45
- Protein shake4 days per week; traditional breakfast the other 3 days
- A lot of nutrition advice is trickled down from the pro athlete and bodybuilding industry
-Hacks in the workplace…54:45
-What a typical day looks like for both Keith Rabois and Ben…57:40
- HIITsession late afternoon
- Sometimes need to batch the two closer together; not ideal for the long term
- Nutrient replenishment space of 6-8 hours between workouts
- No lunch break per se, utilitarian meal
- MindFoldsleep mask
-What things in the fitness and biohacking industry excite Keith…1:04:20
- Improving quality of sleep is the best thing to invest in right now
- Areas to extend human lifespan
- Home fitness
- Peloton bike
- TEMPO strength training programs
-Flaws with the exciting, yet underachieving personalized health services and products industry…1:08:55
- Personalization of fitness and nutrition advice
- Flaw of averages by which nutrition advice is disseminated
- Biochemical individuality
- Privacy and convenience issues with personalized products and services (blood draws)
- Thorne at-home test kits
- Vessel(use code GREENFIELD50 to get you 50% off the first month, either a 6-month or a 12-month plan)
- Recommendations from current tests are very “niche”
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Keith Rabois:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- A Deep Dive Into HRV: How To Use Heart Rate Variability To Optimize Your Sleep, Stress, Recovery, Performance, Nervous System Balance & Much More!, With Dr. Jay T. Wiles.
- Hunting Down EMF In Your Office, Bedroom, Gym & Beyond: Is Your Home’s “Dirty Electricity” Wrecking Your Sleep, Your Recovery, Your Health & More? The Official Ben Greenfield & Brian Hoyer Low-EMF Home How-To, With Brian Hoyer.
- The Intriguing Science Of Building Biology (Along With A Complete Analysis & Surprising Results From Ben Greenfield’s So-Called “Biohacked Home”) With Brian Hoyer.
- Q&A 426: Does Being Overweight Help You Live Longer?, The Dark Side Of Fasting, The Latest On Caffeine & Exercise Performance, Boosting Nitric Oxide & Much More!
- The 19 Best Full-Body Workouts Ben Greenfield Uses For His Year-Round Exercise Routine.
- The Resurgence Of The Kettlebell: How An Old-School Tool For Strongmen Became A Must-Have Piece Of Equipment For Athletes And The Average Person.
- The Smoothie Super-Special: How To Make The Ultimate Fitness Drink That Doesn’t Taste Like The Foul Dung Of Godzilla.
- Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.
- The Joy of MovementBy Kelly McGonigal
– Gear And Supplements:
- Airdyne Bike
- Zeo Personal Sleep Coach
- Eight Sleep Mattress
- Oura Ring
- Earthing Runners Sandals
- Morozko Forge(use BENFORGE to save $150 on the COLD and FILTERED Forge)
- Blackout Shades
- Sleep Mask
- Standing Desk
- Manual Treadmill
- MindFold Sleep Mask
- Peloton Bike
- Thorne Recovery Pro
- Ketone Salts And Esters
- Protein Bar
– Other Resources:
- Kion Energy Bar
- Celsius Fitness Drink
- Pique Green Tea
- Pavel Tsatsouline
- Zones For Training App
- Calcium Scan Score
- TEMPO Strength Training Programs
- The Goldilocks Zone For Exercise: Not Too Little, Not Too Much
- Thorne At-Home Test Kits
- Vessel(use code GREENFIELD50 to get you 50% off the first month, either a 6-month or a 12-month plan)
- Ben will be speaking at the Ancestral Health Symposium in L.A. on August 12-14, 2021
- Las Vegas Keto Expo (October 15-16, 2021). Ben will be speaking at the Las Vegas Keto Expo along with 13 other keto experts. The first 300 guests to register herewill get a free drink chip for the poolside party and a free t-shirt.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following com/calendar
–The Boundless Cookbook: Optimize your physical and mental performance with nutritious and delicious Greenfield family recipes.
–Organifi Gold: A new take on an ancient secret: Pain-soothing herbs, incredible antioxidants, and phytonutrients all in one delicious, soothing “Golden Milk” nighttime tea! Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.
–Four Sigmatic: I’ve been using Four Sigmatic products for a while now and I’m impressed by the efficacies of their mushroom products. I use them. I like them. I support the mission! Receive 10% off your Four Sigmatic purchase when you use discount code BENGREENFIELD.
–Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. BGF listeners save 10% off your first order at Kion with code BEN10.
–Clearlight Saunas: You can be sure that I researched all the saunas before I bought mine and Clearlight was the one that stood out from all the rest because of their EMF and ELF Shielding and their Lifetime Warranty. Mention BEN GREENFIELD and you’ll receive an extra discount on your purchase.