How To Turn Yourself Into A Complete Beast Who Is Prepared To Take On Any Challenge Life Throws At You.


Ten months ago, I received a text from Joe DeSena, the founder of the Spartan race.

The text was simple and short. It read: “Are you going to be one of the first to do the Delta?”

I scratched my head at the question.

I had no clue what the Delta was.

But I sure do now.

And you’re about to discover how the Delta completely raised my ceiling of tolerance for pain, suffering, hardship, confidence, strength, endurance and pure grit, and how you can turn yourself into a complete beast who is prepared to take on any challenge life throws at you.

The Spartan Delta

So what exactly is the Spartan Delta?

In my article “Do You Have What It Takes To Be One Of The Strongest & Most Mentally Tough Citizens On Earth?“, and also the podcasts “What Is The Spartan Delta: Part 1” and “What Is The Spartan Delta: Part 2” I spell out the details of the Spartan Delta in great detail.

In short, the Delta is one of the most coveted and beautiful trophies in the adventure and endurance sports world, and a sign to yourself and the rest of the world that you possess everything it takes to take on any challenge, period. Completing a perfect Delta requires building an unbreakable body, an unshakeable mind, and a spirit forged in steel by completing all of the following in a single calendar year:

1) Complete a Spartan TriFecta (Sprint, Super, and Beast Spartan race)

2) Complete an Spartan Endurance TriFecta (Spartan 4 Hour Hurricane Heat, Spartan 12 Hour Hurricane Heat, and Spartan 32+ mile Ultra Beast) 

3) Complete a Spartan Training TriFecta (an SGX Spartan Coaching Certification, Spartan X Online Course Completion, and the extreme crucible that is the 48 hour+ Spartan Agoge event).

If half the phrases above sound like gobbledygook and you’re not familiar with Spartan racing terms, you can click here to go delve into the details of what each of the above component of the Delta involves.

But in a nutshell, the idea behind the Delta is that anybody who completes the Delta sets themselves apart in the endurance athlete, grit, military, obstacle racing, confidence, and mental toughness community. You become a leader, a model, a teacher, and a master of yourself. You can display the impressive Delta trophy proudly in your home or office. You can stamp it on your resume for instant proof that you have what it takes to complete any challenge.

And I’m about to give you the top tips, tricks and tools I personally used to become one of the first people on the face of the planet to complete a perfect Spartan Delta.

Part 1: The Spartan TriFecta

Let’s begin with Part 1 of the Spartan Delta: the Spartan Trifecta, which requires completing a Spartan Sprint distance (3-5 miles), Spartan Super distance (8-10 miles) and Spartan Beast distance (12+ miles) all in a single calendar year.

Below my are my top three tips for dominating your Spartan Trifecta. For these, and the other tips I’m going to give you in this article, I’ve focused on obstacle racing strategies that are highly practical, but that I believe fly “under-the-radar” in the obstacle racing world.

For your Spartan Sprint (and for Spartan racing in general) there are three primary strengths you must train: strengths that follow the classic 80/20 rule (despite being as little as 20% of your training, they are going to get you 80% of the results). Those strengths are…

…a gorilla-like grip…

…extremely efficient running form…

…and a calm and complete tolerance for cold water.

If you possess these three elements: grip strength, good running form and cold tolerance, you’re going to be able to handle just about any short obstacle race on the face of the planet. So how do you pull this off?

Here are a few of my most recommended strategies:

Try hanging for copious amounts of time from monkey bars and pull-ups bars. Work your way up to at least 20 minutes of amassed “hang time” per week, and the ability to hang for 3 minutes at a time.

Keep grip strengthening devices  in your car and bag.

Use a running metronome to ensure you are always running at 90+rpm.

Favor short, frequent runs with “perfect” biomechanics rather than long, draining, exhausting runs with poor form.

Learn to control your breath and heart rate in cold water 

Only take cold showers. Only. Ever.

For each of these variables, there are plenty more tips in the podcast and training program at, but for now, you know where to start.

For your Spartan Super, you’ll still want grip strength, good running form and cold tolerance but even if you have these strengths, the increased endurance demand and technical terrain of a Super can eat up your legs and your race time if you’re not ready. 

This is why, if you want to excel at the Spartan Super distance, I recommend at least one (yes, one) single, high-quality, demanding, gnarly, rock-and-root dotted trail run each week.

The distance? Shoot for sixty minutes. Very steep uphills, steep downhills and rock scrambling are all big bonuses.

Then there’s the Spartan Beast. I have plenty of tips in my article Top 10 Tips To Race A Spartan Beast (Or Any Other Long, Hilly Running Event or Obstacle Race), but if I had to choose just one, it would be…

…speed hiking.

That’s right: hiking. Whereas you can run at a steady, fasty clip for a Sprint and Super distance, you will inevitably encounter terrain or fatigue that requires spurts of speed-hiking when you’re in a Beast distance. This, combined with the fact that running too much can put a big beating on your joints, makes speed hiking a potent tool for a Beast.

A Beast has alot of hills, and many are simply too steep to efficiently run. Period.

A couple years ago, I found out one of the top Spartan racers, Matt Novakovich, actually owns a special kind of treadmill called an “incline treadmill”. He uses this treadmill, , which can go to about 40% incline, to build massive amounts of endurance and hill climbing economy without the joint impact. So, to prepare my body for the rigors of long Spartan races without the joint-beating effects of frequent running, I outfitted my garage with one (this was also highly recommended to me by my Spartan racing coach Yancy Culp.

Even if you don’t have a fancy incline treadmill, I’ll bet you can find some very steep hills somewhere around you, or you can find a hotel or skyscraper or parking garage with stairs, or even a stairmill at the gym, and start practicing steep and fast climbing intervals of 5-10 minutes in duration.

You don’t need to run these steep inclines, but you need to practice leaning forward and walking them fast (AKA “speed-hiking). You’re going to find new muscles in your lower back and your butt that you didn’t know existed, but that are going to payoff big time when it comes time to race a Beast.

And in case you need a primer on speed hiking, here’s a great article on how to train to walk uphill faster. One particularly helpful anecdote from the article is to:

“…here are a number of techniques that can be used to increase the speed of walking. Some of the elites like Kilian Jornet and Anton Kuprichka use both hands to push down on the leading leg as they walk up steep hills. Others use poles, others swing their arms more.

Stride length will also make a big difference. It will depend on the incline and your leg length so experiment with shorter and longer strides until you find which one is most effective.

The best way to do this is to pick a hill, walk up it and time yourself. Repeat the process focusing on something different each time and see what gives you the best results. For example focus on arm swing then try using your hands to push off your front leg and see which is quicker.

Keep in mind that this may change for a steeper or more gradual incline so experiment on different inclines.”

In addition, one thing you’ll notice many elite obstacle course racers doing is walking the very steep inclines, but then interjecting quick jogs when they cross trails, flat sections, etc. that give them a few quick seconds here and there that quickly add up.

So that’s it: to nail your Spartan TriFecta you must have grip strength, good running economy, cold tolerance, trail running experience and the ability to speed hike like a mountain goat.

Now let’s move on to the long stuff, shall we?

Part 2: The Endurance TriFecta

You’re now becoming a Delta expert, right? So you probably already know that the Endurance Trifecta portion of the Delta requires completing a four hour Hurricane Heat , a twelve hour Hurricane Heat, and a 30+ mile Spartan UltraBeast. 

Compared to a Sprint, Super and Beast, this is a whole new challenge to tackle. The Spartan race website describes the Hurricane Heat as:

“What is the Hurricane Heat? The Hurricane Heat gives runners the chance to meet and run with the staff and sometimes even the Founders of Spartan Race in a unique and memorable way. This special heat is held early in the mornings of the race and occasionally on the eve.”

Whatever. Words like “special” and “eve” and “meet” will fall from your vocabulary quite quickly once you actually find yourself in an actual Hurricane Heat, which is basically just like a Spartan Race, except for much longer, with more people barking orders in your face, with no finish line and a with a whole lot of what my friends in the armed forces like to refer to as “Mind-F*&^%^g”.

Let’s begin with the Four Hour Hurricane Heat. I did mine at the Washougal Spartan Race. I raced the Sprint in the morning then headed over the Hurricane Heat in the evening, close to sunset. And what exactly did I learn? Here are my three biggest lessons:

Lesson 1. Learn Teamwork. Just about everything you do in a Hurricane Heat – from dragging tractor tires with long knotted ropes, to relay races with sandbags, to carrying giant heavy objects through and under barbwire – is performed as a team. If you can’t communicate well with others or consider yourself to be a lone wolf, you’ll have a tough time. For both women and men, one book that flies under the radar when it comes to teamwork (and gangs, and tribes) is “The Way Of Men” by Jack Donovan (and his book “Becoming A Barbarian” is equally as good).

Lesson 2: Learn Leadership. Whether you like to lead or not, it’s highly likely you’ll be placed in a position of leadership while performing a Hurricane Heat. For example, at Washougal Hurricane Heat, four people out of forty were whisked away by the Spartan staff (also known as “Krypteia” during a Hurricane Heat) and given specific instructions to relay to the rest of the participants about the course direction and details for dragging a giant tire through a series of dirt tracks. They were then tasked with leading us through the course. A few of these “leaders” were quiet. Introverted. Easygoing and unassuming. And their teams failed. So learn to lead and learn to lead well in stressful situations. For this, I recommend you read “Extreme Ownership” by Navy SEAL and leadership expert Jocko Willink.

Lesson 3: Pay Attention To Detail. From the pre-race instructional video that throws in random objects to show up to your Hurricane Heat with (such as “a kickball”, “100 feet of paracord” or “three sharpies”) to the massive amounts of burpee penalties for not following an order “To The T”, to finding and orienteering to specific points on a map, you must develop an eye for intricate instructions and detail. Forget some random object like “fingernail clippers” or neglect to tie four knots in a rope or show up at 4:01pm instead of 3:59pm and you’re screwed. Getting screwed in a Spartan means, you guessed it, Burpees.

Next, when it comes to the twelve hour Hurricane Heat, I have plenty of tips and tricks for you – an entire article, in fact. My post “Hurricane Heat, Whole Foods Canola Oil, Turkish Baths, Anti-Inflammatory Overdose & Seven Of My Latest Recovery Tactics” begins like this:

“Last Friday, I stepped out of my car at 10pm, wandered across a lonely, forsaken field in the outskirts of Seattle with a backpack full of paracord, a sandbag, a multitool, some chemlights, a headlamp, a compass, a couple liters of water and a few other survival tools of choice…

…and proceeded to take part in my first ever twelve hourSpartan Hurricane Heat“, a brutal overnight crucible that includes – among other things – double 75lb sandbag carries, rope climbing up muddy cliffs, memory challenges, over a marathon of running and rucking with weight, and burpees.

Lots and lots of burpees.

In today’s article, you’re going to learn a bit more about what exactly a Hurricane Heat entails, but also discover the nitty-gritty details of the top tools and techniques I use to quickly bounce back from an event like this and to shut down inflammation as fast as possible.”

Anyways, you can click here to read more, but here’s what I don’t dwell upon in that article is this: two sandbags. Yes, for a period of time during that event, we were forced to carry two heavy (60 pound-ish) sandbags for nearly four hours, up and down hills, over and over again, one tiny step at a time.

How do you earth do you even prepare for something like that? Here are the two incredibly complex steps:

Step 1. Get two sandbags and fill them 40-60 pounds of sand. Don’t get fancy, expensive well-stitched sandbags from some fringe online fitness site. Get the cheapo white polypropylene ones and fill them with nasty, dirty, gritty sand, then seal with a ziptie. Make them ugly as hell.

Step 2. Carry these bags a variety of distances and terrains in every way possible – including two behind your head balanced on either shoulder with your hands clasped behind your neck, two clutched at your side a la Farmer’s Walking, one on your back and one on your side, one clutched to your chest and one on your back, one balanced on your shoulder and the other clutched to your chest – you get the idea. You can use this as a warm-up or a finisher to a workout: just walk around your friendly neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon with those dirty sandbags suffocating you.

And as for the Spartan UltraBeast, the 30+ mile portion of the Endurance TriFecta, you will want to (in addition, of course, to everything above)…

…eat smart, don’t fart…

…care for your feet…

…make yourself “burpee resilient”.

Let us begin with the first: “eating smart and not farting”. In my article “How Much Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat You Need To Stay Lean, Stay Sexy and Perform Like A Beast.“, I highlight the uncomfortable, gas-producing, fermenting baby monsters that you unleash in your gut when you consume the stereotypical fructose, maltodextrin and sugar infused beverages, bars and gels. During a long UltraBeast, these fermenting little nasties, after hours and hours, can cause gut distress, burps, heartburn, distraction, and, you guessed it, farts. So choose a clean burning fuel. I personally used a clean-burning, chia-seed based fuel modeled after exactly what the Taramuhara Indian tribe uses for their ultra-runs. It is called “ISKIATE” by Natural Force Nutrition and you can check it out here You can easily carry this ISKIATE fuel through the race in a double water bottle belt like this, and when combined with Oral IV (you can use 20% discount code BEN20 here and listen to my fascinating podcast on it here), your stomach will be absolutely bulletproof.

Next is foot care. Since I learned it from SEALFit coach Lance Cummings, the following 1-2-3 foot care strategy has banished blisters, dead toenails, cold feet and hot feet in any endurance event I’ve dropped into, whether four or 48 hours:

Step 1. Smear copious amounts of chamois cream or goo on your feet. I use this stuff called RunGoo, and nothing beats it. Cover your entire foot.

Step 2. Pull a pair of polypropylene liners over the goo, trying not to lose too much of the goo.

Step 3. Pull a pair of wool socks over the liners.

When you finish, each of your feet will be a slimy, slippery, well-protected organ harboured inside a placenta of protective goo. Proceed to put on your shoes and get down to business.

And as for burpee resilience, the process of making yourself completely immune to the dreaded burpee, while building biomechanical efficeincy to complete as many burpees as possible without excessively taxing your cardiovascular system?

It’s quite simply, really.

Choose one day of the week, and do thirty burpees for each waking hour of that day. This isn’t your workout for the day. Don’t skip your workout for the day. Do the burpees and your workout. As for the risk and funk of perspiration, trust me, I have experimented with this, and thirty burpees is not enough to break a full sweat, so these can be done at the office, and also bathrooms (wash your hands after, please), backyards, basements and anywhere else your body can go horizontal, then go vertical.

One day of the week for burpee resilience. You got this. Let’s move on.

Part 3: The Training Trifecta

Finally, we reach the training TriFecta, in which you must complete a Spartan SGX, a Spartan X and the dreaded Agoge. The first two will challenge your noggin and your thinking power. The latter will challenge every tiny chunk of sinew in your body.

The SGX is Spartan’s official training program, designed to give you the physical and mental capacity to take on whatever challenges are thrown your way, on and off the course.

When you click here to review the SGX calendar and take a look at the handful of two to three day SGX courses spread around the world, you will have the change to sign up for a class that involves a combination of traditional classroom-style training, nutrition and mindset modules, combined with body weight-focused workouts that are varied, novel and typically conducted in a group. In an SGX class, you not only put pen to paper, but you also bend, crawl, carry, climb, hang, jump, lift, lunge, pull, push, run, sprint, squat and twist – exactly what your body has been designed to do for over millions of years. When you’ve finished, you complete what I considered to be a surprisingly difficult final exam, which can be taken online after the course, but which is still pretty tough, and requires an 80%+ score to pass.

If I can give you one targeted tip for completing the SGX, it is this: understand the concept of “exercise progressions”, which basically involves splitting the components of training for a movement into basic “Phase I” exercises, then more advanced “Phase II” and “Phase III” exercises. Let’s take the rope climb, for example (the following rope climb module is lifted straight from the pages of my Obstacle Dominator 2.0 training program):

Vertical Rope

-Arms only with knee bicycling


Phase I:
-Wrist/hand/finger openers
-Hand grip trainer
-Hand expander bands
-Deep tissue forearm / elbow massage

Phase II:
-Dead hangs thumbs-on
-Dead hangs thumbs-off
-Pull-ups thumbs-on
-Pull-ups thumbs-off
-Hanging reverse crunches
-Cable rope pulls (gym)

Phase III:
-Rope climb repeat sets
-Towel pull-ups
-Baton grip pull-ups
-Weighted hanging reverse crunches

In an SGX class, you’ll be tasked with putting together many, many exercise progressions, so be sure to wrap your head around the concept beforehand if you want a much easier time in class.

Want more? Check out the current issue of the Strength & Conditioning Journal, which has an excellent article on rope climb techniques, and also check out the Obstacle Dominator 2.0 Training Plan, in which Hunter McIntyre (the world’s top obstacle course races) and I give detailed exercise progressions for everything from vertical walls to monkey bars to log weaves to balance beams to upside-down rope climbs and more. 

The next component of the Training Trifecta is the Spartan X. 

The Spartan X course is an educational program driven by Spartan principles. It is the result of over 1,000 interviews with psychologists, sociologists, monks, priests, educators, athletes, community leaders and business innovators gathering data as to what it takes to achieve success and live a “Spartan lifestyle”, and is based on the concept that people who commit – those who follow through with their goals, exhibit grit, and delay gratification – are more likely to be successful in life.

This online curriculum and its 10 modules are designed to help you get to the finish line of not just a race, but life itself, including job interviews, degrees, relationships and beyond. It’s a relatively long, hard, arduous online program, but those that get through the 30 days (or however long it takes you) will have an owner’s manual for life. It is basically your blueprint for when times get tough.

Each module in the Spartan X course contains a video component, online reading, offline challenges and online questions triggering transformation that all can be logged into what they call a “Battle Book”, the ultimate artifact of your Spartan X experience. Whether you are a student, business owner, sales manager, athlete, or individual, these Spartan X tools are the keys to getting the most out of the moments when resistance and discomfort seem to be everywhere.

For those hesitant about running a Spartan Race, the mental aspect is as important as the physical, and perhaps most importantly, for those who complete the challenge, the obstacle course of life will become more tolerable by putting these modules into action daily.

So how do I recommend you get through the intimidating length and complexity of the Spartan X Course?

Start here: don’t take it all on at once.

As I describe in my article “Why I Don’t Mow My Lawn (And Ten Other Time-Saving and Productivity Tips“, I’m a big fan of “chunking” long tasks into short bursts. This is very similar to my “bucket” concept, as described below and straight from the article above:

“I used to keep a checklist. One really long, annoying list, filled with items like:

-Write article about rehabilitating shoulder

-Call Grandma

-Arrange and schedule podcast interview 

-Clean garage

-Watch iMovie tutorial online

I thought I was being clever and efficient by keeping one long tally of everything I needed to get done and checking it off as I went along. After all, if you want to get things done, you need to write them down, right? Each night, I’d a crumple into an exhausted heap, having checked off as many items as possible. Then I’d wake up the next day to begin checking off items again.

Bad move.

The checklist is a cruel system—a never-ending loop with no start and no end.

I have a much smarter, cleaner system now—I use “buckets.” I simply assign days to specific tasks, and I do only those tasks on those specific days. For example:

-I do phone consults only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

-I shoot videos only on Tuesdays.

-I record audio only on Wednesdays.

-I write articles only on Fridays.

You get the idea. So if I get inspiration for, say, a video about how to make a low-carb kale smoothie, I don’t add that task to a big list and get around to it when I get to that part of the list. Nor do I drop everything and go make the video. I simply open up my Tuesday Evernote document, write down “shoot low-carb kale smoothie video,” and move on—forgetting about the smoothie video until Tuesday and moving that task off my plate into the Tuesday bucket.

So if I get through Tuesday’s bucket at 6 p.m., great. The rest of the day is free to use as I please; I don’t have to move on to the next item on an endless list. And yes, while major projects and recurring tasks generally are all assigned to specific days, there are some things that I do every day, such as working out for sixty minutes, writing fiction for fifteen minutes, or playing guitar for twenty minutes. But these are activities I consider to be self-improvement, and right up there with eating food or drinking water…”

Anyways, you can read more here. Based on this concept, the way that I personally approached the Spartan X was to simply set my stopwatch for 20 minutes each Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning (my Spartan X “buckets”, and log into the website to complete as much as I could in 20 minutes, day after day, week after week.

And honestly, using this approach, the Spartan X didn’t turn out to be too difficult a medal to snag for adding to my Spartan Delta trophy. 

Much unlike and in stark contrast to the next component of the Training Trifecta: the dreaded Spartan Agoge. So what exactly is this whole Spartan Agoge thing?

I give you all the nitty-gritty details in my article “Do You Have What It Takes To Be One Of The Strongest & Most Mentally Tough Citizens On Earth?“, but in a nutshell, it’s part endurance event and part educational event, in which you learn a host of survival skills, including shelter making, fire starting, navigation and additional essential wilderness skills to help you survive for 48-60 hours in below freezing temperatures in and around Pittsfield, Vermont.

During the entire event, you’re engaged in workouts (AKA “evolutions”) multiple classes, skills, skill acquisition, and everything you need to be an extremely fierce, well-equipped, and prepared citizen of planet Earth.

So yeah, it’s pretty unique. And in my article “38 Degrees Below Zero, Blindfolded Skiing, Frozen Koolaid Fish & More: What To Expect And How To Prepare For The Spartan Agoge“, I give you a full breakdown of all three days of the most recent Winter Spartan Agoge (this was numbered as “Agoge 001”), and you’ll also get packing tips, eating tips, recovery tips, mental and physical prep tips, and much more.

Here’s the deal: you need to train hard, train smart, pay attention to everything I’ve already written in this article, but you should also be prepared to engage in a bit of better living through science and biohacking to fill in the tiny gaps that can make or break you during this event.

Take the cold, for example.

My Agoge occurred at 38 degrees below zero in Vermont. Some people lost their freaking toes. It occurred during the worst cold snap in the past 50 years of the East Coast of America.

And sure, I could’ve just brought some damn good gloves.

But I also snuck in some hot hands to put inside the gloves. They weren’t on the packing list, but I brought them anyways. Worst case scenario is that I’d have to do a crapload of burpees if found with them. I also loaded with the nitric oxide precursor Niasafe to increase blood flow to my extremities. When I was in the dark rucking and moving and lifting and hauling and suffering, I also chomped on nicotine gum much of the time to keep my brain turned on when the extreme fatigue set in. Yes, you read right: nicotine gum. The stuff works.

Or take the heat, for example. Perhaps your Agoge will be in mid-summer. A hyperhydration compound called “glycerol” got banned by WADA years ago as an illegal, unapproved way to water load and assist one’s body with extreme cooling, but as I recently reported on my Twitter account,  this legal, cheap sodium chloride tablet trick works even better than glycerol, and you can get this stuff easily on Amazon.

As I report in this “Hacking The Heat” article in LAVA magazine, you can also keep your neck and spinal fluid cold with frequent chunks of ice down the back of your neck, or frozen water bottles rubbed against the back of your neck. Easy trick, but it works and it works fast. And as I report in “Top 10 Tips To Race A Spartan Beast (Or Any Other Long, Hilly Running Event or Obstacle Race)“, you’ll always want a mustard packet from you local fast-food restaurant or salt capsules or pickle juice or anything else with a nasty, pucker-inducing, extremely salty taste because if and when you cramp, the mere taste of such a thing on your tongue can nearly instantly reduce a cramp.

So don’t just beat yourself up with hard workouts. Be smart too. And while nicotine gum and mustard packets may seem like trite and silly endurance hacks, they are the type of small, smart things you can do to get a slight extra advantage and to keep you just a bit more comfortable in a very, very uncomfortable scenario.


So was spending an entire year in pursuit of and in completion of the coveted Spartan Delta everything it promised to be?

In a word, yes.


This thing got me out of bed and off the couch every freakin’ day, without fail.

It made me conquer my fears and fly around the country to do very uncomfortable things, even though I’d have much rather been at home doing my ho-hum, stereotypical familiar workouts. It made me face stuff that made me uncomfortable, like an icy cold soak every morning to give myself steel-like nerves and blood vessels that could handle plunging into lakes on top of mountains during races. It pulled my ass into the steep hills to ruck when I wanted to be other places, like lying in bed or at a party. It made me build stamina and stick-to-it-ive-ness and endurance and grit every single day because there was always an empty slot on the Delta trophy that needed filling.

It made sweat every day. Shiver every day. Get fatigued every day. Go hungry every day.

It made me, in the words of author Nassim Taleb, anti-fragile. Extremely, extremely anti-freaking-fragile.

And when stood in front of my twin eight year old boys and proudly placed that final medal on the final empty slot of my Spartan Delta trophy, it made me feel like a complete beast, ready to take on any challenge that life would every throw at me.

As a matter of fact, of all the trophies I’ve ever earned, it is my Delta that I am most proud of.


So what are you waiting for?

Quit making excuses.

Go claim your Delta.  

You can click here to get started.

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and I promise to reply. Finally, if you need a complete, done-for-you, zero-guesswork training, nutrition and mental plan to get ready for any obstacle race distance and difficulty, I’d highly recommend you check out Obstacle Dominator 2.0, an obstacle course training plan written by the world’s top obstacle course racer (Hunter McIntyre) and yours truly. It’s still $20 off until next weekend (October 31). Enjoy!


The Weekly Roundup: Your Go-To Guide For Everything You May Have Missed This Week & More!


Welcome to my brand new Weekly Roundup!

In one convenient post, you’re about to discover the most important things I’ve noticed this week, including the latest news from the fronts of fitness, nutrition, health, wellness, biohacking and anti-aging research, the top photos, videos and stories from this week, upcoming events and speaking appearances, giveaways, specials and a host of other things you may have missed.

Let’s do this!

Podcasts I Recorded This Week:

Why ADD And ADHD Are Good For You (And Supplements, Foods & Lifestyle Strategies To Help With ADD & ADHD).


What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health, How To Heal Tendons & Ligaments Faster, Natural Ways To Decrease Cortisol & More!


Popular Podcasts I Was On This Week:

I discussed my personal life with Hayden Wilson…

We explored my life journey, how I got to this point, what a ‘regular’ day looks like, some of the experiments I’ve taken ‘too far’, my podcasting journey of over 10 years, the 3 structured habits I live by, and much more.

Articles I Published This Week:

The Ultimate Guide To Biohacking Your Testosterone: 17 Ways To Maximize Muscle-Building, Libido & Anti-Aging.

Should You Use This Controversial Hormone Marketed As A Natural “Fountain Of Youth”?

This Week’s Inner Circle News:

Inside the Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle, my private forum for personal interaction with me and my family, my amazing wife, Jesaa Greenfield, released her October Inner Circle Healthy Home Workshop this week. Check out the cover below to see the topics, and click here to learn how to live a more creative, natural, and simplified life!oct-2016-hhw


I was at the Spartan Ultra Beast in Tahoe and the National Endurance Sports Summit in New Jersey, and, for those of you who couldn’t make Tahoe or New Jersey, you can click here to RSVP and join me on October 29th For The Las Vegas Tough Mudder.

“… the hellish 24-hour endurance race, Tough Mudder Las Vegas features a challenging mix of desert mountains, lakefront scenery, and rocky terrain.”

You can click here to view the full Ben Greenfield Fitness calendar and all the events I will be at, and where you can join me for fun meetups, future events and conferences, races and more!

This Week’s Most Popular Instagram Pic:

Jessa and I got a little romantic in Kauai…

This Week’s Most Popular Tweet:

This Week’s Most Popular Facebook Post:

A little Throwback Thursday…

This Week’s Most Popular Snapchat Story:

I got a little crazy with ketones…

…but, as you may know, snapchat deletes stories after 24 hours of going live – you will have to follow me on Snapchat to find out why I drank $3000 of ketone esters and logged the whole experiment for you.

This Week’s Most Popular Pin from Pinterest:

We were running wild with OCR – no wonder our top pin was all about my buddy Hunter McIntyre, pro endurance athlete, Broken Skull winner, BoundlessTV co-host, obstacle course racing champion and self-described macho man.

Cool New Products:

The world’s top obstacle course racer, Hunter McIntyre, and me launched our new Obstacle Dominator – Obstacle Racing and Spartan Race Training Plan 2.0 (Full Digital Package).

“This is the groundbreaking, done-for-you obstacle training program designed by Greenfield Fitness Systems head coach Ben Greenfield and top Spartan athlete Hunter McIntyre. You can click here to go to the official page for this training package, or you can simply keep reading below to get details on all nine components of this complete obstacle racing and Spartan race trainin plan!”

…and, we’re running a $20 discount – the $97 Full Digital Package is only $77 until Oct 31st.

Obstacle Dominator 2.0

Click here for everything else I have created, including supplements, books, gear, and more.

And…This Week’s Big Giveaway:

We’re giving away a sauna. Yep, a full-on, giant infrared sauna…

…and you can click here to enter to win a Clearlight Saunctuary Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna!

Only Clearlight Saunas have no EMF or ELF exposure, a 100% Lifetime Warranty and 500w Full Spectrum heaters with near, mid and far infrared.

Free shipping to the Grand Prize Winner is included! (total value $5995) Winner will be announced on Ben’s mid-November upcoming sauna podcast.

Leave any questions, comments, or feedback below – or any news of the week that you think I should have added – and I will be sure to reply.  



Does A 20-Minute-Long Once-A-Week Workout Really Work?


It’s that time of week again – the day when I give you a sneak peek at practical, quick and dirty fitness tips from this week’s Get-Fit Guy article.

See, each week, over at the Quick & Dirty Tips Network, I produce a free, easy-to-read article, accompanied by a short 5-10 minute audio version of that article. Everything there is focused on the latest fitness research, exercise news, and quick and highly practical muscle gain, fat loss and physical performance tips. It’s called “The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick & Dirty Tips To Slim Down & Shape Up”.

Here’s your sneak peek from this week’s article,“Does A 20-Minute-Long Once-A-Week Workout Really Work?”.

“…In an Inc. Magazine article, the author describes her growing frustration over being strapped to a chair all day at the office unable to adequately exercises, and then her amazement upon speaking to her 50-something year old fit hair stylist who goes to a place where she’s strapped into special exercise machines, wears her regular clothes, doesn’t break a sweat, and performs a full-body workout in 20 minutes.

She then goes on to describe something called “high-intensity, slow-motion strength training”, in which you would do something like, say, a machine leg press, but you’d only do one single set, and you would take a very long, drawn out, all-the-muscles-in-my-body-burning time to perform that set (e.g. nine reps over three minutes), You’d then hit every other major muscle group, from upper body to core, with just one single, hard, teeth-gritting super slow set and…voila. Within 20 minutes, you’re done.”

Want to take a deeper dive? Read the whole article? Grab the audio version? Click here to go check it out now or bookmark for later.

Finally, if you have your own ideas for future fitness articles you’d like to see me write, leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Should You Use This Controversial Hormone Marketed As A Natural “Fountain Of Youth”?


The cryptic message from my biohacking, exercise-science-obsessed, name-shall-remain-anonymous friend read like this:

“Ben…here is the sleep/fat loss/muscle gain stack I am now using:

Ipamorelin at 200mcg 1x/day
-Mod-GRF frag at 100mcg 2x/day
IGF-1 at 50mcg post-workout…”

Unless you lurk on bodybuilding forums, you’re on the very pointy edge of anti-aging and biohacking, or you’ve read my previous articles on “peptide injections”, this message is likely Greek to you.

But ever since the 1970’s, scientists have observed that although we produce substantial amounts of both IGF-1 and human growth hormone (HGH) in childhood, these hormones decrease drastically by the time we reach old age. They also noticed that IGF-1 could possibly be manipulated to extend life and to prolong the deteriorating effects of aging (you can read the research here).

In addition, scientists have observed that those who supplemented with IGF-1 experienced a preponderance of new brain cell growth and new muscle mass and new studies confirmed this to be true, even among individuals with both brain damage and muscle-wasting sarcopenia. Furthermore, research studies have found IGF-1 to increase feelings of youthfulness, improve well-being, and even to alleviate depression.

So thus we now find that, similar to stacking smart drugs, stacking muscle gain supplements and stacking fat loss aids, biohackers, anti-aging enthusiasts and a growing number of seemingly smart people are now stacking the very same type of growth hormones, IGF-1 precursors and other compounds mentioned in the “cryptic message” above.

And in this article, I’m going to fill you in on these controversial hormone injections these folks are now using, whether you should use these “fountain of youth” growth hormones and growth hormone precursors, and a trilogy of natural growth hormone building alternatives you can use should you choose not to take the risk.


What Is IGF-1?

IGF-1, or “insulin-like growth factor“, is a complex and controversial compound often hailed as a hormonal “fountain of youth”…

…but at the same time, IFG-1 has also been associated with compromised longevity and even certain cancers.

So what is IGF-1?

Technically, it is a “protein-peptide hormone” which means that it consists of 70 amino acids bonded together. Just like the peptides I’ve written about in the past, this means that it must be injected, because otherwise IGF-1 simply degrades in the gut, rendering it useless. Your own human growth hormone release promotes the synthesis of IGF-1 in your liver (and to smaller amounts, synthesis of IGF-1 by your muscles), your liver and muscles then synthesize IGF-1 and then, in the case of your liver, subsequently package the IGF-1 with binding proteins for transport into the blood. In a type of anabolic positive-feedback loop, IGF-1 then further increases growth hormone’s anabolic effects.

IGF-1 is so named because of its close resemblance to insulin. Because IGF-1 is so similar to insulin, it interacts with insulin receptors on the surface of your cells, produces some of the same effects as insulin and even magnifies the effect of insulin. For example, one primary effect of both excess insulin and excess IGF-1 is hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). When you workout for a long time (longer than about one hour) your liver increases its release of IGF-binding protein (IGFBP-3) to prevent the onset of hypoglycemia that would otherwise happen as a result of the increased release of IGF-1 that occurs during training.

But the primary role of IGF-1 is not to transport glucose into cells. Instead, IGF-1’s primary role is to increase cellular division, cell growth and cell repair, particularly in the brain, heart and muscle…

and it is because of this crucial role in cell division that many scientists have suggested that excessive IGF-1 may play a role in several types of cancer.

This IGF-1 cancer link kinda makes sense. Just think about it.

Cancer can often be a process of uncontrolled cellular division. IGF-1 is not only pro-growth in a way that could increase this cellular division, but IGF-1 also inhibits apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Hence the theory among some in the medical community that tumors could increase synthesis of IGF-1 to keep themselves alive and to encourage the spread of cancer throughout the body. This doesn’t mean that IGF-1 directly causes cancer.

In other words, just because increased IGF-1 production can be caused by a tumor it doesn’t necessarily mean the IGF-1 caused a tumor. 

And IGF-1 is definitely not all bad news bears, especially if you’re fixing IGF-1 deficiencies without producing IGF-excesses.

For example, studies have shown that people deficient in IGF-1 have an increased chance of dying from a heart attack. This is because IGF-1 prevents the death of heart cells and offers protection to heart cells when the cells are stressed, such as during a heart attack or long amount of time without oxygen. IGF-1 has a similar protective effect on brain cells.

IGF-1 also increases the activity of muscle protein synthesis and the activity of muscle stem cells (also called satellite cells) for repair of damaged muscle. This is probably why intense weight training is one primary stimulus for a natural release of IGF-1 in muscle. As a matter of fact, exercise researchers have found that systemic IGF-1 normally produced in the liver isn’t even required for this type of muscle repair, as other IGF-1 forms produced by your own muscles during and post-exercise allows for adequate muscle tissue repair.

From the standpoint of protein synthesis and muscle repair, IGF-1 injections have also been shown to enhance the anticatabolic effects of insulin and to increase the protein synthesis normally induced by growth hormone. This is because, like insulin, IGF-1 encourages amino acid uptake into muscle cells, stimulates peripheral tissue uptake of glucose (which lowers blood glucose levels), and suppresses liver glucose production. That last fact is important and is actually why IGF-1 is even being considered as a diabetes-prevention drug. Insulin resistance can cause the liver to produce excess glucose, which then causes even more insulin insensitivity and can eventually result in type II diabetes, and IGF-1 can decrease the need for this type excessive insulin release.

In addition (and again, similar to insulin) IGF-1 can also increase glycogen synthesis, which allows for more carbohydrate-based energy storage for intense training bursts, such as sprinting or weight training.

Finally, patients deficient in growth hormone who get IGF-1 injections have shown increased rates of fat loss and fat oxidation. One theory for this is that, as you’ve just learned, IGF-1 can suppress circulating insulin, which would allow more burning of fatty acids from fat cells. This makes sense, since we do know that fat cells contain IGF-1 receptors, and this means that IGF-1 can interact with fat cells.

So we know that IGF-1 not only maintains both muscle and connective tissue, but also protects brain cells and heart cells, which is likely why it is often referred to as a potent “anti-aging” compound: a veritable fountain of youth.

We also know that IGF-1 enhances muscle gain, fat loss, and glycogen storage.

What’s not to love?


Natural Ways To Increase IGF-1

Let’s look at how to increase this stuff, shall we? Several factors affect IGF-1 production in your body.

For example, insufficient protein or calories can cause IGF-1 to plummet, while ample calories can cause IGF-1 to increase. For example, one study of women who fed with excess calories over and above their normal metabolic rate noted a 19% increase in IGF-1 after two weeks of overfeeding, with 46% of the weight gain from  lean mass and 54% from bodyfat. Fasting insulin doubled in these women, and testosterone levels also significantly increased.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to stuff your face 24-7 to experience IGF or growth hormone surges. You can simply implement re-feed meals or re-feed days in which you eat to slight caloric excess. When combined with intermittent fasting and days on which you consume lower calories, you can achieve an IGF-1 “sweet spot”.

Micronutrient status also affects IGF-1 production. Nutrients necessary to maintain IGF-1 include the minerals magnesium and zinc and thiamine (vitamin B1), with zinc being particularly important. In other words, eat your shellfish and pumpkin seeds, and throw in a bit of sea salt too.

Your level of physical activity also affects IGF-1, and heavy weight training for your legs is a particularly potent way to increase it. Some studies suggest that the effects of the popular anti-aging supplement DHEA actually arise due to this same type of increase in IGF-1 in the body that occurs with with weight training (so you choose: heavy barbell squats or a bottle of DHEA from the drugstore).

Drinking alcohol has also been shown to blunt the effects of IGF-1, while getting 7-9 hours of sleep has been shown to raise IGF-1 and growth hormone.

And (as you’ll discover later in this article) whey protein, colostrum and raw milk are other natural ways to increase IGF-1.

But let’s say you’ve already implemented the IGF-1 boosting strategies of adequate calories, sufficient protein, weight training, plenty of sleep, smart supplementation, mineral intake and alcohol moderation. Should you take the next step, wander into an anti-aging clinic, find an online pharmacy, lurk in the depths of bodybuilding forums, and begin IGF-1 injections?

Let’s find out if that’s a smart idea, shall we?


Should You Get IGF-1 Injections?

It’s not secret that bodybuilders, anti-aging enthusiasts and other professional athletes have been using IGF-1 injections for years, often along with growth hormone, anabolic steroids and insulin. In many cases, these compounds are “stacked” with other supplements that cause an even greater surge in growth hormone.

For example, there are Growth Hormone Releasing Peptides (GHRP’s with names such as ipamorelin and hexarein) which allow for a slow and steady growth hormone release that produces a pulse which mimics natural growth hormone release times and Growth Hormone Releasing Hormones (GHRH’s such as Mod-GRF) for an even stronger natural release of growth hormone and greater presence of growth hormone precursors known as GH “frags” or fragments.

Ironically, it only appears that the version of IGF-1 produced in your own muscle has any true anabolic effects. But nonetheless, many folks who’ve used IGF-1 claim to have experienced significant anabolic effects of injections. However, the only evidence for such anabolic effects have been shown in people who are already clinically deficient in IGF-1.

The prescription form of IGF-1 most often injected is “mecasermin”, which goes by the trade name Increlex. Manufactured using recombinant DNA technology, mecasermin is clinically used to treat IGF-1 deficiency and stunted growth. It is also prescribed to patients who have developed antibody resistance to normal growth hormone therapy. Increlex is actually identical to natural IGF-1, meaning that it has the identical 70 amino acid sequence of IGF-1 that the body produces. In other words, it’s not some kind of growth hormone “precursor”. It’s just straight up IGF-1.

The known side effects of IGF-1 injections include jaw pain, facial and hand swelling and heart-rhythm disturbances, especially if doses of more than 100 micrograms (mcg) are injected. Exceeding 100mcg of IGF-1 can actually cause your heart to stop beating and blood pressure to drop dramatically. This is caused by an IGF-1-induced drop in blood phosphate levels, and in the bodybuilding community is often prevented by administering phosphate with the IGF-1.

Then there’s the bloating. An increase in IGF-1 caused by either growth hormone or IGF-1 injections is thought to play a major role in producing the “bloated abs” effect often seen on  competitive bodybuilders. Adding insulin to an injection scenario significantly increases the chance of the bloating side effect showing up.

Why the bloat? All your organs have an extensive supply of both insulin and IGF-1 cell receptors, and providing an abundance of either or both of these hormones can lead to actual organ growth and organ hypertrophy, which contributes to the abdominal bloat (and which, I suspect, may not be an altogether healthy scenario).

But IGF-1 injections may soon be a thing of the past. Future use of IGF-1 will no doubt involve gene therapy, which directly targets genes that produce IGF-1 in muscle, usually by attaching specific gene activators to an inactive virus or vector that then enters into muscle cells. Studies in mice show that a procedure like this can cause  a 15% increase in muscle mass, along with a 14% increase in strength. Gene therapy in old mice has been shown to cause to a 27% increase in strength, along with regeneration of aging muscle. In one mouse study, the IGF-1 gene was placed in the animals’ glutes and calves, which resulted in up to a 115% increase in muscle-cross-sectional area.

But gene-therapy experiments have also resulted in patient deaths. The use of such therapies can cause the human body to experience fatal immune reactions to the vectors used to place the gene in the body. Another danger of gene therapy is an inability to control the expression of the gene, which could translate into a rapidly spreading cancer. Or the expression of the gene could spread from skeletal muscle into heart muscle, resulting in excessive heart muscle growth (known as left ventricular hypertrophy, or “athlete’s heart) that can cause premature heart failure.

Injections of other compounds along with IGF-1 (which is a popular practice) can also cause serious health issues. The idea is that after an user administers a GHRP (like Ipamorelin) along with IGF-1, a selective pulse is then sent that stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary to release even more growth hormone. But this may result in an eventual negative feedback loop that leaves you unable to produce your own growth hormone and stuck on injections forever. GHRP and synthetic HGH use has also been shown to cause joint pain, huge spikes in cortisol, excessive hunger, and splitting headaches.

And then there’s the confusing question of whether IGF-1 actually shortens life or lengthens life…let’s take a look at that, shall we?


Does IGF-1 Really Make You Live Longer?

Before scientists examined the intricacies of IGF-1 and its functions within the body, a researcher discovered that a little mouse, called the Ames Dwarf Mouse, completely lacked the gene for HGH and the ability to process IGF-1, yet lived 50% longer than other mice. You can see the study here.

Further studies confirmed that just about any mouse deprived of IGF-1 lived longer.

The initial mice studies were enough to dash the scientific community’s hopes for IGF-1.  And, at this point, scientists stopped purporting IGF-1 to prolong life and instead purported it to shorten life.

Despite the controversies, some scientists continued with additional studies and again proved IGF-1 to actually prolong life…at least in worms.  Then, in 2001, scientists discovered that the use of IGF-1 resulted in a proliferation of cancer cells, especially throughout the breast and colon, and a 2012 study found that both too much or too little IGF-1 could contribute to dying from cancer; implying that IGF-1 actually helped patients with terminal cancer live longer.

To make matters even more complex, a population of dwarfs from Israel and Equador, called the “Laron dwarfs”, who suffer stunted growth due to a deficiency of IGF-1, exhibit strikingly low rates of cancer. Scientists studying these people found that their negligible cancer risk, due to their deficiency of  IGF-1, has also enhanced their longevity.

In these dwarfs, the reduced IGF-1 production is caused by a faulty HGH receptor which prevents HGH from binding to its receptor and signaling the liver to produce IGF-1. As a result, these individuals display dwarfism, but seem to be healthier and more resistant to certain diseases than other populations with normal IGF-1 signaling.

Currently, scientists are learning exactly how IGF-1 is synthesized in the liver and how, perhaps, we can use IGF-1 to prolong life. In fact, a new study revealed that IGF-1 completely reversed cirrhosis of the liver – albeit in a rodent model.

So, you might be asking…

…I don’t get it, Ben – does IGF-1 make you live longer, or strip significant years off your life?

Here’s my take: I personally suspect based on the research-to-date that exogenous IGF-1 injections or growth hormone stacks in people who aren’t already clinically deficient in growth hormone is likely going to cause much more harm than benefit, including a potential accelerated-aging and pro-carcinogenic effect.

Then you cambine all these potential risks and conflicting research with the fact that IGF-1, GH, DHEA or any other such stack is completely banned by WADA and USADA. This means that if you’re, say, an Ironman triathlete or Spartan racer, you can’t legally use the stuff anyways.

So are there natural ways to increase IGF-1 without actually using exogenous IGF-1? You bet. Let’s take a look at three that I personally use.


Are There Ways To Naturally Increase IGF-1 Without Using Exogenous IGF-1?

So can you avoid syringes, lots of money for fringe chemical compounds and a potentially shortened lifespan…and still have adequate levels of IGF-1? 


One combination of natural supplements that boost IGF-1 with no injections required would simply be a one-two combo of whey protein and colostrum. Throw small bits of natural dairy into the mix and you’ve got a pretty potent trilogy for not just increasing IGF-1, but also all the fat loss, lean muscle gain, and cellular repair mechanisms that accompany a surge in growth hormone.

You’ve already learned that sufficient protein intake (above 0.5g/lb of body weight) can assist with adequate IGF-1 and growth hormone production. Whey protein provides your body with a complete profile of necessary amino acids, including leucine. Leucine is an amino acid that promotes greater muscle protein synthesis and assists the body while gaining lean muscle mass and losing fat tissue simultaneously.

In fact, a 2013 study confirmed that whey protein was more effective than soy protein or isocaloric carbohydrate control as a treatment to promoting lean body mass gains. And a 2014 study examining the thermogenic and fat burning qualities of whey protein showed whey protein increased fat loss among study participants.

Then there’s colostrum. Colostrum is packed with growth factors, including IGF-1, that amplify lean muscle gains and increase the body’s ability to burn fat. In many studies, colostrum has been shown to restore IGF-1 and stimulate IGF-1 production. Colostrum is also a natural immunity drug, containing antibodies and antigens that knock out disease-causing agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

The consumption of all dairy products have been shown to naturally raise IGF-1 levels , but I personally go straight to the source and both drink camel milk and other forms of raw milk (in moderation) and use goat’s milk colostrum. In scientific studies, colostrum supplements have proven to increase the amount of IGF-1 and IgA in the bloodstream (IgA is an important immunoglobulin that helps to ensure our immunity to pathogens, especially in the mucous membranes).

IGF-1 is the only natural hormone that can stimulate lean muscle mass gains and help the body choose to burn stored fat over simple glucose for fuel, meaning, you will burn off more fat. Studies demonstrate that only colostrum supplements containing lactoferrin can produce lean muscle gains that complement IGF-1 supplementation. That’s because it is actually the lactoferrin in some brands of colostrum that work to increase muscle mass and to burn adipose tissue. In fact, in a recent 2013 study, participants who supplemented with lactoferrin over a period of eight weeks experienced increased weight loss, reduced visceral and subcutaneous fat, reduced waist circumference, and reduced hip circumference.


Summary (& My “Trilogy” For Natural IGF-1 Production)

So, let’s cut straight to the chase.

I don’t recommend growth hormone stacks like IGF-1, GHRH’s, GHRP’s or any of the like. As you’ve just discovered, the risks and unknowns are just too great.

Plus, this stuff is banned by just about every international sporting body.

But for maintenance of adequate and natural IGF-1 and growth hormone, and to achieve that sweet spot of not becoming to pro-growth while also not becoming a weak, muscle-less noodle, that sweet spot of producing adequate insulin without producing too much, and that sweet spot of increasing cellular repair without letting cellular division get “out of control”, I have indeed been implementing three specific strategies: my IGF-1 “trilogy”.

In no particular order of importance, here they are: I swallow colostrum capsules every morning, I drink raw animal milk such as camel milk and goat milk in moderation, and I use the equivalent of around 30 grams of grass-fed whey protein each day in a smoothie (if you’re vegan or if whey protein doesn’t agree with your stomach, you can combine digestive enzymes with a vegan protein such as brown rice protein, pea protein or hemp protein for an effect similar to whey protein).

Here is exactly what I personally use:

NatureColostrum (4-8 capsules per day)

Grass Fed Whey Protein (20-30g per day)

Camel Milk (use code BEN20 for 20% off or other raw milk such as goat’s milk (4-8 ounces per day)

When combined with the other IGF-1 and growth hormone boosting strategies you’ve just discovered – such as eating adequate calories, heavy weight training, 7-9 hours of sleep per 24 hour cycle, adequate mineral intake and moderation of alcohol intake – these additional strategies will ensure you get all the anabolic effects of IGF-1 and growth hormone without having to resort to needles, syringes, prescriptions, online pharmacies and potentially dangerous self-experimentation.

So that’s it! What about you? Do you use IGF-1 or growth hormone injections? Would you? Do you have other questions about how to naturally increase IGF-1 or growth hormone, including the use of protein, colostrum, and dairy? Leave your questions below and I’ll reply!

Why ADD And ADHD Are Good For You (And Supplements, Foods & Lifestyle Strategies To Help With ADD & ADHD).


Peter Shankman, my guest in this podcast, truly believes that ADD and ADHD are good for you. He believes they’re not just good for you, but that they can be keys to success.

He hosts the website Faster Than Normal, a blog that focuses on the benefits of having ADD/HD and a podcast that interviews CEOs, celebrities, and other successful people who have ADD/HD, and have turned it to their advantage.

For several years, Peter has been public about the fact that he’s ADD/HD, and that he blames ADHD for most of his success. He’s best known for founding Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and as the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. a boutique social media, marketing and customer service strategy firm located in New York City.

Peter spends the majority of his time on the road, keynoting corporate events for clients including AmericanExpress, Sheraton, Saudi Aramco, Cisco, SAP, Sprint, The US Department of Defense, Walt Disney World and many more. In his little spare time he is a NASA Advisory Board member, angel investor in multiple start-ups, sub-4 marathon runner, Ironman and B-licensed skydiver. A tweet of his was voted one of the top 10 Tweets of 2011 by ABC News and Twitter. He also recently authored the bestselling book Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. He lives in New York City with his beautiful wife and daughter, and two psychotic cats.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Peter thinks that ADD and ADHD are good for you…[7:30]

-How do you know if you have ADD or ADHD or if you’re just a “busy” person…[16:20]

-The best book to read if you have ADD or ADHD…[16:46]

-Famous people who have ADD and ADHD (you’ll be surprised), including Ben Franklin, Seth Godin and more…[18:17]

-Whether ADD and ADHD is an actual condition, or just an overdiagnosis for people who are busy and get stuff done…[21:35]

-Peter’s top three easy and simple ways to “fast reboot” an ADHD brain…[30:14]

-Specific supplements that can help with ADD or ADHD…[38:27]

-How to eliminate decision-making fatigue and keep too many choices from “paralyzing” you…[41:40]

-What are the most important things you can do if you live with someone who has ADHD…[45:50]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dopamine Brain Food by NaturalStacks

-Book: Delivered From Distraction

-My original interview with Peter: Top Fitness Productivity Tips From Peter Shankman AND A Massive Fitness & Nutrition Q&A Bonus!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Peter or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

Pulling 8,800 Pound Fire Trucks By The Hair, Juggling Flaming Kettlebells, Discovering Underground Herbs & More: Logan Christopher & The Lost Empire Herbs Podcast.


Born without genetic gifts, my podcast guest today was once a weak and scrawny young man, who set out on a quest for the best body and brain secrets in his pursuit of super strength, mind power and radiant health. Nowadays, he’s known for his famous feats of pulling an 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair, juggling flaming kettlebells, supporting half a ton in the wrestler’s bridge and more. He is the author of many books, a coach and a public speaker, and you can access all the goodness he how produces on his website “Lost Empire Herbs“.

His name is Logan Christopher.

And yes, I am serious – as a performing strongman, Logan has pulled an antique fire truck by his hair, juggled kettlebells that have been lit on fire, done weighted back flips, supported half a ton in a wrestler’s bridge position, and many of the more typical old-time strongmen feats like phonebook tearing and nail bending.

In today’s podcast, we delve into neurolinguistic programming, hypnotism, energy medicine, psychology, herbalism and beyond, and during our discussion, you’ll discover:

-What Logan discovered when he traveled to the Amazon jungle to spend time with indigenous people for two weeks…[4:50]

The tea that Logan drank every morning while in the jungle to induce vomiting each morning…[6:23]

-How you can recall and interpret dreams more effectively…[8:35]

-How Logan went from being a weak and scrawny kid to pulling 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair…[14:00]

-The little-known strength training techniques Logan learned from old-timey strongmen training routines…[15:38]

-How Logan trained to juggle flaming kettlebells, and a simple trick to light a kettlebell on fire…[22:15 & 26:30]

-A trick called “sub-modalities” to get instant breakthroughs in strength and power, and to do exercises you haven’t been able to do before…[32:50]

-The three different forms of energy in Chinese medicine, and how to tap into each…[50:28]

-Why Ben puts black ant extract into his smoothies and shakes…[49:20]

-How to increase your prowess in the bedroom by not ejaculating and by using “jing” based herbs…[52:05]

-Why you may want to think twice about using the new “magical mushroom” formula purported to block bitter tastes…[60:10]

-An herbal root that most people don’t know about, but that has been used by Russian scientists and athletes for hundreds of years…[62:25]

-The Chinese root that keeps women “juicy”…[65:35]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dream Language: The Prophetic Power of Dreams, Revelations, and the Spirit of Wisdom

Achuar tribe of the Amazon

Guayusa herbal tea

Lost Empire Herbs (where you can get any of the herbal formulation that we discussed)

Food, Genes & Culture: Eating Right For Your Origins

The Mighty Atom: The Life and Times of Joseph L. Greenstein; Biography of a Superhuman

The Multi-Orgasmic Man

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Logan or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

Should You Lose Fat and Build Muscle At The Same Time?


It’s that time of week again – the day when I give you a sneak peek at practical, quick and dirty fitness tips from this week’s Get-Fit Guy article.

See, each week, over at the Quick & Dirty Tips Network, I produce a free, easy-to-read article, accompanied by a short 5-10 minute audio version of that article. Everything there is focused on the latest fitness research, exercise news, and quick and highly practical muscle gain, fat loss and physical performance tips. It’s called “The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick & Dirty Tips To Slim Down & Shape Up”.

Here’s your sneak peek from this week’s article, “Should You Lose Fat and Build Muscle At The Same Time?”

“…Back when I was a bodybuilder, it was common knowledge that one of the best ways to get a nice body – especially if the goal was the ultimate combination of lean muscle mass and low body fat – was to do a “bulking” phase of muscle gain, followed by a “stripping” or “cutting” phase of fat loss leading up to the show (in which one basically poses on stage in scant clothing while performing a highly entertaining “flex-off” against fellow competitors).

But new exercise science research suggests that my approach (and the approach of many other professional fitness enthusiasts and workout “gurus”) could be flawed when it comes to building muscle and losing fat. In this episode, you’re about to discover exactly what that new research says, and get practical tips based on this new science that will help you build muscle and lose fat, whether you’re pursuing bodybuilder-esque bulk or just want to get a lean body.”

Want to take a deeper dive? Read the whole article? Grab the audio version? Click here to go check it out now or bookmark for later.

Finally, if you have your own ideas for future fitness articles you’d like to see me write, leave your ideas in the comments section below.

How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables, Why A Plant Is Like An Upside-Down Human, Little-Known Superfood Plants & More!


It’s not often I read a book that is less than 100 pages long and I fold over and highlight nearly every page.

But that was indeed the case when I read the book “How (& Why) To Eat More Vegetables“, a book with a very simple title but a very wide range of practical plant-eating information I’ve never seen published elsewhere, including little-known superfood plants, why humans are like an upside down plant, how to make extremely nutritionally dense vegetable powders and much more.

The book was written by the guest of this podcast: Dr. Tom Cowan.

Dr. Cowan discovered the work of the two men who would have the most influence on his career while teaching gardening as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland, South Africa. He read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price, as well as Rudolf Steiner’s work on biodynamic agriculture. These events inspired him to pursue a medical degree and he graduated from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1984. After his residency in Family Practice at Johnson City Hospital in Johnson City, New York, he set up an anthroposophical medical practice in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Dr. Cowan relocated to San Francisco in 2003.

Dr. Cowan has served as vice president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophical Medicine and is a founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation™. During his career he has studied and written about many subjects in medicine. These include nutrition, homeoathy, anthroposophical medicine and herbal medicine.

He is the principal author of the book The Fourfold Path to Healing and is the co-author of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. He writes the “Ask the Doctor” column in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the foundation’s quarterly magazine, and has lectured throughout the United States and Canada. He has three children and three grandchildren and practices medicine in San Francisco, where he resides with his wife, Lynda Smith.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why a plant is like an upside-down human, carrots and roots are good for your sinus and head, leaves are good for your lungs, and flowers are good for your metabolic and reproductive systems…[15:30 & 19:12]

-Why Dr. Cowan believes that vegetables are vastly misunderstood and misused by modern “healthy” diets, such as the Paleo diet…[27:45, 32:50 & 45:00]

How commonly vilified foods such as beans and grains are actually good for you and a crucial part of an ancestrally appropriate diet…[29:35]

-Why you should seek out and learn to eat a special superfood vegetable called “Ashitaba”…[37:30]

-The little-known plant that can lower blood sugar more powerfully than the diabetic drug Metformin…[41:50]

-The fascinating tale of how the vegetable variety of “ancient Californians” compares to the vegetable variety of modern Californians today…[44:45 & 47:50]

-How the container that you store a vegetable or other food in can drastically affect the energy and nutrient bioavailability of that food…[51:30 & 52:50]

-Whether you should eat vegetables in their raw vs. cooked form…[56:35]

How to make vegetable powders from tomatoes that taste just like bacon…[60:35]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The 2016 Weston A. Price Foundation conference

The Fourfold Path to Healing

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Biodynamic wine

Anthroposophic medicine

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Cowan or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

32 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve, Fine-Tune Your Nervous System & Self-Hack Your Hormones.


This is a special Premium audio episode. Click here to activate a Premium subscription to the BenGreenfieldFitness show and access this and over 300 additional hidden audios, videos, pdf’s and more!

When it comes to your hormone balance, your sleep, your mood, your gut function, your physical performance, your cognitive power and nearly every other body and brain variable you want to optimize, nothing beats addressing the health of your vagus nerve.

In Podcast #341, I talk a bit about how to enhance your vagus nerve tone and “hack” your nervous system, but I really only scratched the surface of everything you can do to care for and enhance this incredibly important nerve.

So in today’s podcast, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about your vagus nerve and how to properly care for it. If you implement the tips in this episode, I guarantee you will be shocked at the results and effects on stress and heart rate variability, mental horsepower, physical performance, recovery, digestion, hormone balance, libido and much more.

My guest on this episode is Joseph Cohen.

Joe is the owner and main writer at Since upgrading or ‘biohacking’ himself, Joe has become an investor and entrepreneur, founding SelfDecode, a biotech company that helps people understand their genetics in order to optimize their health. SelfDecode will use genetics, blood tests, symptoms and other health data to predict beneficial outcomes for drugs, supplements, lifestyle and dietary changes in order to optimize health. Joe also consults with high profile executives, self-hackers and companies and is writing a book about optimizing health. Joe likes to spend his free time learning how to code.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Joe was, at one point, unemployable…[5:45]

-What the vagus nerve is and how it drastically affects health or disease various organs…[11:50 & 16:45]

-The nitty gritty science…how does the vagus nerve *work* exactly…[14:30]

-The best way to check your vagus nerve function…[43:15]

-Free and easy things you can do increase the health of our vagus nerve…[31:30]

-The best sleeping position for the vagus nerve…[44:15]

-Top foods and eating strategies hat help your vagus nerve…[35:30]

-Joe’s top piece of biohacking gear for the vagus nerve…[37:20]

-The three supplements for the vagus nerve…[41:20]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

32 Ways To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve article

Podcast #341 on “How To Hack Your Nervous System”

Alan Aragon’s Research Review

Perry Marshal book – Evolution 2.0 Breaking Deadlock Between Darwin & Design

Huperzine (club moss)

Galantamine nootropic herbs

Fish oil

Quick coherence technique video

ICES PEMF device

RS6330 genetic snip for vagus nerve health

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Joe or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

3 Quick & Dirty Tips To Be A Fitness Freak When Traveling.


It’s that time of week again – the day when I give you a sneak peek at practical, quick and dirty fitness tips from this week’s Get-Fit Guy article.

See, each week, over at the Quick & Dirty Tips Network, I produce a free, easy-to-read article, accompanied by a short 5-10 minute audio version of that article. Everything there is focused on the latest fitness research, exercise news, and quick and highly practical muscle gain, fat loss and physical performance tips. It’s called “The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick & Dirty Tips To Slim Down & Shape Up”.

Here’s your sneak peek from this week’s article, “3 Quick & Dirty Tips To Be A Fitness Freak When Traveling: Discover exactly how you can stay fit and workout when on the road, in a hotel, in an airport or anywhere else where maintaining fitness can be hard.”

“…I just returned from a three day conference.

While there, I was shocked at the number of conversations I overheard and number of people who mentioned to me (perhaps knowing I am a fitness “guru”) how much fitness they lose while traveling, participating in multi-day conferences, and jetting to and fro in planes, trains and automobiles without access to their normal daily workout routine or health club.

But I beg to differ. I’m not saying the following to brag, but rather to give you a personal example. As a guy who is on the road for an average of two weeks out of every month, I manage to:

-Maintain 3% body fat at 180 pounds of mostly muscle

-Compete in some of the most difficult races on the face of the planet

-Get sick an average of once every 3 years

-Squeeze 60-90 minutes of exercise and movement into every busy day

-Return from many days of travel across multiple time zones with zero jet-lag…”

Want to take a deeper dive? Read the whole article? Grab the audio version? Click here to go check it out now or bookmark for later.

Finally, if you have your own ideas for future fitness articles you’d like to see me write, leave your ideas in the comments section below.

10 Of My Go-To Insanity Workouts, A Documentary You Must See & A Free Book From Me.


Yesterday, I raced the brutal Spartan World Championships at Lake Tahoe.


Yep, as part of my quest this year to complete the intense, masochistic crucible called the “Spartan Delta”, I logged 30+ mountainous miles of barbwire crawling, heavy bucket carries, rope climbs, cold water plunges, log flips, boulder carries and all other manner of obstacle racing madness in a special flavor of Spartan racing called the Spartan “Ultra-Beast”.


Well, to really wrap your head around why, you should watch my buddy Scott Keneally’s highly entertaining, thoughtful and funny documentary “Rise Of The Sufferfests“, which explains exactly why folks like me do what we do, and why you should consider it too if you haven’t yet. It’s well worth a watch (and I only see about one movie every few months, so that says something, right?).

As a matter of fact, obstacle course races and mud runs like the Spartan, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash are now sweeping the nation. From 20,000 participants in it’s 2010 debut year, the Tough Mudder logged nearly 700,000 participants in 2013. With 350,000 participants in 2012, 60+ events in 2013, and featuring over 100 events in 2014, Reebok Spartan Race is one of the fastest growing events in the world. Tough Mudder and Spartan Race are the industry leaders and rivals, with each having about 2 million competitors enter its races since launching in 2010. The Warrior Dash (which caters to a less hardcore audience thanks to its shorter 3-mile courses) staged its first event in 2009 and has since drawn 2.5 million participants.

You get the idea. This sport is now dwarfing marathoning, triathlon-ing, and beyond – and there’s even a quest to get Spartan racing into the Olympics (I raced the test course in Dallas a few months ago and if Spartan does go to the Olympics, I guarantee it will be a thrilling spectator-style short course event).

The cool, convenient thing is that when you train for an obstacle race, you not only build full body fitness that allows you to hoist heavy sandbags over your head, but you also build the mobility to crawl under barbwire, the resilience to dive into cold mud pits, and an overall uncanny ability to conquer the unknown and withstand just about anything that gets thrown at your body.

So in this article, I’m going to give you 10 slightly insane obstacle training workouts that will spice up your workouts like nothing else, and completely redefine the way you train. You don’t need much equipment for these – just some heavy stuff and the willingness to tolerate physical discomfort.

Ready? Let’s jump right in. If you can tackle just a few of these a week, you’ll be ready to race obstacle courses – or at least be a helluva lot tougher.


Obstacle Course Workout #1: Butt Burner

A simple workout that requires just you and your body. And buns of steel.

–  400M walking lunges
– Run max distance for 5 minutes
– 400M walking lunges
– Run max distance for 4 minutes
– 400M walking lunges
– Run max distance for 3 minutes
– 400M walking lunges
– Run max distance 2 minutes
– 400M walking lunges
– Max distance run for 1 minutes


Obstacle Course Workout #2: Battle Rounds

Perfect for when you have one set of dumbbells and you want a lung-sucking workout that includes some significant load lifting.

Try this one wearing a Training Mask (yep, the science is legit in terms of carbon dioxide overload and inspiratory/expiratory muscle training, and you can use 15% discount code Green1 here). Do 3-5 rounds for time of:

–  50 leg levers
– 40 mountain climbers
– 30 burpees
– 20 kettlebell or dumbbell swings
– 10 dumbbell manmakers (40lb men/25lb women)


Obstacle Course Workout #3: The Running Bear

It’s called the bear because it feels like you have a bear on your back. Enjoy that feeling.

– Do 10 Bear complex using 95lbs for females or 135lbs for males. Then run 1 Mile.
– Then 8 Bear Complex, followed by running 800M.
– Then 6 Bear complex, followed by running 400M.
– And finally 4 Bear Complex followed by 200M and a final 2 Bear Complex.

The Bear Complex is a deadly five-lift complex consisting of a power clean, front squat, push press, back squat, and second push press. Completion of all five lifts counts as one rep. You choose between five sets of five reps, or five sets of seven reps, and rest for five minutes between each set either way.


Obstacle Course Workout #4: Sandy Stairs

All you need for this is something heavy to carry and a flight of stairs. You get to work your core during your “rest periods”. You’re welcome.

– Find a flight of stairs, preferably 3-5 flights
– At bottom of stairs, do 5-10 sandbag, rock or dumbbell clean and jerks (here’s how to make your own sandbag)
– Carry sandbag to top of stairs. Carry sandbag back down stairs.
– Set sandbag down and hold plank position for 60 seconds.
– Repeat for as many rounds as possible in available time.


Obstacle Course Workout #5: Row Your Boat

Don’t have a rowing machine? Then use a bike. But double the distance if you do it on a stationary bike.

Row 1000m, rest 2 minutes, row 800m, rest 90 seconds, row 600m, rest 60 seconds, row 400m, rest 30 seconds, and finally row 200m for an all out effort. Finish by hopping off the rowing machine for 30 burpees.


Obstacle Course Workout #6: Hotel Room Workout

I travel a ton and do body weight workouts like this quite a bit. I’ve also done similar workouts (without the cold shower of course) in airport terminals, parks, etc.

As many rounds as possible of:

10 lunge jumps per side
– 15 burpees
– 20 box jumps onto bed 
– 25 chair dips
– 30 jumping jacks
– Finish with a 2-5 minute cold shower

Oh, and if you didn’t listen to this podcast I just recorded on the best way to do body weight training, you need to.


Obstacle Course Workout #7: The Wrestler

You’ll feel like you’ve been in a wrestling match after this one. It’s admittedly a bit advanced.

Complete 3 rounds of:

– 75 burpees
– 30 squat tosses with sandbag
– 10-30 pistol squats each leg
– 10-30 pull-ups
– 5 rope climbs


Obstacle Course Workout #8: 5×5 With Sprint Finisher

This one gives you a very good combination of strength, speed and muscular endurance. Recover 60-90 seconds between the big weight training sets, and by “recover” (you guessed it), I mean do things like bird dog exercise, flutter kicks, clamshells, stretching, walking, etc. Not Snapchatting.
5 sets of 5 reps of:

– Deadlift
– Backsquat
– Shoulder Press
– Power clean
– Finisher: 10×30 second sprint at 8-10mph on 8-10% incline


Obstacle Course Workout #9: Hotel / Stairs Workout

A very good option for when the hotel gym is crappy.

Run one flight of stairs one step at a time. Stop on landing for 20 second isometric squat.
– Run next flight of stairs two steps at a time. Stop on landing for 20 push-ups.
– Run next flight of stairs by box jumping as many steps at a time. Stop on landing for 20 mountain climbers.
– Repeat for as many flights as possible.


Obstacle Course Workout #10: The Stairmaster

If you really fancy yourself as fit, try going from 5 to 1 minute, and then back up.

– 5 minutes hard stair climb, 100m walking lunges with 40lb dumbbells
– 4 minutes hard stair climb, 100m walking lunges with 40lb dumbbells
– 3 minutes hard stair climb, 100m walking lunges with 40lb dumbbells
– 2 minutes hard stair climb, 100m walking lunges with 40lb dumbbells
– 1  minutes hard stair climb, 100m walking lunges with 40lb dumbbells



Sure…to a puriust weight lifter or purist endurance runner, these workouts seem like a vaudevillesqe freak show. But you’d be surprised at the big increase in stress resilience, lactic acid tolerance, lung capacity and other important physiological parameters you can train with relatively little time when you sprinkle these in just a few times a week.

What do you think? Do you plan on trying any of these? What are your toughest workouts? Your key workouts? Your favorite workouts?

Share in the comments section below. I’m going to choose my favorite, or most insane workout, and I’m going to send you a signed copy of my book “Beyond Training“. Let the Sufferfest begin (and yes, check out that Rise Of The Sufferfests movie here, it’s worth watching).

The Art Of Hacking Your Brain Without Smart Drugs: A Podcast With Immersive Journalist, Adventurer & Author Neil Strauss.


Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Neil Strauss is an American author, journalist and ghostwriter, perhaps best known for his controversial best-selling book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, in which he describes his experiences in the seduction community in an effort to become a “pick-up artist.” He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also writes regularly for The New York Times.

But Neil’s interests go far beyond “seduction”.

For example, in his book Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, he spent three years surviving amongst survivalists, tax-dodgers, billionaire businessmen, and the government itself, and the book was hailed by Rolling Stone as an “escape plan” for the current world crisis.

When I visited Neil’s home in Malibu to record this interview, I found myself immersed with Neil in everything from advanced virtual reality game playing, crazy underwater pool workouts, surfing with internet celebrities and drinking “billion-dollar smoothies”, all of which you’ll hear about in this podcast recorded from Neil’s kitchen.

During our discussion, which gets slightly explicit at times, you’ll discover:

-Exactly how to do an underwater pool workout like Laird Hamilton…[7:25]

-The ingredients of the “billion dollar smoothie”…[12:50]

-Why Neil and I were surfing with internet celebrity Cameron Dallas prior to recording the episode…[16:20]

-Why Neil is so interested in advanced virtual reality gaming…[18:20]

-Why Neil checked himself into sex addiction therapy…[22:30]

-Neil’s uncomfortable volley of questions to me in which I potentially throw my Mom and Dad “under the bus”…[36:40 & 55:00]

-Neil’s three steps for “rewiring” your brain without the use of smart drugs or biohacks…[45:30 & 63:00]

-Why Neil paid to get thrown in the back of a trunk with his hands ziptied together…[77:30]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My podcast with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece about underwater workouts

-The book “Rules of the Game

The book “The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships

The book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

The book “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness

-The book “Radical Honesty” 

-The book “Superlife” 

Intranasal oxytocin 

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Neil or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

3 Chilling Ways To Get More Benefits Of Exercise By Using Cold Thermogenesis.


It’s that time of week again – the day when I give you a sneak peek at practical, quick and dirty fitness tips from this week’s Get-Fit Guy article.

See, each week, over at the Quick & Dirty Tips Network, I produce a free, easy-to-read article, accompanied by a short 5-10 minute audio version of that article. Everything there is focused on the latest fitness research, exercise news, and quick and highly practical muscle gain, fat loss and physical performance tips. It’s called “The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick & Dirty Tips To Slim Down & Shape Up”.

Here’s your sneak peek from this week’s article, “3 Chilling Ways To Get More Benefits Of Exercise By Using Cold Thermogenesis”.

“…I was recently reading a study called Running performance in the heat is improved by similar magnitude with pre-exercise cold-water immersion and mid-exercise facial water spray”. In the study, researchers compared the effects of pre-cooling  on running time trial performance and the physiological response to running. In this case, trained male runners completed a total of three 5 km running time trials on a non-motorized treadmill in relatively hot conditions (a nice balmy temperature of 91.4F!). Each trial included pre-cooling by cold-water immersion, which is basically sitting in a cold bath, mid-exercise cooling with a cold facial water spray, and a control group that (poor fellas) received no cooling at all…Running performance time was significantly faster following cold water immersion and also when getting sprayed with cold water during exercise…”

Want to take a deeper dive? Read the whole article? Grab the audio version? Click here to go check it out now or bookmark for later.

Finally, if you have your own ideas for future fitness articles you’d like to see me write, leave your ideas in the comments section below.

What Big Pharma Doesn’t Want You To Know About An Ancient Oil Invented By Four Robbers (And 10 Modern Ways To Use It).

Essential Oils

Check out this clip from a new film about essential oils…

The film, called “Ancient Secrets of Essential Oils“, delves into the world of essential oils and the fascinating history of where they come from, from ancient Egypt to the times of Christ to how they were used during the World Wars and how their resurgence is changing the way people view healthcare.

You learn how peppermint oil can be used to increase tolerance to lactic acid, to how frankincense can destroy cancer cells to why essential oils can never be classified as a drug by the FDA to why big pharma is definitely not a fan of these natural oils and much more.

As a matter of fact, even before this film came out, I myself have become a bit of an essential oil freak. Each day, without fail, I use at least three different essential oils (usually relaxing lavender, rose or bergamot in my bedroom and awakening peppermint, pine or rosemary in my office) and I always (and I mean always) have one particular “blend” of essentials oil in my travel bag which I’ll talk about later in this article.

When it comes to essential oils, I consider Dr. Sarah LoBisco – a naturopathic medical practitioner certified in functional medicine – to be my go-to source for all things essential oil related. When she was on my podcast episode “Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils For Fat Loss, Performance, Smart Drugs, Scar Healing, Detoxing And More” she discussed the scientific principles and research behind the anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that specific essential oils have, and how these oils can be used to treat various conditions such as inflammation and immune system disorders, and also improve physical and cognitive performance.

Dr. Sarah knows more about how to intelligently use essential oils than any other person I know. And because of this ability to tap into natural plant-based extracts, she’s able to pull off healing for patients, huge improvements in immune function, and even a competitive edge in athletes without turning to big pharma drugs.

In her practice, she uses specific essential oil blends to balance the body and mind of all her clients and patients. From Sarah’s point of view, every person (extreme athlete to soccer mom to CEO) who wants to dial-in focus, amp the mind up for competitive edge, or even experience the crazy phenomenon that happens with something as simple as sniffing peppermint oil should be using essential oils as part of their daily routine.

During our last conversation, Dr. Sarah explained to me 10 ways I could practically use one specific essential oils blends and gave me the entire how-to guide on everything related to this oil – from the science (and what the heck essential oils are), to the ancient history of this one particular oil, to why I should always keep it around the house, in my car and travel with to keep me from being susceptible to any viruses, bugs, or funky airport flus – whether used orally, topically or diffused into the air.

In this article, you’re going to learn exactly what Dr. Sarah has to say on the matter. Enjoy, leave your questions, comments and feedback in the comments section below and either Dr. Sarah or I will reply. If you click here, you can take a look at the actual brand and type of essential oils I use every day (there are many good brands out there, but I use one called “Young Living”).


What Are Essential Oils?

What if you were a science-geek aspiring to become a medical practitioner or pharmacist and got side-tracked by what you initially thought was “airy-fairy snack oil?” Not soon after, you found yourself in naturopathic medical school and becoming certified in functional medicine. You’d need to swallow a little bit of humble pie, right? Welcome to my world.

I started using essential oils over fifteen years ago. Even with my skepticism, these volatile constituents surprisingly produced results. I was impressed, I waived my acceptance letters into the conventional healthcare world and headed to the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. I wanted to learn the science beyond natural medicine while still embracing the strengths of mainstream medicine. In other words, I wanted to feed my brain all there was to know about the pharmacology and phytochemistry of herbal plants as therapeutic agents.

Since graduating, essential oils have been one of my most powerful health tools in my practice to balance the body, mind, and spirit. They also offer a competitive edge in athletes, not just in their ability to enhance focus and performance, but because they can keep someone in peak health.

Ben and I have been working together with essential oils for a few years. He’s asked me to share about one of our favorite essential oils blends to demonstrate the power and versatility that can be found in one 15ml bottle. So, let’s get to it…

After reading this article, you will have a better understanding of:

  • The science of essential oils
  • Their ancient history- turned modern vindication
  • 10 powerful ways one essential oils blend can become your best biohacking tool

A little disclaimer before I get started. The FDA has not smiled about correlating specific brands to independent research on individual oils. To keep the Feds happy, this overview will describe a formulation Ben and I use based on ancient tradition, references found in peer-reviewed journal, and my clinical experience.


The Science: Introduction to Essential Oils and Their Biochemistry

So what exactly are essential oils?

Essential oils are volatile secondary plant metabolites extracted from aromatic plant material by steam distillation or mechanical expression.1-10 Oils which are produced with the use of chemical solvents are not considered true essential oils due to the resulting alteration of chemical constituents from the solvent residues.1,10

These powerful compounds are produced by plants in order to provide defense from infestations, modulate immune function, and to stimulate various molecular pathways need for thriving.1-10 Their constituents can interact with cellular pathways to alter biochemical responses and optimize physiological function.1-14 Essential oils have been demonstrated to: inhibit microbe growth,3-5, 8-10 act as antioxidants,4-5, 8,10,13 support hormones,8,10 and calm inflammation. 2-6, 8,10,14

These plant substances not only exert modulation of molecular pathways and cellular receptor interaction,1-14 but also provide a profound impact on our bodies and mind through their aromatic qualities alone.15-24 For example, it has been demonstrated that odor can act as a stimulus producing changes in physiology independent of, and in connection to, psychological and memory-based associations of the smell.15-18, 21-25 These effects include modulation of skin conduction, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and regional cerebral blood flow.20-24 Furthermore, the psychological and memory-enhanced associations with odor can impact mood, stress, and emotional state.15-25

Essential oils are absorbed easily into our system through skin application, inhalation, or ingestion and excreted quickly, mostly through the kidneys.8,10,26-29 They have a low toxicity profile, when used in their proper, pure form.8,10

Finally, let’s delive into a bit of essential oils biochemistry 101, shall we? As Ben would say, “get your propeller hats on.” Here goes…

The major chemical constituents of essential oils include terpenes, esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides. 2,10,14 These secondary metabolites can be classified on the basis of their structure (terpenes, terpenoids, phenylpropenes, or degradation products), solubility, or synthesis. One common way to group the volatile components is to organize them as either terpenoids or phenylpropanoids, or alternatively, into hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds. 10

Different plants exhibit varying amounts of each of these compounds providing a unique fragrance and physical signature of each species. Furthermore, the secondary metabolites produced within each species will vary based on raw materials, harvesting methods, location and climate, manufacturing, and distillation techniques.1,10,30-32 (I did a pretty comprehensive review of standardization and quality in previous blogs if you want to learn more details.)

Alrighty, now that your propeller hats are all warmed up as far as the science of essential oils, let’s get to the history of essential oils in general and regarding the formulation of this little known ancient remedy.


History of Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Let’s start at the beginning…

The history of the use of aromatics dates back thousands of years. A search through the literature, desk references, and the internet details various applications of the use of volatile plant medicines across cultures all throughout ancient times. The general consensus of the birth of aromatherapy is estimated to be between 6,000-3,500 years ago. According to some of the more cited websites, references, and authorities, essential oils used for various treatments has been recorded in early civilizations of Mesopotamia, China, India, Persia and ancient Egypt.10, 30-45 China may have been the first to use odorants for well-being.33 I have found several references stating their applications are found in translations of The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine.35-37 Still, other texts and blogs believe that usage began with Egypt civilizations.10,41,43

The modern technological advances that allow us to enjoy the more concentrated and precise distillation of essential oil’s medicinal and therapeutic constituents obviously did not exist in these times; however elemental techniques for isolating the fragrant and volatile components were employed. For instance, ancient Egypt is credited for extracting oils by infusion using rudimentary distillation techniques. Others believe distillation originates within Persia and India’s earliest history. Later on the Greeks, Romans, and Islamic extraction and distillation techniques refined crude methods.10,33 10, 30-42 The “Smell Report” from the Social Issues Research Centre states:

The process by which a flower’s scent is extracted and preserved using alcohol distillation is believed to have been discovered by Avicenna, the 11th century Arabian alchemist and physician, who stumbled on it while trying to isolate for Islam the soul of its holy rose. Before this, perfumes consisted only of thick resins and gums and gooey unguents.37

Perhaps the most quoted use of ancient times is during the Roman Empire within the New Testament. Hundreds of citations exist in the Holy Text of frankincense, cedarwood, hyssop, fir, and spikenard to heal physical ailments and enhance spiritual communion. The gifts to the Christ Child of gold, frankincense, and myrrh highlight the prized value of fragrance at the time.38-40

During the Renaissance period, Europeans continued the task.30-45 Recently, science has been able to study and document the composition of natural plants with the resurgence of modern usage dating to 1910 by Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist. He discovered lavender’s skin-regenerating properties when his severely-burned arm healed without a scar after he immersed it in a pure lavender oil, thinking it was water. As a result of his lab discovery, lavender is still listed in the British Pharmacopoeia for its healing properties in the skin.44-45

Now, onto the story beyond this specific Thieves blend


It Starts with Ancient Wisdom: The Story Behind Thieves

“Four thieves” remedy is based on an ancient herbal formulation originating somewhere-in Europe with time spanning from 1413-1722. Due to its touted protective benefits, herbalists have passed along its recipe for hundreds of years.46-49

The legend states that a combination of various herbs, most often cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, and lemon as protecting four robbers from contracting the plague in France while rummaging through the houses of the infected sufferers. Their freedom was won by revealing to the King that the herbal vinegar, which they drank and sprinkled on themselves every two hours, had been their saving grace.46,49

There have been several variations of this formulation passed down through the years. Thomas Jefferson was said to have fancied a version that consisted of vinegar spiked with lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue, mint, garlic to keep his Presidential body infection free.47

The Scientific American Encyclopedia of Formulas: partly based upon the 28th ed. of Scientific American cyclopedia of receipts, notes and queries cites the formula of this herbal preparation as follows:

  • 4 oz dried rosemary tops
  • 4 oz dried sage
  • 2 oz dried lavender
  • 5 oz fresh rue
  • 1 oz camphor dissolved in vinegar
  • ¼ oz sliced garlic
  • 1 dr bruised cloves
  • 1 gallon strongly distilled wine vinegar

“Digest for 7 or 8 days, with occasional agitation: pour off liquor: press out the remainder, and filter the mixed liquids.”48

As stated in the Smell Report, the value of a wide range of aromatics for keeping the body healthy was widely utilized:

The plague was not the only malady to be treated with fragrances. In the 17th, 18th and even into the 19th century, perfumes were widely used as remedies for almost any physical or mental disorder – including hysteria, amenorrhea, melancholia, hypochondria, headaches and the common cold-37

I don’t know about you, but I like the ease of one bottle, pre-blended, and easily packed for on-the-go. Furthermore, I love the science beyond the individual essential oils and the synergism.

So, now, it’s time for the main event…the unveiling of the power of a blend of some of the most common aromatics found in “Four Thieves Vinegar.”


10 Modern Day Applications of Ancient Wisdom

  1. Diffusing- Cleaning the Air of Germs and Molds

An experiment was done to see if the aerosol use of essential oils could alleviate some of the microbial causes of sick-building syndrome. The researchers used the actual proprietary blend that Ben and I use of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary. The method employed for measurement was deposition sampling. It was found that this blend did exhibit inhibition of certain microbes at various percentages. Reductions in critters initially increased with time of diffusion, though after certain time frames for specific bugs, the decreased level remained constant. The abstract states:

Thieves, a commercial blend of five essential oils, was tested for its antibacterial activity against Micrococcus luteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus bioaerosols. An aerosol suspension of each bacterial culture was sprayed into a 0.4 m3 enclosed fume hood previously sterilized by ultraviolet light. Thieves essential oil blend was then diffused into the hood for a given time. Depositional sampling results showed a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in the aerosol-borne bacterial load after diffusion of the oil blend. Controls showed no inhibitory effect of oil that may have settled on the exposed plate surfaces during bacterial depositional sampling. Inhibition levels appear to be organism specific. There was an 82% reduction in M. luteus bioaerosol, a 96% reduction in the P. aeruginosa bioaerosol, and a 44% reduction in the S. aureus bioaerosol following 10 min of exposure. Results for the time exposure threshold of diffused oil showed that after only six min a 90% reduction in M. luteus viability occurred. Diffusion of the oil blend, Thieves, can significantly reduce the number of aerosol-borne bacteria and may have application in treating air for enclosed environments and preventing transmission of aerosol-borne bacterial pathogens.50

Here’s a link to the full study that explains the three parts of the experiment, the results, and the conclusion.50 This is a link to explain deposition sampling, which as mentioned, was used to measure results.51

A 2005 field study was with Dr. Close also found diffusing this same blend of essential oils decreased “black mold.”52  (If you’re interested in learning how essential oils can affect mold exposure, I wrote a blog about it here with scientific references.)

Though not found in this Thieves blend essential oil, another study with thyme oil demonstrated its use against moulds formation in damp dwellings. The authors concluded:

The thyme essential oil possesses a wide range spectrum of fungicidal activity. The vaporous phase of the oil exhibited long-lasting suppressive activity on moulds from damp dwellings.53

Bottom line: This blend can help to inhibit microbes in your surrounding environment.

  1. Respiratory Support

You’ve got to get oxygen to perform, right?

A key ingredient in Thieves, Eucalyptus Oil (EO), is well known for its respiratory support via inhalation or oral route. A review article in Alternative Medicine Review states:

Application by either vapor inhalation or oral route provides benefit for both purulent and non-purulent respiratory problems, such as bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is a long history of folk usage with a good safety record. More recently, the biochemical details behind these effects have been clarified. Although other plant oils may be more microbiologically active, the safety of moderate doses of EO and its broad-spectrum antimicrobial action make it an attractive alternative to pharmaceuticals. 54

In another study, another species of eucalyptus, eucalyptus globulus was tested for cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity against common pathogens linked to respiratory infections. The study demonstrated that that the following bacteria were most susceptible to EO: H. influenza, parinfluenzae, and S. maltophila followed by S. puneumonia. Eucalyptus globulus also had a mild inhibitory activity against a strain of the mumps virus. Researchers used clinical specimens of patients with upper respiratory infections to determine these results:

The activity of Eucalyptus globulus essential oil was determined for 120 isolates of Streptococcus pyogenes, 20 isolates of S. pneumoniae, 40 isolates of S. agalactiae, 20 isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, 40 isolates of Haemophilus influenzae, 30 isolates of H. parainfluenzae, 10 isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae, 10 isolates of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and two viruses, a strain of adenovirus and a strain of mumps virus, all obtained from clinical specimens of patients with respiratory tract infections. The cytotoxicity was evaluated on VERO cells by the MTT test. The antibacterial activity was evaluated by the Kirby Bauer paper method, minimum inhibitory concentration, and minimum bactericidal concentration. H. influenzae, parainfluenzae, and S. maltophilia were the most susceptible, followed by S. pneumoniae. The antiviral activity, assessed by means of virus yield experiments titered by the end-point dilution method for adenovirus, and by plaque reduction assay for mumps virus, disclosed only a mild activity on mumps virus.55

1,8-cineole, a monoterpene found in EO species56 is known for supporting the respiratory tract. This recent abstract reported on its potential use in those with respiratory issues beyond even killing bugs- through inhibiting inflammation and due to its antioxidant properties:

1,8-cineole is a natural monoterpene, also known as eucalyptol. It is a major compound of many plant essential oils, mainly extracted from Eucalyptus globulus oil. As an isolated compound, 1,8-cineole is known for its mucolytic and spasmolytic action on the respiratory tract, with proven clinical efficacy. 1,8-cineole has also shown therapeutic benefits in inflammatory airway diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This clinical evidence refers to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant mode of action, which has been proven in numerous pre-clinical studies. In vitro studies found strong evidence that 1,8-cineole controls inflammatory processes and mediator production of infection- or inflammation-induced mucus hypersecretion by its action as anti-inflammatory modifier rather than a simple mucolytic agent. The aim of this review is to present these preclinical studies performed with the pure monoterpene, and to summarize the current knowledge on the mode of action of 1,8-cineole. The actual understanding of the pure 1,8-cineole compared to mixtures of natural volatile oils containing 1,8-cineole as a major compound and to mixtures of natural terpenes, known as essential oils, will be discussed. Based on the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, recent clinical trials with 1,8-cineole have shown first evidence for the beneficial use of 1,8-cineole as long-term therapy in the prevention of COPD-exacerbations and to improve asthma control.57

Cinnamon bark oil, has also been shown to inhibit gram positive and gram negative bacteria associated with various infections58-62 as well “fungitoxic” to various fungi related to respiratory tract mycoses. The abstract on cinnamon reads:

 Cinnamic aldehyde has been identified as the active fungitoxic constituent of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) bark oil. The fungitoxic properties of the vapours of the oil/active constituent against fungi involved in respiratory tract mycoses, i.e., Aspergillus niger, A. fumigatus, A. nidulans A. flavus, Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, C. pseudotropicalis, and Histoplasma capsulatum, were determined in vitro as minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), minimum lethal concentration (MLC), inoculum density sustained, and exposure duration for fungicidal action at MIC and higher doses, as well as effect of incubation temperatures on fungitoxicity. It is concluded that these inhalable vapours appear to approach the ideal chemotherapy for respiratory tract mycoses.59

Bottom line: This blend contains single oils that support the respiratory system and inhibit unwanted bugs in your own body.

3 and 4. Food Spoilage and Cooking

No one likes it when the power goes out for many reasons. One is the stress that their recent grocery shop trip with its good packed tightly in the warming fridge could become a financial wash. Essential oils, including clove and cinnamon, have been tested for and used to prevent common food spoilage of various pathogens.63-66 The Food and Drug Administration has an exhaustive list of essential oils listed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for ingestion here. 67 Essential oils can be used in cooking as flavorings with more powerful benefits than herbs due to their concentration.

Still make sure you are using essential oil that safe for ingestion. Many reports of toxicity are due to improper use, overdose, media hype, and nontherapeutic or toxic oils. If the bottle says “do not ingest,” do not ingest. that should not be ingested. Therefore, be sure to be an educated consumer and remember that one drop will do ya.’

Bottom line: A drop of Thieves blend on questionable food or taken internally (with a teaspoon of coconut oil) may help prevent symptoms from contaminated foods. It can also be a great addition to a winter recipe of your favorite warm drink. (Tastes like spicy cinnamon)

  1. Stopping Unwanted Microbes and Superbugs

Probably one of the most famous uses, besides their aromatic applications, are essential oils ability to work against microbes. Essential oils antimicrobial effects are vast.68-74 The Journal of Biological Chemistry explain one mechanism of the toxicity of cyclic hydrocarbons such as aromatics, terpenes, and alicyclics on bugs. The authors report, “The impairment of microbial activity by the cyclic hydrocarbons most likely results from hydrophobic interaction with the membrane, which affects the functioning of the membrane and membrane-embedded proteins.”68

It has been stated that the vast constituents and resultant actions found within one oil, and the synergism of blends, may be key components to why they are effective against multiple “resistant” microorganisms.77-82 In fact, some believe they have the potential to be a welcome alternative to medications which have potential toxic side effects on patients.

In simple terms, essential oils may be able outsmart “resistant” organisms with more than one mechanism of action. For instance, several studies have demonstrated oregano’s potential to prevent resistance by inhibiting biofilms.

For example, one study tested the antimicrobial activity of the essential oils from clove (Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. et Perry) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) alone and in combination. The authors reported the results as follows:

Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) against three Gram-positive bacteria, three Gram-negative bacteria and two fungi were determined for the essential oils and their mixtures. Furthermore, time-kill dynamic processes of clove and rosemary essential oils against Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli and Candida albicans were tested. Both essential oils possessed significant antimicrobial effects against all microorganisms tested. The MICs of clove oil ranged from 0.062% to 0.500% (v/v), while the MICs of rosemary oil ranged from 0.125% to 1.000% (v/v). The antimicrobial activity of combinations of the two essential oils indicated their additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects against individual microorganism tests. The time-kill curves of clove and rosemary essential oils towards three strains showed clearly bactericidal and fungicidal processes of (1)/(2) x MIC, MIC, MBC and 2 x MIC.83

An another in vitro study that tested the anti-bacterial activity of twenty-one selected essential oils against six bacterial species (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, Bacillus subtilis, and Staphylococcus aureus), the authors found that 19 of the oils showed antibacterial activity against one or more strains of the microbes tested. They reported:

Cinnamon, clove, geranium, lemon, lime, orange and rosemary oils exhibited significant inhibitory effect. Cinnamon oil showed promising inhibitory activity even at low concentration, whereas aniseed, eucalyptus and camphor oils were least active against the tested bacteria. In general, B. subtilis was the most susceptible. On the other hand, K. pneumoniae exhibited low degree of sensitivity.84

There are a few caveats to this study. The oils were deemed “pure” but methods weren’t given. Furthermore, the authors reported only analyzing cinnamon oil with the GC/MS analysis. Interesting, right? When the quality was verified, that essential oil was deemed one of the most powerful. (Just sayin.’)

Some essential oils may also have an additive effect with certain antibiotics. An in vitro study using Cinnamon and lemon explored their antimicrobial activity against Acinetobacter, which has been linked to serious infections and antimicrobial resistance. The authors found:

Results of combining antibiotics and essential oils had shown us a synergistic effect with both essential oils/amikacin combinations. An additive effect was observed with the combinations of both essential oils and gentamicin. The results of this study suggest that essential oil of C. limon and C. zeylanicum may suppress the growth of Acinetobacter species and could be a source of metabolites with antibacterial modifying activity.85

Bottom Line: Essential oils in this blend are potent microbe inhibitors for a variety of critters. They may also have a synergistic effect when used with other immune support measures. Still, be smart and know there are potential oil-medication interactions.

  1. Antioxidant

Several studies have demonstrated essential oils ability to act as antioxidants. 4-5, 8,10,13,86 Importantly, these secondary metabolites act to stimulate our own endogenous antioxidants. One in vivo study with rats explored how rosemary essential oil (REO) protected their livers from oxidative damage and reported:

In summary, the present results demonstrate that administration of REO, exhibiting free radical scavenging activity determined by DPPH assay, exerts beneficial effects on preventing CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats by limiting the extent of lipid peroxidation and hence cell membranes injuries. Considering the significant impact on activities of examined antioxidant enzymes, it is clear that REO mediates its hepatoprotective effects not only through scavenging of harmful free radicals, but also through activation of physiological defense mechanisms. It should be emphasized that there have been considerable variations in the chemical composition of essential oils obtained from rosemary, and for this reason, the use of REO in preventing and/or treatment of various liver diseases requires the identification of active ingredients and further investigations on their mechanisms of action.86

Here’s a blog I wrote on some studies with the cognitive benefits of antioxidant protection using lavender and rosemary.

Bottom Line: Essential oils can modulate oxidative stress, a big problem with excess exercise. This can be through modulating our own production of antioxidants as well as supplying secondary metabolites that protect cells from injury.

  1. Oral Health

One of the most famous oils for dental health is clove.87-88 I have actually experienced personally an application of straight clove or Thieves oil for preventing cavities. Interestingly, one in vitro study showed clove may in fact prevent decalcification caused by apple juice.88

You can read more about essential oils for applications in dental health here and how they can be used with oil pulling here.

Bottom Line: Due to the downstream and harmful systemic effects of an unbalanced oral microbiome, I instruct most of my clients to put a drop of Thieves oil on their toothbrush a few times a week.

  1. Digestion

This article gives a comprehensive overview of essential oils for digestion. A 2012 review article provided support that essential oils can work in synergism with probiotics to have “complementary antimicrobial effects with practically no side effects.”89

Bottom Line: The oils in the Thieves blend have been shown in many studies to prevent microbial infections of the gut and there is evidence that disturbance of the microbiome is unlikely due to their immune modulating effects.

  1. Discomfort

In a systematic review of essential oils, the authors analyzed ten common essential oils were for their actions, based on their constituents and the whole oils. The following oils were reported by the authors to modulate pain that are found in Thieves:

  • Eucalyptus- regulation of the nervous system relating to neuralgia, headache, and debility, treatment for joint and muscle pains (rheumatoid arthritis), and for muscle and joint pains and aches90-91
  • Lemon- may help with labor pain, nausea, vomiting, and ulcers90-92
  • Rosemary- soothes menstrual cramps, contains the anti-inflammatory constituent 1-8 cineole

In regards to direct pain management, the authors listed the following oils:

  • Eucalyptus smithii (gully gum)
  • Lavandula angustifolia (lavender)
  • Matricaria recutita (German chamomile)
  • Leptospermum scoparium (manuka)
  • Origanum majorana (sweet marjoram)
  • Pinus mugo pumilio (dwarf pine)
  • Rosmarinus officinalis camphor (rosemary)
  • Zingiber officinale (ginger)90 

Bottom line: Well, one to two drops of Thieves applied with a carrier oil on the bottom of your feet or on location of discomfort could produce a cooling, comforting relief.

  1. The Aroma- More Than a Smell

Besides all the powerful benefits above based on essential oils composition, their aroma alone can combine to produce powerful emotional and physiological effects. You can read more about this here.



Phew, see why this blend, and essential oils in general, are the most underused and ancient biohack around? To get the benefits of this essential oil, you can apply one drop to the bottom of your feet daily with a carrier oil or take a drop internally if you feel the sniffles coming on. The possibilities are endless.

To learn more about applications and uses of essential oils, listen to the podcast Ben and I did a few years back. You can also access my reviews of essential oils single, the science, and clinical uses of these powerful secondary metabolites on my Essential Oils Database here.

Here’s the link to order the Thieves blend Ben and I use.

Happy oiling!


Summary From Ben

Big pharma tends to patent chemicals and turn them into expensive drugs.

As you’ve just learned, essential oils – particularly Thieves – can achieve the same effects, but are natural derivates of plants that can’t be patented. So they get underplayed by modern medicine, and fly under the radar.

But if you open my bathroom cabinet (or the kitchen and bathroom cabinets of some of the smartest physicians, healers and athletes I know), the shelves are not lined with drugs and prescriptions. They’re lined with herbs, natural supplements and – you guessed it – essential oils.

To learn more about the applications and uses of essential oils, listen to this podcast I recorded with Dr. Sarah. You can also access her reviews of essential oils, the science, and clinical uses of these powerful secondary metabolites on her Essential Oils Database by clicking here.

Finally, because you are now a relative master of all things essential oils, start using them. Grab a few and play around. On this page, you can find the top oils that I personally use and recommend. Unlike many other “science-y” wellness tools or biohacks, essential oils are easy to apply to your routine and are relatively inexpensive.

I recommend you start by getting your hands on a few bottles of Four Thieves. Click here to get the Young Living Thieves blend that I personally use, and stash a few bottles around the house, in the car, and in your travel bag. You can use Thieves orally (especially when diluted with coconut oil), use it topically, or just diffuse in your house in whichever room you want. If you were to start with just one oil, Thieves would be the one I’d recommend.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Sarah or me about any of these essential oil tips and tricks? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!



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How Your Computer Monitor Is Slowly Killing Your Eyes, And What You Can Do About It.


Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Do you ever get headaches after working on a computer for a long time?

Eye strain?

Mild irritation?

Brain fog?

It’s not all in your head.

See, just like most televisions, computer monitors “flicker”.  Monitors have been flickering for many years, but most people don’t realize this because the flicker is invisible. However, the flicker is still very hard on your eyes and is just one of the computer monitor issues responsible for the growing epidemic of near-sightedness and myopia – also known as “computer vision syndrome“.

Even fancy, modern PC LCD monitors are not flicker-free, even though many people think they are. These LCD monitors originally started out by using something called CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) as a backlight source for the monitor, but in recent years manufacturers have shifted to using LEDs (light emitting diodes). If you have one of those thin monitors, then you probably have a LCD monitor with LED, and if you are unsure, you can check the model number on the backside of the monitor and Google it.

The use of LED has numerous benefits, including lower power consumption, far fewer toxic substances due to the absence of the cathode and some fantastic picture quality advantages, but along with all these benefits come potential eyestrain issues that can damage and destroy your eyes over the long term.

See, when your monitor is set to maximum brightness, the LEDs are glowing at full 100% strength. If you reduce the brightness setting in the menu, the LEDs need to omit less light, and this is accomplished by inserting small breaks, or pauses (flickers!) in which the LEDs turn off for a very short, nearly invisible time. When you reduce the brightness setting of your monitor even more, the breaks become longer.

This creates a frustrating catch-22: a bright screen can strain your eyes, and the flicker created by a less bright screen can also strain your eyes. Compared to old-school CCFL monitors, the newer LED-based monitors carry the greatest risk of giving you eyestrain, tired eyes or nasty headaches. You can read more about this issue in the article “LED Monitors can cause headaches due to flicker“.

My guest on today’s podcast has figured out how to tackle this issue, and has invented a special piece of software called “Iris” that controls the brightness of the monitor with the help of your computer’s video card, allows you to have adequate brightness without the flicker, and even automatically adjusts your computer monitor’s settings based on the sun’s position wherever you happen to be in the world.

His name is Daniel Georgiev, and he is a 20 year old computer programmer from Bulgaria. Before he learned to code, Daniel was a rower in his country’s national team for more than 5 years, and participated in the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championship. During our discussion, you’ll discover:

How Daniel got kicked off his soccer team, and within two years qualified for the Bulgarian National Team in rowing…[11:20]

-Why Daniel programmed his computer monitor to freeze and stop his work every 30 minutes…[19:45]

-Why Daniel doesn’t like the computer program “Flux” for decreasing blue light on your monitor…[21:45]

-The link between color “temperature” and the amount of blue light a computer monitor creates…[29:52]

-How to convert a glossy computer monitor screen into a matte computer monitor screen…[33:50]

-Why you should use font rendering technologies to change the type of font you are looking at when you read on a computer monitor…[39:00]

-How to automatically invert colors on a screen or change the screen to grayscale when you are working to reduce eye strain and improve your ability to sleep…[46:25]

-Why you blink 66% less when you are working on a computer (and why yawning when you work on your computer is actually quite important)…[50:00 & 54:50]

-How to set up your computer monitor to force you to take automatic “Pomodoro” breaks, and get instant reminders for eye exercises, neck exercises and back exercises…[56:10]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Iris software

Anti-glare screen protectors

The Eizo Flexscan 2436 Monitor Ben uses

The BenQ Monitors that Daniel talks about

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Daniel or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

3 Healthy Alternatives To Pokemon GO.


It’s that time of week again – the day when I give you a sneak peek at practical, quick and dirty fitness tips from this week’s Get-Fit Guy article.

See, each week, over at the Quick & Dirty Tips Network, I produce a free, easy-to-read article, accompanied by a short 5-10 minute audio version of that article. Everything there is focused on the latest fitness research, exercise news, and quick and highly practical muscle gain, fat loss and physical performance tips. It’s called “The Get-Fit Guy’s Quick & Dirty Tips To Slim Down & Shape Up”.

Here’s your sneak peek from this week’s article, “3 Healthy Alternatives To Pokemon GO

“…I was recently reading the article The dangers of Pokémon Go: Kids’ brains are vulnerable to virtual and augmented reality, which reported on how researchers conducted three separate studies with over 1,600 video gamers and found that many showed strange post-game hallucinogenic-like effects: hearing or seeing aspects of the game hours or days after they had stopped playing, including sound effects, music and characters voices, explosions, sword swipes and screams. One gamer reported hearing someone from the game whispering “death” for several days after they had stopped playing while another reported seeing images from the game randomly pop up in front of their eyes….”

Want to take a deeper dive? Read the whole article? Grab the audio version? Click here to go check it out now or bookmark for later.

Finally, if you have your own ideas for future fitness articles you’d like to see me write, leave your ideas in the comments section below.

The Ultimate Guide To Biohacking Your Testosterone: 17 Ways To Maximize Muscle-Building, Libido & Anti-Aging.

how to biohack testosterone

Allow me to introduce you to my Finnish friend Dr. Olli Sovijärvi, MD, pictured above. 

I first mentioned Olli in my article “21 Unfamiliar Nutrition Tricks I Discovered In The Biohackers’ Handbook.”, and then again in “Never Get Sick Again: 13 Underground Immune Boosting Strategies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.

So why am I so seemingly obsessed with Olli and his strange nutrition, immunity, and, as you’re about to discover, testosterone-boosting tactics?

First, he is a beast of a powerlifter.

Observe him in action in this preview video for the November 18 Biohackers’ Summit in Helsinki, Finland (use 10% discount code BEN).

Second, he is a medical doctor. That’s right: he works in his clinic with patients day in and day out and is friggin’ steeped in a combination of research and practice. He’s not some kid with a neck beard sitting in his mom’s basement googling PubMed articles.

Third, he’s constantly on my mind because I wake up each morning to texts like this:


Or this:


Or this:


So finally, when I got the text above, I told Olli,

“Look man…most people have no clue you can shine laser lights on your balls to increase your testosterone, or that there are ways to reverse the damage cell phones can wreak on your gonads, or that once you drop below 30% carbs your testosterone starts to severely decline if you’re an avid exerciser…

…so, can you write an article for me with all these tactics?”

So Olli did just that.

And what you are about to read is the result: 17 of Olli’s best known tactics for increasing testosterone  – some of them proven and basic strategies and others fringe techniques I’ve never heard of until now.

Enjoy, leave any questions, comments or feedback below the post, and if you enjoy this stuff, then check out his Biohacker’s Handbook, which dives deep into immunity, sleep, nutrition, exercise, the function of the mind and much more in 530+ pages of the best biohacking tips I’ve ever discovered.

Take it away Olli…


Most Testosterone Advice Sucks

Biohacking testosterone (AKA “T”) has been a hot topic the past few years. Er, decades. Er, centuries. Perhaps technology and social media has just made what men and women have possibly pursued since the dawn of time just a bit more in our faces.

Just look at it: YouTube is full of T-optimizing videos and channels, iTunes has entire podcasts devoted to libido and testosterone, broscience forums are chock full of T advice from around the planet, there are entire T-boosting websites jam-packed with linkbait and ads and…

…don’t even get me started on supplement companies, who mostly source cheap herbs from Asia, shove them into a bottle, and produce a very, very sexy website designed to get you to empty your wallet to pop some magical T-boosting pill.

And yeah, you can find plenty of research articles on optimizing T and even a bunch of books and e-books have been released. I have read and studied all of them and beyond. Honestly: I am a consummate geek. I spend my entire day either treating patients or hanging out with my wife or baby, or sending Ben Greenfield strange texts.

And these apparently promising supplements, pills and tricks sound good, but simply don’t work. Yep…they don’t work, or they raise your T so miniscule-ingly low that you’re basically spending hundreds of your hard-earned dollars on pretty much next-to-nothing when it comes to an actual significant boost. You would be shocked at the amount of bloodwork I see that shows me men and women who are doing everything they read on the internets to boost testosterone with barely a bump in total or free levels of this hormone.

But at the same time, I’ll admit that there are some legimiate folks out there producing testosterone enhancing advice. I am very grateful for the amazing work on optimizing testosterone put out by guys behind the Anabolic Men website (especially Ali Kuoppala) from whom I have learned a lot.

Thanks also to Christopher Walker, a neuroscientist who has written a significant amount of information on testosterone, especially training wise (e.g., google “THOR”, “Testosterone I/O”, “Testshock”, etc.).

And I also want to thank a bunch of Finnish medical colleagues and friends who I’ve spent copious amounts of time with sitting naked in a Finnish sauna, followed by cold plunges into the Baltic sea, followed by intellectually stimulating conversations on all things testosterone (yeah, if you’re reading you know who you are).

Still, all these tricks you’re about to discover, especially those presented later in the article, are tactics I have had to dig deep from the depths of PubMed and literally spent hours and hours of reading every possible study that could potentially find in terms something new about one of the most important and studied hormones that exists for both men and women.

You could say that I am mildly infatuated with testosterone. My latest T (total) was 32 nmol/l (922 ng/dl). As you can see from the studies cited here, that’s high compared to the total T of 300-600 most guys these days have. And I have a newborn baby to prove it that my T is serving me well. Here she is, crawling through our backyard here in Helsinki…


Before we jump into these many-probably-never-heard-of-biohacks on optimizing your T, I want to make sure that you have the basics covered. Yep, the boring basics. Without these, which include things like an adequate fitness training system, nutrition, sleep and stress management, these strategies won’t be near as solid as they could be. You can read more about optimizing sleep, nutrition, stress and exercise from Biohacker’s Handbook (of which head author I am).

Note from Ben: if you read the parenthetical section above, you will know that Olli, because he is Finnish, sometimes talks like Yoda. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it).


The Testosterone Basics

Testosterone is basically just an anabolic sex steroid hormone, mainly released in the Leydig cells of the testes in men (95%) and the ovaries and adrenal glands of women. Yes, testosterone is not just a male hormone, and women also produce, but at lower magnitude. Actually, men have roughly about 10 times more testosterone than women. Testosterone is derived from cholesterol, which is also known as “the mother of all steroids” (and why low-cholesterol diets and statins suck for most hormone and steroid optimizing goals).

Testosterone is responsible for men’s sexual characteristics: it stimulates the growth of penis and scrotum, increases growth of body and facial hair (which is otherwise highly genetically regulated…so little body hair doesn’t automatically mean low T, as we can all testify to upon seeing the actor “The Rock”), impacts the ability to put on muscle mass and lose fat and even affects the tone of the voice by strengthening vocal cords. Yep, you read right. If you have a low voice and you’re bald, like Bane from Batman, you might actually be genetically equipped to produce more T, which seems quite unfair for all those high-pitched white guys with man-fros.


Testosterone is also an anti-aging hormone, which means that a healthy level of testosterone throughout your life can make you live longer. As a matter of fact, in men aged 30 years and older, testosterone levels steadily fall at a rate of about 1% per year, and no amount of palette painting appears to be able to halt that decline.

OK, for this next brief section…if you are simply drooling from the corners of your mouth to learn how to increase your testosterone, then feel free to skip it. But if you actually want to know how your darling testes (or ovaries for you ladies) actually make T, or want some impressive words to throw around at a cocktail party, then check out how testosterone actually works.


How Testosterone Works

How testosterone works really isn’t too complex.

There is a feedback loop from your brain to your testes (or ovaries), and it controls how much testosterone is being released. The physiological regulation of testosterone begins in your hypothalamus, a section of your brain which releases gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH).

That GnRH then stimulates the pituitary gland to release two crucial hormones for male health: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In the testes, FSH stimulates spermatogenesis (making new sperm cells) and LH stimulates testosterone production. In turn, testosterone exerts feedback control of the pituitary LH and FSH secretion, meaning if you’re not producing enough testosterone, and your feedback loop is working properly, you’ll churn out more LH and FSH. And if you’re making too much testosterone, you’d downregulate LH and FSH. Once you’ve made your testosterone, it can be further converted to dihydrotestosterone or estradiol.


Anyways, this produced testosterone enters your blood stream as free testosterone, which is the biologically available form of T. The majority (about 98%) of the produced testosterone is then bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) or albumin (another major protein in the blood). For testosterone to become ”active” you would need a release of it from the carrier protein, and optimal SHGB levels in the blood so that not too much of it is bound to SHBG.

For testosterone to have an anabolic effect in the body it must bind to an androgen receptor (for example, in muscle tissue). Heavy strength training actually activates these androgen receptors, and free, bioavailable testosterone is then able bind to free androgen receptor sites. After that begins a cascade in the cell which eventually enters DNA and initiates protein synthesis and anabolism. Therefore, it is crucial to have a good androgen sensitivity and androgen receptor density (you’re about to get a whole bunch of hacks for that).

Testosterone is also a hormone that plays a key role in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. That is why it has a major influence on body fat composition and muscle mass, especially in males and to a lesser extent in females. This is also why research has over and over again shown that testosterone deficiency is related to various metabolic health problems such as increased visceral fat mass (also known as “central adiposity”), reduced insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, leading to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and even cardiovascular disease (CVD). Testosterone deficiency has been reported in population studies to be associated with an increase in all-cause mortality (mainly linked to CVD). In the meantime, healthy levels of testosterone also protect from cognitive decline.

So, duh, testosterone is pretty much good. You probably wouldn’t be reading if you didn’t suspect that.

Alright, enough with the geekery. Let’s delve into the first part of my tips – basic lifestyle hacks for high testosterone…


Basic Lifestyle Hacks For High Testosterone

  1. Sleep enough — often more is better

The majority of the daily testosterone release in men occurs during sleep. Fragmented sleep and obstructive sleep apnea are associated with reduced testosterone levels. A study released on The Journal of the American Medical Association, found out that one week of sleep restriction (5 hours of sleep per night) decreased testosterone production by 10–15%.

Studies have also found out that sleep’s effect on testosterone has an inverted U-shaped curve. Testosterone production increased with increasing sleep duration up to 10 hours after which it decreased.

For my ultimate sleep hacks, check out my Biohacker’s Handbook’s sleep chapter for free here.

  1. Get rid of extra belly fat and be lean

It is generally noted in research that the higher your body fat percentage, the lower your testosterone. The correlation works especially in the direction of getting leaner, which will instantly raise your T levels. Longitudinal analyses showing no influence of baseline hormone levels on change in anthropometric measures imply that body composition affects hormone levels and not the reverse. Yep, you read right. Being lean gives you high testosterone more than high testosterone makes you lean.

But you don’t need to be an emaciated marathoner. Instead, it has been roughly estimated that a male body fat percentage between 8–14% is optimal for testosterone production. Higher fat mass also usually increased aromatase enzyme activity, which converts more testosterone into estrogen.  In opposition, too low body fat content can be detrimental for testosterone production.

  1. Practice strength training and gain some muscle mass

While practicing strength training and gaining muscle often reduces body fat percentage (which leads into higher testosterone), it also has independent effect on elevating testosterone. Having higher muscle mass is positively correlated with higher testosteroneLifting medium-heavy weights explosively can stimulate short-term and long-term testosterone productionTraining progressively by adding more weight nearly every time you train causes your body to adapt to higher and higher testosterone levels via neuromuscular adaptations.

Follow these basic principles when strength training for optimal T production:

  • Always lift explosively (with perfect form)
  • Lift heavy enough, but not too heavy (to have an optimum force/velocity-curve)
  • Use compound lifts to activate large amounts of muscle mass
  • Focus on body parts that have high density of androgen receptor sites (chest, shoulders, trapezius)
  • Do sprint intervals to maximize force production in minimal time and to activate fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • Do as much work on as much muscle tissue as possible in as short amount of time as possible while staying under the negative stress threshold
  • If your gym is limited, the muscle up exercise is, in my opinion, the king of testosterone-boosting exercises
  1. Control your stress levels and meditate

Chronic stress leads eventually into chronically elevated stress hormone (cortisol) levels in the blood. Cortisol is necessary for life, but when excreted too much for too long, it can cause some serious health problems. One of the disadvantages is diminished testosterone secretion, as cortisol and testosterone compete of the same hormonal precursors and raw materials (mainly pregnenolone). For example in military conditions prolonged stress has been shown to significantly lower testosterone secretion.

Implement these potent strategies (some of my favorites) into your life to lower stress – you can click on the links for more research, by the way:

  1. Eat nutrient dense whole foods and get enough (but not too many) calories

Let’s start with micronutrients.

Getting enough and optimal amount of micronutrients is crucial for testosterone production. Measuring your micronutrient status is a crucial step on finding out what your exact situation is. The most important micronutrients for testosterone production are zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, iodine, selenium, vitamin K2, vitamin A, vitamin E, manganese and boron.

Eating a diet rich in nutrients and minerals (read: whole foods) is crucial not just for overall health, but also for optimal T production. Getting a high micronutrient multivitamin supplement on the basis of your personal needs can also be a testosterone saving thing if your diet is lacking something.

Next comes calories.

Your body needs enough calories to produce adequate amounts of testosterone. With constant and prolonged calorie restriction the body begins to adapt into survival mode, which means that for example reproductive system is not of great importance anymore. The body will conserve energy for vital processes and internal organs.

For optimal testosterone production it is wise to eat at maintenance or a slight calorie surplus. But if you are overweight, a minor calorie deficit and losing weight will actually elevate testosterone production (as explained previously). So, the plan is to get lean first and then eat higher calories for optimal testosterone production and maintenance. Losing weight slowly is a good option here: about 15% calorie deficit doesn’t seem to affect testosterone negatively. But it can affect somewhat negatively your thyroid hormone production.

Finally comes macronutrients, AKA “macros”.

And when it comes to macros, nearly everybody, especially in the fitness industry, talks about protein. There are tons of different protein supplements that are supposed to make you lean and fit. Protein has gained a reputation that it is the most important macronutrient when it comes to building muscle and gaining strength. It is certainly true that protein and especially certain amino acids are essential for life and muscle tissues and that chronic protein malnutrition will cause low testosterone levels.

The caveat here is that you don’t actually need as much protein as you have been told. For most, the recommended daily allowance levels (1.0–1.4 g /kg of bodyweight) are enough for optimal testosterone production. For strength training individuals often recommended protein intake is 1.6–1.8 g / kg of bodyweight. Even athletes that practice strength training do not benefit from extra protein intake (over 2.0 g / kg of bodyweight).

For example, Ben Greenfield simply eats 0.5-0.7g protein per pound of body weight on easy exercise days and 0.7-0.8 grams per pound on hard exercise days. Easy enough, eh?

Protein source is also a major factor in testosterone production. A study published in British Journal of Nutrition found out that for example when meat was replaced with soybean protein in healthy men, the testosterone:estradiol ratio decreased significantly. Yes, steak beats edamame, hands down.

For optimal testosterone production it also seems crucial that you don’t eat too much protein and that you eat enough carbohydrates and fat. One study which compared protein and carbohydrate changes and their hormonal effects found out that when the male subjects went 10-days on a high-protein low-carb diet, their total testosterone levels were 21% lower than what they would have been on a high-carbohydrate low-protein diet. The high-protein diet also caused significantly higher cortisol levels. The diets were equal in total calories and fat.

Another study, which compared ratios of protein to carbohydrates to different fats, found out that diets higher in carbohydrates and saturated+monounsaturated fats than protein were related to higher testosterone production in strength training men. Previous studies have also found out that men who consume a diet containing 20% of fat compared with diets containing 40% fat have significantly lower concentrations of testosterone in the blood. Many other studies also show that getting enough fat from diet is crucial for testosterone production. Also, getting enough cholesterol (raw material for steroid hormone production) from your diet is critical to optimal hormonal balance.

For men who exercise and especially those who perform an intensive training micro-cycle, it is crucial to eat enough carbohydrates (CHO) to optimize testosterone production. In one study two groups (30% of CHO vs 60% of CHO) were compared in terms of testosterone-to-cortisol-ratio. The study found out that those who ate 60% of carbohydrates had significantly higher free testosterone to cortisol -ratio than the lower carbohydrate group.

The bottom line is this: for optimal testosterone production you shouldn’t go too low in calories (neither too high), shouldn’t consume too much protein (under 2g/kg) or eat too little carbs and too little saturated and mono-unsaturated fats. For me personally, the optimal ratio for T production seems to be on a 2500 kcal/day slight deficit diet with 98 kg bodyweight looks like this:

  • 1.8g protein/ bodyweight (1.8g x 98 = 176.4 grams = 720 kcal)
  • 40% of total calorie intake fat (1000 kcal = 111 grams)
  • Rest of the daily energy need from carbohydrates ( 780 kcal = 195 grams)

That means also eating quite a bunch of carbohydrates, and yet at under 200g carbs this example would still be among conventional nutrition advisors called a “low carbohydrate diet”.

Finally, for actual food sources, you can read from the Anabolic Men’s site the scientific basis for the most important foods that boost testosterone production. Based on that, here are my top 12 foods that satisfy the criteria above:

Here are a couple bonus additions that are daily staples for me: Celtic sea salt & high-altitude single-origin water-washed coffee.

I would suggest that you check out Biohacker’s Handbook’s Nutrition chapter for more information on how to optimize your personal diet.

  1. Drink enough water and hydrate yourself

Getting enough clean, mineral-rich water is not only crucial for life, but also for optimal hormonal balance. For example even mild dehydration (1–2%) can raise cortisol levels and deleteriously effect testosterone production. Especially when sweating a lot and during periods of heavy exercise, the importance of drinking water for testosterone maintenance is increased. The higher the level of the dehydration, the bigger the effects are on raising cortisol (and adrenaline) and lowering testosterone.

On the other hand, drinking too much water will also cause problems, such as diluting the blood and messing up with sodium balance in the body – even leading to hyponatremia (more precisely hypervolemic hyponatremia, or water intoxication) which, when severe, can cause numerous neurological and cardiovascular symptoms. So if you drink a lot of water, I recommend you add sea salt to prevent water retention and electrolyte disturbances.

The easiest way to estimate your hydration status is to analyze the color of your urine and the feeling of thirst. If your urine is diluted and pale in color, you have probably drank too much water. Ben has a pretty comprehensive article on this called “10 Things Your Pee Can Tell You About Your Body”. Also, if you feel a thirsty, you should know that you are already in a state of mild dehydration.

And for Pete’s sake, don’t drink plastic bottled water if you don’t want to jack up your estrogen levels. Stick to good spring water, filtered water, well water or glass bottled water.

  1. Have regular sex, but don’t ejaculate too often

There hasn’t been any extremely convincing studies on sex frequency and testosterone correlation in young men. However, one big observational study conducted with 1226 older men (aged 70+) found that regular sex helped to diminish the decline in testosterone level that occurs naturally with age. The study says:

We found a consistent association among older men followed over 2 years between the decline in sexual activity and desire, but not in erectile function, with a decrease in serum T. Although these observational findings cannot determine causality, the small magnitude of the decrease in serum T raises the hypothesis that reduced sexual function may reduce serum T rather than the reverse.

One small study also found out that men having sex in a sex club had an average increase of 72% of salivary testosterone after sex. I am not endorsing sex club visitations as a staple in your daily routine, but I’m just sayin’. In the meantime, those at the sex club who were just masturbating and watching sexual acts raised T only by 11%.

One sexual performance anecdote, mainly derived from athletes, is that sex the previous day or even many days before competition somehow hinders performance. But this topic has actually been researched and busted as a myth.

For example, one study comparing the maximal effort on cycle ergometer found out that having sex 2 hours before athletic performance slightly diminished recovery capacity, while having sex 10 hours before the event had absolutely no effect on performance or recovery. Another study found out that having sexual intercourse 12 hours prior to maximal treadmill effort didn’t have any negative (nor positive) effects on performance.

On the other hand, in traditional Chinese medicine it is common knowledge that ejaculation can more rapidly deplte Qi (Chi), your life force. This also makes sense, since sperm contains the seeds of life and plenty of minerals too. But this topic has also been researched by scientists.

One study found out that a short-term abstinence of sex (3 weeks) slightly increased testosterone. Another small study (28 healthy men) could actually verify, that an optimal ejaculation frequency for men testosterone-wise is actually 7 days. The study found that on the 7th day of abstinence, there was a significant increase in testosterone production (146%).  But too long a period of abstinence (e.g. over 3 months) can actually crash your testosterone production.

So drawing all these studies and anecdotes together, it appears that having sex once a week with a real partner is the best way of elevating your testosterone production.

  1. Avoid exposure to endocrine disruptors in plastics, food & water

Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals or natural substances that can alter the endocrine system. Ben talked about plenty of these in his latest “How To Detox Your Home” article.

Many of the endocrine disruptors are either directly negatively affecting  testosterone production or acting as estrogen mimics (like xenoestrogens). These are mainly found in plastics, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, toys, pesticides, preservatives, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They have also been linked to many other health problems like cancer, decreased fertility, metabolic syndrome, hypothyroid and diabetes.

So first, avoid these substances, period.

  • BPA (Bisphenol A)
    • Found in plastics; can lower testosterone levels significantly and cause erectile dysfunction
  • BPS (Bisphenol S)
    • Marketed as a ”safer” alternative to BPA found in thermal receipts, plastics and household dust.
    • Has the same negative endocrine effects as BPA
  • Phtalates
    • Found in plastics and cosmetics
    • Men having high phtalates in the urine have lower testosterone levels
  • Parabens
    • Found especially in sun lotions, moisturizers, shampoos, tooth pastes and in other cosmetics as a preservative
    • Function as a xenoestrogen in the body elevating estrogen levels in men (and women)
  • Triclosan & triclocarban
  • Benzophenones (BP-1, BP-2 & BP-3)
    • Found mainly in sunscreens functioning as UV filters
    • Can possibly lower testosterone by antagonizing androgen receptors (in English, blocking the receptor sites) and blocking enzymes converting other androgens to testosterone

The number one way to reduce your exposure to these endocrine disruptors is to avoid the use of plastics as well as you can with the following strategies:

  • Switch plastic cups to glass or steel cups & bottles (glass would be optimal)
  • Store leftover food in glass jars
  • Aquire a good tap filter that filters all contaminants and endocrine disrupters (e.g. reverse osmosis & activated charcoal filters)
  • Use only organic & natural ingredient cosmetics
  • Avoid junk food and prefer organic food
  • Minimize the handling time with receipts or use gloves
  • Avoid the use of detergents and flame retardants (and other possible endocrine disrupting chemicals)
  1. Raise your basic aerobic physical activity (but don’t do too much endurance training)

Being physically inactive is quite deleterious to your testosterone production. It has been shown in various studies that sedentary men who engage in regular physical activity instantly raise their testosterone levels and do it quite significantly.

For example a 12-week period of increased physical activity in a group of obese men showed significant increase in testosterone levels independent of accompanied weight loss induced by a mild calorie deficit. This means that a basic low-level physical activity like walking is an independent testosterone boosting factor! On the flipside, too much endurance training has been shown to lower testosterone levels significantly. One interesting fact is that in endurance athletes, low T is an independent factor (possibly impairing testicular function) which is not even related to chronically elevated cortisol levels.

  1. Increase your androgen receptor density

Besides optimizing testosterone production for optimal actual hormone signaling, you also need to have a good amount of androgen receptors in your body. Below are some the most researched ways to increase your androgen receptor density.

-Intermittent fasting (IF) and longer fasts

The easiest way to prime your androgen receptors for optimal testosterone uptake is intermittent fasting. Simply skipping your breakfast and pushing the first meal of the day as far as you can is a method that works very well. A small study showed that a fast of 12 to 56 hours improved testosterone response up to 180% in lean, but not in obese men.

Another study found out that after 10 day water fast, testosterone showed a downward trend of approximately 15–20%. When re-feeding after the prolonged fast with normal meals, the participants’ testosterone levels went up significantly higher than before the fasting baseline values. One guy even went from around 600 ng/dl to 1600 ng/dl! The explanation for this phenomenon is that fasting primes your body to be more receptive to testosterone, which means higher androgen receptor sensitivity.

Warning: If you are under a chronic stress and have super high cortisol levels all day long, a prolonged 16+ hour fast might not be your thing.

-Coffee (especially when fasting)

Coffee blunts hunger, which makes fasting easier. The caffeine in coffee can raise testosterone levels before exercise especially when tired (4mg/kg dosage) and after exercise (240 mg dosage).

-Explosive resistance training

There are basic resistance training principles that you should follow to optimize your androgen receptor density. First, activate large amounts of muscle mass with big compound movements. Second, do every movement as explosively as possible while maintaining a proper form. Third, keep workouts intense and short to avoid excess cortisol release. Fourth, use progressive loading with training (e.g. microloading). Research has shown that men who do resistance training regularly have higher androgen receptor density than untrained men.


Carnitine in is a lipid transporter molecule that moves ingested dietary fat via carnitine-acyl-transferases into mitochondria to be oxidized into energy (beta-oxidation). It will also increase androgen receptor activity in cells by providing energy for the receptors.

A 3-week supplementation with 2 grams L-carnitine L-tartrate (LCLT) per day has been shown to upregulate androgen receptor content after exercise, which promotes better recovery from training.  Another 3-week supplementation study showed that LCLT reduced the amount of exercise-induced muscle tissue damage, which also meant that a greater number of receptors would be available for hormonal interactions.


Based on in vitro and animal studies, mucuna pruriens, which contains L-dopa (3–6 %) has a potential of increasing androgen receptor density. I would still be careful with this, because overusing L-dopa may have some side effects such as hypotension, nausea, disorientation and sleepiness. These are more likely if you just use L-dopa medication instead of mucuna pruriens.


Also based on in vitro studies, forskolin, which functions as a cAMP activator and further as a PKA stimulator, can stimulate also the density of androgen receptors. There is also a placebo-controlled human study on forskolin on its effects on recovery and testosterone production. The study has been criticized  by many because of the authors’ interest in supplement business and the authors’ providing their own forskolin product. Forskolin may also cause hepatic side effects if the dosage is too high for too long.

Here is a conclusion on forskolin drawn together by Suppversity:

”…the almost non-existent human data on the purported testosterone boosting effects, this should be reason enough not to buy more than one bottle for a test-run. After which I highly suggest to do some lab work to see if whatever good or bad you believe you are feeling is an actual boost in T (check T-levels) or hepatic side effects (check ALT, AST & ALP).”

  1. Use creatine every day

Probably everyone who has trained with weights has heard of creatine. It is literally everywhere: in the gyms, in natural stores, supplement sites and even in normal grocery stores. Creatine monohydrate is not a new supplement, but rather an old one – the earliest studies on creatine and performance come from the early 1990s.

Creatine is already naturally occurring in red meat and in almost all vertebras. It functions in skeletal muscle energy production by increasing the amount of ATP in the cells. The specific energy system it is used in is your “creatine-phosphate” or “phosphagen” system. In your cells, creatine phosphate (CP) donates a phosphate to ADP to produce ATP. Your creatine phosphate system activates in short and intense bursts of exercise (around 5-8 seconds).

The research behind creatine is incredibly massive. There are nearly 100 peer-reviewed human studies showing that it increases strength, muscle mass and power and affects positively on body composition and sports performance. Quite a few studies have also shown that supplementing with just 5 grams of creatine per day increases testosterone and DHT significantly. Especially when beginning with the supplementation the elevation on DHT is especially high. One study showed that creatine also helped to diminish potential harmful effects of short-term overtraining while maintaining higher testosterone levels compared to those who didn’t supplement with creatine.

Longer term usage of creatine has not been shown to have any negative or adverse health effects. An overall trend towards higher testosterone serum levels has been also observed (on average from baseline of 17 nmol/l to 26 nmol/l).

One caveat: there was one review done in 2011 concluded that ”…high-dose (>3-5 g/day) creatine supplementation should not be used by individuals with pre-existing renal disease or those with a potential risk for renal dysfunction (diabetes, hypertension, reduced glomerular filtration rate). A pre-supplementation investigation of kidney function might be considered for reasons of safety, but in normal healthy subjects appears unnecessary.”


More Extreme & Lesser-Known Biohacks For High Testosterone

We have now covered the basics for optimizing testosterone that you really need to know and do first, before you begin to throw in the fancy stuff. Next, I will introduce you methods that have not been really discussed in popular literature and which fall into the category I affectionately refer to as “biohack yourself into a T monster”. These methods are also science-based, but I’ll admit that for some of the hacks, convincing human studies are still to be seen.

  1. Electrical (muscle) stimulation

A study done on rat’s gastrocnemius muscle (calf) found out that electrical stimulation induced a rapid increase in the number of androgen receptors in early parts of the stimulation. This led to an increase in muscle mass by enhancing the muscle sensitivity to androgens.

Another study conducted in humans showed that an electrical stimulation of volunteers’ meridian points (which basically means electro-acupuncture) increased subjects’ concentrations of total testosterone and DHEA-S without affecting LH or FSH (secreted from the pituitary gland).

Here is Ben’s comprehensive article on how to use electrostim (and a whole lot more).

  1. Red light or low-lever laser therapy (on your nuts)

Red light, near infrared light (NIR) or low-level laser therapy has been used to treat various conditions from pain and muscle aches to wound healing, skin conditions, osteoarthritis and even depression. These effects are usually local, but near infrared light has also systemic effects via circulation of blood. You might want to read this super comprehensive article on red light and NIR by a Finnish medical student Vladimir Heiskanen. He has been a key source of information for me regarding the healing effects of red light.

The basis for stimulating testosterone production by shooting red light and near-infra red light (yep, especially on your testicles) lies on the mechanism how red (or infrared) wavelengths work inside the cell. The key is that they stimulate ATP production in Leydig cells, thus increasing the energy available for the cells. This means more testosterone production.

There might be also other mechanisms, which are speculated in ”Red Light Man” site:

“Another potential mechanism involves a separate class of photoreceptive proteins, known as ‘opsin proteins. The human testes are especially abundant with various of these highly specific photoreceptors including OPN3, which are ‘activated, much like cytochrome, specifically by wavelengths of light. Stimulation of these testicular proteins by red light induces cellular responses that may ultimately lead to increased testosterone production, amongst other things, although research is still in the preliminary stages regarding these proteins and metabolic pathways. These type of photoreceptive proteins are also found in the eyes and also, interestingly, the brain.”

I haven’t found any human studies on the subject, but according to a few studies done on rats, the positive effects on testosterone production are enormous. For example a Korean study found out that low-level laser therapy (LLLT) with wavelength of 670nm (which is in border of visible red light and infra-red light) 30 minutes per day showed significant increase in serum testosterone by fourth day of the treatment without any harmful tissue penetration. A wavelength of 808 nm didn’t have any effect on T production. Another study done with rams didn’t show any positive effects on T production with 808 nm wavelength.

  • Overall, red or infrared light from LED source is generally thought to be a safe therapeutic method
  • Avoid heating the testicles, since the heat will destroy sperm cells and have a negative effect on the Leydig cells
  • Avoid blue light and UV light exposure on testicles (blue light inhibits ATP production in mitochondria)

Want more? Listen to Ben’s podcast on photobiomodulation here and then take a look at the red light that Ben is personally using and swears by, the JOOVV.  You just turn it on and – you guessed it – squat over it a bit…or stand it against a wall and shine it across thine gonads as you work at, say, a stand-up workstation.

  1. Do cold showers and swims (and keep your testicles cool)

In the 1820s, a German farmer named Vincenz Priessnitz started touting a new medical treatment called “hydrotherapy,” which used cold water to cure everything from broken bones to erectile dysfunction. He turned his family’s homestead into a sanitarium, and patients flocked to it in the hope that his cold water cure could help them.

The first hydrotherapy facility opened up in the U.S in 1843, right when the sanitarium craze hit America. By the end of the 19th century, over 200 hydrotherapy/sanitarium resorts existed in the United States the most famous being the Battle Creek Sanitarium founded by John Harvey Kellogg.

There is no straight-forward evidence that cold therapy can raise testosterone levels. But the indirect evidence exists. One study conducted in 1988 in Finland investigated serum levels of thyroid and adrenal hormones, testosterone, TSH, LH, GH and prolactin in men after a 2-h stay in a cold room (10 degrees Celsius). There were no significant changes in the serum concentration of adrenalin, T3, T4, testosterone, TSH or LH. The serum level of noradrenaline increased from 4.5 to 6.3 nmol L1 (P < 0.01) and those of Cortisol, GH and prolactin fell by 20, 87 and 48% (all P < 0.01). This means that by lowering cortisol, you would probably have more of the raw material for testosterone production and less stress response.

The indirect research evidence by in vitro (and animal) studies on optimal testicle function gives us information that the ball sack (yes, that’s my highly technical term) should be kept cool (under 35 Celsius or 95 Fahrenheit)  for optimal testosterone production. Heat exposure on testicles has been shown to reduce testosterone levels in rats. Also, an observational study done on over 6000 men showed that sperm quality and volume were greater in the winter time. This is due to stimulation by FSH and LH secreted from the pituitary gland, which also stimulate testosterone synthesis and secretion.

There are also anecdotes from old school Chinese and Russian powerlifters who iced their balls after training and also before competition. Apparently their goal was to increase performance and testosterone function.

Do these things to improve testicle function:

  • Take cold baths and showers
  • Wear loose boxers or go ”commando” to keep optimal temperature for testicles and to avoid compression
  • Sleep naked or wear just loose pajamas (no undies)
  • Sleep in a relatively cold room temperature
  • Don’t sit unless it is absolutely necessary
  1. Boron

According to a comprehensive research site

Boron is a dietary mineral that, although it has a daily intake, has not been accepted as an essential vitamin or mineral. It currently does not have a known minimum requirement.”

Boron is found in small amounts in the earth’s soil. It functions as a fortifier in cell walls, in the bone, in reproductive system, as well as in the brain. A boron deficiency (daily intake less than 0.23 mg per day) alters brainwave activity similar to magnesium deficiency by decreasing frontal lobe activity. A deficiency state has been associated with cognitive impairment.

Boron is well absorbed form the intestines, and the best food sources for boron are raisins, dried grapes and peaches, almonds, avocado and dried plums.

One human study showed that boron supplementation (10 mg per day) increased free testosterone (via reduction in SHBG) and DHT levels and decreased estrogen levels. Boron supplementation also seems to lower pro-inflammatory cytokines. One study done on bodybuilders found out that supplementing with 2.5 mg of boron did not have any effect on testosterone levels.

A study done on rats showed that boron accumulates in the testes and thus long-term use will probably produce the best benefits of using boron. The same study also showed, that with toxic boron doses it can actually cause testicular lesions. For humans, the safe dosage is up to 20 mg per day (the tolerable upper limit).

  1. Iodine

Iodine is an essential mineral, which means it must acquired via diet. Iodine is critical in your brain and central to the active thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Severe deficiency in iodine can result in reduced cognition or cretinism. The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones. Approximately 15–20 mg of iodine is concentrated in thyroid tissue and hormones. Still, 70% of the body’s iodine is distributed in other tissues such as mammary glands, eyes, salivary glands and testicles.

Iodine is most abundant in seaweed and seaweed based products such as nori wraps. Daily intake of iodine should be at least 75–150 micrograms per day, and for adults, an upper intake level is 3000 micrograms.

Lack of iodine in the body (especially in the thyroid gland) can cause various health problems. The most common one is hypothyroidism. Men with primary hypothyroidism have subnormal responses to luteinizing hormone (and GnRH) and their free testosterone concentrations are also reduced.

It has been noticed in rats that by increasing iodine supplementation the mean weight of the testes also increased quite a bit. However, the epididymal sperm counts went down a bit.

One possible explanation for the higher occurrence of hypothyroidism and hypogonadism in men today when compared to say like 30 years ago, is an increase of environmental toxic halogens like fluorine, chlorine and bromine. When concentrated enough in the body, they will replace iodine’s locations inside the cells (especially in thyroid cells and Leydig’s cells).

So it is critical to have enough iodine in your system to also optimize testosterone production. Some people have even taken this further by painting their testicles with Lugol’s iodine (which is highly concentrated potassium iodine). Yes, you heard me right: you can put iodine on your testicles.

The iodine protocol that doubles your testosteronel also includes adding supporting minerals such as selenium, magnesium, vitamin C, oral iodine, co-factors for ATP (B2 and B3 vitamins) and salt. The anecdote by hundreds of testimonials here is that many people did significantly elevate their testosterone production with possible straight stimulation of the Leydig cells by iodine, which would have then lead into removal of other halogens. The hypothesis for this therapy seems legit, but unfortunately there hasn’t been done any clinical nor animal studies.

A word of caution: Do not take excess iodine and do not over do this (it will cause pain in the scrotum area because of the sensitivity of the skin). This is a potentially dangerous biohack, so be careful. As a medical doctor, I wouldn’t recommend this to my patients right away.

  1. Pulsed electromagnetic fields

The electromagnetic fields emitted from various sources (e.g. mobile phones, microwave ovens, wi-fi’s etc.) have been reported to have causative effects on biological systems such as inflammation, radiation and hyperthermia. All of these can disrupt the seminiferous tubules and reduce the Leydig cell population and testosterone concentration (studies done in rats).

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF therapy) has been used successfully to treat various health conditions ranging from bone healing and pain relief to balancing the neuroendocrine system (including hormone production and melatonin levels).

There exists a very recent study conducted on male Wister rats, which showed that PEMF therapy helped rats to bounce back from microwave radiation in terms of testosterone production and to combat oxidative stress. In fact, rats’ testosterone levels went a bit higher than before the microwave radiation exposure after they were treated with PEMF for 60 days.

What’s this mean for you? Many folks keep their mobile phones in their  pockets quite close to testicles or ovaries. It is actually a fact that mobile phones emit microwaves that are harmful to normal tissues when kept very close to the skin. A number of studies have shown relationships between mobile telephone use and reduced sperm count and sperm quality. The negative effects are highly likely to extend also on reducing testosterone levels in men.

So the takeway is this: if you know that you are being exposed to external microwaves and wi-fi’s and cell phones, the use of a small PEMF device (locally on or near your testes) or a more general device for whole body PEMF treatment, is likely to revive testosterone levels.


Ben Greenfield back here.

What do you think?

Did you enjoy Olli’s article? Do you plan on shining laser lights on your balls, using PEMF, painting your gonads with iodine or using any of Olli’s other fringe tactics described above?

Do you have questions or your own testosterone-boosting tips and tricks and experiences to add?

Simply leave them in the comments section below.

And if you want to come hang out with Olli and I at the November 18 Biohackers’ Summit in Helsinki, Finland, you can click here and use 10% discount code BEN to get in. Or if Finland is too far away for you, then just get Olli’s extremely comprehensive, well researched biohacking book here. And thanks for reading.