October 3, 2015
[0:00] Introduction/Bone Broth Co.
[3:14] Gary Collins
[5:54] What A FDA Special Agent Does
[8:29] Counterfeit Supplements
[13:08] Ingredient Differences Between Real and Counterfeit Supplements
[15:15] Steroids In Supplements
[19:06] What Gary Thinks The FDA Should Do
[21:22] Other Counterfeited Items
[32:20] Why Many People In The Fitness Industry Are Unfit
[42:10] Gary's Exercise Routine
[49:17] Does Gary Self-Quantify
[1:02:29] End of Podcast
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In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“It's actually highly organized criminal organizations that get involved, I mean the Russian mafia. You can track it to anywhere if they're smart, 'cause there's low risk but high reward in counterfeit supplements, especially on the practitioner grade.” “I study labels, that's what I did. I could pick stuff out. But the really good ones, I couldn't tell. The only way they could tell us, we had to send the actual product to the lab and see what the ingredients when it came back.” “I want to be able to control it so I know that what you're getting is the best. “It's not exactly the best way for me to grow my business, but it's the best for my client.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you’re look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and my guest today is named Gary Collins, and Gary is a former FDA special agent. Before I jump in and tell you a little bit more about Gary, I want to tell you that you should at some point head over to the show notes and check out a picture of Gary 'cause he's freakin' fit. I want to ask you, Gary, actually at some point, oh heck, maybe I'll do it right now. How old are you?
Gary: I'm 45.
Ben: Okay. So you're 45. You are, as we say here in the fitness industry, ripped. Like you obviously practice what you preach. And the reason that I'm telling our listeners this is one thing that you and I are going to talk about today is why it seems like so many people in the fitness and biohacking industry appear to be kind of fat, sick, and unhealthy. But before we jump into that and kind of talk about your story, you're a former FDA special agent, and for those of you listening in, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/unfit to learn a little bit more about Gary. But he was raised in the high desert in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and he's been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. After a career in military intelligence, he worked for the US State Department, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the US Food and Drug Administration, a.k.a the FDA, as a special agent. So this took him around the world and gave him a perspective on how the US and the rest of the world gets affected by food, and drug, and health care policies, and he has worked in a lot of different situations in terms of everything from protecting some of the most powerful people in the world, to investigations involving big tainted pet food death cases in the US, to dealings with counterfeit prescription drug rings all around the world.
So he's kind of this hybrid of a health expert and also a special agent investigator kind of rolled into one. So he also, if you want to check out his web site, he has a program, and we'll talk a little bit about that today too, called “The Primal Power Method”. The Primal Power Method, and I'll link to that in the show notes as well as everything else we talk about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/unfit. But the very, very first question I want to ask you, Gary, just because I think it's so freaking cool, possibly, is what is a special agent? Like I don't really understand. What does a special agent do? ‘Cause it sounds cool, but I don't know, maybe you're just sitting at a desk. I don't know.
Gary: Well, yeah. And it's confusing to the layperson as far as, to me it's natural. I was in government almost 20 years, almost half my life. It was a criminal investigator. That the federal government's title is they called a special agent. Most people look at it like the FBI. That's the biggest name out there, right. Well we're all criminal investigators. We go through similar academies, or the same academy, and we all have our piece of the pie that we investigate. So I have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, a master's degree in forensic science, and I also have an AS degree in gosh, I call it sports fitness, but it's more, I can't even remember the official title. But yeah, I have a hodgepodge of background. But it's always been primarily in athletics and health in one form or another.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So when you were working with the FDA, for example, as a special agent, what did you do with the FDA?
Gary: Well that was basically criminal investigations, and my specialty was counterfeit drugs. But it ranged in the federal government especially in smaller agencies, you don't only work your cases, but you have to work everyone else's. So you work a wide variety usually, unless you're in a big agency like the FBI where you're specifically investigating one thing all the time for the most part. But I was involved in the Barry Bonds investigation, I was involved in the Purina pet food case, counterfeit drugs, and that tied into counterfeit supplements and other products, intellectual property cases which tied into counterfeiting steroids, you name it. I mean if it…
Gary: I did it, and that was with the FDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services. I did a lot of grant fraud in the medical industry far as grants being handed out, Dr. Feel-Goods, big medical chains, doctors far as going for services not provided, doing unnecessary surgeries. So…
Ben: I want to ask you about some of this stuff for sure. But are you still a special agent?
Gary: No, no. I left the government five years ago.
Ben: Okay. So you left?
Ben: They didn't can you?
Ben: Okay. Just checking. I wasn't sure if you're barking on your website and writing these blog posts if they decided to just get rid of you. I want to ask you about something you just mentioned though. Counterfeit supplements. What did you find in the world of counterfeit supplements?
Gary: Well like I said, that derived from counterfeit drugs, and I was the head agent of a case that was one of the biggest counterfeit prescription drug rings in the world. And dealing with this guy, he'd been around a long time, and it was actually a family business. And what I found is that these guys just don't kind of conduct their business just into one counterfeit good. They run counterfeits of all sorts. So I mean I was doing the investigation, and I had all their e-mails, and I had done multiple search warrants, and they're talking about counterfeit Heinz ketchup, Jiffy peanut butter, there was toothpaste.
Ben: What's that even mean? Like counterfeit Heinz ketchup? Like somebody is making Heinz ketchup that's not really ketchup, or that's not made by the Heinz Corporation, or what?
Gary: The counterfeit industry, I know you've done travel overseas, is huge. It's second to terrorism far as the financial damage it causes in the world. And with that, I worked with groups far as ICE and other groups that we investigated counterfeit products. And what it is is it is. It's a product that is made not by the manufacturer. This is huge in China and India. Especially China. In China, there are cities that do nothing but produce counterfeits. I mean that's all they do. It's a massive, massive market. And people think it's backstreet deals and all that. It ends up right on big companies shelves. We could track it right to Walgreens, Wal-Mart, you name it. And it's because it ends up in the wholesale market and no one knows. Basically unless you have a background in it, you're not going to be able to tell a counterfeit from a real from the packaging.
Ben: So in terms of supplements, nutritional supplements for example that a lot of people are taking, when you're buying a supplement from say like GNC, or Wal-Mart, or Super Supplements, or wherever else, is that regulated? Is there a way to know if that supplement is made by the manufacturer that says it's making it? Or are we more talking about the kind of stuff people buy off of like Amazon or eBay?
Gary: It's all. There is no way really to track counterfeits once they enter the wholesale market. And where I noticed it the most prevalent, even though it's in the lower end supplement lines, but these, it's actually highly organized criminal organizations that get involved. I mean, the Russian Mafia. I mean you can track it anywhere 'cause they're smart, 'cause there's low risk but high reward, especially on the practitioner grade. ‘Cause the practitioner grade supplements, only technically practitioners are supposed to be selling. But if you do a search on Amazon, eBay, even just the general internet, you can find these supplements all over the internet, they're everywhere. And you're all, “Well how are they being sold?”
Ben: Well, yeah. I mean you go to one website and like a certain supplement like amino acids, for example, will be $60 on the manufacturer's website and then 30 on eBay, and maybe like 45 on Amazon. But at the same time, like I've been to supplement manufacturing facilities, and typically what I've noticed is on the bottle they'll have like an imprint, like a series of letters or some kind of a code, and then that matches up with the actual label. And if someone has taken like a blank bottle without that imprint code and put it, just like slapped in the old label on there, you would technically know. Like are there things you can look for like that? Like a bottle that doesn't have a little imprint embossed deal in the plastic or something like that to know if it's counterfeit?
Gary: That's one of the biggest telltale signs. Also pixelated labels 'cause usually supplement manufacturers will use higher end printing than a lot of these counterfeit rings. But these counterfeit rings are smart. They actually have printing presses that are set up specifically just to counterfeit labels, high-end. And a lot of these are done overseas obviously. But with that, they've gotten smart in the sense that they know that people look for lot numbers. So what they'll do is they'll buy the actual supplement to figure out what the lot numbers are and then they'll print that whatever code on their labels. So it's tricky. It really is tricky. I studied labels, that's what I did, I could pick stuff out. But the really good ones, I couldn't tell. The only way we could tell is we had to send the actual product to the lab and see what the ingredients when it came back.
Ben: Yeah. Well that's what I was going to ask you. Like does it matter? Are the ingredients actually that much different?
Gary: In all cases, anything that I sent to the lab, yes.
Ben: Like how?
Gary: Nothing came back exact. It could be anything from containing large amounts of sawdust, to not very much of the active ingredient that it says it has or herbs, to having 10 times the amount of the active ingredient or certain herbs. It was all over the board. I mean I never got anything back that came back exact of what the actual product was. Now there are times when it can, and that when another big thing that people will do, and this comes back to the actual companies. I actually know a guy who worked for a bigger supplement company that confirmed what I had said, 'cause some people didn't believe me. And I said, “I'm telling you this stuff happens. I did it for a living.” Is these supplement companies and drug companies do the same thing. Is once it gets close to expiration, what they will do is they will actually sell it pennies on the dollar to someone else. And then that's where that guy takes it and then he relabels it, or they'll even really label it themselves. They'll take it in print new labels and pay someone 10 bucks an hour to peel all the labels off of the expired supplement or close-to-expired supplement, and then turn around and sell it with the new expiration date.
Ben: It's so crazy how like humans will see something, and see the label on it, and just assume that it is what it says it is 'cause it has the official looking label. It's like if you read something in a book, it's so easy to assume that because it's printed word, it must therefore be true. It's this strange like irrational psychology that we seem to be hardwired with. It's really weird. And it's scary too. I mean when you say stuff like sawdust, it's like…
Gary: Oh, I didn't mention the rat feces and some of the other nice stuff that was in there.
Ben: Well the other thing I was going to ask you about was steroids, especially for those of us who are doing things where we're going to be like peeing into a cup after a race. Did you find anything like that?
Gary: Oh, yeah. And that's what you would find as well and that's were a lot of supplement companies got in trouble was doping their supplements. ‘Cause we know, I mean I've been in this business a long time, I've been an athlete a long time. I know what works and what doesn't work. And if a supplement comes out and people are getting amazing results, there's a good chance it's doped. And what a lot of these guys, especially in the bodybuilding world, would do is they would put active steroids in their protein powders and some of their other pill form supplements. And of course everyone's getting great results. And I remember when people, a lot of athletes, when they're peeing positive, and everyone go, and they come out and they go, “Hey, I didn't know. I didn't know. I was just taking supplement X.” And I would say some of it was BS. I mean athletes, they were doping. But I think some of them too weren't. I mean they were just taking a supplement that was spiked. And these supplement companies kind of prey upon that, that if you get these great results, I mean remember, what was it? Oxycut or whatever back in the day? I had friends who were just addicted to that. And, yeah. I mean as an athlete, you got to be credibility careful, especially if you're getting tested.
Ben: Do you personally use supplements?
Gary: I do. And I have my own supplement line.
Gary: I didn't start that way. I never wanted to sell supplements. I sold all practitioner grade 'cause I used them with clients 'cause my clients would go out and buy that crap…
Ben: What do you mean? What do you mean practitioner grade?
Gary: Practitioner grade are supplements that are made by supplement companies that only health practitioners can purchase.
Gary: And you can only sell them at MSRP if you're going to sell them, and sell them especially on the websites. That's why I tell people it's a telltale sign when you see a certain supplement that you like that is way cheaper. The odds are that's either counterfeit, stolen, or expired 'cause there's no way. I mean I always see supplements, practitioner grade supplements being sold for less than what I paid for.
Ben: So practitioner grade would be like, do you mean like some of these like bigger companies that you see when you go to a physician that you can only get from behind like the glass medicine cabinet and you can't find those on Amazon, or at Wal-Mart, or GNC? You can only buy them from the doc?
Gary: Yeah. Well, and that's why. And that's why I carried them is because I knew that the quality was good and my clients would derail themselves and go to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest form of what I told them to take they could find, and actually instead of helping a man, hurting them, and then I'd have to start my work all over and try, and to figure out what the heck they were doing to themselves. So I started doing that. But then I started noticing that those supplements were being counterfeited, and I went, “I can't win.” So I eventually created my own supplement line because of that. And I only sell it. I do not sell it on Amazon. I do not have any affiliates. I do not have any wholesale. You can only get it from me, and it's not the best business model for anyone who's an entrepreneur business person. But my business and everyone who listens to me and follows me knows that I want control. I want to be able to control it so I know that what you're getting is the best and that you're not getting it from someone else. And like I said, it's not exactly the best way for me to grow my business, but it's the best for my clients.
Ben: So do you think that the FDA should have a different mechanism via which it's regulating the supplement industry? Do you think things should be changed?
Gary: That's a tough one. And with my history in the government, and as a self-sufficiency guy, and libertarian…
Ben: I was going to say you're like a survivalist, kind of.
Gary: Kind of, yeah. I don't like to term myself that. It was just like primal and survivalist people go, “Hey, Gary! You're this!” And I went, “Oh, really? I didn't know that.”
Ben: But you, and I didn't mention this, you kind of like live off the grid, and build your own home, and do that whole like prepper type of thing, right?
Gary: Not prepper. Prepper is different than, it's weird. You get in that world and that's why I don't like to put terms on myself. I just tell people I'm a guy who just wants a simplified life and wants to not have to rely upon other people to support me is the best way to put it. That's why I'm a self-sufficiency advocate. And it's kind of going back even to the primal, like how my grandparents raised. Everyone was taught how to work on the tractor, the truck, you grew your own, you had a little bit of your own crops, I mean everyone had something they grew, everyone knew their local farmer, you knew how to build a house if you had to, you built your own barn. That's kind of how I look at it. Today we don't have any tangible skills in order to survive and thrive on our own.
Gary: That's what I kind of advocate.
Ben: Right. But having like a garden, growing your own food, getting in touch with nature, that kind of stuff?
Gary: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so that's what I tell people. I'm a person who uses common sense and rational thought. Never go to extremes, that's one of my principles in the Primal Power Method is avoid extremes. Keep it simple is another one. I wouldn't want the government too involved, but you're never going to remove that element too. You have to be a realist and understand that there's always going to be a government. Unless things go really wrong and if there isn't, well you're not going to be worried about whether your supplements are regulated or not, you know what I mean? You have a whole host of other problems.
Ben: Well on your website, you say if Americans really knew what was going on in the area of health care and nutrition in this country, they would be appalled. You obviously just talked about counterfeit supplements and counterfeit ketchup and peanut butter. What else do you think are some of the biggies?
Gary: Well let me go back to, just to kind of clarify that. I don't know if I answered that real well, but what I want to tell people is that a lot of people, especially in my area, like to blame the government for everything. When it comes to supplements and buying good products, the first person that falls upon is you as the consumer to do your proper research. Not that you can't get duped, but also to self-regulate. I think the industry would serve itself better by self-regulating in the sense that I know numerous guys who started supplement companies, gotten all kinds of trouble with the government, had to shut down their company. We've interviewed him, we know who they are, and then they turn around and do another company, and we don't blackball him. I mean us in the industry, we have the power of saying, “Hey, dude. You're a scumbag. You're done. I'm not allowing you in my forum. I'm not referring you to anyone. And matter of fact, I'm going to warn people about you.”
Ben: Well that's come like what a big part of libertarianism is or capitalism is, is if somebody makes a crappy product or hurts people, it's not necessarily, and I know some people might disagree with this, but it's not necessarily the government's role to step in and shut that person down. It's simply the market's role to say, “Hey, you got a crappy product. You're hurting people.” So eventually, nobody's going to come to you for business because word about that is going to spread. And really the only people that are going to come to you are the stupid people who aren't doing their research basically, or uninformed people. And it sounds heartless and it sounds kind of like a little bit harsh that someone who steps into, say, like the supplement industry, and buys a supplement, and doesn't know what they're doing is going to get hurt, or is going to take steroids, or is going to waste their money on sawdust. But you know what? You freakin' you didn't do your research. And so I'm kind of on the same page as you that I think that it all comes down to people creating awesome, pristine, clean products that work. And if they don't work and they hurt people, I don't really think it's the government's role to step in. I think that it is simply free market, and those people are eventually going to get shut down granted they're going to hurt some people in the process. But that's kind of the way life is.
Gary: It is. I mean life isn't perfect, and unfortunately we've gotten too touchy feely. And people know that I am not afraid, even though I try not to get involved in controversy but I have been wrapped up in a few, that if you're acting the fool and someone points it out to me, I'm going to point out. I'm going to call you out on it. I think that's part of the problem. It's just in general today actually just building another house. This is the third house I built. And just had to terminate yet another contractor. The business world in general today is we've allowed people to act the fool and get away with things without any consequences. That's the problem. And I make it very clear to people who I work with or who do services for me that, I tell 'em, “Hey, this my background. This is what I used to do.” I'm a college professor in criminal investigations. I mean I'm an expert in this. I mean don't try and pull the wool over my eyes.
Gary: I kid you not. People will do it, and I warn 'em upfront. I go here's the deal, “If you screw me over, I'm going to make people very aware.” And I just started on YouTube. I said, “Anyone from here on out, I'm doing a whole exposé on you.” And I'm going to put it on YouTube. I'm basically going to publicly name you.
Gary: Yeah! ‘Cause I've had…
Ben: You mean like people in the supplement industry or people in the fitness industry?
Gary: Any service that I purchase, or any product that I feel is done poorly in the sense of, I give 'em chances to fix the problem. And if they don't fix the problem and I think that they're screwing the customer and doing it on purpose, I have a problem with that. And that's what I'm saying is in today in society is we have allowed companies and people who provide services to basically do whatever they want and provide a crappy service. And I've had large discussions about this with people in numerous forums, people who own their own companies, entrepreneurs, and a lot of people are just sick of it. We're sick of crappy products, crappy customer service, and it's just take my money and move on. You don't even care if I repeat as a customer anymore. You just want me one and done. You just want my cash.
Ben: I don't want to get negative and like start throwing people under the bus, but I am curious. Like aside from the supplement industry, a horse that we've kind of kicked to death just now, what's something else you're going to make a YouTube video about?
Gary: Right now, nothing. Oh, I take that back. I'm going to do one generally on general contractors because this is hidden nerve…
Ben: So this isn't just fitness stuff?
Gary: This is life. My whole thing, I mean I focus on nutrition and fitness, but the Primal Power Method is about changing your life, and changing it in a positive and better direction. I talk about a little bit of everything, I mean anything that effects your health. Stress. So it's going to stress you out. You got a bad general contractor building the house. Anyone who's built a house, this is my third one. It is incredibly stressful to build a house. It is one of the most stressful things you'll ever do. And so that directly impacts your health.
Ben: Wasn't stressful for me. I just told my wife to make all the decisions. Then I went into a corner and wrote in my book. That was my approach. That was I just kind of backed out. No, I mean what I did was I researched, I brought stuff to the table, I brought it to the architect, the builders, the subcontractors. Told them, “Hey, this is what I want in the house built.” Ultimately, it was more stressful for my wife because I designated her as the go-to person, which she was fine with 'cause I told her, “Hey, look. I can either just like not work, not get anything done, produce zero blog posts for the next year and a half as we work on this house, or else I'll work on my book, I'll advise everyone on what we want to do to this house as far as like biohacking it with metal shielded, hardwired, ethernet cable, and zero WiFi, and low VOC compounds, and lighting that's built around your natural circadian rhythm, and all this stuff. But then at that point I kind of backed out and let her make all the aesthetic, like head nodding decisions. So I think that the only way to not make it stressful is to basically just like back out and remove yourself from some of the decision making process. But I do agree that at some point somebody is going to be stressed out.
Gary: Well, not only that. But it's the general contractor field, which people who have ever dealt with it, I've been dealing with it for 20 years now, through multiple properties, I bought and sold places, I owned apartments, I've owned land. I've been fairly well, have a decent background in the real estate industry. They include having a real state license for a while to work with my properties. And it's just one of those fields that you go, you hate dealing with them, and I've heard and seen every scam they run known to man, and I've just had it. I said, “You know, what? That's it. I'm going to do a video on general contractors, I'll have to stereotype them to a point, but I'm going to give them the schemes.” I'm going to warn people “these are the schemes”. And even as much as I've dealt with them, in the past and present, even I get duped. I had made the mistake, I got so busy with my business, I allowed this contractor to have more free reign than I would have ever allowed, and took full advantage of it, and did a lot of things that were very unscrupulous. So I went, “You know what? Okay. I need to do a video and a blog post about this to try and help people.” ‘Cause people know I'm building this house and I get a ton of questions like “Who's your contractor,” “What are you doing,” “How are you building this,” “What materials are you using,” and then I start getting the horror stories of their house, and what they went through, and what contractors they've had to deal with. And that's why I thought this would be a good instance to do that, to help people out.
Ben: What's your YouTube channel?
Gary: It is just www.youtube.com/primalpowermethod.
Ben: So one of the things I wanted to ask you about, kind of related to this idea of things being counterfeit in the fitness industry, the nutrition industry, and this is something I was talking with some people about, I just got back from Finland literally a few hours ago, my plane flew in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, and I was talking to some people over there at this biohacking summit about how so many people who walk around talking about anti-aging, and longevity, and biohacking yourself to optimize the human machine, or whatever you want to describe it, they're using testosterone replacements. And there are people there at the conference who I know fall into this exact category, using testosterone replacement, using Modafinil, not really exercising but more really relying on like biohacks, like whatever, standing on a vibration platform while drinking a super food smoothie. For example, I went on a walk with a guy who is frankly relatively well-known in the anti-aging and longevity community, and he looked like he was going to have a heart attack after we walked a mile because he uses hormones and supplements to get his body to be better and that's how he plans on living a long time.
What's your take on the fitness industry and why there's so many people, either like writing diet books, and there's people I can think of, I'm not going to say names right now, but they've got some really good diet books, and they're fat. They're like probably pushing, like guys pushing 25 to 30% body fat. Or there are people pushing out like body weight workout programs and exercise programs who would probably get close to having like a pair of ventricular contraction or heart arrhythmia if they were to try to do like a Spartan race or something like that. What's going on there? Why do you think so many people in the fitness industry are fat, or they're always sick, or seem to have some kind of an immune system issue going on, or they're taking a short cut, or they look like crap? And by the way, I realize that I'm being a little bit of an (censored) right now, but it's just something that came up in the past few days that I want to ask you about because you're a fit dude and you practice what you preach. So I want to get your take on this.
Gary: Well, and not only that, but people need to know I have severe injuries too. I had spinal fusion four years ago, I've had multiple surgeries, I've had many mechanical issues, nerve damage, and a lot of things relating to the nerve damage, and I'm able to stay fit because I know what I'm doing. And it's not because I do some crazy anti-aging chemical regime or exercise regimen. My stuff is as basic as it gets. And that's what I teach. With these guys, it's just like any business or any profession, is there's good and bad. Unfortunately in the health industry, it tends to attract people who are I call morally broken. I mean they just are. They couldn't cut it as a real estate agent, they couldn't cut it at the car dealership, now they've decided they're health experts 'cause they’ve downloaded an e-book on Amazon and they lost five pounds and then they managed to gain 25 instead of five. And it's just a weird industry, and that's right warn people about is be careful when you're getting your information from. There's a lot of people out there, and you know the 10,000 hour rule. You got to be an expert. And it seems today that, I am going to name names here. I call it The Tim Ferriss model. Tim Ferriss, not that I have anything against the guy, but the 4-Hour Work Week is BS. I'm just going to say.
Gary: Any entrepreneur, anything you do in life takes a lot of work. And I know that the trend right now is short-cutting everything, and having a whole crew of people work for you, and all you do is check your e-mail once a day. That is such garbage and it is such a poor work ethic.
Ben: There's nobody who says that they, the 4-Hour Work Week model that I know actually follows the 4-Hour Work Week…
Gary: No one. ‘Cause you can't.
Ben: Because it should be, and I know Tim has said this to his credit, that it's a little bit more, it should have been titled “Only Spend Four Hours Doing All The (censored) That You Don't Want To Be Doing”, but then you spend another, what, 30, 40, 50 hours a week writing blog posts, or talking on the phone, or doing things that frankly you don't mind doing. It's more about like outsourcing things that you shouldn't be doing. But like my brother, for example, I kind of got him started on like a four hour model where he's selling products on Amazon that he orders and resells, and technically you can make money doing that on four hours of work a week when you talk about like just going in and spending time doing all the technical nitty gritty stuff on Amazon. But then he spends tens and tens of hours, additional hours, each week, or dozens of additional hours each week following up with customers, and managing his other people who are doing customer service, and speaking with vendors in China. And it's just, you're right. There's this model of outsourcing, but a sexy term for it is “4-Hour Work Week”.
Gary: And that's why I said I had to mention Tim because he's the one who wrote the book. What I think is what happened with it, it was filled with great information. Don't get me wrong. That's why I said I have nothing against Tim. What people did is they took it and took it as more of a lazy person's method of running a business is the best way to put it. And he gave you great information, but people took it as, “Oh, I don't have to work.” No. Anything in life, even if we didn't have society today and you were out living, building your own shelter, hunting all your own food, you still have to work. I mean you have to put effort in order to survive. And that's a common problem that I think that goes back to these people in the health industry is they're just lazy. It's the bottom line. They were lazy before they got into it, they're lazy while they got into it, now they think they can take a couple seminars, and read a couple books, and call themselves an expert, and their heart's not in it. People like me and you, I've been around a long time. I've been doing this for a long long time and I've seen it all. I've seen it all.
And everyone wants the quick fix. So what do these people do? Well, they placate to 'em. They say, “Okay. Since you want it easy, I'm going to give you an easy solution that doesn't work, it didn't work for me, it doesn't work for anyone, but I'm going to write a book about it and tell you all these shortcuts.” And it's just garbage, and it gets frustrating for a guy like me who works so hard and has worked so hard to become an expert and have the background that I have. My background didn't come easy. I mean I just didn't sign up for something online and get a certificate. There's years and years of education, decades of work involved. And I think that's why people see me and it resonates in a lot of people, trust me and the fact is 'cause I practice what I preach, I don't pull any punches, what I tell you to do is what I do, it's what I tell my clients to do. And obviously you got to tweak it for each individual. Everyone's different. But I have a pretty good method that is very successful and works for a majority of the people. You always have a certain group of people your method will not work for. But that's a small group. I like that you said that everyone seems to have the same immune problem in this group, and I've called a couple of 'em out because one of 'em got real perturbed when I started showing recent pictures of this individual at conferences. And I said, “Huh. I guess you just decided to get skinny for the book publicity, but you didn't want to continue on with what you actually say works.” And oh my god, the bloggers got sent after me, my website got shut down, I mean it got nasty on Twitter. It was disgusting.
Ben: I go to conferences with a lot of these people in the fitness industry, 'cause I am you know considered to be, whatever, one of the gurus, one of the experts. I'm not as big as a lot of these guys. Like there are some people in the fitness industry who are freaking like rolling in dough who are literally getting like seven figure book contracts, who are you know selling tons of supplements, and all this jazz, and I'm not at that level or whatever. But I certainly do wind up being kind of in these same peer groups at conferences, and I'll go to, for example, I'll go to the gym at a conference, like a hotel gym, or the pool, or even like outside at 6 AM or 7 AM and I'll see nobody. ‘Cause everybody was out drinking until 1 AM or 2 AM in the morning. Or I will go to like lunch in the midday at a conference and people will sit at lunch for two hours. I'll have a nice conversation, eat lunch for 20 minutes, and then go on like a 30 minute walk in the sunshine to reduce postprandial blood glucose levels, and people aren't doing that. I'll be standing upright.
And I'm not saying this to make myself sound cool. I'm giving examples of what people should be doing. But I'll go in the back, and I'll stand up, and I'll be stretching, and you'll look at these so-called health and fitness experts, these gurus who are telling people how to get nice bodies when they themselves are fat and sick, and they'll sit for three, four, five hours in a row at a conference and not even like get up and move at all. It's one of those things where I think a big part of it comes down to frigging lifestyle. It's so easy to hit send on an e-mail to 50,000 people, and watch the money roll in from some supplement that you just launched, and then decide that because of that, 'cause you've made it, there's no reason for you to keep doing the things that might inspire people even more, teach people even more, spend time in the trenches putting work into your own body, and making yourself healthy, and fit, and able to live a long time, and able to walk more than a freaking mile without getting out of breath.
Gary: Well the worst is at the conferences too right around after lunch is there's a whole group of them sitting around smoking cigarettes.
Ben: Yeah. I've seen that too.
Gary: The guys take some smoke breaks. I'll be honest with you, Ben. I don't even go to those conferences anymore. I've pretty much said enough is enough. I don't even really hang out in the world that I'm associated with 'cause I've become so disgusted with it.
Ben: Yeah. I do. I go to the conferences, well a lot of them I'm talking at, but I also want to keep my finger on the pulse. Because a big part of the fitness industry is, it is knowing people. Like there is a certain amount of networking that's involved, and I do go out of my way to make sure that I know who's who and that I show up at these conferences. So that is important to me. But at the same time, well this is something I want to ask you about, Gary. And again, folks, if you're listening in, you can go to the show notes bengreenfieldfitness.com/unfit. You can go check out Gary's Primal Power Method program that he's written about, some of his workouts, and routines, and lifestyle, and also photos of him because you're fit, Gary. But what do you do? Like what's your exercise routine, or your daily routine that you would say allows you to practice what you preach?
Gary: Well the simplest way to put it is I don't technically have a routine. And I tell people that. I go with how my body and the factors of my life take me. There are times when I can't work out as much as I would like to, but that doesn't mean I'm not physically active. Right now I'm building a house. So after this interview, I gotta run up to the property and I'll work there for six hours. Or until it gets dark. That's exercise. I mean that's my daily dose. But I come from the older generation, I grew up with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Franco Columbu, and Lou Ferrigno, and Pumping Iron. That's what I grew up with. And I'll be honest those guys didn't have the principals all that far wrong. So I'm a guy who likes to go to the gym. I like to pump iron. I can't lift as heavy as I used to back in the day, I got too many injuries. Not from lifting. All of them are actually from law enforcement, and military, and sports. But I usually go in there, my main go-to routine is pull-ups, dips, air squats, and I'll mix in some push-ups, and I do it in a cycle of eight. And I do each one 'til I can't do 'em anymore.
Ben: What do you mean a cycle of eight?
Gary: A cycle of eight, so I'll go through eight repetitions. So I'll do, let's say I'll start with pull-ups, then I go to dips, then I go to air squats.
Ben: For only eight repetitions, you must be done I'm kind of slowly and controlled?
Gary: Varies. And that's where I tell people I change everything up every day, I don't think about what I'm going to do until I actually step foot in the gym. The best way to put it is I really don't plan my workouts. I've been doing it for so long that it's kind of autopilot. I walk in there and I just go, “You know what? I feel like doing this today.” I don't try and combine body parts specifically, push and pull technique. Well I do it sometimes, yeah. But I just mix everything. ‘Cause in nature, we wouldn't have picked and chose what kind of physical exertion we were going to perform that day. It was survival. So it would have been wide, varied, and it would have been very, very different. Every day, every hour, it would depend. And that's kind of how I live my life because of my injuries. With the spinal fusion, I can't load up my back. So have to be very careful. There's no weighted squats, and I actually I got away from those quite a while ago, many, many years ago, and I don't tell my athletes to do 'em just because it's too much pressure on the spine.
Ben: Yeah. Weighted squats are even tough for me. I like the concept, and I forget who said this, that you can constantly progress your deadlift, but once you get to a certain weight in the squat, it is okay to maintain that weight. Because a constant progression in the squat eventually at some point can lead to a back or knee issue that kind of shoves you back a couple of steps, then you start over and work your way back up to an injury. And that was some of the best advice that I think I've ever been given is giving myself permission to progress and get stronger on a deadlift while keeping the squat relatively constant. I know there's some hardcore weightlifters who will scoff at the, but it's what has worked out very well for me as far as maintaining an injury-free status.
Gary: And that's what I tell people too. It's like how powerlifting and Olympic lifting has become very popular in certain circles and certain, shall we say, fitness models. I'll leave it at that. Anyone who knows what I'm talking about, 'cause I just actually did a podcast on this. I'm on a weekly podcast for a big podcast where I do health and nutrition, and here's the thing: powerlifting and Olympic lifting is very specific to powerlifters and Olympic lifters. It takes them years, and years, and years to perfect those lifts. For an average person to go out and start doing these lifts, first of all, they're not functional. When is a clean and jerk functional? You tell me anything you're going to do in the world where you're going to do a clean and jerk. You're not. It is absolutely horrible for the human body to continually do any kind of jerk technique, kipping, I hate that.
Ben: For people who are unfamiliar with the clean and jerk, it's basically ripping a weight off the ground and then hoisting it overhead quickly and explosively.
Gary: Yeah. And I tell people, I go, “There's no natural movement.” I mean you just wouldn't do that. So why would you punish your body as a normal everyday person to do these type of lifts. I mean are you a powerlifter? Are you going to compete? Are you trying to train for the Olympics? I mean competitions? What are you doing? Why would you do that?
Ben: I think if you're training for competition, or even like in my case, I mean I'll be frank with you, Gary. I do that lift and the reason I do it is because I'm training for Spartans and some other events that I could train for by simply doing running and pole, but the main reason is I just want variety. So I'll do some swings, I'll do some clean and jerks, I'll do some other things that have been proven to be able to maintain aerobic capacity, et cetera, without necessarily having to run. So you can load your joints from different directions and still stimulate the same physiological mechanisms as you get when you're running, sprinting, et cetera. At the same time though, I don't go heavy. So like a clean and jerk for me will be with about 120 sand bag.
Gary: Well here's the difference though: you're a professional. That's a big, big difference. And what I'm talking about is just the every day person trying to lose weight and get in better shape. And that's where I like to separate. I go, “Leave the professional exercises to the professionals.” And for the average person, you need to put your body through those type of extremes? No. Can it help you? Yes and no. I mean depending, I know a lot of people who had catastrophic injuries and had to have major surgery by doing those lifts because they had no background in it. You can get hurt doing anything, but why would you want to exponentially increase that factor for no real reason. I've just been doing this so long and I've just seen so many horrific injuries off those lifts. I'm not totally opposed to 'em, but I'm opposed to someone who doesn't have a background, or looking to compete doing them, and doing them with someone who took a weekend class and is now considered a fitness instructor.
Ben: A lot of this goes beyond fitness. Like, as you know, I wrote “Beyond Training” in which I talk about why a lot of this goes beyond just working out. For you, you seem like you're pretty tuned in to everything from the supplement and health industry to fitness but I'm curious if you personally pay attention to being healthy not just on the outside but also on the inside. Because I have a picture posted of you over at the show notes of you all hosting a mountain bike over your head with your shirt off, which is great, but I've also looked at the blood and biomarkers of a lot of triathletes who look great in spandex, but who have low testosterone, or high levels of HSCRP, things like that. Do you self-quantify at all or pay attention to any of those variables?
Gary: Oh, what's the best way to put it. I do and I don't. Do I periodically monitor my blood and take a lot of other tests? I do not. I do have blood tests taken from time to time, and here's my thing about blood tests. It's a snapshot moment, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.
Ben: Well it's not necessarily a snapshot of the moment. Like hemoglobin A1c, for example, right. It's like a three month snapshot of your blood glucose levels. Or HSCRP. Yeah, it's a snapshot of inflammation, but it's a pretty good corollary of inflammatory levels that can be chronic, or like cholesterol for example. Like if you have a really high particle count, or a high level of small LDL particles, it can be indicative that you've been fighting inflammation for a long time. That's not just something that's going to go up when you, say, have some eggs fried in oil.
Gary: Yeah. And that's what I mean though. They've always been pretty standard. I mean it's pretty much the same every time for the last, when I started going into the military 20, 30 years ago, where did I start. Yeah, 25 years ago now. And not much has changed far as even when I was eating unhealthier, I thought I was healthy. My blood was pretty close. I mean it was because I was doing my best. Is it a little better now? A little bit. And that's why, for me, I'm a simpleton. But if you're starting out and you're just trying to change your life, absolutely. You need to go and get all your biomarkers, get your bloodwork, I always stress that get an allergy test if you can. The problem with allergy tests though, I found those to be very, very inconsistent. Especially with foods. I have stuff that shows up that I'm supposed to be sensitive to that I'm not yeah, and I have stuff that doesn't show up at all on the allergy test that just wreck me.
Ben: I had Dr. Anthony Beck on the podcast recently, and he swears by the ELISA ACT test, which is an immunoglobulin test for sensitivity to various food proteins. And I've had a lot of people do that test and wind up showing allergic to a wide variety of foods that they constantly eat, and I suspect that it is because antibodies are circulating in their bloodstream to foods simply because they're eating a lot of those foods, like eggs for example. There is one form of food allergy testing that is supposed to be relatively gold standard, I know this can be confusing for people because Dr. Beck, for example, mentioned that he's not a fan of this style of testing, but it's through a company called Cyrex Laboratories, and that's where I send most of my clients. I tell them to go get like a Cyrex Array 3 for gluten sensitivity or Array 4 for which foods they could eat that could cross-react to gluten if they are sensitive to it. And then they also have one called Array 10, and it's simply the method of testing, like the technical method of testing that they do results and fewer false positives. However, I agree with you that most of the food allergy tests out there don't seem to be that accurate.
At the same time, Gary, I think that there tends to be, and I don't want to say this to be disrespectful or to make it sound like I'm calling you to old school or whatever, but sometimes I think that that old school mentality is something that can come back to bite people. Like I was talking to Commander Mark Divine of SEALFit who didn't really track heart rate variability or any of these technical ways to see if the body has recovered because he said he likes to just go by feel. And I really think that you can have the best of both worlds. I would love to see more people in the health and fitness industry kind of doing both. Like being able to unplug and pay attention to how the body feels, but also knowing how to use a lot of these tools, like heart rate variability, or being willing to put down the money and self-quantify, do like a blood test once a year or something like that.
Gary: Yeah. I'm with you on that. And I'm not saying never do a blood test. I know people who just monitor their blood all the time, and they're not competing athletes. If you're a competing athlete, and that's why I try and separate the two. It's two different worlds. The everyday person and a competitive athlete, your goals are very different and how you approach health is actually quite different. For me, getting a blood test once a year, absolutely. I mean it does not hurt if you have insurance that will cover it or the financial means to get a full physical once a year. And that's where I'm different too from a lot of the ancestral health and hardline paleo people is I'm an integrated guy. I believe in modern medicine integrated with ancestral health and ancient types of medicine. And I think you've got to use both. Never rely on one or the other, because just as much as I found corrupt and dirty people in our modern medical world, I also did investigations on holistic practitioners, NDs, DOs, and I'll tell you what: both worlds were just as bad. I'll be directly honest. All these people being the “holier than thou”, that I-am-a-natural-practitioner this and that, they were just as scummy as the MDs and modern medical people.
Ben: A lot of them are in the pocket of alternative medical companies in the same way that MDs are in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies. And this probably happens to you, like I get e-mails and inquiries all the time for me to support some product that I haven't even tried. A lot of times people will literally straight up and want to pay me to write a blog post or to run an ad for something that I really haven't tried. And you know what? it's freakin' tempting. When you get offered a few thousand bucks to say something about a product, that's tempting. And I see where some health practitioners, even people in like alternative medicine, I see where they're coming from. I understand. Like people aren't perfect. People can get weak. People can get tempted by money, frankly, by Dollar signs. But…
Gary: Well that's the human nature. We're survivalists. And however we have to do that, and with me what people have found is I'm not perfect. Hey, I don't profess to be by any stretch. But they know my moral compass is pretty strong. And I will, I refuse, I get hit up all the time too. I'm very, very vocal about certain companies and certain methods, approaches of marketing and how it's done. And I tell people simply this, the test for me is simple. If I wanted to be a millionaire, I could be a millionaire within three months no problem. No problem at all. I'm an expert in schemes. That's what I did. I investigated every scheme known to man. White collar side, everything. It's the moral compass that keeps me grounded. And the reason I got into this business wasn't because I wanted to make money, there was 50 million other ways for me to make money when I left the government. I had many job offers, I had publishing deals to write tell-alls about my government experience 'cause I had quite an interesting one at the end, and I said, “Absolutely not. That's not what I'm about and that's not what I want to do.” I pursued the health aspect and nutrition, and fitness aspect because I was passionate about it and I supported myself, and I still do support myself with other means. This is not my sole income. And the reason I do that, until it becomes my sole income source, is that it keeps me on the right path. If I was looking at this just to make a living, I would be doing everything wrong and I would be a detriment to the people I'm trying to help. And that's what I teach. It's about being a better person. Don't be a jack [censored]. Don't be an [censored]. I mean life is too short. I mean I investigated some of the…
Ben: I think that should be the tagline on your website, by the way. “Don't be an [censored].”
Gary: And I mean the people I investigated, multi, multi, multi, multimillionaires. I'm talking billion Dollar health companies too. When we got into the huge nationwide investigations. One thing that always rang true, these people were very miserable, they had no friends, and they were always looking over their shoulder. That is no way to go through life. And if you think that money, and doing things, and taking short cuts is going to fix that, it's not. I've watched it. I've watched it in my family. I've watched it in my friends, I've watched it in investigations. So why put yourself through that? Do things right. And your main goal of any entrepreneurial spirit or business venture is to provide a service first. It is to help people, to give them something that they need, not something that they necessarily want. You know what I mean? There's a difference. I want donuts. I don't need donuts. You know what I mean? And that's the difference. And I think that's what's been lost today in most, especially in the health industry. Like what we were talking about. It just seems to be a funnel for people who are looking for a quick buck. And it's sad 'cause it does a lot more harm than good.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Well this particular episode, like all our episodes, it's going to be open to comments. And I know that if you're listening in, you probably have your own thoughts for Gary, or your own thoughts for me. They might be strong, they might be in contrast to some of the stuff that we've just said, and that's fine. The only comments that I get rid of or delete at bengreenfieldfitness.com are comments where somebody who is trying to sell a product hops on and post something in the comments section with a link to their product. That's the only way to get your comment deleted. But otherwise, as you know, if you go through and read the comments, I will publish anything. You can be truthful and I do not prune comments on the Facebook page or on the blog post. So a totally open discussion. You can join the discussion for this one over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/unfit, and you can share your thoughts there. In addition, you can check out all of Gary's products when you visit the show notes over there. And his website is primalpowermethod.com, if you just want to go to primalpowermethod.com. I’ll also link to that over in the show notes as well. So again, the show notes are bengreenfieldfitness.com/unfit. So, Gary, thanks for coming on the call and having this discussion, man. I think this was really insightful.
Gary: Hey, thanks a lot for having me on, Ben. Like I said, I'm a little different animal than most. It's nice to get out there and, not that I don't pay attention, I do. You're one of the people I've watched over the years and there's certain groups of people that I watch, but I do my own thing. I'm so busy, I don't get too sucked in. But I will leave this, I know you say you allow people to post comments in it, but unless they put links, if anyone puts a link to a product or tries to do something shady like that, not only do I not post or comment, I block them, ban then, and I'll report them.
Ben: Nice. You go special agent on their [censored].
Gary: I do. And I warn people. Just don't go that route. You'll just never be allowed on again.
Ben: Alright. Cool. Well good to know. Anyways, Gary, thanks for your time today. And if you're listening in, thanks for listening in, and stay tuned for more content of course coming in the future. But in the meantime, have a healthy week. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Gary Collins signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Gary Collins, pictured above, is a former FDA special agent.
He was was born in Southern California, raised in the High Desert at the basin of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and has been involved in organized sports, nutrition and fitness for over 30 years.
After a career in military intelligence, Gary worked for the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Special Agent. His career took him around the world and gave him a unique perspective on not only how the United States, but the world is affected by our food, drug and healthcare policies.
This took him from protecting some of the most powerful people in the world to investigations involving the biggest tainted pet food death case in the U.S. to the intricate dealings of one of the largest counterfeit prescription drug rings in the world. He has often said, “If American’s really knew what was going on in the area of healthcare and nutrition in this country, they would be appalled.”
So basically, Gary is a hybrid of a seasoned health expert and an investigator rolled into one.
In addition to his published articles and Primal Power Method Series, (his total lifestyle reboot), Gary is also a contributor to the Brink of Freedom online magazine, Paleo Magazine and The Primal Show. You can check out all Gray's products and his Primal Power Method on Amazon by clicking here.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-What it's like to be a special agent with access to the inner workings of the FDA…
-Why Gary says “If American’s really knew what was going on in the area of healthcare and nutrition in this country, they would be appalled”…
–Why the supplements you're buying may be counterfeit and may not even be made by the manufacturer you think it's made by…
-Why so many so-called “experts” in the fitness industry are fat, sick or unhealthy or not practicing what they preach…
-Why Gary doesn't track blood, biomarkers, saliva, etc…
-And much more…