Podcast Episode#213 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/10/episode-213-healthy-foods-that-cause-belly-fat/
Introduction: In today’s podcast, healthy foods that cause belly fat. Also, is fasting effective for recovery, what to do about degenerative disc disease, how much should you eat to gain one pound of muscle, losing weight without becoming amenorrheic, how to be less susceptible to injury as you age and when to use grape seed oil?
Brock: Hey everybody! Welcome to another episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. I’m Brock and I gotta warn you, I have 2 cups of coffee, I’ve ridden my bike 30 km. and I’ve practiced accordion this morning, so, I am on fire. How about you, Ben?
Ben: Did you play the accordion?
Brock: I sure do. I played professionally for 12 years.
Ben: You’re like an international man of mystery, you’re a ballerina, and you play the accordion.
Brock: No, no, no…don’t call us ballerinas. We’re male dancers.
Ben: Ah…Gotcha! Is there anything else that listeners should know about you that they’ll find shocking or entertaining?
Brock: There is, but I’m not gonna say it right now. You have to keep tuning in to find out all the mysteries that make me who I am.
Ben: I love the intrigue. For those of you listening in, I’ll actually get to hang out with Brock over in Thailand here in a month and a half.
Brock: Oh…don’t remind me…so nervous, so excited.
Ben: We’re going over there to do a couple of triathlons along with a group of over a dozen athletes, some Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners and fans and athletes that I coach and it’s gonna be a fantastic time. But we’ll send you a few videos and you can see…maybe Brock and I will do the Ben Greenfield podcast live via video.
Brock: Yey…I’ll bring my accordion too.
Ben: I just got back from Ironman Hawaii.
Brock: Yeah! Was it awesome? Was it amazing?
Ben: Yeah. It was pretty cool. For the first time in my life, I actually slept through the swim star which was great after having the B in the swim for the past 4 years. And then, I rode my bike out to the energy lab out there where people go in one end with a smile on their face and come up the other end looking completely nuked. And that was pretty fun to try my bike out there and just hang out in a different part of the race course. So, those of you who are in Ironman Hawaii fans, of course, one of the things that you can do is you can go to ironmanlive.com and this is something I did last year and you can watch the whole race from start to finish. And for those of you who are maybe training for Ironman or just triathlon geeks, you can actually stream that live and watch it while you’re riding your bike indoors or playing accordion as the case may be.
Brock: We won’t spoil it for you but we will say “Kroie didn’t win”.
Ben: He didn’t win. And then one other thing, I signed up for Ironman Canada yesterday.
Brock: Hey! Cool! The new one in Whistler.
Ben: Yeah. We’re in Whistler. So, if you’re a listener to the podcast, then I will see you out there next August.
Brock: Okay. To get these and other interesting news flashes every week and perhaps everyday, make sure to follow Ben on twitter at twitter.com/bengreenfield and on Google+, of course and you can find that all at bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Ben: All right. Here we go with the first interesting thing. You can get an eight-fold increase in a specific protein that builds your mitochondria. And remember that the mitochondria, little oxygen-consuming organelles, part of your cells that are responsible for producing energy as you exercise and the way that you can get an eight-fold increase in a specific protein called PGC1 alpha is by training at a moderate intensity in what’s called the glycogen-depleted state. And this was based on a study in which they took 2 groups of actually fairly elite competitive road cyclist and mountain bikers and they have them do a workout following a carbohydrate depletion protocol and even a pre workout meal comprised primarily of eggs and bacon rather than the traditional pasta and of course, they gave the other group pasta, oatmeal, orange juice, bananas, things of that nature. And in the low carbohydrate group, performance did not suffer and also they had a fairly significant increase in this protein that’s responsible for mitochondrial expression.
So, the practical take-home message of this is that the tool that you can have in your workout toolbox is to engage in some kind of glycogen-depletion or low carbohydrate state prior to a moderate exercise routine in this case, I believe, was a series of 4-minute intervals that this group did. And that can be something that you can use as an alternative like a super high intensity workout which actually has a similar effect on this PGC1 alpha protein and mitochondrial expression. That was something that I thought was interesting.
Brock: Cool! So, it’s not necessarily going into a fasted state, it’s just going into it with more fats on board than carbohydrate.
Ben: Either one would technically work, although fasting is of course, a little bit more stressful on the body when it’s combined with exercise or interval-based routines.
Ben: Another interesting study was on probiotics specifically what the study looked at was probiotic intake in athletes and what they found in trained athletes who they put on a probiotic protocol for about 14 weeks was that it had a very cool effect on the digestive system particularly in reducing pretty well known markers of inflammation in the digestive system. Something called the protein carbonyl group which is a specific group of proteins that you see in a lot of inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s and arthritis and diabetes and things of that nature, that decreased TNF alpha which modulates inflammation and is associated with leaky gut syndrome where you have these undigested food particles crossing form the digestive system into the bloodstream. That was decreased and then interleukin 6 which another marker of inflammation – that decreased in response to probiotic intake specifically in athletes. And the other thing that happened was that zonulin which is basically a protein that’s associated again with leaky gut syndrome tended to decrease with the probiotic intake and the idea behind that is that the more zonulin that your body produces, that leak your gut kinda becomes so what they found in these people who are on the probiotic intake was they had tighter gut junctions – the cellular junctions that will allow undigested food particles to cross in the blood stream. They had lower levels of oxidation and lower levels of inflammation and this was all in response to probiotic supplement use. While I am, of course, a fan of introducing fermented foods in your diet as much as possible to get your good bacteria, this was a 10 billion count-a-day pribiotic intake which is fairly standard probiotic supplement.
Brock: Okay. I was gonna ask if they talked about what the dosing was. So, is it a 10 billion?
Ben: Yeah. 10 billion. You’re gonna find a lot of capsules. I believe that cap probiotics that I take is a 20 billion. You can find probiotic capsules that go up to 80 billion. In this case, 10 billion seem to be doing a pretty good effect. That was another interesting article. And then the last one that I wanted to mention was an article over in Sweat Science which is a blog about runners’ world from Alex Hutchinson. He usually has some good stuff. And he had a post about whether drafting helps in running, meaning running closely behind the runner that’s in front of you and whether or not that drop in air resistance could actually help you. They looked in to whether or not tucking behind the runner in front of you would actually allow you to save energy. And it looks like you save about 80% of the energy that you’d otherwise spend fighting air resistance. And so what this means is that there can be what comes out to about 1 second for every 400 meters of running and possibly even more than that on really windy days where you’re running into a head win. When you’re running right around the pace of about a 6-minute mile, these are fairly fast runners. But either way, if you’re running a 5k, a 10k, a marathon, whatever, if it’s a windy day or even if it’s not a windy and you just wanna save your energy from fighting air resistance, tucking closely into the runner in front of you actually has a fairly significant effect. And I’ll link over to the article on the show notes. We link to everything that we talk about over on the show notes. This is gonna be Episode 213.
Brock: That’s right. Yup!
Ben: So, we link to that article on whether drafting helps in running in the show notes at Episode 213 at the bengreenfieldfitness.com and also to some of these studies I mentioned.
Brock: Just make sure, if you’re tucking in behind somebody, watch for the snot rockets.
Ben: Yeah. The snot rockets and you may wanna ask the folks what they had for their pre race meal. If beans or legumes are involved, you may wanna keep your distance.
Brock: Okay. Make sure to go to audiblepodcast.com/ben because this podcast is sponsored by Audible, a fine purveyor of audio books for many a year now. And Ben, I think you found a cool book on there this morning.
Ben: Yeah. That’s right. If you’re into fitness audio books, in this case, specifically, mental fitness, you should check out Keep Your Brain Alive: Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness. I’m a big fan of doing anything you can to keep your brain aerobically fit. For me, it’s doing things like playing instruments and learning new languages but you can also do these neurobic exercises. This is one of the top rank books in Audible right now in the fitness category so you can check that out.
Brock: Don’t just go to audible.com, go to audiblepodcast.com/ben so they know that we sent you.
Ben: That’s right. So we get our credit. Speaking of mental performance and keeping your brain alive, many of you who listened and participated in the survey that we sent out a few weeks ago about diet and sticking to a diet and overcoming the mental challenges that go along with healthy eating, Chris Jansen, who is the mental performance coach over at Pacific Elite Fitness, and myself have been working pretty hard on your survey responses and we’re developing a series of live webinars that are going to teach you how to stick to a diet. It’s actually going to be called (my surprise) the Diet Dominator. Stay tuned, if you subscribe to the Ben Greenfields Fitness Newsletter which you can grab for free over bengreenfieldfitness.com, I’m gonna give our listeners the first tab that taking part in these webinars and they should launch fairly soon. So stay tuned for that. It’s called the Diet Dominator and I wanted to make sure that people know about that and….
Brock: I’d still think you’d get more hits if it was Diet Dominatrix.
Ben: I probably would but not from the crowd that we’re trying to target for this.
Brock: Okay. Thanks for the hits men.
Ben: Yes, that’s true. And then the other thing that I wanted to mention I don’t know if this is a special announcement or not but, I figured out a really cool way, if you like to use audio to help you to sleep. I know there are some people out there that use white noise apps. I put together a pretty cool audio track that I was using down in Hawaii so it’ll make me sleep just because you’re in a different time zone and sometimes, you’re waking up three hours early. So, all I did was I downloaded one of these free 20-minute body scan mp3s, you can find them all over the internet and if anybody wants to link to the one that I used just leave me a comment in the show notes to this episode. It’s about 20 minutes of body scanning and body scanning is where you start down at your toes, you can put and relax your toes then you move up to your legs and your hips and your stomach and your face and your forehead until you’ve basically relaxed your whole body. And I created a sleep playlist that went straight from that 20-minute relaxation scenario into a delta wave frequency binaural beats that kinda lower your brain into these delta waves. And it worked really well. So, kind of a cool way to lower yourself to sleep so what I did in iTunes was I created this sleep playlist where I just had literally 8 hours of these delta wave beats that were preceded by this 20-minute body scan. So, put your body in this total state of relaxation and takes you into delta wave activation. So, for those of you who like to sleep hack and there’s audio and stuff, there’s a quick tip for you and just leave a comment for me in the show notes if you want some links to the stuff I use with just some pretty downloads I got off the internet, basically. One last thing, probiotics video I put up over an hour-long live kitchen presentation in Watch Me and My Wife teach you how to make your own probiotics at home. It’s free. It’s posted over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. So, check that out if you haven’t been over there and watch that video. I think it’s super helpful for any of you who wanna learn how to make your own kimchi and sour crout and stuff like that.
Brock: Or anybody who’s concerned about what kind of yogurt to buy after last week’s podcast.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: Just make it yourself.
Listener Q and A:
Graeme: Hey Ben and Brock! It’s Graeme from Australia. I’ve got a question or a bit of a theory about maybe using a fasting diet as part of recovery. If you look at some of the markers after marathon or an Ironman like inflammation markers and oxidation markers, well those are exactly the same things we choose when you fast. What I was wondering is, could you use a fasting diet maybe 2 days after a marathon or an Ironman as a way of expediting recovery. Appreciate your podcast.
Ben: You know this is an interesting question because it’s absolutely true that fasting can have a pretty cool effect on inflammation. And there was in particular, a study done a few years ago but it was in the annals of nutrition and metabolism that looked at what happened to inflammatory markers in people who are observing Ramadan which is basically just a series of intermittent fast, some are just not eating at all from morning to evening.
Brock: Sunrise to sunset.
Ben: Yeah. And they collected twice daily blood samples on these people and they found significant reductions in inflammatory markers. So, you’ve got these traditional markers that you tend to test when you’re looking at whole body inflammation. One is interleukin 6 and interleukin 6 is this pro inflammatory substance. It’s released by your macrophages which are your white blood cells. And a ton of studies have shown that what happens with this interleukin 6 is it’s produced by adipose tissue (fat tissue) in your abdomen or also what called your visceral fat tissue which is some of the deeper fat tissue runs your organs and this interleukin 6 tends to be inflammatory and it can bind to microbes and it can help the immune system attack form and damage cells and you tend to see it in higher amounts when there’s higher immune system activity but they found that this interleukin 6 tended to decrease when you were in a fasted state specifically implying that the immune system is allowed to settle down a little bit. C-reactive protein is another inflammatory marker that you tend to measure you’re looking specifically at risk factor for cardiovascular disease but it can also be really really elevated when you have, for example, ran a marathon and that’s something else that you can measure. And then the last thing that they measured was something called homocysteine and homocysteine is another inflammatory molecule that reacts with proteins. And high homocysteine levels cause a lot of what’s called oxidative damage. They cause inflammation of many many times in the gut and so elevated homocysteine levels, that’s something you can also measure as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease but also for general whole body inflammation. And so, all of these tended to decrease when intermittent fasting protocol was being observed.
So, when you’ve run a marathon, of course, you wouldn’t wanna be fasted right away because your body does need nutrients for cellular repair and recovery. It needs some carbohydrate to replenish the body’s glycogen stores because a lower immune system activity can occur when you’re in a severely glycogen-depleted state following a hard workout. And then, of course, you need amino acids for cellular repair and recovery. So, crossing the finish line of a marathon and going straight into a fast sounds horribly unpleasant for those of us who slam to pizza and beer post race. But it could also be very stressful on the body. However, once you’ve adequately replenished the body’s energy stores and you’ve had at least a 24-hour, possibly, up to a 48-hour window of re-feeding, you still got high levels of a lot of these inflammatory markers. In marathon runners, these inflammatory markers that I just mentioned, they’ve been observed to stay elevated for up to 19 days after the race. So, even though it hasn’t been looked at in studies, running a marathon, re-feeding and then going into a fasted protocol, it is highly likely that you may actually experience some beneficial anti-inflammatory effect of, after you’ve replenished the body’s energy stores having a day of lower calorie intake. Now, Graeme does mention a few supplements that may be helpful like using branch chain amino acids and I do recommend that. I recommend two things if you’re using this fasted type of protocol to keep the body from being stressed too much. One would be branch chain amino acids. The brand that I would recommend would be one called Recoverease because it not only have the amino acids to keep your body from essentially cannibalizing lean muscle tissue when you’re doing a fasted protocol but that also has proteolytic enzymes in it which, especially, when taken on an empty stomach which of course you’d have if you’re in a fasted state, have a really really good effect at breaking down fibrinogen, one of the primary causes of muscle soreness. And so you’ll get kind of a double whammy effect of the amino acids along with the proteolytic enzymes with Recoverease. And then the other one would be some type of a greens supplement. Greens supplements, whether they’re in capsule or powder form, even if you’re taking a bunch of spinach and kale and stuff like that and blending it, you’re highly alkalinic so, it can fight off a lot of that whole body acidity that you tend to experience after a hard effort like a marathon. And that also is something that can be quite useful that you use when you’re going through a fasted protocol – a little bit of a detox – what’s called an alkalinizing effect of the green supplement. So, I would include the greens supplement, I would include branch chain amino acids and then, of course, water. But yes, absolutely, there could be something to trying this protocol. I’ll put a link to the greens supplements and the branch chain amino acids supplement I recommend in the show notes and also on the MyList for this episode over at facebook.com/bgfitness.
Brock: Would it still actually qualify as a fast if you’re taking the greens supplements. I know the greens supplements that I’ve had has a considerable amount of calories.
Ben: Like how many?
Brock: I guess like 200 or so for 2 scoops. It’s the Living Feel Super Greens.
Ben: Well, Living Feel Super Greens is a meal replacement powder. That’s a form meal replacement powder.
Brock: So…you’re not talking about a real supplement but just a supplement.
Ben: Yeah, Usually, it’s like blends of spirulina with some blue green algae and broccoli and kelp. Like you take Capra greens which are the one that I use – super duper dense green supplements for a double dose serving of that, you’re looking at 40 calories max. So, it’s pretty insignificant.
Brock: Now, how about some omega 3 like some fish oil or something? Would that help with the inflammation as well?
Ben: Yeah. You tend to see a little bit of an anti inflammatory effect with the good triglyceride-based fish oil that’s been packaged with some antioxidants in it like some vitamin E and some astaxanthin stuff like that so, yeah, you could use a good high quality fish oil as well. But I definitely recommend getting the greens and amino acids in there and like an anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acid, absolutely. So Graeme, if your athletes try this protocol or if anybody else listening in tries this out and finds success with it in terms of decreasing soreness or helping you to feel better after a hard effort, and then go for it. I personally tend to eat like a pig for the week after I’ve done an Ironman or a marathon or something like that so, I’d have a tough time doing this one.
Stacy: Hi Ben and Brock! This is Stacy and I have a question for you. But first, let me give you some background. I first injured my hip about a year and a half ago and I was told that was trochanteric bursitis. Then in April this year, my back went out. About a day or two later, my stomach started hurting and it’s straight through from where my back hurts. You could put an aero for a _____[0:25:55.0]. I had therapy and many up and down since then and that MRI was done finally showing that I have degenerative disc disease between L5 and S1. Doctor said 100% he is sure this is the cause of my pain and even my hip issue. I’m only 41 and was told that this will just get worse and surgery may be in my future. My question is, can this be the cause of the pain and is there anything I can do about it and with regard to exercise, what can I do without making it worse? What kind of exercise can I do because I definitely don’t to aggravate it and make it disintegrate basically anymore. And then the next question is, are there any supplements that I can take that could help? I am 6’3” and weigh 150 lbs. My goals are just to be fit and maybe some mini-guns would be nice. And thank you for the podcast and everything you guys do.
Brock: Okay. I did a little bit of research myself on this one and the first thing I noticed was that’s a really terrible name for it. It’s not degenerative and it’s not really a disease so degenerative disease is a pretty bad name for it.
Ben: You mean it’s not degenerative because…
Brock: Because it doesn’t actually worsen or doesn’t necessarily worsen over time which we sort of just believe when you hear that word.
Ben: Yeah. And a lot of times, you don’t need surgery to fix degenerative disc disease. There are some cases where immediate surgery would be required like if you completely lose bowel or bladder control, that’s a pretty bad sign. You can also get what’s called cauda equina syndrome which is, you have this group of nerves that kinda hangs off the end of your spine and it looks like a horse’s tail, so literally, that’s the Latin term for the horse’s tail is cauda equina and what the syndrome which is a pretty serious disorder is extreme little back pain and weakness in the legs, pain that goes from the back into the legs and again, loss of bowel or bladder control and a situation like that a lot of times, you do need surgery. But in many cases, there can be non-surgical options for degenerative disc disease and alternative treatments. Physical therapy is of course, the most common treatment and what you’re doing, decompression type of exercise for the low back and a type of stretches and flexibility. But there are other things that you can try. For example, acupuncture, which is the use of these very very defined needles without medication can be used to treat pain. And the acupunctures would leave needles and precise points in your body’s vertical meridians and those are typically left in for 20-40 minutes and it causes your body to release pain phytochemicals like endorphins or serotonin and those may actually help to initiate a little bit of healing process as well. That’s one example of an alternative treatment for this that you may want to try. There are herbal remedies that are out there. A few traditional remedies that would be used would be different types of anti inflammatories like white willow bark cherry juice extract, turmeric, I’ve mentioned the joint supplement Capraflex before as one of the things that I found quite efficacious for joint pain and one that I’ve had a lot of people writing to me and tell me that they found to be especially useful for things like knees and hips and ankles and injuries but you may want to try something like that for degenerative disc disease as well because it does have many kind of aspirin-like compounds in it that don’t actually irritate the stomach and that can be useful for pain or inflammation and relief.
There’s another type of supplement called S-adenosylmethionine. It’s abbreviated SAME. And there’s a little bit of evidence that suggests that might be useful for a lot of age-related wear and tear type of spinal conditions like osteoarthritis or like degenerative disc disease. Interestingly, it’s also been shown to have a decent effect on depression as well but that’s just like a powder that you can get. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes but it’s pretty easy to find just about anywhere. But that would be another kind of supplement type of thing to look into. The last supplemental treatment that I would probably recommend the highest that you check out would be Hyaluronic acid or what’s called sodium hyaluronate. The reason that I recommend that is that when you’re looking at degenerative disc disease, a lot of times, you do see a little bit of cartilage damage. And your cartilage works kinda like a hydraulic system. And you can look at how hyaluronic acid as being like the hydraulic fluid that would fill up your spinal column and act as the fluid in that hydraulic system. You can get this restorative effect with hyaluronic acid and I’ve come across many many cases where people have tried out hyaluronic acid supplements for back pain, for back stiffness and found some really good results within one to two weeks. You have to take a pretty high dose of hyaluronic acid for something like this. In most cases, you take like a powder and you’d want around 500 mg of hyaluronic acid powder. I’ll put a link in the show notes. You can get the stuff off Amazon in pretty pure format but you mix that with sea salt and the actual formula is about 500 mg of hyaluronic acid powder and you mix that in about 10 g of sea salt and you put that into water and you need about half a liter of water or so. And that’s something that you can dose with and the 500 mg would be about a daily dose of hyaluronic acid and you would wanna mix that in bowl. You wanna mix it fresh because it’ll tend to degrade if it’s not in use. But that’s basically, it’s something that’s been used in anti-aging circles but it’s also something that you could definitely try for degenerative disc. You wanna use it for about a week to see if you notice results in terms of pain and range of motion. Now, of course, I need to throw in the medical disclaimer here that I don’t want you to misconstrue this as medical advice or any type of prescription. I’m simply reporting on what I found the people have tried when it comes to this and reported success with. But that’s something that you could certainly experiment with. I’ll put a link to just basic book Hyaluronic Acid and Sea Salt in the show notes if you wanna try it out. The other thing that can contribute to muscle stiffness is a lack of magnesium. Magnesium combined with MSM can actually do a pretty good job with neck pain and with back pain. And there is a specific type of magnesium + MSM lotion. It’s put up by a company called Magnetic Cleanse like a topical lotion. If you apply that topically along with oral consumption of hyaluronic acid, you’ll probably notice a little bit of an effect. If it were me, that’s what I would try. A very very last thing you may wanna look at and this is something that I’ve spoken with the physicians down the show before, Dr. David Minkoff, down at Lifeworks Wellness Center in Florida. He uses a lot of prolotherapy for this type of issues. Prolotherapy is basically an attempt to stimulate growth of new ligaments and tendon tissues using an injection of what’s called the proliferants which is sometimes like a sure water, sometimes it’s a mix of different enzymes, but it’s supposed to kick start the body’s healing process by crossing just a little bit of inflammation and usually several rounds of injections of prolotherapy or something that would be used in something like degenerative disc disease. But that’s another thing that you could visit with like an alternative medical practitioner about would be going for a series of prolotherapy sessions. I know it’s a lot of stuff I just threw at you but if you’re looking for an alternative to surgery, those are some of the things you could try.
Brock: Yeah. She also talks about whether or not she should exercise when she’s got this condition and I’m just looking, she also mentioned she’s 6’3” and 150 lbs. so, that’s quite light for that height. It’s very light for that height so, maybe some strengthening would really help out.
Ben: Yeah. Strengthening but you wanna be careful that is not really a compressive type of setting where you’re doing like an overhead dumbbell press or squat with something on the back or something of that nature. Generally, spinal decompression is gonna feel a lot better like doing, for example, the assisted pull up machine or a lat pull down or even a seated row or something of that nature. The other thing that has a really really good effect in terms of spinal decompression is swimming because that weightless environment it’s not gonna have much of the strengthening effect but it can actually could have a pain relieving effect. You see that a lot of times in a physical therapy setting for degenerative disc diseases are water therapies. And that’ll be another thing that you could utilize would be just experimenting with different strokes in the pool and using that as an exercise as well.
Brock: Those pull downs and pull ups will certainly get you the mini-guns that you’re mentioning too.
Ben: That’s right.
Anonymous: Yeah! I would like to ask a question. My question to you if you workout and when you get done, how much time we have to be able to still accumulate 2500 calories or to be effective to gain 1 lb. of muscle? That’s my question. Thank you very much.
Ben: The idea behind this question is that it takes approximately 2500 calories to gain a pound of muscle and around 3500 calories to gain a pound of fat. The problem is that even though if you take a lab rat and you get those 2500 calories to somehow build a pound of muscle, if you’re eating as many extra calories as you need to eat to gain significant amount of muscle, you do risk many of those calories getting converted into fat instead of muscle because you can only build muscle so quickly. And when you look at a lot of personal training programs, they’re taking those 2500 calories and dividing them to get around 350 – 400 extra calories per day to gain around a pound of muscle per week. The problem is that, in many many folks who eat those 350 – 400 extra calories per day, they tend to see some of that getting converted into fat. And so you see this slight rise in muscle but unless you’re exercising a lot, doing a ton of lifting, maybe doing some kind of a body building type of protocol, you tend to see this kind of high calorie intake changes resulting in an increase in muscle but also an increase in body fat. And what I have found is that in most people who are trying to gain muscle and who wanna make sure that the muscle is achieved via more of a lean gains type of protocol, via putting on muscle and not putting on body fat, shooting for closer to about a half pound of muscle a week tends to work a little bit better. And so when you’re shooting for closer to a half pound of muscle a week, generally, instead of eating 2500 calories per week, it’s closer to 1250 extra calories per week. So, you’re only looking at right around 150 – 200 extra calories per day – kinda over and above what your metabolic rate would be. The way that you would actually figure this out is you need to figure out your metabolic rate and you can do that using a metabolic laboratory, you can use that using what called bod pod if you’re a gymnast, one of those. You can even go to my website and getfitguy.com. That has some really good calorie calculators on it that will let you input your height and your weight and stuff like that and approximate your metabolic rate. You just take that metabolic rate and then you multiply by a certain factor. In most cases, where most people who are doing an exercise program, it’s 1.5. And then you add 150 – 200 calories to that and that’s your approximate amount that you would eat per day in order to put on about a half pound of muscle a week. And putting on about a half pound of muscle a week is going to, in most people, result in ability to put on muscle without also putting on fat. That’s kind of a route that I would take as far as how quickly after workout you need to eat extra calories. That doesn’t really matter as long as your total calorie intake by the end of the day comes out to being around 150-200 calories more than what your metabolic rate is or the amount of calories that you’re actually burning are.
You do, of course, wanna make sure that you generally try and give your body some carbohydrates and some amino acids within anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour after you finish working out- the closer to the workout, the better, especially if you haven’t had a good pre workout meal. But yeah, rather than 2500 calories a week for a pound of muscle a week, closer to 1250 extra calories per week for a half pound of muscle a week is gonna allow you to gain weight without gaining too much fat.
Anonymous: Hey! I wanted to know what’s the best way to lose fat if you’re a skinny guy but you gained a little weight in the stomach and you just wanna lose some stomach fat.
Brock: Okay. I actually went to the website bengreenfieldfitness.com. and searched for “belly fat” and there’s quite a lot of information there. One page in particular, called 10 Ways to Burn Belly Fat Fast and there’s a link in the show notes to that. But it is one of those topics that come up a lot so it’s probably worth going through one more time.
Ben: Yeah. There’s certain foods that are heavily associated with belly fat and I’ve always mentioned before in the show I think that sugar and alcohol are the 2 biggest things that I just say cut right away if you wanna get rid of that last little bit of fat around the waistline.
Brock: Oh my Cuba Libra!
Ben: Yeah. Your rum and cokes are out. However, if there are other things that would traditionally be viewed by a lot of people to be health foods that are the biggest culprits in both guys and girls when it comes to belly fat. Those traditionally thought of as potentially healthy foods would be first of all like whole wheat bread or whole grains, I will cut those out and generally, that’s because of their ability to really spike blood glucose levels, spike fat storage and insulin levels and essentially cause a little bit of gut inflammation. So, I would get rid of any of that stuff – bread, pretzels, cereals, chips, whole grains, cut it.
Brock: So when you’re talking about gut inflammation, that’s not…I think a lot of people think that that’s actually sort of the stuff is sticking out and makes our T-shirt look bad but you’re talking about something that’s a lot deeper inside the body, like in the gut.
Ben: Well, both. When you have, let’s say, the protein portion of wheat like wheat from a gluten and/or gliadin causing an inflammatory response in the gut, you not only get some damage to the villi of the small intestines so you get less vitamin and nutrient absorption and you get a little bit of an inflammatory and in cortisol response in the blood stream which can cause swelling and fluid retention and stuff like that. But you can also get a little bit of unresponsiveness of the nerves in the stomach. The same nerves that are responsible for enervating a lot of your stomach muscles, a lot of your ab muscles or also the nerves that are responsible for gut function. And so, inflammation in the gut can lead to lack of tone in the stomach muscles. So, both really – food for swelling, weight retention, immune system response, high cortisol levels and then also lack of nerve enervation to your stomach muscles. So, yes, both. Fruit juice would be another one. Fruit juices now loaded fructose which, if your muscle’s carbohydrates stores are full in your liver’s carbohydrates stores is gonna get very easily converted into fat. But you also tend to get a pretty dense and quick calorie load with fruit juice. So, in addition to whole grains, I would cut out fruit juice. Soy from tofu, soy milk and stuff like that, a lot of times, it is considered healthy alternative to regular milk but because of the estrogenic effect of soy, we tend to see that also being issue especially in guys not only with belly fat but also men boobs. So, soy is another thing that I would cut out.
The next thing would be vegetable oils. Vegetable oils, just because of what happens when you cook them in terms of oxidation, some of the inflammation in terms of the high amounts of omega 6’s, in the same way that you can get some inflammation from wheat and whole grain consumption, you tend to see somewhere amounts of inflammation from vegetable oil consumption. And you see, vegetable oils, a lot of times, in healthy foods – healthy packaged crackers and stuff like that and a lot of times, even healthy foods like vegetable and rice bowls that you might get at the restaurant. All of the things that people are going out of their way to eat, as they’re trying to fix their diet, can be gut bombs literally. Frozen yogurt, you see a lot of people start to cut out ice cream and go for frozen yogurt instead, I think that’s a big big issue when it comes to belly fat ‘cause you’re combining commercial dairy with all of its hormones and antibiotics and estrogenic type of compounds along with high amounts of sugar and it advertises fat-free in many cases. And I think that you’ll see a lot of people cutting out the ice cream and going for frozen yogurt instead and that really doesn’t do you any favors from a belly fat perspective as well. And then the last thing, the artificial sweeteners. I’d cut out Splenda, Aspartame, all these stuff, not only can have a pretty nasty effect on your gut flora and the good bacteria in your gut but it also can tend to spark the appetite and cause you to eat more food later on and these are also pretty heavily associated with overweight and obesity. So, whole grains, fruit juice, stuff with soy, vegetable oils, frozen yogurts and artificial sweeteners, you’ll tend to see all these things in a “healthy diet” but they’re associated with belly fat and I’d cut them out.
Brock: That’s some good advice. And also make sure you go to the websites. I know we’ve talked about it in depth a few other times.
Marianne: I want to lose about 10 lbs. so I can carry less weight and hopefully become a bit faster running and biking. But if I decrease caloric intake, I’ll lose weight but I get amenorrheic. I’m constantly hungry, thinking of food all the time and I feel weak and dizzy. When I eat enough, I’m not hungry but I gain weight which I attribute to muscle gain because my body fat percentage does not change.
Brock: Now she gives us a few some more breakdown and stuff but I think the most interesting thing is she says her diet is about 50% vegetables and fruits, 25% fish and chicken like proteins and 25% whole grains. And she also trains 6 days a week for about 2 hours each day.
Ben: Yeah. This is kind of classic female athlete triad – that’s basically the combination of low energy availability, so low calorie intake, combined with amenorrhea or loss of female reproductive function or lack of the menstrual period and then, osteoporosis or low bone density. And I’ve had a guess that if Marianne tested her bone density, it’d probably be pretty low. Now, Marianne says that she wants to lose about 10 lbs. And I think that that might confuse a lot of people because they may mentally associate this female athlete triad with being associated with really really skinny girls like cross-country runners and stuff like that. But the fact is there is no real association between the female athletic triad and body weight or BMI or body fat. It’s most heavily associated with lack of adequate energy availability and the entire hormonal cascade that causes low bone density. And the drop specifically in hormone called LH (luteinizing hormone) that leads to amenorrhea is all a function of low energy availability. It all comes straight from that. So, when we look at Marianne’s diet, what she needs to look at is basically calorie intake and that combined with low energy availability from the high high amounts of exercise. The only way to defeat the female athlete triad and actually very very quickly and effectively bring someone back out of that because it’s pretty simple to get the hormone levels back up, to get the fatty acid levels back up and to reboot the body is through dropping physical activity almost completely and combining that with high calorie intake and even, yes, shockingly, high carbohydrate intake.
That can reset the female athlete triad within 2 -4 weeks. I know it sounds simple, I know it sounds stupid, but essentially, what happens here when we look at this from an evolutionary perspective, is that drop in energy availability actually sparks this mental trigger in the female athlete or the female exerciser to increase physical activity and this is basically kind of an evolutionary response that when there is not enough food around, your body begins to drive itself towards physical activity to go out and find more food. It’s like a foraging hunting-gathering response. But the unfortunate thing is that rather than going out to find food, you’ll see that many female athletes or females who are engaging in calorie researching or energy researching will rather than using that drive to exercise to go to the grocery store and get food and fuel up and take care of their bodies again will instead hop on a treadmill or bicycle and use up the energy that way. And so that you create this vicious cycle in terms of energy depletion, hormone depletion, drop in luteinizing hormone combined with a real real rise in cortisol and a lot of the inflammation that can arise from the over-exercising and you get this triad. What I would recommend to Marianne would be dropping physical activity and then increasing calorie intake specifically increasing carbohydrate intake not from whole grains but getting lots of sweet potatoes and yams and parsnips and carrots and beets and your healthy carbohydrates continuing the vegetable and the fruit intake and just going through a 2-4 week reboot because a lot of times, the feelings of constant hunger and thinking of food all the time, a lot of that is due to real real high out-of-control levels of ghrelin and drop in leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that causes you to be hungry; leptin is the hormone that can help you to control appetite a little bit. Those tend to be way out of whack when you’ve got this female athlete triad going on and so that can help to fix those as well and deal with some of these hunger issues that Marianne is experiencing. So, basic big picture is if you are female and you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, you need to essentially, just give yourself 2-4 week reboot window where you eat what you want when you want. I don’t wanna say the pizza-beer diet ‘cause I’d rather you go gluten-free here as much as you can and combine that with not exercising too much. I know it sounds annoying and it sounds counter-intuitive but that’s really what you have to do to dig yourself out of this hole.
Brock: Yeah. It’s really hard for some people to hear taking that time off but really the time off will pay off big time in the long run.
Ben: Yeah. Absolutely! And like I mentioned with that Diet Dominator that Chris Jansen and I are gonna come out with here pretty soon, we’re gonna be addressing some of the issues as well. Not only issues of sticking to your diet but also kind of overcoming the mental barriers to changing up the way that you eat because it can be really really difficult especially for someone who is eating “extremely healthy” to make a change that they might perceive to be unhealthy or excessive when it comes to calorie consumption. We’ll be talking about that stuff too when we launch this program.
Brock: All right! Our next question comes from William.
William says: How do I make my muscles less susceptible to strains and pulls, particularly my hamstrings? I am 55 years old and have been competing at skiing and running at the serious levels since I was a child. I have a very healthy diet and low stress lifestyle. I’ve got a good handle on managing my muscle health. I’ve had the best success with some massage, topical magnesium, EMS complex, and so on and so on, these bunch of things. It sounds like he’s really taking good care of himself but he just wants to know, “Am I missing something or as other people have said to me, I’m doing okay for my age, just be grateful.”
Ben: You know, you get a lot of older folks especially older athletes finding themselves more susceptible to these strains and sprains and it can come down to a few things. The first thing is that when you look at the body, you wanna look at it from a fascial standpoint and fascia is this tough membrane bearing thickness that envelopes and separates everything in your body from your muscle groups to your bones literally down to each individual cell. Now, fascia is almost like this 3-dimensional net and it surrounds all of these different components of your body and in a normal and a hydrated and a healthy state, fascia is able to stretch and is able to move without restriction. And when it is restricted, you tend to see this lack of mobility and this increase susceptibility to sprains and strains. So, when you see fascia that’s not healthy, what you tend to see or what are called fascial adhesions and ideally, in fascia, the fibers run parallel to each other but often when the body has been damaged or with age, you tend to get fibers that tend to stick to other fibers running parallel to them almost like you’ve got a violin with a bunch of strings on it but all of a sudden the strings in the violin are glued together so it’s not gonna play correctly. Now, when you put strain on a fascial adhesion, you typically tend to make the issue even worse and also increase risk of injury and stretching by itself doesn’t tend to fix the issue. A lot of times, it tends to aggravate the issue of adhesion so you gotta do things other than just stretching to get rid of fascial adhesions. And this is where you tend to see things like deep tissue work being something that can help out quite a bit. When I say deep tissue work, I’m talking about literally working with a massage therapist or doing lots and lots of foam roller type of drills. This is what I’ve talked about in the show before like the Rumble Roller with the ridges sticking out of it to dig deep into the fascia and work down into the tissue to help to relieve a lot of these adhesions and to improve mobility and decrease a lot of this susceptibility to injury. Golf balls, tennis balls, stuff like that and rolling in areas that have lack of mobility that can help out quite a bit. Ask and working with massage therapist anywhere from once a week to once a month depending on what your wallet is able to handle. You can also support the fascia or even relieve some of the stress on the fascia from what called kinesio tape. If you to bengreenfieldfitness.com you could listen to an interview that I did with Gregg from Rock Tape. If you go and search for rock tape and he explains how kinesio tape actually can release some stress from the fascia and strategically placed adhesive taping can essentially reduce areas where fascia would normally be strained. Now, this type of taping method would really be something that you’d use if you found yourself susceptible to this type of issues and you wanted to go to a triathlon or a marathon or basketball game or soccer game or something like that. That can help usher in the process of improving your actual mobility. But that’s still something that I would consider to be a band aid. So, stretching is not going to be as effective as deep tissue work. The other thing that I’d really really focus on is actual hip mobility. So, in addition to doing some deep tissue work with foam roller, tennis ball, golf ball, and massage therapist, do some classic dynamic hip mobility drills like front to back leg swings, side to side leg swings, fire hydrants, reverse lunges, mountain climbers, hip thrust or squatting really low and then thrusting towards the sky. There’s actually really good series of hip mobility drills called the Agile Eight Hip Mobility Drills. I’ll put a link to the Agile Eight in the show notes to this episode but I would certainly be using a ton of dynamic stretching and hip mobility exercises rather than coming at this from a stretch to hamstring standpoint which again, isn’t really gonna do much for you especially when it comes to your fascia.
I would be going after this in terms of actual movements like some of the movements that I just mentioned like the mountain climbers, the deep squats and the lunges and stuff like that.
Brock: And so that would be different then because he did mention is I’ve lost a bit of spring and explosive power but if I train for that I tend to tweak things.
Ben: Yeah. See, that’s not plyometrics per se. Plyometrics would be like depth jumps and lunge jumps and stuff of that isn’t mobility as much as it is actual explosive exercises so I’ll be focusing more on dynamic mobility exercises and I’ll put a link in the show notes to some of my favorite hip mobility drills. And then when it comes to weight room exercises, stuff that can really help with improving hip mobility would be like dead lifts, deep squats, single leg squats, side to side lunges, again, not necessarily going after explosive exercises as much as exercises that take you through full range of motion. One really really good exercise to engage the hips to really work on hip extension and also improve hip mobility is just a like a simple Romanian dead lift where you’re picking the weight from about the sheen level in a dead lift style move but keeping the legs relatively straight, slight softness, slight bend in the knees but Romanian dead lifts are great exercise for improving hip mobility and hamstring strength without increasing the risk of straining the hamstrings as well. That’s another one I would look into but that’s what I’ve comment from the standpoint of – making sure you’re taking care of your fascia with some deep tissue work, doing some dynamic mobility especially like a dynamic warm up prior to exercise sessions and then just doing some weight training moves that take you through full range of motion.
Brock: Perfect! There you go, William. All right and our last question comes from Brigid.
Brigid says: I just listened to podcast 192. It talked about different oils and which ones are good for high heat content vs. others? There’s one that I’ve been using for all my stir fries, sautés, pan-frying fish and anything else that requires high heat. It’s called the “Grapeola” or “Grape Seed Oil”. Is this a good choice to use for all that I stated above? I also use it as a salad dressing mixed with Red Wine Vinegar.
Ben: Well, the interesting thing is that you have to consider more than the heat point or the smoke point of an oil when you’re looking whether or not it’s gonna be healthy to cook with. If you’ve listened to some of the things that I’ve said about fats and oils before, they’re basically made up of different fatty acid types – monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and then saturated fats. And if you look at what the predominant type of fatty acid is in a specific oil or specific fat, that helps to determine whether or not it’s should be exposed to heat in cooking. And the general rule of thumb is that if you look at an oil or fat and it’s got high levels of what are called polyunsaturated fats in it, then it shouldn’t really be used for cooking regardless of what’s listed as its smoke point. If it’s got high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in it, that means that it’s a highly reactive oil and that means that you’re gonna get a high amount of what’s called lipid oxidation and also free radical production which are two things that can contribute to inflammation in your body. You need to get those things taking place very quickly when anything that has high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids in it are exposed to any degree of heat, even very low heat. So, when you look at grape seed oil, it does have a really high smoke point. The smoke point on grape seed oil is 485 degrees but grape seed oil is over 70% polyunsaturated which means that it shouldn’t technically be exposed to any degree of heat. If you have grape seed oil, you could store it in a refrigerator and you could use it as in moderation a salad dressing or something like that. But because of the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in it, I wouldn’t cook with grape seed oil at all. And to illustrate this, you can take something like rice bran oil and rice bran oil’s smoke point is almost identical to that of grape seed oil but rice seed oil is only about 35% polyunsaturated, about half of the amounts of polyunsaturates compared to grape seed oil. And it’s much much higher in saturated fatty acids and those saturated fatty acids tend to protect more the delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids with something like rice bran oil is exposed to low heat cooking. So, that would be an example of where smoke point is not the only thing that you wanna look at. Some other oils that have lower levels of polyunsaturates and decent levels of saturated fatty acids that would be okay for higher heat cooking would be avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, or regular olive oil, not extra virgin olive oil but regular olive oil. And any of those would be better for higher heat cooking and the stuff that you’d wanna stay away from in addition to grape seed oil for cooking would be corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, hazel nut oil, anything like pine nut, pumpkin or wheat germ oil for any of those you wanna keep them away from heat, from light, from oxygen. And I think like I mentioned last week when we’re talking about olive oil is you wanna look for the cold pressed unrefined versions only. And then for anything that’s like a cod liver oil or fish oil or anything like that, those should never be sauté or cooking or anything of that nature. So, go above and beyond smoke point when you look at whether or not an oil should be used for higher heat cooking for sure.
Brock: Oh but that would be all right to use a grape seed oil for salad like she said.
Ben: Yeah. To use it with the salad dressing mixed with Red Wine Vinegar would be just fine but in terms of cooking at home, in addition to butter, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil and olive oil would be the ones to use for actual heat.
Brock: Unfortunately, those are all the most expensive ones on the shelf.
Ben: I don’t know what to tell you, Brock. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Brock: I don’t want cake.
Ben: I don’t want cake. I just want good oil, that’s all.
Brock: All right. Well, that wraps up today’s episode. Make sure you send us your questions and you can do so by going to bengreenfieldfitness.com and using the handy dandy record audio track button or you can go pacificfit on skype or you can just send an e-mail.
Ben: That’s right and we will link to everything that we talked about in this week’s show in the show notes for episode#213 at bengreenfieldfitness.com and also be sure to go to facebook.com/bgfitness and check out the MyList for this episode where you can click on and add to your own list some of the stuff that we talked about. So, that’s gonna wrap up today’s show. Be sure to leave a ranking in iTunes if we dig the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. And Brock will play us home.
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