[Transcript] – The Reebok Crossfit Games, Half-Ironman Nutrition, Elite Athlete Diets & More: A Conversation With The WHOOP Team

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2017/07/the-reebok-crossfit-games-half-ironman-nutrition-elite-athlete-diets-more-a-conversation-with-the-whoop-team/

[00:00] Introduction/BiOptimizers/Onnit

[03:28] Christian Gratitude Journal

[05:59] Will Ahmed, Mekenzie Riley, Seth Page

[10:20] Mekenzie's Typical Training Day

[14:37] Mekenzie's Prehab And Rehab Routine

[17:00] How Seth Makes Use Of Self-Quantification Data

[20:02] The Dashboard Seth Makes Use Of

[23:53] Workouts And HRV

[26:52] Differentiating Between Physical And Mental Fatigue

[29:43] How Seth Uses The Data For His Ironman Training

[32:16] Sleep Data of WHOOP

[40:15] Quick Commercial Break/Organifi Green Juice/Quip

[45:14] The WHOOP Causing Sleep Issues

[51:52] Seth's Nutrition Program

[1:04:06] New Developments With WHOOP

[1:10:00] End of Podcast

Ben:  I'm out of breath, actually.  I was just bouncing on my trampoline.  It's summer, so it's nice outside right now, and I keep this rebounder outside of my little office door that walks out into the backyard, and I go out there and I bounce up and down like five times a day.  I'll just go out there and I have this little method that I do where I bounce for 10 seconds, and then I'll hold my breath for as long as I can, and then I'll bounce for another 10 seconds and hold my breath, and I'll just do that for one or two minutes at certain points throughout the day, and it helps with lymph fluid, and it helps with breathing, and no, this podcast is not brought to you by trampolines, but I just thought I'd share that because I'm kind of out of breath but the same time I feel all bounced up, all energized, all lymph fluid circulated-ized.

Today's podcast is kind of interesting 'cause I've talk about this performance enhancing wearable before called the WHOOP.  WHOOP?  However you even pronounce it.  WHOOP, I'm going to say.  And it's an interesting device and there's some folks who are getting ready for the Crossfit Games using this, and also this Ironman triathlete who was able to get on the show who is also using it.  So I thought we'd kind of dull back into this WHOOP and revisit what exactly is going on with it and how you might be able to use it.  So we had a pretty interesting discussion.  It's a four-way podcast, four people on today's show.  It was a lot of juggling.

And like I said, this podcast is not brought to you by trampolines.  But it is brought to you BiOptimizers.  BiOptimizers is this company that makes enzymes to digest proteins that you eat.  Interestingly, enzymes can also be used for soreness.  You can just pop a bunch on an empty stomach when you're sore.  They work pretty well for that too.  You can even break open the capsules and sprinkle 'em on top of steak and kind of watch it pre-digest the steak for a funky science experiment.  Anyways though, so this company has these Masszymes, and they combine them with something called P3-OM, which is a protein digesting probiotic.  So you get this powerful one-two combo for breaking down protein.  Really cool idea.  It’s good for the immune system, your neurotransmitters, any other time you'd want to take amino acids, or you want to stay away from undigested protein in your gut.  And you get 10% off of this Masszymes and P3-OM probiotic one-two-combo, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/biopt.  That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/BIOPT.

This podcast is also brought to you by Onnit, Onnit which now makes, drum roll please, Captain America barbell plates.  If you own a gym, if you have a home gym, if you want just a sick piece of fitness equipment, these are barbell plates that are made out of the urethane, whatever the heck that is.  No, I'm just kidding.  It's like a bumper plate, so you can drop it and throw it around.  And they sell 'em 25, 35, and 45 pound weight increments and they look just like Captain America's shield.  I think it's pretty cool.  I actually want to get these for my kids 'cause I'm trying to teach them how to deadlift right now, and I'm pretty sure that they would dig these.  So that along with all the great functional foods, and fitness apparel, and supplements, and personal care products, you can get that all at onnit.com with a big fat discount.  You just go to onnit.com/bengreenfield, and that will automatically save you money on anything from Onnit.  Just go to onnit.com/bengreenfield.

By the way, before we jump into today's show, may I remind you that I have a Kickstarter campaign going for a Gratitude Journal.  That's right, I wrote a Gratitude Journal.  Same one I use every single morning.  Well, the good news is the Kickstarter campaign got funded.  The even better news is we can keep on funding it and keep on producing as many of these journals as we can freaking produce because every single person I've talked to has changed their life dramatically, including yours truly.  It's made me full of service, and charity. and happiness, and gratitude, and life, and love.  And it's amazing when you wake up in the morning and you just jot down that one thing you're grateful for.  So check it out.  It's at christiangratitude.com.  That'll take you straight over to the Kickstarter page for this thing.  And in the meantime, I will shut up now and let you listen in to this podcast all about WHOOP.

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“If you guys try to be hands-on when you can, a little more, and you take this information that WHOOP's giving you and you use it to the best of your ability, but at the same time like these guys are 12 days away from going to the biggest competition of their life, they're going to get some work in still.”  “From a data standpoint, what we see is that once people start wearing WHOOP, over time their sleep habits get much better.  So they're generally getting 41 minutes of sleep more per night.”  “Prehab, rehab, that's like the knees, shoulders, and hips, and glutes, and making sure I'm activating all of my muscles so that I'm moving right.”

Ben:  Hey, folks.  It's Ben Greenfield here.  And in the podcast episode called “The Performance Enhancing Wearable That Tells You When To Sleep, How To Exercise, Your Strain Levels And More”, I introduced you to this wearable called WHOOP, and also the CEO of the company that makes it, his name is Will Ahmed.  And WHOOP is the first really scientifically grounded self-qualification system that's being worn now by a dizzying number of professional athletes, and recreational athletes particularly.  Will himself launched it when he was a captain of the Harvard men's varsity squash team, and now it's being picked up by like Olympians, and the military, and a whole bunch of different US and international professional and collegiate sports teams.

Anyways though, recently when Will and I were talking, he was filling me in on specifically two different sports that he's been seeing kind of up and coming as far as using this thing and some of the really interesting things that these sports are doing with it.  Crossfit, and also Ironman, Ironman triathlon, and these endurance sports.  And so he introduced me to a couple of folks who have really kind of cracked the code on how to use self-qualification to prepare for Crossfit, and to prepare for things like Ironman, and also to some of the things that they're doing as far as managing mental fatigue, physical fatigue, self-qualification, how to apply some of the things that they're getting from a wearable into everything, from tailoring their daily nutrition, to their training preferences and their training intensities, and all the things you can actually get when you're using better living through science to train.

So the couple of folks who Will introduced me to, one is Mekenzie Riley.  And Mekenzie is a registered dietitian and nutritionist by trade, and she's also somebody who competes in the Crossfit Games.  She actually took 5th place overall I believe in 2016.  So pretty good competitor.  And she's competing in these 2017 games that are coming up here pretty soon as well.  And then also Will introduce me to Seth Page, who owns Misfit Athletics, where Mekenzie trains, and has helped her, along with a whole bunch of other athletes, prepare to compete at a pretty high level in Crossfit.  And then Seth himself also happens to be training for his first Ironman triathlon training event, and so he's also got some insight into how to use self-qualification for endurance training as well.  Now it's pretty rare that I will have a threesome on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show, but I decided to do that today.  So we've got Will, the CEO WHOOP, we've got Seth, and we've got Mekenzie all on the call today.  So welcome everybody, first of all.  And if I could just, so we don't get too much confusion here, Will, why don't you go first just so people can know what your voice sounds like since this is an audio show.  Say hello to everyone, Will.

Will: Well, thank you, Ben.  Great to be on with you again, and great to be joined by Set and Mekenzie.  I'm sure I'm going to learn something about their training habits on this call.  So looking forward to it.

Ben:  Awesome.  And then Seth, how you doing, man?

Seth:  Really good.  Pretty excited to share everything that we've been discovering over the past few months, specifically using WHOOP and some of the eye opening things that I've discovered as a coach for almost 10 years now, things I hadn't thought about before.  So pretty excited to share some of the stuff.

Ben:  Awesome.  Got it.  And then, Mekenzie, what's shaking?

Mekenzie:  Hey, what's up?  I am the female voice here.

Ben:  Yes.  That is not Will, that is not Seth.  That is Mekenzie.  And actually Mekenzie, I wanted to ask you first when it comes to training and qualifying for the Crossfit Games, can you just describe to people listening in, like what a typical day of training and eating would actually look like for you competing at the level that you competing at?

Mekenzie:  Oh, sure.  I mean I could go into great detail, I'll try and spare us that 'cause it could be a very long answer.  But I will say there is a lot of working parts, and man, I love it.  But it is tough, it is tough on the body.  And so as far as training goes, nutrition is huge as far as the recovering and being able to do it day, after day, after day for the six weeks that I've been doing this.  And we are winding down, we've got only two weeks left.

Ben:  Are you actually training everyday?

Mekenzie:  Yeah.

Ben:  In terms of like a full-on Crossfit WOD?

Mekenzie:  Oh, yeah.  100%.  I mean I do take, the rest is important.  Okay, so I'm sure we'll talk plenty about recovery in this podcast.  So rest is huge for recovery and I don't take that lightly.  I can't just work out seven days a week.  People that do, I don't understand it. I definitely think that rest is important for me as an athlete.  So five days a week, I'm training very hard, a lot of volume, a lot of time in the gym, eating like a horse all days of the week.  But there are two days a week that are either less intense or less volume, and then one of those two days is like zero usually.  For me.  Very, very minimal activity.  So it's a very important balance of recovery and rest to training, and high intensity, and 100% work.  So nutrition, and sleep, and different supplements all help the recovery process.

Ben:  Tell me about some of the biggest wins when it comes to recovery when you're training at the level that you're training.  Let's say we're discussing the days in which you're bouncing back from those days that you're doing hard training for Crossfit, how many hours would the more difficult day be and then what kind of activities are you doing on the recovery day to actually be able to bounce back from that?

Mekenzie:  Sure.  That's a really great question.  And honestly, I feel like it's different, depends how quick you get your work done and distractions, and how swell you are to get started.  Honestly, how much time you take in between your pieces, the one thing I've learned, especially since working with Seth as my coach is that intensity is important.  So just drawing out, just doing work to do work instead of really putting effort, and putting intensity into the pieces, and then kind of doing them all with purpose.  So you want to take enough rest between the different parts of your training so you can give it 100%.  But therefore when you say, “Oh, I was at the gym for eight hours,” you're not training for eight hours, but you're definitely in there in between your work and the time adds up. So anywhere between four, I would say between four and five hours most days.  I'm usually at the gym I'm like 9 'til 3 maybe.

Ben:  Holy cow.  Are you working too?

Mekenzie:  Yeah.  You kind of work for yourself.  That works.  You can kind of work it in how you want.  I don't get a boss.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So you're working as a nutritionist.

Mekenzie:  Yes.  Privately on my own, kind of a sole proprietor entrepreneur in that sense.  So I do and conduct that on the hours that I want, or that works for me.  Put it that way.  Yeah, I'm usually in the gym like 9 to 3 or so, and working hard at different points in time, but also taking a lot of time to warm up, mobilize, do some different rehab, prehab, assessory stuff.  It's not just like grinding the whole time.

Ben:  Yeah.  Mekenzie, quit beating around the bush.  Get specific with me.  What are you doing in there?  Like what is the actual workout?  Like when you're in there 9 to 3, what are you throwing down and then what are you doing for recovery?  Like what is the prehab and rehab?  Like really get down to the brass tacks here.

Mekenzie:  Alright.  Okay.  Alright.  Personally for me, it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to warm up.  I roll out on a foam roller, I floss with VooDoo floss bands, again, prehab, rehabs, that's like for me shoulders, and hips, and glutes, and making sure I'm activating all of my muscles so that I'm moving right during my workout and not compensating with wrong muscles that leaves me very sore and very messed up feeling day after day.  Again, that's like an hour to get started and then, I don't know, Seth.  What do you say?  We have like one to two different lifts.  So anywhere from, like what I do today?  Four by two deadlifts, or two by four?  Four sets of two deadlifts.  I did some one or two, we call 'em metcon, metcon piece, with some lifting and some gymnastics.  So that was about a 15 minute piece.  Another 12 minute piece with some bodyweight, some burpees, some barbells.  Then there's maybe an endurance piece where it's running, biking, rowing, something longer, drawn out, anywhere from 30 minute runs to an hour on a bike, and then handstand walk practice, muscle-up practice, stuff like that that's more skill based, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes of doing some sort of just extra practice on the little things.  And then you do a flush, and another stretching session.  So if that paints any picture for you.

Ben:  Yeah.  That's quite helpful.  So there's a lot that you're doing to activate the nervous system and then also to recover in between a lot of these lifts that you're focusing on.

Mekenzie:  Some people won't.  I do.

Ben:  Yeah.

Mekenzie:  Yes.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well obviously it's paying off for you.  When you wake up in the morning, or Seth, this could be a reply for you as Mekenzie's coach, because I don't know how much you and her are working together on the self-qualification piece, but walk me through how you would use actual data to determine what you're going to do for training for that day or how you're going to adjust training for that week, whether that's sleep data, or HRV data, or anything else that you're getting from a self-qualification system like the WHOOP.

Seth:  Well we have a dashboard that we use through WHOOP that I can look at, eight different Crossfit Games athletes that we're training for this year.  So we have eight individuals and Mekenzie is one of them.  And so, one thing that I do is I can look at the averages of their strains from the day before because they're on the dashboard that I can see, and I can kind of take a look to see how badly that day may have beat them up or how fresh they might be the next day on average.  So using information like that, I might be able to go in and tell everybody, 'cause we also have a Facebook group that we chat in, “Hey, maybe back down the volume on this,” or “[0:17:36] ______ up the intensity in this running or biking piece.  Make it more of a long slow piece.”  Or maybe we cut a whole lift out, we focus on a skill instead.  So I can look at that data from the previous strain and also that morning's report of recovery to see how well they've done to kind of gauge the group as a whole.  And now they all do individualized pieces here and there, specifics for them, but it's pretty easy to see when a day has been overly taxing the day prior and we may need to talk about cutting a piece out or changing a piece so that she doesn't end up running herself into the ground before she ever reaches a rest day.

For those that aren't really that familiar with Crossfit, or the Crossfit games specifically, because to me a Crossfit gym athlete and someone who's going to the Crossfit Games are worlds apart.  It's not even the same thing, not remotely close.  These guys really are kind of at this high level where the variance is so important because they are capable of training so much volume.  That's become the name of the game, being able to train hard, recover fast, and do it again, that they have to have these long sessions in the gym.  So four or five pieces, kind of like Mekenzie just described, that's a standard day, but the pieces change, the lifts change, the length changes, the intensity changes, the purpose of the piece changes, the skills change.

And so making sure that they can get up and do that sort of volume under the intensity and focus day in day out, that's where that WHOOP data really makes a big difference and allows me to, one, tailor the workouts for everybody and, two, if someone really hasn't recovered, like Mekenzie for example, if she didn't get to eat the food she needed, or didn't get the sleep she needed, or whatever it is and her recovery's low, we can talk about it in the morning, and we can make adjustments, and make sure that she can bounce back the next day and still be productive that same day.

Ben:  Will, what is the actual dashboard that Seth is looking at to assist with Mekenzie's training and these other eight athletes who he's able to analyze on the WHOOP dashboard?  Like what exactly, for people who kind of want that audio version of a visual, is he actually able to gain access to when it comes to self-quantified data that he, or that any other coach working with a team would be able to look at if they wanted to be able to say, “Hey, here's the athletes in the stable who need to do X,” versus “Here's the ones who need to do Y and Z.”

Will:  Yeah.  Seth and Mekenzie are on what we call our Elite Team Dashboard, and that really allows a coach, or a trainer, or a manager to interact with a number of athletes at once and manage their data.  So Seth will be able to sort across his eight different Crossfit athletes by a whole host of different physiological outputs.  So for example, you can think of it almost like a very high end version of Excel where you can sort by all sorts of different parameters and you can interact with the data on your cellphone, or on your laptop, or desktop, wherever you want to access the data.  So Seth will have access to what the strain of a workout may be, or what the strain of the overall game may be for each of these athletes, you could look at how recovered all these athletes are in the morning, how many hours sleep they got, you might want to dig into some of the physiological underlying information.  Does someone have a low recovery because they've got an unusually low heart rate variability, or they didn't get enough REM or slow wave sleep, or maybe they had a very high strain the day before.  And then from that initial portal, there's also an opportunity for Seth to dig in on individual athletes and actually look at trends over time.  So having a lower recovery for one day is different than having a lower recovery seven days in a row.  So that's a bit of an extreme example, but that's the kind of information that as a coach or a trainer we find people want to be looking at to really you know understand and manage their athletes.

Ben:  Okay.  And the strain level, the infamous WHOOP strain score, that's just basically that score that's displayed on that 0 to 21 scale and is drawing in a bunch of different metrics, like your resting heart rate, your max heart rate, your cardiovascular exertion, et cetera to determine how basically beat up your body is for that day?

Will:  Yeah.  It's good at summarizing how intense any period of time was on your body.  So you can say that you're doing a Crossfit workout for an hour and get an analysis of that hour, and really what it does is it I think it helps simplify and understand where you’re at, “Okay, how hard was this exercise, or was this activity, or this overall day on my body.”

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So Seth, you've got eight different athletes that you're looking at, you pull open that Elite Dashboard, you check out Mekenzie's data, you check out everybody else's data, and then you can actually adjust their training for the day based on what you're looking at?

Seth:  Correct.  Yeah, I could make simple changes like volume or intensity.  So those are the two things you can tweak really easily.

Ben:  And here's a question I have for you.  ‘Cause I look at the HRV of a lot of my athletes, and frankly I'm training more business people and CEOs these days than athletes, so for them it's little changes I'm making to everything from their nutrients and their food intake, to how I'm adjusting the training for the next week based on their training for that week.  But in terms of the actual workout, are you going in and saying, “Hey, we're not going to workout today.  We're going to do like. whatever, sauna, and yoga, and foam rolling,” or “We're going to take the specific lifts that we were planning on doing and we're going to decrease the percentage 1-RM of those by 10, or 20, or 30%.”  Like will the workout stay the same but the load actually decrease, or do you just full-on program a completely different day based on what you're seeing from a self-quantification standpoint?

Seth:  Well the HRV is just one of the markers that I would use to make a decision like that.  I have an athlete who was a young guy, he's going to the Crossfit Games for the first time, we've been working with him for five years, he has a remarkably low HRV and he's one of the fittest people we've ever met in the world.  Everyday he wakes up no matter what kind of tactics we try with him, changing programming, breathing techniques, change of nutrition.  He's between 20 and 30.  That's his HRV.  It's unbelievably low, and it does fit his personality.  He's almost like a puppy dog.  He's always on the go, very curious, can't sit still, and that sort of stops him from going into that parasympathetic state that we'd want to have for recovery, and growth, and things like that.  Yet the kid keeps getting better, and better, and better every day.  And there are other people who, their HRV varies quite a bit.  So we get people from like the 140's, the next day they'll drop to the 50’s, back up to 120, next day it's down to 70.  And we can look at HRV by itself and it's not really telling the whole story.

So what I like is that I can see sleep and see if they're just, sleep doesn't necessarily predict what your HRV will be.  If your sleep score is low, typically your HRV score is lower.  But we've also seen plenty of times where the anomaly happens and it's the opposite, it's higher.  So I look at sleep, I look at strain, I look at the recovery score, I look at HRV, I look at resting heart rate.  And based on all that, if everything's out of whack, I'll make some serious changes and we'll have discussions, like what's going on.  Especially if it's for more than one day.  If it's just one of those [0:25:26] ______, we won't really let them have a day off in training, we'll maybe adjust the training, and maybe after each piece, we'll see how people are feeling.  And you can tell a lot from someone's mental states, the answers they give, the look on their face while they are training, things like that will give you more information than just what WHOOP will give you alone to help you make the decision.

So as a coach, you've got to try to be hands-on when you can a little more, and you take this information that WHOOP's giving you and you use it to the best your ability.  But at the same time, like these guys are 12 days away from going to the biggest competition of their life, they're not going to take a whole day off to just do yoga, or sauna, or some hot-cold treatment.  They're going to get some work in still.  And we do like to do things like the hot-cold especially, make sure people's nutrition's really on point, and then we check the HRV again the next day or the recovery again the next day, see if it's improved things, then we take it from there.  But I guess the HRV is just one of the markers that I would use in my decision making to give someone a day off or to really cut their training day shorter than expected.

Ben:  Do you differentiate at all between mental versus physical fatigue? In terms of being able to determine if someone's nervous system is fried, or if they're simply just mentally tired, or low on sleep, or if they actually have like physical musculoskeletal damage.  And if so, how are you differentiating between those two?

Seth:  I wish there was like a really easy answer for that.  That's one of the things that I'm constantly thinking about.  And one of the things that I like about WHOOP is not only is it giving me answers, it's making me ask questions.  So just like that question you asked, like what would I look at to determine what is physical and what is maybe mental or emotional about the athlete in their training for that day.  So there are a lot of things that you have to consider.  And I think when people are mentally tired, emotionally tired, whatever, you tend to see intensity back off where it shouldn't, you tend to see people maybe quit or say, “My ankle hurts,” or whatever, and you get these sort of like half-[censored] quitting statements out of people.  And again, facial expressions and body language is huge for the mental-emotional side of it.  Physical, you can tell because the bar's not moving as fast off the ground, or they're not able to do as many reps in a row, you can come up with a bunch of ways to see if someone is physically not able to, maybe their central nervous systems depressed, whatever it is.  And again, just spending a lot of time with each athlete, talking regularly with each athlete, you can kind of differentiate with experience I think.

It's not the easiest question answer.  But one of the things that, again WHOOP has kind of made me ask more questions, one of the things that I really wonder is, in powerlifting specifically, there's all this information, and I guess you would say kind of theory, about things like super heavy deadlifting, super heavy back squatting, and how that affects your CNS, and for how long.  And so one of the things I'm really paying attention to is after I have athletes deadlift one day, especially if it's a heavy day, I'm really paying attention to the recovery score the next day.  ‘Cause WHOOP basically, and Will can definitely jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, but it favors cardiovascular load over like a strength load.  So when you would get a strain score, it's really measuring the load on your heart and cardiovascular output basically for the day.  And if you did a few weightlifting sessions, unless you did it quickly and got your heart rate up really high, you wouldn't get a very big strain score from it.  So I know deadlift is taxing, but I just don't know how taxing it is.  So I'm trying to figure out does a heavy deadlift really set an athlete back three to ten days depending on what it takes their central nervous system to recover.  And those are the questions I think the data from WHOOP will help answer over time, especially when I have a much broader audience, we're going to bring in a whole lot more athletes after the games are over.  So things like that interest me.

Ben:  Got it.  Really interesting.  So when you yourself, and I'm sorry to be causing you to dominate the conversation here, Seth, but when you yourself are training for your Ironman, are you using the same variables or are you changing anything up when it comes to your actual Ironman training?

Seth:  Definitely.  With my own training, and I mean I'll preface by saying I enjoy suffering recreationally.  I'm by no means a competitive triathlete.  I'm doing this as kind of a self-experiment.  So this will be my first one coming up in August and my goal is to finish, like finish the…

Ben:  You're basically a Crossfitter trying to do an Ironman.

Seth:  Exactly.

Ben:  Or doing an Ironman.

Seth:  Yeah.  I'm going to do it, and I've been making up my own program for it, and it's just a big experiment that I've decided to do on myself.  Now with that, I've taken it serious because I don't want to show up and look like a complete idiot and quit halfway through.  Like if I commit to something, I'm going to do it.  So WHOOP has, specifically with my training, fixed my sleep habits.  It's changed the way that I think about sleep.  And with all the metrics that I get with WHOOP and the information I get on my app, it forces me into bed, it forces me to turn off Netflix maybe a little earlier than I would, if forces me to listen to Mekenzie more when she's giving me my nutrition advice, because I've noticed that if I'm not eating enough or eating the right things that she's telling me to eat, my recovery score suffers. And it's just keeping me honest.  It's always holding me accountable.

So my numbers have actually been really good, and I've been primed to train most days.  I had days where I was going hard, which I consider to be hard for me, and I was able to train six, seven, eight days in a row without ever having a poor recovery score 'cause I was focusing on the details.  And basically the answer I got was, “Hey, you can train harder.”  That's what this is telling you, you can still train hard of this more room, which is a little scary to me.  I was like, “Oh, I don't really know if I want to train harder.  This is really tough.”  But again it's letting me know.  And when I have a really poor day, I can maybe go out and do some really long slow, slow distance work just to train the slow twitch and just to kind of get my heart rate up a little bit, but I do listen to the WHOOP.  And one of the things Mekenzie and I discussed when I took this challenge on, I guess you would say, I said, “There's two bosses.  One boss is Mekenzie with my food and my other boss is the WHOOP.  And I'm going to live by the numbers that I get and adjust accordingly.”  So that's what I'm doing.

Ben:  Now Will, a question for you regarding this sleep data that Seth was just alluding to.  When it comes to sleep data, are you differentiating like on the WHOOP dashboard between like deep sleep, or REM sleep, or sleep latency, or any of these different sleep variables, or is it just overall sleep quality?

Will:  No, it's a pretty comprehensive understanding of sleep.  I mean, definitely the most comprehensive you can find from a wrist-worn product.  So we'll measure the time in bed you spend, we'll measure all the stages of sleep, so how much time you spend in awake, light, REM, slow wave, we'll look at disturbances, so micro arouses over the course of the night, we'll look at how long it took for you to fall asleep, your sleep latency, we'll analyze the number of sleep cycles that you went through, so how many times it you cycle through the stages that I mentioned earlier.  So it's a very average comprehensive understanding.  And then you'll also be able to look at physiological information during a night's sleep, so you'll be able to look at your heart rate over the course of the night and other physiological information.  And one thing that we're actually adding pretty soon is looking at the regularity of your sleep habits, so how often you go to bed at a similar time versus wake up or to see a similar time.

Ben:  Have you found any data to be actually showing that that's important, a regular sleep time?

Will:  Well, a paper came out very recently and it was a paper called “Sleep Regularity Index”, and it was analyzing effectively how closely tonight's sleep was to last night's sleep.  So if last night you went to bed at 11 PM and you woke up at 6 AM, and tonight you go to bed at 11:10 and you wake up at 5:50, you're going to have a very high SRI.  And it's shown that having a higher SRI is likely, well at least in the argument of this paper, is likely to be more effective sleep.  So we've now gone through all of our historical data on WHOOP to look at this measurement around sleep regularity.  And we are seeing actually pretty fascinating correlations between someone's sleep regularity and how high their HRV is the next day, how low their resting heart rate is.  There's a little bit of interesting user input information, reportings of how energetic someone feels.  We're starting to see some correlations there.

So we're still analyzing it and we like to do a lot of research ourselves before we push anything out to our users, but I think it's very likely that we'll add a feature within the app that does a real deep dive on what's called SRI, sleep regularity index, and should allow an individual to really track towards that, and I think also track towards that when you incorporate travel.  Because a lot of top competitors like Seth, and Mekenzie, and some of the other top athletes we work with will be traveling overseas or over time zones to compete.  And so how do you think about the right bedtime when you're in a new time zone, how does that contribute to SRIs, I mentioned earlier.  Those are some important questions that we're researching right now and we should have answers to.

Ben:  Yeah.  For me personally, going to bed at a similar time every night is enormously beneficial.  It's also one of the reasons I think that a lot of Crossfitters, and triathletes, and folks like myself have a notorious reputation for being old fuddy duddies who always walk out of the bar at like 9:15 so we can be in bed by 10.  If we're at a bar.  Period.  So, yeah.  I protect my sleep time selfishly because I know if I vary between 10 PM, and then 11:30 and then at 1 AM, and back to 9:30 PM, it wreaks havoc on my HRV and on my sleep cycles.  And there are certainly some nights, typically like a Friday night or a Saturday night will I give myself permission to tweak those sleep cycles a little bit.  I've trained my body so much that if I go to bed at 1 AM on, let's say, a Saturday, I'm still going to wake up at like 6 AM the next morning.  So it's one of those deals where you almost have to accept that to get optimized performance, you have to live like a monk when it comes to regular sleep cycles to a certain extent.

Will:  So how do you think about, you asked Seth a good question about, “Okay, if you see a lower recovery, or you see something in the data that suggests, ‘Okay, this person isn't at an optimal level,' what do you end up doing as a result for the training regimen?”  Like how do you think about that?  Are you more inclined to reduce the overall load, are you inclined to reduce the intensity, is it a shorter workout, is it maybe somehow a longer workout but at lower intensity?  Talk to us a little bit about how you do that for yourself and then also how you think about that for clients.

Ben:  Yesterday, my HRV was actually off the charts.  I threw off the RSMSSD equation, which is where you kind of smooth out the HRV, and my score was so high that I knew I could crush it yesterday.  And I felt amazing as well.  It's probably 'cause I had like a 20 ounce French cut bone-in rib-eye steak the night before, which just turned me into Superman the next day 'cause my body responds really well, my body responds fantastically.  And this is what's cool about self-quant is you can tie nutrition into self-quant and my body loves meat, it really does.  I'm sorry to all my plant-based eating friends out there, and yes I eat a copious amount of plant matter, but if I really want to perform like Superman the next day, as much as it may fly in the face of anti-aging protocols and mTOR limitation protocols, I eat copious amounts of meat and I feel amazing, especially if it's like organ meats, and fatty cuts of meat, and in this case it was just like a nice fatty cut of rib-eye steak.  And so I woke up, my HRV was at about 103.  I look at both my low frequency as well as my high frequency scores, meaning that I'll look at the strength of my sympathetic nervous system and also the strength of my parasympathetic nervous system, and both were very high.  So I absolutely crushed it yesterday.

A sample workout for me when I say “absolutely crushed it” was I have a hypoxic air generator in my garage and I had a 30 minute high intensity interval training bike workout on that that was comprised of a dizzying number of 15 second sprints at hypoxia, followed by 15 second sprints at hyperoxia, and then I was off the bike on to, I'm very into high intensity interval training and I've carried over a lot of that from my Ironman triathlon days, but I had a 10 by 50 in the pool, and then I keep a hex bar next to the pool, and after each 10 by 50, or after each 50, I'd get out, I had a five heavy hex bar deadlift, then back into the pool, and I finish that up with 30 minutes of a really hot sauna sweat.

So difficult workout, but when my HRV is high, I'll go crush it like that 'cause I know my body can really soak up the training.  And then I woke up this morning, lo and behold, after finishing that at like 7 PM last night, my HRV this morning was about 80.  And so my workout this morning was I walked about six acres across the land, I harvested a bunch of wild nettles, I came back, I did 15 minutes of yoga, and I made myself some tea from the nettles while I was doing yoga.  And like that was my workout today.  So I will totally make decisions on the fly based on that.  I had planned on doing a hard paddle board later on today.  I probably won't do that.  I might go for an easy swim or something like that and put off the paddle board until tomorrow.  But yeah, I absolutely make decisions on the fly based on exactly what my HRV is doing.  It's one of the most valuable metrics that I measure.  Period.

[Music Plays]

Ben:  Hey.  I want to interrupt today's show to tell you about moringa.  Moringa is crazy.  It's similar to matcha, if you know about matcha green tea, in that it can relieve respiratory issues, and relief from arthritis, and alleviates anemia, it's awesome for digestion, awesome for blood sugar levels.  It's a great anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-fungal.  It's a superfood!  Anyways though, what they do, this company Organifi is they take a whole bunch of really good moringa and then they blend it with everything else known to man that can help you, chlorella, and spirulina, and mint, and beets, and wheatgrass, and ashwagandha, and turmeric.  And it tastes not like cat diarrhea, like you would expect something like this to taste.  It actually tastes really good.  Taste kind of like chocolatey and coconutty, probably 'cause they put some coconut in there as well.  Anyways though, it's called Organifi Green Juice, Organifi Green Juice.  You get a big ol’ discount on Organifi Green Juice.  How?  You just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/organifi.  bengreenfieldfitness.com/organifi, that's with an “i”, automatically gets you 20% off of this green juice powder or anything else they have.

After you've had your green juice, you may want to brush your teeth, and that is where Quip comes in.  Here's something to chew on.  See what I did there?  A whole bunch of recent studies suggest that having good oral health impacts your overall health.  There are whole books about this now about how your dental bacteria affects like your mood, and your neurotransmitters, and your gut health, and a whole bunch else.  But it's hard to remember to brush each section of your mouth.  A lot of toothbrushes don't come with the vibration, which helps to clean even deeper, and a lot of brushes do not look like this one does, which looks like it came out of Apple.  Meaning the design is amazing.  It's like Apple designed a toothbrush.  Time magazine named it as one of the best inventions of 2016.  This company won the 2016 GQ Grooming Award.  They made it on to Oprah's New Years’ O-List.  I didn't even know she had an O-List, but now you and I both know.  Not only does she have an O-List, but she put this tooth brush on it.  And you get a refill pack, like a free refill pack that comes along with the toothbrush, 'cause you change the head on it.  And the way that you do that, and the way that you grab one of these awesome toothbrushes for yourself, I have one now in my bathroom, you go to Quip, Q-U-I-P, quip.com/ben.  When you go to quip.com/ben, you get your first refill pack free and you also get of course your nifty little vibrating toothbrush that automatically reminds you when to change to a different section of your mouth.  How cool is that?  Alright.  Back to today's show.

[Music Plays]

Seth:  I mean it just seems so hard to imagine, like now I've been monitoring my own body probably for about four years straight and just listening to all of you guys talk about you use data and nuances in it.  Doesn't it just seem impossible to believe that every serious athlete in the near future will be monitoring this stuff about their bodies?  Like how can you imagine a professional athlete not monitoring stuff?

Ben:  Yeah.  I mean when you talk to some of these old school coaches, there was one relatively famous coach named Brett Sutton who was a triathlon coach, he would look at his athletes eyes.  He used to coach horses.  He used to train and raise horses for horse racing and he would look at them in the eyes.  And by looking at them in the eyes, and many old school coaches will do this he could tell whether or not they were prepared for that day's training.  I personally do like the idea of just listening to one's body or looking at one's body, but I also am a fan of like having one foot in the realm of ancestral living and being unplugged, and the other foot in the realm of modern science, and biohacking, and being able to actually quantify this stuff.  So yeah, I agree.  I think it's invaluable data.

Before we keep going with some questions I have for Mekenzie and for Seth, Will, one concern that I've received from folks who have listened to the podcast that I did with you about the WHOOP, and by the way, for those of you who want to listen to that podcast, just go to the show notes for this podcast, bengreenfieldfitness.com/whoop2, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/whoop2, they were concerned about sleep, and specifically the fact that on the backside of the WHOOP, there's like this green LED light that will shine occasionally during sleep.  Are there any concerns about that disrupting sleep?  Have you guys considered that, have you looked into it, are you concerned about this idea of these small amounts of lights causing sleep issues?

Will:  The main thing that we look at in terms of someone being on WHOOP is how they end up sleeping over time.  And so from a data standpoint, what we see is that once people start wearing WHOOP, over time their sleep habits get much better.  So they're generally getting 41 minutes of sleep more per night, we see them getting more REM and slow wave than when they originally started using the product.  So I would say if there was any issue with how light was affecting someone's sleep, we would see that in the data and we wouldn't have nearly the results that we've seen.  And then just beyond that, I think that people have light exposure in really all walks of life, and LEDs that we're working with are really not all that intensive.  So there should be no issue.

Ben:  Okay.  Interesting.  I know there's a lot of people that would love to see that studied sometime, like maybe even some kind of like a sleep LED study where you try lights on versus covering them up with some kind of like a LED light blocker.  I travel with light blocking tape when I travel and I'll tape up LED lights just based on some of these studies in the past that have shown that brief intermittent amounts of blue light exposure during the day, or, I'm sorry, during the night might affect melatonin production.  I'd be curious to see what it'd look like with and without light.

Will:  That's a good point, Ben.  I think any exposure to light for your eyes should affect how you're sleeping negatively.

Ben:  Well, skin too.  The skin has photoreceptors.

Will:  I would think that we would see that in the data if it was having a negative impact on people's sleep.

Ben:  Yeah.

Will:  And we just haven't.  I mean I understand that people want to make sure that their optimizing for everything.  Obviously you need some form of sensor data to actually get data in the first place.

Ben:  Right.  ‘Cause that's how it's collecting data while you're asleep, correct?

Will:  Exactly.  And mind you, I don't know, maybe Seth and Mekenzie have their own points of view.  Like the product's really designed to be pretty seamless.  So for the most part, once you've got it on your body, you kind of forget that you're wearing it.  And it's pretty lightweight, you won't be able see the LEDs that are shining to collect this data, unless the product was like dramatically too loose.  So overall we just haven't seen an issue with the light.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Now one other question that I get from folks, not to put you on the spot too much, but it's also a question about Bluetooth and whether or not the WHOOP constantly irradiates a Bluetooth signal, or releases a Bluetooth signal, or whether that could be disabled, or placed in some kind of an airplane mode or something like that.

Will:  Yeah.  First of all, I think that there's reason to be somewhat concerned about Bluetooth technology, but I also think if you're going to be concerned about Bluetooth technology, you then also have to be concerned about cell technology because they're both creating the same effect.

Ben:  And granted the same people asking those questions are pretty careful with cell phone use, including myself.  Like it's always in airplane mode, it's always in some kind of an anti-radiation case, et cetera.

Will:  Which is great to the extent that you're completely isolated.  Unfortunately, if you happen to be in a room with another human being, you're probably not protected just 'cause of the prevalence of cell phones.

Ben:  Well, it's based on the distance.  The damaging effect of an electrical signal is going to exponentially decrease based on your distance from, say, like a WiFi router, or a cell phone, or something emitting Bluetooth, et cetera.  So what's closest to your body is most important in my opinion.

Will:  Understood.  However, a cell phone antenna picks up signals from cell phone towers and satellites, while a Bluetooth headset or any Bluetooth technology is receiving radiations from merely a few feet away.  So the extent to which you're actually out of range of a phone from a Bluetooth standpoint, you're decreasing that exponential range every inch that you're away from Bluetooth.  So anyway, to go back to your original question, Ben, anyone who's concerned about Bluetooth should feel better about the fact that if they put their phone into airplane mode or they turn their Bluetooth off, the WHOOP will then longer be sending any Bluetooth signals to that phone.  And so it can store up to three days of data without sending data across.  So that should hopefully alleviate anyone's concern with the Bluetooth.

Ben:  Okay.  So basically it's not constantly transmitting a signal and searching for a phone like every one to three seconds like a FitBit, or a Jawbone does?

Will:  No.  Because we built the computer to effectively store as much data as possible as well.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  So there's like a built-in computer that will store, I think it's, what is it?  Several days worth of data?

Will:  Three days of data.

Ben:  Okay.  And then so I could have the Bluetooth off, I could store it all, and then when I want to sync it to my phone, I could sync it to my phone?

Will:  You got it.  And there's smart engineering reasons for that as well.  Because every time you send a Bluetooth ping, you're using battery.  So we obviously want to have the most optimized battery configuration as possible as well.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  That all makes sense.  Thanks for answering the difficult questions, dude.  I want to go back though, because all the talk about steak got me on the nutrition bandwagon.  Mekenzie, I know you've been quiet lately, but I've got a food question for you.  I know you're working with Seth on his nutrition for triathlon.  What is your approach with that?  Because I know Seth has kind of been on the Crossfit bandwagon, traditionally a sport where a lot of times you do need things like carbohydrate refeeds, glycogen refeeds.  I know a lot of the Crossfit athletes I've worked with will do things like some amount of carbohydrate limitation during the day and then refeeds at night to restore glycogen levels for the next day's work out.  When it comes to triathlon, are you doing something similar?  Are you taking more of like a high-fat ketosis approach with Seth, or what are you doing with him as far as aerobic versus Crossfit is concerned?

Mekenzie:  Well the thing is in nutrition, I mean super individualized.  I think individual, across the board, whether you're talking about an athlete or just somebody lifestlye-related, and then when you talk about athletes from sport to sport.  Like you said, different sports sometimes indicate different ways of approaching, and then the individual themselves, I mean I'm entirely different than Seth.  So like my nutrition looks way different than his, even though we're both training at a high level.  But two very different sports, two very different bodies.

Ben:  Are you saying that because of, when you're saying differences, are you saying training differences or are you referring literally to differences in genetic snips responsible for different foods or blood and biomarkers?

Mekenzie:  Oh my gosh.  Like everything.  I mean even the very basic like male, female.  I'm going to dwindle away into thin air if I train at this high level.  Like keeping weight on him is like something that was a main concern.  So that kind of dictates, versus somebody who might be a larger person who needs like, so they keep their weight down.  It just depends on the individual, their goals, their body tendencies, and then not to mention Seth has like a freaking laundry list of allergies [0:53:14] ______.  So everybody's different.  So you kind of have to take into account all of that stuff.

Ben:  Get specific with me.  Give me an example of something you'd take into account when it comes to genetics, or blood, or biomarkers that you've found about him that caused you to make a specific decision about his nutrition.

Mekenzie:  Well one very specific, well, I wouldn't say specific, but one thing that I always, always ask is what are you doing now, what have you done in the past?  Especially in the realm of [0:53:46] ______ a lot of crossfit athletes, I love doing it because I understand it, but people try so many different things and over the course of time, whether it's this approach, that approach, a crash diet, YOLO diet, what has your body been through?  ‘Cause a lot of people's bodies are in bad places 'cause they've been doing wrong things that have, not wrong in the world but like wrong for them that have landed them in adrenal fatigue, or some form of really stressed out situation where their bodies are not doing anything, getting no [0:54:23] ______ , I'm going to eat a lot, I'm going eat not very much, I'm going to work out a lot, I'm going to do something like they can't get any response from their bodies.  So a very, I would say I look very much at history, like diet history, eating history, and another thing is their day to day, like, “Tell me about your day.  What do you do?  Do you sit at a desk all day?  Do you sometimes go to the gym?  Are you always in the gym?  Are you at the gym for 3 hours?  Are you at the gym for one hour?”

Ben:  But are you doing DNA analysis, or blood, or saliva, or biomarker testing, or anything like that?

Mekenzie:  I mean I would love to know those things, but I'm not currently looking at that.  That's like super, super in-depth.

Ben:  So you're just basically looking at somebody like Seth at like his activity levels and lifestyle?

Mekenzie:  Yes.  100%.  Yeah.

Seth:  If can jump in, what are the things we talked about, and she already kind of said it, with me in particular was that I wanted to pursue this Ironman training, and I've always loved endurance work, but I came in at 168.  Like I'm 5’11” and I weigh 168 already.  And now if I start doing an hour to two hours to three hours of volume for five days a week staying in the 160's for my body type and my history, like she said, it would be very, very difficult.  On top of all that I had really severe sinus issues, I've had them for the past five years.  I had two surgeries where they went in to remove dozens and dozens of polyps from behind my face and just cut out all this tissue that is caused by inflammation that we couldn't figure out.  And traditional medicine wanted to give me pills forever and ever, this pill, this spray, this surgery, keep coming back every 18 months, we'll keep doing it.  Obviously that's not the answer I want to hear.

So I went, and me and Mekenzie talked about it and I went and got a blood test done through Genova labs down in Atlanta and they found that I have severe, off the chart allergy to egg yolk.  Lo and behold, I've been eating eggs every day for the last 20 years, like multiple eggs every day for the past 20 years, one of my favorite foods.  So likely the cause of this inflammation in my sinuses.  I also have an allergy to milk.  So any milk product I have, not as severe as the egg, but the milk is probably lending to this inflammation as well.  So I take my history, I take what I want to do, I used to have the sort of carb backloading approach to things, fat and protein all morning, all day, and at night if I worked out hard, I would get a carbohydrate kind of meal.  So all this information I gave to her, and now she's completely tweaked what I'm doing so that I don't dwindle away, it's nothing, and I don't repeatedly have to have surgeries for the rest of my life and take pills for the rest of my life.  And now I can say with confidence that I have the most energy I've ever had through any point in my life of training.  Seriously. And the only thing I had to kind of get over, and what I do is take in about 400 grams of carbs a day throughout the day across three to four meals.

Ben:  400 grams.  That's a lot of carbohydrates.

Seth:  A lot of carbs.  For a skinny guy like me…

Mekenzie:  Check out his Instagram stories.  Loads of activity.  You'll understand why.

Seth:  Yeah.  I mean my cardiovascular load ends up being off the chart 'cause I can hold a heart rate of about 180 beats per minute for hours on end.  That's just where I operate.  So when I get my strain score and my calorie score back, it's very, very high for a skinny guy like me.  So I end up having to eat quite a bit, I eat about as much as the 200 pound athlete even though I'm 35, 40 pounds less than them.  But I have more energy than I've ever had before, eating all those carbs.  I eat about 100 grams of fat and about 200 grams of protein.  And basically the only thing I had to get over, and I'm completely over it now, was the insulin crash that you deal with when you go from someone who took in very few carbs over the past five, six years to someone who's taking in a good amount of carbs.  I had to get over that in the morning.

My one little tactic I used for that personally was I sort of had, I drank maybe too much coffee, probably not as much as actually a normal American drinks, but I would have one to two cups every day, which is maybe low.  But for me, it was a lot.  And so what I did was I cut out my mandatory coffee in the morning to reduce my, or to increase my sensitivity to caffeine again, and now I use coffee as my supplement.  So if I'm dealing with any sort of crash from a high carbohydrate meal, which I don't get often anymore, I supplement with caffeine which in the long term isn't the right answer, but in my short term training for this one race it's been incredibly helpful. So that's kind of where I'm at.

Ben:  That's the tricky part with something like Ironman Triathlon is your exercising at a very unnaturally high level of physical activity.  And this is something I wrote about quite a bit in my book “Beyond Training”.   When you’re using that traditional endurance athlete diet comprised of high amounts of carbohydrates, you actually do get a huge boost in energy levels and you stave off some of the deficits in thyroid hormone, for example, that can occur from constant glycogen depletion combined with high levels of physical activity.  But at the same time, you get a lot more gut fermentation, you get a lot more fluctuations in blood sugar, there's a lot of issues when it comes to the aging effects of chronically elevated blood sugar, and the oxidation of cholesterol, and it's kind of difficult.  It's like you sacrifice some amount of health and some amount longevity in exchange for dumping a bunch of carbohydrates and caffeine down the hatch to be able to ride your bike for hours and hours on end.  That's the tricky part.

Seth:  It's very tricky.  Like I said, this isn't my forever lifestyle.  This is, I decided to take this Ironman on four months out, five months out.  So we took all the information we had, put it together, I used WHOOP to see if I'm killing myself on certain days, or if I'm recovering well on others, keep me honest in my sleep, all the things together, and for the time being it's working out.  And after this race is over, I get to reassess, I get to figure out what I want to do kind of long term.  I might get bit by the endurance bug, and I might want to do a full, and then I might want to do more.  And if that's the case, then I get to sit down with Mekenzie and we can reassess and kind of change my nutrition based on the time with her.

Ben:  We can talk later about this if you guys want to, but I ended up my final two years of Ironman where I did every single PR that I had and it felt amazing.  Although admittedly, I still had to supplement with thyroid supplements because of this, simply because it's not natural to do that much physical activity.  I switched to a full ketogenic diet and I actually felt freaking amazing and was able to perform at very low levels of carbs, but I was doing a lot of amino acids, and beta-hydroxybutyrate, and MCTs, and electrolytes, and all these little tweaks I had to make to ensure my body was able to go, go, go on a ketogenic based diet.  But it actually worked for aerobic-type activity.  It took a lot of little tweaks, and then of course, like I mentioned, I still had to take extra care of the thyroid gland.  So it's a tricky cat to skin, so to speak, the whole Ironman nutrition thing.

Seth:  It's punishing, right?  It's punishing, and we're doing the best to navigate the waters.  You're literally punishing yourself each time.  And one thing, like I found with the training, and like I said it's only been a few months of doing it, but again going back to kind of how I've used WHOOP, I have noticed that my HRV score has gone up like 30, 40%, it wasn't that strong, it was pretty low before.  I live between 60 and 90 these days and it fluctuates a little bit, which is on the lower end still, but I'm happy with that compared to starting out in the 40's and 50's, and then my resting heart rates drop like four or five beats a minute, I'm in the very, very low 40's every day.  So I have found that kind of increasing this cardiovascular training, and I don't know how much the nutrition ties in with that, but overall my markers are improving, so I'm thinking of…

Ben:  Yeah.  It does help, I think.  Because when I do carbohydrate refeeds versus when I don't, my HRV is a lot higher when I'll do like a carb refeed in the evening.  Now granted for me that's 100 to 200 grams, not 400, but it still makes a significant difference in my HRV quality.  For me, it's like this law of diminishing returns.  I think once you get to X amount of carbohydrates and you start to see really big spikes in insulin, or high levels of hemoglobin A1C, or fasted blood glucose, then you get into a realm of potential deleterious health effects.  But if you can strike a balance between that and, for me, shoving a bunch of carbohydrate into the system when my glut4 transporters are elevated I don't have to release much insulin, like in the evening after a hard workout, it works out pretty well.  And when I don't do that, my sleep suffers and my HRV is low the next day.  But when I do include those carbohydrates in the evening, or that enormous steak, I feel like a million bucks the next day.

Seth:  I found the exact same thing.

Ben:  So in terms of the WHOOP itself, Will, are you guys adding any additional data that one is able to collect, or do you have anything else coming down the pipeline when it comes to the WHOOP wrist band or the WHOOP dashboard that you want to let folks know about?

Will:  Well we're always developing on the hardware side, and some of that we keep confidential until we come out with the latest and greatest.  On the software side though, I can tell you that we've got a number of features that we'll be rolling out in the near future.  One thing that we are excited about is just a lot more access to trend analysis within the application.  So you'll now be a look at things like recovery, you can now look at things like strain, and recovery, and sleep over time, but we're also rolling out some of the more granular information so you'll have a pretty deep look at HRV over the time, resting heart rate over the time, some of the biomarkers that Seth was talking about having tracked up on.  We are adding more information as well for a user to input into the app.  So we're going to have nuanced ways for you to record what kind of activities you're doing, we're going to have nuanced ways for you to answer some of the different questionnaires every day.  So those eventually will become more customizable.

Today we'll ask individuals in the morning, for example, if they drank caffeine last night, or alcohol, or if they slept with a partner, or if they took any sleep-related drugs and things like that that are a little bit more generic.  And soon we'll have it so that an individual could be, “Okay, did you have a hundred grams of carbs last night,” or “Did you have something that's more specific to you that you know is something that you want to really track?”  And then you'll be able to look at that specific variable that you're trying to analyze and compare it to what the physiological outputs are over time.  And I think that'll be pretty fascinating.  It's been really interesting for us because more recently, we started working with a lot of top Crossfit competitors, and Crossfit seems to have some unique ways that they think about what an activity was, it tends to get a little bit more granular in terms of this specific routine, so we're building on all of that functionality.  And it's fascinating, we've got, I think someone told me today we have 25% of the competitors in the Crossfit Games wearing WHOOP, and that's only growing right now.  So it's becoming a pretty interesting market for us and we want to make sure that we're serving it properly.

Ben:  Got it.  And I know that for people who are listening into the show who actually want to try this, as we've done in the past, we're giving everybody 50 bucks off of a WHOOP if you want to just grab one of these and try it for yourself.  You don't have to be a Crossfit Games competitor or an Ironman athlete to be able to benefit from some of the HRV, and the quantification, and the sleep, and the strain, and the recovery data that you can get from this thing.  And it's very, very simple.  You just go to whoop.com and the code that you can use is Greenfield, and Greenfield will get you 50 bucks off of a WHOOP for yourself if you want to try this out.

And in addition, if you have questions for Seth, for Mekenzie, or for Will about things that you want to know, that we weren't able to delve into, or comments, or questions about self-quantification, Ironman training, or Crossfit training, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/whoop2, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/whoop2, and you can ask them over there, and we'll be able to jump in and give you any replies that you would like.  But in the meantime, Will, Seth, Mekenzie, thank you all for coming on the show on sharing all this stuff with us.  And by the way Mekenzie, best of luck in your Crossfit Games.  And Seth, best of luck in your Ironman.  And Will, it appears you're just like sitting on your butt in Boston, so I don't know what to wish you best of luck in.  But either way, thank you all for coming on the show today.

Seth:  I appreciate it.

Will:  Alright, Ben.  Appreciate it.  And Seth and Mekenzie, best of luck.

Ben:  Alright, folks.

Seth:  Thanks a lot.

Mekenzie:  Thank you!

Ben:  Well I'm Ben Greenfeld along with Will Ahmed from WHOOP, Seth Page, and Mekenzie Riley who are, you guys are both in, are you in Wisconsin.

Seth:  That's where the games are being held.

Ben:  Okay.

Seth:  I'm in Maine.

Ben:  Okay.  You’re in Maine.  All of you are northeast?

Mekenzie:  Nope.  I'm in the, I guess south now [1:08:33] ______ North Carolina.

Ben:  Alright.  Well, cool.  I'll be North Carolina next week racing the Asheville North Carolina Spartan race.  So right down your neck of the woods.  Make sure you keep it cool down there for me.  Thanks, thanks.  Alright folks, well the show notes are at bengreenfieldfitness.com/whoop2, check them out.  And until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield wishing you a healthy week.



In the podcast episode WHOOP: The Performance Enhancing Wearable That Tells You When To Sleep, How To Exercise, Your Strain Levels & More!, I introduce you to Will Ahmed, CEO of WHOOP, the first scientifically-grounded, self-quantification system worn by a growing number of professional and recreational athletes. Will launched WHOOP out of the Harvard Innovation Lab with his co-founders John & Aurelian, when as captain of the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash team, he became deeply interested in how strain, recovery and sleep affected an athlete’s performance. WHOOP is currently used by Olympians, military, the world’s top trainers, and teams across all major U.S. professional and collegiate sports leagues.

Since that podcast, Will has filled me in on how Crossfit athletes have been getting a ton of value out of the WHOOP, and introduced me to Mekenzie Riley, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist by trade who has her license through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as both a Bachelors and Master’s degree in dietetics from Eastern Illinois University.  In 2016, she went to the Crossfit Games on Team OC3 Black, taking 5th place overall. Now in 2017, she's been competing as an individual and finished third in the Atlantic Regional, punching her ticket to the 2017 Crossfit Games in Madison, WI.

Will also introduced me to Seth Page, Owner and Co-Founder of Misfit Athletics (where Mekenzie trains). Misfit works with athletes of mixed modalities to prepare them to compete at the highest level in the sport of CrossFit. Seth started out in the more traditional field of fitness training in 2006 before transitioning to CrossFit in 2008, and began coaching athletes locally in 2009 as the sport began to gain traction. Since then, Seth and Misfit have worked with countless CrossFit Regionals and Games qualifiers. Seth's current focus includes experimenting with and refining programming for competitive athletes, all while training for his first Ironman race.

In today's podcast, I have Will, Seth and Mekenzie all on the show together to talk all things WHOOP and self-quantification for Crossfit, Ironman and beyond, including:

-Mekenzie's training protocol and qualifying strategy for the 2017 CrossFit Games…[14:30]

-How Seth tracks eight different athletes each day and which parameters he looks at to make training decisions “on the fly”…[16:40 & 19:45]

-How Seth differentiates between mental vs. physical fatigue…[26:30]

-How Seth is using Crossfit to train for Ironman triathlon…[29:20]

-Whether you need to be concerned about Bluetooth radiation or LED light signals from the WHOOP…[45:50 & 47:40]

-Mekenzie's approach when it comes to Seth's diet, and why she has transitioned him from “carb backloading” to a more traditional diet for endurance athletes…[51:00]

-How Seth and Mekenzie are using WHOOP to customize nutrition data…[60:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

WHOOP (use code GREENFIELD for $50 off at checkout)

-Podcast: WHOOP: The Performance Enhancing Wearable That Tells You When To Sleep, How To Exercise, Your Strain Levels & More!

-Article: The World On Your Wrist: How To Track Your Daily Strain, Recovery, Sleep & More (A Nerded Out Review Of The New WHOOP Wearable.)

Show Sponsors:

-biOptimizers – Crank your muscle gains to new heights by flooding your muscles with maximal amino acids without increasing your protein intake by a single gram. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/biOpt to automatically get 10% off your order.

-Onnit – Get 10% off ANYTHING, from functional foods to supplements and beyond, at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ONNIT

-Organifi – Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/organifi Discount code BEN for 20% off your order!

-Quip  – Quip is an electric toothbrush that packs premium vibration and timer features into an ultra slim design, that's half the cost of bulkier brushes. Go to getquip.com/BEN to get your first refill pack free with a Quip electric toothbrush.








Ask Ben a Podcast Question

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *