[00:01:25] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:30] Podcast and Guest Introduction
[00:05:26] Sarcopenia: What It Is and How to Mitigate Its Effects as You Age
[00:10:39] Case Studies on The Effects of Strength Training on Longevity
[00:20:52] Maintaining and Building Muscle with Age
[00:25:07] Podcast Sponsors
[00:28:25] Nerdy Ways to Lose Fat and Stay Healthy: Keeping Blood Sugar Stable
[00:33:07] Foam Rolling in The Morning
[00:37:37] Strategic Use of a Sauna
[00:41:09] Measure HRV Based on Your Workouts
[00:43:31] Dry Fasting
[00:46:09] Training in A Fasted State
[00:48:39] Upper Body High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
[00:50:08] Different Forms of The Ketogenic Diet
[00:53:31] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast…
It's easy sometimes for a senior to go out and walk or hike or ride a bike and swim, and it can feel hard to strength train, but it's such a potent age-reversal tactic.
Tom: When we store our fats, maybe, just maybe, it's biologically set up for us in a sense that we can unravel and utilize that fat a little bit easier, or when I'm on a lower-fat day where I know the fat is coming from my own body fat tissue. So, what I recommend people try is–
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Mic check, mic check, one, two, one, two. Oh, sorry, I didn't see you there. I was just checking my mic. Yow, this is Ben. Today's show is a little bit different. It is a focus on longevity, fat loss, and muscle gain, and how to achieve all of that with the minimum effective dose. But it's actually a lecture by me. I say lecture. That sounds boring. A solosode by me and by my brilliant guest, Thomas DeLauer.
So, before we jump into the goodness, and don't press fast-forward, gosh, darn it, because I have important things to say. For example, my brand-new book, “Boundless” just launched and is available for pre-order. This thing is already selling like hotcakes all around the world. Six hundred and eight pages shocks me. How many people actually want to read a book that is that comprehensive? It's almost like “The 4-Hour Body” on steroids, with no offense meant to Tim Ferriss. It's a big book. And it's a hardcover 608 pages, beautiful diagrams, illustrations, a complete research-based guide to boundless energy at your beck and call anytime you want it, and thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of bonuses on the book launch website, which is at boundlessbook.com. So, you can go check that out at boundlessbook.com.
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Well, hello. You are about to hear a special two-part episode, featuring me and my guest, Tom DeLauer. We are going to be filling you in on everything you need to know about how to burn fat and build muscle with the minimum effective dose of training. And particularly, you're going to get tips on how to maintain muscle mass and functional athleticism even as you age. So, you, hopefully, know who I am. Thomas has been on my show three times, three times. I'm going to link to all his other podcast episodes where we talked about everything from curcumin and inflammation, to the ultimate alcohol, mitigation guide, to everything you need to know about magnesium supplementation. We covered all that stuff in previous episodes. So, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/tomandben. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/tomandben, if you want to hear those previous episodes, or if you want to delve into the shownotes for anything that Tom and I chat about today.
So, who is this cat? Well, Tom is considered to be one of the world's leading experts in the world of chronic inflammation and the response of the human body to a low-carb ketogenic diet. He was a 280-pound overweight corporate executive and he transformed his body. He's been on the cover of multiple magazines. He's completely amazing in terms of the way that he actually transformed himself and did it the whole time while being a busy corporate executive. He's going to share a lot of those tips with you today.
But even before Tom fills you in, I want to delve into what I have for you. Now, this is a topic that I addressed in detail in my new book at boundlessbook.com, this whole minimal effective dose of training, maintaining functional athleticism and a nice body as you age. And this is important because my entire book is built around building the optimized physical and mental and spiritual state to give you boundless energy at your beck and call whenever you want it quickly and safely, and preferably without oodles and oodles of hours spent in the gym.
So, what I want to start with is this. Your muscles go through a process called sarcopenia as you age. Your muscles become smaller and weaker with age. Research suggests that a key part of that decline occurs due to the muscle's mitochondria, the primary engines of energy production degrading over time, getting less dense, getting less efficient. Now, what they have found is that older individuals are over the improved strength by about 50% to levels that were only about 40% lower than those of younger individuals by specifically training their mitochondria. And that might not sound like a lot, but it's a lot when you take into consideration the comparison between seniors who strength train and those who do not. As a matter of fact, muscle biopsies from strength training seniors show a reversal of the expression profile of 179 different genes associated with age. Genes that are downregulated with age get upregulated with exercise, and genes that are upregulated with age get downregulated with exercise.
So, when it comes to mitochondria, specifically, strength training can reverse the mitochondrial decline that occurs by nearly 40 years. Meaning that folks who are 70 years old can present with mitochondrial profiles similar to those who are 30 years old with a proper strength training protocol setup. Now, exercise, of course, doesn't just affect mitochondria, it promotes the growth of fat-burning fast-twitch muscle fibers, it protects DNA from the wear and tear of aging by acting on telomeres, the end caps of your DNA. And they even did one fascinating study where they measured telomeres in twins to determine the effect of exercise on aging. And what they did was they found that telomere lengths decrease with age, which is no surprise, and this was a study of over 2400 twins.
But what they found was that the twins who were physically active had longer telomeres than their sedentary counterparts. And those who had more than three hours of vigorous physical activity per week had the same telomere length as folks who were 10 years younger than them. That means that people who don't put heavy physical loads on their body can be biologically younger … or I'm sorry, people who do put heavy physical loads on their body rather can be biologically younger by 10 years. And because these subjects were twins, that means this effect wasn't due to genes, but the lifestyle factor of exercise. In other words, long story short, when one twin exercises significantly more than the other, that twin that exercises has longer more durable telomeres.
They did another study in mice where they replaced slow-twitch type 1 muscle fibers with the type of strong fast-twitch type 2 muscle fibers you'd get from strength training. And then what they found was that the addition of the strong fast-twitch type 2 muscle fibers, which they turned on by activating a muscle growth-regulating gene, allowed these mice to become far less obese and far less insulin-resistant compared to just having type 1 muscle fibers, which means actually that strength training when it comes to age reversal is probably more important than chronic cardio and chronic endurance training.
Now, this is important because it's easy sometimes for a senior to go out and walk or hike or ride a bike and swim, and it can feel hard to strength train, but it's such a potent age-reversal tactic. And there's one other study I want to share with you before I get into some nitty-gritty tactics here, and this looked into reports of abnormally short telomeres in the skeletal muscle of athletes with exercise-associated fatigue. So, they wanted to determine whether chronic hard exercise could negatively impact your muscle telomere lengths.
So, what they did in this study was they compared telomere lengths of powerlifters who trained for about eight years against healthy active subjects who didn't have a history of strength training. There was no abnormal shortening of telomeres in the powerlifters. And in fact, those lifters' telomeres were significantly longer than those of the control group and were positively correlated to the lifters' individual records in the squat and the deadlift. In other words, the stronger you are, the longer your telomeres can be. So, that also means that when it comes to lifting, compacts, wiry, explosive, powerful muscles like those that a powerlifter has are probably even better than big, bulky bodybuilding-esque muscles.
So, let's take this out of the petri dish and into the real world now, and look at whether strength training and powerlifting actually has made people live longer. Well, one study looked at older adults who met twice-weekly strength-training guidelines and they showed lower odds of dying overall. Research also has shown that regular exercise, of course, as we would expect, causes a reduced risk of early death, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced risk of diabetes, and reduced risk of cancer. And one study at Oxford University and over 80,000 people found that people who play racquet sports like tennis or racquetball on a regular basis reduce their risk of dying prematurely by over 47%.
And the next most beneficial exercise turns out to be swimming, which reduces the risk of dying by 28%, and then cycling at 15%. But there's a little less research on strength training. However, they have shown the benefits of strength training on strength, muscle mass, and physical function, and the reduction in diabetes, osteoporosis, low back pain, and obesity, and a more recent larger study on more than 30,000 people on the mortality effects of older adults who met strength-training guidelines, which was at least twice weekly strength training sessions had a 46% lower odds of death. Okay, 46% lower odds of death overall, 41% lower odds from cardiac problems, 19% lower odds of dying from cancer.
So, when I look at all these studies, what does this say to me, like when we get down to the practical nitty-gritty? Lift weights, play a racquet sport, swim, ride a bike. And those would probably be like the best things that you could do as you age if you really want to get all the proven longevity enhancing benefit. So, I'm going to say it again. Strength train, play a racquet sport, swim and ride a bike. Those would be your top picks if you're going to choose anything to live longer.
Now, the other thing I want to share with you was some of the secrets that I include in my new book that I'm going to get into in brief that I learned from a lot of older people who have shown themselves to be extremely fit and have cracked the code on how to stay fit as you age. So, one is Charles Eugster. He has since deceased, but he was a bodybuilder, he's a public speaker, he was a rower, he was an entrepreneur, he was a fashion designer, and he was a well-decorated British sprinter. He held records in the 60-meter, 100-meter, 200-meter.
Well, we, of course, saw that he strength-trained and that he sprinted, which is really crucial for maintaining muscle mass and hormone levels as you age. He also said this regarding his diet. He said, “Variety is key. I start every day with the protein shake because as you get older, your protein synthesis no longer functions as well. I avoid sugar and eat lots of meat, especially fat. I've been on a fat trip lately, piles of fat. I was in the supermarket the other day and was perplexed to find yogurt was zero fat. What on Earth is that? The idea of a nutrition pyramid where at the top is a little fat and a little meat, and at the bottom is a lot of carbohydrates, is excuse me, bullshit.
Our theories of nutrition have resulted in a pandemic of obesity. Could you imagine a hunter-gatherer enjoying a low-fat yogurt? So, this dude was into a higher fat diet, and it's likely that if you come from a Northern European ancestry like Charles, you probably would also thrive on that type of approach. Are there some people who may not do as well with like a high-saturated fat intake? Absolutely. But this gives us clues when we look at particularly the area of the world Charles came from and what worked for him. And if you want to learn more about ancestral diets, go listen to my recent podcast with Dr. Michael Smith because we talked about this stuff in that show about how to choose a diet that's right for you.
Next, there's Laird Hamilton. So, what I like about Laird is his best anti-aging secret that–he actually shared this on a video when I was down at his house in Kauai. He keeps learning new stuff. And if you go into his garage, it's chock-full of unique toys that he's invented to attack ocean waves in different ways like jet skis, and foil boards, and balanced training devices. And he's always delving into all these different things. We see this also in a book by renowned neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, and he identified four different areas of the brain that you need to challenge, the prefrontal cortex, which is improved with things like meditation, crossword puzzles, scrabble, and chess.
The temporal lobes, which would be like learning musical instruments; the parietal lobes, which would involve things like juggling and map reading and like spatial coordination; and then the cerebellum, which is activated by things like dancing, and yoga, and tai chi, and coordination games like the racquet sports that I mentioned earlier, even table tennis. So, Dr. Daniel Amen's book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” is really good because he gets into tactics and how to activate each of those different lobes. But ultimately, in addition to eating real food, preferably with ample amounts of natural fats, tip number two is to learn new stuff constantly, just like Laird Hamilton does and still does, or dead and still does.
Next is a tip from my friend, Mark Sisson. He's got one of the finest six-pack abs you've ever seen in mid-'60s. And his secret is, and this is going to be something I already mentioned, he doesn't engage in long slow chronic cardio. He does short fast all-out sprint workouts about once a week all year long, ultimate frisbee, high-intensity treadmill intervals, hard uphill cycling. He also does–and he doesn't do it a lot. He's doing that like once a week. He also does intense sessions of heavy full-body weightlifting one to three times per week. And then in between, he just avoids long unbroken periods of sedentary time by doing things like treadmill workstations and relaxing paddleboard sessions. So, his whole philosophy is lift, move, sprint. Okay. So, we got eat natural fats, learn new stuff, lift, move, and sprint.
And then there's Don Wildman. He recently passed, but I first learned about him in Vice magazine, and I'll link to the magazine article called “The Hardest Workout in The World,” that he would actually do three times a week. And I've been in his basement in Malibu and done this exact workout and I can feel the lactic acid just oozing out my pores. And I would say that's probably a little much. You probably didn't need to go to that level, but he did occasionally do epic and scary things. He would do paddle boarding, and big wave surfing, and helicopter snowboarding. And I think every once in a while, like having some kind of adventure or epic thing that you do about once a year, that's also a really cool way to keep you training, keep you motivated, and keep you young. So, do epic things and get them calendared on a regular basis.
Next, there's “Art De Vany.” And he did a fabulous podcast episode with my friend, Tim Ferriss, in which he outlined his exercise strategy, which is called eccentric training, which has a potent effect on growth hormone and testosterone levels. This is also known as negative training. So, to do a negative deadlift, for example, you would set the bar at a certain height, like upon some blocks or elevated platforms. Then you'd lift the bar, you'd step back, and then you'd lower that bar to the ground as slowly over as long a period of time as you can. They even sell machines now. They're called ARX fit machines that do this for you through like a chest press, a pulldown, a squat, a deadlift, et cetera.
And what they've shown is that eccentric training can double the stem cell counts in your muscles. It can cause proliferation of stem cells, and these stem cells can then exit as satellite cells, which are crucial for muscle regrowth after any exercise. And that's what eccentric exercise does for you in addition to this potent hormone response. And Art would do this for 10 to 15 minutes every day working a different muscle group. You could also use like–if you read Doug McGuff's book, “Body by Science,” you could do a super slow routine like this just one to two times per week. So, Art did a lot of that and he did a lot of postural training, like standing with his back to wall, arching the back, keeping the head and shoulders back against the wall, then walking away from the wall without collapsing the spine and neck. And I have over a 90-page chapter in my book Boundless on just posture and symmetry alone. But this idea of eccentric muscle training and doing it frequently was one of Art's keys to staying young and staying strong.
And then there's, for you ladies out there, there's Olga Kotelko, Kotelko is her name. There was this really good book called, “What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery Of The 90-Something-Year-Old Track Star.” And here's one of the biggest takeaways from me. Olga did a very good job going out of her way to stay recovered and stay supple. She actually kept an old empty wine bottle beside her bed and used that to do like a foam roller style massage on her muscle, her fascia, her joints. And what I do is I have the book, “Becoming a Supple Leopard” in my living room along with all these different lacrosse balls, and foam rollers, and things like that, and I use that as like a cookbook in the morning. I set aside 10 to 15 minutes every morning and I protect that time. It's usually while the coffee is brewing. And I use that time to free up any little muscle in my body that needs some work done on it. So, by the end of the week, I've spent 75 minutes staying, as Kelly Starrett says in his book, supple, staying supple.
Okay. So, stepping back and looking at these folks again. We eat natural fats and real food, constantly learn new stuff, lift, move and sprint rather than doing chronic cardio, put epic things on your calendar occasionally, make sure that a lot of your training is eccentric, like through that lowering negative load with a heavier weight. And then finally, stay supple and do some kind of foam rolling or lacrosse ball work or mobility work on a regular basis, okay? So, those are the biggest tips that we get from a lot of these fit old people.
Now, the last thing that I want to mention to you is two different strategies in addition to super slow training and kind of like that explosive powerlifting style training that I think can be very, very effective as a strategy to maintain muscle or to even build muscle with age. Now, by the way, before I give you these two tactics, if you really want to wrap your head around how to do super slow training effectively, and most of my clients do one to two of these sessions per week, read the book by Dr. Doug McGuff called “Body by Science,” okay?
And if you want to do the type of explosive bodyweight training that I do and that a lot of my clients also do, I'll put a link to the New York Times article, “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout.” It's a seven-minute very explosive bodyweight workout. And I'll typically have the folks I work with do that seven-minute workout, take a brief breather, and then do it one more time. And the folks who really just love to work out, I'll have them do it twice, okay? So, everybody is doing explosive bodyweight training and like super slow training with a real emphasis on the negative part of the lift.
Okay. And then finally, I've got two little hacks for you before I turn things over to Tom. Number one is they found that electrical muscle stimulation, particularly electrical muscle stimulation on your legs in which you're literally hooking up electrodes to your legs to activate more muscle fibers than you'd normally be able to recruit activates a large number of androgen receptors and results in a very good testosterone and growth hormone response after the workout. And I again really like that as almost like a time hack or a hack that you can use when you're injured. Now, I own something called a new fit for this, and that thing can simulate a 600-pound squat. So, you can literally do a full-body strength training session on that thing. But what I like to do for just the best approach is I put it on my legs, I do a really hard work out on my legs one or two times a month on that thing, very, very good way to make sure that you're constantly training your central nervous system to recruit these muscles that normally otherwise would not recruit.
And then, the second thing I'm a big fan of, especially as you age, is heat stress. Heat stress prevents muscle loss by triggering the release of heat shock proteins. And these heat shock proteins have been shown to not only be associated with a steep increase in longevity but also the maintenance of muscle even in the absence of strength training. They also can cause an increase in growth hormone, blood flow to skeletal muscles, and a lowering of blood glucose along with a building of new red blood cells.
So, a regular sauna practice is, in my opinion, especially if you can get a quick cold soak after, integral and crucial to maintaining muscle and staying very healthy as you age, okay? So, let's review before we turn things over to Tom. First of all, we know we need to strength train as we age. We also know that racquet sports, swimming, and cycling are very effective. We know that we need to eat real food, do epic things, learn new stuff, lift, move and sprint, train eccentrically, and stay supple as we age. Next, if you're going to choose any two forms of strength training, especially as you age, as the most effective way to use your time, I recommend super slow strength training with the real emphasis on the lowering eccentric motion of the lifting phase, and also short explosive bodyweight training sessions that are done very quickly and powerfully. And then finally, if you want to throw the two best biohacks into the mix, if you were going to choose any, choose a really good electrical muscle stimulation machine and a really good sauna practice, okay?
So, I dig the idea of playing football with my grandkids when I'm 90, freediving when I'm 95, and hunting an elk when I'm 100. And I use the same tactics that I just described to you in my own protocol to keep myself young. All right, so we're going to turn things over to Thomas for his tips, but remember, everything Thomas talks about, everything I just got done talking about, you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/tomandben. And then in very great detail in my new book at boundlessbook.com.
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Tom: There's a lot of things that I learned when I was overweight, and a lot of things that I've learned obviously through becoming somewhat more of a, I guess you could call me a biohacker, but I don't even really use that term for myself. The sad truth was since I was in that corporate world for so long, I needed to find ways that I could change my lifestyle in small incremental ways that wasn't going to just make me a whole new person. I needed quick ways to sort of change how I ate or quick ways to change just my habits.
So, the whole purpose of what I want to talk about today is how busy people, how people that are stuck in just kind of the minutiae of the day can break out of that and start having some–oh no, I'd almost call it nerdy ways to lose fat, nerdy ways to get healthier. I don't want to have this all be based upon losing weight, or getting fit, or burning body fat because I think there's a lot more to life than that, but a lot more to just the depth in which we look at health than just that. We have to look at, okay, well, do we get an emotional ROI on the changes that we're making that allow us to be better with our family? And does it allow us to make better use of our time because we're thinking clearer? And I know that Ben talks a lot about blood sugar control and keeping things balanced in that sense just because it keeps you level-headed and it makes your decision-making process that much better.
Quite frankly, that's the first one that I want to start with. It's nothing crazy and it's echoing some of the stuff that Ben has talked about. One of the big things that I do is in the morning, I do whatever I can to keep my blood sugar as stable as possible. So, whether that means I'm fasting, or whether that means I'm only consuming some fat and minimal protein and definitely minimal carbohydrates, any one of the likes makes such a big difference. I find for me personally, and when I was 280 pounds, that one of the biggest things that messed my days up were when I would have even a remote blood sugar spike in the morning, and then I would have some form of crash later in the day. It would just really throw me off.
And there's so many different studies that back up, drop some blood sugar in and grail in response, and all these different hunger hormones and things that we have to pay attention to. But the simple fact of the matter is is that I think a lot of it comes down to just insulin response and taste, too. It's like you get the taste of something that causes a blood sugar spike and you're going to naturally want to eat later. And call me crazy, but I feel like this subconscious desire to eat that we may not even realize as a result of our blood sugar dipping a little bit actually interrupts our thought process, interrupts our thinking.
So, for me, I was in a high-stress corporate kind of private equity world and here I was overweight. And even when I was trying to make healthy changes and I was trying to eat clean, I was still eating lower glycemic carbohydrates in the morning. And for me, that just messed me up. I found that three hours later, I didn't actively feel hungry, but I felt something interrupted my thought process, something interrupt my thinking, and it was really frustrating and I couldn't really put my finger on it until I got more in tune with my body, and I got more biohackey and more nerdy looking at that.
So, my first bit of advice for people that are just trying to make one or two small little changes is keep protein to a minimum in the morning, keep carbohydrates to a minimum in the morning, and ingest fats that you know are going to work with your body well. Okay. A lot of people will do MCT coffee. They'll do things like that. I have some issues with just adding MCT to coffee because MCTs trigger a catecholamine response. Now, don't get me wrong, MCTs are great and they have their purpose, but if you are just relying on that, you have to remember that you actually get a little bit of an adrenaline spike from MCTs. That's what it can wreak havoc on some people. If you ever wonder why the digestion issues occur with MCT, it's because it absorbs so fast.
Now, when you have anything that absorbs that fast, you're going to potentially trigger any kind of adrenaline or catecholamine response because it's absorbing so fast. Studies have shown that there's actually a resting metabolic rate increase that occurs when ingesting MCTs simply because of the adrenaline. So, that being said, MCTs have their place because they can boost your resting metabolic rate. But MCTs can also mess up sort of that mental continuity that you like in the morning. I prefer having MCTs a little bit later in the day. We can talk about that later, but that's just some food for thought. So, maybe tone it down with maybe some ghee or tone it down with maybe more of a coconut oil versus straight-up MCT. That's just at least what I've experienced.
Now, another piece that I want to talk about, and this is so funny because people don't usually want to do this because it seems–well, men don't usually want to do this because it seems so non-masculine, and that's paying attention to things like foam rolling in the morning. And I'm not talking about doing this from a flexibility standpoint. One of things that Ben and I have even talked about is that you can't necessarily just mash a muscle with foam rolling and massage into being more malleable. A lot of it takes just biomechanics, but also being able to move through a full range of motion. So, I'm not talking about foam rolling from the sake of trying to get more flexible. I'm talking about foam rolling to try to stimulate lymphatic movement.
One thing that people tend to forget is that fats often get mobilized through our lymph system, but so does obviously our lymph, and our lymph is what is allowing our immune system and white blood cells to ultimately circulate and do their job. It's a little bit more complex than just that, but for all intents and purposes. We have to remember that when we are talking about circulating blood, we have a heart, we have a heart that beats, a heart that beats and allows us to pump blood throughout our bodies. Okay. That's great. That means we can be sitting down totally sedentary and still pumping blood, for the most part, to our extremities and wherever it needs to go.
Now, what about lymph? Lymph does not have its own circulatory system. It doesn't have a heart. Okay. Your lymph, which again is what's responsible for moving so much of your fat and your lymph fluid and white blood cells, it requires muscle contraction to actually have anything move. So, it needs your muscles to relax and contract to essentially pump the lymph through the body. Now, when we take into consideration that fat is mobilized in the lymph, you can start to understand that wait a minute, it would be a good idea to get this mobilized. That way, things can circulate through the liver. They can circulate where they need to go to ultimately get processed.
It's pretty wild. Not to mention, of course, you have sort of the fascia side of things, too. Okay. Because the fascia is where our lymph nodes sit and foam rolling actually allows oxygenated blood to nourish and hydrate the fascia, therefore, boosting the lymphatic drainage. And it's your body's ability to essentially flush toxins so it can help relieve pain that way, too. Especially when you're starting to lose weight, you generally have more toxins that do get liberated. I can digress for one moment here when people talk about the ketogenic diet and they talk about the keto flu, if any of you, or experience with keto or have heard of the keto flu then you know what I'm talking about. People start the keto diet, all of a sudden, they get flu-like symptoms.
I am a firm believer that people that have a large amount of toxins and excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins stored up in their fat get more intense keto flus as they start liberating more of these fats because then it's liberating more of these toxins. Well, we have to keep things moving. And if we get in the habit of foam rolling, then we can actually prevent this. Now, I'm not talking large investments of time here. I'm literally talking three to five minutes of targeted mainly rolling out the last [00:36:15] _______ in trying to get the lymph nodes under the armpit a little bit more. It's an area that quite frankly hurts a little bit when you roll it out, but it stimulates so much energy. It's really wild, and part of me thinks that it's the pain threshold.
There's a lot of studies that show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, just boosting our neurotransmitter function in our brain and boosting nerve growth factor in our brain too comes as a result of being up against high levels of lactate. So, for example, heavy resistance training or high-intensity interval training can boost BDNF levels because you're having to withstand this high time on to lactate. Now, pretty fascinating stuff. I think it's really interesting, but I also think that it has something to do with pain. I really do because we have pain receptors, pain sensors in our brain. Obviously, when we get headaches, we can literally feel them.
And I think that when we allow ourselves to go through some pain, it triggers our brain to actually grow, it triggers this BDNF, it triggers this nerve growth factor, and part of it could be a lactate issue, part of it could simply be pain. That's a little bit of my theory and sort of a hypothesis that I've had. But anyhow, the point is it really makes a big difference. I mean, this lymph is ultimately bathing ourselves, providing them with nutrients and oxygen, and picking up tons of unwanted substances, and we're talking bacteria, we're talking all these different things. So, something to just consider there.
Okay. The next thing that I want to talk about is utilizing a sauna strategically. Okay. What I don't want you to do is get in the habit of using a sauna every day unless you have a very strict regimen that you want to follow with it. It can vary widely, but it's all about heat shock proteins. And I'm sure Ben has talked about this before, but heat shock proteins are really fascinating things. They're also known as stress proteins and they're highly conserved and they're present in all organisms and cells, in all organisms. So, they're very prevalent. They play very critical roles in what is called the folding and unfolding of proteins. They allow proteins to essentially unfold to be able to change or adapt to stress. We have these little folds of proteins inside our cells and it's complicated to explain, but basically, you want those folds to be able to be unfolded and folded back up at the right time.
So, when we look at it with heat shock proteins, like when we're under stress from heat, what happens is you have an expression of these heat shock proteins and they help protect the cell by stabilizing the unfolded proteins giving the cell time to repair. So, we think saunas are great because we sweat and we detox. I don't even know if we really detox. I mean, I'm sure there's some fat burning that occurs and that probably causes a detoxing effect, but I think the biggest thing is it's the hormetic effect. You're placing the cell under stress to the point where it actually activates a specific protein, heat shock protein, to protect it and to boost your immune system, but it also creates a more resilient cell that is ultimately stronger.
And everything in life is about adaptation and stress and trying to make sure that we are constantly getting enough stress to stimulate our muscles and stimulate our body to withstand that stress. Then when we get back by contrast to normal life, things don't seem so bad. So, if you stress your body physiologically by sitting in a sauna for a few minutes at high heat and doing some isometrics, or doing some intense workout, or doing some form of box breathing or whatever, you can make it so that by contrast, the stressors of your day just don't seem so bad.
Now, interestingly enough, there's a study that was published in the Journal of Athletic Training, and I found it really interesting because they took a look at 25 younger individuals and they were volunteers, and they had them sit in a heat stress chamber with or without heat. So, 73 degrees Celsius versus 26 I believe it was, and it is for 30 minutes on separate days. So, they took a look at blood samples from a subset of 13 participants. So, seven men and six women before and after exposure to heat stress. So, they wanted to see what their baseline was.
What they found was that after 30 minutes of heat stress, body temperature measured ended up increasing 0.8 degrees Celsius, also heart rate increased linearly by 22.4 beats per minute, and then we had systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreases, but we also had increases in heat shock proteins. So, we had heat shock proteins level increased by 48.7%, and ultimately, heat stress, 53.9. So, long story short, the increase in norepinephrine and prolactin increase in the plasma ended up causing the HSPs to be able to do their job and really have a massive effect on the body. So, really powerful. For those nerds out there, basically what it means is there is definitely an effect on heat shock proteins. There are multiple studies that show that heat shock proteins have powerful effects on autophagy, on just our cells resiliency.
Now, another thing is starting to measure your heart rate variability based on your workouts. This is a big thing. And I'm not going spend a lot of time on it because quite honestly, it's not an area that I am an intense expert in. It's just an area that I've been dabbling in to try to just get the most out of my life.
I run multiple businesses. I have a busy life. I have a busy family life. I have a good number of employees. And I'm not just tooting my horn here, I'm just being realistic. I'm a busy guy and it's quickly hit me after having kids how much time shrinks on you. So, I'm constantly trying to find ways. Okay, how do I know when I'm working out at the right time, and how do I know when I should be taking a rest period? And that's where I discovered heart rate variability and I started messing around with it and using things like the WHOOP and the Oura ring, and trying to determine basically heart rate variability is all about trying to make sure that you're always training when you have the right recovery.
Okay. So, heart rate variability, it's an analysis and a way to observe the action of the parasympathetic nervous branch of our nervous system. So, it's all about restoration and recovery. While the body is stressed, the sympathetic kind of fight or flight branch in the nervous system is more active than the parasympathetic branches tuned down a little bit more. So, performance is gradually restored as you start to recover, and what parasympathetic activity rise into a level where it should be. So, what we're trying to do is find that way to balance that, know when we're sympathetic and know when we're parasympathetic.
Heart rate variability does that, and that's the simplest way. So, the trick is to have a good balance between the two nervous systems as a healthy person really has a strong sympathetic and parasympathetic. What I ultimately encourage everyone to do here to keep it simple is start wearing a WHOOP or start wearing an Oura ring and read up on heart rate variability. It has saved me so much time in terms of working out when I should be working out and taking days off when I should be taking days off, because as you get lost in the stress of life, sometimes you cannot ascertain what is stress physiologically and what is stress mentally. Mental stress will manifest in physical stress, especially if you're just in the smorgasbord of chaos and stress in a corporate world. It just always happened to me that way. I could never tell, am I overtraining with my workouts or am I overtraining just because I'm stressed?
And another one that I really want to talk about, there's two more things that I really want to focus on, but one is dry fasting. I say this with full disclaimer, dry fasting is intense, but dry fasting is also a way that I think you can improve your body's resiliency and allow your cells to get a little bit stronger. I earnestly believe that I've had a good deal of fat loss success by implementing short bouts of dry fasting. So, dry fasting is believed to cleanse the body quicker than water fasting due to one big thing, its molecular water, okay?
So, dry fasting forces the body to obtain water from its own cells, whereas normally with water fasting, you're providing the body with water from an exogenous source. So, damaged tissues, we're talking fat deposits, edemas, tumors, they're eliminated significantly faster when it comes down to dry fasting because the body starts to burn everything that's non-essential and harmful to the body. Basically, we have our own molecular water. So, during a dry fast, the body survives on what is called molecular or endogenous water, or some call it metabolic water. This water is made up just molecularly, right? We have hydrogen and oxygen in our body.
Well, fat cells are a lot of hydrogen. So, when we're having to make molecular water, we're breaking down fat that has a lot of hydrogen and combining it with oxygen that we breathe to make water. It's pretty amazing, right? So, we can make some water. Now, it's estimated that different variations of how much molecular water we're estimated to make per day. The simple point here is that when you do this dry fasting, it's theorized that you're going to recruit more fat. Now, there's not a whole lot of scientific evidence or scientific literature published in peer-reviewed studies or journals or anything talking about dry fasting, but when you actually look at the molecular side of things, it's just an interesting thing to look at.
Now, I say it again with a grain of salt in the full disclaimer that it's intense. It may not be for everybody, but the reason that I say it is because you listening to this podcast are busy people and it might be a way for you to shock your body enough out of this funk that you're in and just do a 10, 12-hour dry fast where you don't eat or don't drink for 10, 12 hours. Now, I can say on this podcast that you should do what works for you, but I can say from my own experience that I've done 36-hour dry fasts where I don't drink water or eat new food for 36 hours, and I come out of it feeling totally fine. And I've done DEXA scans afterwards finding that I've actually dropped over 2% body fat doing that. And I'm already pretty lean, so it's aggressive for me to lose that. Now, that's my own experience. It's pretty wild stuff. So, I just recommend that you at least do some research of that, and I've got some videos on YouTube, and I'm sure Ben's talked about it a little bit before as well.
And the next thing that I want to talk about is really a simple one. Okay. It's all based upon this study that was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. When you train in a fasted state, you really do get a lot more of a benefit in terms of fat loss. Okay. What happens is you have intramyocellular lipids, and these lipids are fats that are inside your muscle tissue, right? They serve lots of purposes. They serve to be an immediate source of free fatty acids for beta oxidation, or they serve as possibly even lubrication. They're still investigating what all these IMTG is, intramyocellular triglycerides or intramyocellular lipids do. They're fascinating things. But what it's been theorized as well is that you have fat that stores in general white adipose tissue, and then it migrates over to intramyocellular triglyceride fat content as someone becomes more active.
So, in essence, you work out, you utilize some of the IMTG content in the muscle, that burns up, and then it recruits from your stored body fat and puts it into the muscle again. Well, it's been found that when you are training in a fasted state, you utilize significantly more of your intramyocellular triglycerides than if you don't train in a fasted state. So, it ultimately does increase fat loss. But the cool thing is it's like there's data that shows you have a direct increase in the fat that's being utilized from a respective muscle. That doesn't mean that you can sight reduce.
Now, there are some studies, I can't remember the specific journal that show that sight reduction is plausible, simply because the thermic effect of a muscle contracting and expanding and potentially generating more heat, but it's pretty miniscule. Okay. You can't just sit there and do a bunch of side bends and get shredded obliques because you're going to burn fat there. It's negligible. But if you're already lean, you might find that, yeah, improving your capillary density and improving blood flow to a specific area might get you a little bit leaner in that area. The other thing is you have this p70S6K phosphorylation. Now, that is going to allow the muscle to actually grow more. So, when you have this activation, the p70S6K, that allows a muscle to basically be more anabolic and get more muscle protein synthesis. So, not only do you burn more fat, but you actually absorb more of your post-workout if you train in a fasted state. Not to mention, I think you're going to remain a lot more mentally acute doing that as well.
And one more thing as far as training goes, there is a strong benefit to training upper body high-intensity interval training. So, I love high-intensity interval training anyway. I love all kinds of training. I actually think if I can be completely honest, some forms of high-intensity interval training are overrated. I feel like there's no good substitute for just good old-fashioned moderately high constant steady-state activity for 30 minutes or so. I feel like the fat recruitment on that is just phenomenal. But high-intensity interval training is also really, really powerful. And I recommend doing it with your upper body simply because it's harder in short for the heart to push blood through the upper body than it is the lower body.
Okay. We have smaller arteries, we have less capillary density, so it means that it needs to essentially create more perfusion. And that's hard. The heart has to work harder to pump blood there. So, you actually get the heart rate higher and you get more of a perceived workout, and also more of a workout in realistic to you not just perceived, by doing some high-intensity battle ropes or some rowing, or maybe some burpees. People think that burpees are tough because you'd apply metric effect. Burpees are tough because you're having a plyometric effect on the upper body. So, again, when it comes down to just getting a quick workout and getting something quicken, if you have upper-body high-intensity interval training and you will get the heart rate nice and high, you will get it where you want, and you will get that brain-derived neurotrophic effect, it's really powerful stuff.
Last thing that I want to leave everyone with is, of course, messing around with different forms of the ketogenic diet. I have to get out on my random horse here for a second because there's so much research in the world of the ketogenic diet and it's frustrating because keto is just heavily marketed, and I feel like we missed the real points with keto. I feel like so much were focused on just the fact that keto is a fourth macronutrient, ketosis is a fourth macronutrient. It's a way to burn fat. What's really interesting is if you experiment with different forms of keto, like keto where you alternate days with your fat intake. So, maybe one day you have a high fat intake, one day you have a lower fat intake.
I personally feel, and I've noticed with myself, that the days where I lower my fat content and allow my body to pull fat from my own stores, I am utilizing–I feel like I'm utilizing that energy better. I have more energy and more mental clarity on those days, and maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's gone through a level of processing. This full disclaimer, this is complete hypothesis. Okay, I have some stuff to back it up partially, but there's a complete hypothesis and it's just interesting. It's food for thought. I at least encourage people to test it out.
When we store our fat, maybe, just maybe it's biologically set up for us in a sense that we can unravel and utilize that fat a little bit easier. So, once we are utilizing stored fat for fuel, we tend to feel better, and I've found this with lots of people that I work with and lots of clients and myself. If I give myself exogenous fats, then sure I'll get energy and that can create ketones, but I feel like I don't get as much mental boost from that as I do when I'm fasting, or when I'm on a lower-fat day where I know the fat is coming from my own body fat tissue.
So, what I recommend people try is alternate day high fat, lower fat. So, one day keep your fats where you normally would with a ketogenic diet, and another day keep your fats really low and just see how you feel, and you might also be really impressed with your body composition results because there's this fallacy out there that we need to constantly be flooding ourselves with fats. It's okay to be in a calorie deficit and let your body use energy from your stored fat tissue as long as maybe at the end of the week, net-net, your calories are where you want them to be for the week, right?
So, maybe on the days that your higher fat, you keep your calories a little bit higher so you compensate. There's no way that we can possibly tell what our thermic effect or BMR is at one very exact second in time. It's pretty hard to balance and figure that out. So, the point is is one day you can be in a deficit and one day you can be in a surplus. Your body clock doesn't necessarily reset at midnight, doesn't start at zero every single day. It's just interesting and it's something that you might want to experiment with.
I could go on and on when it comes to this stuff, but I want to be respectful of everybody's time, and I think that if this is something that's great for people when people are getting some benefits out of these quicker hacks, I'd totally love to do more, but I want to keep respectful of everybody's time. So, there you have just a few ways to get the most out of your day. You're a busy person, you're busy and want to get on with your life and you just want to know a few hacks. So, I appreciate having the opportunity to be here on the Ben Greenfield Podcast and I look forward to helping everyone else in whatever ways. And Ben, thank you very much.
Ben: Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
In this special episode that is a two-part lecture, first by me and second by my guest Thomas DeLauer, you'll discover how to burn fat and build muscle with a minimum effective dose of training. You'll also learn what sarcopenia is, as well as tips for maintaining muscle mass and functional athleticism, even as you age.
Thomas is one of the leading experts in the world of chronic inflammation and the response of the human body to a low-carb diet. He is noted for his personal transformation from a 280-pound overweight corporate executive to, not only being on the cover of health and fitness magazines worldwide, but also pioneering some of the mainstream awareness of autoimmune diseases and inflammation in general!
Thomas has been highlighted in over 20 magazines showcasing his transformation and has been featured worldwide on the cover of Ironman Magazine, Muscle and Performance Magazine, Natural Muscle Magazine, ICON Magazine, Platform Magazine, and Ironman Japan. His background is in sports psychology, and it is this passion for psychology coupled with a career in healthcare as a physician recruiter and owner of an ancillary lab services company that sparked his love for nutritional science and what makes the body tick.
I first interviewed Thomas DeLauer in the episode The Ultimate Guide To Quelling Inflammation: Why Your Curcumin May Not Work, Surprising Effects Of Ginger Oil, Vegan Fish Oil Options & Much More!
I then interviewed him again in the episode Does Alcohol Really Make You Fat, Which Alcohol Is Healthiest, Hidden Ingredients In Alcohol & Much More: The Ultimate Alcohol Damage Mitigation Guide.
Thomas's third appearance was in the podcast episode Magnesium Supplementation: Everything You Need To Know About Dosing Magnesium, Timing Magnesium, Forms Of Magnesium & More!
During today's podcast, you'll discover:
-Sarcopenia: what it is and how to mitigate its effects as you age [6:00]
- Sarcopenia is when the muscles become smaller and weaker with age
- Research suggests this is due to the muscle's mitochondria becoming less dense, losing efficiency, etc.
- Strength training can reverse the mitochondrial decline by nearly 40 years
- Length of telomeres can reflect that of people 10 years their junior when engaging in strength training
- Strength training is more efficacious than chronic cardio or endurance training
- The stronger you are, the more length your telomeres can have
-Case studies on the effects of strength training on longevity [10:40]
- Study on seniors who engaged in strength training showing lower odds of dying
- Regular exercise reduces risk of early death, CV disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.
- Strength training, racquet sports, swimming, cycling is the killer combo for longevity
- Charles Eugsteron the diet: “Variety is key…”
- BGF podcast w/ Dr. Michael Smith
- Laird Hamilton
- Daniel Amen
- Book: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Amen
- Mark Sissondoes short fast workouts once per week (lift, move, sprint)
- Article on Don Wildman's “Circuit” workout
- Tim Ferriss' podcast w/ Art De Vany
- Olga Kotelkostayed recovered and supple in her old age
- Key points:
- Eat natural fats and real food
- Constantly learn new stuff
- Lift, move, sprint rather than chronic cardio
- Put epic things on your calendar occasionally
- Ensure your training is e-centric
- Stay supple
-Two strategies to maintain and even build muscle with age [20:50]
- Electrical muscle stimulation on the legs
- Heat stress
“Nerdy Ways to Lose Fat and Stay Healthy” featuring Thomas DeLauer
-Keep blood sugar as stable as possible in the morning [29:50]
- Fasting, keep protein and carb consumption to a minimum
- Insulin response and taste affect when and how much you want to eat
- Subconscious desire to eat interrupts our thinking
- Ingest fats you know will work with your body well
- Drink MCTcoffee with caution
-Foam rolling in the morning [33:05]
- Lymph does not have its own circulatory system (like the heart)
- Requires muscle contraction to have anything move
- Fascia is where lymph nodes sit; foam rolling boosts lymphatic drainage
- Keto Flu intensifies as you liberate more fats
- Pain receptors trigger BDNF
-Strategic use of a sauna [37:40]
- Heat shock proteins (stress proteins) play critical in folding and unfolding of proteins
- Protect the cell by stabilizing the unfolded proteins
- Stressing the body in a sauna for a short time makes other stresses throughout the day seem mild by comparison
-Measure HRV based on your workouts [41:10]
- HRV is a way to analyze the parasympathetic nervous branch of the nervous system
- Balance between knowing when you're sympathetic and parasympathetic
- Wear a Whoopor Oura Ring
- Difficult to differentiate physiological and mental stress
-Dry fasting [43:30]
- Forces the body to obtain water from its own cells
- Fat cells contain a lot of hydrogen
- Limited research on its efficacy
- It may shock the body out of its lethargy
-Training in a fasted state [46:10]
- Fat stores in white adipose tissue, then migrates into intramyocellular triglyceride fat
- You'll be more mentally acute
-Upper body High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) [48:40]
- Harder for the heart to push blood through the upper body than the lower
- More of a “perceived” workout
-Mess around with different forms of the ketogenic diet [50:10]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Book: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Amen
– Book: Body by Science by Doug McGuff
– Book: What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson
– Book: Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett
–Boundless, Ben's newest book: Pre-order now and get in on the early bird sweepstakes. (You could win a Joovv Go, a Wellness FX Customized Blood Panel, an X3 Bar, a year supply of Organifi, a $300 Kion Gift Card, and more!)
–Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.
–JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a nice bonus gift with your order!
–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 15% off your Four Sigmatic purchase when you use discount code: BENGREENFIELD