[Transcript] – A Potent Pre-Sauna Stack, How To Cleanse Your Blood Before Bed, 700%+ Endurance Increases, The Best Supplements For Altitude Performance & Much More With Craig Dinkel of Biotropic Labs.

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Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/what-are-the-best-supplements-for-altitude-performance/

[00:00] Introduction/Daily Burn/GetKion

[05:12] About Craig Dinkel

[07:25] What Ben Did When He Came Down With the Flu

[12:40] Craig’s Adventure from Olympic Training to Supplement Creator

[19:05] Ben Talks about Water Polo Exercises

[23:50] Chlorella’s Role in ATP Production

[27:00] Desiccated Liver Extract and Its Effect on Endurance

[29:40] How Beet Root Helps in Vasodilation

[35:25] Onnit/FreshBooks

[44:50] How to Build New RBC with Echinacea and Saunas

[54:25] The Chlorella + Grounding and Earthing Hack

[59:55] Why Citrulline is Better Than Arginine

[1:05:50] Role of Malic Acid in Muscle Recovery and Regeneration

[1:16:20] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, what’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield.  At the time you’re listening to this, I’m down in Sacramento, I’m preparing to race the Tough Mudder X.  It’s my first big race of the season, it is a quest to find the fittest person on the face of the planet.  It’s ten different crossfit workouts and ten different obstacle course racing obstacles.  I’m gonna be going head to head with a bunch of badass athletes, guys like Hunter McIntyre, Benny Gifford, these crazy guys who crush it.  But I can crush it, too.  One of the things I’ve been using in terms of a supplement leading up to this event, you’re gonna hear about in today’s show, so sit tight, stay tuned.

This podcast is brought to you, speaking of working out, by Daily Burn.  And what Daily Burn does is they make these amazing fitness videos that you can tap into any time, any place.  They let you choose these expert-led workouts like cardio, yoga, kickboxing, dance –my favorite-, and they stream a live new workout everyday so you never get bored.  You can just wake up, see what’s on your menu for exercise for that day.  They’re the world’s leading provider of on-demand video workout programs you can do at home or anywhere as long as you have some kind of a device that you can tap into them with.  So this kinda changes the fitness game if you’re a frequent traveler, or a busy airport, or you wanna do a dance class while you’re waiting for your airplane to take off.  Yeah, you can do that.  They have thousands of classes for every level of fitness.  So, you can get started with Daily Burn very simply.  You go to DailyBurn.com/ben and they give you a free 60-day trial, you simply open your device and boom, you’re working out.

This podcast, as all the Ben Greenfield podcasts are, is brought to you by my company, Kion, over at GetKion.com.  K as in ki, chi, life force, prana, chakra, energy, all that woo-woo stuff.  Anyways, I take all the crazy ideas up inside my brain and I formulate supplements, I formulate new fitness products, amazing content, it’s all over there for you at Kion.  One of the things that I highly recommend that you check out if you want to blast through a workout in a fasted state, if you wanna build muscle and maintain muscle without consuming a lot of calories, if you want to put precursors for neurotransmitters into your body, if you struggle with sleep, carb cravings, things like that, are my essential amino acids blend.  It’s called Kion Aminos, it’s a wonderfully flavorful, cool, lime powder.  Tastes really good, I blend it with ice, sometimes I throw some ketones in there.  Anyways, it is over at GetKion.com, there’s an automatic coupon code when you go over there, but Kion Aminos powder, I literally use this stuff every day.  It’s super potent, it’s like everything you get from a steak with none of the calories.  So there you have it, Kion Aminos, go to GetKion.com, check this stuff out, and now let’s go talk to my buddy Craig Dinkel.

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

Everything that I do in my formulas are generally about vasodilation or blood development or trying to find a way to support blood development, get more blood flow and more oxygen to where you need it, which as I always say is your muscles and your brain, where you need it most.” “I don’t think there’s a panacea for that.  I think you just have to get tough mentally and get to a point where you can handle the pressure and succeed.  But part of what’s in the AFA Formula is phenylethylamine, which, again PEA, which has a strong documented mood-enhancing, mood-elevation component to it.”

Ben:  Hey folks, what’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield and today’s podcast episode might be setting a record, or at least one of the records that exists for the most frequently appearing podcast guest ever.  I’ve had Dr. Mercola on a few times, I’ve had Dr. Mark Sircus has been on a few times, Dr. David Minkoff has been on a few times, and there’s a few others out there who’ve been repeat guests to the show.  But this gentleman is a very interesting guy, he’s a serious mountain climber and a former collegiate and Olympic trials qualifying competitive swimmer.  And I’ve interviewed him about his sordid past of racing and athletic performance, and I’ll link to all of that in the show notes for today’s show, which you can listen to if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast.  Now why such a long podcast URL? Because Craig also, later in life, took a deep dive into supplement formulation and supplement design, and researching and including in his supplement formulations these crazy ingredients like grass-fed liver, n-hydrate, and cordyceps sinesis, and these fringe algae compounds, whole bunch of things for buffering lactic acid in the body, for detoxifying the blood, for increasing ATP production.  We’re gonna talk about a lot of those things today but he’s blended a lot of these compounds together, and now produces these supplements that are specifically kick-butt supplements for a man who needs better blood or better oxygen delivery.  He’s got all those over at his website which is BioTropic Labs.  So you just go to  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast, and in my first podcast with my guest today, Craig Dinkel, that’s D-I-N-K-E-L, I interviewed Craig about how he used to shatter world swim records on 25-piece fried chicken buckets.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  And we talked about climbing mountains while eating de-fatted vegan grass-fed Argentinian liver anhydrate and that was an entertaining show, so I’ll link to that one in the show notes.  And then the second time Craig, we talked about how to legally dope your blood without actually taking illegal drugs.  In that one, we talked about your blood building formulation, and by the way, if you can tell I’m slightly congested this morning and it’s because I came down with the flu two days ago.  And one of the things I did three times a day while I had the flu, I know you didn’t design your supplements for immune support, but your version of your blood builder with the echinacea in it, which we’ll be able to talk about later on.  The one with the echinacea’s which one, again?

Craig:  That’s the chlorella formula.

Ben:  Yeah, the BioTropic Chlorella.  I was just popping those like candy three times a day.  I wasn’t even counting, I was just dumping handful into my hands and just chewing them up coz I know the benefits of echinacea for the immune system.  But we’ll talk about some of the lesser known benefits of echinacea and why those are in there, instead.  I wasn’t trying to climb a mountain, I was just trying to cure myself of the flu.  I actually feel really damn good this morning aside from being a little congested.  And then you were on the podcast a third time where we delved into this method that you came up with to buffer lactic acid.  And in that, we talked about this stuff called Oxcia, and I wanna visit that a little bit today as well because I thought it was really fascinating.  Some of the interplay between malate or malic acid and citrulline, this stack that a lot of people don’t know about for buffering the burn from lactic acid without getting the diarrhea from sodium bicarbonate consumption.  And now you’re back for a fourth time.

Craig:  Well…

Ben:  We gotta figure out something to talk about.

Craig:  [laughs] We’ll sort it out, we’ll figure it out through ear, but it’s always good to be with you and all the records in the pool are gone now but it’s good to be setting records outside of the pool.  So I’m happy to be with you again and glad to be setting records here with you.

Ben:  Yes, podcast appearance records.  I see what you did there.

Craig:  [laughs] Yeah, yeah.

Ben:  Awesome.  Well, so BioTropic Labs, obviously you guys have come a long way since our first interview.  I think you just had the one supplement, the AFA supplement, and now you have these other three.  And the reason that I had the echinacea one up in my pantry, I’ve got all three of them in my pantry, the AFA, the chlorella and the Oxcia.  I got them up there loaded, rocked and ready, for race season this year because as you know when I was talking to you about this, Craig, a big portion of these Spartan race series that I’m doing, they take place at altitude, they take place in the mountains.  I’m kinda going a little bit more like short-course, sprint efforts this year, and not only those, these Trained to Hunt competitions which also take place up in the mountains, at altitude, and I need something to build my blood, right? If I was a freakin’ Sherpa climbing Mt. Everest, I’d probably just grab a handful of rhodiola or I dunno, bunch of cordyceps if i’m going underneath the rock there.

Craig:  Cordyceps, yeah.

Ben:  And chew it up, but engaging in better living through science using these bottles that are now up here from your company, BioTropics.  So I wanna delve into these and if you’re game, kinda put on our propeller hats and take a dive into the ingredients.

Craig:  [laughs] Yeah, let’s go.  I mean you’re the man here, I never…  It’s interesting, I learn more about the science of this stuff from you than I do from my own research and it takes years to be as good as you are at the science and the mechanisms behind all this stuff.  I’d always thought of myself as a guy who found really good stuff that worked, some of the stuff I stumbled into, some of the stuff I knew about.  But you pushed me to be better at what it is I do by pressing me to really understand the science behind it better and the mechanisms of actions behind it better and so…

Ben:  Yeah.

Craig:  I’m ready to dive in here, I’ll probably have to jump on your back a little bit but let’s go where we need to go.  And I’m thrilled you’re using for the Spartan race stuff, and by the way, I really related to the short-course sprint stuff that you’re doing coz of course that’s my background and that was sort of what this stuff is all built around in the first place.  So I’m glad…

Ben:  You mean short-course sprint in swimming?

Craig:  Yeah, for me short-course sprint in swimming.  And even the Ragnar running stuff that I do on occasion is sort of short-course-ish if you will.  I don’t run any more than maybe 6-7 miles at a time and that’s sort of a manic sprint, in a way.  So, yeah.

Ben:  Yeah.  You were a really competitive swimmer, highly competitive swimmer.  You were NCAA, right?

Craig:  Yeah, absolutely competed at a high level for all my college years.  And during those days I picked up about I think 21 All-Americans and in high school, 2, so I just put them all together and say 23 All-Americans during that time and about, I’d lost track honestly, but 2 or 3 or 4 NCAA records at that time also.  But everybody who’s competing at that level, at least when I was competing, was aiming at something bigger.  And so these were sort of by-products along the way trying to get to the Olympic team, so all of this stuff I put together here really wasn’t designed to help me achieve a higher level of NCAA performance but rather to get on the Olympic team when I was competing.  So that’s sort of what drove the origin, the genesis, of all of this stuff was trying to get on the Olympic team.

Ben:  So what was the first kind of handful of things that you looked at back when you were a swimmer trying to get on the Olympic team? Coz you look at a lot of college athletes these days, it’s still whey protein, creatine, maybe some kind of a nitric oxide pre-workout, and lots of Red Bull.

Craig:  Yeah, lots of Red Bull.

Ben:  So when did you actually start to kind of more seriously look at the whole realm of supplements similar to these?

Craig:  Well, it’s a great question, I really started in high school with stuff as crazy and as flat as sodium, adding more sodium to my diet which wasn’t the greatest thing in the world to do but I didn’t know anything then.

Ben:  What do you mean, like sea salt?

Craig:  Yeah, salt.  Just pure, unadulterated sea salt.

Ben:  How come that’s not healthy?

Craig:  Well all by itself, but let me rephrase that.  Maybe “not healthy” isn’t the right approach here, but it’s not enough.  In other words, when you mention creatine and protein and Red Bull, I don’t think that’s enough so I think you have to have a more robust formula unless you have a perfectly good diet, which I think most athletes don’t have.  But I think you need something more robust than just sea salts going into your diet, which is how these things came together.

Ben:  I’d agree with that.  If you’re trying to achieve… let’s put it this way, most athletes or even people wanting to go run 10 miles through the forest at altitude or…

Craig:  Like what you’re doing.

Ben:  Spartan races or yeah, you are attempting to achieve an unnatural end, almost going to battle like an ancient warrior might have but you’re doing it twice a month or you’re doing a crossfit wod five times a week or whatever.  A lot of times you need more than kale salad and a rib-eye.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  If you wanna take things to the next level, that’s just the way it is.  So based on that, one of the first things, I guess the first supplement that you have is this stuff that’s built around AFA, blue green AFA.  And I’ve talked about algae before on the show, I dunno if you first discovered that coz you were swimming in algaefied water.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  And swallowed some of them accidentally or what.

Craig:  Yeah.

Ben:  I’m curious how you kinda discovered that and first started using it, and then I know this is kind of a tough question coz it’s a two-parter, but it’s aphnizomenon flos-aquae, I don’t even know if I’m pronouncing that correctly.

Craig:  Yeah, that’s it.

Ben:  That blue green AFA basically, how’d you first discover that and start using it and where’s it actually coming from because I know that a lot of algae is questionable in terms of its source.

Craig:  Right, well this is not questionable and it’s clean and it’s pure and it’s non-toxic.  Some of the stuff out there is, this is not.  But to get to the root of it all, I was training for a second Olympic team after having qualified for trials, actually, and I think I probably mentioned this in one of the other podcasts but just to redo it a bit here, I was introduced to a doctor in Malibu, California who was very gifted at both chiropractic and nutrition, like you, a nutritional expert.  He had a really strong feel for this sort of thing and he understood me, he already knew who I was and he wanted to participate in helping me make the team.  At that time I said, well sure, have at it.  But on the nutritional side, the eating side, I’m pretty okay, but nothing’s ever really worked for me supplementally because I, as I mentioned earlier, the supplement train for me started in high school, went all the way through the early parts of college and I wasn’t having success.  So I was at that time taking maybe 33-35 pills a day, everything you could think of under the sun.

Ben:  That’s nothing compared to today’s anti-aging enthusiasts who are taking 170.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  You’re pretty raw and innocent, grasshopper.

Craig:  Yeah, I guess so. [laughs]

Ben:  You gotta step up your game.

Craig:  Grasshopper. [laughs]  I have to step up my game dramatically here, but I would do that all at one time.  I wouldn’t do it throughout the day which would probably have been a better thing for me to do.  I didn’t space out at all, I do it all in one time and then I’d have to lay down for five minutes and get through some sort of shaking and nausea before I settled in and I was ready to go.

Ben:  Right, not to mention the competition for absorption and a lot of people do that.

Craig:  Yes.

Ben:  They take the lazy way out and go “I have all these supplements, I’ll just take them all at once” but yeah, you have to stack them properly.  You have to take your fat-soluble vitamins and your fish oils with a meal and a lot of times things like gut compounds like probiotics or colostrum on an empty stomach or enzymes on an empty stomach.  There’s a science to it for sure, if you don’t wanna waste your money or like you mentioned, lay down watching the ceiling spin after you pop 30 pills.

Craig:  Yeah, that’s exactly what I would do.  So none of that really worked for me, so I laid off it altogether until I started working with this gentleman.  And he, like you, had a real knack for what to do, he knew what he was doing.  He was educated on the subject matter, and he started experimenting with different compounds and mixing and matching and putting them together with some ideas from me.  Just sort of a collaborative effort here, but we stumbled into, we didn’t have the internet at that time.  So I say we stumbled into but he probably knew exactly what he was doing, but I always thought of it as stumbling into stuff that worked.  AFA, beetroot were not unknown of at the time, cordyceps wasn’t unknown of either but at that time wasn’t part of it, that came later.  And echinacea as an immune support, you mentioned you took it as an immune support but it’s also, as we’ll talk about later, a great blood builder, too.  But for me, when he put all this stuff together and I started experimenting with it, I had a dramatic change in how I could handle training.  My oxygen uptake was better and my time to fatigue was lower, and again speaking for myself, it was nothing short of a miracle for myself and I had a great response to it and it helped me dramatically in terms of upping my level of training, getting more yards in, or not even necessarily more yards in but a higher quality yards and meters.  Swimmers work in terms of yards and meters, and so it made a dramatic difference in terms of my training at that time.  Once again I was in… it’s difficult to describe what a swim workout looks like for a sprinter, but there are these things called broke swims, I’m sure you’re familiar with it, they do broken runs also.

Ben:  You’re talking to a former water polo player.

Craig:  There we go.

Ben:  And we would do broken swims, we would do… actually the worst workout, I don’t wanna derail your story so I’ll make this super quick.

Craig:  No, I’m good.

Ben:  But the worst workout, I’ll let you get back to the story, this is actually a good workout for anybody to know about, you eggbeater kick at the edge of the pool, so you’re just eggbeater kicking.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s like the frog kick when you’re doing breast stroke except it’s one leg at a time, right? Beat the right leg, left leg, right leg, left leg.  It’s how water polo players stay elevated in the pool.  Anyways, you’re at the edge of the pool doing the eggbeater kick and…

Craig:  Arms in the air, arms in the air. [laughs]

Ben:  Yeah, of course arms in the air, shoulders above the water, it’s harsh.  That was the strongest my legs ever were, and I was playing water polo while I was body building and that’s one of the ways I got my quads developed because I was playing water polo and been teaching spin classes, and I was doing some heavy squats and deads and stuff.  But a big part of it was, and I had shredded legs, my legs were so strong and I was playing water polo, and a big part of it was exercise coz it was Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday we’d kinda use this as a finisher.  Your partners on the edge of the pool and standing up above you and they’re holding a 20-30 pound med ball.  So your hands are out of the water, you’re eggbeating and they drop the med ball on you and you gotta throw it up, almost like a wall ball or a thruster in crossfit, except you’re in the water.  And so you’re eggbeating and they just drop this ball on you over and over and over again, and you gotta get to 50 reps.  And if you sink and you gotta come up to the edge and you’re gasping for breath, doesn’t matter, you get back away from the wall and another rep.  And sometimes it’ll take you like 7 minutes to do 50 reps.  Sucked, but at the same time, long answer to your question, yeah I’m familiar with the brutality of some of these swim workouts.

Craig:  Yeah well listen, you just described exactly what it’s like to be a water polo player training, and the very first polo game, I don’t think I mentioned this in the earlier podcast but the very first polo game I ever played on a high school level… I already set records as an athlete as a swimmer, I was already pretty good in the water.  I could do what I needed to do as a swimmer, but I looked at my coach, I’m not lying here, it’s not exaggeration how tough that sport is.  I looked at my coach after about 30 seconds swimming and said I think I need to come out, this is a whole different… this is not the same thing.  I’m swimming with my head up and my neck isn’t that strong, it’s a whole, different… it’s the same muscle groups but trained in an entirely different way to get through a polo game.  And so I looked at him and said I think I need to come out, I’m serious about this.  And he laughed and said “no, you’re fine, keep swimming.”  And I think I swam for maybe 15 or 20 more seconds in the game and I just turned left and swam right to the edge of the pool and pulled myself out so, hard, hard sport. [laughs]

Ben:  Yeah, it makes a very ugly swimmer, I’ll tell you that. [laughs]

Craig:  Yeah.  Well as far as the eggbeater kick goes, there’s a guy whose name you probably don’t know, his name is Terry Schroeder and he was sort of the Michael Phelps of water polo, four-time Olympian, head coach at Pepperdine.  You know the name?

Ben:  Didn’t he have a moustache?

Craig:  At the time, he did.

Ben:  Yeah. [laughs]

Craig:  He’s a great guy, he’s a good friend of mine, we competed together a long, long time.  He obviously got a lot further than I did, an exceptional athlete.  But I got a lot of lessons on how to manage a polo game from him, but the reality is I ended up having to quit it altogether and leave it to guys like you so I can focus on swimming.

Ben:  Alright, so I derailed your story.  Back to supplements, alright.

Craig:  Yeah, so back to broken swims… the whole point I was getting at here was that during these broken swims, I was on world record pace for the first time in my life.  That had never happened to me before under any of my other coaches, two of whom were very well-known Olympic coaches.  Great coaches but I didn’t have the benefit of the supplements at the time and I believe, for me, that these were the only changes at the time that made the difference here.  And so naturally, I was a believer, I thought that we’d fallen into the right formulas and since then I’ve enhanced them a little bit but that was the first one.  And then the chlorella came about also along the same time because we did know at the time that it was a good binder of heavy metals and toxins in the bloodstream, and as you’ve heard me say in other podcasts, I’ve always been a believer if you can have cleaner content go into your muscles.  That alone is worth doing so that you’re getting it, you’re getting cleaner blood and oxygen flow where you need it when you need it most during training and of course during competition.  So that’s how the first two came about, it’s all through the sort of creative creation of collaborative effort with this doctor and me.

Ben:  And the first two were the AFA and the beetroot?

Craig:  AFA and beetroot were a combination so they were a stack.  I think of them as the AFA formula and the chlorella stack formula.

Ben:  Hmm.  Okay, so the AFA, basically the idea behind including that, coz a lot of people will use algae for detoxification or, I’ve written about before how they can act as a stem cell precursor.

Craig:  Yes.

Ben:  A good vegan source of fatty acids and a relatively complete form of amino acids but specifically the conversion of nitrates to nitric oxides.   The vasodilation delivery of more oxygen-rich blood is something that I’d never really thought of it much before until I started looking into some of the research that you told me about and then sent over to me about chlorophyll and this pyro-ring in chlorophyll.

Craig:  Right, yeah the pyro developer.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s like the same as hemoglobin, and this is a study I brought up before about how, I think it was Sayer Ji who first wrote about this on the GreenMedInfo website.  Fascinating study, I’ll find it and put it in the show notes for you guys over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast.  Individuals who consumed high amounts of chlorophyll combined with sunlight exposure actually produced ATP in the absence of actual calories, meaning that it’s such an interesting compound in the human body that can produce ATP but it also is pretty much identical to the ring that you would find in hemoglobin.  And so it’s essentially acting as an oxygen delivery mechanism and an ATP generator even in the absence of actual foodstuff.  It’s almost… you could think of it almost turning your body into metabolizing something the same way that a plant would, it’s super interesting stuff.  What I wanted to ask you though, before I forget coz I brought this up, is the source.

Craig:  Yes.

Ben:  Because the stuff, if I look at your label it says “green AFA”.  Tell me about the source and kinda where you’re getting this stuff.

Craig:  Yeah, well everything that I get is from the purest available sources that I know of.  You mentioned the hormone-free, grass-fed Argentinian desiccated liver, so there isn’t anything cleaner that I know of so I try to get the cleanest stuff available.  This comes from Klamath Lakes in Oregon which is very pristine water as it comes from about 30 feet down.  Very clean, very good and people can check that out and read about it themselves, but the main reason, I wanna be clear on this, is why this particular algae is because of the three… there are more than these three but spirulina, chlorella, and AFA all do great things and some of the things they do cross over, they’re similar.  For example, AFA is also thought to bind with heavy metals and toxins, but it’s not the reason I have it.  That’s why I have chlorella in the chlorella form, for that purpose, coz that is known for its ability to do that.  But the AFA has three things in it or several things in it that really, really stand out – it’s ability to help create stem cell growth or release the PEA in it which is very strong, it has a nootropic effect which I think is really important.

A lot of athletes, even at the highest level, again we’ve talked about this in the past, but the highest level have difficulty under pressure and focusing and concentrating.  And world-class athletes have this problem, and some of them, even at that level don’t compete or complete their events the way they’d hoped that they would because they crumble under pressure.  I don’t think there’s a panacea for that.  I think you just have to get tough mentally and get to a point where you can handle the pressure and succeed.  But part of what’s in the AFA Formula is phenylethylamine, which, again PEA, which has a strong documented mood-enhancing, mood-elevation component to it, and focus factor.  So it has that nootropic effect and I think for people who have concentration problems competing…

Ben: AFA has a nootropic effect?

Craig:  Yes it does.

Ben:  Oh.

Craig:  Very well known for that, absolutely.  Yup, you can check it out, phenylethylamine is what is, and the short pronunciation for that is just PEA.

Ben:  Phenylethylamine, yeah.  That’s like a psychedelic in high doses.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  I didn’t realize… very high doses.  I didn’t realize that that was in it, very interesting.  Okay.

Craig:  It’s very, very good stuff.  It helps… so this is critical to me, I did not have this problem.  I enjoyed competing, I couldn’t wait to get in the water, I had no focus issues, no clarity problems at all.  I was sort of a very linear animal at that time, so these weren’t issues for me.  But what I did have an issue was how I felt during training or how I felt in the middle of the season when you’re doing 15,000 yards a day, 10,000 yards a day as a sprinter and heavy weight training in between.  It’s hard to stay uplifted and feeling good, and so this component helps you feel better while you’re taking it.  I believe strongly it can also help athletes that have difficulty focusing or managing under pressure feel good too.  So it’s also known, by the way, as a feel good “drug”.  It’s not a drug per se, but it’s also known as that.  So that’s one of the reasons I really like it, and you mentioned ATP conversion capabilities, so ATP, stem cell, and this nootropic effect are the primary reasons why I like this.  It does so many other things, it helps with oxidative stress, it helps with oxygen transport…

Ben:  Yeah.  We’ve talked about algae a lot, it’s definitely beneficial.  I hadn’t really thought of it as an altitude supplement though, or almost like an athletic performance… more of like one of those recovery detox type of things.  But yeah, once you dive into the research, it’s pretty fascinating what just a little bit of algae will do for you.  Now, the beetroot, most people have their heads wrapped around beetroot as being this thing that’s like the color of blood, it’s good for your blood, it vasodilates tissue.  That’s kinda interesting, but one of the things that I also noticed on the research on your website was oxygenation of damaged cells or like an antioxidant type of effect.  That’s something that I wasn’t really too familiar with, are you able to speak to that at all like this idea of beetroot acting as an antioxidant or helping to repair cellular damage?

Craig:  Oh I, again another great question and important to know more about and why you push me to be better at what I do than I do right now, but I only understand it’s a great oxidative stress support but I don’t exactly understand the mechanisms by which it achieves that.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  Interesting, I’ll look into that, maybe post some of the research that I found in your website over in the show notes for people to check out.  But I thought it was really interesting, almost like the recovery support, it’s kind of the opposite of algae, right? I always thought of algae as more recovery and not necessarily performance and beetroot is more performance but it turns out they kind of play dual roles in that respect.

Craig:  I think they complement each other really, really well because I do think of the beetroot, as you mentioned, as a vasodilator and a good one.  And I think of the PEA as complementing that by way primarily of recovery and by feeling better about what you’re doing when you’re doing it: training, competing, lifting you up, getting that natural lift.  And that’s something I say all the time to people who wanna know the primary difference between the chlorella and the AFA is, I say think of more recovery and think of the nootropic effect and the natural lift you get from it, it makes you feel better.  Whereas the chlorella, I think of that as a blood detoxer and a cleaner along with all of the supportive ingredients that are all about blood development also.

Ben:  Right, and I’ll generally, with beetroot, encourage folks to load for about two weeks.  It’s kinda like caffeine, right? A lot of the studies on caffeine, they de-load the participants for about 14 days, meaning they don’t use caffeine supplements at all.  And then they’ll take them on their race day or their big event day or the day for which they want improved performance and a true ergogenic aid from caffeine, and then your eyeballs are popping out your head.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  And beetroot’s kinda similar but in an opposite way.  You actually load with beetroot, colostrum is another one I’ll do with that.  So like a couple of weeks before a race or a big event, you start to build the blood and build up a lot of the nitric oxide precursors that beetroot gives you by loading each day with beetroot, whether it’s a workout day or non-workout day or a taper week where you go on easier, whatever.  You literally just supplement every single day with beetroot, and in the case of your BioTropic AFA, I know the dosage on there says 1 tablet but I take 3.  So I would take 3 for 2 weeks coz I’m an over-achiever, leading into the competition and load with beet that way.  It works a lot better than just taking a boatload on the day you wanna perform well when it comes to loading.  And like I mentioned, I’ll do the same thing with colostrum to decrease gut permeability in the heat or gut discomfort in the heat.  Colostrum has some interesting research behind it so you can just load with that for a couple weeks before you have some kind of an intense competition in hot weather, and it really helps to protect the stomach.  So it’s an interesting compound when it comes to that.

Craig:  You are an over-achiever, man.  I haven’t the faintest idea how you do everything that you do as well as you do it, as good as you do it, as clear as you do it, and find the time to compete for practically 9 months in these Spartan races.  You’re insane. [laughs]

Ben:  Well, I don’t watch TV.

Craig:  Yeah. [laughs]

Ben:  I’ve got a few close friends and a lot of acquaintances but not a lot of folks I’ll just randomly, at the drop of a hat, go out to eat with or… I’m kind of a fuddy-duddy, right? I don’t leave the house much and I don’t go to gyms to work out because that adds an extra 30 minutes with driving and going or meeting people or whatever.  And there’s another kinda key, push notifications of course, those are almost always off, people get pissed coz they’re leaving me these important messages and I don’t see them ‘til 3pm in the afternoon.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  And if I can name one other biggie for people before we get into liver, which I wanna talk about in a second, if I can name one other, it would be that I just don’t go out into town much, right? I don’t go to restaurants or bars or cocktail parties.  I’m just like I kinda live life by this rule that I know I don’t do a lot of productive things after about 9:30.  So after 9:30 it’s pretty much just like sex, reading books, sleep, snuggle up with the kids, whatever.  And then I’m just out like a light, so I live like a monk, basically.  But I’m a happy monk, so…

Craig:  Yeah but you’re also… you’re a freakin’ brilliant businessman.  And I know this is off track here but a subset of what you do is so deeply entrepreneurial that you ought to be teaching that also to people about how to manage an… coz I think you do it better than some of the pros out there, how you manage and organize time and the amazing productivity that you have.  Okay, we’ll move on, go ahead.

Ben:  Okay.  By the way I do teach that over at…

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  You go to GetKion.com, I’ve got a whole coaching program over there.

Craig:  Okay.

Ben:  Thank you for throwing me a softball, Craig.

Craig: Oh, it’s really obvious so it has to be said.

[Music Plays]

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[Music Plays]

Ben:   Argentinian grass-fed liver anhydrate.

Craig:  Yeah, right.

Ben:  What you actually call on your website, you call it vegan-fed, which is horrible for me because all I can envision are Argentinian cows chasing and eating vegans.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  But I think I get what you mean. [laughs] Argentinian grass-fed liver anhydrate, no offence to the vegans out there, I don’t want you being eaten by cattle, that would be a horrible, scary death.  Okay, so this grass-fed liver anhydrate, I think a lot of people recognize liver as being one of those things that is great for the hormones.  It’s nature’s signature, and in many cases you eat liver and it actually assists you with a lot of the things you would imagine that organ to assist you with: hormones, detoxification, etc.  But why is it that you include this liver anhydrate so intensively, I mean you’ve got it in your AFA supplement but I believe you also have it in your chlorella supplement, too right?

Craig:  The reason that it’s in there is because that was part of the early formula and I didn’t have the benefit at that time of the Argentinian-fed.  I only had, at that time, a different formula and I don’t think it was as clean.  It was great but I don’t think it was as clean, as good as the stuff that you can get today because the world has changed so much in terms of cleaner dairy.  And I really, really believe in it because as far as I know, maybe only oysters are the highest or the best bioavailable form of the B suite of vitamins than liver anhydrate, and some people have allergies to seafood.

Ben:  Mmhmm.

Craig:  And so that’s out, I couldn’t use that so I stuck with what I knew and I found the better version of it, as you mentioned Argentinian grass-fed, no hormones, very, very clean, the cleanest you can get.  And I like… it’s just so damn good for you.  It’s so loaded with all the right stuff for athletes, it’s loaded with the entire B suite, but one of the key things about is it that B9 and B12 combine to assist in the making of red blood cells and everything that I do in my formulas are generally about vasodilation or blood development or trying to find a way to support blood development, get more blood flow and more oxygen to where you need it, which as I always say is your muscles and your brain, where you need it most when you’re training.  So that you can get better athletic outcomes, better training, and all that stuff but that’s why the Argentinian liver is in there because it’s the best, it’s the cleanest and you gotta have that B suite of vitamins for the energy production and red blood cell support.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  So…

Craig:  Oh, and one other thing.

Ben:  Go ahead.

Craig:  One other thing, it also, along with AFA, completes an electrolyte circuit, if you will, so that you get to complete electrolyte suite in there also.  But primarily for the Bs.

Ben:  Oh really, liver is a complete source of electrolytes?

Craig:  It takes AFA to complete it, but the combination…

Ben:  Oh I see, so combining AFA with… so basically if you, in your diet include, I know this sounds gross but I’d do it, algae and liver, you’re getting a very good complement of electrolytes?

Craig:  Correct.

Ben:  Interesting.  The other thing I noticed on your website, had a research section on desiccated liver.  There’s a lot in there about the polypeptide protein-like substances that have messenger activity aimed at target tissues like for example glandular support for supporting the human liver like I mentioned, something very similar to nature’s signature.  But then you also, in that research section on the liver, you show one supplement or one study where they supplemented the diets of animals with desiccated liver and that increased their endurance by over 700%.

Craig:  Yeah that’s…

Ben:  I don’t know if this was the one on swimming mice, or what kind of endurance they were doing, but shocking, the amount of endurance increase from the consumption of this desiccated liver extract.

Craig:  It’s true, it was a guy named Mercia who did this study some time ago.  It’s well documented and well-supported and you’re right, it is a shocking percentage increase.  But that study’s out there and it’s real, and not suggesting that people can have the same results that the mice can have but as you know, as an elite athlete, and certainly we both understand that any incremental improvement is… I mean look at the Olympics.  We just finished watching some of these vets, some of them won by tenths and hundredths and thousandths of a second.  And that’s how these things are won, so again, I don’t think anyone’s gonna see, just to be perfectly plain here, a 750% improvement in their performance, but any improvement that can be attributed to something like this is gonna be the difference between winning and not winning if winning is what you’re all about.  Or just performing better or performing easier, a lot of people I talked to today aren’t trying to achieve what Ben Greenfield is trying to achieve at Spartan or what I used to try to achieve as an athlete, but they’re more, as the term goes, process oriented.  But in that process, you wanna feel good, you wanna feel better and you still wanna perform and still wanna feel great when you’re training.  And many of these people that are process oriented are all about having personal bests and personal records so it matters whether you’re competing at the highest level or at the weekend athlete level.

Ben:  Yeah, or if you just wanna get rid of the flu fast and overdose with stuff.

Craig:  [laughs] Yes, that too.

Ben:  So, or if you just don’t like the taste of liver… I actually, I dunno if you meant for it to be this way but they’re tableted so I know they’re not one of those meant to bypass dissolution in the stomach acid type of supplements or a time-targeted release supplement.  I actually chewed your tablets like candy, I like the way it taste.

Craig:  So many people do.

Ben:  Yeah.

Craig:  So many people say what you just said, and then they follow it up with what you also just said, which is I like the way they taste.

Ben:  Yeah.

Craig:  They find them unoffensive and they’re easy to chew and I do recommend that for a lot of people.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly.  Okay, so this AFA, we covered most of the stuff that’s in the beetroot and the chlorella or the, not the chlorella, in that one it’s the AFA, right? The blue green algae, so you have in your AFA supplement, it’s basically blue green algae, beetroot, the liver, and…

Craig:  Cordyceps.

Ben:  Oh yeah, cordyceps.  I actually wanna ask you a couple of questions about that, and echinacea, right?

Craig:  Yes, correct.

Ben:  Okay, now I wanna ask you about echinacea and then cordyceps.  When it comes to echinacea, we’ve already hinted at the fact that it is more than just support for the immune system but can you delve into how you found echinacea to actually be some kind of like an athletic performance enhancer and not just an immune support?

Craig:  Well, I can have my madman moments too.  And again, sprinters, which is what I was, I was a sprinter and we’re always looking at ways to get more oxygen.  Any way to breathe more except for in the 50, the 50 meter sprint is just one breath and you come out of the end of the pool and that’s that.  In all these other events, you have to learn how to get more oxygen to your blood when you’re training and so I have these moments where I’ll go crazy and do a lot of research and try to find things that are out of the box and unusual that someone else hasn’t thought of before, to achieve these things, this higher blood oxygenation.  And so it turns out, and I didn’t know this, believe me.  I thought that echinacea always purely as an immune support, and we’ve been taking it for a long, long time for that reason.  But it turns out that it has blood building properties, it’s well known for this in… in fact they have a great study in my hands, not literally in my hands, and I’ll send it to you so you can read about it.  Very, very good study that talks about it, that discusses it, and it’s a very well-known blood builder among those people who know, among this crowd.  And I like to think of it as, you used the term earlier, illegal blood doping or induced erythrocythemia, which is blood doping.  And it has the ability to, from what I understand, this is gonna be in your wheelhouse, it activates macrophage, is that how you pronounce that activity?

Ben:  Yeah macrophages, an immune system component, yeah.

Craig:  Yeah, and stimulates the prostaglandin to…

Ben:  Yeah, I know what you’re getting at, it’s that echinacea can stimulate macrophage activity and the idea behind that, for those of you who have no clue what macrophages do, it basically causes you to produce more prostaglandin, and prostaglandin is a protein that then stimulates the production of what scientists would use, the highly technical term to describe as baby red blood cells: serum erythropoietin or EPO, which is the one that you might be familiar with as being something that a Tour de France cyclist might dope with.  Not that I would accuse any Tour de France cyclist ever, of doping.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  But EPO is a hormone that gets secreted from your kidneys and it stimulates your stem cells to develop into red blood cells from bone marrow.  And so what you’re saying is that echinacea stimulates the macrophage activity that increases the prostaglandins that then increases the erythropoietin production in the bone marrow.

Craig:  Yeah, and it’s an easy thing to miss in your research coz no one’s ever thought of it that way, and as I said earlier, a lot of the success I’ve had personally and with the doctor I mentioned earlier, was stumbling into it and this was a stumble into find for me.  And when I did stumble into it, I started using it, and again I have a sentient body, I know what works and I know what doesn’t work and I don’t have a suggestive mind either.  So in other words, when I put something together and I try it on to myself, it has to work on me for me to believe it’s gonna work on everybody.  And that’s how I, again I mentioned in one of my other podcasts with you, I think of myself as my own clinical study.  So I put these things together, I try them out and if they work on me then I put them out there coz I think they’ll work on other people too.

Ben:  Yeah.

Craig:  But I’ve had… for me, speaking for myself, again I’ve had tremendous results with them and a lot of people have too because I have nothing but great support coming back from the audience of users.

Ben:  Well you know what’s actually, to me, even more interesting than echinacea that I was looking into recently was it increases the expression of heat shock protein.  We’re probably all familiar with this idea that a lot of the rage around sauna-ing these days is you wanna increase your heat shock proteins so that you’re better able to handle environmental stressors like heat or inflammation or oxidative stress or going to race or train in a very hot area or building blood or being able to tolerate any kind of… it’s even shown to help with cold tolerance.  So what I think is cool is that you can take echinacea and then sauna, and although they have yet, to my knowledge, to do a study on the tolerance to heat in a sauna or the ability to stay in the sauna even longer to build even more blood with echinacea in your bloodstream, I’m actually starting to use it now, this echinacea from your AFA, to actually use as a pre-sauna aid.  It’s a cool stack to actually do echinacea and then go in the sauna because you’re gonna boost your red blood cell production even more coz you’re expressing even more heat shock protein.  So it’s kind of a cool hack.

Craig:  Very interesting, I didn’t know that.  Very, very interesting.

Ben:  Mmhmm, yeah.

Craig:  And it gives me an excuse to get into the sauna more now. [laughs]

Ben:  There you go.  Okay, so that’s everything in AFA, basically the BioTropic AFA, which is kind of like component one of this formulation that you’ve designed.  So we’ve got our AFA, grass-fed liver anhydrate, cows chasing vegans eating them up.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  Echinacea, beetroot, and then cordyceps.  Again, like I mentioned, we talked about that a lot before on the show as being something that assists with altitude performance.  And when it comes to cordyceps, when did you start actually putting that into your compounds?

Craig:  So that is a new addition to me, when I discovered cordyceps it simply made sense, again along the oxygen delivery line.  It is a really, really robust herb, it’s an amazing herb and it does so many more things.  In fact, a lot of what’s in these ingredients have doubling effects, which I think is a good thing.  But the primary reason that I went with cordyceps and like cordyceps, again the documentation, and I mentioned this again in one of our get-togethers but it’s worth repeating coz it’s the primary reason I have it, is that the polysaccharide strings in there have, one of them in particular, has oxygen strings in it which are released in the body and absorbed at a cellular level.  And again, the whole idea if you can get more oxygen into the bloodstream and delivered where it needs it most, you’re gonna perform better and feel better when you’re doing it.  So it’s all about the oxygen delivery and time to fatigue with the cordyceps, which is why it’s in there.

Ben:  Yeah.  I mean from what I understand, when it comes to cordyceps and when it comes specifically to how it’s used in the process of aerobic respiration, basically it increases hepatic blood flow.  And when you increase hepatic blood flow, you elevated your liver ATP levels and you get increased blood flow which allows oxygen to enter cells.  So there’s a big increase in oxygen delivery, specifically in the liver, but then you get increased oxygen to a lot of other organs as a result of the increased blood flow.

Craig:  Right.

Ben:  I know that one of the other things when it comes to cordyceps is there’s this link between liver ATP levels and basically a decrease in the amount of ATP that you need to actually produce via other mechanisms.  So there’s almost like this energy-sparing type of mechanism and it’s caused by that induction of ATP synthesis in the liver.  So basically,  a decrease in ATP consumption because of a depressed sodium pump function is what happens.  You get this high energy state in the liver, and you essentially just need to produce less ATP in general because you’re inducing the body to produce more in one of the primary organs.  So for a long time I didn’t really understand what was going on and people would say “oh it’s like adrenal activation or lung tissue” which to me is a physiologist who didn’t really make sense.  But just this basic idea of the increased hepatic blood flow and hepatic ATP production, it kinda makes sense now why cordyceps works so well especially when the body is under stress and in need of extra ATP because of low oxygen availability or aerobic fatigue.  So yeah, it’s a fascinating compound, you have reams of research on it on your website.  I’ll certainly link to that, again if you guys are listening just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast, and I’ll have a link to that in there.

Now I know we spent a lot of time talking about AFA, but the cool thing is, in your other one, your chlorella supplement, a lot of the ingredients are kinda similar.  You have the grass-fed liver anhydrate in there and the echinacea and the cordyceps and the beetroot, but I believe the only differentiating characteristic between that and the one we just talked about is you use chlorella instead of AFA, right?

Craig:  That’s correct, and the main reason for that is because they do different things and some people just don’t have the need for what I call the “lift” that you get from AFA.  They’ve got a natural lift, they’re like you, they’re upbeat, they’re positive, they’re always on the go.  They just don’t need that additional focus that I think the AFA product really gives along with all the other great benefits.  But they’re much more interested in purif- I was gonna say purification… detoxification of the blood, and so I built this formula around that but still maintaining the basic theme of blood oxygen support with the additional ingredients.  So I love the idea of detoxifying the blood and that’s why the chlorella.

Ben:  When you say detoxifying the blood, what exactly do you mean when you say that?

Craig:  Yeah, maybe again not the right word.  When I say detoxifying the blood, what I mean is that chlorella is well-documented to bind with and remove the liver pollutants…

Ben:  Oh, so it’s a binder.

Craig:  Yes it’s a binder, heavy metals toxins and junk in the bloodstream, thus producing a cleaner blood.  So that’s what I mean when I say that word, maybe there’s a better word.

Ben:  No, well, I mean binding, chelation, it actually has… the main component in chlorella is, that acts as a chelator, all the phytochelatin or “phytokelatin” depending on how you want to pronounce it in the world you’re from.  But basically, chlorella doesn’t bind to minerals like calcium or magnesium or zinc so it doesn’t remove a bunch of the good things that you need, but basically it sequesters heavy metals and it transports them through the body and then excretes them.  And that’s because of these chloroplasts in their cell walls which have things like sulfur and potassium and calcium and phosphorus in them, and that’s what allows them to actually bind to these metals and literally just remove them from the bloodstream.  And there’s some evidence and certainly plenty of research on your website, about the ability of chlorella to bind to things that go above and beyond just metals, such as other water-based contaminants, other toxins that we might find from modern post-industrial pollution.  Lead, for example, which we know can suppress stem cells in the bone marrow, and that would lead to a lower ability to be able to build red blood cells, chlorella can assist with lead chelation.  There’s a lot of interesting research on chlorella and one of the things I was actually… I’ve talked about chlorella a lot before on the show, but I did a podcast, by the time this podcast is released I think that podcast will have come out or might have already.  But it was about this idea of sleeping using pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.

Craig:  Right.

Ben:  Now, when you sleep and you’re in that grounded or earthed state, there is a little bit better cellular cleanup effect or more of what’s called glymphatic drainage which is how the neural system actually cleans itself up to a certain extent while you’re asleep.  But the problem is that if you’re doing something like some kind of high intensity grounding or earthing and you aren’t gonna sleep with some kind of a binder in your system and you happen to have toxins or metals and things like that, all you’re doing is just laying there letting them circulate, and so the idea is if you’re gonna use grounding or earth your PMF the same way you would use echinacea before getting in the sauna, you would take something like chlorella before you go to bed, while you’re doing that PMF earthing/grounding treatment like that because it actually sequesters and binds and allows you to remove via your stool, a lot of the heavy metals and toxins that would otherwise be circulating through your bloodstream as a response to this whole earthing/grounding/PMF thing that a lot of people are doing.  So I think that’s just fascinating that you actually want a blood cleanup type of thing in your body before you go to bed.

Craig:  Yeah, it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Ben:  If you’re one of those people that biohacks your sleep.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  Who does that? Who of our listeners does any of that?

Craig:  Only Ben Greenfield and everyone listening to him.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s it.  I’m the lonely person, everybody else just listens in and laughs at me.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  Okay, so BioTropic Chlorella, you can stack this though with AFA, right?

Craig:  Yes.

Ben:  Coz that’s what I’ve been doing but there’s some redundancy between both supplements so I’m just asking you honestly as a… I don’t even know if I’ve asked you this question, am I just wasting money/supplements by taking both at the same time?

Craig:  No, not at all.  Not only can you, I also do and in some cases I’ll even stack all three of them because they’re different ways to achieve.  In some cases the same thing, and the complimentary effect like we talked about the electrolyte circuit and the AFA product.  They complement each other so for someone seeking the lift and the blood support from AFA but also want the blood cleaning effect, there’s no reason at all you can’t take both at the same time and double up.  People do it all the time, and as I say, a lot of people that do all three.

Ben:  Alright.

Craig:  They’ll take the AFA to get the lift in the morning, they’ll boost it with the Oxcia product which I know we’re coming up on, and end the day with Chlorella.  And the reason, by the way…

Ben:  Oh okay, so you do it like that, which would make sense, coz then you have the chlorella in your system before you go to bed.

Craig:  Exactly.  Not only that but you… some of my audience has told me that they get that lift late in the day if they take AFA late in the day and it’s affected their sleep.  So I always say do the AFA in the morning and do the chlorella in the afternoon, that way you have two reasons to do it.  For the sleep cleaning and also just to make sure you do sleep.

Ben:  Right, yeah.  Makes sense, I like it.  Okay so like you mentioned, then we take a… flip a complete 180, I guess this next one still has the cordyceps in it, this newer one that you made for blood oxygenation and vasodilation, but then you get into one thing you would find in watermelons and another thing you would find in apples.  And rather than just shipping watermelons and apples to people’s homes…

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  You’ve actually developed this supplement that is, aside from the cordyceps, primarily a combination of citrulline and malic acid.

Craig:  Right.

Ben:  And I wanna dive into each of those.  So tell me about citrulline and why you included it in this third supplement. So we talked about the AFA and the Chlorella supplements that you have, but in this new one, Oxcia, citrulline is one of the primary ingredients.  Why citrulline?

Craig:  Well citrulline because it uptakes better than arginine.  It converts to arginine in the body but…

Ben:  Arginine being like the darling supplement right now in the fitness industry for acting almost like nitric oxide for the whole body, or Viagra for the whole body.

Craig:  Correct.  Yes, right, that’s true.  But for those of us in the know, so to speak, L-citrulline does a better job of it.  It’s well-documented to do a better job, and the reason I combine it with the other two ingredients is malic acid or malate, either one, help it transport.  They bind and it transports better through the body, and malate is also known to help fight fatigue, so you not only get the vasodilation effect but you get a time to fatigue effect from the malate and better transport.  And then of course the cordyceps, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, in this case, what I put together is what I call a brute force or a pure force vasodilation system with the oxygen transport of cordyceps.  So that’s why those three ingredients and it’s just a clean, when I say less robust, I don’t mean not as good as the other formulas, it’s really just designed for people who want to just get that blast of vasodilation with oxygen delivery and transport in the cleanest, fastest, best and purest way that I know how to serve it up.

Ben:  Okay, so I wanna back up and take a deeper dive into the science of this stuff.  That was a good overview, but specifically citrulline and its superiority over arginine.  Basically, citrulline gets more easily absorbed than arginine but then it gets converted into arginine in the body, is what you’re saying?

Craig:  That’s correct, that’s right.

Ben:  Okay, now arginine would be what would be involved in, like I mentioned earlier, the vasodilation of a blood vessel.  So you get greater blood flow to cells, but the idea with this particular formula is you’re trying to remove lactic acid and ammonia more readily.

Craig:  Yes, but…

Ben:  Go ahead.

Craig:  Yeah, I just want to point out that a lot of people would say “well why not just take the arginine” and that’s again, because you get a bigger and better a badder uptake from the L-citrulline conversion than you do from the arginine.  I just wanna make that point.

Ben:  Okay, got it.

Craig:  L-citrulline’s the way to go.

Ben:  Okay, so when it comes to actual studies on L-citrulline like bodies in the streets, there’s been some studies on, I believe both anaerobic and aerobic exercise.  The one that I found on anaerobic exercise was the increased force output by 23%.

Craig:  Right.

Ben:  With about 3g per kg of citrulline.  And then for the aerobic one, it was like a treadmill study and huge reduction in time to exhaustion and that was with citrulline use, I think they were at about 3g or so of citrulline, but then they also showed an increased restoration of muscle protein synthesis and muscular function even in a fasted state, again which is interesting.  So there’s almost like an anti-catabolic effect while fasting, and from what I understand that’s because it increases your blood availability of specific amino acids.  So a lot of times, folks who are fasting will be concerned about catabolism and I a lot of times will recommend essential amino acids for that, but it sounds like citrulline will increase that availability even more.

Craig:  It does, and it does a much better job at it than anything that I’m aware of, and I also wanna point out, you mentioned the studies section of the site, that anywhere where I’m not exactly, completely complete on the science and mechanisms behind this stuff, it’s all available on the studies on my website.  So this stuff is all backed up and supported.

Ben:  Yeah, there’s also a little bit of an activation of the mTOR pathway with citrulline.

Craig:  Yes.

Ben:  And that’s a signaling pathway that regulates the synthesis of skeletal muscle protein.  If you google or look up myostatin knockout mice or something like that, you can see what happens when that pathway gets too out of control.  Myostatin knockout bowls or strange-looking, flexing German children, all sorts of interesting examples of the mTOR pathway getting too out of control.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  But you get a slight upregulation in the mTOR pathway with citrulline supplementation with a bit of activation of mTOR so, not that this supplement is designed to be a muscle building supplement but it is interesting, the host of things that citrulline can do.  That’s the one that’s higher in watermelon, right?

Craig:  Yeah, that’s right.

Ben:  Yeah, that was a popular backstage supplement when I was bodybuilding, watermelon to actually bring a bunch of blood flow to the surface of the skin, and dark chocolate and red wine.

Craig:  It works, it all works.  I was really surprised to find out that the cleanest and best source of that stuff came from apples and watermelon.  I thought it was synthetic but that is the best stuff, and as I mentioned in one of our earlier podcasts, there’s a particular time to get that watermelon and apple so that you get the best L-citrulline conversion or no conversion.

Ben:  What do you mean best time?

Craig:  Ehh, I can’t give away too many secrets but let’s say there’s L-citrulline and there’s L-citrulline, and we have L-citrulline. [laughs]

Ben:  Oh wait, you mean the form?

Craig:  Yes, correct.

Ben:  Okay, I thought you were saying the timing of it.  So basically it has to be this specific form L-citrulline?

Craig:  Yeah, let’s leave it at that.

Ben:  Okay, alright Mr. Mystery.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  Gotta hold some of your cards close to your chest I guess.

Craig:  It’s a powerful formula, it’s a really good formula but again I suggest… a lot of people take it who feel and believe they have a really, really clean diet and don’t necessarily need all of the additional mineral/vitamin support that the other supplements give and they just wanna chase after clean oxygenation and vasodilation.

Ben:  Okay, so then you got malate which is the component you would find in apples that you’ve combined with the citrulline.  Why?

Craig:  Yeah, delivery.  When the two are combined it delivers better, they bind well and it helps move the L-citrulline through your body cleaner than without it, and faster, and better, and better absorption with it.

Ben:  Okay so the technical term for that would be the citrulline malate?  That’s when you combine L-citrulline with malic acid.

Craig:  Yes, and the other reason is because malate has, again well-documented support, for helping fight fatigue.

Ben:  Okay, you mean as a lactic acid buffer?

Craig:  Yes, correct, as a buffer.

Ben:  Okay, interesting.  I know malic acid also plays a pretty critical role in the production of ATP coz it’s part of the mitochondrial chain, where NADH get oxidized in the electron transport chain to produce ATP.  The malate aspartate shuttle is part of that, it actually increases the efficiency when you take L-malate of this malate aspartate shuttle and so you get a bunch more ATP availability in the mitochondria.  So it’s this combination of lactic acid buffering and ATP availability.  It’s also another fascinating one in terms of its ability to buffer the exercise-induced increase in things like acidosis and lactic acid and ammonia without the explosive diarrhea effect of baking soda, which is what people would have traditionally done.

Craig:  Yeah, and thanks for bringing up the ATP piece because it’s not a minor side note to be talking about.  As we all know, ATP production is critical to energy and support, so ATP is a big theme throughout all of my products.

Ben:  Yeah, ATP and nitric oxide or vasodilation, which also, I think I mentioned this in another podcast we did, makes these things great for pre-sex, too actually.

Both:  [laugh]

Ben:  It’s really great for that, it’s almost like popping a bunch of Viagra if you stack Oxcia with either Chlorella or the AFA one so you can cross out your male sexual enhancement products as well or your female blood flow products.

Craig:  That’s true.  I never bring this up, I let them come up naturally because [laughs] I’m trying to solve…

Ben:  Hopefully your website doesn’t get banned.

Craig:  [laughs] Yeah, that’s funny.  I always say I’m trying to solve athletic performance problems and then that term performance always gets me into trouble.  But you’re right, there’s a long, long history going back to Roman times with beetroot and sexual performance.  And even cordyceps has a sexual performance capability, I’ll let that lay there.  But these things are true and all of the supplements that I produce but those are all just side benefits.  They weren’t even on my mind when I was creating these things and putting it together.  We’re just trying to find a way to get more oxygen, more blood flow, better blood, cleaner blood, all that stuff to affect athletic performance.  Lo and behold, Ben brings up all these great side benefits like lowering blood pressure and sexual performance.

Ben:  Yeah.

Craig:  And I have actually had people, and I’ve never promoted that, and I’ve had people write to me and say “gee, I’m noticing this and I’m noticing that, and do this and that also”, what we just talked about.  And the answer is yes but I never promote it for that reason, I’m not trying to solve that problem but apparently it does solve that problem for some people.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s amazing for that.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  And the other interesting thing, not to kick the malate horse to death, but they also did this study, it’s a horrible study but they looked at crushed muscles in rats.  And they showed these muscles to regenerate what are called their myotubes, which are a part of the actual muscle fibers themselves, far more rattly when they were treated with this polymer of malic acid.  So there’s almost this double whammy effect when it comes to recovery as well, so it’s super-duper interesting.  It’s a very intriguing stack, this malic acid-citrulline stack.  And like I mentioned, you’ve got cordyceps in that one as well, and so you would say, something you could do would be like, how’d you put it? You said AFA in the morning and then Oxcia pre-workout and Chlorella before bed?

Craig:  That’s what I recommend.  Everybody’s chemistry is different and so I recommend that people experiment and find out what works for them, but yes, that’s the order in which I recommend people do it.  AFA in the morning, Oxcia, and the Chlorella in the afternoon.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  So I know that all three of these are over on your site, and I’m gonna link to everything along with the podcasts, if folks go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast.  I’m working pretty closely, pretty hand-in-hand so to speak, by my words, with Craig this race season.  Like I mentioned, the Spartan mountain races I’m doing and these Trained to Hunt competitions and just the bigger hunts and adventures I’m going on in general.  I am going to be popping these things every single day during the entire race season, and I’m proud to announce that relationship between BioTropic Labs and I as an athlete, I love these ingredients and what they do, they’re a perfect addition to my pre-race pantry.  And in terms of the discounts and things we’ve talked about in the past, Craig, do all those still stand? I think we had code BEN that people could use to get a discount over on the site, for example.

Craig:  Yeah, absolutely.  By all means, we can do that or if you wanna make it SPARTAN, we could make it SPARTAN just because you’re doing a Spartan race, but whatever works for you.

Ben:  Well, I’ll tell you what folks.  I realize this is totally opening the kimono, you guys can hear Craig and I setting up a discount code for you live.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  We could keep code BEN active because that’s the code that we gave people before and a fat 20% discount over on Craig’s website and I’ll link to all that in the show notes here.  We could also just set up code SPARTAN too if you want to.

Craig:  We’ll just do BEN.  Everyone knows Ben and that’s…

Ben:  People tried out all sorts of websites, like “I tried BEN10 here and BEN20 there and GREENFIELD10 here.”

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  I’ll sometimes get emails from companies that are like “why is this appearing at retailmenot.com?”  And I’m like somebody… somebody posted on Reddit after listening to the podcast, so that’s the way the internets works.

Craig:  Yup. [laughs]

Ben:  Anyways though, okay so code BEN gets people 20% discount, and also if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast, I will link to all of the other pretty entertaining and pretty informative podcasts that Craig and I have done in the past.  And then also, if you have questions for Craig or me about any of the things we talked about or some of the research that Craig mentioned, anything that you heard during this show, simply leave a comment or question right there in the show notes, and either Craig or myself will jump in and reply.

I would highly recommend if you’re doing any form of racing, heavy training, I am not a doctor do not misconstrue this as medical advice, but perhaps you have things like low red blood cell count or low iron or low ferritin and you’re trying to find some natural way to address that.  This could be something you might want to look into, that is not a prescription, that is simply me just giving you an example of another situation where it could be used.  And of course for the immune system, especially the AFA one with the Echinacea in it, it’s fantastic.  So, well I guess the Chlorella has the echinacea in it, too.

So anyways, try all three bottles, grab ‘em.  Discount code BEN over there gets you a 20% discount, oh and I know that if people wanna get all three bottles, we have a discount code for that too and that one’s pretty simple.  It’s BEN30 and that gives, I think we have it set up as 30%, you get all three bottles.  That’s a pretty slamming deal as well if you wanna just try everything at once, it’s code BEN30, gets you 30% off on all three bottles.  And you can stack them in the way that Craig and I were just talking about.  So Craig, fascinating as usual dude.

Craig:  Hey, it’s always fascinating talking to you, always learning something and thanks for pushing me and making me up my game.  Next time we talk, it’ll be better than this but thank you.  It’s always great, I love chatting with you.  You’re a lot of fun and you always carry me.

Ben:  Dude, I can’t wait to be using this stuff all race season.  I’m stoked.

Craig:  I can’t either and I know you’ll have great performances.

Ben:  Yeah.

Craig:  I’ll be watching.  You’re gonna be up in Whitefish, Montana, I might shoot up there and watch you on that one.

Ben:  Yeah, you should dude.  It’s a battle for me right now, we’re debating between me racing in the mountains in the Spartan race there or doing the Trained to Hunt in the mountains there.  Either one will be equally brutal, but I’ll be announcing soon which one I’ll be doing, but either way, yes I’ll be in the backwoods of Montana somewhere in May, racing hard.

Craig:  Yeah, I dunno how you do it but you’ll do it.

Ben:  Well it all comes down to not watching Family Guy at night so quit doing that.

Craig:  [laughs]

Ben:  I miss it but I don’t do it anymore.

Craig:  Great discipline.

Ben:  Alright folks I’m Ben Greenfield along with Craig Dinkel.  Visit bengreenfieldfitness.com/biotropicpodcast, all the discount codes, the links, the studies, everything are over there.  Have an amazing week.


In the podcast episode “Shattering World Swim Records On 25-Piece Fried Chicken Buckets, Climbing Mountains While Eating Defatted, Vegan, Grass-Fed, Argentinian Liver Anhydrate & Much More”
I interviewed athlete, mountain climber, former collegiate and Olympic Trials qualifying competitive swimmer and supplement designer Craig Dinkel about a special blood oxygenating formula called “BioTropic”.

After that interview, I received an onslaught of questions about everything from grass-fed liver anhydrate to cordyceps sinensis to hidden benefits of beetroots, the detoxification properties of algae, whether it’s really true you can get all the benefits of blood doping without actually blood doping and more.

So Craig came back on the podcast “How To Legally Dope Your Blood (Without Actually Taking Illegal Drugs).“, and in that podcast, we took a deep dive into the unique blood building formulation Craig has designed.

Then Craig returned for a third time to delve into a new supplement formulation he designed called “Oxcia” and to also talk about recovery for aging athletes, cross-body patterning, a form of high-intensity interval training called “HIIQT” and much more.

Now Craig is back for a fourth time for a nitty-gritty, deep dive into the physiology, biochemistry and science behind his unique formulations.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Ben “triple-dosed” with BioTropic AFA when he came down with the flu…[7:25]

-How Craig began experimenting with supplements in high school and became a supplement knowledge powerhouse while qualifying for the Olympic Trials in swimming…[12:40]

-The brutal swim workouts Craig and Ben experienced as swimmers and water polo players…[19:05]

-How chlorella enhances ATP production in the absence of actual calories…[23:50]

-A fringe compound that increases endurance by over 750%…[27:00]

-How beetroot works to not only vasodilate arteries but also to quell excess free radicals…[29:40]

-The amazing echinacea + sauna training hack for building new red blood cells…[44:50]

-The equally amazing chlorella + grounding/earthing stack for cleaning up the body during sleep…[54:25]

-The hidden ingredient in watermelon that vasodilates blood and works better than the supplement arginine…[59:55]

-How a component found in apples can repair muscles that have been crushed…[65:50]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

BioTropic supplements (use code BEN30 for 30% on all three bottles or you can use code BEN for 20% discount on any single bottle)

-Study: The Use of Echinacea to Improve Oxygen Transport Capacity


Terry Schroeder


Sayer Ji study on chlorella boosting ATP in absence of calories

Show Sponsors:

-Onnit – To save 10% off your order, visit BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ HYPERLINK “https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/onnit”Onnit.

-Fresh Books – FreshBooks is offering a 30 day, unrestricted free trial BGF Podcast listeners. To claim it, just go to FreshBooks.com/BEN and enter code BEN GREENFIELD FITNESS in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.

-Daily Burn – Visit DailyBurn.com/Ben to start your FREE sixty-day trial.

-Kion Aminos – For for muscle recovery, better cognition, reduced cravings, immunity, try Kion Aminos from GetKion.com!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

One thought on “[Transcript] – A Potent Pre-Sauna Stack, How To Cleanse Your Blood Before Bed, 700%+ Endurance Increases, The Best Supplements For Altitude Performance & Much More With Craig Dinkel of Biotropic Labs.

  1. Trevor milligan says:

    So at about 62 min you refer to a study with 23% increase in power output with 3g/kg which would be about 95g or 3g for aerobic exercise. This product is a combined total of .65g for 3 compounds. So would we need at least 6 pills a day to see any real results?

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