Podcast from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/11/shattering-world-swim-records-on-25-piece-fried-chicken-buckets-climbing-mountains-while-eating-defatted-vegan-grass-fed-argentinian-liver-anhydrate-much-more/
[0:00] Introduction/ Healthy Home Workshop
[3:44] Introduction to this Podcast
[5:18] Craig Dinkel
[8:26] How Craig Got Into Swimming
[13:45] How Craig Dropped Seven Seconds In His Freestyle
[22:20] Why Craig Took Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly While Training
[25:47]The Fitness Strategies Craig Used to Train the Celebrity musicians He Worked With
[27:57] Quick Commercial Break/ Indochino
[30:49] Bark Box
[33:18] What Craig Did When He Trained Musicians
[41:08] How Craig Got Into Mountaineering
[53:17] How Craig Got Into The Supplement Research
[1:08:20] The Fascinating New Research on the Ability of Beet Extract
[1:11:35] How High Amounts of Desiccated Liver Increased Time-to-Exhaustion in the Lab
[1:19:38] End of Podcast
Ben: This is a weird day. Why is it a weird day? Because my wife is out in the driveway right now using a power tool to carve pumpkins. That's right. She's doing a power tool carve pumpkin story. She's also, just this past week, made apple chutney, made pumpkin seeds four ways, including a pumpkin pie flavored-pumpkin seed mix. She has been organizing the pantry in a very cool way that includes paint, and curtains, and all sorts of things that makes our pantry kinda sexy. And finally, she's created spooky facemasks. My wife, a lot of you may not know this, she actually does a magazine every single month that's like this beautiful online downloadable PDF magazine with videos, like tons of videos from her.
She literally spends the entire month putting together these amazing magazines. It's called The Healthy Home Workshop. And whether you are a complete bachelor who just wants to sit at home but occasionally have people over, and completely impress them, and knock their socks off with your cooking and the Feng Shui of your home, or whether you are a family mom who wants to make your family better than all the other families out there 'cause we all know that's the way moms think. You should check out her Healthy Home Workshop. How do you do it? Just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/innercircle. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/innercircle, and you can check that out.
Now today's podcast that you are about to listen to is pretty interesting. It's about shattering world swim records on 25-piece fried chicken buckets, climbing mountains while eating defatted vegan grass-fed Argentinean liver anhydrate, and much more.
Now before we jump into today's show, I also wanted to mention to you something else kind of weird, and that's propolis. Propolis. P-R-O-P-O-L-I-S. What is propolis? Well, it is the immune system of a beehive. It's what bees use to sterilize their hive, to protect their hive from things like bacteria, and parasites, and viruses. It's this sticky substance that they make from plant and tree resins. Well, propolis was actually the term given to this stuff by Aristotle. Remember Aristotle? Yeah. That guy.
Its medicinal uses date back to at least 300BC. It's got over 300 active compounds and it's good for anything immune-related 'cause it's anti-viral, and antifungal, and antibiotic. So you could like take it on an airplane or a bus, and spray it in your mouth and make your immune system bulletproof. So it also works, by the way, on cold sores and canker sores for those of you who walk around with giant sores in your mouth, and even gingivitis and bad breath. It can treat cuts, burns, wounds. It's like a freaking Swiss army knife for your immune system. And they get this stuff from the bees. Kids can even use it.
So the propolis that I actually have in my fridge right now, I've been playing around with it. It actually tastes really good. It's made by this company called Beekeeper's Naturals. Beekeeper's Naturals, and they're giving everybody who's listening in a 10% discount. So to get that, you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/beekeeper. Just like it sounds. Bengreenfieldfitness.com/beekeeper and use code ‘Ben’ to get 10% off of their fantastic propolis. Literally you just spray it in your mouth and you're off to the races. So check it out. And now, on to today's show.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“I never had any issues psychologically showing up ready for an event. I always was a great competitor. I couldn't wait to get in the water. I didn't care who you were. Went toe-to-toe with the biggest and baddest boys in the world, and none of them scared me. I just couldn't wait to get in and take 'em out.” “For me, I've always had the attitude of ‘make the journey or the training the most miserable aspect of what it is you're gonna do if you're aiming for an event' so that when you get to the event, all of that work is behind you. You paid a dear price for it. But you know, unequivocally, when you show up, I'm ready.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield here, and I actually first met, or I guess got introduced to today's podcast guess when I got this bottle of strange pills in the mail. And normally I would toss those bottles into my pantry, or my garage with all the other random powders, and oils, and capsules, and pills, and lotions, and creams, and strange devices that fit into various orifices of your body that I'll often — excuse me, I'm coughing on my green smoothie, speaking of strange things in your body.
So all these things show up at my house, but this bottle kind of intrigued me because along with echinacea and beet root extract, which I know about, the bottle also had some other stuff I'd never heard of like Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae. I don't even know how to pronounce that. How about this one? Defatted, vegan, grass-fed Argentinian liver anhydrate. I've heard of liver before, but not that particular flavor. Or special version of cordyceps called a sinesis. So long story short, I ended up calling up this guy, and this is the guy who would send it to me. I'd ask him what it was for, and it turns out that he and this bottle are far from normal. And you're gonna find out why in today's episode.
He's got quite this story. Quite the interesting guy. Quite the athlete as well. So his name is Craig, Craig Dinkel. And if you are listening in and you get intrigued with Craig, and his story, and what we talk about 'cause he's got some very, I guess I would call it like enchanting and edgy info that we haven't talked about much on the podcast before. If you find this stuff intriguing, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/craig. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/craig for today's show notes. See, Craig? I named the whole podcast after you.
Craig: Yeah. I feel honored.
Ben: Yeah. Well you should be, man. I was looking over your resume in terms, of for example, especially your swim performances. While training for the Olympics, I mean you were training with Navy SEALs, you were rooming with professional baseball players. I know you were teammates with Dara Torres, who's a pretty highly visible swimmer along with the Michael Phelps of water polo, a guy named Terry Schroeder, and I think only me and a small handful of listeners, as ex or current water polo nerds, would know who he is. But that is pretty cool. And then you also have trained a ton of celebrities. I know you worked with Willie Nelson, and you worked with Johnny Mandel, and Ray Parker, Jr., and the guitarist for the Eagles and, I think one of the gals who toured with Elvis Presley, and Bruce Jenner. All sorts of really interesting people. So you've been all over the place, man. Except for this show. So welcome to the show.
Craig: Well, thanks. It's a pleasure. It's really a pleasure to be here in such esteemed company as yourself. High regard for you, and always have.
Ben: Oh. Well, thank you. That's probably the only time today I'll be called esteemed. So you got your start in the competitive sports world with swimming, I know. But I thought it was kind of intriguing, you told me how exactly you got introduced to swimming. Can you fill the listeners in?
Craig: Yeah. Sure, sure. I've told this story in a couple of other spots as well, but I was a 2-year old kid and was very interested in the water. And one day, family was on a pool deck, Southern California, and decided I'd find out what it was like to get in the water. Parents weren't paying attention, they weren't doing their job that day, but my older brother who at the time was 5 years old was doing his job that day. So what happened was I was curious and I slipped into the shallow end, went down the stairs, don't even now I could do that at 2 years old, but managed to get down the stairs and started floating pretty well off into the pool. And next thing I knew, I was up against the side of the wall and I was drowning. I was drowning. I hadn't sunk to the bottom or anything, I was on the surface. Yeah. I can remember that like it was yesterday.
Ben: That's crazy. You were two and you can remember that?
Craig: I remember it just exactly as if it happened yesterday.
Ben: I wonder if that's common, to be able to remember a traumatic experience like that when you're that young. ‘Cause some people say they can remember being birthed.
Craig: Yeah. (laughs) That goes back further than I can go. And it's funny you say that because I had a friend when I was in high school, actually my best friend's mother, who claimed and look, I'm just telling you what she told me. I'm not saying that I necessarily go here, but I'll never forget her telling me she can remember being in the womb. Now that seems like a huge stretch to me, but this lady was a pretty special lady. Really a true genius, and really an amazing human being. Someone whose feet were cleanly planted on the ground, and so I had no reason to doubt her. But I thought, well, the earliest recollections I have are just at around 2 years old. But the funny thing about your question, or statement, about traumatic experiences is that my brother dove in from the deep end of the pool, he happened to see me and he was only 5 years old, and yet was able to push me out and get me to…
Ben: Jeez. At 5 years old, that's kind of unique I think. Maybe they — you guys were in California?
Craig: At that time, yeah. It was Santa Barbara.
Ben: Okay. But you were born and raised in Massachusetts, right?
Craig: Yes. Boston, Massachusetts since I was… yeah.
Ben: Wow. Something must have been in the water down in California for your 5-year old brother to be able to pull you out of a pool from drowning.
Craig: I grant you he was only 5 years old and hardly formed as a human being, but he ended up being a pretty really amazing guy. Six boys in my family, and all of us have varying levels of success and stories to tell in life. But of all of us, he ended up having really the most interesting story of any of us. We lost him to cancer about five years ago, which was a real drag. But great guy, and he saved my life then. And speaking about traumatic experiences, my family did not treat that is if it was some sort of major 911 emergency. To their credit, they understood the serious…
Craig: Yeah! They understood the seriousness of the situation, and I say that 'cause I can see that imagery in my mind too. I can see the sort of nervous laughter, the comfort coming from “glad-this-didn't-get-any-worse” and no one was screaming, or yelling, or running around, or behaving like someone just about died which I think was a good thing. And so, I don't know if I would have ended up later down the line becoming a swimmer or not had they handled it differently. But I didn't have any — it just ended up being an experience.
Ben: That's the trick to raising a world class swimmer. Pretend like drowning happens every day and it's the most normal thing in the world, and your kids will be bulletproof to it. My dad's brother, who also sadly is not with us any longer, he grew up as an amazing swimmer. I know when he was I think 4 or 5, my grandma tells me stories about how he would swim underwater and I believe the distance that he got close to underwater at 5 was somewhere over a hundred. Somewhere between 100 and 150. That's for meters, so that's back and forth quite a few times under the water for a little boy to be able to do, but it's pretty amazing. I have this kinda fascination with water. Did a bunch of cold water swimming before this episode just to get myself ready to interview you, and I think it's…
Craig: Yeah. You're crazy guy here. You're the crazy guy. I read all about you when you're cold water stuff, and that's tough stuff. I couldn't do that.
Ben: Yeah. You develop enough brown fat and enough endothelial nitric oxide production, and even a skinny guy like me can handle it without being one of those big old fat polar bear swimmers. After that you got into competitive swimming?
Craig: Yeah. Well, the bottom line is the brother will jump forward many years, back in Boston now, and that brother who saved my life became a swimmer. And so I just followed him into the sport because I loved him and idolized him. So that's really how it began. I wasn't doing anything in particular.
Ben: So when you got into high school as a swimmer, one of the things that I know you told me was you dropped seven seconds in your hundred yard freestyle to actually become a competitive swimmer, to be able to kinda like get into college. And that's, for anybody who swims, that a boat load of time. No pun intended there. So what did you do to actually drop that amount of time in freestyle swimming?
Craig: That's a really good question. And despite the fact it was me, it could have been anybody. And I say very egolessly that that is a boat load of time. It's an inexplicable drop, really.
Ben: Well, yeah. I mean, it would be like a lot of people — let's say like a fast swim time for an average like Ironman triathlete, for example, would be maybe you could do a minute and fifteen seconds for a hundred meter time. You're talking about dropping down, for somebody who's a recreational swimmer, closer down to like a minute. Down to like 1:08 from a 1:15, which is a ton of time.
Craig: Right. That's right. As I look back at that, I think I did start my competitive swimming in New England. I was not your everyday athlete back then. I seemed to possess some natural talent. I didn't train that hard, I didn't take it seriously, I had no reason to. The environment I was in at that time was not a highly competitive environment, although I was always highly competitive whenever I was in an event. I was always there to win. But the training is just nothing compared to what they did in California. And I didn't understand how to train, and I don't think the coaches were all that good, and I had some minimal success there.
And one day in New England at a swim meet, I just for absolutely no good reason broke the record of the fastest swimmer in New England who was three years older than me. And that guy, I knew. Very, very disciplined athlete. Trained very hard. I used to watch him work out all the time. Another one of my idols. Just happened to be on the same team. Just the senior part of the team, the varsity team. And when I broke his record, I thought, very objectively, I was fifteen and I thought, “Well, gee. Maybe there's something here and I ought to pay a little more attention to this.”
And along with that thinking, the family then moved to California. And I think, to answer your question, I think I just landed at the right place at the right time. Well, how do I say this? I had a lot of fire in me. A ton which is almost an indescribable amount of fire in my belly for reasons not having to do with just wanting to win, but for other reasons. So I landed at the right place, all of a sudden I was coddled by coaches. I had a great head coach, I had a stroke coach. I happened to land on a team where one of the best swimmers in Southern California was also on the team. And so right away, I had this heavy an inauguration to what it meant to be a California swimmer. Just banked just like that. So training changed dramatically. I wasn't working out the width of the pool anymore, and occasionally length of the pool. I was just learning all about hypoxic training, stroke training, measured stroke training. You mentioned the kid who could swim underwater a hundred, hundred…
Craig: That's a long, long — I mean, I respect that. That it some tough, tough stuff to do. I think maybe the best I could do as an adult was maybe 75 to 100 yards, not meters. You mentioned meters, which is a big difference. So that's an amazing thing. So all these things were being introduced to me, and it was highly focused, and it was all driven toward winning at that time. And so, I think that you know I left Scene A, New England, with probably some natural talent that just sort of bubbled up.
I think that's fair to say because it wasn't right for me to break the record of a guy who lived his life competing at the highest levels and training at the hardest levels. And for me to just show up — the meet that I broke that record in, I wasn't even gonna go to. I was just like, “Eh. Well, I've got nothing to do today. I might as well just go to the meet.” And so it just happened like that. So I think that what happened was I spent a year, then of course, training in that program. And the next year at what they call CIF, which is you equivalent to the high school Division 1 state meet. I just dropped seven seconds. I mean, it was just… there it was.
Ben: So you were just doing a whole cluster of training modalities from hypoxic training, to strength training, to obviously swim training. Were you using, 'cause I know you're very into… and we'll talk about this later on, like fringe ingredients, supplements — legal, we should throw in. Were you into that stuff back then? Like did you have like a keen interest in health, and food, and supplements? Or were you like me? I was a collegiate tennis player and I, every day before practice, would roll into McDonald's and grab a Big Mac, supersized fries, Dr. Pepper. That would fuel tennis every day.
Craig: No. I think you really, honestly just described what most athletes do. I mean that is how we eat. It's a myth really that athletes, with exception, there are exceptions to this rule. Dara became an exception later because she was competing in her 40's and winning.
Ben: You mean Dara Torres?
Craig: Dara Torres, yeah.
Ben: She did the Olympics. She was, what? 40?
Craig: Yes! 42.
Craig: 42 years old was her last Olympics. And she just barely missed the gold medal in her last Olympics by, I think, 2/100 of a second. I mean she was effectively a gold medalist at 42 years old. She got the silver.
Ben: That's crazy.
Craig: Insane. Insane. And so someone like her at that stage of life, you have to make some serious shifts. And she made a ton of them. I mean she did lots of things differently. But, no, I think guys like you and me, when we were in college, like I used to go, just to compete with you on the eating thing. My friends and I would get out of work, we'd go home, we'd get a couple bucks from our parents, and we'd shoot over to Kentucky Fried Chicken, and we would buy the biggest bucket they had, whatever that was. I think it was a 22-piece or 25-piece bucket back in those days, and we'd just sit down at the dinner table there, or the restaurant table, and start eating fried chicken.
So I'd say that my eating habits hadn't changed yet. That was gonna happen later. But I did begin the exercise of taking supplements and just finding out what might work, without much thought. Just sort of listening to people and hearing what they had to say, and it began with something as simple and as basic as salt, salt tablets. I figured out and I was outdoors, in California you swim outdoors here, and you're in the sun all the time. So you're burning off a lot of energy, and blowing out a lot of salts and a lot of sodium, and that for some reason that seemed in those days to be the place to begin. And later, toward my second Olympic run, it gets much more intense as I start figuring out what's going on in between that salt period and the more intense trying-everything-under-the-sun period.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So you wound up swimming in the Olympics from college?
Craig: I did not make it, no, I did not. I wish I could say I had. The first…
Ben: I'm sorry. You were training for the Olympics.
Craig: Yes. I qualified for Olympic trials twice and competed twice in Olympic trials, but I didn't make the team.
Ben: Okay. Got it. But you had a bunch of NCAA records, a bunch of All-American records, I know you were inducted to — 'cause you were swimming for Cal State right?
Craig: That's right. Cal State North, [0:21:09] ______ at that time.
Ben: And you were like in their Hall of Fame as a swimmer.
Craig: That's correct. Yeah. I was the fastest inductee into their Hall of Fame.
Ben: And what about during that time? Were you into like supplements or fringe training methods during that time?
Craig: I'll tell you yes. That's where I think. So that puts me into college and I did start trying to figure out what was out there and what might give me a biological edge because we all knew that PEDs have been around a long time. And at the Olympic trial level, when you get out of the pool, if you made the team, you get out of the pool, you sit on a chair, and they pulled your blood right there on the deck. And the…
Ben: Oh, really? You don't pee into a cup? They just take your blood right there, huh?
Craig: Then they did. That's how they did it then. A nurse would come out, and they'd just strap a tourniquet around your arm…
Ben: You serious?
Craig: Yeah. The second Olympic trials I was in was in Indianapolis, Indiana and I'll never forget seeing them come out, the nurses. And the swimmers get out of the water, get in their chairs right by the starting blocks, and the nurses come out, and pull blood right there. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. They wanted to make sure that you had no chance, if you were cheating, to go do something in the locker room, somewhere else. So, yeah. I'd say that by this time then, I'm starting to experiment with the fairly usual off-the-shelf stuff. So I'm trying bee pollen, I don't know how unusual some of these things are, but bee pollen, royal jelly, things along those lines. The usual E supplements, C, B, you name it. If it was there to take, I tried it. And I did that for a long time.
Ben: Yeah. I've tried bee pollen and royal jelly before. Those I guess would be considered somewhat fringe. But bee pollen is actually really, really good for people like hay fever and allergenic issues. It's kind of like one of those counterintuitive type of things, eating small amounts. What do they call it? Hair of the dog when you have a Bloody Mary in the morning after drinking.
Bee pollen has some very interesting like natural allergy relief properties, which I think is kinda cool. And then royal jelly, that's one of those things where… I don't know if you're into the same concept that I am, that nature gives you clues, but you look at something like the aloe vera plant and how quickly it regenerates after having its limbs cut off, and it actually can increase your ability to produce stem cells when you consume like aloe vera gels. Or in the case of like royal jelly, that's what they used to feed the larvae and the adult queen. It's like the honey bee secretion.
And it's one of those things, it's almost like — I recently wrote a blog post about how athletes are now injecting themselves with like growth hormones, and insulin like growth factor, and things like that. And royal jelly, and aloe vera, and all these things that cause growth in your body, colostrum, et cetera, they're actually really cool natural forms of that. But bee pollen and royal jelly, I would say if you were taking those in college as a swimmer, that's something a lot of swimmers, I would say and collegiate athletes have not tapped into.
Craig: I think you're right. And I do subscribe to that thinking: if you look around nature, you can find a lotta clues and a lotta answers. And it brings up another important issue that I have held since those days, which is, as you mentioned, it works for some people in some cases and in particular circumstances, and other bodies may not work with it. Those things didn't work with me. But I'm a big, big believer in anecdotal support. You can get academic studies, you can get clinical studies, you can get all kinds of studies that back up a given supplement or a product to help you perform better, whether it's cognitive or biological, and those things may not work for you. And there's all kinds of undocumented, or documented, let's say, but not clinical studied or not scientifically validated supplements that do work for people.
Ben: Oh, yeah. Sure. I mean, like right now if you hear me opening that little bottle of water on my desk, I'm drinking water that's structured, and it's clustered, and it's at a specific pH after it goes through the filter in my house and everything. And, yeah. There's not a lot of research behind that in terms of it, say, increasing interest cellular hydration, for example. But for me, personally, I feel a distinct difference in terms of hydration, in terms of me drinking tons of water and not actually peeing out tons of water because it's actually hydrating my cells. It really is interesting to use yourself as a bit of a guinea pig. Safely, of course.
Ben: I endorse guinea pig-ing water on yourself. I don't endorse that with some other thing that one can inject into their body. But anyways, so you wound up, after swimming, going on and getting into the fitness business?
Craig: Yeah. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I had a background in music. My first degree was in ethnomusicology, which at the time…
Craig: Yeah. At that time, there were no such degrees. Today there are. UCLA, I think, has one, and many, many schools have degrees in ethnomusicology. But I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I just was an athlete, and I loved music, and I played guitar, and I figured somehow maybe I'd work my way into the rock and roll scene, become a musician. But there was no money to be made in music right out of college. So the only thing I knew, and I knew inside out and backwards, was training and fitness. I knew that stuff. So I started a private fitness business, and that's how I met some of the people that you'd mentioned earlier. I had a lot of fun doing that while I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to do.
And by the way, it's only now that I've really figured out that I really wanna do, and I'm doing it now. This is what we're doing now, and the business that I've gotten into here is a lot of fun and it really puts me back in my wheelhouse. But, yeah. That's what I did for a while. So I had a lot of celebrity clientele, and it was very interesting to work with some of those folks. Not Willie Nelson directly, but his harp player, his harmonica player was a client of mine and a good friend, and still a friend today. And a lot of those people are still friends today, but…
Ben: You trained a lot of musicians. Is that just like random that you had a degree in music and trained a lot of musicians? Or were they kinda drawn to you?
Craig: Hmm. Let's see now. That's true. That's a good point. I mean, I also trained Jack Tempchin whose name you don't know, and no one listening knows. But Jack Tempchin wrote many, many of the hits for the Eagles, which I'm sure everybody knows. And if they don't, a little bit of research'll tell 'em who they are. So Jack was a friend of mine, and Don Felder for the Eagles was a friend at the time. I haven't talked to Don in a long, long time. And Mickey, for Willie Nelson. Who else? Mike Riley. Guy played with The Allman Brothers, southern rock band. I guess you're right. I guess I never really… (chuckles)
Ben: That's interesting.
Ben: Hey. I wanna make a quick interruption to ask you if you ever saw Napoleon Dynamite and The Ball. Is it The Ball? No, it's not a ball. It's a prom. It's a prom that Napoleon Dynamite goes to, not a ball. A ball would be Cinderella. And he's wearing this horrid suit, like a suit coat, or maybe it's his little Mexican friend in there. I forget that guy's name. But either way, just horrible like Southern Idaho fashion, and the same type of fashion that you get at like these big stores where you go and you buy the suit that literally makes your shoulders stick out 10 feet on either side with the huge ugly buttons in the middle. You know, suits can look really, really crappy on people. But not my suit.
I got a new suit. It fits my body, it hugs my body like a glove. It makes me look really good, at least I think so. It is olive green, it's got like grey polka dots it. I custom designed the whole thing in a showroom. It even says “Mr. Greenfield” on the lapel. Honestly. Do a Google image search for “Ben Greenfield suit” and you might see me wearing it. Anyways though, I feel good in it. I feel confident in it. And it actually, it fits well. It's comfortable. And anybody can get a premium suit just like the one that I got for a fraction of the price of any other suit on the face of the planet.
Most made-to-measure premium suits set you back over a thousand bucks, but there's this company called Indochino, Indochino, and they do custom made-to-measure suits and shirts that fit you perfectly, and they're at a really good price. They use super fine fabrics. You get to customize your lining, your lapels. You do your own like personal monogram. Don't put “Mr. Greenfield” on yours ‘cause that would be creepy. “Mr. Greenfield” only goes on mine.
But anyways, it's really easy. You just drop in at any of their showrooms, and then you pick out what you want for fabrics and patterns. And then after you choose your customizations, you just kick back, and relax, and get ready within four weeks to step into a perfectly-fitting suit that makes you look really good. So the way that you can do this, and you get this suit for 389, which is a fantastic price for a custom suit, you just go to indochino.com, I-N-D-O-C-H-I-N-O. Indochino.com and you enter code Fitness at checkout. That gets you 50% off the regular price for a made-to-measure premium suit, and shipping is free. And I think every dude needs to have at least one frickin' killer suit, and this is the time to do it. That's a really good discount code by the way. 50%. So indochino.com and use promo code ‘Fitness’.
Now, the other thing that I wanted to tell you about is a box that showed up at my doorstep, and it's got this writing on the outside of it that says “Bark Box”. So I thought maybe somebody sent me bark, like for composting the garden. And I opened it, and it was chock full of toys, like dog toys. We're talking like little squeaky balls, and little chew things, and these like jerky type of things for the dog's teeth. All sorts of things that the dog can play with. And my kids went ape nuts 'cause all of a sudden they've got like six or seven new toys to throw around to the dog, and the dogs are just completely enamored with this stuff.
And frankly, the dogs are not getting into things they shouldn't be getting into because they have all of these new toys from this company called BarkBox. And the way that this works is every month, Bark Box paw picks, see what I did there? Paw picks? P-A-W picks? They pick the best on natural treats and innovative toys to match a dog's needs, and this would include things that are hypoallergenic or things that you can customize for like the dog's chewing preferences. And 100% of their products are tested on their animals before they're shipped to you to make sure that an animal freaking loves this stuff. And actually if your dog doesn't like anything in the box, they send you replacements for anything that your dog would love for free.
They're all about dog happiness, and it's actually a really cool idea. It's like a quarterly type of shipment for dogs. You just tell 'em how big your dog is, and they ship it to you. I've got a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Blue Heeler, and they just ate up this box. Literally. Each box has four to six treats in it, a whole bunch of super fun toys, and it's like the joy of a million belly scratches for your dog. So you can get this for free. You get a free extra month of BarkBox when you subscribe to a 6 or a 12 month BarkBox plan. And all you do is go to barkbox.com, bark like a dog does, Barkbox.com/ben. And when you go to Barkbox.com/ben, you get shipped to your door toys, treats, dog edibles, and an amazing unboxing experience that your dog is gonna flip out over. So check 'em out. Barkbox.com/ben.
Music is playing…
Ben: When you're training musicians, I mean, I don't know, in most cases a lot of musicians, I suppose, unless you're like Britney Spears in her heyday, or some of these modern musicians who are dancing on stage, or I even think, what's his face, the young boy. I am feeling so old right now.
Craig: That's alright.
Ben: Yeah. Justin Bieber.
Craig: That's okay.
Ben: Justin Timberlake. Some of these guys, they're in pretty good shape. But most musicians aren't in that great of shape, in my opinion at least.
Craig: That's correct.
Ben: They're really good musicians, but music is not necessarily a high calorie burning activity unless you're dancing hip hop. So in the case of musicians, when you're training musicians, is it more kinda like keeping them from dying by putting them in Nautilus exercise machines? Or did you have like a specific training approach that you use with folks like that?
Craig: Yeah. That's a really, really good question because it depends on the instrument they play. I mean, great question. So, just to back up a bit. Yeah, we see hip hoppers running around and expending a lot of energy. So we think of them as the people that need the cardio core like work. But remember, before there was that there was Mick Jagger and Mick Taylor, not Mick Taylor. Oh God. Now, I'm missing a name. Aerosmith's lead singer. Oh, yeah. That's…
Craig: Why can't I get it? I guess I gotta look that up.
Ben: He was on…
Craig: Steven Tyler!
Ben: Yeah! Steven Tyler. Yeah. He was on — what is it? I so do not watch TV. The idol. America's Idol?
Craig: American Idol.
Ben: Yeah. American Idol.
Craig: So if you think about people like that, that are enormously full of energy, and running around the stage, and burning calories, these people take that workout very seriously. So to be succinct, you might, with a drummer who's you know flailing all over the place back there depending on the band. Some of them are very staid, quiet, and relaxed. But lots of rock and rollers are really moving around. So the lead singers, if they're active people like Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler, they need to be moved around quite a bit.
They might have to do some sprint work, really power up the quads and hams, really get the lungs stretched and breathing out, some core work. And you might take someone like a bass player, who are historically known, classically known as the gentleman of the band. If you watch bands play and you just focus on the bass player, most of the time you'll see they sort of look like they relaxed, nice guy in the band. And the lead guitar player's always the guy who's ripping it up and trying to get the girls. They're all trying to get the girls, but more than anybody, the lead guitar player.
So you might do, and bringing up the lead guitar player too. Some of those guys, think of Chuck Berry, that's going way, way back. Let's bring it more current. I can't think of anyone more current actually on the lead guitar. But those guys might need some cardio core too 'cause they tend to work around, to walk around, run around, and make a lot of noise. You know who would be an example? Angus Young of AC/DC. There's a guy who's just all over the stage, and making noise, and so. But the bass player, the keyboardist, these people who are sorta quiet, and more relaxed, and rhythm players, yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. It would be a slower routine. Maybe a more a 2/4 routine, or a Nautilus-like routine, or…
Ben: Yeah. Interesting. But you're not doing that anymore, huh? You're not training musicians?
Craig: No. Sometimes I look back at that and think, “What was I thinking?” I mean it was stupid to leave that business. I had a great clientele, a lot of interesting people, I was very good at it, people liked me, and it was it fun to do. But I still didn't know at that time what I really wanted to do. And what happened was one of my clients was a very famous, quietly famous, and legendary commodities trader. And what happened was I walked into his house one day, and I saw these computers, and these lights blinking, and…
Ben: Multiple screens?
Craig: It was crazy. And it was a different scene then than it is today. But I didn't know I was standing in front of a legend here, as I say a quiet legend. This was not a person whose name — he didn't care about attention, he didn't care about any of that stuff. He had other things that he was interested in. Health, fitness, supplementation, healthy living, all these things were interesting to him. In fact, he's such a fascinating guy that I'd say that, and I don't mean to deviate here, but this guy's real talent was his brain. He was really interested in psychology. That was his real work. And becoming a legendary trader was sort of like a natural outshoot of his personality. He just happened to be really good at it, but he had other things that he was much more interested in. Crazy combination.
So I met this guy and he was a major influence on me in many, many, many, many ways. Became my best friend eventually, but I saw what he was doing. He had this big house overlooking the bluff in Malibu. He was an independent guy, doing his own thing, and making a lot of money. And that all was very appealing and very attractive to me. So I said, “Hey, what do you do?” And he said, “Well, I'm a commodities trader.” And I said something like, “Oh. Like “Trading Places” with Aykroyd and Murphy?” And he said, “Yeah. Something like that.” He ended up being a client of mine and I learned the business of commodities trading from him. I left private fitness for a little while to go to Chicago to work on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, to his door opening. So that became a big part of my life too. Big deviation. I know weren't…
Ben: Huge deviation. Yeah. You went into the whole like financial moneymaking world. And I know you told me you wound up doing pretty well. Like you grew some companies, did an IPO, you created like a half billion Dollar market cap.
Craig: Yes. Yes.
Ben: And then that got all wiped out.
Craig: Yeah. Yeah. That's boy, I tell you. That's — I don't want anyone to ever have to go through something like that. So if we just jump away from the trading thing for a bit and we get into the 90s during the dot com revolution, I was fortunate enough to start a company from practically scratch. Three, five people. And the short story is we grew that company over five years to about a thousand people over multiple states. We took it public and eventually had about a half a billion Dollar market cap. And I was cashing out and I had about $10 million dollars waiting for me to cash out. And I had picked my spot. My spot was November, December of 2001. That's when I was gonna make my move, cash out, and then start doing more things like what you and I are doing right now. Sort of move into these sort of things then.
But as everyone knows, November, December in 2001 was just a little bit too late 'cause in September, the Trade Center went down thanks to Osama Bin Laden, and that wealth and the company, everything got completely wiped out. Just gone. So broken, that started September 11th for me. A week later, I was worth nothing. So you just learn how to cope with that. It was a dream come true to build a company from nothing to something. It was the realization of a dream, of one of my dreams. And that realization just literally went up in flames. Now of course, we lost a lot of people and that's much more tragic than anything I went through. My heart goes out to the families of all the people that lost loved ones during that time, and the subsequent oars that followed. But it's still tough to forget what you went through in your own experience and what happened to you when those sort of things go down too. You know, you just pick up the pieces, you just start over again. You just figure out how to start over. You really have to do that. You don't just start over and go, “Meh. I know the recipe to success. I'll just do it again.” It doesn't quite work that way. Or it didn't for me. I had to take a couple of years to get my balance back. And then when I did, it started to move in the right direction again.
Ben: Yeah. So now, you're knee-deep in figuring out, I guess, how to crack the altitude nut. Like you got into mountaineering.
Craig: Well, what happened was during that same time, a really crazy story had come out in 1996. So in and around that same time, there was a major event on Mount Everest where a dozen or more people were killed in a very tragic accident. And a subsequent book was written about it called “Into Thin Air”, and I strongly recommend the book.
Ben: Oh, yeah. Yep. I've read that book. It's amazing.
Craig: Yeah! It's an amazing book! For me, it was a trifecta type of thing. I didn't expect Krakauer to be that good of a writer. I just thought I was gonna read story of the accident and be done with it. But it turns out that Krakauer is not only a great writer, but he's got sort of a dark side to him that I picked up on, this angst in his soul. And I connected with that. And not only did he write really well, but I could feel some of his own stuff in that book. And then reading the back stories…
Ben: Yeah. And for people who don't know, that whole “Into Thin Air” book — and I'll put a link to it in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/craig, that is about the Everest disaster where Krakauer gets up to Everest, I believe he wrote this in like the 90's, and when he turned around to start his descent after he summited, there were twenty other people going to the top as a big storm rolled in. And it just wound up destroying this climbing party that was going up Everest. But the way the book is written, I obviously didn't do it any justice just now, but it's a thriller.
Craig: Yeah. So I strongly recommend that nobody waste their time watching the movie. It doesn't do the book justice. There's no way to get the fullness, and the depth, and the profundity of this experience without reading the book. And you will not be disappointed. This is a page turner. So what happened was, I was reading the book and I thought these people are crazy who do this kind of work. I mean all I did was train like a madman up to six hours a day, during my heyday, when I was training hard up to six hours a day, maybe on the low days, three hours and seven days a week. So I was doing a lot of hard crazy work to get somewhere. But it looked to me like these people who'd climb these — not fourteeners. I was fourteener, but these 20,000 foot peaks and 30,000 peaks which is what Everest is it is are completely batty. Because the amount of training it takes to do it, the amount of time it takes to prepare for it, and the desire to be on a mountain like K2 or Everest, you just gotta be a little out of your mind because in mountains this tall, you're gonna be familiar with this, Ben, but there were these –besides the fact it's just plain dangerous to do, the minute you get out of base camp, your life's on the line with every step you take from base camp to the top and back. And everyone knows coming back is tougher than going up on these mountains. So if you just take that…
Ben: Yeah. But that's why people do it. I mean if it was easy, then everybody would be out climbing Everest.
Craig: Right! But let's add a factor of, oh I don't know, 30 to this now in terms of danger. There's a zone on both of these mountains, K2 and Everest, and mountains like this called the Death Stone. And in the Death Stone, which you know about, it's the worst place to be because if you don't have oxygen on, you're likely not gonna make it. You're going to die. And with oxygen on, when you stick on that mask and you have that oxygen on, you're still moving at a half a snail's pace. When you say one foot in front of the other, it's more like one half a step in front.
Ben: Yeah. And it's kinda crazy. I haven't done as extreme an amount of climbing as you have at this point, but one tiny step can gas you. And a few tiny steps in a row will leave you, at that altitude, feeling as though you've been like running an 800 meter on a track at sea level with just a few tiny steps. Yeah. It's pretty mind blowing. And so how deep into mountaineering have you gotten?
Craig: Alright. I'm glad we're talking about it, 'cause I didn't get that deep into. I'll just tell you that. So what happened was I read this story, and I thought these people were batty and out of their minds. And after a couple of months, I thought, “You know, I think it's worth finding out what these people are going through.” And so my version of it, which is nothing at all compared to what those people went through, was reaching out to my brother who was a world class climber, and had been — as long as I've been swimming, he had been climbing Mountains. So we just happen to have it in the family. So I called him up and said, “Hey. You guys are batty. You're all completely out of your mind. I don't know what it is that possesses you to do this stuff, but I need to experience it. I need to find out what it is you guys are going through and what that's all about.”
So that begins my first disastrous event, trying to climb the Grand Teton in Wyoming. So my brother remembers me as this world class athlete, always in ripped up 6% body fat, great shape, and able to run mountains, and jump buildings, and all that stuff. But I wasn't 22 anymore. At this point, I was in my 40's. And he goes, “This would be great. You come along. Just show up, you'll be fine.” I said, “Well, what do you mean show up?” And he's just, “Show up.” “I gotta train for this stuff.” He goes, “No, no, no. You'll be fine. You'll be fine.” Ben, don't ask me why I listened to him. I figured he knew something I didn't know, okay? He's the climber, he knows my background, he knows I'm out of shape now, but he must know something I don't know. So I listened to him, and I showed up. And this was gonna be a trip of summitting three mountains in Wyoming. The Teton being the last of them, which I think it's right around fourteen, it's a little under. I had to opt out. So 10 days, three mountains. I had to opt out after failing on the first mountain because I was so out of shape. My legs hurt so bad. It was almost impossible for me to get back.
Ben: It's crazy. That's how bad it got from being a swimmer training for the Olympics, to going into business in the dot com industry, and trading and everything, huh?
Craig: Yeah. If you're not trained, if you're not working out, and it's like a language, and you know this better than anybody. If you're not doing it, it's just gonna leave you. It's just gonna go away. Now the upside is if you've got background, you know what to expect when you start training hard again. You know what pain is, you know…
Ben: Yeah. See, that's the point is anybody I think that has competed at the level you have, once you get back into training, you get fit so much more quickly. Like my wife, she ran cross-country in college. And when she puts her mind to, let's say, training for like a Spartan, which she's done a few times, she will be hella fit within about two months. And by fit, I mean she'll go out and crush, which for her is pretty decent like 16 and a half, 17 minutes in a 5K, and be able to just go out, and she qualified for Spartan World Championships this year on like six weeks of training just because she is so used to — she was trying to go to the pain cave at an early age. I think that's a big advantage for a lot of people. And I know that you, as a swimmer, I dunno if you get trained for the pain cave, but you got trained for pretty extreme sensory deprivation too.
Craig: Your wife's an amazing athlete, but I'll give my brother the one who dragged me into this, the way he dragged me into it, credit for understanding what you just said. Because I went to graduate school back in the 90's too, and I remember him saying, “Look, Craig. This will be a different grind for you. You understand pain and sports and what all that means to get from A to wherever it is you're going, and all the steps in between, and all the psychological barriers, and physical barriers. You get that. But it's gonna be a little tougher for you to get your MBA because you were paying more attention to the Olympics at the time than you were at school.” You're right. If you know the pain cave, you know the pain cave. And if you know academics, you know that. That's harder for me.
Ben: So did you eventually summit these three peaks?
Craig: Yes, I did. (laughs) I'm glad you asked. So I failed out miserably. I mean when I say I failed out, I limped for like a week after that first attempt. And it was terrible, I was embarrassed. My brother had his partner with him who he's been climbing with since they were 15 years old, old climbing buddies, and I was just embarrassed because I did have this background and here I was showing them that background means nothing if you're 20 years out of shape. It doesn't mean anything. You gotta train for stuff if you wanna do well. You just have to. There's no getting around it.
So that was a big failure, and I limped for like a week or so afterwards. And while I was doing it, I was thinking, “Who would do this? This is a miserable experience.” I mean this is awful. But I really had to realize that it was awful for me 'cause I wasn't trained up for it. So I decided to prepare and do it again the next year. And I did summit one of the mountains, Middle Teton is what it's called. But then I got sick, then I had to leave. The next summit was gonna be Grand Teton. So that didn't happen. Year three comes along and I decide, “You know what? Nothing's gonna stop me. I'm going back to the — as you put it, I like that phrase, Ben. I'm gonna start using it. I decided to go back to the pain cave. And so for that year, I got back into the pool and I swam 3,000 yards a day, every day, five days a week.
Ben: That's a lot of swimming.
Craig: It's something I know, and it helped me with my wind, and stamina, and all that stuff. I got in the gym three days a week, and I went into a very, very, very heavy training regime there. But most importantly, I was living in Southern California at the time and I had a backpack. And during the week, I would pack it up with 80 pounds of weight, and I'd hike around. I wouldn't go that far during the week 'cause it's a work week and it's tough, and I had already swam, and I might have lifted. So during the week, I'd go three or four miles with 80 pounds on my back. But every single weekend, I jacked it up to 110 pounds, and I'd go 10 miles in the mountains of Southern California. So when August finally came, and I only had forty pounds on my back, and with all that training in the back of me, I finally did summit Grand and I — if you've got time, I'll tell you a very quick, funny story about summitting the Grand. So the answer is, yes. I did summit and it took a lot of work to do it. I was happy to do it.
And when I finally summitted it, as I was going through that process, and spending a night on the mountain, and hiking, and climbing, and repelling, and roping off, and seeing 3,000 foot exposures, and crazy stuff like that, I did see the joy in it. Because like anything, if you were truly prepared for whatever it is, and in this case climbing, if you truly prepared for it, then the event is really, really meaningful. And so for me, I've always had the attitude of “make the journey or the training the most miserable aspect of what it is you're gonna do if you're aiming for an event”. So that when you get to the event, all of that work is behind you, you paid a dear price for it, but you know unequivocally when you show up, I'm ready. I'm ready.
Ben: Yeah. You cannot magically pull a trigger and be running, let's say, a minute per mile pace that is 10 seconds faster than what you ran in training just because you're in an event and the adrenaline, and the epinephrine, and everything takes over. Doesn't happen. You actually have to go there in to the pain cave in your training. I wanted to, I know you have so many side stories to tell, but I wanna talk about this bottle of stuff that you sent over to me 'cause I know it has to do with what we're talking about right now, which is performing. And specifically, I know that you kind of got involved in to looking for ingredients that would specifically assist with blood oxygenation. Is that correct?
Craig: That's exactly right 'cause I was a sprinter. So for me, everything was about getting oxygen in as much as I could. And when I competed, you're not supposed to breathe every stroke as a 50 meter freestyler, and I had a tendency to breathe just about every stroke because I just needed to oxygenate more than the average bear. So, yes. My whole world's about oxygenation, blood development and oxygenation. I don't think in terms of anything else.
Ben: Gotcha. So how did you start to dive into the whole researching of raw ingredients and picking out what you were gonna put into a bottle to help with something like blood oxygenation?
Craig: Yeah. It's a great question too. So I had a lot of background between beginning in high school and all the way through my college and Olympic training days with sports supplements. And as I said earlier, for me, nothing worked. And I was very into it. I wanted something to work. I was looking for something that would give me a biological edge. But nothing really did. So at a certain point, and I used to take like 30, 33 pills a day. Sometimes all at the same time, which wasn't the smartest thing about world. But I used to take a lot of supplements, and I'd mix 'em up, and I'd try 'em out. And ultimately I just said, “You know what? This is making me sick and nothing's working. I'm not getting sick any less, and my performances haven't changed.”
Ben: So when you were taking like that many pills, were you doing this for oxygenation, or were you just doing it for you immune system, or was it just like a shotgun approach where you were taking everything?
Craig: At that time, it was a shotgun approach. I was trying to find a balance of things, or a combination of things, or a single thing that I felt was gonna make the difference in terms of how I could handle my training in the pool, and subsequently that would then lead into how well I would compete. No. It was the shotgun approach. It wasn't shotgun from the point of view where I'll just try anything. I was doing the research like for bee pollen and royal jelly. These are things that purportedly helped, as you mentioned, with I think some allergies. But they also have oxygen supporting components to them too. But I didn't feel like any of that stuff was working. I used to take different kinds of bee supplements, and I didn't find that anyone or combination of them was really working.
So a lot of time doing this. I can't say at the time I was doing it scientifically the way a guy like you would today. You're a really great guru in that area, and an influence on me in that regard. But at that time, no. I'd say I did a lot of reading, I used to do a lot of research, and a lot of reading at a high level. Not that at the detail level you do. And say, “Well, this looks like it'll help me with endurance.” “This looks like it'll give me more iron.” “This looks like it'll transport more oxygen.” “This looks like it'll help clean my blood.” And I went down that, road but nothing worked. So I quit. And what happened was I quit taking supplements, that is.
And then when I was training for the second Olympic run, I just happened to hook up — again, in Malibu with a chiropractor doctor, who is a very gifted man, still working today, who also happened to be a bit of a guru on nutrition. And he wanted to get involved with my Olympic run and said, “Let me help you with supplements.” And I said, “Sure. Yeah. I'm open-minded. But just so you know, I've never done anything that's worked. But I'm way open to that because you probably know something I don't know, being expert in the field.” So what happened was we experimented with a few things and just something hit. Just something hit. And the combination of things that worked for me — the product I gave is enhanced a little bit with two ingredients today that I didn't take back then, and I'll walk you through that. But for me, when I took this concoction, I had a very interesting reaction to it. It took me about a week or so, I don't remember exactly how long, but I had this detoxing effect. It's the only way I know how to describe it. That's the only thing I can think it was. You know what a niacin rush is like, right?
Ben: Yeah. Actually, I had one earlier today. ‘Cause every once in a while when I go do my sauna, which I did before I did my cold water swim this morning, I did a hot-cold, I will do a form of niacin called Niasafe, which is like a kind of a non-flushing form of niacin, but if you take enough you can flush a little bit. And I do that before I do the sauna because it can cause fat cells to basically lyse under the presence of heat or infrared when you combine niacin with infrared therapy. So, yes, I've experienced a flush. But I try not to take supplements to give a big flush 'cause I don't like that tingly feeling. But that's what you got, huh?
Craig: Well, yeah. So I used to take niacin, so I know what that feeling is like. But there was no niacin in this formula, and, yes, my body slowly started to go through what felt like a full body tingling rush. And it came on, and it lifted through a period of about 20 seconds. I remember sitting down on the bed and saying, “Well, this is weird, and odd, and I don't understand what's going on here.” But I could tell it wasn't anything bad. Instinctively, I knew it was something, but not anything that I had to really fear. But I sat down and let the feeling pass. And when that was gone, I just said, “Well, it was weird.” I just got a feeling, 'cause at that time I'd really cleaned up my eating. So getting to that question that you brought up earlier, at that point I was eating really clean for the '84 games, and I was taking really high quality supplements. Stuff I had not taken before, like the blue green algae, and chlorella, and now I added desiccated liver to the routine here, which is to the highest quality.
Well, anyway. So before I get more into the product here, I found after that effect, at that point I was training meters. For me personally, a dramatic change in my workouts. All of a sudden, I was just able to train at a much higher level. I mean these things don't happen just right away, but you can feel in the pool, or you're running, or whatever your gig is, whatever your thing is, you begin to feel power and strength that you didn't feel before or an endurance factor that you didn't feel before. You furrow your forehead and you go, “Hm. Something's different. What am I doing different that's now making me feel better?” And I would search hard, high, and low for what the difference was. And the only difference in my routine at the time, finally, was that I was supplementing with this concoction of stuff that, I believed then and I believe now, because nothing else was different, was what was impacting me and allowing me to train with much greater endurance and much more speed. In fact during that time, in workouts, describing the type of workout I'm about to go into here is a bit difficult and complicated to make sense to, but they're called broken swims and they're ways to do very, very…
Ben: Oh, yeah. I've done these.
Craig: So you know what that is. So they're ways to get very, very high intensity, explosive work done. Let's just say you did a series of 100 meters or 100 yard swims on, let's just say, a minute and thirty, or a minute and ten seconds. And you might swim 75 yards all out, and then you take five seconds rest at the wall, and you go all out again to complete it.
Ben: Right. Yeah. It'd be like if you're gonna to swim a 500, you'd split into 10 by 50 at the maximum pace that you wanna be able to swim out. Or you would break a 400 8 by 50, or a 300 6 by 50.
Craig: That's right. Excellent. That's very, very good. That's exactly right. And the reason for these types of swim is they your body ready for race pace, the highest level race pace. And the five second, the broken part of it, the five seconds rest in between, is just to give you some quick oxygen so you don't completely burn out 'cause the idea is to keep that high quality intensity high. And it doesn't stay high at race pace when you're doing 10 of these things if you don't get a second of rest or two in between one of the swims there. So 75 yards is one way to do it, five seconds rest, and then all out for the final 25. And so I was swimming world record pace in workout. I'd never done that before. For me, again and I'm speaking solely for myself, that's how it worked for me. I was having amazing workouts, I was thrilled to death. Was very happy about it.
So what was making a difference for me, I believe, at the time? I was taking a combination of blue green algae, I was taking beet root, and I was taking desiccated liver. And the two products that I've added to the ingredient list here are cordyceps sinesis and echinacea. And the reason I added cordyceps is cordyceps has a very strong and documented background for being both an ATP producer — so to keep that battery charged, which is really critical when you're sprinting, and also it's known, it's believed to have great oxygen carrying capacity. And so my whole thinking, now, Ben, I gotta explain, also at the time, I know about cordycepts today. I didn't know about it then. And I didn't even know exactly what these ingredients were doing for me then, other than that I felt spectacular. So it wasn't till the internet age came sometime later that I was able to do some back study to find out what was going on.
Ben: So at that point, this was just stuff this doctor was giving you?
Craig: He's a wild and crazy guy, and he thinks out of the box, and he understood the type of training I was doing. He just did some unusual things with me that I feel made all the difference in the world. So looking back at it, what was going on here was depending on the blue green algae you take, and you know a lot about this stuff. Depending on the type you take, you get action in your chemistry that does things like clean and detoxify blood, increase red blood cell production naturally.
Ben: You mean the blue green stuff?
Ben: Yeah. So I was a bit confused at first when I got this stuff because you describe it as Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae. But it's basically a blue green algae extract?
Craig: This is a particular and rare kind of algae that comes out of Klamath Lake in Oregon, right near you.
Craig: Yep. And it's the only place it's grown, and it's got the highest content of chlorophyll. Check it out. You'll see that I'm right. And followed by, I think, chlorella and then spirulina.
Ben: Yeah. Have you heard of E3Live before?
Ben: Yeah. So a lot of people tell me, “You gotta E3Live.” And apparently, it's made from this blue green algae stuff that's harvested from Klamath Lake, but this is the same place that you're getting the algae that you're putting into this BioTropic stuff?
Craig: That's correct. And it performs a couple things for me. I will just talk about that for just a second, why I think it's so great. I always showed up and I got a funny feeling you're like me in this regard, but correct me if I'm wrong. But I never had any issues psychologically showing up ready for an event. I always was a great competitor. I couldn't wait to get in the water. I didn't care who you were. Went toe to toe with the biggest and baddest boys in the world, and none of them scared me. I just couldn't wait to get in and take 'em out. Sometimes I took 'em out, but more often than not, they took me out 'cause they were better. But I've had some really great success as an athlete. But some people don't have that going on. They train hard, they train harder than me, tougher than me, but they have psychological problems, or focus problems is really what I wanna get on to here.
And one of the great things about this particular product, the AFA, is that it's got some chemistry in it that helps with focus. And so one of the reasons I like this product is it creates clarity, it creates a focus, it's also a mood enhancer. So it lifts you a little bit psychologically, if you're one of those people that has a hard time with pressure at competition. It has that component to it. It's called PEA for short. You can look it up. It's actually hard to describe, but I'll try to do it. It's phenylethylamine. That is the actual ingredient that creates that focus, that creates that…
Ben: You mean like the mood enhancing effect?
Craig: Yes! Yes, yes! Exactly! It's also used, to some effect, with people who have ADD to help increase their focus. Personally, I am not personally about having to deal with focus. I don't have that issue. I never did, including today. I just know how to show up and do it. But not everyone works that way. So this particular product does a couple of things, several things that are very, very cool in addition to creating an uplifting sense of self and a greater focus factor. It also is purported to have stem cell repair capability.
Ben: You mean the chlorophyll?
Craig: Correct. Yes.
Ben: Yeah. Algae is interesting stuff. I'm a big fan. It's got a lot of these a nucleic acids in it, which I believe is what assists with the actual repair and providing the body with some of the stem cell precursors. But the other cool thing, I don't know if you saw this research, I read a study about sunlight and chlorophyll, and how increasing the concentration of chlorophyll in your bloodstream, when that chlorophyll interacts with sunlight, it actually produces adenosine triphosphate, or ATP which is your body's energy currency.
So you can actually produce more ATP without eating calories when you have high levels of chlorophyll combined with sunlight exposure, which when we were talking about something, like I know that you designed a big part of this for blood oxygenation and altitude performance, it is handy to be able to produce extra ATP when you have this chlorophyll in your bloodstream, especially if you have access to sunlight. So that's one of the cooler things I think about chlorella and about blue green. But this particular AFA, it's harvested from Klamath Lake, and it has specific properties to it based off of where it was harvested from. Is that what you're saying?
Craig: Yes. It's the only place, unless something has changed since this conversation, it's the only place in the world you can get it. It's very special material. And I strongly recommend that people try it, whether they try through my own formulation. My formulation is a combination of things that are designed to develop blood increase oxygenation. But if someone wanted to try it on their own, I strongly recommend they do it. The other thing…
Craig: Yes. Go ahead.
Ben: I was gonna say you've also got the cordyceps in there. ‘Cause I wanna make sure, during the amount of time that we have left on today's show, that I touch on some of the other things that are in here. ‘Cause I wanted to ask you about the cordyceps. So this sinensis, sinensis is that form of cordyceps that's actually — is this the one that they like harvest from like larvae of fungus?
Craig: That's correct. Tibetan grown, and that is exactly — can you make it sound a little better?
Ben: No. I mean it comes outta like fungal, I dunno, like ghost moth butt. Basically they produce like a fruiting body and you harvest that. But I know a lot of folks in Asian medicine, or Eastern medicine use this. I know a lot of like Sherpas who climb Mount Everest will use cordyceps. But the basic idea behind it, you were saying, is oxygenation or VO2Max?
Craig: Yes. Both oxygenation, it's purported to have very strong oxygen carrying capabilities as well as increase in ATP. I always think in terms of, well, all three of those things: ATP, oxygen, and blood development. So some of the stuff doubles up. It overlaps chlorella, creates that effect, and so does coryceps sinensis. So we double up on the oxygen piece of it there, and the ATP piece as well.
Ben: Gotcha. Interesting. Okay. So we've got cordyceps, and it's sinensis is how you pronounce that, right?
Craig: Correct. That's right.
Ben: So that's the specific brand of cordyceps, or flavor of cordyceps. Then you also have beet in here. I know a lot of people already know about beet root as like a vasodi — it's like for body viagra. But I wanted to ask you if you saw this recent study on beet root. ‘Cause we talk about cold water swimming, and one of the reasons that I do it is so I get that you know white adipose tissue to brown fat conversion. They did a study with beet root where they found that the nitrates in beets accelerate the conversion of white fat tissue to brown fat tissue. And so you can actually use something like this like prior to exercise, or specifically prior cold exposure to accelerate fat loss in terms of white fat to brown fat conversion. Have you seen this research?
Craig: That's very interesting. That's new to me I'll have to look that up and learn more about it.
Ben: Yeah. It came out last year. And in it, they actually used inorganic nitrate from beets to turn regular white fat tissue into calorie burning brown fat tissue. It's really interesting.
Craig: I'll definitely look that up.
Ben: Yeah. I'll link to the study in the show notes. But you've got the beets in there, which I know a lot of people know about. A lot of people have also heard of echinacea before for the immune system. But you also are putting it in there for the blood?
Craig: So echinacea is really well-documented for immunity — immune support. Being an athlete, we know that, especially when we're in high training that we tend to walk a fine line between sickness and health. We're always healthy, but might get a cold easier 'cause we're broken down, and especially when you're training at a very, very, very high level and that's all you do all day long. Those people are always, they're always sort of fighting with that. And it's worse than it looks because you see the professional athletes out there all the time. Well guess what? They're not letting you know, they go out there sick all the time and play. I mean think of Michael Jordan when he had to play against the Utah Jazz in the NBA semis. He went out there with the flu for seven games. He had no choice. He had to play. And a lot of athletes are dealing with it all the time. So it's in there for additional immune support.
But echinacea's also known, has been purported to have gentle red blood cell production. And the science of which is too much to go in right now. It's worth you doing your own research, whoever's listening in, and validate that for yourself. But that's one of the reasons I put it in there because I argue of course that if you have vasodilation like we talked about with beat root, you have cleaner blood and more ATP going to hard working muscles, and more red blood cells carrying oxygen, and cordyceps also increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of your system. Then you're gonna get it when you need it most, and that's when you're training or in competition. So that's why I have that.
Ben: Yeah. I hadn't really thought about using echinacea before for like red blood cell boosting or altitude performance until I read it on your label and started looking into it. And it turns out there actually is some pretty good research behind echinacea and blood building properties. In terms of, I know that it compares somewhat to EPO in terms like the illegal erythropoietin blood cell precursors that people will use as an illegal performance enhancing supplement.
Echinacea is right up there with EPO in terms of the ability to build new red blood cells. So I thought that was really interesting. And the last one you have in here, in addition to the blue green algae, the cordyceps sinensis, the beet root, and the echinacea is the mouthful: the Argentinean grass-fed, clean, defatted vegan liver anhydrate. Fill me in on this one and why it's in there.
Craig: There is no better source that I know of and things change, and things flux, and the world changes, but as of this conversation, there's no better source of the highest grade, cleanest, B suite of vitamins which I really believe in. Especially the oxygen and energy parts of the B suite — 12, 6, 3, and so on. It's all right there and there's no better source than coming from liver. So that's just all there is to it. Some people, I'll be very transparent about this. It's an animal product, and if you are insistent upon not having an animal product in your body, don't take it. Find something you're comfortable with and happy with. But the way around that, and it's really not the way around it, it's the right thing to do is just to get the cleanest possible form of it you can.
So you find a vegan-fed cow, you find vegan-fed liver. So this is Argentinian grass-fed, non-hormonal, defatted, there's not fat in it, vegan-fed liver. And that's why it's in there, because it's the best possible quality you can get of that suite of vitamins, as well as other vitamins and minerals that come with this particular ingredient. So for me, it was critical to be in there because that was one of the products that I took during the time when I was training that I felt made a big difference in my performance. I can't say that it was grass-fed at that time, but I felt that that suite of vitamins coming from that source was by and large the best of anything I ever took.
Ben: Yeah. And I really, again, like in terms of fat soluble vitamins, I think a lot of people know that liver is a really good source of fat soluble vitamins. But what I didn't know was some of the research that you have on your website. I believe it was doctor [1:13:31] ______ who did research. It was on the lab animals, not humans, but they found some really significant increases, like 700 plus percent increases in time to exhaustion when getting desiccated liver into their bodies and in high amounts. So it was really interesting, the research on this.
Craig: I think it's great. Like you say for anyone who's thinking twice about, if you are thinking twice about it, it's a vegan-fed. It's as clean as you can possibly get source of the best suite of vitamins that you can put into your body, especially for training. And even if you weren't training, if you weren't doing anything competitive, you should take it anyway.
Ben: Yeah. I held on to that little bottle. I mean, it's been I guess probably about six months since you sent me that bottle. I held on to it for a few months, then I took it on a hunting trip at elevation and loaded with it. Because most of the research that I've seen on increasing performance at altitude not only involves moving to and training at altitude, which can be impossible in many cases, but also taking the type of supplements that allow one to build new red blood cells or to increase your levels of inorganic nitrate in your body from something like beet root. They're loading for anywhere from 10 to 17 days in most studies when you're using something to help you perform at altitude. So I started using it prior to going on that trip, and then just basically hunted hard for about a week. And I also took a bunch going in to this recent Spartan World Championships which was up at Lake Tahoe, the Ultra Beast up at Lake Tahoe. And I felt great on both times that I loaded with it and that I took it.
Usually, if I take something and I don't like the way it makes me feel, or gives me explosive diarrhea, for example, or it's just a crap supplement, I'm not gonna talk about it on the show. But I actually do dig this stuff. And I'd say just about anybody who's wanting to perform at altitude or if you've got like issues with anemia, I know we have to be careful making medical claims, but you don't want to take a bunch of iron, I could see it coming in handy for that type of thing too. If you've given a lot of blood and you wanna build your blood more quickly, anything that would involve building blood or oxygenating blood, I'd say that this stuff is pretty good for. Just from my own personal experience and looking into the research behind the ingredients. So good job, man. I like the blend.
Craig: Thank you. I really appreciate it, especially coming from you. As I say, great respect for you. And I've got — look. Not everything works for everybody. So try it. If it doesn't work, no problem. Just send it back, and I have two other blood oxygen support products that are gonna be coming to market pretty quick here. Yeah. Because look, product A may work, and B doesn't, and C does, and maybe none of them work. But just going back to what we were saying earlier, some things work for somebody and some things don't work on other bodies. So you've got to have more than one way to skin a cat. So that's what I'm doing here. This works, this worked brilliantly for me. I appreciate the kudos from you. Thank you. And keep an eye out for other stuff that I'm bringing up that I know works also.
Ben: Yeah. And I know that folks, if they want to, can get a discount on this stuff. I believe the code is just Ben to get a discount on your website?
Ben: Alright. Cool. So I'll put a link in the show notes. BioTropic. You can go bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropic. If you just wanna go straight to his website, it's like bio, like biology, and then tropic, like the tropics. But it's called the BioTropic Blood Oxygenating Supplement. Use code Ben to get a 20% discount and free shipping on that. I think you can use that. Is that a one-time use code or can folks use it whenever?
Craig: No. For your people, it's free shipping, 20% off. It's deeper than 20% really, 'cause it's discounted on the site already. So it'll be closer to 25%, but free shipping, it's an unlimited use, and they can share it so that, for your people, they can use it forever.
Ben: Cool. I like it. And of course, if you have questions about this stuff, usage, ingredients, anything like that, you can leave your questions or your comments, and either Craig or I will reply. You can do that over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/craig. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/craig. So that's where the show notes are at. I'll link to some of the other stuff we talked about, like that beet juice-brown fat study I mentioned, that “Into Thin Air” book that I do recommend that you add to your reading list if you haven't read that one yet, and a few of the other things that we talked about in today's show. So, Craig, I wanna thank you for your time and for coming on the show today and sharing this stuff with us, man. It's pretty fascinating how you went from swimming, to mountaineering, and now figuring out how to oxygenate people's blood.
Craig: Well, yeah. Look. I appreciate you having me on the show today. The next the next challenge is next summer, I'm trying to do a long haul hike. I wanna do the Continental Divide trail. It's about a six month program, and so I'm training for that right now, and this is a big part of helping me get there.
Craig: So keep moving. Thanks, Ben. I really appreciate the time today.
Ben: Cool, man. Well, thanks for coming on the show. And for those of you listening in, check out bengreenfieldfitness.com/craig. And until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Craig Dinkel signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
I first met today’s podcast guest when he sent me a bottle of strange pills in the mail.
Normally, I would toss such a bottle into my pantry or garage with all the other random powders, oils, capsules, pills, lotions and creams that often show up at my house…
…but this bottle intrigued me.
Along with echinacea and beet root extract, the bottle contained a bunch of other stuff I’d never heard of.
Stuff like “Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae”. “Defatted, Vegan, Grass Fed Argentinian Liver Anhydrate”. A version of Cordyceps with the name “Sinesis”.
So I called the guy who sent it to me and asked him what it was for. It turns out that he, and this bottle, are far from normal. His name is Craig Dinkel, and on today’s podcast, you’ll discover:
-How Craig went from almost drowning in the pool to being one of the fastest swimmers in the world… [8:30]
-How Craig cut 7 seconds off his 100-meter time while swimming in highschool…[14:40]
-Why Craig took bee pollen and royal jelly while training for the Olympic swim team…[22:20]
-The fitness strategies Craig used to train the celebrity musicians he worked with…[25:45]
-The training Craig used to switch from swim performance to mountaineering…[49:00]
-How echinacea can increase red blood cell count just as much as the illegal performance-enhancing drug EPO…[69:26]
-The fascinating new research on the ability of beet extract to turn white storage fat into calorie-burning brown fat…[68:30]
-How high amounts of desiccated liver increased time-to-exhaustion in the lab by over 750%…[71:42]
-The rare fungal extract from larvae that can cause your body to produce ATP, even in the absence of calories…[67:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–BioTropic Blood Oxygenating supplement (use code ben to get 20% discount and free shipping)