Six-Egg Breakfasts, Ketosis For Bodybuilders, Resetting Weed Tolerance, Kratom Experimentation & Much More With The Mindpump Guys!

Meet the guys from MindPump podcast

For the second time, the hosts Sal, Adam, Justin and Doug traveled all the way up from San Jose to descend upon my my house in Spokane, Washington to record this podcast.

Our previous episodes include:

The Mysterious Micro-Workouts, Turning On Your Butt, Overdosing With Melatonin & More With The MindPump Guys.

The Kuwait Muscle-Building Phenomenon, The Too-Much-Protein Myth, Anabolic Triggering Sessions & More With The MindPump Podcast Crew.

These guys claim to “pull back the curtain on the mythology, snake oil and pseudo-science that pervades the fitness industry and present science-backed solutions that result in increased muscular development and performance while simultaneously emphasizing health.”

And as you can see below, they seem to have the body composition and transformation equation pretty well figured out. They include:

Sal DiStefano…

Sal was 14 years old when he touched his first weight and from that moment he was hooked. Growing up asthmatic, frequently sick and painfully skinny, Sal saw weightlifting as a way to change his body and his self-image. In the beginning, Sal’s body responded quickly to his training but then his gains slowed and then stopped altogether. Not one to give up easily, he began reading every muscle building publication he could get his hands on to find ways to bust through his plateau. He read Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, Mentzer’s Heavy Duty, Kubrick’s Dinosaur Training, and every muscle magazine he could find; Weider’s Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Iron Man and even Muscle Media 2000. Each time he read about a new technique or methodology he would test it out in the gym. At age 18 his passion for the art and science of resistance training was so consuming that he decided to make it his profession and become a personal trainer. By 19 he was managing health clubs and by 22 he owned his own gym. After 17 years as a personal trainer he has dedicated himself to bringing science and TRUTH to the fitness industry.

Adam Schafer…

Adam Schafer is a IFBB men's physique Pro and fitness expert. Adam made his entrance into the fitness world 14 years ago and has continued to send shock waves throughout the community ever since. He is a man of many talents who wears many hats. He is first and foremost a certified fitness expert who has an insatiable desire to help people in need of major lifestyle changes and daily accountable motivation. He is also incredibly driven entrepreneur and business minded individual with a vision that continually challenges his colleagues and peers to think bigger and achieve more.

Justin Andrews…

Justin has an incredible passion to disrupt the personal training industry and create ground breaking programs and tools that fitness professionals and clients alike can benefit from. The fitness industry in general needs a massive face lift to speak more to the generation growing up with a more advanced technology tool kit. Justin’s approach is to create programs that utilize technology as it advances and cut through the millions of options people face everyday when seeking specific information relating to their fitness needs. The great thing about where we are today is how easy it is to access information, the bad part about accessing all this information is how much misinformation is out there to weed through. As a health and fitness professional with a proven track record here in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Justin Andrews will keep working tirelessly to keep people educated and connected to quality personal trainers long into the future.

Doug Egge…

Doug received his first gym membership as a gift from his dad when he was 16 years old. Rocky III had just come out and he was determined to build a body like Stallone. It never happened. Despite following the advice of muscle magazines and busting his butt in the gym, Doug saw minimal gains over the next 30 years. Then he was introduced to Sal Di Stefano by his chiropractor who recommended he work with Sal to eliminate muscle imbalances that were causing lower back issues. Sal's unique approach, often 180 degrees different from what Doug had read in books and magazines, produced more results in a matter of months than he had experienced in the 30 years prior. Doug with an extensive marketing and media production background, recognized Sal's unique gift and perspective was missing from the fitness world and suggested that they should join forces. Doug and Sal have since produced life-altering programs such as the No BS 6-Pack Formula and MAPS Anabolic. Doug is very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Adam and Justin as Producer of MindPump.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-The craziest biohacks in Ben's office…[5:35]

-Why Adam has six eggs for breakfast, along with tons of avocados and bacon, and how his body responded to that when he switched to it from a “high carb” bodybuilding diet…[17:40]

-What Adam recommends for stacking with testosterone to avoid things like man boobs and excess estrogen…[24:30]

-The difference between THC strains now and THC strains of long ago…[31:40]

-The seven secret ingredients in Ben's go-to custom sleep edible that he makes…[33:25]

-Why Sal uses a special form of broccoli in his go-to meal, and what it does to his body…[40:00]

-Which produce to buy organic, and which not to worry about buying organic…[53:35]

-The unconventional, go-to travel workouts each guy from Mindpump uses to stay fit when on the road…[54:25]

-What you cran mix with THC or Kratom to make either of these plant-based medicines far more potent…[46:40]

-What is the newest MAPS program and how does it work? [61:15]

-The most shocking, intriguing, and interesting things the guys from Mindpump have learned from previous podcast guests this year…[71:15]

-A special way to “reboot” your tolerance to weed…[73:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

My podcast with Kevin Rose about fine chocolate

Fit Vine Wine

Mexican sea salt

Normatec boots

Halo Neuro Photobiomodulation therapy

Marcpro Electrostimulation Device


Human charger

Ben's custom nighttime CBD blend

Rhonda Patrick's video on “How To Increase Sulforaphane in Broccoli Sprouts by ~3.5-fold”

Japanese yam noodles (Miracle Noodles)

Grapefruit seed extract


Hypersphere vibration therapy ball

Kettlebell lifestyle

The Halo Sport for TDCS/Motor Cortex priming

Videos of Adam training with his clubs and tension stick “Axon” on Instagram

Steven Kotler's “Stealing Fire” book

Dr. Terry Wahl's “Wahl's Protocol” book

The special form of neurofeedback that reduces weed tolerance

The Mindpump podcast with Zach Bitter

The Mindpump podcast with Brent Mccabe

The Mindpump MAPS Anywhere training programs

The Mindpump MAPS Prime training programs

The training/tension stick that Justin is developing to train and quantify muscle tension

Ben Greenfield's podcast with Mindpump: Biohacking Fitness Icon & NY Times Best Selling Author – Mind Pump: Raw Fitness Truth.

The Mysterious Micro-Workouts, Turning On Your Butt, Overdosing With Melatonin & More With The MindPump Guys.

The Kuwait Muscle-Building Phenomenon, The Too-Much-Protein Myth, Anabolic Triggering Sessions & More With The MindPump Podcast Crew.

-Recipes mentioned during this episode:

Sal's recipe:


-Boil a large bushel of rapini until well cooked. Drain the water and add olive oil liberally.
-Can of sardines.
-Avocado with sea salt and olive oil drizzled over it.

Justin's recipe:

-Bell peppers (red and yellow)
-Green onions
-2 boiled Whole eggs
-1 egg yolk
-Olive oil (liberal)
-MCT oil (1 tablespoon)
-Apple cider vinegar (2 tablespoons)

Adam's recipe:

-4-6 whole organic eggs
-1 oz organic cheese
-1 avocado
-8-10 pieces of bacon
-1 cup spinach
-Diced bell peppers

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

Decoding The Mysteries Of Neuroinflammation, Immune Dysregulation, Toxicity, Infection & Beyond.

Recently, Dr. Joseph Mercola, who I interviewed in the episode “Killing Fat Cells, Fixing Mitochondria, Growing Superfoods & More“, wrote to me and told me about some guy named Dr. Christopher Shade, who Dr. Mercola mentioned was one of the more brilliant minds out there when it comes to neuroinflammation, toxicity, metals such as mercury, and unique delivery mechanisms for getting nutrients into your body, including something called “liposomal delivery”.

So I reached out to Dr. Shade and he graciously agreed to come onto the show.

Who is this guy?

Dr. Shade obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees from Lehigh University in environmental and aqueous chemistry. Dr. Shade earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois where he studied the environmental and analytical chemistries of mercury as well as advanced aquatic chemistry. During his Ph.D. work, Dr. Shade patented analytical technology for mercury speciation analysis and later founded a company called “Quicksilver Scientific” that now commercializes this technology.

Shortly after starting Quicksilver Scientific, Dr. Shade turned his focus to the human aspects of mercury exposure, toxicity and the human detoxification system. He has since developed specific clinical analytical techniques for measuring mercury exposure and a system of products to remove metallic and organic toxins by upregulation of innate detoxification biochemistry. His current focus is at the intersection of neuroinflammatory issues, immune dysregulation, toxicity, and infection – specifically how to peel away the layers of overlapping dysfunction in the sick individual until you get to a point at which the system rights itself.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Why Chris decided not to be an organic farmer and instead began studying mercury and the human detox system…[6:40]

-Aside from liver, kidneys, skin, the other three detox mechanisms and organs in the body that get underplayed…[12:00]

-The unique clinical analytical techniques Chris developed, and why he uses something called “mercury speciation”…[23:00 & 29:30]

-Why most tests for mercury give a “false negative”…[30:00]

-The best ways to get rid of mercury in the body…[32:30]

-How to make your own liposomal delivery mechanism at home…[44:35]

-How Chris gets a sick individual to “right themselves”…[50:00]

-A simple trick to make compounds like THC and CBD more absorbable…[63:45]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My podcast with Dr. Mercola: Killing Fat Cells, Fixing Mitochondria, Growing Superfoods & More

Quicksilver Scientific

Sunflower lecithin powder

NatureCBD Capsules (hybrid-nanoengineered CBD oil extract from hemp)

Magical Butter Ben uses for THC

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

How To Learn Faster, Jump Higher, Increase Explosiveness, Push Harder & Biohack Your Brain Beyond It’s Normal Capacity.

Last week, I posted to Instagram the “most dangerous piece of workout equipment I own”.

And no, it was not a mace, or a unicycle, or a parachute or any other risky exercise device.

Instead, it was a simple piece of headgear that looks like a nice set of earphones.

But within that headgear is embedded one of the devices known to modern exercise science when it comes to doing things like making a hard, voluminous workout feel shockingly simple and short, allowing you to acquire skills like a tennis serve or golf swing at double or triple the speed you'd normally be able to, and enabling you to push much, much harder during a workout than you'd ever be able to do without a little bit of help from modern brain biohacking.

The device is called a Halo, and I call it “dangerous” because it allows me to push my body and brain to levels I'd never be able to reach on my own.

And it's all based on the science of something called “neuropriming”. Developed from fifteen years of academic research, neuropriming is basically the process of causing excitability of motor neurons before or during athletic and exercise training to things like improve strength, skill, explosiveness, and endurance.

Michael Johnson, 4x Olympic Gold Medalist says that “…it's doing something that we've never seen before – something the sports market's never seen before…”

We're talking explosive force development, increased propulsive force, enhanced skill acquisition, increased rate of force development, and host of other factors influenced by the ability of neuropriming to put the brain's motor cortex in a temporary state of hyper-learning that lasts for about an hour. During this post neuropriming time, feeding your brain quality athletic training repetitions results in this information being more fully incorporated into your brain. Essentially, the headgear I've been using allows me to push far harder than my brain would normally let me and makes practice of a skill far more productive and efficient for the brain.

Normally, athletes require literally thousands of reps to create the neurologic changes necessary to perform at the highest level come game time. But this technology changes all that.

It's called a “Halo“.

Dr. Daniel Chao, my guest on today's podcast, is a neurotech entrepreneur who specializes in devices that improve brain performance. He is the co-founder and CEO of Halo Neuroscience. The company's first product, Halo Sport, is the first neurostimulation system built specifically for athletes.

Before Halo, Dr. Chao was the head of business development at NeuroPace where he played a central role in the development of the world's first responsive neurostimulation system that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy in a unanimous 13-0 vote. Prior to Neuropace, Dr. Chao was a consultant at McKinsey & Company and earned his M.D. and M.S. in neuroscience from Stanford University.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-The special part of the brain mammals possess that other less complex species do not, and how you can target that specific area of the brain…[10:40]

-How something called transcranial direct current stimulation, also known as tDCS, can be used to stimulate certain section of your brain…[12:52]

-What kind of studies have been done on “neuropriming” to actually show whether or not it actually works…[15:10]

-Why workouts and skill acquisition actually feel easier after you “shock your brain”…[18:00]

-When shocking your brain can actually be safe, and when you should avoid it like the plague…[21:45]

-Whether something like this can be used general cognitive performance such as language learning or focus…[27:30 & 30:00]

-How to use tDCS stimulation for video gaming and playing instruments…[32:25]

-The super-charged sniper training RadioLab episode on which Ben first discovered tDCS and how the Halo is any different than the 20 dollar “make your own TDCS” threads on Reddit…[39:05]

-The pro athletes currently using the Halo and what they have reported for results…[45:25]

-Whether or not this type of brain training is considered neurodoping by the World Anti Doping Association…[53:20]

-What happens if you wear headgear is too far forward or too far back…[59:50]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

The Halo (save $120 with code BEN10)

GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human

The Reddit tDCS groups

The 9 Volt Nirvana RadioLab episode

The Brain Zapping Olympians episode

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

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (& What They Don’t Tell You About The Mediterranean Diet).

OK, OK. Let's not beat around the bush here.

In health circles, it's kind of old news now that “saturated fat might not be bad for you” and that sugar, starches and vegetable oil might instead be a primary contributory factor to heart disease and other chronic health problems.

So when I got the book “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” in the mail, I figured it would be the same ol', same ol' advice, like eat your egg yolks, don't be afraid of butter, and drink whole milk instead of skim milk.

But I was actually surprised. Big, fat surprised. Heh.


Because in the book, author and investigative journalist Nina Teicholz not only lays out the most comprehensive history, treatise and full argument as to why saturated fats – the kind found in dairy, meat, and eggs – are not bad for health, but also takes a deep dive into everything from myths behind the Mediterranean Diet, to the heart killing replacement for trans fats you probably haven't heard about yet to the ethics of eating meat and beyond.

The Economist named this book the best science book of 2014 and called it a “nutrition thriller”. The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Mother Jones, Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews named it a *Best Book* of 2014. The British Medical Journal praised the book in an extensive review, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said, “All scientists.. and every nutrition science professional…should read this book.”

So who exactly is Nina?

Before taking a deep dive into researching nutrition science for nearly a decade, she was a reporter for National Public Radio and also contributed to many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Economist. She attended Yale and Stanford where she studied biology and majored in American Studies. She has a master’s degree from Oxford University and served as associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

And I'm guessing she probably has eggs and bacon for breakfast.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What compelled Nina to spend ten years writing a 500 page book after discovering shocking cover-ups in the nutrition industry…[10:55]

-What researcher George Mann found in African populations who were subsisting on a diet of organs, meat and blood…[17:30]

-Why Lewis and Clark were so disappointed in the game meat they discovered when traveling West…[27:10]

-How Americans used to eat, and why it's a huge problem that we now eat so much poultry…[34:45 & 38:45]

-What was the “remarking and troublesome omission” from the Ancel Keys study and why the “true” Mediterranean diet is far different than the Mediterranean diet you've probably seen in popular literature…[61:40]

-The surprising truth behind why the Cretans were so long lived…[62:50]

-How when trans fats got banned, they may have been replaced with something worse, and what that worse thing is…[68:35]

-The biggest mistakes that people make when following a high fat diet…[78:40]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book: The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

US Wellness Meats

-Book: Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan

Chris Masterjohn's podcast on the Kitavan diet and ApoE genotype

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

Episode #365 – Full Transcript

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction

[5:32] News Flashes/Banking Sleep

[9:03] Does Nutella Cause Cancer?

[15:01] Turmeric and DHA

[19:05] The Health Benefits of Cannabis

[21:50] How Sex Is Communication

[26:07] Special Announcements/GAINSWave

[29:14] The Yoga Trapeze

[32:36] HumanCharger

[34:56] Hello Fresh

[37:00] Nutritional Therapy Association Conference

[37:54] Listener Q&A/Recovering From A Plateau

[1:03:41] Boosting Testosterone and Sperm Production

[1:12:13] 10 Alternatives to Common Medications

[1:29:31] CytoDetox

[1:38:33] End of Podcast

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show: 5 Reasons You Get Burnt Out From Exercise, 10 Natural Alternatives To Common Medications, The Latest News On The Health Effects Of Cannabis, and much more.

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben:  Rachel, did you have an epic weekend?

Rachel:  I did have an epic weekend.  Do you want to know what I did?

Ben:  Let me guess you went snowmobiling, dog sledding, and skiing, as we did last weekend.

Rachel:  That was the weekend before.  Yeah, no I didn't this weekend.  I went to Disney World, Universal Studios, and NASA.

Ben:  You mean the one in Florida?

Rachel:  Yes!  I went to Florida.

Ben:  Wow.  You get around.

Rachel:  I know!  And then this Friday, I'm going to Costa Rica as well.  So that's a lot going on right now.  But, NASA.

Ben:  Wow.  You’re going to wear your Mickey Mouse hat to Costa Rica?

Rachel:  I might wear my NASA sweater.  I'm more geeked out on space right now.

Ben:  What'd you think of Disney World?

Rachel:  Disney World was fun.  I loved Universal Studios more.  They have a massive Harry Potter World, which was, I love Harry Potter.  So it was so much fun.

Ben:  I remember Epcot.  I used to go to Epcot.

Rachel:  That's where we went, yeah.

Ben:  We'd go down to Disney World and I would always, always not like Disney World, but always look forward to Epcot.  They had the purple dragon there.  Do you remember the purple dragon?

Rachel:  I didn't see the damn purple dragon!

Ben:  It was like Figaro.  Something like, not Figaro.  Figment?  Figaro?  Something like that.  Anyways, the purple dragon was epic.  I used to love the purple dragon.  I had like a purple dragon stuffed animal, everything.  Epcot was always the draw for me, not Disney World.

Rachel:  That you slept with every night?

Ben:  Screw Mickey Mouse!  It's all about the dragon.

Rachel:  Aww.  Damn.  But I love NASA.  But I heard you had a fun night last night.

Ben:  I did have a fun night last night.  So I shot a Snapchat video, if any of you go to, you can check out all the goodness and the slightly controversial material that I tend to publish there, 'cause I know it's going to disappear in 24 hours, so I might as well just put the most embarrassing things up there.

Rachel:  And they can't be used as evidence.

Ben:  That's right.  At least not after that 24-hour period.  So anyways, I made a sleep edible yesterday.  And what I did was I took a whole bunch of CBD capsules and I broke them open, and this is a CBD that's blended with turmeric, and I put them into this machine called a MagicalButter machine, which is like a home immersion blender for making home edibles, and then I put a bunch of organic goat ghee in there, yes, goat ghee, and then black pepper, a couple tablespoons of black pepper, 'cause black pepper, when you combine that with turmeric, it makes anything more bioavailable.  We'll actually talk about the science behind that a little bit in today's show.  I put some Stevia in there for some sweetness, so it didn't like taste like crap with all the turmeric and the black pepper, and then I put some dark cacao in there, and I put in an entire packet, have you ever had reishi spores?

Rachel:  No.

Ben:  So reishi is a mushroom that I find tends to induce quite a bit of sleepiness and relaxation, and I put like an entire bag of reishi spores from this company called Four Sigmatic in there.  So super-duper bioavailable, dual extracted reishi.  And then a little bit of sea salt, and I may or may not have decarboxylated a bit of cannabis and thrown that in there, and…

Rachel:  Golly gosh, Ben!

Ben:  Then basically you just turn the blender on, and it goes for like two hours and blends, and then I poured into these little like Reese's Peanut Butter Cup-style molds.  I popped some…

Rachel:  That you hid from your children.

Ben:  Popped one last night before I went to bed, and what we'll do, we'll post the Snapchat story this weekend, Friday.  We always do weekly a round-up to on a Friday, so you'll have to wait with bated breath.  But that's the recipe.  We'll post the recipe too.  So it was interesting.  Or if you're listening to this episode when it comes out, my Snapchat story right now is less than 24 hours old.

Rachel:  Still available, yeah.

Ben:  So you can go see me, I walked barefoot and naked out to my cold pool for a plunge this morning through the snow, as I do every morning, and I was talking to the camera as I went about what ensued last night.  Let's just say there was a little bit of TMI involved.  So, anyways.

Rachel:  Check it out.

Ben:  Yeah.  We should probably jump into today's show.

News Flashes:

Ben:  Well, needless to say with that little sleep edible I made last night that I ate at about 8, 8:30 PM, I had a pretty dang good night of sleep last night.  I must say.

Rachel:  Well, I'm not surprised.  I am not surprised.

Ben:  I slept like a rock, despite some of the things that I mentioned in that Snapchat story that happened a few times during the night that woke me up.  But we digress, because there's actually a very interesting study on sleep that came out, and as usual, this is the part of the show where you learn about some cool research that has hit the streets this week, and I'll links to all of these studies that I talk about over  Today's show is 365.  So go to for the show notes.  But this first study was actually about banking sleep and whether banking sleep works.  Have you ever wondered that, Rachel?  Like if you're going to go into like a weekend where you're bouncing around between Disney World and Costa Rica, and maybe not sleeping too much, whether in your sleep a whole bunch like in the week leading up to that, if it helps?

Rachel:  Whether that works.  Right.  Yeah.  Does it?

Ben:  Yeah.  Well I've tried it before, thinking that it probably does, feeling like it probably does, but they finally studied this, the nerds in the lab coats.  So they took a bunch of guys and they had them stay an additional two hours in bed each night over six days.  So they basically calculated that these guys got 75 minutes of additional sleep over their six-day, what they called their sleep extension condition, which sounds lovely.  I'd dig being part of that study where you just basically get paid to lay in bed.  And then what they did was they sleep deprived them.  They actually had them go through a weekend where they not only sleep deprived them, but then they also tested their endocrine, or their hormonal, and their metabolism regulation, and then also some tests of like their cognitive function, executive function, et cetera, and compared it to a group that did not get the sleep extension beforehand.  And what they found was there actually is a beneficial effect of banking sleep before a period of sleep deprivation.

Rachel:  Does it go into, say, how much is too much or anything like that?

Ben:  How much is too much sleep?

Rachel:  Sleep, yeah.  To bank.

Ben:  It doesn't.  I mean we do know that when you sleep, unless you're a professional athlete who's exercising like three to six hours a day, once you're banking more than nine hours of sleep, it turns out to be like a law of diminishing returns when it comes to longevity.  So there's basically increased mortality associated with less than seven hours of sleep per night and also increased mortality linked to more than hours of sleep per night.

Rachel:  Greater than nine, yeah.

Ben:  Especially if you're like Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movie where your extra time in bed is spent eating like a giant chicken leg with oil dripping down your chin.  I would imagine that'd probably not be quality time spent in bed.  But anyways, it's called “Sleep extension before sleep loss: effects on performance and neuromuscular function”.  Really interesting article, with an obvious takeaway, like it turns out that if you do anticipate going through a period of time, like a weekend or whatever, where you're not going to sleep much, it actually does help to bank sleep or bank naps.

Rachel:  Yeah.  And we can do that by taking the Ben Greenfield Fitness sleep edible.

Ben:  Yeah.  Careful with that one.  So speaking of being careful, Nutella.  Do you like Nutella?  Or you guys just all about…

Rachel:  I hate Nutella, and I'm all Vegemite.

Ben:  I was going to say…

Rachel:  But I would love to know if Vegemite is actually healthier, if I've been lied to my whole life.

Ben:  From a taste standpoint Vegemite, is far inferior to Nutella.  In my opinion.

Rachel:  That's not true.  Anyway.

Ben:  But last week, there were headlines all over the place about Nutella.  “Nutella causes cancer”, and “Nutella doesn't cause cancer”, and so the media was going back and forth, and this was all based on this report that came out in May of 2016.  So last year, the European Food Safety Agency reported on a whole bunch of potentially carcinogenic compounds that were found in, drum roll please, refined palm oil, which Nutella contains crap loads of. And so this report focused on three different things that you can find in refined oil, and by the way, did you know that when it comes to Nutella, it is so popular that it uses a quarter of the world's entire hazelnut supply because it's a chocolate, for those who haven't had it before, it's a chocolate hazelnut spread, and it is, I must admit pretty tasty.  But it's also got a lot of this palm oil.

Rachel:  That's insane.  Yeah.  And it's stealing all that damn hazelnuts.

Ben:  Yeah.  So this report goes into one compound called glycidyl ester, or GE, which you'll find in palm oil in much, much higher amounts than you find in other oils.  And then also goes into a couple other compounds that you find alongside GE, they’re called MCPD compounds.  And what this goes into is how GE, at least in animal studies, has been shown to be a genotoxin, meaning it can damage DNA.  That's what a genotoxin is.  And that might be a causative step in the formation of cancer cells.  And this is the point in today's show where I cough like a mother because I just had a giant green smoothie.  Hold on.  I think I've got chlorella attached to my tonsils.  There we go.  We won't even edit that out.

Rachel:  We're on a roll here.

Ben:  Anyways.  So all these European supermarkets started pulling Nutella off their shelves after this study came out because that's what the headlines are saying, was Nutella causes cancer 'cause it has palm oil on it, and palm oil has this GE stuff, and three MCPD, and two MPCD, if found along with the GE, can increase its risk for cancer.  So that's kind of like the initial part of this whole Nutella scare.  Now, first of all, there's a few things you should consider.  We are different than rats and mice, and none of these studies were done in humans.  So that kind of limits the conclusion that you can draw from the data, because people aren't like rodents.  And one example of that, for example, rodents can make, when rodents consume glucose, they can make vitamin C out of glucose.  Humans simply can't do that.  That's just one simple example of the difference between like the metabolism of rodents versus the metabolism of humans.

And the other thing that you should kind of look into is that this report didn't look at the Nutella.  All it did was it looked at very, very high amounts of palm oil compared to other fats, and Nutella is actually produced at pretty low temperatures.  I'm not saying Nutella is perfect, but it is produced a pretty low temperatures, and it appears that the palm oil that's produced a really high temperatures is a type of palm oil that results in what's called genotoxicity.  Now in addition, there's something else that makes palm oil extremely, extremely carcinogenic, and that would be anything that has any type of chlorine in it.  Now this might make you raise an eyebrow and basically wonder why the heck I'm talking about chlorine because who eats chlorine.

Well, believe it or not, if you consume sucralose, or Splenda, that has chlorine in spades.  Basically what sucralose is, it's a polychlorinated artificial sweetener.  So if you happen to be consuming Nutella and also consuming artificial sweeteners in like diet soda and stuff like that, yes, you probably are not doing your body any favors when it comes to carcinogenic risk.  In addition, if you are looking at the label of anything that you eat and it contains what's called refined palm oil, especially in high amounts, and especially refined palm oil in processed or packaged foods, which means that it's probably been heated to a pretty significant extent, that's also a warning sign if that's a staple in your diet, that you need to be careful.  However…

Rachel:  Yeah.  Because it is in a bunch of different things, right?  It's not in a lot of things, but I know it's in margarine, and ice cream.

Ben:  Exactly.  Did you just call it margarine?

Rachel:  That's exactly what it's called.  And it's aluminium, alright?  It's not aluminum.

Ben:  That's right.  But if you are like my children, who once every two weeks, when they visit grandma's house, where grandma has Nutella in the pantry, and they spread a tablespoon of that on their sourdough bread along with some almond butter, they're not going to be sprouting tumors anytime soon.  This is like daily consumption of highly refined palm oil in rodents appears to be an issue, and we can extend that to humans to a certain extent.  I'll linked to the entire report on this in the show notes.  But ultimately, having a little Nutella every now and again is probably a lot better now than having Vegemite.  I'm just saying.

Rachel:  No!  You're wrong!

Ben:  Alright.  Well, anyways.

Rachel:  Moving on.  The battle continues.

Ben:  So don't worry.  Nutella isn't going to kill you.  Live a little, every now and again.  Okay.

So the next one is an interesting paper on turmeric and DHA.  So turmeric, I was just talking about, about how it's something that I put into edibles, I put it into a lot of stuff.  Like I make an anti-aging tea that I blend turmeric with because it makes what are called the beta-lapachones in the anti-aging tea, and I'll put my recipe for that in the show notes.  It makes them far more bioavailable.  And we also know that there's something called piperine, do you know where you get piperine from, Rachel?

Rachel:  It sounds like pepper.

Ben:  Yeah.  Pepper.  So that's the other thing.  Like I sprinkle turmeric and black pepper any time I have a whole bunch of vegetables, turmeric, black pepper, a little bit of fat, like some olive oil, or some avocado oil, or a can of sardines.  Like that's a really good mix.  And this paper just goes into the science behind the drastic bioavailability increase that you get when you combine black pepper, and you combine turmeric, and you combine some type of fat.  And in particular, what this paper goes into is how the type of fat that appears to work really, really well at allowing curcumin and black pepper to increase the amount of DHA in your brain, which is really important, 'cause most people are DHA deficient, most people don't have enough of this really important fat in their brain to allow for optimized cognitive and neural function.  But if you get some form of DHA along with turmeric, along with black pepper into your diet on a regular basis, you vastly increase the amount of DHA that's available for your brain.  And do you know what some of the major sources of DHA are?

Rachel:  Go ahead.

Ben:  Algae and fish.  So if you're vegan or vegetarian, doing algae, curcumin, and when I say algae, that could be like spirulina, chlorella, stuff like that, like you could put some spirulina, and some black pepper, and some turmeric into a morning smoothie.  Also, of course, fish is a really good source of DHA.  So krill oil, fish oil, sardines, like I do, on your lunchtime salad with some turmeric and some black pepper.  But if you do not currently have in your pantry as a staple like some good organic turmeric, and some black pepper, and then some type of DHA-based fat available in your refrigerator or your pantry and you're not combining those on a daily basis, then you're basically inducing stupidity.  You're missing out an important part of life and you're shrinking your brain especially if you're combining it with daily consumption of Nutella.

Rachel:  What amounts of turmeric and black pepper are we talking?

Ben:  So what I usually do is I go through about a teaspoon or so of turmeric a day, and the ratio is actually, it's like a 20:1, it's a very, very strange ratio of turmeric to black pepper, meaning that you don't need very much black pepper at all.  But I don't care because I freaking love pepper.  So I easily go through a good teaspoon of black pepper and a good teaspoon of turmeric on a daily basis, often more when you consider I've got turmeric blended with like the edibles that I make or with the anti-aging bark tea that I make.  Like I'm a big, big fan of biohacking the foods that I eat, 'cause I'm going to eat, I want to absorb as many nutrients as possible, and I like the taste of turmeric, and I like the taste of black pepper.  It's a great mix.  It's almost as good as turkey and cranberry, or chocolate and peanut butter.  What's a mix that you really like, Rachael?  Is there any other combination I missed out on?

Rachel:  Oooh.  I'm buying into the American, which I never used to, I used to think it was so weird, but salted caramel.

Ben:  Uhmm.  Salted caramel.

Rachel:  You guys are on to something.

Ben:  Peanut butter and jelly, salt and caramel, macaroni and cheese.  Yeah.  Every orthorexic food nazi on the planet has shut off this podcast episode now that we've endorsed Nutella and macaroni and cheese.  Okay.

Rachel:  Don't worry.

Ben:  Speaking of eating very tasty comfort foods, there was a brand new study on cannabis, the health benefits of cannabis.  And by the way, I don't want to give anybody the impression that we're a bunch of stoners on this podcast. We are not.  I look at something like cannabis, or marijuana, or weed, or whatever you want to call it, the same as I do any other thing that you might find in my refrigerator from fish oil, to chicken, to almond butter.  Like it's something that I’ll use when the time is appropriate, such as a little bit of THC for creativity when I'm working on my book of fiction, or I'm working on my musical practice, or for example, a little bit of CBD in the evening when I want to sleep, or when I've got a little bit of stress and anxiety during the day.  So I don't want somebody thinking we're just like toking up all day long.

Rachel:  Right.  And it's also, I think important to talk about it because the plant, it's just a plant and it's been so demonized by our cultures.

Ben:  Right.  It's like…

Rachel:  Yeah.  You got to have these conversations.  Just to level the playing field a little.

Ben:  Like kale, or spinach, or bok choy.

Rachel:  Right!  Like when you grow the plant, you're like, “Like why does everyone hate this?”  It's very strange.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  So anyways, this was a brand new study in which scientists dug through more than 10,000 separate clinical studies, and then reported in the National Academies Of Science Engineering And Medicine in a groundbreaking 400-page report on the benefits posed by cannabis use.  And there was an enormous number of verifiable medicinal uses backed by huge amounts of high quality science.  This particular article basically says this could spell the end for weed's categorization as a Schedule 1 narcotic simply because of the dizzying number of health effects, and everything from anxiety, to stress, to sleep, to schizophrenia, to epilepsy, to diabetes, to endocrine balance, and beyond.  Basically, there's very, very scant evidence that it's linked to strokes, or heart attacks, or acts as a gateway drug, or anything like that.  Like this was one of the biggest studies ever done on it, and it turns out that it's actually relatively safe in moderate doses, just like kale can kill you or destroy your thyroid if you eat too much of it.  Obviously, cannabis can have its drawbacks in excess, but it turns out this stuff is pretty darn safe and pretty darn beneficial.

Rachel:  Awesome.

Ben:  There you have it.  We'll link to that one in the show notes too if you want to check it out.  And then of course, no discussion of weed, Nutella, and sardines, and sleep would be complete without a little discussion about sex.  And there was a fascinating article that came out this week.  Did you see this one, Rachel?

Rachel:  I saw this article, and I immediately posted it to Facebook.  It is insane.  And it makes so much sense.  And it also shows me how little we still know about bodies and humans.

Ben:  That's right.  So this entire article is about how sex is communication.

Rachel:  On a biological level.

Ben:  On a biological level.  So biologists now believe that sexual intercourse isn't just like this sperm delivery process, like the mailman brings sperm to the vagina, but it's actually biological communication.  So what that means is that when a woman gets exposed to sperm, you see a bunch of changes in her actual immune system based on seminal fluid having these tiny molecules that act as biological signals.  So once they get deposited in the vagina, or in the cervix, what happens is the woman's immune system adopts a profile that tolerates those sperm proteins, and they're known as transplantation antigens.  Basically what that means is that if fertilization takes place, so if you start to grow a baby inside the woman after she gets exposed to the sperm, this is how kids are made, babies.

Rachel:  This is a birds and bees talk right now.

Ben:  This is how babies are made, kids, I meant to say.  Anyways, the immune cells will recognize those transplantation antigens on the developing baby and support the process by allowing the embryo to implant on the wall of the uterus, rather than like rejecting that embryo as like a foreign entity.  And so it turns out that when a woman gets exposed to sperm, it's kind of like when a child is born, there's a really interesting research on this too, like one of the best things you can do is like give them a little  powdered peanuts, and egg, and all sorts of things that people tend to develop allergies to 'cause they didn't get exposed to it early on in life, even gluten to a certain extent, there's some really interesting studies on this, it turns out that by just getting exposed to sperm, a woman's immune tolerance for being a mother, immune tolerance to a baby goes up.

So it's almost this form of communication, and it increases a woman's immune tolerance.  And it turns out, interestingly, that women who use barrier methods like condoms or cervical caps, and then they conceive, they have an elevated risk of what's called preeclampsia.  And all this means is that if you're constantly having protected sex and not ever getting exposed to your partner's sperm, perhaps not using, let's say, like the timing method to occasionally have unprotected sex, you actually have an increased risk of birth issues if that happens to be the case.  And there's really good books about this.  I like one called The WomanCode by Dr.  Alisa Vitti that goes into how to, along with your partner, engage in unprotected sex that still exposes the woman to sperm without necessarily causing you to have kids.  It's a decent one when it comes to that.  I know you keep trying to say something, so go ahead.

Rachel:  Well, it's just really fascinating.  They actually think that the reason why there is such a high risk of this preeclampsia in donated eggs or sperm donation is because the female hasn't had prior contact with the donor's sperm.

Ben:  Yeah.

Rachel:  Until the egg gets transplanted into the woman.  That's why.  Isn't that crazy?

Ben:  It's really fascinating.  Actually, we only scratched the surface of what it goes into in the article in terms of sex being like this form of molecular biological communication, but it's really fascinating.  If anything, it's with the picture of all the cute little sperm surrounding the egg.  So check this one, it was on the website, and we'll link to all of these over the show notes at

Special Announcements:

Ben:  Speaking of sperm, this podcast is brought to you by something that I did a couple of months ago to get myself all sperminated.  That sounded wrong.  I did not get sperm put inside of me.

Rachel:  Terminated with sperm?

Ben:  That doesn't appeal to me.  However, I did increase my ability to create it.  So here's the deal: when dudes get old, the vessels in their genitalia weaken and get filled with micro plaque, and that results in guys having a harder time getting it up.  And the same thing can happen to women, like your intensity of orgasm can go down, your wetness can go down, et cetera, as those vessels weaken.  And so what I did was I went down to Florida and I got this painless high frequency acoustic wave therapy done on my, man, last week, we had a bunch of like cash registers opening up, blocking out what I was saying, so I'm trying to be nice now.  Anyways, on my nether regions.  I got these acoustic waves, and what they do is they open up old blood vessels and they stimulate the formation of new vessels.

And for a good couple of months, after I got that procedure done, not only was I harder, but my hardness was occurring on an extremely frequent basis, like I was a 13-year old boy.  It's totally safe, doesn't carry a lot of the side effects like blurred vision and heart palpitations that things like Viagra and Cialis can cause.  There's no pills, there's no prescriptions, you just basically go down and you get your shock wave therapy done.  I mean for me, I went in there, I filled out all the medical forms, I got interviewed by the doc, and then this nurse just like took the shock wave thing to me for like 20 minutes as I sat there with the numbing cream in my nether regions, and that was it.  Boom.  Walked out.  And literally within like eight hours, it was like night and day in terms of size, and vascularity, and everything.

Rachel:  Things were happening.

Ben:  Yeah.  It's called GAINSWave.  GAINSWave.  And they're offering any of our listeners, men or women can get this done, 150 bucks off a GAINSWave treatment.  And it's pretty easy, you just text the word Greenfield to 313131. Whip out your phone!  Do it now!  Text the word Greenfield to 313131.  I guarantee you'll be pretty pleased with the results.  And if you want to go down to Miami and do it in my, you can do it anywhere in the US.  But if you want to go down to Miami and get it done down in Miami where I got it done, with Dr. Gaines himself, which is a great name for this procedure by the way, just to be with Dr. Gaines…

Rachel:  It is.  It's a great name for many things.

Ben:  Anyways though, they'll give you a fat discount down at that Miami clinic if you happen to want to go to Florida and get it done down there in the sunshine.

Rachel:  Or already live in Florida.

Ben:  Yeah.  So just give them a call, you could go to too, or again, you can just text the word Greenfield to 313131.  There was also a video going around the internets right now of me hanging upside down in my living room.  Have you seen this one?

Rachel:  I've seen this one.  And your dog!

Ben:  Okay.  I now have in addition to, because I'm working on my gymnastics skills, and I'm trying to work on my ring muscle-up, specifically, which by the way, if you want to learn like one really functional exercise that will blast your upper body strength through the roof, it's a ring muscle-up.

Rachel:  Can do you it yet?

Ben:  Yes.  I can do three now.  In a row.  Non-stop.  I know there's a bunch of gymnastics junkies who are snickering at me for being braggy that I'm doing three, but I'm happy with that right now 'cause I couldn't do one like a month ago.  I just published an article on gymnastics training at, by the way, if any of you want to go over there and listen into it.  But anyways, so I also have a yoga swing now hanging in my living room.  My kids play on it and I hang from it twice a day.  And the recommendation is that to traction your spine, so spinal traction basically increases the space between your vertebra, like by about one to two millimeters, and so that can alleviate like spasms in your low back, it can alleviate trigger point related pain, it can reduce the electrical activity in muscles of the back.  I recently injured my back, so I've been hanging from it just to allow the back to relax in a very therapeutic way.  So it's different than like an inversion table.  You're kind of like swinging back and forth, and there's like little handles you can hang on to to put yourself into different positions, like the banana, or the flapjack, or the flying squirrel.  I've got a little card on the kitchen table with 10 different, so I learned all 10 moves over the course of a month, and now I can just jump up there, and throw it down on a yoga swing move.

Anyways though, it's called a Yoga Trapeze.  A Yoga Trapeze is technically what it's called.  It's not a yoga swing, a Yoga Trapeze, and it's made by this company called YogaBody.  And what YogaBody is offering anybody who's listening in right now is the opportunity use this thing for one buck.  You just get it shipped to your house from one buck, you try it for 30 days, and then if you like it, you can buy the whole thing.  But you go to, it's, and if you go there you can get it for a Dollar, or you can also use, if you decide you want to just buy it all at once, and get a free DVD that shows you how to use it, which is what I did.  I have the DVD that kind of walked me and my kids through all the different moves.  The coupon code that you use is Ben.  So you go to and use coupon code Ben, and this is, it's a pretty cool device.  I dig it.  You can hang it from pull-up bars, you could hang it from your rafters, you can hang it from wherever you want to in your house.  But it's pretty handy.

Rachel:  Have you convinced your wife to give it a go yet?

Ben:  Yeah.  I actually, I came upon her, I caught her hanging from it just the other day. You know what else I caught my wife doing was wearing my little like neurostimulator for the head the other day.

Rachel:  Uh oh!  It's beginning.

Ben:  She said she had a headache, and so she actually put that on.  Maybe she's listening to the podcast.  I don't know.

Rachel:  The anti-biohacker becomes the biohacker.

Ben:  The shoemaker's wife is finally wearing shoes.  Speaking of putting lights on your head, this is also something that I highly recommend, the HumanCharger.  Have you used this yet, Rachel?

Rachel:  I have.  I have one and it's brilliant.

Ben:  Okay.  So here's something I haven't talked about much on the show.  I've talked about how it can decrease the symptoms of jet leg, and increase mental alertness, and decrease, especially during the winter, like seasonal affective disorder when you have one of these HumanChargers, which is basically like a light therapy device that passes calibrated white light into both of your ear canals to hit photo receptors in your brain.  What I haven't talked about is the fact that it actually results in a release of chemical compounds when those photosensitive areas of the brain get activated.  You actually get a release of serotonin, you get a release of dopamine and, you get a release of noradrenaline, which means that you not only feel more alert when you stick it in your head orifices, as I call the ears, the head holes.  But you also feel happier, which is kind of cool.  Like you can use this as like, I was going to say liquid happiness.   Liquid happiness is alcohol, I guess.

Rachel:  Light happiness.

Ben:  This would be light happiness, yes.  Electrical happiness in your ears, and it's totally safe. And it's actually something, the way that I use it is when I'm sitting at the kitchen table in the morning, sipping my cup of coffee, and just like going through a few of my little things for the day, these days, it's writing fiction.  I'm doing that in the mornings right now.  Basically…

Rachel:  Your one big, hairy audacious task?

Ben:  My one big, hairy audacious task, yeah.

Rachel:  Which we learnt about in last week's episode.

Ben:  That's right.  Actually, what I do right now is I'm writing in the mornings on weekdays, and then on the weekends I'm writing in the evenings.  But yeah, the book should be done, I'm targeting it to be done by April.

Rachel:  How exciting.  Are you going to get published?

Ben:  I meeting with Sony Pictures Studios in March.  We're talking about getting it turned into a movie, definitely getting it published.

Rachel:  You guys heard it here first.

Ben:  Stay tuned.  Anyways though, you can read that over at  But even more importantly, you can get one of these HumanChargers.  You go to and you use code BFitness to get 20% off a HumanCharger.  20% off a HumanCharger with code BFitness at  And then finally, Rachel, have you looked at this week's upcoming recipes from this company Hello Fresh?

Rachel:  I haven't yet.

Ben:  Okay. Well, let me tell you about what we get to eat, I think we're going to have this Thursday, I'm having my father over for dinner.  He's back from India.  He's always all over the world.  My dad's like a globetrotting, entrepreneurial, he's a very eccentric but endearing man who's constantly off these days discovering fringe health and wellness things.

Rachel:  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree?

Ben:  I know.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  Anyways, so what we're going to have is balsamic chicken rustico with provencal roasted root vegetables.  So this is chicken breast, grape tomatoes, onion, garlic, baby carrots, yukon potatoes, balsamic vinegar, herbs de provence, and honey.  Along with a little Nutella, might just smear some Nutella on there just to get our cancer on.  Anyways, though…

Rachel:  So how are you getting that?

Ben:  So Hello Fresh ships these to your house.  They have vegetarian menus, they have classic menus, they have family menus.  You get the instructions, you get all the ingredients, they source everything from really good, healthy sustainable sources, and anybody listening in can actually get a week of deliveries from Hello Fresh at $35 off.  $35 discount if you go to, and the code that you enter is Fitness35.  You get 35 bucks off, which is pretty big savings.  So if you too want to eat as I eat, and use code Fitness35 to get everything just delivered to your doorstep in this cute little special insulated box, and it's all right there for you.  Open it up, cook away.  It's fun for the kids too, 'cause they get these little ingredient cards that kind of show 'em how to cook and everything.  So, check that one out.

Rachel:  Brilliant.

Ben:  And finally, the last thing I should mention is that I'm traveling all over the world these days, but my next stop is going to be the Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, Washington.  You can go to to register for that one but I'm going hunting for sheep and boar, going bowhunting for sheep and boar down in Hawaii, and then spearfishing for tuna down in Hawaii, all off on the big island at the end of February.  And then I'll be jetting up to Portland, or slash Vancouver, Washington to speak at this thing.  So if any of you live in Portland, or near Vancouver, Washington and you want to come hang out and eat awesome, nutrient dense foods, and listen to me talk, go to

Listener Q & A:

Fikayo:  Hi Ben, thank you so much for your podcasts, and your articles, and your fitness advice.  It's been so useful and so hopeful, so thanks so much.  My question is that I'm 25 years old, and I found that I've plateaud with my training.  In fact, I've started to dip in performance.  And every time I try and push beyond that plateau, my body seems to fight back.  So I'll either burn out or fall a bit sick.  So I'm just really wondering whether maybe you've experienced this before, if you have any advice for what I'm going through.  Thanks so much.

Ben:  You know what his problem is, Rachel?

Rachel:  What?

Ben:  Too much Nutella.

Rachel:  Too much Nutella.  Sorry.

Ben:  Body burns out, feel sick…

Rachel:  Should've gotten on board with the Vegemite, mate.

Ben:  Got to hold back a little bit, man.  I know how good it is.  There's so many things you can mix Nutella with too.  I used to actually eat a lot of Nutella.  I used to just like do spoonfulls of it, along with almond butter and peanut butter…

Rachel:  We're just so into Nutella in this episode.

Ben:  Mmm.  That's right, baby.  Anyways though, actually, you know what my vice of choice is now?  Did you listen to me interview Kevin Rose?

Rachel:  Uhuh.

Ben:  So listen to that episode, and by the way, for those of you who want to listen to me interview Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg and a guy with a whole bunch of interesting ideas.  We talk about raw chocolate on that episode and this company called Fruition in New York that he works with that makes these amazing, like very, very dark chocolate, raw cacao bars.  And after that episode, I contacted Fruition and swiped away with my credit card, and got 25 of these chocolate peanut butter custom bars delivered to my home.  And you know what the greatest thing is about them, because they're like raw, extremely dark cacao?

Rachel:  Do you get a buzz from them?

Ben:  Well, you do.  But…

Rachel:  What's the greatest thing?

Ben:  Everybody in my house hates them except me, because I like really, really dark chocolate which is almost like bitter, pucker chocolate, and it's just got that little bit of a peanut buttery taste to it.  Oh my gosh.

Rachel:  Sounds divine.

Ben:  Yeah.  Mouth orgasm.  Anyways though, so there are, I would say there are five reasons that you can get burnt out from exercise that fly under the radar or that a lot of people are unaware of.  So when they start to hit a plateau, or they burn out, or they feel sick, sometimes it isn't just that your kid came home with the sniffles, or that you're just pushing yourself too hard.  It can a lot of times be other things going on.  So there are five things, five things I would recommend that you look into.

So the first is fascial scarring and fascial adhesions.  So fascia is the fabric that's woven throughout every part of your body to hold you together.  And a lot of times people, in the medical community, they'll disregard fascia as unimportant, 'cause you can't look at it on an MRI, so it must not matter.  But fascia is the most prevalent tissue in the body, aside from, I suppose the skin is probably another one that's pretty high up there.  But it's also one of the most pain sensitive areas of the body.  As a matter of fact, other than the nervous system, there's nothing more pain sensitive than the fascia, which covers the body from the top of your head, what's called your cranial aponeurosis, all the way down to your planar fascia on the bottom of your feet.  This is actually really interesting because a lot of times like if you get planar fascia work done on the bottom of your feet, you can actually do things like get rid of headaches related to fascial tightness.  Or if you get like, have you ever had cranial sacral work done on your head?

Rachel:  Yeah.  Yup.

Ben:  Yeah.  So if you get that done, a lot of times you'll feel like tension in your hips or tension in your feet melt away.  It's very interesting.  I even have this device called a MyoBuddy, it's like a vibrating massage therapy device, and I will sometimes take that to the bottom of my feet, or the top of my head, and it's weird.  It's like a wake-me-up for the entire body, and that's because if there's tightening, or there's scarring, or there's restriction of the fascia in one place, it can cause pain and dysfunction in other locations.  It can even, in some cases, result in things like sickness or disease when you've got a whole bunch of problems in your fascial membranes.  The other thing it can do is it can cause your nervous system to misfire in all sorts of kind of crazy ways.  So it's really interesting how fascia ties together so many different parts of our body.  And fascia can get pretty messed up if you're not taking care of it.

So there's some really interesting studies that you can look at, and photographs and videos online of scarred and fibrotic connective tissue versus normal connective tissue.  And scarred and fibrotic connective tissue literally just looks like World War 2 combined to like nice, laid down, symmetrical fascia.  And you've probably seen fascia before, like if you've had, you probably haven't had the opportunity to cut up too many steaks, Rachel, but…

Rachel:  No, I haven't.  It's something I [0:43:12] ______ from.

Ben:  Yeah.  If you buy like, let's say, like a leg of lamb or something like that, you have like this thin, yellowish white, kind of cellophane-like membrane that's grabbed around the meat, or wrapped around the muscles, and that's fascia.  And so it surrounds all your muscles, and muscle bundles, and groups of muscle, and blood vessels, and nerves.  And any time you've been training a lot and producing a lot of damage to muscle, you can get fascial wear and tear over time.  You can get what are called cross-links, or casts, or nets, and things begin to not move properly.  But then also, you get nerve pain, you get sensitivity, you get decreased range of motion.  And a lot of times, that results in plateaus in performance, or increased prevalence of injuries, or sickness, or just not feeling all that well while you're working out.

Rachel:  Yeah.  Okay, that was going to be my question was how would you know if this was the issue?  So nerve pain, decreased range of motion…

Ben:  Yep.  A lot of soft tissue restriction, chronic pain, what are called fascial restrictions.  And in many cases, if you take a pain pill, or a muscle relaxer, or any anti-depressant, or one of the special edibles I made last night, some of the pain melts away.  And a lot of times that's because some of your fascia's relaxing, but a lot of the cross-linking, and a lot of the scar tissue and adhesions, those don't go away.  And really the best way to get these worked on is to do deep tissue work, and you could do that on yourself.  There's books like Kelly Starrett's “Becoming A Supple Leopard”, for example, is a fantastic book.  I have, I'll put a link to it in the show notes, but I have for example, an article just about mobility online, about how to do things like deep tissue work, and also what's called traction, to begin to work on this fascia yourself.  And granted there are some areas that are hard to get into that you need to hire a massage therapist to get into, but if you're not doing plenty of deep tissue work, that would be reason number one.

Rachel:  Mhm.  Alright.

Ben:  So I'd definitely look into the health of your fascia.

Rachel:  And then number two?

Ben:  Well, before we move on from the fascia, I was shredding all week on the snowboard Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but the guy I was shredding with, he actually flew out from Virginia.  His name is Scott Dolly, I'm going to have him on the podcast soon.  And by day, we were shredding, and by night he was doing really, really intense fascial body work on me.  So this is a topic near and dear to my heart 'cause I just got my fashion reamed on for three days in a row, and I feel like a new man.  When he's shoving, he even had like what are called Hawk tools, which are very similar to Graston that we talked on the show before.

They're like these tools that are shaped like medieval torture devices, and he was scraping the fascia on my entire body and opening up areas that I haven't touched literally in like years as far as really working on adhesions in those areas.  And I'm moving like a new man this week after he worked me.  But I mean he worked on me a good six hours over the course of the weekend.  And I realize now everybody's going to have a Graston therapist come to your house and work on you, but yeah.  But the trade was that I showed him around the slopes and he showed me around my fascia.  Anyways though, so topic near and dear to my heart and I'm getting plenty of kind of like fascia guys actually on the podcast in the next couple months.  So stay tuned to the podcast as well.

Okay. So the next thing I would look at is the tone of your vagus nerve, and we have done lots and lots of podcasts on the vagus nerve, which is the wandering nerve that starts at your brain stem, kind of similar to the fascia, a little bit of a corollary here, it travels through several different major organs in your body, and it does a ton of things that you're probably unaware of.  But basically, the vagus nerve innervates organs, it innervates the heart, it's involved with the inflammatory response to injury, including injuries that might occur from things like runs and weight training sessions, it is involved with breath, with activation of lung tissue, all sorts of different things.  We've done entire episodes on the vagus nerve and the importance of the tone of the vagus nerve.  It's why every morning, one of the first things that I personally do is I test my heart rate variability.

So I roll over when I wake up in the morning, as we were talking about in the morning routines episode last week, and I stop on my little heart rate monitor, and while I'm doing my journaling and my gratitude, I test the tone of my vagus nerve.  And what I've found is that in athletes who are overtrained who are on the brink of injury or illness, they tend to have very low vagal nerve tone, meaning specifically if they test their heart rate variability, their heart rate variability is low, and a lot of times what's called the power, or the high frequency score, the parasympathetic nervous system score, that's also really low.  And there's a whole bunch of things that you can do to increase the tone of your vagus nerve.  Three of the most powerful, in my opinion, number one, something I mentioned earlier that I do every morning, and that is a cold soak, or a cold shower, or some form of cold therapy where your face is getting wet.  That's why cryotherapy chambers don't count because your face doesn't get wet, you don't get vagus nerve activation when you step into one of those fancy little chambers.  Have you been in one of those, Rachel?

Rachel:  No.  Not yet.

Ben:  Yeah.  I mean the convenience is that your clothes and your skin don't get wet, but you pay 50, 60, 70 bucks to step into one of these special cryotherapy chambers, and there's a cool response, like you get like a decrease in inflammatory markers, and you get an increase in the strength and robustness of your immune system, but they really don't do crap for your vagus nerve.  So you want to do some form of what's called cold thermogenesis with water, specifically getting your face underneath the water.  So like when I go and I do my cold soak in the morning, my rule is my head has to go under at least five times.  Or when I'm doing like a really icy cold shower, my head has to like go into the shower until I get a little bit of that ice cream headache.  So that's what you're going for when you're trying to tone your vagus nerve with cold water.  Another really, really powerful way, one of the more powerful ways to tone the vagus nerve is with jaw therapy, which you can do yourself.  I actually have a video, if you go to YouTube and you do a search for Ben Greenfield Jaw Realignment, I shot a video with my massage therapist where we demonstrate exactly how to do jaw therapy, because your trigeminal in your jaw is attached to your vagus nerve.  And a lot of times, go ahead.

Rachel:   I just remember watching that video, and I just, I felt so much pain just by watching it.  It's intense.

Ben:  It's not comfortable, but you could show that video to your massage therapist and just be like, “Hey, do this to me.”  Assuming that you trust them and that you're okay with them cowboying their way around your jaw, but you can also do it yourself.  Actually that, not to beat a horse to death, but that massage, vibrating massage device I was talking about that I can use on my feet or the top of my head, I'm now using that on my jaw.  Like I'll just, it's that MyoBuddy vibrator.  I'll put it up against my jaw just open and close my jaw repeatedly with that pressed up against it, and that's great for the vagus nerve.  So some form of jaw therapy, I'd also recommend.

And then finally, heart rate variability training.  So don't just test your heart rate variability.  But there is one technique that I highly recommend, it's called the Quick Coherence Technique.  You can go to the website and read more about how to do this particular technique.  It's very simple and you're going to love it, Rachel, 'cause it's very woo, and I know you're a very woo girl.  That's the only way you could've gone through a 10-day Vipassana meditation.

Rachel:  Yes, that's true.

Ben:  You have to be woo to like that stuff.  Anyways though, so you think of something that you're very grateful for, or that you have a lot of love in your life for, and you close your eyes, you take a deep breath, and you imagine that getting placed into, or on, or near your heart with your eyes closed.  I mean it's that simple.  But believe it or not, there are so many people walking through their entire day living their lives not just closing their eyes and occasionally thinking of what it is that they're grateful for and imagining that feeling washing over their body and going into their heart.  And if you hook yourself up too, not to get all scientific and nerdy with this, but if you hook yourself up to heart variability training, like a heart rate variability training app and you do this, you will be shocked.  Probably that and doing the, like if you want to acutely change your heart rate variability score as you're measuring, that or the alternate nostril breathing, both of those just like jack the HRV score up through the roof.  And if you do those on a regular basis, you train yourself how to have better vagal nerve tone.  So that would be number two, would be low HRV or low vagal nerve tone as another source of, like a hidden source of a reason you get burnt out from exercise.

So the next one that I often see, especially these days, is not enough carbs.  Shocker.  Meaning everybody who's into like ketosis, and Bulletproof, and all this other stuff, like especially athletes, here's the problem, in the same way that there is trickle down advice from the bodybuilding industry that you must drop everything you're doing as soon as you finish a workout to go scarf down chicken breast, and rice, and broccoli, and maltodextrin, and fructose, and whey protein, and all these things that are going to help you get swole, and anabolic, and keep you from shriveling up to a tiny little raisin after your workout, which is not true.  Again, that's not trickle down advice in the bodybuilding industry.  You're spending two-a-day two hour workouts in the gym, and trying to maintain 250 pounds of solid muscle at 3% body fat, that's the population that may benefit from prioritizing post-workout nutrition, that and the high school or college football player, the hardgainer lean kid who's trying to put on muscle.  The rest of us actually benefit more, from a longevity, growth hormone, and a testosterone standpoint from actually waiting for a little while after the workout to eat.

Well, there's also this trickle down advice from like the medical community that the best way to achieve fat burning status, the best way to get into ketosis, is to eat no more than 40 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per day, until we have all these Crossfitters, and Ironman triathletes, and Spartan racers, and all these folks like basically logging their diets and avoiding getting anywhere near excess of 60 grams of carbohydrates per day.  When in fact, not only can you measure your blood ketones and still be in this high fat burning ketotic state with as high as 150 to 200 grams of carbohydrates per day if you're a very active person, but you also are living a life that's very different than, say, that person who's like trying to control MS, or epilepsy, or seizures and is not exercising to the level that you are, but is writing books on ketosis.

There's a difference between ketosis for the average sedentary person trying to manage a medical condition and ketosis for like the active athlete.  So based on that, what I've found is that for a lot of the people that I work with, at the end of the day, we'll eat a hundred to 200 grams of carbohydrates, briefly kind of get knocked out of our fat burning machine status for like one or two hours, but have more than adequate liver glycogen and muscle glycogen stores for the next day's workout without all the deleterious effects of excessive carbohydrate restriction.  Because I went through a period of time where I was eating very, very low amount of carbohydrate, and I took hits on my thyroid, I took hits on my testosterone, I took hits on my immune system.  And so you may simply need to eat more sweet potato fries, you know what I'm saying?

Rachel:  That's a simple one!

Ben:  Yep.  Exactly.  So ketosis for one person, the sedentary person trying to manage a medical disease, is not the same as ketosis for an athlete.  So make sure you're eating enough carbohydrates for most active people, that's a hundred to 200 grams a day.  At least.

The next thing that I'd mention would be hidden causes of fatigue.  I did a whole podcast on this, but there is a shockingly high number of people who have some type of chronic infection or immune system issue that is resulting in chronic fatigue.  And in particular in that podcast episode, which I'll link to and you can listen to in full detail, in particular what we get into is first, chronic infections.  So this would be like Epstein-barr, or human herpes virus, or some of these things that a lot of people have, but don't realize.  These are things that you can test for, but what happens is that you'll have lab markers consistent with really high pathogen activity and infection.  So you'll see a lot of really high white blood cell counts, or abnormal patterns of T-cell counts.  A lot of times, you'll see an enlargement of the lymph glands, and all of those can be associated with chronic infection.

We also talk in that podcast about biotoxin illness, this would be more of the type of things that you would get from mold or fungus.  You can also test for this, Cyrex Labs will allow you to test for a lot of environmental fungal biotoxins.  But in many cases, you might be living in an area that has a lot of fungus, a lot of mold, or you might have had an exposure to that, and that's another source of chronic fatigue that can be healed, and we talk about that too in that podcast.  There's also a really good website about this called Surviving Mold, if you want to delve into how to test and how to fix an issue like that.

Another one is impaired methylation, and impaired methylation can cause chronic fatigue.  And it's kind of a complex biochemical process, but basically methylation is how your body produces coenzyme Q10 and carnitine, and those are really essential for producing cellular energy.  And methylation also regulates gene expression, it regulates detoxification, it regulates folate metabolism, and folate's really important for the synthesis of things like DNA and RNA, and it promotes normal immune function.  And if you have issues in terms of your ability to methylate, you'll have really low folate and really low B12.  And you can test methylation status with something like a 23andMe genetic analysis.  You would take your 23andMe test, and you log into your 23andMe account, and you download the results, and then you upload those to a web site like Genetic Genie, and Genetic Genie will tell you if you have some methylation pathway issues, like a mutation would cause that.  And in many cases, it's as simple as like taking a really good multi-vitamin that's got something like methyltetrahydrofolate in it, which allows you to get adequate amounts of folate and B12.  But you wouldn't know that unless you test, and you wouldn't know that that's what's causing your chronic fatigue unless you test.  I mean you could just try taking like a really good vitamin B12 like that, and if your chronic fatigue goes away, well, there's your answer.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  But ultimately, methylation is another issue.  The multi-vitamin I recommend most often is the Thorne AM, PM one.  Like it's got really high levels of the methyltetrahydrofolate in it.  So that's the one that I'm a fan of.

Rachel:  So how would you go about figuring out what the issue is?

Ben:  Testing your genetics for methylation, doing a mold test for like the biotoxin, doing like a white blood cell test for the chronic infections.  There were two others that I didn't even mention that we talked about in that podcast. One's mitochondrial dysfunction and one's gut dysfunction, and mitochondrial dysfunction is usually an issue related to mutations in mitochondrial DNA.  Some people who have mitochondrial dysfunction, it's because of dietary issues.  It can be, typically, I find mitochondria as more like invisible variables, like poor air, poor lighting, poor electricity, poor water.  Like a lot of those are kind of like hidden causes of mitochondrial damage.  But mitochondrial dysfunction, gut dysfunction, that's kind of a no-brainer, but you would have decreased absorption of nutrients 'cause you have leaky gut issues, chronic inflammation, impaired detoxification.  Basically like a disrupted gut microbiome from elevated levels of like candida, or intolerance of gluten, or intolerance of lactose.  Like that's something you can also test.  You can test for dysbiosis, you can test for intestinal permeability, you can test for bacterial overgrowth, you can test for food intolerances.  But gut dysfunction, even if you don't have a lot of bloating and gas, et cetera, just pure fatigue can be related to the gut as well.

So obviously there's a lot of testing, like you just mentioned, Rachel, that you would need to do.  Like get like a stool panel for the gut, and you would get like a blood test for the chronic infection issue, you would get a mold test like through Cyrex for biotoxins, you would get a genetic test to look into your methylation status, and then you would test your heart rate variability, you would make sure you're eating enough carbohydrates, and you would work on fascial adhesions with deep tissue work.  And the only other thing that I didn't mention, and I'll link to one final article on here, 'cause I said I was going to give you five reasons, and I just gave you four.  Fascial adhesions, low HRV, inadequate carb intake, and hidden causes of fatigue.  The last one would just be a poorly structured, or poorly periodized training program.  And this answer is getting a little long in the tooth, so in terms of periodization, like the main thing, go read the article that I wrote about like all the different variables from like mitochondrial density, to strength training, to power training, to VO2Max training, to lactic acid threshold and muscle endurance training, and how to lay those out properly throughout the year.

The article is actually called “How To Look Good Naked And Live A Long Time”, but it's like a really good introduction to like how to train different energy systems and how surprisingly infrequently you need to train.  Like you only need to do a VO2Max training session once every two weeks, and this is based on the exercise science research to maintain VO2Max.  A lot of people are doing that like four or five times a week.  Or you only need to do like a high intensity interval training session a maximum of twice a week to maintain mitochondrial density.  But again, a lot of people are doing that type of thing every day.  So understanding like how infrequently you need to do these type of sessions and then laying them out in a proper way throughout the year, which can come down to working with a coach, or working with a trainer, or getting on a good training plan, all that is important too.  Just basically incorporating this process of periodization, which means splitting the training year into certain periods where you're working on specific components of fitness so you're not trying to throw them all at your body at once and just basically shove your body under the bus.

Rachel:  Right.  I'm information overloaded.  There's so much there.

Ben:  That's what this podcast is all about.  We'll try and give you some dense, actionable information.  So that's where I would start.  I'll link to resources for each of those five different reasons you get burnt out from exercise in the show notes.  But hopefully that gives you some general direction to work with.  And then just like layoff the Nutella just a little bit.  Little bit.

Dave:  Hi, Ben and Rachel.  This is Dave calling from Australia.  I just want to say thank you for all of the amazing content you guys put out.  It's absolutely phenomenal.  I have a question about testosterone and sperm production, as it relates to infrared.  My wife and I are going to be trying to have our first child in the next couple of months, and I currently do one session of hot yoga per week, it's an infrared style of hot yoga that's at about 38 degrees Celsius, and I'm wondering whether you think that would interfere with sperm production and testosterone production.  Thanks, guys.  Can't wait to hear your response.

Ben:  You know, I think our Australian listener database has increased considerably, Rachel.  Especially the male Australian contingent.  I think you've got some crushers on Australia who have become podcast fans.

Rachel:  Either that, or I'm massively affirmative actioning and putting a lot of Aussies on the podcast. (laughs)

Ben:  I'll have to check our Google Analytics and how they've changed since you came on as a podcast sidekick.

Rachel:  Yes!  Dave, thanks for calling.  I love hearing from comrades.

Ben:  I think our female vegetarian Australian listener have all gone up.

Rachel:  Yoga.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yogi's.

Rachel:  Good stuff.

Ben:  Woo woos.  Anyways though, yes.  If your wife and you are trying to have your first child in the next few months, you already learned that one important thing is to have unprotected sex.  Frequently.

Rachel:  A lot.

Ben:  To make sure her immune system is already, all those sperms are, whatever.

Rachel:  Paving the way.

Ben:  Massaging her cervix and paving the way.  Hot yoga, unfortunately, might not be doing you any favors 'cause that kind of acts a little bit in the same way as hot tubs do in terms of like drawing up your testicles up inside your body and restricting some of that flow.  Or I'm sorry, it's cold that draws them up inside your body.  It's hot that drops them.  But basically, heat does appear to potentially cause a decreased production of sperm, unless it's heat from infrared rays, which you just referred to.  And infrared can actually cause an increase in sperm production, and the reason behind this is, and the type of light is crucial, by the way.  I'll get into that in a second.  But the creation of sperm cells and the creation of testosterone is based, to a certain extent, on mitochondrial energy metabolism.

And interestingly, this is why, ironically, things like Viagra have a really negative effect on sperm production because drugs and compounds that interfere with mitochondrial energy metabolism in the Leydig cells of your testes can actually cause decreased sperm production.  And Viagra, along with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like antidepressants, those can do it.  Statins can do it.  Alcohol can do it.  We have a whole podcast episode if you were to go to and just do a search there for sperm.  Totally safe for work.  Function to type into a search engine, by the way.  Just make sure you do it at, not Google.

Rachel:  Not in Google.

Ben:  Yeah.  Unless you want some really cool Family Guy clips.  Sperm is something that we've talked about quite a bit in the past.  We love to talk about sperm, and the Nutella.  And we have some really good episodes on sperm that we've done on how to increase sperm production.  And there are other drugs and compounds that support ATP production in the mitochondria.  Some of those would be like thyroid hormones, or organ meats, caffeine surprisingly enough can support ATP production in the mitochondria, magnesium can do it.  But a lot of those will boost sperm count and they'll boost general fertility.  So drink your cup of coffee and suck it down with some Armour Thyroid, and you're well on your way to producing massive amounts of kiddo's.  But sperm production, and ATP production, and mitochondria particularly, in the mitochondria around your testicles, those can get stimulated with exposure to red and infrared wavelengths.  That's been shown in studies to boost testicular sperm production and viability of sperm.  By the way, blue light and UV light have been shown to do just the opposite.  Like a tanning bed, or extreme amounts of UVA and UVB, like nude tanning out in the sunshine between 10 AM and 2 PM.

Rachel:  Bad idea.

Ben:  Those could harm the mitochondria.  Those could suppress ATP production in the mitochondria, and reduce sperm count, and reduce fertility.  And that would not just be the sperm production in the testicles, but also the health of free sperm cells post-ejaculation.  They've actually found that sperm that get exposed to red light, even post-ejaculation, their little tails swim faster.  No, I'm serious.  The tail of sperm cells get powered by the mitochondria, and it's very red light sensitive.

Rachel:  Fascinating.

Ben:  So the form of red light used in these studies that have been shown to increase sperm is about 600 to 950 nanometers of light.  That's the wavelength of light that you'd want to use, and it appears that it's mostly efficacious when your balls are close to that light source, which they're not necessarily going to be during hot yoga.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  Especially when you consider that infrared light rays can't penetrate clothing.  That's why when you lay in a BioMat or you do an infrared sauna, wearing as little clothing as possible is best for your body.  I don't know if you're doing your yoga nude, but I doubt…

Rachel:  It's a thing!  It's a thing, nude yoga.  It exists.

Ben:  Yeah.

Rachel:  But I don't think he's practicing nude yoga.  I don't know, Dave.  Are you?

Ben:  Two feet away from me is a panel of lighting that emits light in the 600 to 700 nanometer wavelength.  It's a visible red LED light.  It's called a Joovv, J-O-O-V-V.  We've got a link, it's, or I'll link to an article that I wrote about in the show notes.  That's how I do it.  I pull down my pants while I'm working, they might even be down right now.

Rachel:  Please don't say you're naked right now.

Ben:  I may or may not be.

Rachel:  Please.

Ben:  No, but sometimes when I'm on the phone, or I'm working on emails, I just pull my pants down, and for 5 to 20 minutes a day, I shine it on my (censored).  And I don't do that because I'm necessary like trying to spit out a bunch of babies.  I do it because it's also been shown to have dramatic effects, tripling effects on testosterone levels as well.  So it can help out with that too.  I have this whole article, “17 Different Ways To Biohack Your Testosterone Levels”, I'll link to it in the show notes, but I mention that as one of the methods.  So you could certainly do something like that.  You could do hot yoga, but you need to do it naked, Dave, if you're going to do it.

Rachel:  And you need to just be in a permanent downward facing dog.

Ben:  Or what's that other one?  The frog position?

Rachel:  Happy baby?

Ben:  Where I just feel super vulnerable in the, or the happy baby position is the other one.  Those are really good hip openers, but yeah, you have to have a lot of trust to be able to do that.  I don't know why.  I just feel like really, I feel vulnerable when I'm doing happy baby.  Does that say something about me?  Happy baby or frog pose, I just kind of feel a bit uncomfortable?

Rachel:  No.  It's a good thing.  That's half the reason.  That's half the point.

Ben:  Yeah.

Rachel:  Everyone feels a little uncomfortable.

Ben:  I always wondered too if I'm like the guy in a room full of women doing hot yoga.  Tell me if this is correct, Rachel.  Like if the women feel a little bit weird, or vulnerable, or self-conscious like getting into the frog pose with their ass in my face wearing their tight pants.  ‘Cause usually guys go in the back 'cause the guys don't want to see everybody else doing them, seeing them doing like crappy versions of yoga.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  Ladies, it's not 'cause we want to watch you.  It's 'cause we're embarrassed.  But at the same time, do the girls up front get like a little self-conscious?

Rachel:  No.  I don't think so.  I think everyone's there to practice yoga.

Ben:  Okay.  Yeah I was going to say, like I'm not checking out your booty.  I'm just trying to ignore the extreme discomfort of being in the frog pose.  But either way, I'm just curious.

Rachel:  Thanks, Ben.  Thanks for clearing that out.  Yeah.

Ben:  Thanks for enlightening me.  Alright.  There we go.  So don't get any sperm on your red light, Dave.  And have fun.

Jen:  Hi, Ben and Rachel.  Jen here from New Hampshire.  I am a huge fan of the show, and I feel like my life has definitely improved for the better.  Obviously not improved for the worse.  But since I started listening to you, I feel like the quality of life is much better.  But I do have some questions.  One is about intermittent fasting for teenagers.  Is it recommended?  If so, do they follow the same protocol as adults?  And also, I'm trying to do more natural healing, like taking turmeric for anti-inflammatory things, but I just wonder if you could give a quick rundown of things that can, ways I can replace like ibuprofen, things for heartburn, things for just the mood.  Just basics, like natural ways.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you.

Ben:  I love this question because I'm all about having a natural medicine cabinet.

Rachel:  Yes.  It is a brilliant question.  And I have my pen and paper ready, 'cause I'm going to be taking some serious notes.

Ben:  I need my wife to listen.  Speaking of my wife listening to the podcast, by the way, I need my wife to listen to this one 'cause the very first one I want to talk about, I've been trying to get her on the bandwagon now for years, 'cause it just makes my heart ache every time I see her pop an ibuprofen.  And she still does it.  Like every couple months, she'll get a headache, and she'll just take ibuprofen, and I always tell her, “Take curcumin,” because curcumin does the same thing in terms of reducing pain and inflammation without wearing away your gut lining, or kicking your liver to death.  We talked about curcumin earlier.

You already know, if you're a smart cookie and you didn't fast forward that section that you can blend it with black pepper and a fat source to increase absorption even more, but there was even one study where they found that curcumin out performed ibuprofen.  This was for knee pain after six weeks of use.  And the dosage doesn't have to be super high.  It's about one to one and a half grams per day.  But instead of ibuprofen, have curcumin around and understand that curcumin, a.) unless it's blended with black pepper and fat, or b.) unless it's in what's called its phytosomal form, is notoriously poorly absorbed.  The form of curcumin that I have in my medicine cabinet is made by Thorne.  It's a phytosomal form of curcumin that you don't necessarily have to whip out your Blendtec blender and blend with black pepper and a giant fillet of fish to actually make absorbable.  You can just pop the capsules.  And you don't need that much, one to one and a half gram.  So curcumin as an alternative to ibuprofen or any other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug like Celebrex or aspirin, I highly recommend.  So that would be we number one.

Rachel:  Are we going to talk about Nature CBD for pain relief?

Ben:  Well for those of you listening in, Nature CBD, it's a blend that I personally designed…

Rachel:  And it has curcumin in it.

Ben:  It has curcumin, it has ashwagandha, it has lemon balm, it has magnesium, and it has a cannabidiol.  I broke open forty capsules last night in that Snapchat video and put them into the edible that I made.

Rachel:  That's a lot.  That's a lot.  That's a lot.

Ben:  That's a lot.

Rachel:  I need to say this.  That supplement changed my life.  And I'm not kidding.  I experience very chronic period pain, and I'm 29, and probably for the last decade, it's been like crazy, crazy bad.  And I have always taken ibuprofen once a month, and I didn't believe that CBD could do anywhere near what ibuprofen does, and it's so much better.  I can't believe it.  So I feel like we have to talk about CBD as a pain reliever as well.

Ben:  Well, I also need to say this.  You can't find it on my website anymore.

Rachel:  Why not?

Ben:  So it's hidden.  You have to go to, you have to know the URL to go to it because PayPal shut me down yesterday.  So, it's stupid.  It's the same as cannabis, right?  Like we were talking about how it shouldn't be a Schedule 1 controlled, well the form of CBD that I have on the site, fully legal.  Made from European organic hemp.  However, PayPal, yesterday decided they wanted to shut down all of my website payment functionality if CBD could be found on the website.  So now you actually have to know the URL to buy CBD, 'cause it's like hidden.  So you go to   Don't tell PayPal.

Rachel:  Don't tell them.

Ben:  By the way, if anybody's listening and you have a contact at PayPal, let me know.  ‘Cause like this supplement is changing literally hundreds of thousands of people's lives, and these payment companies don't want you to sell it 'cause it, I don't know.  They don't want the kids, I don't know, getting addicted to heroin 'cause they took some gateway drug for their knee pain.  Whatever.  So anyways, we digress.  Curcumin though, curcumin as an alternative to ibuprofen, yes.

For an alternative to Ambien, or Valium, or any of these other sleep aids that, yes put you to sleep, but b.) vastly inhibit your ability to get into deep sleep, which is where memory consolidation, and neural repair and recovery occur, which is why if you take Ambien or Valium, you sleep all night, but you're still kind of sleepy, and still have some brain fog the next day.  Best alternative to that in my opinion is micro dosing with melatonin, and PhGABA.  And the best way to do that, I think is this little powder called Sleep Remedy, and it works just as well.  It was designed for hard charging Navy SEALs and athletes, but anybody can use it.  You can be a soccer mom and benefit from this stuff, but that's what I have around as an alternative to like these knock-you-out sleep drugs.  And I guess what I have now as an alternative is also those edibles I made last night.

Rachel:  Which we won't be selling at because PayPal won't.

Ben:  That's right.

Rachel:  Damn you, Pay Pal.

Ben:  I wouldn't be able to sell those anyways.  They'd be like $20 per tiny little Reese's Peanut Butter Cup size edible with everything I put into those.  There's a lot of other stuff for sleep, but if you're going to pick one thing, I'd say it'd be like that CBD stuff you were talking about, Rachel, or melatonin.

So then there is, there's another really, I didn't realize how many people use this like eye drops for chronic dry eyes that suppress the inflammation that disrupts tear secretion, but you get burning, and redness, and discharge, and immune suppression, and inflammation suppression, it's basically a version of cyclosporine, which is almost like an antibiotic.  But believe it or not, for the eyes, if you're using anything for the eyes, fish oil.  Fish oil, and specifically the omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help dry eyes.  And tears contain some oil, but if you don't have enough oil in your tears, which you won't unless you're eating adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, tears won't lubricate your eyes well enough.

And so fish oil reduces inflammation in the eyes, it reduces your risk of developing macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness and eye issues, and you can simply take anywhere from one to four grams per day of fish oil as an alternative to any type of eye medication.  Like a really good high quality fish oil package with really good amounts of antioxidants, like astaxanthin and vitamin E to keep it from going rancid.  Fish oil as an alternative for eye medications.  That's another one.  By the way, I'm not a doctor.  Don't misconstrue any of this as medical advice.  Please speak with your physician before you stop taking any pharmaceuticals, blah, blah, blah.  Anyways though…

Rachel:  Said that a million times.

Ben:  So that's it.  So fish oil for your eyes.  The next one, for statins.  So there are statins like Lipitor, and Crestor, and Lovastatin, all these things that are called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors.  They call 'em that because they reduce cholesterol by inhibiting that enzyme HMG CoA, which is necessary for cholesterol production.  And the side effects include liver and muscle damage, and complete stripping of coenzyme Q10 from your body, which means that you experience a whole bunch of mitochondrial damage and a lot of other metabolic issues related to stripping coenzyme Q10 from your body.

Well if you're trying to balance cholesterol, specifically if you're trying to decrease the amount of triglycerides, which are really more of kind of an independent risk factor for heart disease than cholesterol is, there's another compound that can help to do this, and that can block the action of HMG CoA reductase without causing all the issues that statins do, and it is called Bergamot Orange.  You can get it as an essential oil, B-E-R-G-A-M-O-T orange.  So if you have really high triglycerides, really high cholesterol, like flamilial hypercholesterolemia, or some other thing's is just jacking your LDL through the roof, then Bergamot Orange, you can do a few drops of that in a glass of water in the morning and in the evening, really, really good without the liver damage, without the muscle damage.  So that would be number four.

Number five, there are a lot of things that are prescribed now for pain related to nerve damage, like diabetic neuropathy, and seizures, and things like that.  Neurontin is a really, really quite popular one for that, but the side effects are like drowsiness, and confusion, and dizziness, and trouble walking, which nobody wants.  But they've actually done a study where they've taken a whole bunch of people on Neurontin and they switched them to 600 milligrams a day of something called alpha lipoic acid.  And not only did the subjects in the study note less pain relief, but they had a complete disappearance of their neuropathic symptoms, and then a recurrence of it at two weeks after they stopped taking the alpha lipoic acid.  And the authors concluded that alpha lipoic acid is an effective, and safe, and cost effective treatment option for the majority of people with diabetic neuropathy.  So alpha lipoic acid would be number five to have around, especially if you are somebody who wants to improve your nerve help without taking something like Neurontin.  So that would be another one.

The next one would be Fosamax.  Fosamax is an extremely popular osteoporosis drug.  It's what's called a bisphosphonate.  So it inhibits the work of osteoclasts in your bone, those are the bone cells that break down and remove old bone.  And it also causes things like stomach ulcers, and osteonecrosis, which is the death of your jaw bone, and tooth loss, and pain, and infection.  And what they've shown is that the combination of calcium and vitamin D can actually cause very, very similar effects to Fosamax in terms of improvements in bone mineral density without all those side effects.

And I would even go one step further and tell you that if you want to ramp up bone building cellular activity without getting some of the risks that you can get with excessive vitamin D intake and excessive calcium intake, which is basically what's called hyper calcification, so you want to avoid that, you add in vitamin K.  So a good vitamin D, vitamin K blend as an alternative to the osteoporosis drug Fosamax is another one that I would highly recommend.  I take vitamin D and vitamin K. just about every day in the winter.  My kids take it every day for their teeth, because both of them have remineralized their teeth and gotten rid of cavities that they developed by using vitamin D, vitamin K, and a special remineralizing tooth powder that my wife makes.  I can get into that later, but basically vitamin D, vitamin K, highly recommend that one as another.

So I already recommended fish oil, I'm going to recommend it again.  Prozac.  Prozac is a really popular anti-depressant, it's also a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or an SSRI.  That means it helps to keep serotonin floating around in your brain longer.  But one of the things that can do the same thing, making your cell membranes more responsive to neurotransmitters, like serotonin that latch onto those cell's receptor sites, is fish oil.  So again, a good high quality fish oil.  Now for antidepressant activity, for eye health, all you need is like one to four grams.  For anti-depressant activity, you need anywhere from 4 to 10 grams.  So you need a higher dose if you're using fish oil as an anti-depressant.  But again, fish oil, very, very good, especially for serotonin…

Rachel:  All-rounder.

Ben:  Yup.  Exactly.  So a few more I'd recommend.  Irritable bowel syndrome, so there's one really popular drug called Donnatal that's prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome, it's an anti-spasmodic, so it gets rid of like pain and cramping, but it also causes constipation, and dizziness, and sweating, and drowsiness, and dry mouth.  And one of the best alternatives to it that has been studied for relief of irritable bowel syndrome is peppermint oil.  Again, very similar to Bergamot Orange, you can take peppermint oil in a glass of water before meals, and it appears to be very, very effective and very similar to Donnatal in terms of its effect on GI health, and in terms of its effect on reducing the preponderance of irritable bowel syndrome.  So peppermint oil.  If you're going to get oils…

Rachel:  It makes sense 'cause we do peppermint tea as well.

Ben:  Right.

Rachel:  It's like that old wive's tale of peppermint tea to help for digestion.

Ben:  Yeah.  And then there's ginger, and licorice, and all sorts of things.  But peppermint is one that's actually been studied and that can really, really help with irritable bowel, distention, flatulence, diarrhea, et cetera.

Rachel:  Do you know what the dose is for that?  Is it a high dose?

Ben:  You don't need much.  I mean literally a few drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water.

Rachel:  Awesome.

Ben:  Or if you really want to belly up to the bar, just dump it straight into your mouth.  Two more I've got for you.  Benadryl.  Diphenhydramine it's also called.  It's an anti-histamine used to treat like nasal allergies and congestion.  It blocks receptor sites for histamine, which is the biochemical, or the chemical that causes runny nose, and scratchy eyes, and things like that, and you find receptor sites for histamines in your nose, and your eyes, and your lungs.  And there is a natural anti-histamine that inhibits the release of histamine from immune cells that's a really powerful anti-inflammatory, and it's basically Quercetin, Q-U-E-R-C-E-T-I-N.  For most of these things like Quercetin, and alpha lipoic acid, et cetera that I'm recommending, I'll put links in the show notes, but I generally like the supplement company Thorne for any of these type of like just fringe random supplement that you can have in your medicine cabinet.  I like Quercetin as a natural anti-histamine if you get stuffed up.  It can really really help.  Dosage for that would be about 500 milligrams or so.

And then finally Glucophage, also known as metformin, a diabetes drug that increases insulin sensitivity.  So it improves the sensitivity of insulin receptor sites on your cells, making it easier for them to pick up insulin, and that then lowers your blood glucose levels.  It's also kind of a darling of the anti-aging community now, Metformin is, for similar reasons.  However, something that has very, very similar results in terms of lowering fasting blood glucose and improving insulin sensitivity is, you know this one, Rachel.  I think.  Do you?

Rachel:  Cinnamon!

Ben:  Cinnamon.  Yes, Ceylon cinnamon.  The equivalent about two teaspoons a day of cinnamon.  You need to be careful not to go much, much higher than that, 'cause when used frequently in high doses cinnamon, can be a little bit toxic.  So you don't want to do too much, but I personally use about the equivalent of two teaspoons of cinnamon per day.  It's got a lot of other really cool properties, including a lot of the anti-aging properties, which is the reason a lot of people take metformin.

And a close second to cinnamon, and I've done post-prandial blood glucose testing, meaning I've tested my blood glucose after a meal, and found this to drastically lower my glucose response to everything from sushi and white rice, to sweet potato, fries to dark chocolate is a couple of capsules of something called bitter melon extract.  Bitter melon extract.  And bitter melon extract can vastly lower your post-prandial blood glucose.  So that's another one that I highly recommend, along with cinnamon, as an alternative to something like Metformin.  Again, talk to your doctor before you get off drugs and start chucking cinnamon and peppermint oil.  But those are my biggest recommendations as alternatives to a lot of the things that Jen was asking about.  So I hope that's helpful, Jen.  And now you've got a reason to throw out all your drugs.  Or give them to somebody you don't like.

Theresa:  Ben!  I was wondering if you still like the CytoDetox.

Ben:  Do I still like the CytoDetox?  Actually, that CytoDetox stuff, it's pretty crazy.  Did you…

Rachel:  Yeah.  How's it going?  I'm very curious to hear how it's going.

Ben:  Well I'll link to the big podcast that I did on it, 'cause I'm halfway through the three month detox that I'm doing for 2017 that we've literally got 200 other Ben Greenfield Fitness-ers, I'll have to think of a better word than that at some point, doing this detox along with me.  So we're doing everything from like morning coconut oil pulling, to dry skin brushing, to basically really cleaning up the diet, really limiting things like alcohol and caffeine.  It's a full-on detox protocol overseen by myself and also by Dr. Dan Pompa.  It's closed now, because we're obviously a month and a half in.  So you have to wait until next year.  If you want to do this detox next year, feel free.  But in the meantime, I'll put plenty of links in the show notes where I walk through like all the different protocols that we're using if you wanted to kind of Mickey Mouse this thing and do it yourself.  But one of the key components of it is this stuff called CytoDetox, which I actually interviewed Dr. Pompa about.

And just real quick, from a bird's eye perspective, it's a source of what's called zeolite.  So zeolite is something you get from volcanic ash, and it gets mixed with seawater, and then it fossilizes, and it creates like this honeycomb, porous cage structure with a natural negative charge on it.  And when you consume zeolite in like liquid form, it basically moves toxins out of your body.  It forms a cage around them and moves them out of your body.  If you make the zeolite really, really small, 'cause it's notoriously poorly absorbed, kind of like curcumin, what happens is that you get far, far greater detoxification effects.  So you can create little fragments of zeolite.  They're called hydrolyzed fragments and they're really pure water soluble particles of zeolite that do things like cross your blood-brain barrier and permeate your cell membrane.  And we're talking about like versions of zeolite that are about 10 times smaller than what you'd get if you we're to just like buy zeolite from the health food store or whatever.  And the name of the stuff, it's like patented and everything, it's called CytoDetox.  Technically it's called Zeolite Clinoptilolite.  I know that's a mouthful, but Zeolite Clinoptilolite.  And you take like 10 drops a day and that's it.

Rachel:  And how are you feeling?  Are you noticing a difference?

Ben:  So this is gross, but like one of the biggest things is my dumps are huge every morning 'cause my body is kind of like getting rid of so many toxins.

Rachel:  That is interesting.  That's one way to know that it's working.

Ben:  Yeah.  And my skin is just like really like super clean and smooth.  I'm feeling good. Like I'm not getting a whole bunch of like all these rashes and like what they call like Herxheimer reactions, and brain fog.  I probably admittedly wasn't too toxic going into this detox.  For me, it's more like a little bit of better living through science, and also I got to eat my own dog food.  If I'm going to bring 200 people through detox, I want to be doing what they're doing.  And it's not just this CytoDetox stuff.  You do what's called a prep phase, which is a whole bunch of glutathione precursors, and what are called methylation donors, and microbiome colonizers for the gut.  And then you move into the body phase, which we just started this week, which is a lot of the similar stuff, except you double your intake of that CytoDetox that I just talked about, and then there's a bunch of what's called membrane regenerators that you take for your cell membrane, and then these binders, activated carbon and a few other things, bacillus coagulans, and some extracts that basically help to remove compounds from your body.  And then next month, we'll go into what's called a brain phase.

So you do your brain last because what you don't want is to detox your brain, and then do the body phase and have all the toxins from the body cross the blood-brain barrier, wind up in the brain, and cause a bunch of neural issue turning me into a freak axe murder.  So the idea is you do prep phase, then body phase, then brain phase.  But, yes.  CytoDetox is an integral component, particularly of the body and the brain phase.  And so, yes, not only do I still take it, but I'm also doing the full meal deal when it comes to the detox.  I've never really done something this comprehensive before but we're getting nothing from, like glowing reviews from everybody who's doing it.  Everybody's feeling freaking amazing.  And again, like I'm sure a big part of it too is, everybody's doing like saunas, and cold showers, and the dry skin brushing, and the coconut oil pulling, and the supplements, and adjusting their diet.  So it's kind of like a, it's a real kind of, I hate this word, but it's like a synergistic effect.  The word synergistic and proprietary are usually two words that always raise my eyebrow and make me think somebody's selling me snake oil.

But ultimately like this particular protocol is working really, really well, and I'm pretty happy to have hooked up with Dr. Pompa on it.  And I'll link to the podcast that I do with him in the show notes, 'cause you can just like get CytoDetox and just take it all by itself for a lot of these same effects.  You can also do a lot of the things that I'm doing as part of this detox by listening to the full hour and a half long podcast where I detail everything that I'm doing as part of this detox.  You don't have me necessarily there walking you through it, but you can at least listen to it and kind of put it together for yourself.  So, yes.  Still taking the CytoDetox, and the taking that along with my edibles, and my Nutella.  So there you have it.  And I believe that is our last question for the day.  So all we have left to do is give away some cool stuff.

Rachel:  Favorite part of the podcast.

Ben:  Favorite part.  This is where we read an iTunes review.  So if you leave us a five star review on iTunes and a nice note, which is great karma for the show, and you hear your review read on the show, that means we're sending you a sweet ass gear pack.  And all you need to do is e-mail [email protected] with your t-shirt size, and then we stick that bad boy in the mail to you, along with a BPA-free water bottle and a sick beanie.  So this particular review, it's a long one.  A long one.

Rachel:  I mean you should turn it off now if you don't want to be here for the next five seconds.

Ben:  Alright.  Take it away, Rachel.  The review is a five star review by Clgallo 24.  The title of the review is incredible, and I'll let you read this one, Rachel.

Rachel:  Here we go.  “Incredible.”

Ben:  Incredible.  That's it.  That's the review.

Rachel:  Incredible!

Ben:  You know what?  I'll take it.

Rachel:  Take it!  That's awesome.

Ben:  It bursts as you telling us your life story and about how much you laughed, and cried, and bonded with your family, and blew sperm all over the place.  Incredible works.  We'll take it.

Rachel:  Yes.

Ben:  So everything else that we talked about is at  The links about why you get burnt out from exercise, all our natural alternatives to common medications, our link to go get your gonads blasted with sound waves, everything else, go to  It's all there.  Rachel, thanks for joining me on this fantastic adventure once again.

Rachel:  Thanks for having me, Ben.

Ben:  Alright, folks.  Have a healthy week.

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.



February 8, 2017 Podcast: 365: 5 Reasons You Get Burnt Out From Exercise, 10 Natural Alternatives To Common Medications, The Latest News On Cannabis Health Effects & Much More!

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar of events.

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on and Google+.

Special Announcements:

This podcast is brought to you by:

HealthGains – To receive $150 off your first GAINSWave treatment … text the word “Greenfield” That’s my last name: G-R-E-E-N-F-I-E-L-D to 313131, or to get a discount on GAINSWave at the Florida clinic, visit and tell them I sent you!

-YogaBody – Go to and try the Yoga Trapeze for 30 days for just $1. If you pay the full price of $99 today, use the coupon code “BEN” to get a free instructional DVD with your order ($25 value).

Human Charger – Get a Human Charger today at and use code BFITNESS for 20% off

Hello Fresh –For $35 off your first week of deliveries, visit and enter code FITNESS35 when you subscribe!

Click here to donate any amount you'd like to support the podcast!

Click here to follow Ben on Snapchat, and get ready for some epic stories on his morning, daily and evening routine! What did you miss this week? A clay mask, a park workout, a morning routine change-up, an epic post-race salad and more.

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar.

March 3-5, 2017: Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, WA: Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications that teach how to use nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. I’ll be speaking at the conference! Tickets are on sale now. Go to to register and tell them I sent you if you want to get their VIP treatment.

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with John Doulliard? It was a must-listen – “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week's top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!


Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

5 Reasons You Get Burnt Out From Exercise

Fikayo says: He's 25 years old and he's started to plateau with his training and dip in performance. Every time he tries to push beyond the plateau, his body burns out or he feels sick. He's wondering if you have experienced this before, or if you have any advice for what he's going through? Thanks so much!

In my response, I recommend:
Fascial adhesions
Low HRV/vagal nerve tone 
Inadequate carbohydrate or calorie intake
Poor periodization
Hidden causes of fatigue

How To Use Light To Boost Testosterone & Sperm Production

Dave says: He's calling from Australia. He wants to say thank you for all the amazing content you produce. He has a question about testosterone and sperm production as it relates to infrared. His wife and him are trying to have their first child in the next few months and he currently practices hot yoga once per week. It's a far infrared style of hot yoga at 38 degrees Celsius. Do you think that would interfere with sperm production and testosterone production?

In my response, I recommend:
17 ways to biohack testosterone
Red light/sperm study
Deep Nutrition book by Cate Shanahan

10 Natural Alternatives To Common Medications

Jen says: She's a huge fan of the show and she feels like her quality of life has improved so much since she started listening to you. She has a question. She's trying to do more natural healing – taking turmeric for inflammation etc.  Can you give a quick run down on ways she can replace ibuprofen, heartburn medication, mood enhancers etc- just the basic natural alternatives to everyday medications?

In my response, I recommend:
Curcumin (by Thorne)
Sleep Remedy (with melatonin)
Fish Oil (SuperEssentials)
Bergamot Orange and Peppermint oil (essential oil)
Alpha Lipoic Acid (Thorne)
Vitamin D/K blend (Thorne)
Bitter Melon Extract
Ceylon Cinnamon

How CytoDetox Works

Theresa says: She's wondering if you still like the Cytodetox?

In my response, I recommend:
My official 2017 Detox Plan
17 Ways I'm Detoxing My Body in 2017
What Is Cytodetox podcast



365: 5 Reasons You Get Burnt Out From Exercise, 10 Natural Alternatives To Common Medications, The Latest News On Cannabis Health Effects & Much More!

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

February 8, 2017 Podcast: 365: 5 Reasons You Get Burnt Out From Exercise, 10 Natural Alternatives To Common Medications, The Latest News On Cannabis Health Effects & Much More!

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar of events.

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on,,, and Google+.

Special Announcements:

This podcast is brought to you by:

HealthGains – To receive $150 off your first GAINSWave treatment … text the word “Greenfield” That’s my last name: G-R-E-E-N-F-I-E-L-D to 313131, or to get a discount on GAINSWave at the Florida clinic, visit and tell them I sent you!

-YogaBody – Go to and try the Yoga Trapeze for 30 days for just $1. If you pay the full price of $99 today, use the coupon code “BEN” to get a free instructional DVD with your order ($25 value).

Human Charger – Get a Human Charger today at and use code BFITNESS for 20% off

Hello Fresh –For $35 off your first week of deliveries, visit and enter code FITNESS35 when you subscribe!

Click here to donate any amount you'd like to support the podcast!

Click here to follow Ben on Snapchat, and get ready for some epic stories on his morning, daily and evening routine! What did you miss this week? A clay mask, a park workout, a morning routine change-up, an epic post-race salad and more.

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar.

March 3-5, 2017: Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, WA: Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications that teach how to use nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. I’ll be speaking at the conference! Tickets are on sale now. Go to to register and tell them I sent you if you want to get their VIP treatment.

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with John Doulliard? It was a must-listen – “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week's top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!


Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

5 Reasons You Get Burnt Out From Exercise

Fikayo says: He's 25 years old and he's started to plateau with his training and dip in performance. Every time he tries to push beyond the plateau, his body burns out or he feels sick. He's wondering if you have experienced this before, or if you have any advice for what he's going through? Thanks so much!

How To Use Light To Boost Testosterone & Sperm Production

Dave says: He's calling from Australia. He wants to say thank you for all the amazing content you produce. He has a question about testosterone and sperm production as it relates to infrared. His wife and him are trying to have their first child in the next few months and he currently practices hot yoga once per week. It's a far infrared style of hot yoga at 38 degrees Celsius. Do you think that would interfere with sperm production and testosterone production?

10 Natural Alternatives To Common Medications

Jen says: She's a huge fan of the show and she feels like her quality of life has improved so much since she started listening to you. She has a question. She's trying to do more natural healing – taking turmeric for inflammation etc.  Can you give a quick run down on ways she can replace ibuprofen, heartburn medication, mood enhancers etc- just the basic natural alternatives to everyday medications?

In my response, I recommend:
Curcumin (by Thorne)
Sleep Remedy (with melatonin)
Fish Oil (SuperEssentials)
Bergamot Orange and Peppermint oil (essential oil)
Alpha Lipoic Acid (Thorne)
Vitamin D/K blend (Thorne)
Bitter Melon Extract
Ceylon Cinnamon

How CytoDetox Works

Theresa says: She's wondering if you still like the Cytodetox?

Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!

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How To Legally Dope Your Blood (Without Actually Taking Illegal Drugs).

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

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

So today, Craig is back to answer those questions, and during our discussion, you'll discover:

-The one compound that research has shown to cause a 58% chance of a decrease in catching the common cold and the duration of a cold by 1 to 4 days…[9:20]

-The mechanism of action via which algae can detoxify your blood…[14:55]

-How algae can convert nitrates to nitric oxide…[19:05]

-Why chlorella could be the perfect pre-sex supplement…[20:50]

-How the polysaccharides in cordyceps contribute oxygen molecules to the blood…[22:10]

-The mechanism of action for corydceps to increase endurance or oxygenation…[28:15]

-How echinacea increases red blood cells in four different ways…[30:30]

-What it means for grass fed liver to be “anhydrated” or “dessicated”…[35:25]

-What it means for the iron in the liver to be “heme”…[38:40]

-The surprising way that beets support muscle stem cell repair…[44:00]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

BioTropic Blood Oxygenating supplement (use code “ben” to get a 20% discount)

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

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

364: Becoming A Super-Ager, The Internet Of Food, How To Get Lots Of Stuff Done Every Day & Much More!

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

February 1, 2017 Podcast: 364: Becoming A Super-Ager, The Internet Of Food, How To Get Lots Of Stuff Done Every Day & Much More!

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January 20th-22nd: Brain Optimization Summit. 31 doctors, scientists, biohackers and nootropics professionals reveal lifestyle habits and supplements that improve mental performance. Check it out by clicking here!

March 3-5, 2017: Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, WA: Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications that teach how to use nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. I’ll be speaking at the conference! Tickets are on sale now. Go to to register and tell them I sent you if you want to get their VIP treatment.

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Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week's top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!


Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

The Best Intervals To Build VO2Max

Mark says: He loves the show. He's an age group competitive triathlete and 3.5 months ago he got in a bike crash where he broke his collar bone, 6 ribs and significantly collapsed his lung on one side. Now in the last month or two as he is getting back into training and competing a little bit, and he's noticed a pretty dramatic change in his Vo2 max and speed, particularly on the run, probably 15%-20% and probably 5-10% in swimming and cycling. He'd love to know the best and quickest way to get his competitive edge back and get his Vo2 max and ventilatory capacity back up to what it was before.

In my response, I recommend:
How To Look Good Naked article

How To Get Lots Of Stuff Done Every Day

Burt says: He just got to the weekly roundup and its awesome, but he's barely scrolled down and he has a 10 million dollar question. How do you get so much work one? There's so many projects – he sees interviews you've done, your own podcast, articles, working on a chapter in your new book, and traveling, how do you do it? He'd love to know, what are your secrets? He's read and followed your stuff before, and he's hired you as well, but he wants to be able to make it his life. Thank you very much and he loves all your stuff!

Ben's Top 5 Anti-Aging Tips

Tyson says: He's 21 years old and from Sydney, Australia. He's a Personal Trainer and loves health and fitness. His question is how can live to 120 years old? You probably don't hear this from a lot of 21 years olds but he knows he wants to live past 100 and he wants to do everything possible in order to do that. So is there anything you recommend doing earlier in life that you wish you may have done to help you improve your longevity? He loves the podcast, the knowledge you share, and he shares it with all his clients. Thanks!


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Episode #364 – Full Transcript

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction

[4:41] News Flashes

[7:01] Using HRV Training More Intelligently

[12:19] The Internet of Food

[22:35] Effect on Flickering Light on Alzheimer's

[26:34] How To Be A Super Ager

[31:54] Special Announcements/Gaineswave Discount

[35:25] Nutritional Therapy Association

[37:11] ZipRecruiter

[38:54] MVMT Watches

[40:14] Listener Q&A/Building VO2Max

[51:13] How To Be Super Productive

[1:14:02] Top 5 Anti-Aging Tips

[1:34:41] iTunes Review Giveaway

[1:39:02] End of Podcast

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

Becoming A Super-Ager, The Internet Of Food, How To Get Lots Of Stuff Done Every Day, The Best Intervals To Build VO2Max, Is Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy Safe, Top Five Anti-Aging Tips, and much more.

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Ben:  Rachel, does my voice sound funny?

Rachel:  It doesn't.  Why?  Should it?

Ben:  I guess my voice probably always sounds a little bit funny.

Rachel:  Sounds a little funny?

Ben:  I know.  It's just funny.  I think my voice sounds funny.  I often hate to hear myself talk, but this morning especially.  I shouldn't say I hate to hear myself talk.  I just, you ever run into that?  Like you just make your voice sound funny?

Rachel:  All the time.  It's super cringey.  Sometimes when I play back these podcasts, I'm like, “Ugh!”

Ben:  Especially when I was a kid.  I used to hate to hear my own voice. But, no, this morning, I'm wearing an extremely, extremely tight belt that's decompressing my spinal disc.  It's called a, did I say my spinal (censored)?  I meant to say my spinal discs.  It's a decompression belt.  Have you heard of this before?

Rachel:  No.

Ben:  Dr. Ho's Decompression Belt.  Like three years ago, we talked about it on the podcast.  Somebody actually called in a question, like “have you ever heard of Dr. Ho's Decompression Belt?”  And of course, right away, I thought of some Asian dude like a white lab coat selling snake oil on the internet.  But I looked into it, and then I eventually bought one when I injured my low back, and I threw out my low back I think, I talked about this on last week's podcast, a couple weeks ago doing some gymnastics training.  And so I got this decompression belt because it tractions your spine.  So anytime you traction the spine, what that means is you're gently stretching the area between the joints so that they would then rehydrate.  And it's this belt, and it's got like a little pump, and you pump it up, and I'm wearing it right now, and it…

Rachel:  You pump it up tighter?  Is that what the pumps are for?

Ben:  It works!  It's not like a weightlifting belt.  It actually, as you pump it up, it expands like vertically, like up and down, so it spreads apart the vertebra and the space between the vertebra in your back, and it helps a ton.  So that's what I'm wearing right now, in case my voice sounds funny.

Rachel:  It doesn't sound that funny.  But are you finding any, are you feeling anything different when you have it on?

Ben:  Yeah.  Like zero pain, zero pressure.

Rachel:  Wow.  Very cool.

Ben:  And my back's at like 95% anyways.  It's almost healed up.  Anyways, I wearing my belt.  How was your weekend?

Rachel:  Weekend was awesome, Ben!  I actually saw you over the weekend.  We went to Jackson Hole for an event.

Ben:  Yeah!

Rachel:  Lots of fun, lots of skiing, lots of mushroom taking, which was kind of funny, but…

Ben:  You know what?  It was a nature experience.

Rachel:  It was.  Yes.

Ben:  Psilocybin, in addition to enhancing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, which of course is why everybody takes it, just to build new brain cells.  We all know that.  Yeah, it can make skiing more fun.  (laughs) I think one of the texts that I received from you over the weekend was you looking for your husband because he and I were wandering around the Four Seasons Spa relatively high on shrooms.  It was an interesting weekend.  What happens when Rachel and Ben get together with our respective spouses.

Rachel:  With our partners.

Ben:  Yeah.  But, anyways, it was a good time.  Hopefully you've recovered.

Rachel:  I have recovered!

News Flashes:

Ben:  News Flashes.  I think we should get rid of the guy's voice and I should just sing it.

Rachel:  Yes.  Go on.  Do it.  I love your voice.  You have a great singing voice.  I've been hearing more of it lately, and I hear you're going to go to an open mic night.

Ben:  If you go to, you can see my new music instructor, Mike Myers.  Not to be confused with the Canadian comedian.  It would be pretty cool though to get taught music by Mike Myers.

Rachel:  It would be.

Ben:  Especially if you get his Scottish voice.

Rachel:  Lots of fun stuff happening…

Ben:  Like an orange on a toothpick.  Got my baby back, baby back, baby back, baby back, baby back ribs!

Rachel:  It's not a podcast unless we get some fun accent from you.

Ben:  Mini-Me.  He could do the Mini-Me too.

Rachel:  We're so serious, aren't we?

Ben:  I'm taking uke and guitar lessons, and I am a huge fan of hiring an instructor any time that you want to keep yourself accountable, compared to, say, just going to internet YouTube videos to learn something.  So now I have a gymnastics instructor who's keeping me accountable.

Rachel:  That should be me.

Ben:  I have a music instructor who's keeping me accountable.  And I have a tennis instructor.  That was one of my goals for 2017 was to invest in myself, even though I'm a complete cheap steak, cheap steak?  So I'm wearing a spinal (censored) decompression belt and I'm a cheap steak.  I didn't even learn how to talk…

Rachel:  You're killing it!

Ben:  I know.  Anyways though, I'm a cheapskate and I kind of cringe thinking that, “Oh, I don't need an instructor.  I can learn this stuff for free myself.”  But once you hire an instructor, your motivation to learn goes through the roof.  And, of course, that can be said for music, for sports, for exercise, anything.  So I'm kind of hitting it on all three spectrums…

Rachel:  You want to know what my three are four this year?

Ben:  Go for it.

Rachel:  Spanish, which you have a very interesting news flash about, not Spanish in particular, but learning languages, writing, and art.  Taco drawing.

Ben: Mmmm.  Nice.

Rachel:  Yup.

Ben:  You could do all three.  You could write a Spanish painting.  I'm just saying.

Rachel:  (laughs) That’s me just biohacked my whole 2017.

Ben:  Shall we jump into, speaking of biohacking, our first news flash: HRV.  Of course, we get many questions about HRV, also known as heart rate variability, and there was a great article that we'll link to, as we link to everything over at, on how to use heart rate variability training more intelligently.  This was in Outside Magazine, and one of the things are, or several things that it goes into are some really good, I think practical tips, for HRV.  And the first is to, this is written by Alan Couzens, who's a pretty smart little cookie when it comes to exercise physiology, the first is to build a baseline.  What that means is that your baseline measurement might be different than say, mine, or somebody else who's tweeting, or Facebooking their HRV out there on the Internet.  So if the average data for one person is say, 90, and that's their baseline, your baseline might be 85, or 80.  But it's really important to get a baseline measurement and to spend some time when you first start tracking your HRV, which in my opinion is the best way to keep track of your nervous system and to predict illness or injury.  You'll start to see patterns eventually, but what's really important is to always capture the data in a similar context.  He goes into this in the article, for example, for me, I rarely take my HRV other than lying in bed five minutes first thing in the morning.  So that's really important.  You build a baseline and you take it at the same time when you take it.

Rachel:  ‘Cause you're just eliminating all of the variables.

Ben:  Exactly, exactly.  Another really important one that he goes into is that there are some very good athletes who tend to have low heart rate variability.  And in some cases, that can be because they specialize in their specific sport.  Let's say you have a football player who just trains purely for power and strength, and actually has very poor aerobic capacity, or poor parasympathetic nervous system balance.  Well technically, their HRV would be low.  The same could be said for a marathoner who specializes in aerobic and has poor power, poor strength, poor speed, poor sympathetic nervous system tone, but that's because they've chosen to have their nervous systems excel in something that dictates that their heart rate variability might be low, 'cause they're kind of like putting all their eggs in one basket, so to speak.  So that's another kind of important thing to realize is that depending on what you've chosen to specialize in, your HRV might be a little bit lower.

Rachel:  So comparing yourself to others is pretty irrelevant.

Ben:  Right.  Another important point that he goes into was to use your number to plan your workout.  So this should go without saying and is relatively intuitive, but you need to be able to adapt to what your HVR is telling you on the fly.  So what I mean by that is there are some days where I will wake up in the morning, and although typically my HRV is like 90 to 95, I woken up some days and it's like 75 or 80.  And sometimes I feel pretty good, but the HRV is low, and I guarantee that if I train through a low HRV, within two to three days my throat starts to get scratchy, a certain joint starts to feel a little bit tweaky, for me it's typically like shoulder, low back, or ankle, like those are kind of like my three weak links, and it's because I ignore what my nervous system is telling me.  Because a lot of times, nervous system morning signs precede musculoskeletal, or immune system warning signs.  And so don't just take your HRV and then ignore it, take your HRV and then know how to adjust your training on the fly.  Have those workouts you can pull out of your pockets where you can say, “Okay, HRV is low today.  Rather than having the Crossfit WOD, or going out and doing what my coaches told me, or doing what I've planned for the day for a heard workout, I'm instead going to do yoga, or sauna, or an easy walk in the sunshine, or something like that.”

Rachel:  And at this point for you, are there ever any anomaly numbers?  So do you ever get like a low score where it's actually not true and you probably could train the next day?  Or is it a hundred percent all the time?

Ben:  Yeah.  Because sometimes it can be suppressed when you've changed up your nightly routine the night before.  And in many cases, that has to do with stimulants, or drugs, or supplements that you may have taken.  One notorious one that will lower heart rate variability drastically would be an anti-histamine.  Let's say you're really stuffed up and you couldn't sleep, and so you desperately grab some NyQuil or something like that.  Well, that's going to suppress your heart rate variability.  And it's not going to suppress it because you're overtrained, or you're about to get sick or injured, it's because that's just what an anti-histamine does to your HRV.  So there are some situations like that, but usually you'll know if you drastically change something up the night before.

Rachel:  Right.  Alright.  Good.

Ben:  So if you did copious amounts of mushrooms or something like that, which, by the way, actually jacks up HRV, I've found.  Psilocybin is really interesting in that sense.  I don't want to give people, by the way, especially those driving their minivans with their children, the idea that we endorse the frequent use of mind bending drugs.  But at the same time, plant-based medicine is very interesting to play around with.

Rachel:  It is.

Ben:  Okay.  So the next thing that I wanted to get into was this really interesting article on the “internet of food”.  Did you see this one?

Rachel:  Fascinating article.

Ben:  It is quite fascinating.  What this article goes into, it was on Fast Company magazine, was DNA testing and how we can now use DNA testing in our quest for a perfect diet.  And it goes into several companies that are doing some really cool things.  For example, there's a company called Vitagene and they use DNA to discover nutritional deficiencies, and then they create like a personalized vitamin and mineral supplementation program based on your specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which I think is really cool.  I think it would be even better if they use like blood and biomarker testing in addition to DNA testing.  But there are other companies, like Viome, I was looking into the other day.  They look at your unique biology, your DNA, your microbiome, and then they use artificial intelligence to prescribe you, say, supplements, or dietary changes, or lifestyle changes based on that.  There's another one called Habit, and Habit is this company that has test the DNA and blood tests that they send to your house, and then you send those back, and they send back like personalized nutrition advice.  I've interviewed the folks at DNAFit in the past about this, and it actually is really interesting.  And later on when we talk about like enhancing your ability to have like a really good anti-aging protocol, I actually want to talk a little bit about how you can use this kind of data to age more gracefully.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  But the article itself has some really interesting information too on gadgets.  Like there's this company called Nima, N-I-M-A, and they have this new portable device that tests food for gluten.  I can just imagine a whole bunch of people walking into restaurants with their Nima, testing whether or not their salad does have traces of gluten on it, and then freaking out.

Rachel:  Yes, exactly.

Ben:  Getting all of a litigious because there's a particle of gluten on their food from a stray crouton.  There's another company called TellSpec, T-E-L-L-S-P-E-C, that has this new gadget that will estimate calories, carbs, fats, protein, fiber, and glycemic load of any type of food, which is kind of cool.  I mean, you don't necessarily have to have a nutrition label.  You could just do that on say, an apple, or a piece of steak.  There's another one called MyDx, which stands for My Diagnostic, and it's like this little plug-in module that tests your food for pesticides and heavy metals.  And it can also test things like water, they can even test cannabis to see if it has pesticides or heavy metals in it, which is actually kind of an interesting point because I've found that more and more, when I look over the blood and biomarkers of people if they're doing like heavy metal tests and toxin tests, they test really, really high in cadmium, which you notoriously find in marijuana, 'cause a lot more people these days are using that as plant-based medicine because it's growing in terms of its legality but it is also really high in cadmium.  And so it's really interesting, this article, as far as like all these different like patented algorithms these companies are developing that allow us to use a combination of food sensors and technology to play around with the internet of food.

Rachel:  And I have a question about this because we get a lot of questions on customizing people's diets and what people should eat, and is it kind of, do you suggest that the first layer of customizing your diet is to get your DNA tested?

Ben:  I think that that is crucial.  I think DNA, so what I do with my clients, like if somebody hires me for coaching, we do four things: we do DNA, we do blood testing for things like thyroid, and lipid panel, red blood cells, white blood cells things like that, we do urine to look at hormones, like testosterone, cortisol, melatonin,  et cetera, because a blood test is only a snapshot, it doesn't give you like a running tally of what goes on all day, whereas peeing on a strip five times a day gives you that running tally, and then the last would be the poop test, the infamous poop in a hot dog tray for three days in a row and then send it off with the pre-paid FedEx label to tell you yeast, bacteria, fungus, enzyme production, et cetera.

Those four tests can allow me, when I get all those back into my e-mail inbox, my client will send me like they're log in for 23andMe, or their log in for Direct Labs, or wherever else they're getting these tests done, or WellnessFX, then I can look over all those and say, “Hey, your vitamin D is just fine.  You don't need to be on some vitamin D supplement,” or “You've got really low red blood cell magnesium, so we should get you on like a magnesium citrate before you go to bed at night,” or “You have the genetic marker responsible for causing familial hypercholesterolemia, meaning that you would do better on a higher fiber, higher carbohydrate, lower fat diet because you're a cholesterol storer.”  So, yeah.  It's also why I've never written, or haven't yet written, a diet book because I would only ever write a diet book that prescribes a diet that allows somebody to plug in all of these different parameters, and then tweak their diet according to their genetics, and their blood, and their biomarkers.  And I'm sure I could probably figure out a how to write a book about that, but for now, I don't know what would I call it, Rachael, if I did a diet book?

Rachel:  I don't know, Ben.  You're the genius here.

Ben:  Yeah.  “The Perfect Diet”.  That's the title of the article, “The Quest For The Perfect Diet.”  So there you go.  We'll link to that one in the show notes as well.  And speaking of diet, really great article on calories, and metabolism, and fat loss that came out a few weeks ago by a former podcast guest, and a friend of mine, Ray Cronise.  Ray's the guy made famous in Tim Ferriss' “4-Hour Body”, I think it was.  He's like the cold thermogenesis guy, the guy who hacked his body using things like cold showers, and shiver walks, and he was doing all this stuff before Wim Hof arrived on the scene.  It's not quite as sexy as Wim Hof.  He doesn't have a Polish accent with a beard.  He's just a…

Rachel:  Or the stark beautiful blue eyes.

Ben:  He's just a shaved bespectable, bespectacled, bespectacled?  Man.  Anyways though, cool guy.  And the article is fascinating.  A few the of the quick takeaways that he goes into is, first of all, he talks about oxidative priority of foods, meaning certain foods are burnt before other foods.  And the priority in which foods are burnt… let's say you're having these things as a meal, is first alcohol, alcohol gets burnt before anything else, then protein gets burnt next, and then carbohydrates, and then fat.  And each of these foods has a different oxidative potential in terms of the amount of calories that are going to be used when burning that food.  And he goes into how we can tweak our diets and tweak our ability to lose weight based on adjusting the amount of each of these foods that we're eating.

And then based on that, he's developed this thing called a food triangle in which he has foods with the lowest amount of what's called energy density at like the base of the triangle, and these would be things like leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables, and stems, and bulbs, and mushrooms, and this is like the bulk of the dietary recommendations in the article.  And then we also have, kind of in terms of increasing energy density on one side, fruits, legumes, cereals, starchy vegetables, et cetera.  And then the other side, fats, and proteins like meat, eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, and shellfish.  And the article itself goes into how weight loss, or the ability to lose weight, is really based on the effects of these different types of foods, and combinations of these different types of foods, to shift what's called our respiratory quotient, which would be like how many calories we're actually burning when we're just sitting around and doing nothing at all.  And also the oxidative priority, like how quickly a food is actually oxidized in the human body.

So when we look at oxidative priority, right, like if we were to say, like eat a high animal fat-based meal with a couple of glasses of wine and some cereal, we'd get a whole bunch of energy density, and it would also have a high oxidative priority, and it would also result in a slightly lower RQ.  Whereas if we're engaging in things like intermittent fasting foods with high nutrient density and low energy density, we're all of a sudden equipping ourselves to have a high RQ and lower caloric intake.  The article's a little bit dense to get through, but it's really, really good and in terms of kind of understanding why basically a calorie is not a calorie.

Rachel:  Right.  And is there any fundamental takeaways for people who just want like snapshots of the easiest way to lose weight?

Ben:  Eat more vegetables and do more intermittent fasting.  That's really like the big, big takeaway.  Oh and if you're going to drink alcohol, try not to consume alcohol along with other foods because those other foods are going to get stored away as fat far more easily when accompanied by something that has a very high oxidative priority, which would be alcohol.

Rachel:  Right.

Ben:  And that's why I always have my nightly glass of elderberry wine on a completely empty stomach, usually after a workout.

Rachel:  There you go.

Ben:  Plus it makes me a much more fun guy to be around.  Spins the dials in my brain much more easily because I'm in an unfed state.  So there you have it.  Turn yourself into a cheap date.  Okay.

Another article that I thought was really interesting was something that was reported on, I think Radiolab did a story on this, it's this idea behind the flickering light, a new flickering light that could help to treat Alzheimer's disease.  And what they found, and this was admittedly in a mouse model, but still really interesting, at MIT, they found that flashing light at a specific frequency, in this case it was pulsed at about 40 Hertz, they were able to use these flashes of light to tune what are called gamma oscillations in mouse brains.  And what that means is they kicked the microglial cells in mouse brains into action, cause more neural activity.  And when you look at people with Alzheimer's, these gamma oscillations don't occur at their regular rate.  What they were able to do was basically reboot the activity of these microglial cells in mouse models and actually reinitiate the production of these gamma oscillations, resulting in an increase of alpha brain waves.  And all they did it with was a flashing light that they expose these mouse brains to.

Rachel:  Just a standard flashing light, or a standard flashing light directly into the eye?

Ben:  What they used was a flickering light.  I don't know if they used the eye or if they actually had like the top of the mouse, I like to imagine they had the top of the mouse kind of like cut off and the brain was there.  It's 'cause I like to imagine these complex scientific scenarios.

Rachel:  I don't like to imagine that.

Ben:  I'm not vegan.  I can imagine mice's heads…

Rachel:  Being chopped off?

Ben:  Yes.  You're banned from doing that 'cause you only eat veggies, no, I know you're eating fish now.

Rachel:  I am.

Ben:  But I hope you're not eating mice.

Rachel:  I'm not eating mice.

Ben:  Either way, I find this most interesting because I had some people on the podcast last year, the folks from Vielight.  And I actually wound up spending 1,500 bucks after I talked with them on this thing called the Vielight Neuro, because it does something almost identical to what they just found in this mice.  It's a near infrared headset and it uses something called photobiomodulation to stimulate the production of alpha brain waves and to stimulate the activation of mitochondria neural tissue, and in this case it's light energy, you stick this little probe up your nose, and then the headset goes in your head, and I'll link to this in the show notes if people want to see it looks like, but 10 Hertz is consistent with what's called an alpha wave oscillation rate.

So granted it's a little bit different than the gamma oscillations and the 40 Hertz that they used in this study, in this case the Vielight is alpha oscillation and 10 Hertz, but it's the same type of concept.  We can actually change our brain and increase the activation of neural cells with the use of light, and they've actually found that this can treat Alzheimer's disease.  Which isn't why I use it as a neurohack to actually improve alpha brain wave production, intelligence, working memory, all the other things that photobiomodulation can do.  And also nitric oxide, you get this huge release of nitric oxide in neural tissue, and that crosses your blood brain barrier and can actually act almost like viagra for the rest of your body in terms of opening up blood vessels and things along those lines.  It's a really interesting concept, this concept of using flickering light to change your brain.

Rachel:  That was going to be my question.  So the Vielight does flick, it is a flickering light?

Ben:  Yeah.  When you put it on your head, it looks like police sirens, kind of.  Like red police sirens, or red light special.  Go ahead.  What were you going to say, Rachel?

Rachel:  I was going to say you're always so ahead of the curve, Ben.

Ben:  That's right.  Always ahead of the curve with those heat gated ion channels in my brain.

Rachel:  And strange looking things on your head.

Ben:  That's right.  So the last thing that I wanted to mention is this article about how to become a super-ager.  I always, my, how's the saying go?  My ears perk up?  My eyes perk up whenever I see an article about super-aging and anti-aging, 'cause it's something I'm keenly interested in, not because I'm grasping at straws and trying to squeeze as many years out of my life as possible, although I kind of am, but I just, I really like this concept of enhancing the human body and brain to the extent where you can put as many quality years on your life as possible.  I don't think that you necessarily want to be like hunched over in a wheelchair at a 160, cold, shivering, and starved because you're engaging in fasting and a sedentary lifestyle, unable to move.  But if I can be strong, and vibrant, and lively, dancing when I'm 150, great.

So this particular article goes into the idea that they used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs to scan the brains of 17 different people who they called super-agers, and these are basically like old people who are really smart, and really active, and just kicking butt in life.  And they identified these brain regions in what's called the lateral prefrontal cortex, and what they found was a great deal of activity in those brain regions.  In short, even though the article is relatively long, what they found was that if you can somehow stimulate those particular regions of the limbic system, which are the major hubs for communication through your brain, then you basically become very much like one of these super-agers, or your brain becomes very much like one of these super-agers.

Well, one of the best ways to actually stimulate these particular areas of the brain is through either a.) vigorous exercise, or b.) bouts of strenuous mental effort.  And if you can combine the two, all the better.  Meaning if you can find activities that would, for example, challenge your brain and your body at the same time, that's one of the keys.  So like this afternoon, I have a tennis lesson.  I've been taking a tennis lesson every Wednesday afternoon.  And this guy Jeff at the tennis club, he runs me around, I'm huffing, I'm puffing, I'm trying to remember what he told me about my forehand grip and my backhand stance, while at the same time my heart's beating through the roof 'cause he's feeding a ball to the right, then feeding a ball to left, and bringing me to the net, and giving me an overhead, and we're going to back away to the net, then back to the baseline for the forehand, to the backhand, to the approach shot.  When I'm going through a situation like that, that is stimulating the hell out of my prefrontal cortex and achieving many of these same type of stimuli that they talk about in this article.

The same could be said for like a Spartan race, where you're under barbed wire, over a wall, climbing the cargo net, swinging across the monkey bars while at the same time, you're huffing and puffing, a strenuous exercise combined with mental effort.  Ping pong.  Ping pong players have been studied and they've shown that they're some of the smartest athletes on the face of the planet again, 'cause they're moving, they're active.  It's actually a quite strenuous sport at the higher levels, but there's also a great deal of mental chess involved.  So that's how you become a super-ager.

Rachel:  Or in the article, they say “do it till it hurts, and then a little more”, and they talk about like learning languages and math.  And I'm curious how intellectually comparable it is to do a math problem until your brain hurts versus run a Spartan race.

Ben:  Well, first of all, what they say is that you must expend, the way they say it in the articles is you must expend enough effort that you feel some “yuck”.  They say do it till it hurts, and then a bit more.  Now what was your question?

Rachel:  ‘Cause when I think about running a Spartan versus doing a math problem, how my brain fails is very different.  Not that I run Spartans, you guys.

Ben:  The key is to do both.  Like in the Spartan Races, they used to, and I was kind of bummed when they quit doing this, they used to have memory challenges.

Rachel:  Oh, wow.

Ben:  You'd pass by a wall, you'd like line up your race number, the last two digits of your race number with those two digits that showed on the wall, and then there'd be a saying on the wall, like “1-3-Dog-6-7-8-9”, and that would be at Mile 2.  And at Mile 10 you'd run by a guy with a clipboard, and you would have to recite that exact phrase back to that person, or your penalty was 30 burpees right, which is going to cost you like two, two and a half minutes in the race.  So it's really interesting how when you combine the mental and the physical exertion, you almost get a double whammy effect when it comes to becoming a super-ager.  So basically, Rachel, what you need to start doing is your Spanish and your writing while you're on like a recumbent bicycle or an elliptical trainer…

Rachel:  Doing high intensity interval training?

Ben:  Yup.  Exactly.  That's how you do it, baby.

Special Announcements:

Ben:  So, Rachel, remember how I went down to Florida and got my (censored) shocked?

Rachel:  Ugh.  Yes.

Ben:  Yeah.  That whole like sound wave, high frequency acoustic wave to open up all the blood vessels in my genitals.  I wrote a whole article on this over at how I came back with like increased vascularity, I think that night that I had it done, I, not that the purpose of the protocol is to wake up multiple times during the night with (censored), but…

Rachel:  But that happens?

Ben:  But I woke up like eight times during the night.  Either I got used to it, or the boner frequency slightly diminished to the point where it was a sane number of, I'm just going to see how many times I can say the word (censored) out.

Rachel:  In one episode?

Ben:  I don't know if that marks a podcast as explicit…

Rachel:  As explicit?  I think it really does.

Ben:  We need to bleep this out.  But anyways, it's called the Gaineswave, and it was invented by this guy named Dr. Gaines, who I actually, he was on the podcast, and I went down to Florida, and had this protocol done.  Literally like waltzed into his office, and went through this you know series of medical examinations, and then this nurse whisked me off into a room where they do this protocol on both males and females to enhance things like vascularity, and size, and feel, and sexual performance, and orgasm strength.  And it's this painless high frequency acoustic wave that opens up old blood vessels, and stimulates the formation of new vessels, and gets you all of these benefits without you having to take like Viagra, or Cialis, or any prescription, or any pill.  And the very cool thing is, I'm now two months out and I'm still having these raging hard ons.  And basically, that's the idea behind it is the results last for months, not like two hours like you would if you took Viagra.  What do they say when you take Viagra?  If it lasts more than five hours, it's a priapism?

Rachel:  Go to the hospital?

Ben:  You're supposed to go to the hospital?  So anyways, this type of shockwave therapy, they've used it in Europe for over 15 years, and it's now cleared by the FDA, and you can do it here in the US too.  So they're actually hooking everybody listening into the show up with a deal.

Rachel:  Nice!

Ben:  A hundred and fifty bucks off of what they call the Gaineswave Treatment.  It's pretty easy you text the word “Greenfield”, that's my last name, Greenfield, to 313131.  So G-R-E-E-N-F-I-E-L-D to 313131 and that automatically gets you 150 bucks off the treatment.  And if you decide you want to go to the Florida facility where I went had it done and go see Dr. Gaines himself, even though you can get this done anywhere in the US, they'll also give you a big discount at the Florida clinic.  You just need to tell them I sent you.  You can go to and get the number for the Florida clinic if you happen to want to go to Miami and get it done where I got it done.

Rachel:  Very cool.  Do they have clinics like in every state?

Ben:  Yeah.  On their website, you could go search.  But really cool protocol.  They do like O-shots, and P-shots, and all sorts of kind of cool things like platelet-rich plasma injections into your genitals.  It's kind of a cool protocol.  So check that out.  In addition, a few other things, I'm going to be speaking, actually kind of your neck of the woods, Rachael, Vancouver, Washington, which is pretty close to Portland, Oregon, March 3rd through the 5th at what's called the Nutritional Therapy Association Conference.  So you can check it out at  But the cool thing about these folks, the Nutritional Therapy folks, is they also certify you as a nutritional therapy practitioner, and they use a very, have you ever heard of the Weston A. Price Diet, Rachel?

Rachel:  Yes.  Yup!

Ben:  Okay.  So this is based on the fact you're using like real high quality, nutrient dense ancestral foods to heal the body.  So they're not talking about like whole wheat bread, and energy drinks, and power bars.  Instead, they focus on really nutrient dense foods, really ancestral foods, and you learn how to use those, things like fermenting, and soaking, and sprouting, and things like that to help people lose weight, or enhance performance, or even heal disease.  So it's called the Nutritional Therapy Association, and you can go to to check them out and to get in one of their classes.  The registration closes very soon.  I think it closes at like February 6th, which is a few days after this podcast comes out.  That's for the classes.  You can get into the conference any time,  But it's pretty cool.  The Nutritional Therapy…

Rachel:  Are all the classes in person, or can you do them online?

Ben:  You can do 'em online.

Rachel:  Nice!

Ben:  Yup.  You do not have to move to Vancouver, even though if you wanted to be close to Rachel, you could.  For all of you people…

Rachel:  We could go for coffee.

Ben:  All you people who are Rachel stalkers.  Also, this podcast is brought to you by ZipRecruiter.  Zip Recruiter.  Have you ever been to this website?

Rachel:  No.

Ben:  It's pretty cool.  So if you want to hire somebody, you go to, or in this case if you want to do it for free, you go to, and you can take any job, and you post it once, then what they do is they go to like 200 plus web sites and they repost your job to all those different web sites, like Facebook, Twitter, everywhere, but you just have one click on your end, and automatically, like all these qualified candidates start to roll into your dashboard, like your interface on ZipRecruiter.  So you have no pain in the butt in terms of your e-mail inbox getting blasted with all these random creepers who are trying to apply for your job, or unqualified candidates, or folks who are flipping burgers who really aren't qualified to say, I don't know, be a police officer or whatever job post you're posting to ZipRecruiter.

So it's really cool, really slick. is where you can go if you like own a business and you want to hire somebody, it's well worth checking out.  Pretty cool site.  You can also go there to find a job if you want to as well, if you just like sitting on your butt in your Mom's basement listening to this podcast wishing you had a job, you can actually go to  So check that one out too.

And then finally this podcast is brought to you by MVMT Watches, which my wife stole my wife.  Did you see my wife's watch when we were at Jackson Hole?

Rachel:  I didn't see it, but they're sexy watches.  So I totally understand why she stole it.

Ben:  My wife was wearing my, it's the leather band one with the white face.  And I don't know if you went to their website and looked at some of their watches…

Rachel:  No, I have.  Yeah.

Ben:  They are beautiful.  Beautiful watches on this site.  I love my watch, my one that my wife stole.  By the way, the model that I was wearing, if I could find it here on their website, I believe it was the Chrono, the Chrono, which is like the, it's the leather strap, it's the white face.  So that watch costs 135.  It would normally cost $500, but at movement watches, you also get 15% off.  So you basically get that for under a hundred bucks.  Free shipping, free returns.  Really cool, high quality, minimalist looking watches.  They look great.  Really clean design, you're going to get a lot of compliments on your wrist.  So here's the URL:, and that gets you a 15% discount on a very cool little timepiece.  So I think that's about it for our special announcements, yeah?

Rachel:  Yes!  Getting to the question.

Ben:  Alright.  Here we go.  Question time.

Listener Q & A:

Mark:  Hi, Ben.  My name's Mark.  I love your show and all that you do.  I'm an age group competitive triathlete, and about three and a half months ago, I got in a bike crash in a 70.3 three race, broke my collarbone, and six ribs, and pretty significantly collapsed my lung on the one side.  Now in the last month or two, as I'm getting back into training and competing a little bit, I noticed a pretty dramatic change in my VO2max and my speed, particularly on the run, probably 15 to 20%, probably 5 to 10% in my swimming and my cycling.  And then I'd love to know just the best way and the quickest way to for me to get my competitive edge back, and get my VO2max, and ventilatory capacity back up to where it was before.  Thanks for all your help.

Ben:  Sounds like Mark got a little beat up.

Rachel:  Yeah.  It sounds like a really bad fall.  I'm sorry to hear that, Mark.

Ben:  Collarbone, ribs, collapsed lung.  Must've been booking.  You ever been in a bike crash.

Rachel:  No.  Thankfully.

Ben:  Yeah.  I've…

Rachel:  I'm actually terrible at riding bikes, so I shouldn't…

Ben:  I've made a lot of skin graft donations to the pavement in my days, 'cause I raced for a decade doing Ironman triathlon.  My worst crash though was when I was like 11 years old.  I got a concussion in a mountain bike accident.  And I've had a few concussions since then.  Remember when I went down to the Peak Brain Institute in LA and they did like the QEEG on me, like the brain mapping on me?

Rachel:  Yeah.  There was a lot of damage that came up.

Ben:  Yeah, they can show like all these areas where you have TBI, and I don't know if anybody, and I've got a repeat podcast coming up with them, with all this neurofeedback training I've been doing, flying the space ships with my mind at home.  I've actually, 'cause I went down there for a repeat mapping two weeks ago, I have gotten rid of almost every single fast beta brainwave area of my brain that was a result of some of those concussions and traumatic brain injuries.  So it's kind of cool.

Rachel:  That's incredible!

Ben:  You can actually rewire your brain.  But Mark wants to rewire his lungs, get his VO2max back.  So, yeah, it's kind of interesting 'cause you'd think you could just go out and exercise hard, and that would increase VO2max.  But it turns out that our friends in science, all those researchers in white lab coats making people puke on bikes, they've found that there are specific interval lengths that help with certain components of cardiovascular fitness and VO2max.  It's actually a specific length of interval, and a specific intensity of interval that's best for specifically increasing your maximum oxygen utilization.

Rachel:  That's helpful information to know.

Ben:  That's why they call me Mr. Helpy Helperton.  There are a variety of different cardiovascular components you want to train.  I have an article about this called “How To Look Good Naked”, but I could have called it “How To Ride A Bike More Quickly”, I suppose.  So first of all, there's this thing called muscle endurance.  Aerobic capacity.  That's basically the amount of work your muscles can endure, the amount of time you can kind of like go to battle while keeping your force output really high.  This would be like your tolerance to lactic acid, your tolerance to the burn.  That's far different than your maximum oxygen utilization.  That's more related to what we would call your lactate threshold.  Well, a perfect example of how to build that would be a Tabata protocol.  And in one of the more famous studies for increasing muscle endurance and tolerance to lactic acid, four times a week for four weeks folks were doing one single four minute Tabata protocol.  Have you ever done a Tabata protocol, Rachel?

Rachel:  I have.  Yes.

Ben:  I do them twice a week on the bicycle.  It's 20 seconds all out followed by 10 seconds of rest.  That's it.  So now that I'm doing gymnastics training protocols, I've been finishing up my gymnastics training protocol that I'm doing now twice a week with a Tabata set on the bike.  And the 20 second efforts are all out, the 10 second efforts are, you go completely, but you can do these with kettlebell swings, cycling, rowing, whatever.  But that's what you do for muscle endurance, okay?  So increasing the amount of work that your muscles can endure, those don't really increase VO2max.  They're not long enough to increase VO2max, but you don't want to leave that type of training on the table if you want to be a complete athlete, especially a complete endurance athlete.  So that's kind of like one component of these Tabata sets.

Rachel:  Okay.

Ben:  And I would recommend you do at least twice a week, up to four times a week as far as something very similar like a 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for about four minutes.  Now there's also this other component that is also really not VO2max, but is another important component, and that's mitochondrial density.  So this would be, mitochondria are the power plants of your cells, and there's this concept called mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the creation of new mitochondria.  And all mitochondrial density is that simply means that you have as many mitochondria packed into your muscles as possible, and that means you can utilize more fat, and you can utilize more glucose to produce ATP.  So to do this, so whereas the Tabata set is like these really hard efforts with pretty short recovery periods.  So Tabata set's like a 2:1 work to rest ratio, to increase mitochondrial density is kind of the opposite.  It's 30 seconds or so of extremely hard efforts followed by complete recovery.

So an example of that would be twice a week, in the mornings, I get the eye crust out of my eyes, sip my cup of coffee, and I head out to the garage, and what I do right now is a half hour on the treadmill, and it's four minutes of walking.  So for me it's uphill walking, and then every four minutes, I do a 30 second sprint as hard as I can go, and then go back to walking for full recovery.  And that's it.  I just do that for a half hour.  That's a perfect example of how to increase your mitochondrial density.  So the hard efforts are really, really hard, about 30 seconds long, but then you have complete recovery after each one.  So again, it's a little bit different than the Tabata set, where you're going, and going, and going, and frankly each effort that you do, you're producing a little less power each time 'cause you're getting that very short recovery period.  Whereas these mitochondrial density sprints are all out with full recovery.

Rachel:  Right.  Got it.

Ben:  So you'd want to include mitochondrial density, you'd want to include muscle endurance type of training, and then the last thing, before I get to VO2max, would be you'd want to optimize your fat burning efficiency.  And this would be like those easy fasted fat burning workouts, or these aerobic workouts that are a little bit longer in length, preferably with minimal fuel coming in, and done at more of an easy conversational pace.  So this would be like you get up on a Saturday or a Sunday morning, and you do like an hour long bike ride on an empty stomach with a cadence of 90 at an aerobic heart rate where your muscles aren't burning, it's conversational, but it's also enhancing your fat burning capacity because you haven't like dumped a bunch of glucose into your body beforehand.  That's a perfect example of like a fat burning, and this is honestly the form of training that I think most people overdo 'cause it doesn't hurt like those other ones do, and you can just kind of zone out and do it.  But it also is something that's necessary, especially if you're doing it in like a fasted state to increase your fat burning capacity.  That would be kind of another piece of the puzzle to ensure that you have like a complete cardiovascular profile.  Right?

Rachel:  Okay.  Yup.

Ben:  Okay.  So then we get to VO2max, and VO2max, in terms of the studies that they've done on VO2max, the minimum effective dose for this is about four minutes.  So right around this four to six minute range is the sweet spot for VO2max.  And what you do is you go as hard as you can go for those four to six minutes, this would be your maximum sustainable pace that you can maintain with good form.  Could be on the bike, running, swimming, whatever.  And then you get full recovery after each one.  So a perfect example of a VO2max protocol would be five four minute efforts with four minutes recovery between each one.  So what does that come out to?  That's like a 40 minute workout right there, like a 40 minute VO2max workout.  And you only need to do that about once a week.  So a lot of people overdo these kind of things.  So like the muscle endurance, like the Tabata sets would be a couple times a week, the mitochondrial sprints would be a couple of times a week, the fasted fat burning session a couple of times a week.

But then a VO2max workout, you only need to do this once a week to build or to maintain your VO2max.  You could do a little bit more frequently now, but it's not necessary.  And as a matter of fact, in the study that they've shown, that it really shows that this can help, it was once every two weeks that they were doing this in soccer players to maintain VO2max.  If you want to build VO2max, I'd recommend you do it closer to every week, but you can get away with this even once every two weeks if you just want to maintain.  But again, it's four to six minute efforts, about a 1:1 work to rest ratio, and these efforts are done at an intensity to where you're not like completely looking like Bambi on ice by the end of the effort and just flailing…

Rachel:  All over the place.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly.  So you don't want your biomechanics to suffer, but it's hard enough to where you're pushing pretty hard and it's taking a lot of focus for those full four to six minute efforts.  And you do anywhere in the range of four to five of those, and that's it.

Rachel:  And so are these all included in your “How to Look Good Naked” plan?

Ben:  Mhmm.  Yeah.  I even outlined, they're all for free in that article I wrote.  If you want to go read the article, I'll link to it in the show notes over a  I don't recommend you ride your bicycle naked, unless you have one of those cool seats with a little like hole in the bottom for your (censored), which they actually make.

Rachel:  I'd do it.

Ben:  Yeah.  They make like those split nose seats, and they work.

Rachel:  I'm not surprised.  There's the Naked Bike Ride that happens in Poland…

Ben:  I own one.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  I swear by it.  Like those that's on all my bikes now.  I forget, I think it's Adamo.  They make the Adamo ISM seat, but it was designed like reduce prostate inflammation and reduce the propensity for men to have erectile dysfunction after long bike rides.

Rachel:  Yeah.  I did always wonder.

Ben:  Yeah.  But we digress.  We don't have to have every single topic get into (censored).

Rachel:  I don't know how it's happening.

Ben:  It just seems that we're straying that way on this episode.

Rachel:  There you go, Mark.  That's how you build your VO2max.

Ben:  Alright.  There you go, Mark.

Burt:  Dude, this is killing me.  I just got your weekly roundup and it's awesome, but I barely scroll down, and this is the million Dollar, 10 million Dollar question.  How do you get so much work done?  Like so many projects?  I just see interviews that you've done, which is fine.  You're sort of on other people's time, in a way.  You still got to prep for 'em.  And then you've done your own podcast, and then you've got articles, like a few article, and you're working on a chapter in your new book, and all that sort of jazz, and traveling.  How do you do it?  That's my 10 million Dollar question.  I'd love to know.  What are your secrets?  And I've read and I've followed your stuff before.  I've hired you as well.  But this is just mind boggling.  It's awesome.  I just want to be able to make my life.  Thank you very much!  And I love all your stuff.  And I refer to it all the time, and I send people it all the time.  Yeah!  That's all.  Thank you!

Ben:  It's because I take care of my body.

Rachel:  You do.

Ben:  It's also, actually, you know what my key to productivity is?  Is I'm a complete idiot when it comes to anything related to Hollywood.  I go to the movie theater about once a year and I watch TV about once a month.  So that's like one of my keys to productivity.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  ‘Cause I just really don't know what's going on in Hollywood.

Rachel:  But you do read books.  You read a lot of books.

Ben:  I read a ton of books.  So I saw that Burt asked this question, and so I jotted down some notes about how yesterday went for me.  I guess this would have been Monday, we're recording this on a Wednesday, but here's like a typical Monday for me.  Because for me, it's all about habits.  It's all about routines.  So I set up every single day, and I have a habit, or a system, for that specific day, and it becomes automatic after a while.  Once you have a routine, once you have a habit, it becomes automatic.  And when that habit becomes automatic, then you get to the point where you can get a ton done in terms of, Mark asked about like interviews, and podcasts, and writing, and I'm doing music, et cetera.  So I'm going to walk you through what a typical day looks like for me.  Okay?  You ready?

Rachel:  I am so ready.

Ben:  Okay.  Here we go.  So, Monday.  I wake up at about 6 AM.  I roll over, and I put on that heart rate variability monitor I was talking about, and I test my heart rate variability while I'm laying in bed.  I also, on this little Oura ring that I wear that lets me know like my I sleep cycles and stuff like that, I also take a glance at my Oura sleep cycles.  So it's those are like the two little nerdy self-quantification things I do each morning.  But as both of those are downloading to my phone, I do my devotional and I do my gratitude journaling.  So I'm getting all of that done before I get out of bed in the morning.  I don't leap out of bed and check e-mail, or Facebook, or Twitter, or anything like that because that can suck you into like a 15 or 20 minute rabbit hole.

Rachel:  Yes.  For sure.

Ben:  I only check e-mail two to three times per day.  So I always batch e-mail, and all push notifications are turned off.  So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of that, zero push notifications.  And, furthermore, if I am going to go check e-mail, I have one folder on the very top of my GMail inbox that is exclamation mark.  So that kind of lets you hack your e-mail inbox on the folder and ensure that anybody who sends you an important e-mail, you filter it so they go into the exclamation mark email inbox, so you don't have to filter through all the other unimportant e-mails to see the e-mails from important people.  Like you, Rachel.

Rachel:  I was going to ask, but I thought I'm going to keep my mouth shut.  I better be in that damn inbox.

Ben:  You're in the exclamation mark folder.  My wife isn't even in the exclamation mark folder.

Rachel:  Well, that's 'cause you work from home and she's home all day as well.

Ben:  Yeah.  Plus she never sends me important e-mails.  It's always like clean the garage.  That's not important.  I don't need to see that.  Anyways though, so I get all that done in bed, and the phone stays off aside from the Bluetooth function getting turned on to do the check.  So I don't take the phone off of airplane mode, 'cause then it's going to blow up, and there's going to be text messages, and e-mails, and all this other jazz.  I want do want any of that.  So I just put the Bluetooth on, do all the checking, and then I get out of bed and I head downstairs.  And the very first thing I do right now, this is not something I used to when I was younger, but I find that it helps now, is I have a foam roller sitting right there at the bottom of the stairs.

I take out the foam roller and I do a quick foam rolling session just on, I mean we're talking about like three to four minutes.  And for me, it's on any parts that I need to hit that are just feeling stiff that day from the previous day's work out.  And it's just like my little habit, right?  And honestly helps me kind of keep my body put together.  Because if you do the math, that comes out to like over 40 minutes of foam rolling each week that I'm getting in if I'm getting those little bits done each day.  I'm always about the little things add up.  And then these days, the thing I do right after I foam roll, 'cause my fascia's all kind of like worked out of that, is I've been hanging upside down for about five minutes from the yoga swing.  That's also hanging right there at the bottom of the stairs.

So it's habits, it's system.  The foam roller is right there in front of me, the yoga swing is right there in front of me.  I can't walk past it in the morning without doing it, so I just do it all.  And then I wander into the kitchen and I take my morning supplements.  So any supplements that need to be taken on an empty stomach.  Let's say I'm going to take a Qualia smart drug that day, I'd take Step 1 'cause that supposed to be on an empty stomach.  Another thing that I'll take on an empty stomach would be like the lemon juice and water for a little bit of alkalinity.  But it's always a big glass of water and whatever morning supplements I have.

The other thing I'm doing right now is I'm going through that whole like detox plan that we talked about several times on this podcast, that's over at, ironically enough, if you want to like dig into that one.  But that includes like this little packet of pills I take each morning.  It's like methylation support, and blah, blah, blah.  It's stuff that Dr. Dan Pompa has put me on for three months.  So I do that.  And then I put the coffee on.  So as the coffee, and for me right now, it's just a French press.  So that means I turn the boiling water on, and as the water is boiling, I do my stretching.  So I have this special series of stretches, usually for me it's either the gymnastics stretching that my new gymnastics coach is giving me, or it's these exercises from the Core Foundation book by Dr. Eric Goodman.  So again, that's just 5 to 10 minutes of stretching.  But it's just these little things.  ‘Cause again, that adds up to what?  Like over 60 minutes of stretching per week by me doing like that 5 to 10 minutes of stretching each morning while the coffee is on.

And then once the coffee is done, I grab it.  Usually I dump a few mushrooms in there.  Not of the variety that we were doing this weekend, but Four Sigmatic sends me stuff like chaga, and Reishi, and turkey tail, and I like to put some mushrooms in my coffee.  They're really good for the immune system, really good for cancer fighting properties, and all sorts of cool things mushrooms can do for you.  So I dump those into my coffee, usually about a teaspoon or so mushrooms, and then I sit down on my computer and I put, and this is where a good little biohacky, I put light in my ears and light my eyes, so I put the HumanCharger on my eyes, or in my ears, and I put the Re-Timer glasses on my eyes, and I just blast myself with copious amounts of light, which is a really, really good circadian rhythm jump starter, while I do my one big hairy audacious task for the day.  ‘Cause on Monday, that meant I had five e-mails that I really had to respond, sometimes it's an article I'm working on, sometimes it is my fiction book that I'm working on if there's a chapter that's just like hanging over my head.  The way I approach it is like if I were to go to bed right now and it were the end of the day, what's the one thing I'd smile about having accomplished that day?  And that's the one thing that I do as soon as I, so again, I'm not opening Facebook, Twitter, or anything like that.  I'm doing that one big, hairy, audacious task.  And that as I'm sipping my coffee.

So usually I'm sipping my coffee for like 20 to 30 minutes working on that one big, hairy, audacious task.  So once I finish that task, and again like on Monday, it was just five e-mails that were in that folder.  I had expected them to be coming, it has to do with this rebranding I'm doing right now for our business, but I just got those out of the way 'cause I knew that my responses to those weren't going to be as good the rest of the day once all the other bullets started flying at me than in the morning.  So I do that.  Okay.  Then I go downstairs, I turn on the sauna, and then I go upstairs, and I go to the bathroom.  So while I'm going to the bathroom, the sauna's heating up.  And after I go to the bathroom, I go downstairs to the sauna, and this is almost every morning when I'm at home, 30 minutes in a sauna, and that's just with all my stretching, my yoga, my deep breathing, 'cause I find that when I do that, I'm destressed the rest of the day.  It sets almost like a standard for the rest of the day.

And then I go do my cold pool plunge, and what I've been doing now in the sauna is dry skin brushing, which is really good for the lymph system, really good for like self-love, and body care.  So I do my dry skin brushing and feel fantastic when I do that.  My skin feels fantastic too.  Then my cold plunge, and then I go back into the house.  Now by then, it's about 8, 8:30.  So the first two hours in the morning, I've gotten all my body care done, and I've got my one big, hairy, audacious goal completely out of the way, and I've got my devotions and my gratitude journaling, and all of the things that help me be me, they're done by like 8:30 or so.  And then, what I've been doing when I go back in the house is I've been using my vibrator.  Yeah, my vibrator.  It's a…

Rachel:  I'm guessing it's a foam rolling vibrator?  No?

Ben:  No.  It's called a MyoBuddy, and I've been basically using that, don't laugh, it's this new thing I'm experimenting with, but I use it on my jaw, I use it all over the top of my head.  And again, these are little things, which takes like 60 seconds, and it brings a bunch of blood flow to my brain, kind of similar to when I'm hanging upside down, but I do that all over my body.  It's kind of like that dry skin brushing, but it's like that on steroids.  And then I turn around after I've done that, and I make my smoothie.  My big morning smoothie, these days it's a little bit of the Pau d'Arco anti-aging bark tea, and a whole bunch of ice, and usual like five or six different good fresh vegetables from the refrigerator, and some nuts, and a little bit of dark chocolate powder, and a little bit of protein powder, and that's just all blended up, and I blend it really thick.  And along with that, I take any supplements that are best absorbed with food right, like my fish oil, and my creatine, and my multi-vitamin, and then I start work while I'm eating that smoothie, 'cause I like to eat the smooth like with a spoon, and it takes me like a half hour to get through my whole smoothie.  So from like 8:30-ish until 9:30-ish, kind of making breakfast, eating my smoothie.

And then once I've finished up that smoothie around like 9:30 or so, I go downstairs into my office.  And from 9:30 to 1:30, all push notifications turned off, nothing distracted me, I work like an animal for four hours.  I mean like an animal, like nothing, I'm like a horse with blinders.  I'm locked away in my office, nothing bugs me.  There are no social breaks, there is no chatting on the phone, there's just nothing.  Every single goal that needs to be done for that day I'm getting done for the next four hours.  I do take mini-breaks.  So about every 30 to 50 minutes, I will stop and I'll do some stretching, or I'll do some jumping jacks, or I'll do some pull-ups.  Here in my office, I've got kettlebells, I've got monkey bars to hang from, I've got a heavy bag to punch.  So I'll do little things here and there.  I even have a little manual treadmill.  So in many cases, I've got my, it's a Jabra 930 headset, and then I use this piece of software called Dragon Dictation, and so a lot of times, I can be walking on the treadmill, dictating e-mails, dictating articles, dictating whatever I'm working on for that day.  And that's typically what [1:03:58] ______, I'll walk on the treadmill dictating, or else I'm podcasting, or doing interviews, or doing consults with my clients, or going over blood and biomarkers of people, whatever.  But that's from 9:30 to 1:30.  And again, full on, no distractions.  I don't go out and have lunch with people, I don't do coffee with people, none of that.  It's just hardcore.  So those four hours are hyper productivity.

And then I emerge from the office, bedraggled and the just like completely, honestly, I'm spent.  Like I've been working my ass off.  It's like after I finished a workout, right?  So I come up and I'm finally ready for lunch, and lunch is almost the same thing every day 'cause I'm not a big fan of decision making fatigue.  I grab some miracle noodles, which are almost like my version of pasta, and I fry those up in the cast iron skillet with a whole bunch of vegetables, and usually like some eggs or sardines, some kind of good protein, some fats like some nuts thrown on top.  And then while I'm eating lunch, I go through the things that I've been ignoring the rest of the day that kind of sort of are work, but kind of sort of aren't, Facebook, Twitter, stuff like that right.

So during lunch, again, I'm getting things done, but it's those little things that I just, I've been ignoring the rest of the morning.  After lunch every day, I go upstairs, I've trained my body to just pass out and fall asleep for 20 to 40 minutes.  So I lay out BioMat, I fall asleep.  When I used to work in an office, I'd do the same thing, but I had this little spot underneath my desk, and a sleeping bag, eye mask, and earplugs, and I just curl up under my desk, and fall asleep.  20 to 40 minutes.  That's it.  I just trained my body to do it.  So by that time, considering that it takes me about an hour or so to have lunch, to take care of everything I'm taking care of during lunch, and then get the nap in, I've got about an hour when I wake up from that nap to play catch up.  I have identified that the afternoons are not my most productive time.  That's not when I'm most creative, but I am able to take all those random tasks.  So usually the afternoon is when I dive into e-mail for about an hour and just do a huge batch of e-mail, and I realize that I've got about an hour in there to catch up on all the e-mails and everything before my kids arrive home from school.

And then when my kids get home from school, and this is at about 3:50 PM, I have a good hour or so to just be with them.  Legos, talking about their day, reading the books they got from the library, just quality time with the kids.  Sometimes I'm leading them through a workout, sometimes we're shooting the bow, sometimes we're walking outside.  And then eventually, my kids leave, 'cause they always have some type of afternoon activity.  Sometimes it's tennis, sometimes it's jiu-jitsu, sometimes it's piano, whatever.  So they leave, and so I have, from about 4 to 6 PM, when they're gone, 4:30 to 6 PM, around there, anyways, that's my time to do my workout.

So in the late afternoon, early evening, I do my workout, and then I come in from my workout, and usually I've got a little bit of time before they get home from whatever it is they're doing, their after school activities.  And so it's during that time, before dinner, when I'll do like ukulele, when I'll do guitar, when I'll sip that wine I was talking about, and just kind of get some little like relaxing things done right before dinner.

And then we always have dinner as a family, usually we eat sometime around like 8 PM or so as a family.  And again, I don't take a lot of snack breaks nothing like that.  So I got my lunch at 1:30,  I've got my dinner around 8, I've got my breakfast around like 9:30, and dinner is always like salad plus some kind of meat that Jessa makes like roasted chicken, also some sourdough bread, sweet potatoes, stuff like that, and we always play a game during dinner as a family.  So it's like Table Topics game, or Cash Flow for kids, which is a great game to teach them about money, or we'll do Pictionary, or we'll do like some kind of like Dungeons and Dragons kind of card game, but we always play a game together as a family during dinner 'cause it's just like a fun, we gather around dinner, we take a long time to eat dinner.  So we're usually at the dinner table 'til almost 9, like playing games and eating together.

Rachel:  How many hours is that if you're there 'til…

Ben:  What's that?

Rachel:  How many hours is that if you're there 'til 9?

Ben:  We usually start dinner about 8.

Rachel:  Okay.  So that's an hour.

Ben:  Yeah.  And that'll include like all the little things that we're doing, talking about the day, stuff like that.  And then the kids literally just brush their teeth, take their vitamins, and go to bed right after that.  We go up in bed, I usually will play them whatever song I had been working on the guitar that day, we do like our gratitude, we go around the room, everybody says what they're grateful for, we pray.  And then by that time, it really is about, by the 9, 9:15, they're just like lights out.  So we finish dinner, they're in bed, I then spend about a half hour getting any last things done for the day, dive into the e-mail inbox one more time, make sure there's no little fires I have to put out, even though I now have e-mails that go out to every member of my team telling them not to e-mail me important things after 9 PM.  So I know that when I dive into my e-mail inbox at 9 PM, like there's not going to be like some huge fire I have to put out.  And then that's about 9:15, 9:30, and then I head upstairs and I read for 30 to 45 minutes, and fall asleep.  And that's it.

Rachel:  All right.  I have a bunch of questions, Ben.  Three variables and then three principles that I picked up from that.  So the three variables are travel, sleep, and family.  Does travel ruin this routine?  How important is sleep for this?  And how do you deal with things coming up with the family that are unplanned?

Ben:  So travel, I have my, very similar routine: get up, stretch, coffee.  Like everything is almost the same when I travel, except of course there are little modifications when you're traveling.  Like often, instead of a smoothie, I'm mixing some meal replacement powder up in a cup.  But same thing, it's the same sequence of events, wake up, HRV, devotions, journaling, stretching while the coffee in the hotel room is on.  So I try and maintain that same semblance when I'm traveling.  Same thing when I go to bed, reading, et cetera.

Rachel:  So are you packing just tons of stuff to take with you as well?  So you're always pre-planning your travel very thoroughly.

Ben:  Yes.  But I only travel with a small backpack, the ukulele attached to the backpack, and my book bag, which easily holds a Kindle, my computer, and a few of the little random biohacking things, like the heart rate monitor, the glasses, and the Re-Timer. So I travel very light.

Rachel:  Okay.  I feel like we could do a whole another podcast on that.  So then, sleep.  How important is sleep for this?  What happens if you get a bad night's sleep, all that sort of stuff?

Ben:  If I get a bad night's sleep, sometimes the nap gets elongated.  So I always wake up at the same time, it's just a slightly longer nap if I have a bad night of sleep.

Rachel:  Okay.  And then family, what happens if things come up that are kind out of this routine?

Ben:  Like what?

Rachel:  Like if the kids get sick and they say home, if Jessa can't take 'em the afternoon like activity that they do?

Ben:  Typically when a kid gets sick, they're just at home hanging out with me when I'm doing what I'd be doing anyways.  And when I need to take them somewhere, usually that something will fall out of the routine.  It means that some e-mails will get shoved to the back burner and taken care of the next day, or often I will substitute, let's say a longer workout, let's say I had an hour long workout planned, it turns into like two back-to-back Tabata sets.  So all of a sudden, I've got 50 minutes freed up.  So those are the type of things that will often get sacrificed if there's things that need to get done with the family.

Rachel:  Interesting.  And then, so a couple little principles that really stood out to me.  One was this concept of little things adding up every day, and I wondered how that applies I mean physically and mentally.  I feel like to go from writing a 15 minute session on your fiction book, to like doing a workout, to doing like the next mental task, that constant chopping and changing of things has always felt really under productive to me.  But for you, it sounds like it's really productive.

Ben:  You only do one thing at a time.  Ever.  It's task switching that recruits way more, drains more mental willpower, and also decreases the effectiveness and the quality of a task.  However, task switching is different than multitasking.  So I can switch from writing a fiction book, to doing a workout, to heading up stairs and making lunch, for example, and I can do a high quality job at all of those.  Whereas if I try to do all three at once, write, make lunch while I'm talking on the phone, while I'm glancing at e-mails, that's where you start to run into issues.

Rachel:  Interesting.

Ben:  Now if I could throw in a few…

Rachel:  I'm so fascinated by this.

Ben:  Few last things.  First of all, I've written articles that detail, in great detail, my morning routine, my afternoon routine, and my evening routine, and I will link to all of those in the show notes over at  I also just finished a little e-book which is the most updated version of my entire routine, and that is called “Daily Routines: A Practical Handbook To Optimize Your Body, Mind And Spirit”.  It is seven bucks.  It's a little e-book, and I will put a link to that in the show notes as well, in case you just want to have that on your Kindle, or your phone, or whatever, and you want to optimize your body, mind, or spirit.  So check that out.  Oh, and then finally, and Rachel knows this, I often will log my entire day on Snapchat.  Literally.  My phones just out logging every little thing I do.  And so that's over at if you just want to see a lot of this stuff live as it happens, if you're just a complete stalker like that.  So there you have it.

Tyson:  Hi, Ben and Rachel.  My name is Tyson Brown and I am 21 years old from Sydney, Australia.  I'm currently a personal trainer and I love health and fitness.  And my question for you guys is how can I live to 120 years old.  You probably don't hear this from a lot of 21 year olds, but I know that I want to live past a hundred year old mark, and I want to do everything possible in order to do that.  So is there anything you would recommend doing earlier in life that you wish you might have done to help you improve your longevity?  I love the podcast, I love all the knowledge you share, I love sharing it with my clients.  And hopefully you guys can put this question on the air.  Thanks a lot, and I look forward to your answer.

Ben:  This is really interesting, stuff that he wonders, if I wish I would have done early in life, to improve my longevity.  So first of all, let me start here.  I've got a couple of really good anti-aging podcasts and articles.  Like for example, there's one called “11 Ways To Age Like A Bad-Ass”, and in this one I interviewed this guy named Mike Greer.  And I first met Mike when I did a live event in Spokane, Washington, and we're doing morning workouts.  It was called the “Become Superhuman Live Event”, and I had people come in from all over the globe to speak, like that Ray Cronise guys I was talking about earlier, I'm trying to remember who else was there.  I think Jack Cruse was speaking, and Dave Asprey.  It's kind of cool.  I think my cortisol levels went through the roof running a live event.  I realized I'd rather go speak at events rather than actually put them on, at least for now.

But anyways, this guy wandered into one of the morning workouts that we were doing and just proceeded to destroy a handful of like fit young guys and girls who were doing like burpees, and lunges, and push-ups, and Turkish get-ups.  He had like his Ironman shirt on, and he was tanned, and looked great.  So I figured he was like some 50-year old triathlete, workout enthusiast.  And then I found out that he was 75 years old, and he's a great grandparent, retired lieutenant colonel, a former football player, a seven time Ironman triathlete.  This guys is just doing everything.  He's the president and CEO of the Obstacle Racing Association, he's in the Texas Triathlon Hall of Fame.

And so I interviewed him on a podcast.  So first of all, go listen to that podcast 'cause he talks about everything from how he really prioritizes like living an active sex life is like way high up on his list.  He is totally opposed to this idea that stress shortens your life.  He actually purposefully stresses himself, kind of related to what we're talking to earlier about being a super-ager, because he realizes that all those hormetic stressors like keep you on the edge, and actually make you live longer.  And so you definitely should go check out the interview that I did with him, which I link to in the show notes.

I also have this article called “Anti-Aging Secrets From Five Of The Fittest Old People That I Know”.  And in that article, I go into a few concepts.  First of all, how one of the most important activities to decrease the rate at which telomeres shorten, which you can measure, by the way, I actually have an interview, a podcast interview coming up soon with the folks from TeloYears, where we talk about how you can now measure your telomere length and kind of track whether what you're doing is actually working from an anti-aging protocol.  But I go into how heavy strength training is really consistently the one single form of exercise that has been shown to be the most effective form of exercise when it comes to anti-aging.  And I don't need to kick that horse to death, 'cause I've talked it about a lot before.  If you're not already lifting heavy stuff, you need to be.

Rachel:  Literally why I started going to Crossfit.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  But I interview Charles, or I talk about Charles Eugster on there, who is Britain's top sprinter.  And for him, he just basically scoffs at anything low fat or fat free.  So he eats a ton of like really fatty yogurts, and cheeses, and eggs, and stuff like that.  Laird Hamilton's was to learn new stuff, and that dude's always learning new things, always challenging his prefrontal cortex.  And I even get into how you need to challenge your temporal lobes, your parietal lobes, and your cerebellum based on lessons learned from this brain expert named Dr. Daniel Amen.

So check that part out.  I talk about Mark Sisson and his concept of lifting, moving, and sprinting at least some point every day.  I go into Don Wildman and how once a week, he'll do what he calls “the hardest workout in the world”, which I've done in Malibu in his basement, and it actually is a really hard workout.  But if a 75 year old can do it, you can probably handle it.  So check that out.  And then finally, one of the Fit old women.  Olga Kotelko, one of her tips is that she gives herself, almost every day, this full body foam roller style massage, which actually is, speaking of my daily routines, one of the reasons that I hit my fascia everyday.  ‘Cause the fascia's is still linked to your neurotransmitter production, and endorphin release.  It's sounds kind of stupid, but it does add up.  So go read that article I totally didn't do it justice.  Just now I skimmed over it in like two minutes, but probably one of the best articles, if I don't say so myself, that I've written on anti-aging.  So check that one out.  And now a few the things that I wish I'd been doing for a longer period of time that I do now, or that I wish I had done when I was younger.

Rachel:  Now it gets juicy.

Ben:  Okay.  So, now it gets juicy.  The first one is something I now drink every day.  I take Pau d'Arco tree bark, which you can get off of Amazon, and I'll put my recipe link in the show notes.  It contains beta-lapachones, which, and I have spoken with the person who introduced me to this tea, Dr. Mercola, and he's explained to me how important it is for the mitochondria.  It contains precursors to NAD, which is kind of like the darling new molecule of the anti-aging supplement industry.  It stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.  Normally pretty expensive to get this in injections or supplement form, but you can get it for pennies on the Dollar by getting bark tea, and what I do is I blend the bark tea with a fat, and I usually use a sunflower lecithin, which contains a lot of what's called phosphatidylcholine, which makes phospholipids, which basically allows for you to absorb these beta-lapachones much better, and then I add organic turmeric powder to it.  And I simply blend it, and that is the base for my smoothies each day.  So I drink that stuff every day, Pau d'Arco bark tea.  That is number one.  I feel amazing when I do it, you can feel it seeping into your veins, and I wish I'd been doing that for the past decade.

Number two, is over the past year and a half, I have begun a practice of both transcendental meditation and kundalini yoga.  And both of these have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow, both of them decrease salivary cortisol, both of them work on many of the same levels that a lot of these other anti-aging practices work on in terms of decreasing the rate at which telomeres shorten.  So transcendental meditation, do I do it for twice a day for 20 minutes like my instructor told me to?

Rachel:  Probably not.

Ben:  I do not.  I do it about three times a week for 10 to 20 minutes.  Kundalini yoga, I do some variation of that almost every day when I'm doing that sauna that I talked about, or when I'm traveling, and I'm in the airport, and I need to do a body weight workout.  Kundalini yoga and TM should be weapons in your tool box for anti-aging, and you should learn both if you're serious about anti-aging.  So that would be number two would be transcendental meditation and kundalini.  I know that's almost two things, it's cheating, but that's it.  Gratitude journaling.  Gratefulness has been shown over and over again to result in biological and physiological responses that result in a longevity enhancing effect.  I don't need to go deep into the science, we don't have time to go deep into the science on this podcast episode, but a.) if you're not already gratitude journaling, you need to be, and then b.) my exact protocol does not involve lots of daily affirmations, lots of “I'm so great, so wonderful.  Me, me, me.  I, I, I.  I'm good, I'm great, I'm wonderful.  And gosh darn it, people like me.”  I don't do that.  So my daily journaling is this: I ask myself three questions, I then respond to these three questions.  A.) what truth that I discover in this morning's reading, because every morning I read a devotional, and I find that if I know I'm going to need to answer a question afterwards about what I read, I'm less likely to sit there picking the eye crust out of my eyes kind of skimming over it, and not paying attention, and much more likely to actually absorb what I've read.

Rachel:  Very smart.

Ben:  B.) The next question is what am I grateful for today.  That's a pretty straightforward one, but crucial.  And then c.), and this is really crucial I think, who can I pray for, help, or serve this day.  So every day, there is one person, this morning, it was my dad.  So what did I do during breakfast this morning?  I didn't like go mow my dad's lawn.  That doesn't mean you have to do that, but I texted my dad.  I said, “Dad, I love you.  I hope you're having an amazing day.  Let me know if I can help you with anything today.”  That's it.

Rachel:  That's awesome.  Very cool.

Ben:  Boom.  And you can pick a new person everyday, it could be the same person for a week in a row if you really want to bug 'em.  But gratitude journaling, and I will put a link in the show notes, I'm actually designing a journal that uses my exact journaling system 'cause I mean anytime I do something myself everyday, I figure there's a need for it.  So I put a link in the show notes where you can go, we're going to launch the journal on Kickstarter and in a couple of months.  But if you're interested in that, that's the third thing.  So we got the Pau d'Arco bark tea, transcendental meditation/kundalinigratitude journaling.  

The next would be genetic testing.  I wish I had done that sooner rather than later.  So I did a 23andMe genetic test, and let me just give you three examples of things that I've changed in my life that are going to help me live longer based on that test.  A.) I've found out I have a higher than normal risk for type II diabetes.  So I switched to a lower carbohydrate intake, I switched to saving the majority of my carbohydrates until the end of the day, when I'm in a more insulin sensitive post-workout state, and I also consume lots of supplements that help with insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.  The top three being bitter melon extract, Ceylon cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar.  And I would not have gone out of my way to do that unless I knew that I had this really much higher than normal risk for type two diabetes.

I also found of that I have a higher than normal risk for prostate cancer, and so now not a day goes by when I don't go out of my way to eat a fresh handful of cherry tomatoes, or a fresh tomato, or some other source of lycopene.  And I tend to try and cook it if I can because that concentrates the lycopene even more.  So, again, I wouldn't have done that had I not gotten a genetic test and found out that that's something that's going to help me live longer.  And then the final is that I, through DNAFit, which is the company that I exported my 23andMe results to, I discovered that I have a lower than normal production of glutathione and super oxide dismutase, two of the most potent antioxidants that you need in your body for optimal health.  So now I use glutathione, or glutathione precursors like sulforaphane, or broccoli sprouts.  Now what I do is I hack it once a week, I do an actual glutathione injection into my right butt cheek, and that's, by the way, speaking of the Health Gains company, I started doing that based on the recommendations of Dr. Gaines down at the Gaineswave clinic.  And so he wrote me a prescription for injectable glutathione.  So I just inject it once a week, but again, not something I would have done had I not known that my own production of it was really low.  So that's another thing, is glutathione.  So those are three examples of things that I wouldn't have done had I not known about these genetic predispositions.  So that's number four.

Rachel:  Four.  Very important.

Ben:  Now number five is, in terms of…

Rachel:  I like this one.

Ben:  In terms of partying.  So I used to think that the only way to have a good time was to drink alcohol, and alcohol, from an inflammatory, from an oxidative, and from a hormonal standpoint is one of the best ways to age yourself very quickly.  Your husband actually asked me this because he was hung over when…

Rachel:  Yeah.  He does not do hangovers well.

Ben:  Yeah.  So we were at the Jackson Hole airport, we rode to the airport together, and he's like, “Ben, when was the last time you were hung over?”  And I couldn't remember because it has been an extremely long time since I've ever had more than two drinks of alcohol.  The only way I spin the dials in my brain are using plant-based medicines.  So for me it's either psilocybin or marijuana that I use.  Far less damaging from an oxidative standpoint.  And frankly, if I need to fall asleep at night, or I need to relax, I just use CBD.  Cannabidiol not only relaxes you, and targets your endocannabinoid system, and has a lot of the same effects that people go after when they're taking alcohol, anti-depressive, anti-anxiolytic, sleep enhancing, et cetera, with none of the side effects.  As a matter of fact, what I want to play for you right now, there's a really good YouTube clip, I'll link to this YouTube clip in the show notes, but  we'll play it for you right here.  And this just goes into all the anti-aging, neuroprotective, anti-inflammation, cellular energy enhancing properties of using something like CBD, which by the way, is still legal everywhere in the world as long as you get it from hemp not from marijuana, and something that I take every day rather than alcohol now.

YouTube Clip:  Well, I think when you look at what are the pieces that will make me as healthy as I can be.  So to me, adding CBD is really a beneficial piece.  I mean vitamins and minerals, we all sort of know, yes we do that, a lot has to do with what we eat, and when we eat, and are we getting good probiotics.  I mean there's a lot of pieces to this.  But I think CBD, because it potentially prevents so many problems, that adding that in a very small amount, you don't need a lot, four, five, six milligrams a day can be enough as a preventative to really help.  So you can get topical products with this, creams, lotions, there's shampoos, conditioners.  There's all kinds of applications that, since you absorb it transdermally, you're going to get small amounts through that, and we don't really get much of that in our normal diet.  So when you look at, okay, it's neuroprotective, it's anti-inflammatory, it modulates your immune system, it protects your gut, it protects your heart muscles, it increases cell energy, it helps you recover after exercise.  So for athletes, it can be a big deal because it can increase your performance and your body's capability to perform.

Ben:  So that's the deal with CBD.  I would definitely be using.  And then I use the CBD capsules, I also use the CBD vape pen.  I'll go back and forth between both, but I do that instead of the salt-rimmed margarita.

Rachel:  Yeah.  CBD is such an all-rounded.  That's what I love about it.

Ben:  I swear by it.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  Can I throw in a sixth just for the fun of it?

Rachel:  You can.  Go on.

Ben:  So I'm going to throw in a sixth, and then I'm also going to give you another bonus.  I'm going to link you to a great article that came out at the end of 2016 on the future of anti-aging because that goes into everything from like CRISPR and editing disease out of your DNA, to like a new brand of drinkable collagen, to the lab grown hearts and kidneys.  Like it goes way above and beyond what I'm talking about in this episode, but go to, and check that out.

Anyways though, the last thing that I want to talk about that I wish I had done but that I really can't do is banking my stem cells.  So here's why that is.  So the idea here is that stem cells are a type of cell that have the ability to differentiate into any other type of cell in the body.  So at the beginning of its life, a single cell has like this nucleus, and cytoplasm, and cell membrane, and then it can go on to replicate and create every other cell in your body.  And that single cell has your entire genetic code in it.  It can produce everything that defines every other specialized cell in your body.

So it can differentiate into skin cells, heart cells, muscle cells, kidney cells, you name it.  And you have these stem cells, they reside in your bone marrow, they're in your fat, they're in every single tissue compartment, and when you are young and you get damaged, let's say your kidney gets damaged, or your bone gets damaged, or muscle gets damaged, stem cells get mobilized the side of damage to repair.  And this capability slows dramatically as you age.  As you age, you simply, you lose much of the ability for your stem cells to be able to do that.  Now the idea here is that when you are born, you're at a point near biological perfection.  Meaning, if you're born and you're able to somehow gather up and capture all those stem cells when you're born with all their original uncorrupted DNA, and then have those around for potential use in the future, that's a really, really smart anti-aging protocol.

Rachel:  Very interesting.

Ben:  And we now live in an era where you can bank your kid's stem cells, you can bank a baby's stem cells.  And there are a variety of companies that will do this now, but I wish I had done this with my kids.  I'm going to bank their teeth stem cells.  I'm very interested still in banking my own stem cells, but, and comment in the show notes by the way if you have any ideas for me as far as a company that can do this, 'cause I've approached the Human Longevity Institute, but I haven't heard back from them.  But there's a whole bunch of companies that, if your children or your grandchildren are relatively young and you want to a bank their stem cells, this works more for when they're born, there are a number of different companies that do this, one of them is called Life Bank USA, it's about two to five grand to actually get the stem cells.  But I actually really wish that when I was much much younger, I'd have banked my stem cells, and I still want to bank my stem cells, I just, I haven't yet found a good source to do it, so I'm still looking.

And again, like if you're ahead of the curve of me on this and you have you have a resource for me, or anybody else listening in, to bank your stem cells, then let us know on the show notes over at  But if you are planning on having a child soon, or you have a relatively young child, check out Life Bank USA, and they can actually bank, your children or your grandchildren's stem cells, and I'll definitely make sure, I'll pay for my grandchildren to have it done when River and Terran have their kids, and I'll probably bank River and Terran's teeth, or bone marrow stem cells, pretty soon because we've been talking about it recently during our dinner talks.  But that's the last thing is stem cell banking.  So I'll put links to that in the show notes as well if that's something that you're interested in doing.  So those are the biggies, those are the biggies when it comes to anti-aging.

Rachel:  Tyson, you're the most forward-thinking 21 year old I've ever met, and you're an Aussie, so I like you.  But there you go.  That's how you can live to 120.

Ben:  With beautiful, baby-like skin.  So there you have it.

Rachel:  Alright!

Ben:  Well, shall we give something away before we end this show?

Rachel:  We definitely should give something away.  It's my favorite part.

Ben:  So if you want to win something, and you want to spread good karma and support this show, you can go and leave an iTunes review.  And you can do that over on of, all places, iTunes.  Just do a search for the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show, or we'll link to it in the show notes.  But if you hear your review read, then that means that you qualify to win a gear pack.  You didn't qualify, you won a gear pack.  And all you need to do is email your t-shirt size to [email protected], that's [email protected], and we will send you a cool beanie, BPA-free water bottle, and a killer tech t-shirt that you can take with you to the gym to show off your guns or whatever else you want to show off when you're at the gym.  So we get our review, it says “Education for life”, five star review by Droid kids.  Kind of a long review, but do you want to take this one away, Rachel?

Rachel:  Yes!

Ben:  Read in your most exciting Rockstar voice.

Rachel:  Aussie accent voice?  Alright.  “I considered myself a well-informed, educated, relatively healthy individual.  When I listened to a handful of these podcasts I realized I was a complete neophyte.  I have now been anointed.  I have conversations with licensed dietitians and personal trainers that have never heard of half of the current health trends that Ben is routinely covering and presenting to the listeners through a series of fascinating articles, guests, and best of all — personal experience.  Contrary to what many of the haters say, Ben isn't solely peddling products for personal gain on his show.  He has sponsors, some really good sponsors actually, and some that I care not to patronize.  You do not have to listen to the first 5 minutes of the show if you don't want to hear about items Ben uses to make a living and proliferate his cause of promoting functional, sustainable, and truly exceptional life choices.  Anybody that feels they are being sold to just by listening to his sponsors should never turn on a TV or walk into a store.  You can decide for yourself what to implement into your own routine to improve your future self.  Great show, nice guy, this will make you smarter and better.  Just listen.”

Ben:  I like how he's preaching about how you shouldn't skip the commercials.

Rachel:  (laughs) I like that he has our back.  Thanks, Ben!

Ben:  Actually, I like the guy.  I learn a ton from my own commercials, 'cause random people like, shocking your (censored), who would have known about that unless they decided to advertise on the show.

Rachel:  Right.

Ben:  So, yeah.  And watches that actually look good on me.  I'm just saying, like some of the stuff is actually pretty interesting, like even the commercials, if I don't say so myself.  Anyways though, that all being said, Rachel, thanks for coming on the show today and sharing all this stuff with me.

Rachel:  Ben, thanks for having me.

Ben:  And if you have questions, comments, feedback, et cetera, just go to where you can access the show notes for today's show, everything from Dr. Ho's Decompression Belt, to the “How To Look Good Naked” article, to my book on my daily routines, to banking your own stem cells, and much more.  Check it all out,  Over and out.



February 1, 2017 Podcast: 364: Becoming A Super-Ager, The Internet Of Food, How To Get Lots Of Stuff Done Every Day & Much More!

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar of events.

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-Nutritional Therapy Association – Go to for more information about Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications. Classes are filling quickly! Registration closes Feb 6 and classes start Feb 13.

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NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar.

January 20th-22nd: Brain Optimization Summit. 31 doctors, scientists, biohackers and nootropics professionals reveal lifestyle habits and supplements that improve mental performance. Check it out by clicking here!

March 3-5, 2017: Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, WA: Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications that teach how to use nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. I’ll be speaking at the conference! Tickets are on sale now. Go to to register and tell them I sent you if you want to get their VIP treatment.

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with John Doulliard? It was a must-listen – “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

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Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

The Best Intervals To Build VO2Max

Mark says: He loves the show. He’s an age group competitive triathlete and 3.5 months ago he got in a bike crash where he broke his collar bone, 6 ribs and significantly collapsed his lung on one side. Now in the last month or two as he is getting back into training and competing a little bit, and he’s noticed a pretty dramatic change in his Vo2 max and speed, particularly on the run, probably 15%-20% and probably 5-10% in swimming and cycling. He’d love to know the best and quickest way to get his competitive edge back and get his Vo2 max and ventilatory capacity back up to what it was before.

In my response, I recommend:
How To Look Good Naked article

How To Get Lots Of Stuff Done Every Day

Burt says: He just got to the weekly roundup and its awesome, but he’s barely scrolled down and he has a 10 million dollar question. How do you get so much work one? There’s so many projects – he sees interviews you’ve done, your own podcast, articles, working on a chapter in your new book, and traveling, how do you do it? He’d love to know, what are your secrets? He’s read and followed your stuff before, and he’s hired you as well, but he wants to be able to make it his life. Thank you very much and he loves all your stuff!

In my response, I recommend:
My book: Daily Routines: A Practical Handbook To Optimize Your Body, Mind & Spirit
My morning routine
My afternoon routine
My evening routine

Ben’s Top 5 Anti-Aging Tips

Tyson says: He’s 21 years old and from Sydney, Australia. He’s a Personal Trainer and loves health and fitness. His question is how can live to 120 years old? You probably don’t hear this from a lot of 21 years olds but he knows he wants to live past 100 and he wants to do everything possible in order to do that. So is there anything you recommend doing earlier in life that you wish you may have done to help you improve your longevity? He loves the podcast, the knowledge you share, and he shares it with all his clients. Thanks!

In my response, I recommend:
Future of Anti-Aging article
11 Ways To Age Like A Bad-Ass.
The Latest Longevity Research & 5 Anti-Aging Secrets From Five Of The Fittest Old People On The Face Of The Planet.
My Pau D’ Arco bark tea recipe
TM & Kundalini
Gratitude journaling
23andMe and 23andYou (e.g. prostate cancer, diabetes, low endogenous glutathione production)
-Less alcohol, more CBD (YouTube video link CBD for anti-aging, neuroprotective, antinflammation, cell energy, etc.)
Stem Cell banking



[Transcript] – Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction

[5:23] Dr. John Douillard

[9:00] Grains and Drains

[15:40] The Studies That Show That Humans Have Been Eating Gluten for a Very Long Time

[23:05] Did Our Ancestors Hunt or Harvest First?

[29:15] What John Means When He Says “Perhaps we simply have an inability to digest these foods” 

[29:50 & 35:40] The 2 Shocking Ingredients Added to Most Breads That are the True Culprits 

[38:53] Quick Commercial Break/HumanCharger

[40:10] Kimera Koffee

[41:42] Continuation/Amylase and Grain Consumption

[51:46] The Skin Prick Test For Gluten Intolerance

[55:54] Ways To Reboot The Lymph System

[57:35] Why John Thinks Lunch Should Be the Heaviest Meal of the Day

[1:03:23] Decoction Tea

[1:15:17] End of Podcast

Ben:  Howdy ho!  Sit back and grab yourself a nice big loaf of sourdough bread and maybe a big glass of milk for today's podcast episode because we're going to give a big middle finger to the Paleo diet, and talk about why you need to eat more bread, drink more milk.

And by the way, I'm speaking at a conference in Vancouver, Washington March 3rd through the 5th.  That's pretty close to Portland, for those of you weak on US geography.  Tickets are on sale.  You can go to to get in on that goodness, and come party, and eat, probably, I would guess lard, and pork, and kale, with me, and Nora Gedgaudas, and Natasha Campbell-McBride, and Allison Siebecker, and Terry Wahls, and apparently a whole bunch of other female speakers, and then me, the sole sausage, at the Nutritional Therapy Association conference.  So check it out,, and check out their certification at

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“The rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system, at least the digestive component of that, increases in the winter to digest hard to digest foods.  If you think of nature, we're going to get more dense foods in the winter.”  “So eating just a high protein, high fat diet for 355 days of the year, is simply not natural.”  “And all these poisons that were toxic and lethal 200 years ago, hybridized them out of our diet.  And slowly, our body use some of these very subtle toxins to trigger an immune response.”

Ben:  Hey, folks.  It's Ben Greenfield, and I know a lot of you out there are gluten-free, or you're dairy-free.  And the fact is, as shocking as this might be for you to hear, you might not have to actually be.  And there's this brand new book that I just got done reading that blew my mind on multiple pages.  It's extremely dog eared after I finished with it, and the name of the book is “Eat Wheat”.  And the subtitle of it is “A Scientific And Clinically-Proven Approach To Safely Bringing Wheat And Dairy Back Into Your Diet”, which would probably be great news for those who like things like, say, bread and ice cream.  Well, I've got my former podcast guest who actually wrote this book on the show today.  His name is Dr. John Douillard, and I always wonder if I'm pronouncing your name correctly, John.  Is it actually “do-yard”, or is it “do-we-lard”?

John:  Nope.  You got it right the first time.

Ben:  Okay.  I thought maybe I'd try to pronounce it like a typical American might, but I'm going to go with the Euro pronunciation of Douillard.  Anyways though, it's a great book, John.  I mean you go into how generations upon generations of human beings have been eating wheat, and perhaps we've only been eating meat for a relatively short few thousands of years, and we might be genetically equipped to better eat wheat than meat, and you go into a lot in the book.  I mean, we probably don't even have time on today's show to unwrap everything that you go into, but I have plenty of questions for you, and I'm sure that you've gotten plenty of questions since you wrote this book, even though I know it's relatively new.  I think at the time that you and I are recording, it just came out today.  Is that a correct?

John:  That's right.  Exactly right.

Ben:  Cool.  So if you're listening in and you want to get this book, or you want to access anything that John and I talk about as we go through my questions for him and I grill him about whether we actually can have sandwiches, you can access the show notes over at  That's  So first of all, John, welcome to the show.

John:  Thank you, Ben.  Great to be back.

Ben:  Yeah.  And by the way, for those of you who don't know what John does, he actually is one of the world's top recognized leaders in the field of Ayurvedic medicine combined with sports medicine.  In the last show that we did, we talked all about how you could like more or less biohack your breath with things like deep nasal breathing, and breath of fire, and all these techniques to enhance your sports performance.  And he has this place called Life Spa.  You're down in Boulder, right John?

John:  Exactly.  Yep.

Ben:  And he's worked with some teams in the NBA, he's got six other books, he's been on the Dr. Oz Show, and Huffington Post, and Women's World Magazine, and Yoga Journal, and I think your place in Boulder was nominated as the Holistic Wellness Center Of The Year, one of the nation's top a holistic wellness centers, right?

John:  Yeah.  Exactly right.

Ben:  Cool.  I may have to come down there, and visit you at some point, and see what you do.  I'm always looking for a good excuse to go to Boulder.  It's one of my favorite cities.  So at some point I'll make it down there, and you and I can do some deep nasal breathing and go on a run together.

John:  Yeah.  That'll be wonderful.

Ben:  So anyways, one of the first things that you say when you get in this book, John, is you say that it's not the grains that cause issues in people, but instead it is what you call the drains.  Can you go into what you mean by that?

John:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  One of the major systems of our body's circulatory systems is our lymphatic system, which is twice as big as our arterial system. It is responsible for delivering energy, baseline energy.  If the lymph system's congested, you're exhausted.  There is your immune system, and it detoxifies you.  And what the science shows is that if you don't break down wheat, or dairy, or other hard to digest proteins very well, and a big part of what we're going to talk about is why wheat is a problem and why people feel bad when they eat wheat, and I get that they do.  I'm not denying that they don't, they do.  But we got to figure out why, and fix the cause, and not just kick the ball down the road, and just keep treating the symptoms by just taking the wheat out of a diet.  There's underlying causes here that have to be addressed.

And this starts with a global breakdown of the digestive system, and will talk about how that happens probably in a minute, but in terms of the lymphatic system, is when the proteins aren't properly digested, they are too big to get into the bloodstream and the small intestine, and where they go is into the collecting ducts of your lymphatic system.  And when they congest into your lymphatic system, you have this big roadblock of gluten, undigested gluten, and casein, and toxins, and mercury, and chemicals that clog up your lymphatic system.  Now remember, your lymphatic system is trying to deliver to fats in the form of triglycerides to every cell of your body with baseline and energy.  And if that road is blocked because the lymphatic system's congested, the lymph will just get pushed out of, the fats, rather, will get pushed out of your lymphatic system into the fat around your belly.  And there's absolute good science to prove everything that I just said, suggesting that when the lymph gets congested, we get belly fat.  But that lymph system also drains the skin of your body, and it drains your brain, and your joints, and your muscles, and every cell of your body of toxic chemicals.  In fact, the lymph in your brain drain about three pounds of toxic chemicals and plaque out your brain every single year while you sleep at night.

Ben:  Holy cow.

John:  Yeah.  That's a crazy amount of toxins coming out of your brain.  And they just discovered this about three years ago.  They didn't even know that these lymphatics existed, which is cool though.  What I actually do at Life Spa is we prove ancient wisdom with modern science.  We say ancient principles of medicine, we prove it with modern science, and I write about it, do videos on it, and put it on the web.  And naturally, the main thing that we do here at Life Spa is really take this information, this really amazing ancient wisdom, and say, “Hey, guys.  There's also science that supports this ancient wisdom,” which makes me think science alone, you can prove coffee is good, coffee is bad, you can prove whatever you want.  We have a thousand years of time-tested use of these principles and you have science, I think that we should at least look at that.  And that's what the book is about, is understanding the lymphatic system from this ancient perspective with volumes of modern science.

Ben:  So if I understand this correctly, I think most of the people on the call or listening in to this show are familiar with the concept of like leaky gut and the potential for undigested proteins to cross the barrier between the gut and the bloodstream.  And it sounds to me like what you're saying is that in someone who has a compromised gut, or a leaky gut, the problem with something like gluten proteins or dairy proteins is that these are actually affecting the ability of the lymphatic system to drain, and that's what's causing all the downstream issues that people experience when they, say, consume some concentrated source of gluten, like, say, sourdough bread, or even react deleteriously to what might be a natural form of dairy like, let's say, raw goat's milk or something like that.

John:  Exactly.  When the lymph system gets congested, their skin associated lymph, when that gets congested, you're vulnerable to hives, and eczema, and skin reactions.  When the brain lymphatics gets congested, the science shows that those are directly linked to anxiety, depression, brain fog, cognitive decline, and then, get this, infection, inflammation, and autoimmune conditions.  Those are what are now known to be linked to a congested lymphatic system, particularly the lymph that drain your brain and your central nervous system, which all starts inside your intestinal tract, that's where your lymphatic system starts.  And if the lymph around your gut's congested where the lines sure that the lymph is, then all the lymphs in the body will slowly congest.

Your immune system will get stuck in traffic and you might infections anymore, you'll become tired because the triglycerides you're trying to get through your lymph and into your cells, but the roads are blocked, the body was just storing the fat for a while until road opens up, and you get fat, and you gain weight, and you store belly fat, and that becomes a problem.  If the brain can't drain three pounds of chemicals out of your brain every year while you sleep at night, you get all kinds of brain-related neurological issues.  I did a big debate with David Perlmutter, the author of “Grain Brain”, and I told him that it's not the grain brain.  In fact, it's the brain drain effect, and nobody's saying, “Hey!  Why don't we decongest the lymphatics of the brain?  Why don't we repair the intestinal skin?  Why don't we turn the digestive system back on and deal with the cause of the inability to break down gluten and other hard to digest proteins in the first place?”  Deal with that, and then we won't have to take all these foods out of our diet, which we're going to talk about, I hope, 'cause that has been shown to be actually not so innocuous.  There's some interesting science showing that taking wheat out of your diet, believe it or not, can be dangerous.  And we can talk about that.

Ben:  So, more or less, what you're saying is it's not necessarily the grains and the dairies, it is us.  It is our bodies and things that are going on in our bodies that have rendered us incapable to be able to digest those.  But what it sounds like you're arguing is that that can actually be fixed.  And once fixed, a human body does have the capability to digest some of these plant matters and some of these animal proteins that we would perhaps be encouraged by like say, let's say, the average Paleo Crossfitter with the knee-high compression socks to avoid.

John:  Right.  And when you go back to the ancient human argument, we found that humans were eating, they found food in their [0:15:44] ______, cereal grains, which is wheat and barley, in the teeth of ancient humans 3.44 million years ago.  So we know that ancient humans were eating wheat.  I mean Africa was literally covered with grasslands, covered with wheat and barley.  The studies show that ancient humans could actually gather enough wheat berries to feed them for an entire day in just two hours.  And it was a lot easier to sit in some grass, picking out wheat berries than trying to chase down a woolly mammoth, or a lion, or something.  And ancient humans, they didn't even start hunting until a couple hundred thousand years ago, or maybe 500,000 years ago, we started eating and hunting our own meat.  So 4 million years ago, we didn't hunt.  We were gatherers mostly and slowly learned how to hunt.

So like you said at the very beginning, we do really actually have more genetics for wheat than we do meat, which is interesting that the Paleo folks are throwing all the grains out of the diet.  And here's the interesting thing, the grains are hard to digest, and people have a global breakdown of the digestive system, and I want to talk about why that happened, and that's process foods, and pesticides, and we'll go into detail about that.  But when you take all of the hard to digest food out of the diet, it's very similar to what we did with the microbiome, we scrub anti-bacteria to everything.  Scrubbed everything clean, everything, killed as many bugs as we could, and now we have no diversity in our microbiome and that has become a real problem for our immunity and a lot of issues.  So you can't sterilize everything.  Well, these hard to digest grains that have the antinutrients like leptin and phytic acids, they're hard to digest components that have been shown to be immune triggers, they stimulate an immune response.

The studies show, and it's a bit hard for people to hear, but the studies show that people who actually were on a gluten-free diet had four times the amount of mercury in their blood as people who ate wheat.  People who were on a gluten-free diet had less good bugs, bacteria, and more bad bugs than people who eat wheat.  And people who were on a gluten-free diet had significantly killer T-cells, a measure for immunity, than people who actually ate wheat, suggesting that these hard to digest grains have antinutrients that trigger the immune system, which is 80% of which is inside your intestinal tract.  And for us to just say, “Oh you know, take the wheat out of the diet.  It's hard to digest. You don't feel good when you eat it, why should you eat it,” and not address the cause, “Are we doing what we did when we took cholesterol out of our diet in 1960 and they replace it with these processed fats and refined oils that extends shelf life that are directly linked that are undigestible, that are directly linked to obesity, diabetes, and depression, and a breakdown of your digestive system, and we're digging out of those epidemics today.  And now we have a $16 billion a year industry is telling us we need to eat gluten-free, and those gluten-free products are all processed, and it's the process foods from this 1960 cholesterol debacle that turned out to be completely false.  It has nothing to heart disease.  It caused all these diabetic, depression, obesity issues because of processed foods, and also the inability to digest hard to digest less likely wheat caused from the exact same thing, and our solution is a $16 billion a year industry that says, “Hey!  Eat gluten-free, a whole new processed food industry,” which is exactly what got us in this mess in the first place.  And I'm scratching my head going, “Has anybody seen the research on whole wheat and the whole grains showing how beneficial they can be?  Or have we only been hearing the one side of the argument?”  And that's really the truth.  No one's heard the other side of the science, and there is volumes of science telling a different story.

Ben:  So, John, is this kind of like this argument that like some people would say, for example, wild plants and wild plant extracts are bad for you because they produce a mild inflammatory response, but in fact, they turn out to be like mild hormetic stressors that actually make the body stronger?  Is that kind of what you're getting at when you're saying, or when you're describing the effects that trace amounts of gluten, or are sane amounts of gluten, have on the body?

John:  You're absolutely right, Ben, and is called the hygiene hypothesis.  And they took one of the examples of that, one of the best examples is Amish kids, they're Mennonite farmers, and they run barefoot in the barn, they have cows as pets, and they compared them to the Hutterite farmers who are also Mennonite, but they became modernized, and they have the highest rates of asthma on the planet, Amish have the lowest rates.  And they measured the dust in the barns of the Amish kids and they found that the dust had irritants to the respiratory tract that triggered an immune response and rendered them with the lowest level of asthma on the planet.  Suggesting that these irritants, and hard to digest irritants, which we know, leptin, phytic acids are irritants, but you also, these antinutrients that we… there's also study, after study, after study showing that there is incredible benefit.  And so they are, yes, immune stimulants, and we have been eating poisonous foods from the very, very beginning.

Potatoes have solanines, and tomatoes have tomatines and solanines, and all these poisons that were toxic and lethal 200 years ago, we hybridized them out of our diet, and slowly our body used some of these very subtle toxins to trigger an immune response. And now tomatoes and potatoes, take Russia and Italy, and that's all they eat is potatoes and tomatoes, take them out of the diet because they have a little poison in 'em, and they starve.  You know I mean?  So, yes.  We have adapted over millions of years to process hard to digest foods.  We have only one taste bud per sweet taste, which is from the first taste of mother's milk, sweet was always good.  Still is good.  We've been trying to get sweet ever since, and it's really a sugar belly issue than a wheat belly issue.  But we have 300 taste buds for bitter 'cause a bitter taste can either kill you or cure you.  And we still aren't really sure which bitters are going to kill you or cure you.  We have 300, we evolved 300 taste buds to discern that.  And those bitter tastes are the poisons that in small amounts are triggers for immune system.  And when you take them out, like the studies are showing, like in wheat, our immune system gets compromised.  So, yeah, maybe this is a little bit of dangerous road to hoe, and now with a $16 billion a year industry kind of driving it, it started to become a little scary.

Ben:  Now one of the things that you mentioned, as you were describing this scenario, was about how we were doing things like eating wheat, and barley, and rye, and how they found this stuff in the teeth of people a really long time ago, and you said that that might have happened prior to us actually hunting or eating meat.  Why is it that you see so many folks say that the very first thing that we did was we would hunt meat, and then eventually agriculture happened.  And there are entire books about this, and we developed concentrated cities around farming and agriculture, and that led to things like human disease and other issues of an agricultural lifestyle shifting out of like a hunting lifestyle.  Like how does what you're saying actually jive with that argument?  Like how can you say that what you're saying is right and that people actually didn't hunt first, they gathered first, or they gardened first?

John:  Well, there's an enzyme called amylase, which is linked to digesting wheat.  If people don't have that enzyme, they're very vulnerable to what's called “baker's asthma”, which is an allergy or asthma reaction to wheat.  And if you don't have that enzyme, you get baker's asthma.  Well that enzyme, we evolved to get, as apes, we didn't have that enzyme.  Somewhere about one to two million years ago, they think, we evolved to get this enzyme, which has to do with breaking down starch.  And that's what that enzyme does.  So the newest science is saying that, yes meat, and we didn't start basically hunting and cooking our own meat until 500,000 years ago, but we have starch for a very, very much longer period of time, and they really think now it's a combination of the starch which provided the sugar, and the meat which provided the fats that triggered, and maybe even fish would may have been the real trigger in tripling, or doubling, or tripling our brain size and making us into modern humans.  And it was a combination of the four things: [0:24:23] ______ , starches in the diet, which included cereal grains, [0:24:27] ______ know about, in some cases, up to 40% of their diet was whether you see three cereal grains, which is a lot of grain which nobody really talks about, but there is the science to back that up.

Now fast-forward to 40,000 years ago where we are now officially hunter-gatherers.  We were definitely beginning to cook and eat more meat, we were still hunter and gathering the meat, the men, if you talk to Harvard anthropologists, they'll tell you that the hunters weren't the greatest hunters in the world.  Women, and the moms, and the dads, and the grandparents, and the kids would gather, and dig, and gather grains, and the hunters would come back empty handed, and the wive's would say, “Hey, don't worry about it.  I got it all figured out.  Go wash up, and we'll take care of lunch or dinner tonight.”  And they did eat meat, but it wasn't like three times a day.  Never, ever, ever did that happen.  It was a rabbit here and a rabbit there.  They weren't the greatest hunters in the world.  A woolly mammoth that they'd eat for three or four days and then have nothing for a period of time.

When we got into the agricultural times and domesticated wheat, we also domesticated everything.  Everything we eat today has been domesticated and hybridized.  But when the hybridized wheat, which is really interesting, they wanted the brain that would get off, that we could stretch it and bang it off, that was bigger to get off the stalk, so it's easier to harvest.  So they selected wheats that were bigger.  And the bigger the wheat, the less gluten it had, and the more starch it had.  So the original domestication actually selected the wheat with much less gluten than the ancient humans were actually eating then, and much more starch.  So when people say, “They started domesticating and speed up the wheat,” we actually gave it less gluten.  And studies show that when you say ancient wheat, like a kamut wheat, and a modern wheat, one study showed that the ancient kamut had twice as much gluten and twice as many [0:26:20] ______ there which is the bad boys, they cause all the problems, supposedly, in wheat.

But in the same study, they found that people who consumed the kamut, the ancient wheat, had twice the reduction of inflammation, significantly lower blood sugar, and significantly lower cholesterol levels than people who ate the modern wheat, suggesting that, “Wait a minute, how could the grain with the most gluten have the best health benefits?”  And there's study, after study, after study that makes us think that.  In 1900, people ate 86 pounds more gluten in their diet than in 1800, 1900, than they did in 2008, 86 pounds of gluten or wheat flour per year or more in the year 1900 than they did in 2008, suggesting that we ate a whole lot more gluten, a whole lot more a hundred years ago or so than we do today.  But all of a sudden, people are saying, “It's the wheat!  It’s modern wheat, it’s [0:27:15] ______ wheat.”  And, boy, I got to tell you, there is again study, after study, after study saying that there isn't there isn't any genetic differences, and I can go study by study and can go play by play, and there's a lot of misinterpretation of the science because we're trying to prove that wheat's a poison, but there are so many studies that say that wheat has not changed in the last 200 years.  And 19 year study from the University of Saskatchewan found, in the 19 year study, they did this, and they found really no difference between ancient and modern wheat.

Ben:  When you see somebody argue that, like, okay, so you hear this a lot, “I could go to Italy, and I can eat pasta and bread all day in Italy, and my stomach feels fine.  But then when I eat pasta and bread in America, I go and I decommission the bathrooms.”  And that argument is based on this idea that the way that we grow wheat crop in America for like high commercial yield somehow concentrates the gluten and makes that gluten less digestible by the human body.  What you're saying is all of that is flawed, none of that is true, and that the gluten that we get in our diets nowadays is actually less than what people might have consumed like in the 1800, or the 1900.  And the problem is that our bodies have changed in terms of our gut and our lymph system's ability to be able to handle that gluten?

John:  Even Dr. Davis, the author of “Wheat Belly”, will tell you that, and it's true, the science is clear, that the level of gluten in the bread has not changed in the last 200, 300 years.  The gluten is the same.  It's not a gluten issue, and he agrees with that.

Ben:  So modern wheat processing is not the culprit here?

John:  It's not the gluten.  These gluten levels are the exact thing.  And I've heard Dr. Davis say that directly, he's written that, he doesn't make that argument.

Ben:  And he's the guy that wrote…

John:  Wheat Belly.  Wheat Belly.

Ben:  Yeah, Wheat Belly.

John:  Right.  So what, why do people feel, you're so right.  A lot of people go to Italy or go to Europe and they feel better.  It's what happened in 1960, when they took the cholesterol out of our diet, and they replaced our good fats with processed, refined, bleached, deodorized fat, which rendered them completely indigestible, and they put them in our bread, and they put them in our foods as processed foods, and they basically rendered us unable to digest those foods.  Studies have shown that people…

Ben:  Wait.  What did they put into them?

John:  Like oils and fats, if you look at a loaf of bread today, you're going to see cooked oils in that bread, and they stick it in there so the bread stays squishy.

Ben:  You mean like vegetable oils?

John:  That's right.  Those vegetable oils, when you cook them, they go rancid, they become indigestible.  And most of the ones that they use to start with have already been purified, bleached, and deodorized.  If you go down the aisle in your grocery store and you look at all the vegetable oils, and they're in clear plastic bottles.  You know in the old days, when they would make oils, vegetable oils, they would press them in dark rooms, put 'em in dark bottles, deliver them in the early wee hours in the morning in like little milk boxes, and this oil was so vulnerable to becoming rancid that even one photon of light would make it go bad.  So to solve that problem, they just bleached it, deodorized any kind of nutrient out of that oil, and rendered it completely and it unable to go rancid and unable for us to digest it.  And that oil will not support bacterial growth whatsoever.  The microbes which make up 90% of you will not eat that bread, that bread will stay soft on a shelf and squishy for months.  Good bread made without any oils, cooked oil, or any cooked oils in it, or ingredients like organic whole wheat, salt, water, and organic starter will go bad or get hard in a day or two.

Ben:  This is blowing my mind because I just read this book by Dr. Cate Shanahan called “Deep Nutrition”, I don't know if you've read this, it's a really good book, it's actually a republication of her initial book on the topic.  But she highlights in really great detail on that book how vegetable oils, and especially rancid and heated vegetable oils, are even a worse culprit than processed sugar when it comes to inflammation and cellular damage within the body.  And it sounds to me like what you're saying when we look at say, the difference between a nice homemade loaf of sourdough bread and a loaf of bread at the grocery store, what you're saying is it's not the fact that the gluten might be more concentrated in the bread from the grocery store, it's the addition of these vegetable oils and other preservatives that are rendering our digestive system and also our lymph system unable to actually deal with some of the more natural gluten proteins within that compound.

John:  Right, 100%.  And studies show that people who eat processed foods which have all these cooked oils which are shelf life extenders and natural preservatives, they increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is belly fat, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bad low good cholesterol, and high triglycerides by a whopping 141%.  And in the exact same study, when people ate whole foods, non-processed food, including the whole wheat and whole grains, they reduce the risk of all those components of metabolic syndrome by 38%.  Study, after study, after study will point to the processed foods. Whole grains, in study, after study, after study, reduced the risk of Alzheimer's by 53%, reduce the risk of type two diabetes.  In study, after study, after study, when you compare 'em to refined processed grains, yes, those grains have a high glycemic index and they will act more like sugar, but a whole grains lower your blood sugar in study after study.

So what we've done in this culture, we'd be taking processed foods and processed wheat, like Wonder Bread and the stuff on the grocery store, that has a litany of ingredients you've never heard of, including processed oil that can't be digested, that break down your digestion, and we say these are causing high blood sugar issues and therefore they must be related to Alzheimer's because sugar causes Alzheimer's.  We made that leap from “because something had a high glycemic index and therefore must act like sugar, and sugar it does cause Alzheimer's”, we then made the leap that says “wheat causes Alzheimer's”.  And that is simply not true.  Study after study shows that people who eat whole grains and whole wheat have a lower risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, and increased cognitive function.  They lose weight, they have less arthritis, they have less schizophrenia compared to what you have been being told.  But when you take processed foods, refined foods, then we have an issue, and that's my point.

We are taking something you've been eating in a whole form for three and a half million years and saying, “This is a terrible new poison!”  I'm going, “Well, wait a minute.  You're not measuring that.  You're measuring a processed that has nothing to do with natural and nothing to do with healthy.  And when you take those cooked oils in that form in our breads which you've been eating for three times a day for 50, 60 years, overeating that heck out of the wheat like crazy, wheat, remember, is also a seasonal grain, harvested in the fall for winter eating.  If you're living off the land, you're not eating wheat in the spring and the summer.  You wait for the fall, ancient humans didn't eat it when it was not ripe in the summer, they waited until it was ripe in the fall and then eat it from the fall.  And there's enzymes, like amylase, that increase in your body in the fall to digest wheat, and they disappear in the spring.

Ben:  I actually, I want to ask you about that in a second.  I want to get into like nature cycles and like how our body changes in season based on the enzymes that we produce.  But before we do, I want to close this loop real quick on like the bread that we get from the grocery store.  Because you hear this idea that, for example, like whole wheat bread will spike your blood sugar higher than, say, a candy bar, and it sounds to me, like again what you're saying, is that isn't because necessarily the wheat or the gluten are causing issues, but instead it's these added residual compounds, like sugars and oils, that they add into these breads.

John:  That's right.  It's the added sugars, what these oils do is they…

Ben:  Sorry to interrupt.  If I look at the nutrition label of bread that I buy at the grocery store, and here's my problem, being completely ignorant, I haven't bought bread at the grocery store in like three years, so I haven't actually looked at the label in a while, does it say sugar and vegetable oil buy it?

John:  Oh my god, yes.  They put honey, sugar, corn, I mean depending on how bad it is, but they always, almost always put in some type of preservative and some type of cooked oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, there's going to be a cooked oil in there, and that's what makes it squishy and keeps it soft for a long time.  People like that, they like soft bread.  But a real loaf of bread, like a baguette made without any oil, will get hard in a couple of days, and you can club somebody with it in two or three days.  I mean it's hard.  So we've just deviated from those really natural versions of this food.  And people also say, “Well, whole wheat isn't whole wheat anymore,” and that might be true in other countries, but in America when they say whole wheat, it actually has in it the bran, and the germ, and the endosperm in the original proportions that nature made it in.  So it is a legal term, “whole wheat”.

Ben:  So do you think when people do like better with, 'cause this is the case for me, when I go to like Spain or Italy, like I do okay with the pasta and the breads over there, and not quite so well in America.  You think it's because it has nothing to do with like the wheat processing, but instead perhaps they're not adding the same amount of sugars and vegetable oils as we add here in America?

John:  It's all the additives that we do here to mass produce it, to extend shelf life.  Those things are made homemade.  They're made usually homemade that day, ground their own wheat, they make their own bread, they make their own, I go to Italy a lot and they make their own pasta every single day.  So it's a whole grains without the processed versions.  And what happens, and this is what “Eat Wheat” is really all about, is just make this case with over 600 scientific references saying, “Maybe you should look at the science.  It doesn't say wheat is the culprit, but the digestive system, because of these processed oil, has been broken down.  And I take people and I help them troubleshoot every single aspect of their digestion so they can reboot the part that's not allowing them to have the ability to eat hard to digest foods that are causing their food intolerances or allergies, or potentially setting them up for real problems down the road because our ability to digests well is our ability to detoxify well.

And that's the other issue we have, pesticides and environmental pollutants, 400 billion pounds of these environmental pollutants dumped in the American environment every single year.  Coal mine plus produced mercury in the cloud that filter on to every single organic vegetable.  And if you can't eat wheat and you once were able, and now you have inability to digest that wheat, and I'm talking to good quality wheat, then how are you going to break down the mercury on every organic vegetable you can't wash off.  That mercury's going to go into your liver, into your fat, your brain, at it's going to cause real problems down the road.  So if you can't wheat, in a lot of ways, there's many, many grains you can choose, but if you can't digest these certain foods, then that means that our digestive system and our ability to detoxify has been compromised.  My point is let's fix that.  You can choose to eat wheat or not.  That's not the major issue.  The major issue is make sure you have a digestive system that supports healthy delivering of the nutrition and the detoxification that we desperately need to stay healthy for a long life.  Otherwise, those toxins will take us out.

Music Plays…

Ben:  Hey.  I want to interrupt this show to tell you about something that I shove into my orifices every morning.  It is called a HumanCharger.  It makes light, that light interacts with the photoreceptors in my brain, and I can use it to jumpstart my circadian rhythm, I can use it to get rid of like seasonal affective disorder when my wife wants to kill me 'cause it's gray outside and I'm low, and slow, and depressed.  I shine this light in my ears, and it's like a cup of coffee for my brain.  You have these, they're photosensitive proteins on the surface of your brain, very similar to those found in your retina, and they react in response to light to improve your mood, and increase mental alertness, and to reduce the effects of jet lag, and to increase energy levels.  It's really cool.  It's this little biohack a lot of people don't know about, but it's this tiny little thing that you just put your pocket.  I take it everywhere I go.  It's called a HumanCharger, and you can get one for 20% off.  You go to, that's, you use code BFitness to get 20% off over at  So check it out.  It's really cool and fashionable.  It just looks like you're listening to an MP3 player, really.

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Music Plays…

Ben:  Okay.  So let's touch on something else that you just touched on briefly, and that was this idea, I believe you said that our bodies produce more amylase in the winter months, or as it becomes colder, and that the bread and the wheat that we've stored away for the winter months is best digested in the fall or the winter.  Can you expound on that a little bit?

John:  Amylase, the good science of the amylase as a genetic adaptation to early humans to be able to digest starch. To this day, that amylase specifically helps us digest grains.  And it increases in the fall, or when that grain just happens to be harvested.  It's hard to ignore that science.  There's a nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system which we call the rest and digest nervous system, and the other half of that nervous system is the fight or flight nervous system.  The rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system, at least the digestive component of that, increases in the winter to digest hard to digest foods.  If you think of nature, we're going to get more dense foods in the winter.  The grains can store, the root vegetables can store, the nuts and seeds can store, the meats are heavier and more dense.  We need stronger digestion and generally eat more high protein, higher fat, sort of paleo-esque diet in the wintertime.

But come spring, the rules change.  Some of the rules change because the diet, and the harvest, and the microbes in the soil change dramatically, the microbes on the foods change dramatically, and the microbes in our gut and our microbiome also change dramatically, and we have no conception of that yet, although ancient wisdom would suggest that this is very, very important, and then science of the microbiome is saying it absolutely is.  Can I tell you a quick story about that deer study I wrote about?

Ben:  About the deer study?

John:  Yeah.

Ben:  Yeah.

John:  They did a study with deer, and they found that deer eat bark in the wintertime, and they eat leaves in the summertime.  And they have microbes in the summer for digesting leaves, they have microbes in the summer, or in the winter for digesting bark, bark digesting microbes.  And the studies showed that if the deer were to eat bark in the summer, they would have the wrong microbes.  It wouldn't be able to digest it, and it would cause such a level of indigestion it could potentially kill deer.  And I was like, “Wait a minute.  Are you kidding me?  Deer die when they eat out of season?”  One of my books earlier on was called “The Three Season Diet And Eating Seasonal Foods,” and everything.  And when I read that study which was a couple years ago, I was like, “Oh my goodness”.  How completely disconnected we are to understanding that the microbes in the soil change from season to season.  Those microbes attached to our foods, which should be organically, 'cause we spray them, you kill all those bugs, and that changes our microbiome to dissipate heat in the summer, decongest us in the spring, boost immunity and digestive strength in the winter.

And how important is that?  I was so passionate about that, I actually put out every month of the year, a free grocery list, recipe list, and seasonal food list.  For every single month of the year, it's a free eating guide that people can get, it's called “The Three Season Diet”, you can get it at my website at, and you get free lists, and grocery lists, and recipes, and superfood list for what to eat in January, February, and March, and April.  Every month you check your inbox, so you know exactly how to get reconnected to what's in season for that month, and how to eat it, and how to cook it.  It's so…

Ben:  And people can just download this from your website, and it tells you which food you should eat, or which food groups you should prioritize based on what time of season that it is?

John:  Every month we give you a recipe and a grocery list for every month of the year.

Ben:  That's really cool because like, so there's this concept, I was actually talking about this the other day with a guy named Dr. Dan Pompa who I had on my show.  We were talking about this concept of diet variation, like kind of allowing yourself to do things like cycle carbohydrates, and go in and out of ketosis, and things like that.  But still, despite that, that's more like a macronutrient shifts than it is actual food content shifts.  And it sounds to me like what you're saying is like if I'm one of those guys who has like a smoothie for breakfast every morning with the leafy vegetables, and some of the oils, and fats, and like a salad for lunch with some seeds and nuts, or perhaps some fish, and some roasted vegetables and meats for dinner, I could actually assist my health and my digestion by, instead, looking at what the season is.  Let's say summer, fall, or summer, spring, winter, fall, and instead changing the type of foods that I eat.  Maybe salad for lunch in the summer, and soup for lunch in the fall or the winter, and this would actually allow my body to better digest the foods that I'm eating?

John:  One hundred percent because we now know that there are cyclical enzymes in your body that help us digest seasonal foods that have been in evolutionarily designed for millions and millions of years.  Higher protein, higher fat diets in the winter are naturally occurring.  Lower fat, leafy greens, sprouts, berries, and cherries are naturally occurring in the spring.  Higher carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables for long days and short night naturally occurring in the summer.  So eating just a high protein, high fat diet for 365 days of the year is simply not natural.  When you think about the natural cycles of nature, you're not going to get grains in the springtime.  You're not going to get, why would you kill an animal or go hunting when in the summertime, there's fruits and vegetables on every single tree, and there's so much food that you can eat that are plant-based, why would you go kill your animal?  You want to save 'em for the winter when you need them.  So people naturally were inclined to eating more protein and fat in the winter, more leafy greens, and sprouts, and green alkaline kind of cleansing foods in the spring, and higher fruits and vegetables, energy foods in the summer.  And that's the rule, and that was my book “The Three Season Diet”.

Ben:  Yeah.  There's another book I read a long time ago, it's called “Lights Out: Sleep, Sex, and Survival” by T.S. Wiley, and she even goes into how the body, like fruit, and citrusy foods, and even some sugars become less metabolically damaging to the body when you are in the presence of things like sunlight and high amounts of vitamin D.  And it sounds to me like kind of what you're saying tends to agree with that concept, and perhaps it's also why, when I'm in a tropical location, I get cravings for things like papayas, and mangoes, and coconuts, and bananas. Whereas when I'm at home, in Spokane, Washington where I've got, in some cases, like sunlight from 10 to 2, I'm on a north facing slope in the forest, it's cold, like I barely even think about fruit when I'm in that location.  It sounds to me like some of that might be based on like inherent built-in human mechanisms for creating certain enzymes, or being able to handle certain foods at different times of the year.

John:  Yeah.  My daughter went to school in Spokane, and I get it.  First of all, there isn't any fruit in Spokane in January, February, March.  You couldn't get it if you wanted to get it a hundred years ago.  So you're absolutely right.  In addition to seasonal cycles, there's also a daily cycle.  Studies show that the digestive system, part of our circadian rhythm, that our digestive strength is stronger in the middle of the day and less strong in the evening.  And based on your point that you just mentioned, there are also studies that show that the foods in the middle of the day deliver a higher concentration of the nutritional value than they do in the morning or in the evening.  In other words, the foods are cyclically delivering the food to us when our digestive system is the strongest.  So we get the best bang for our buck when you eat foods, and historically throughout the world, everybody ate bigger meals in the middle of the day.  We can't argue with that.

And now we're finding the science and going, “Yeah, that was a really good idea.  We did it for thousands of years, and now we threw it out the window 50 years ago, and maybe we should bring that back because the circadian rhythms are telling us that's exactly when we should eat the biggest meal of the day, the middle of day when the digestive system's strong.”  And we all know it.  Yeah, but we all threw that out the window.  And we slow, we pay I think this very slow, cumulative price.  We spray our foods with stuff, there's no microbes on the food anymore, we eat it at the wrong time of the year, we eat it late at night when we can't digest it, we eat processed versions of the food sprayed with pesticides through the study, then they show that farmers who are around pesticides have zero microbes in their mouth, which is where the microbes start, that it kills the microbes, and there's microbes in your mouth, your esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine that are specifically designed to make enzymes to break down the gluten and the [0:50:22] ______ of wheat.  And if you have a lot of pesticides on your food over a long period of time, and processed foods, it's the perfect storm for not digesting meat.

And I totally get it.  Why would you eat wheat when you feel bad?  People are right.  It's true.  But calling wheat the cause of Alzheimer's, calling wheat the cause of obesity when there are studies saying it's the exact opposite, when it's the processed foods, and the sugars, and the pesticides that have really broken down our digestion so we can't deliver nutrition as well, we end up congesting the lymph.  And like I said, the studies show if the lymphs are congested, where does all the fat go?  Boom!  Into your belly, into your hips, and create all these, or into your brain, creating all these real problems.

Ben:  Wow.  Okay.  So I know we can download some of these free guides from your site, and by the way, for those of you listening in, any of these books have been mentioning or John's website, just go to the show notes at, and I'll put a link to all this stuff.  John, there are some other questions I wanted to ask you, almost like some rapid fire things based on some really interesting anecdotes that I found in your book, 'cause it's just so chock full of some things I'd never read before.  And so one of them is this, there are these tests for gluten intolerance, like the skin prick test is a very common one.  People get that, and they come back, and they say, “I'm gluten intolerant.  I should stop eating bread.”  What do you think of that test?

John:  Well, I mean I wrote in the book that there are some really interesting studies.  I think in one study, it was 50 something percent inaccurate, and another study it was 90 something, I think 93% inaccurate.  And here, people are getting these skin prick test giving a life sentence of don't eat X, Y, and Z, and the study was shown to be 93% inaccurate.  So that is the worst test you could ever get is a skin prick test…

Ben:  Why is it so inaccurate?

John:  I don't know why it's inaccurate, but it just is.  I mean the studies show that…

Ben:  How do you figure out it's inaccurate?  Like you get the skin prick test and then you do some other tests to show that it's inaccurate?

John:  They did some other tests and they found that the only thing that was really valuable was they would give people these foods that they were told they were hyperallergic to and they didn't have any issues whatsoever.  And then they would actually test them in other ways and found that there actually were no real hypersensitivity issues to those.  And I know in clinical practice, and I've doing this for over 30 years, people come in with a skin prick test or an allergic test and they say, “Hey, I'm allergic to X, Y, and Z.”  Six months later they come back and allergic to a whole new list of foods, and then another six months, a whole new list of foods.  And it keeps changing, and I'm going like, “Yes!  Because we keep changing, and the microbiome is trying to change.”  And you can't just take the foods and throw them out, you've got to fix the, like you said at the very beginning so eloquently, we got to fix the body so the body can do what it was designed to do, have a very powerful, diverse ability to digest many different types of food, easy to digest foods, hard to digest foods, and these little poisonous, so-called poisons that turn out to be cancer curing many in cases, like leptins and phytic acids, in small amounts are drivers of our immune system, which should be very, very careful when we just throw that out of our diets saying, “Ack!  That's bad.  We've been eating it for three quarter of a million years.  It can't be good…”

Ben:  I assume if you have like celiac or Crohn's, it would be a different matter?

John:  Yes.  Different matter.  Completely 100%, this is not for them.  That's 1, possibly a maximum of 3% of the population.  Totally 1% is diagnosed, maybe 3% percent of the population are lingering with undiagnosed celiac.  That segment of the population should not do it.  But like you said earlier about the sourdough bread, in other ways the bread, or sourdough, sprouted and soaked grains, spelt has significantly less of the antinutrients, rye is really easy on your blood sugar, many ways and strategies, but sourdough bread, done properly, was shown to reduce the gluten content during the fermentation process rendering the bread 100% gluten-free.  It was officially labeled gluten-free bread, and they gave that bread to people with celiac in Italy and it had no reactivity to that bread.  Now, I'm not in any way suggesting people who have celiac should eat wheat, but people who have celiac have an autoimmune condition, and autoimmune conditions are linked to lymphatic congestion of the central nervous system in the brain, and that tracks back in its arsenal skin.

So those folks for sure should look at what I write in the book, and help you troubleshoot and repair the intestinal skin, decongest your lymphatic system, and turn on your digestion, and repair you liver from all the processed oils that have congested your liver and your gallbladder for so many years.  Gallbladder surgeries are the number one surgery in America today.  People with liver issues and liver disease, it's just epidemic.  Take that organ, and one organ, the lymph and the liver have taken such a beating from the process foods and pesticides in our diet that we have to help and repair and reboot them.  And the cool thing about the human body is it heals if you do the right thing.

Ben:  Right.  So we can get rid of metals, and processed foods, and some of these things that damage the lymph and that damage the gut, and I've certainly done other podcasts about how to heal your gut, and it'd obviously be a whole different podcast for us to go full on down the road of gut healing, but you do have a few little tips that you give in the book that I wanted to ask you about.  You talk quite a bit about the lymph, for example.  And you recommend, for example, foods that help to move the lymph and that help to encourage a healthy lymph system.  What are some of the top foods that people can consume on a daily basis or throughout the day to assist with either rebooting their lymph system or getting their lymph system to a state where it can actually handle some of these things like gluten and dairy proteins?

John:  Well, in addition to regular exercise, which I talk about, I'm big believer in nasal breathing exercise, and could explain why that's important, but the…

Ben:  And jumping up and down on a trampoline, right?

John:  Yeah.  You bet.  And…

Ben:  Which I've actually been doing.

John:  Oh, nice, nice.  But in addition to that, in terms of foods, like you ask, any food that would actually make your dye on your clothes, like berries, or cherries, or blackberries, or blueberries, or cranberries, or beets, all of them have antigens and different types of antioxidants that move and work their magic through your lymphatic system.  Herbs like, red roots is a red root, again, dries your skin, usually use as a dye in Ayurvedic medicine, an herb called manjistha, powerful lymphatic movers.  All your greens and your leafy greens, your natural alkalinizers that help move your lymphatic system.  So all these things are natural lymphatic movers that work really, really well to help get that lymphatic system to move for sure.

Ben:  So basically, take a food and rub it all over your clothes, and if it dyes your clothes, it's a good sign that it might be good for your lymph system?

John:  Pretty much.  Exactly.

Ben:  But seriously, like these darker colors, like the purples, the blues, the very dark reds, a lot of those you're a fan of?

John:  Big time.  Yeah.  Anything with color has antioxidants, generally speaking.  But the berries and cherries, the ones that are actually used as dye are more potent.

Ben:  Okay. Gotcha.  Any particular time of day that's best to eat these?  I mean in terms of timing, obviously those foods contain things like fructose and sugars, like do you pay attention to macronutrient timing at all and eat those at specific times of the day?

John:  The heavier and more dense the food, the better off you're eating it in the middle of the day when you have more digestive tract.  And the lighter foods, which could be soups, or salads, or maybe a meal of fruit, Ayurvedic medicine traditionally always said to eat fruits sort of on their own, not mixed fruits with a whole bunch of other stuff.  And generally, because if you have like, if you have granola and you put a fruit on the top of the granola, the body will take the glucose in the granola and just deliver it into the bloodstream very, very quickly.  But the fructose burns very, very slow.  So the fructose is probably going to end up being stored as fat as a reserve source of energy, but the glucose in the granola, the grain will actually be delivered as energy.  So if you don't mind having a little extra storage fat, and that's why the fruits were harvested in the fall, for winter fat storing.  Bears gorge on fruits in the fall to gain a level of extra weight.  And we're so paranoid about any little extra weight in the fall, but in a lot of ways, that's what's trying to happen in our body, is gain a little insulation in the winter, and depending on where you live, you want a little more, a little less, but it's important to do that.  And fruits do that, grains to a certain extent a lipophilic side.

But in general, when you eat a whole grain, as people eat more whole grains and less whole grains, they actually lose weight.  But in the fall, if you gorge on them, which traditionally when they're harvested, that's when you would do it, these fruits and grains have a little bit of a lipophilic effect.  They're just doing what they're supposed to do.  So we have to, again, the biggest issue with our whole world is we eat this way too much food, and that also stems to our inability to digest and deliver the nutrition 'cause the brain never really feels satisfied.  It keeps saying, “Give me more food!  Give me more food!”  And we eat way, way, way too much.  And that's where we'll help you to reboot digestive strength, the ability to assimilate well, and get the lymph system to deliver those fats as energy so you're not craving and starving all day long.  Makes a huge difference in the amount of food you actually need, or require, or crave.

Ben:  Gotcha.  And you actually like lunch as the heavier meal of the day versus like having a huge breakfast, or like kind of fasting for a lot of the day and then having a big meal for dinner.

John:  I do like a bigger lunch, and I do also like fasting for at least 13 hours of your day.  A little between dinner and breakfast, you should try to give yourself 13 hours where the body is just, the kitchen is closed.

Ben:  I do that, and generally it's like a 12 to 16 hour fast where there's just no food, and not even the coffee with all the fats in it, or anything like that, for breakfast until later on in the morning.  But I generally and this is primarily I think because sometimes I have a pretty work intensive afternoon, and I find that a very heavy lunch, or making lunch the biggest, most calorically dense meal of the day can sometimes give me a little bit of sluggishness in the afternoon.  Have you found that to be the case when lunch is the heaviest meal of the day?

John:  I think that's the primary reason why we ended up eating little meals throughout the day.  I eat a big meal at lunch and I fall asleep, so I want to eat little meals all day, keep my energy up all day long, and there are some problems with that.  Number one is that you put gas in your car and your car stalls, you don't stop putting gas in your car or put $2 in every three, or four, or five, or 10 miles.  You go to the garage and say, “Hey, my car stalls when put gas in it, when I fill it up.”  So we have to reboot the ability to digest foods really, really well.  Part of that means eating whole foods that are not processed.  Remember, if those foods that are processed and they're undigested, those big proteins and those big fats go into your small intestine and they will clog your lymph, and your lymph trying to deliver baseline energy to give you a surge of energy throughout the day.  And if those lymphs are clogged, you're going to have a food coma.  It's going to hit like a rock and you're going to fall asleep.

But that tells me that there's an indigestion causing a lymphatic congestion and inability to deliver those fats as fuel.  So why don't we fix that problem instead of just saying, “Let's eat meal, snack, meal, snack, meal, snack.”  And if you eat meal, snack, meal, snack, meal, snack, your body is going to burn the meal and the snack, the meal and the snack, and as you know, we really want to help the body burn fat.  If you want the body to burn fat, you've got to give it a reason.  If you have breakfast and nothing until lunch, you'll burn fat in between.  Lunch, nothing until supper, you'll burn fat in between.  Supper, nothing 'til breakfast, you'll burn fat.  But if you have a meal and a snack, and a meal and a snack, you never give the body a reason the burn fat.  So you become addicted and conditioned to need to be fed every two to three hours like a baby.  And then when you try to go to bed and sleep for eight hours, the body goes, “Hey, I have a feeding schedule.  I need to get fed every two hours.”  So then it affects your ability to have a deep night's sleep and slowly undermining all of our circadian rhythms that have to do with getting hungry at the right time, sleeping at the right time, and living in sync with this very powerful natural rhythm.

In circadian medicine, circadian science, the cutting-edge research is saying this is going to revolutionize medicine as we know.  It'll get us reconnected to the rhythms of nature, and that's because we're understanding how the microbes are so connected to that and how disconnected we are.  That's what I love about the ancient principles.  They were like staying connected to the rhythm of nature of like is Lifestyle 101.  I mean that's like what you learn in kindergarten, historically.  And now we have to learn that as the new revolutionary part of our medical science.  It's crazy.

Ben:  Yeah.  And then you talk about certain things that you could include during the day, and I kind of noted this as I was reading your book because I thought, “Well maybe if I do some of these things, it would assist with being able to digest meals a little bit more efficiently, things like lunch, but also help with my own lymph system and digestive system.  And one thing that I've started to do, I ordered all the ingredients for this based off reading about it in your book, and I've been beginning to prepare it each day, is this decoction tea that it sounds like you drink and kind of sip throughout the day.  So can you explain to me the ingredients of your decoction tea and how that works?  Why that actually is something good for the lymph system?

John:  Well, it's good for a lot of things.  It's a combination or slippery elm, licorice, and marshmallow root, and the herbs are chopped.  You take three tablespoons…

Ben:  Slippery arm, licorice, and marshmallow root…

John:  Elm.  Slippery elm, licorice, and marshmallow root in chopped, not ground up, form.   And you soak them in two quarts of water overnight, boil it down for two quarts to half a quart, strain it through a metal strainer, and you take tablespoon dosages throughout the day to sort of coat your whole intestinal tract with this prebiotic fiber slime, like the Pepto-Bismol commercial, and coat it with this protective coating.  Our intestinal tract is so irritated and so inflamed in many cases that that creates like a protective Band-Aid to coat and let the intestinal skin repair.  It's also naturally a prebiotic.  When you look at the ancient hunter-gatherers, they had a hundred grams of fiber per day in their diet, and we get about 15 grams of fiber per day.  Fiber takes the bile that, it's like a Pac-Man in your liver, gobbling up toxins and stuff.  And that's, of course, the bile is very congested in most people today because of the process fats, but that bile's supposed to gobble up all the toxins when it goes in your intestinal tract, all that mercury, parasites, bad kind of stuff, keep your villi of your intestinal tract super happy, and your intestinal skin, really, the junctions tight so you don't have to get leaky gut.

If there's fiber in that diet, 93% of the bile, with all the toxins, will get reabsorbed back to your liver.  Now if there's toxins in your liver, and that liver's going, “My god, what's going on?”  And then the bile get reused 17 times before it finally just gets exhausted and gets depleted.  So without the fiber in the diet, a hundred grams of fiber what ancient hunter-gatherers had, that bile is taken to the toilet, forcing the liver to make brand new today's version of the bile.  And that's what we want to have.  So when you have this fiber, we're giving you this slippery elm prebiotic formula, is that it actually increases the fiber, takes the bile to the toilet, repairs, heals the gut, [1:05:20] ______ for good microbes to actually proliferate inside your intestinal tract, it repairs your intestinal skin, and it supports the fiber for the bile to get out of the body, and it also helps support really healthy lymphatic flow.

Ben:  Yeah.  It tastes really good too.  It's like kind of slimy, but it almost feels as though it coats my stomach.

John:  Well, that's what it's doing.  It's coating your stomach from top to bottom.  It's like a medicinal Band-Aid that's coating your whole intestinal tract, like for ulcers and [1:05:48] ______ and irritation, and bad microbes.  It's wonderful.  Now sometimes I will use a colonizing probiotic with that to make sure that you keep the good bugs really populating and not let any bad bug proliferate, like in situations like SIBO, where people are growing all kinds of bad bugs, the fiber can support that.  So I use a combination of colonizing probiotics and Saccharomyces yeast to kill the bad bug, and I use that to make sure we only grow good bugs in that new healthy environment.

Ben:  And why do you prepare that tea by fermenting it overnight, or by cooking it overnight, versus just making it like a normal cup of tea?

John:  You could do it that way, but it just becomes more medicinal when you get the demulcent slime out of those herbs.  Soaking overnight allows those herbs to soften.  So when you boil it down, you get more of the demulcent components, which are the slimy parts, and the slimy parts are the soluble fibers that really repair and support the intestinal skin, and that's what the bile loves to attach to.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

John:  So you get a little more of it when you cook it down.

Ben:  Okay.  So a few other little questions here that I have for you about a few of the things that you recommend for the lymph system.  You described this meal called the kitchari.  I hadn't heard of it before, but can you describe what it is and why you're such a fan of people learning to make kitchari and include that in their diet?

John:  Well years ago, they would take the split mung beans, and they would take a knife, or a hatchet, or I don't know what they would take, and they would chop the yellow mung bean and split it, and the husk would fall off, and they would separate the husk from the bean.  And they would take the rice, this is all by hand, they would take the rice and they would strip off the husk of the rice and make white rice the old fashioned way, strain grain by grain.  They would take all of these gonna dehusk split mung bean and the rice, and they would cook it into a soup with special spices, with curcumin and coriander, and fennel, and ginger.  I talk about the spices and how powerful they are for digestive reset in the book, and they cook it down, and make it into this medicinal food for convalescence, the first food they give babies, and it's so gentle in healing and repairing for the intestinal skin.  So we give that food as a food to help repair the intestinal skin as we begin to increase the soluble fiber in the gut, reboot digestive strength.  We're just doing a complete reboot for the entire digests, that what I could tell you how to do in the book, a complete overhaul for every part of your intestinal track and digestive function so you can get back to eating the foods that we were designed to eat.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  And you just eat this stuff, like you would just include it like you would include something like sauerkraut, for example, with dinner?

John:  You could do it that way.  I mean, fermented foods are a wonderful way to deliver probiotics.  I always think about those as smaller condiments.  My kids eat that once or twice a week 'cause it tastes so good.  I also have a cleanse, like a digestive reset cleanse, it's a four day cleanse in the book where you eat nothing but kitchari for four days as a real powerful reset for the intestinal skin.

Ben:  That's how you pronounce it?  Kitchari.

John:  Kitchari.  Yeah.  Kitchari.

Ben:  Cool.  Yeah.  I circled that part of the book, and it's on my, I kind of always have this list of different things to try, and I've already started incorporating your decoction tea every day and just love it.  I mean it literally just feels like it's nourishing and protective to my digestive system, so I'm very very intrigued to try this kitchari and begin [1:09:14] ______, and the main kind of active ingredient in it is these mung beans?

John:  The combination of the mung beans.  Split yellow mung beans are one of the only beans that have what they call anti-flatulence factors, which means that they're one of the only beans that don't produce gas.  So they're super easy to digest.  And out of all the beans, this is the only being that's classified that way according to Ayurvedic medicine.  And now there's science to show that it's powerfully anti-inflammatory, and powerfully anti-gas, and one of the easiest beans to digest.  Split yellow mung beans is what are the easiest ones.  You could have trouble having beans, and beans are the highest source of fiber, and we have very little fiber in our diet, let's say 50 grams of fiber per day, which is half of the hunter-gatherers had.  That's a crazy amount of vegetables, and without beans, it's very difficult to even come close to 50.  A hundred grams of fiber, Ben?  I don't even know how they did that.  But beans are actually required.  So we have to amp up our ability to digest beans again, and that also requires very strong digestive strength.

Ben:  Yeah.  Okay.  Got it.  You are obviously a big fan of sourdough bread, man after my own heart.  You talk about it quite a bit in the book, and my wife makes fantastic sourdough bread.  She makes so much of it, our sourdough bread starter is constantly overflowing and like exploding in the pantry, and she gives out bread to friends and family, and we absolutely love those big cannonball loads of sourdough bread.  But you, in the book claim that you have a source, a recipe for the best sourdough bread kind of known to man, or at least known to you.  Can you describe what it is that makes your version of sourdough bread so special?  Or did I misinterpret what you said?

John:  Yeah.  I don't think I say it's anyway the best.  There's a couple of recipes, one comes from an ancient old bakery.

Ben:  Well, you're definitely a fan of it.

John:  Yeah.  I think your wife's bread sounds great.  I think that there's, I have a recipe from France, an ancient bakery, an old bakery in France from the 1800s, an old recipe there.  And there also is a recipe from the Kripalu Yoga Center.  There's a woman there who makes the most amazing bread, and she shared her recipe with me, which is more of a modern recipe.  But there is this couple recipes, but by no means do I suggest these are like ‘the all-time be-all best’ sourdough bread recipes.  They're just good recipes.

Ben:  And what is it that you think makes these sourdough recipes so good?  Like is there…

John:  Well…

Ben:  ‘Cause we have some people listening in who like to make sourdough, so I'd just be curious like if there are some key ingredients or key methods that you really like.

John: I think it's the combination of first soaking the grain, and so it soaked first, and then leaving the fermentation, leaving it to ferment long enough, for 24 hours at least.  Some recipes, actually, it takes three days to fully make a really good sourdough bread.  So the key is to let the bread sit around and really ferment so it can really gobble up the gluten and lighten up the bread, and make it lighter and better.  That's really the key.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  And I know you have the full recipes, you have multiple recipes in the back of the book for the sourdough breads.

John:  Yeah.  There's two of them, yeah.

Ben:  I'm actually, my wife and I are going to try one of your spins just to see how it compares to hers.  I mean the book is chock full of recipes, you've got like how to eat in season, you've got tons of scientific information, we didn't even delve into as far as like references, and research, and studies to back up a lot of what you're saying about gluten and about the fact that really it's not the gluten, and in many cases, it's not the dairy proteins either, which we didn't really touch on too much in today's show, but it's very similar, it is instead our gut/lymph systems that, if we reboot and heal, we are going to be able to handle some of these proteins that we find in nature, assuming that they don't have all the sugars and the vegetable oils added to them.  So I don't think John, for those of you listening in, is in any way endorsing that you go out and buy Wonder Bread and a giant plastic jug of 2% milk from the grocery store.  But what he is saying is that the ancestral versions of some of these foods are far less of an issue than what perhaps you've been led to believe.

And I'm going to put a link to his book, I'm going to put a link to a lot of the stuff that we talked about in the show notes, some other books we mentioned like “Grain Brain”, and “Wheat Belly”, and “Deep Nutrition”, and some of the other resources, including the link to his website where you can get that free guide for how to eat in season.  Everything's going to be over in the show notes, and you can access those at that's  John, thank you so much for coming on the show, also for writing this book, and for giving your time so graciously to share the stuff with us.

John:  Ben, it was a pleasure.  Thank you for having me.  I really appreciate it.

Ben:  Awesome.  Alright.  Well folks, this is Ben Greenfield along with John Douillard from Life Spa signing out from  Have a healthy week.



Are you gluten-free or dairy-free?

If so, you might not have to be.

In his brand new book “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet“, my former podcast guest Dr. John Douillard introduces a scientific and clinically-proven approach to addressing food intolerances. He thinks that after generations upon generations of human beings eating wheat and only a relatively short few thousand years of hunting meat, we are actually genetically better equipped to eat wheat than meat.

In the book Dr. Douillard, who I first interviewed in “The Zen of “The Zone” – How To Breathe The Right Way When You're Working Out” (and who first inspired me to begin nasal rather than mouth breathing during my workouts) addresses the underlying cause of the gluten-free epidemic. He explains how a breakdown in digestion has damaged the intestinal wall and leaked undigested foods and environmental toxins into the body’s lymphatic system, causing “grain brain” symptoms and food allergies. Although eliminating wheat and dairy from your diet may help your symptoms, it is a Band-Aid solution. Backed by more than 600 scientific studies, Eat Wheat claims to address the root cause: weak digestion and the inability to efficiently break down harmful pollutants and toxins that can predispose you to a host of chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Dr. Douillard, DC, CAP, is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. He is the creator of, the leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web. is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world, with over 700 articles and videos proving ancient wisdom with modern science. Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of 6 health books, a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, and featured in Woman’s World Magazine, Huffington Post, Yoga Journal and dozens of other publications. He directs LifeSpa, the 2013 Holistic Wellness Center of the year in Boulder, CO.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Why John says it's not the “grains” but the “drains”…[9:00]

-The studies that show that humans have been eating gluten for a very long time…[15:40]

-The difference between modern grain and ancient grain processing…[25:20]

-What John means when he says “perhaps we simply have an inability to digest these foods”…[29:15]

-The two shocking ingredients added to most breads that are the true culprits to the villainous nature of these breads…[29:50 & 35:40]

-Why deer can die when they eat “out of season” and how you can “eat wheat (or dairy) in season”, especially in terms of your digestive enzymes…[43:35]

-Other surprising examples how you can eat according to nature's cycles…[44:55]

-Why the skin prick test for gluten intolerance is notoriously inaccurate…[51:35]

-Why you should eat foods that can “dye your clothes”…[56:55]

-Why John thinks lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day…[57:35]

-How John' s decoction tea works (and why you should sip hot beverages throughout the day)…[63:15]

-The strange food called “kitchari” and why John highly recommends including it in your diet…[67:00]

-John's recipe for the best sourdough bread he's ever had…[71:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet

-Previous podcast with John: The Zen of “The Zone” – How To Breathe The Right Way When You're Working Out.

-Book: Wheat Belly

-Book: Grain Brain

-Book: Deep Nutrition

-Book: Lights Out – Sleep, Sugar & Survival

The LifeSpa website where you can download free guides for how to eat “in season”




Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet

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

Are you gluten-free or dairy-free?

If so, you might not have to be.

In his brand new book “Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet“, my former podcast guest Dr. John Douillard introduces a scientific and clinically-proven approach to addressing food intolerances. He thinks that after generations upon generations of human beings eating wheat and only a relatively short few thousand years of hunting meat, we are actually genetically better equipped to eat wheat than meat.

In the book Dr. Douillard, who I first interviewed in “The Zen of “The Zone” – How To Breathe The Right Way When You're Working Out” (and who first inspired me to begin nasal rather than mouth breathing during my workouts) addresses the underlying cause of the gluten-free epidemic. He explains how a breakdown in digestion has damaged the intestinal wall and leaked undigested foods and environmental toxins into the body’s lymphatic system, causing “grain brain” symptoms and food allergies. Although eliminating wheat and dairy from your diet may help your symptoms, it is a Band-Aid solution. Backed by more than 600 scientific studies, Eat Wheat claims to address the root cause: weak digestion and the inability to efficiently break down harmful pollutants and toxins that can predispose you to a host of chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Dr. Douillard, DC, CAP, is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. He is the creator of, the leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web. is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world, with over 700 articles and videos proving ancient wisdom with modern science. Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of 6 health books, a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, and featured in Woman’s World Magazine, Huffington Post, Yoga Journal and dozens of other publications. He directs LifeSpa, the 2013 Holistic Wellness Center of the year in Boulder, CO.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Why John says it's not the “grains” but the “drains”…[9:00]

-The studies that show that humans have been eating gluten for a very long time…[15:40]

-The difference between modern grain and ancient grain processing…[25:20]

-What John means when he says “perhaps we simply have an inability to digest these foods”…[29:15]

-The two shocking ingredients added to most breads that are the true culprits to the villainous nature of these breads…[29:50 & 35:40]

-Why deer can die when they eat “out of season” and how you can “eat wheat (or dairy) in season”, especially in terms of your digestive enzymes…[43:35]

-Other surprising examples how you can eat according to nature's cycles…[44:55]

-Why the skin prick test for gluten intolerance is notoriously inaccurate…[51:35]

-Why you should eat foods that can “dye your clothes”…[56:55]

-Why John thinks lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day…[57:35]

-How John' s decoction tea works (and why you should sip hot beverages throughout the day)…[63:15]

-The strange food called “kitchari” and why John highly recommends including it in your diet…[67:00]

-John's recipe for the best sourdough bread he's ever had…[71:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet

-Previous podcast with John: The Zen of “The Zone” – How To Breathe The Right Way When You're Working Out.

-Book: Wheat Belly

-Book: Grain Brain

-Book: Deep Nutrition

-Book: Lights Out – Sleep, Sugar & Survival

The LifeSpa website where you can download free guides for how to eat “in season”

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

Episode #363 – Full Transcript

Podcast from

[0:00] Introduction

[7:27] News Flashes

[31:17] Special Announcements/PaleoValley

[33:55] Nutritional Therapy Association Conference

[35:39] Audible

[38:00] MVMT Watches

[40:03] Joov Giveaway

[41:12] Listener Q&A/New Ways To Increase HRV

[54:48] How To Be The Fittest Old Person

[1:10:31] Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude

[1:26:42] Glutamine for Vegans

[1:39:05] End of Podcast

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:  The Best Time Of Day To Exercise, How To Be The Fittest Old Person, The Top Five Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude, Glutamine For Vegans, and much more.

Ben:  Well, this is awkward.  Potentially.

Rachel:  It's been a little while.

Ben:  I think I may have forgotten how to actually have a sidekick on the podcast versus some nerd in a lab coat that I'm interviewing.

Rachel:  There you go.  And I think I've forgotten, sorry, what was your name again?

Ben:  My name is Ben.  By the way, do you think you could perhaps go out and get a degree or like a white lab coat with a pocket protector?

Rachel:  I think those days are over, my friend.

Ben:  And some thick rimmed glasses?  Just so that I can, again, feel as though I'm interviewing a scientist and not just my good old sidekick who disappeared for months.  Where'd you go anyways?

Rachel:  I went lots of places, actually.  I did a Vipassana, that I went to Peru, and that's it, really.

Ben:  Vipassana kind of sounds like something fancy you do in a bathroom.  You're talking about the 10-day meditation?

Rachel:  Yes.  10-day meditation retreat.  Silent.

Ben:  I guess I would be a Vipissima.  Sorry.  Bad joke.  You went to South America too?

Rachel:  I did, yeah.  We went to Peru for 10 days and it was fascinating.  We did San Pedro, and we stayed in Cusco for a week, we did Machu Piccu.  It was incredible.  Peru was insane.

Ben:  What do you mean you did San Pedro?

Rachel:  We did a San Pedro Ceremony.

Ben:  What is that?

Rachel:  San Pedro is, the two major plants they use down there and Ayahuasca and San Pedro.  And so San Pedro is more of like a grandfather energy and Ayahuasca is the grandmother energy, and San Pedro is more body, Ayahuasca is more mind.  So it's a full day ceremony, you go and, we took it as a powder reconstituted with water, you drink just one cup, you spend an hour and a half being sick, and then you go off into the world for a walk and ponder life's questions.

Ben:  What happened?

Rachel:  It was an insane experience to me.  I haven't experimented much with plants or drugs in general.  I had to wait 'til I was almost 30 to feel comfortable doing it, and it was a really expansive experience.

Ben:  That's 'cause you're from Australia and all you guys know is beer and Vegemite as your drugs of choice.

Rachel:  Yes, exactly.  That's all we do, is eat beer and Vegemite.  No, but it was powerful, and I am certainly not in any place to be thinking about doing Ayahuasca, but San Pedro feels like a safe experimental opening plant to use.

Ben:  What kind of sick are you talking about?  Were you like puking?

Rachel:  Yeah.  It's disgusting.  I couldn't even look at the, it's a cactus.  I couldn't even look at it.  They had it actually growing…

Ben:  You mean after you got sick, you couldn't look at it?

Rachel:  Yeah.  I mean for 48 hours, I would see it in places and I would just shrivel and look away because it was just so, like it was weird power that those things have over you.  So, yeah, it was a cactus made as a powder, but you can make it as a tea as well.  And so, yeah, I was vomiting and Jake, my partner, he, sillyly, he's a silly man sometimes, we had one cup of it and he was like, “I can't feel anything.”  He was feeling very, very sick, but nothing was happening, so he had another cup of it, and then he spent the whole journey just really ill.  Whereas I actually had a really nice experience.

Ben:  That happened to me the first time that I did mushrooms.  And again, not to make everybody think, if you're new to this podcast, that we sit around and talk mind altering drugs, but I took two grams and didn't feel anything for like an hour and a half.  So then I take another two grams.  I didn't feel anything for like an hour, so then I take another two grams and then I was just tripping on the beach.

But by the way, speaking of powders, I actually, last night, had an amazing night of sleep.  I slept nine hours.  You know I track my sleep cycles and I had massive amounts of REM sleep, and non-REM sleep, and like perfect sleep cycles, and I feel asleep in three minutes.  And I took this powder that the government actually tried to classify as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.  Earlier in 2016, the DEA tried to kind of ban this stuff from being available, but it's called Kratom.  I don't know if you've heard of it or used it…

Rachel:  I have, yes.  Yes, I have heard of it.

Ben:  I injured my back doing gymnastics training, so I was looking for a safe opiod-like painkiller that one could take because my back's kind of been bugging me when I try to sleep at night.  So this Kratom, it's related to, I believe, the coffee fruit plant, and it has a bunch of alkaloids in it that have these pretty intense painkilling effects, but it also induces euphoria, and kind of similar to marijuana, how there's like different strains, I used a strain that was appropriate for night time.  It was called a white maeng da powder, or, I'm sorry.  Not a white maeng da, that's the euphoric daytime one.  It was, I believe, called a red dragon, or a red Borneo, and this stuff comes from like Indonesia, but I just got here locally at a shop that sells like cigars, and tobacco, and stuff like that.  So I heated it up with some turmeric to increase absorption, and a little bit of ghee, and just heated it in water for about 15 minutes, and then drank it last night.  And I was like Sleeping Beauty.

Rachel:  What do they use it for?  Is it like a broad spectrum use?

Ben:  Mhmm.  Yeah.  It's used in folk medicine as a stimulant at low doses and as a sedative at high doses.  But then it's also used as a treatment for opiate addiction because it has that painkilling effect without getting you hooked on opiates 'cause it's not addictive, it can be used as a medicine for irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia.  But the thing that I noticed the most was I was incredibly happy and euphoric.  I've used it four times now, but it also, once it really kicks in, about an hour or two after using it, and I [0:07:10] ______ at about three teaspoons or so, in that tea, you just curl like a baby and fall asleep with a big smile on your face.

Rachel:  Sounds divine.

Ben:  So there you go kids, drugs!  Drugs are fun!

Rachel:  (laughs)

News Flashes:

Ben:  Rachel, I think I've forgotten how to do the news flashes.

Rachel:  Do you want some help, Ben?

Ben:  Can you remind me how this goes?

Rachel:  Well, you give us really incredible information on your social media platforms, InstagramTwitterFacebook, of all of the latest research and fun things you've found on the interwebs.

Ben:  Fun things from the interwebs?  Fun, incredible, and in this case, crazy and wacky.  So do you know what CES is?

Rachel:  I think we talked about this last year.  It's the technology conference?

Ben:  Yeah.  The Consumer Electronics Show.  It's the internet of things, really.  A lot of it.  And you get Samsung, and Sony, and LG, and Panasonic, and they all show up with their latest and greatest gadgets and devices, but, and as we do with everything, I'll link to this over at, which is the number of today's show,  There are always some interesting things that pop up when it comes to health and fitness.  And so, this was kind of an interesting article that was in the website Pocket-lint, and there were a few things that I thought were quite intriguing, perhaps for our audience, or perhaps not for our audience, because the first one that turned my head was this SmartCane.  Did you see this?

Rachel:  I did.  Yeah. (chuckles)

Ben:  It's a cane that detects any unusual situation, like whether you're going to fall over, or like lower amounts of activity, I suppose, if you had fallen and weren't able to get up, and then automatically alerts your family, or anybody else that needs to be alerted, if the cane detects that you're having issues, so to speak.  It's called a SmartCane.

Rachel:  I feel like that's very functional.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah, it's somewhat functional.

Rachel:  Here's another one that might be a little bit more relevant, speaking of sleep and taking drugs.  If you have a smart bed, you might not need to take San Pedro, or Kratom, or any of those crazy things.  This is made by Sleep Number, it's the Sleep Number 360 smart bed.  It warms your feet to help you fall asleep faster, it detects when you're snoring and adjusts the mattress to create the ideal position while you sleep to make you stop snoring, and it will adjust the hardness of the mattress as you toss and turn, so it detects whether you're tossing and turning, and also wakes you up when you're sleeping at your lightest sleep stage.  It's called the Sleep Number 360 smart bed.  What do you think?  Would you get one?

Rachel:  I would get one.  I think that would be very helpful because Jake snores and it's terrible, and I also like the idea of being woken up when my sleeping is at my lightest.  It's a very intelligent bed.

Ben:  You know, Jake needs to listen to the upcoming podcast I have on taping your mouth shut when you sleep and training yourself how to sleep through your nostrils.

Rachel:  Yeah.  I'm seconds away from doing that to him anyways.

Ben:  There's a lot of stuff, like jaw realignment therapy, and a lot of these like custom mouth devices that you can get.  But you know what?  I don't think I'd get this bed, and I'll tell you why.  There's no freaking way on the planet that it can do all that and not be just bombarding me with WiFi and Bluetooth all night long while I'm asleep.  Here's one.  The scent-powdered sleep aid, speaking of sleep.  This one's called the Oria, O-R-I-A.  It's a box that improves sleep through the power of scent.  So it's kind of like the essential oil diffuser that, I personally diffuse lavender while I'm asleep at night, and it helps tremendously.  But this one, you just like with the press of a button, it'll deliver powdered rose, peach, pear, talc, musk, if you want to smell musk while you're asleep.  There's another one.

Rachel:  That sounds lovely.

Ben:  Yeah.  So I can get into that.

Rachel:  Yeah.  Are you saving the best for last for this?  Are you saving the Selfie Mirror, the Selfie Smart Mirror for last?

Ben:  Wait.  The Selfie Smart Mirror…

Rachel:  Did you not see this one?

Ben:  Oh, yeah. Yeah.  The mirror that helps you beautify yourself or snap the perfect selfie.  You can…

Rachel:  It does, and it allows you to scroll through different real-world scenes to simulate what your face will look like in those different locations before you even leave the house.

Ben:  Oh, no.  Oh, gosh.  Yeah.

Rachel:  Can you even imagine?

Ben:  You know, what I like better is that idea of the 360 degree mirror that calculates your body fat and your body shape as your body changes while you're working out.  We did a story on that a few weeks ago, and I think that's far more, I think that one's made by Withings.

Rachel:  Right.  It is.

Ben:  I find that a little bit more intriguing than the selfie-friendly mirror.

Rachel:  Well this is, I mean it's a hilarious idea.  Who has time doing that?

Ben:  Here's one more that I thought was interesting and relevant, Smart trainers.  So there's this company called Digitsole, and they've made trainers, a.k.a. shoes, that have adaptive cushioning to take care of the force from a hard run.  So it'll adjust the cushioning as you run.  And then they even have a women's high heel shoe version with a smart phone operated telescopic heel so you could increase your height with the click of a button.

Rachel:  That's hilarious as well. Man, it's like…

Ben:  And that could be good, because I've interviewed Katy Bowman before about the dangers of high heels.  They make your ass look good in shoes, but they also completely deactivate your gluts, and so they kind of screw your hip flexors at the same time.  But what if you could have the shoes and you could keep yourself in a state of proper biomechanical form, and then when you step out of your limo, with a press of a button, you could all of a sudden go into high heel mode.

Rachel:  I feel like women do that right now anyway.  They just keep flats in their bag, but this is a very technologically friendlyway to do it.  It's awesome.

Ben:  Yeah.  So if you want to explore of these crazy and wacky gadgets of CES 2017, we'll link to them in the show notes.  But let's go ahead and delve into stuff that's a little bit more nitty gritty when it comes to physical fitness, and exercise, and the things we talk about on this show.

A new study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that looked into the effect of time of day of exercise on a whole bunch of different biochemical markers that happen in response to physical exercise.  So this is kind of an article that delves into circadian rhythmicity.  What that means is that you'll have different chemicals produced at different times of day that can make exercising at certain times of day either better or worse for you, and it looked into what’s called diurnal variation, so like how inflammatory markers and how things like the markers responsible for protein synthesis after exercise, how these kind of all fluctuate throughout the day and how it should influence when you choose to exercise.

Rachel:  Does it fluctuate based, is it an individual thing or is it everybody's fluctuates at the same time?

Ben:  So everything fluctuates in a rhythm, but that rhythm is going to be shifted forward or shifted backwards based on what's called your chronobiology.  When I interviewed Dr. Michael Breus who wrote the book “The Power of When”, which would be a good podcast episode for folks to listen into if you're interested in this kind of thing, he goes into the fact that we have, like I'm a lion and then other people are bears, and you have dolphins, and nighttime people who are wolves.  And so everybody's going to have this variation in terms of when hormones peak and when inflammatory markers peak, it's just that I might be, my cycle might be 5 AM 'til 9 PM, and another person's cycle might be 7 PM to an 11, or a 7 AM to an 11 PM.  But everybody's fluctuates.  You want some of the biggest takeaways that I've learned from exercise and sleep?

Rachel: Yes, please.

Ben:  So first of all, exercise helps you sleep.  No big surprises there, right?  But I'll talk in a little bit about when you should exercise.

Rachel:  Right.

Ben:  So exercise is very, very similar to bright light in terms of its ability, very similar to blasting yourself with sunlight, or using like my little crazy biohacky gadgets like the ear phototherapy or the eye phototherapy that I use during the winter, and I've talked about on the show before, exercise has the ability to induce what's called circadian phase shifting, and it looks like it's just as potent as bright light.  So even if you can't get out in the sun, even if you can do a hard exercise session to send your body the message that it is daytime, it can be helpful.  So there's that…

Rachel:  When is the best time to do that?

Ben:  I will tell you.  I'm getting there.  Okay.  So first of all, it is crucial that you avoid extremely vigorous, or hard, voluminous/draining exercise early in the morning.  They've been shown that that causes sleep restriction and sleep disturbances later on in the day.  Very interesting.  Or later on in the evening.  So what that means is that if you're doing your Crossfit WOD in the morning, it's going to affect your sleep deleteriously in the evening.

Now what they have found is that the best time of day to do your hard exercise session is between the hours of 1400 and 1800, that's for those of you who don't speak military speak, that's 2 and 6 PM.  So between 2 and 6 PM, exercise sessions of anywhere from up to, or 80 minutes up to 150 minutes, which seems kind of long, by the time you warm up, cool down, do a hard workout, et cetera, that's been shown to vastly improve sleep marker.  So a hard, long workout sometime between 2 and 6 PM appears to be the sweet spot if you are going to do something hard.  And ideally you should finish that up within three to four hours prior to bedtime.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  So don't start the workout right at 6 if you're going to do one of those hard voluminous workouts.  You should start closer to like 4 or 5.  It kind of depends on when you're going to plan to go to sleep, but time it so that you're finished up about three to four hours prior to bedtime.  And so you do the easy exercise in the morning, the harder stuff later on in the day.  And by the way, in terms of the easy exercise in the morning, I'm not just saying it.  They actually have found that about 30 minutes of kind of like easier aerobic exercise in the morning seems to be very beneficial for sleep later on in the day, whereas that afternoon exercise finished up three to four hours prior to bedtime, and a little bit more intense and exhausting, helps to positively affect sleep later on.

Rachel:  And every day, is it suggested every day?

Ben:  Well, that gets into like, you could lift weights one day, you could do high intensity exercise one day.  You want to make sure you periodize and not just blast your body with the same exercise routine every day.

Rachel:  Over and over again, yeah.

Ben:  But ultimately, yes.  You'd have some kind of movement, easy movement in the morning every day, harder movement in the afternoon or the evening just about every day.  I like to throw in one recovery day as well, just one full recovery day.  But a few other things that they found was that if you are sleepy because you didn't get enough sleep, then exercise sessions help to alleviate the sleepiness, and that is most pronounced when you do exercise that is of a long aerobic duration.  So that means if you're extremely sleepy and you had a crappy night of sleep, kind of the best exercise session to choose would actually be going on like a long bike ride, or a long hike, or something like that, it appears that that can help the most in terms of sleep deprivation.  And the other thing that they found for sleep deprivation is just the opposite.  If you do short bouts, like 10 minutes of exercise frequently throughout the day on a sleep deprived day, it appears to help with alertness and help to alleviate some of the effects of sleepiness.  So if you're poor on sleep, your two options are kind of like brief 10 minute sessions spread throughout the day, or just like one big long, kind of easy session.

Rachel:  And is there a time for that one big long easy session?

Ben:  That one, it doesn't look like they, actually, no.  They did study it.  So for that one, that would be at some point while the sun is shining, so at some point in the daytime. So, yeah.

Rachel:  Very cool.

Ben:  So a lot of really interesting takeaways.  I'll link to the study, but I find this kind of stuff fascinating, how our bodies respond to diurnal variations, or circadian rhythm variations, when it comes to when and how we choose to exercise.  Speaking of timing of exercise, there was another study that came out that kind of defied a lot of what we've been taught about post-workout nutrition.  So Rachel, I know you're really into heading to the gym with…

Rachel:  Building my guns.

Ben:  With your protein mixer shake to build your guns.

Rachel:  Yes.

Ben:  Yeah.  Your preacher curls.

Rachel:  Love it.

Ben:  Do you do a lot of preacher curls, by the way?

Rachel:  No.  But you know what?  We're making a big joke about this, but I actually started going to CrossFit.

Ben:  Really?

Rachel:  Yeah.  Once a week.

Ben:  What'd you think?

Rachel:  I love it.  Oh, my god!  I'm one of those CrossFit people now.

Ben:  Did you do the initial test that's like the 500 meter row, and then 50, whatever.

Rachel:  Yes.  I did.  I had to do all that stuff.

Ben:  It's like 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, something like that?

Rachel:  Yeah.  I had to do all that stuff, but I don't remember it, and I'm not getting involved in the competitive nature of it.

Ben:  Oh.  So you don't…

Rachel:  I'm just going.  No.  I'm just going to go and I'm just going to enjoy it.

Ben:  You will.  Just you wait.  Soon you'll have the knee-high compression socks.

Rachel:  Oh no.

Ben:  And you'll be headed down to California…

Rachel:  It's addictive.  I see why it's addictive.  It's pretty awesome.

Ben:  For the CrossFit games.  You mark my words, we'll all see Rachel at the CrossFit games snatching and running around the track with her abs popping.  This study actually looked at muscle strength, and hypertrophy, muscle growth, and body composition, and fat loss changes in response to protein intake.  And we've all been taught to suck down our whey protein shake within that magical post-workout window if we want size and if we want gains, but what this study found was that a resistance training protocol in which people were doing three times a week, working out for 10 weeks, and then they measured pre and post-workout protein consumption.  What they found was that it doesn't freaking matter whether you go into a workout having had some protein prior to the workout, or whether you take protein after the workout.  Pre or post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on skeletal muscle adaptations.

It turns out that all that really matters is that at some point before or after the workout you get protein into your system, and it appears that the most important thing to look into if you're trying to build strength, or if you're trying to build size, or if you're trying to recover adequately is that you simply have periods of time during the day in which you're consuming 20 to 30 grams of protein kind of throughout the day.  And if you do that, you'll maintain blood levels of amino acids that make it, so it doesn't matter if you have pre-exercise or post-exercise protein ingestion.  There is absolutely no evidence that you have that magical anabolic window of opportunity where you have to like rush out from your weight training session to suck down your protein shake.  All you have to do is just get protein in throughout the day and you're going to be good to go.

Rachel:  That's awesome.  That makes it a lot easier.

Ben:  Oh, so much easier for all those people that carry the little plastic cup.

Rachel:  Right.  Little bottles.

Ben:  You know, with the springy thing, that annoying little springy thing that gets the protein that clumps on it?

Rachel:  They do the shake.  Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.  Yup.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  No more need to do that, or at least now you can do it in the comfort of your own home before you go to the gym.  And then kind of related to that, when it comes to post-workout recovery, here's a really cool little hack based on a recent study entitled “Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before activity augments collagen synthesis”.  So this one was kind of interesting.  Collagen, or gelatin, literally what you'd find in Jell-O, or also in things like bone marrow, and bone broth, and a lot of these kind of like the ancestral pieces of the animals that we might eat, we know that it can help with recovery from exercise, particularly because of the high amounts of amino acids like glycine and proline that's in it.

But what this study found was that you can kind of like a biohack your gelatin if you take vitamin C at the same time.  They found an incredibly significant increase in collagen content and in collagen synthesis when people took about 15 grams of gelatin, but then combined it with vitamin C.  And in this case, they used about 200 to 300 milligrams of vitamin C, which is not that much.  It's actually not even enough to, so you know how there's this talk out there about how antioxidants could potentially impair your adaptation to exercise.  The idea is that if you dump a bunch of vitamin C, and vitamin E, and glutathione, and all these other antioxidants into your body, it can blunt your body's own endogenous antioxidant production.  It can blunt the hormetic response to exercise.

Rachel:  Okay.  Yeah.

Ben:  We've talked about that before on the show.  Well, 200 to 300 milligrams of vitamin C isn't even close enough to achieve that, but it is enough to make the collagen that you consume far more available.  So you could even do something like get like a nice powdered vitamin C, for example, one company I've talked about before, it's American Nutraceuticals, they make a nice like vitamin C powder that you can like just like get off of Amazon, and you could put about 200 to 300 milligrams of vitamin C, even into bone broth.  Or you could like buy some gelatin, like some Great Lakes Gelatin, or Bernard Jensen is another company that makes gelatin, and you can basically mix that, mix about 15 grams of that with vitamin C and just drink that in a glass of water before you work out, or at any other time that you want to increase collagen synthesis.

The American Nutraceuticals Vitamin C, the cool thing about that is one scoop of that is about 200 milligrams.  So I'll link to that in the show notes.  I'm writing a note to myself right now that I recommend the American Nutraceuticals Vitamin C.  That's the one that's in my cupboard.  And again, don't take too much because it can blunt that hormetic response to exercise.

Rachel:  And collagen synthesis is good for a lot of other things outside of recovery, right?

Ben:  Beauty, hair, skin, nails.  It's like natural botox.  Just eat your Jell-O and your vitamin C. So last one that I wanted to touch on, this is really interesting, this article called “What Causes Heart Disease?”  And it's over on a really good web site of this Scottish physician, Scottish, that means he eats haggis, Malcolm Kendrick.  That's even a very Scottish name, isn't it?

Rachel:  It is.  Yeah.

Ben:  Malcolm Kendrick.  Malcolm Kendrick.  Anyways though, so what he goes into in this article is that, of course, there is this current dogma that saturated fat in the diet raises cholesterol levels and leads to heart disease, and he goes into how that has all been disproven.  What I mean by that is that there was this study called the Minnesota Coronary Experiment in which they substituted saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, and the diet that was substituted with saturated fat was actually more effective at lowering cholesterol levels and had absolutely no effect on deaths for heart disease, and it involved, 9,000, more than 9,000 women and men across a wide variety of age ranges, 20 to 97 years old.  So the low saturated fat group did indeed have a significant reduction in their cholesterol, but there was absolutely no evidence of benefit for things like reducing coronary atherosclerosis, or what are called myocardial infarcts.

As a matter of fact, for every about 0.78 millimolar per liter reduction in cholesterol, so that's about a 20% reduction in cholesterol, there is a 22% higher risk of death.  Meaning that as you lower your cholesterol, your risk of death increases.  Does not decrease.  This is the largest controlled trial that was there was ever done of its kind, substituting saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat and seeing what happened.  It was not published or talked about when the dietary recommendations actually came out, and so it was completely ignored, this huge study that completely disproved that the diet heart cholesterol hypothesis.  He gets into this, go ahead.

Rachel:  It ran from 1968 to 1973, and it said the guidelines, hearings for the guidelines took place in 1977, which is four years later.  Did they actually suppress this study?

Ben:  This study was suppressed.  I just interviewed Nina Teicholz, the author of the book The Big Fat, I think it's called “The Big Fat Lie”, something like that, I should know, I just interviewed her a few days ago.  I'll release that soon, and we take a deep dive into why some of the stuff was suppressed, some of the studies were suppressed.  But more interestingly to me, in this article by this Scottish guy, what he says is if you're going to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, you must do at least one of three things.

Number one, protect the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.  Number two, reduce the risk of blood clots forming, especially over areas that might have endothelial damage in your vessels.  And number three, reduce the size and the tenacity, which is also called the difficulty of being broken down, of blood clots that can develop.  And he says if you can do all three of those things, you'll reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack or a stroke to virtually zero.  Protect the endothelium, reduce the risk of blood clots forming, and reduce the size and tenacity of blood clots that develop.  So he says the number one agent that can pull this off is nitric oxide.  He says anything that stimulates nitric oxide synthesis will be protective against cardiovascular disease.

Rachel:  Wow.

Ben:  Now, Rachel, drum roll please.  Perhaps this is asking you to cheat since I think you've read this article, but do you know the number one way to stimulate nitric oxide synthesis?  And it doesn't involve buying a $60 canister of the red nitric oxide jar from GNC.

Rachel:  No.  I'm going to say, no.  I don't know.

Ben:  Okay.  Sunlight.

Rachel:  What?

Ben:  Sunlight on the skin directly stimulates nitric oxide synthesis, and that's been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve arterial elasticity, and give you a whole host of beneficial things for your cardiovascular system, and reduce blood clot formation, and create vitamin D, which causes your own endothelial cells to produce their own nitric oxide, and so there's kind of a double benefit there.  Now there are other things that you can do.  I mean, infrared sauna, and consuming arugula and beets, and I suppose you could take viagra in a pinch.  But anything that massively produces nitric oxide, most importantly, sunshine on your skin.

Rachel:  And it's absolutely free as well.

Ben:  Well, kind of.  It depends.

Rachel:  Where you live?

Ben:  Yeah.  It depends on where you live.  Like for me, right now this time of year, I have to go on like a 10 minute hike to actually get out of the trench in the forest that I live in to see sunshine.  But of course, that's why I do things, like the infrared sauna, and exercise, and other things to help to stimulate nitric oxide production.  But a very interesting article, very interesting take, and this guy even has a book, it's called “Doctoring Data” by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick.  Check out his website, and we'll link to it in the show notes over at

Special Announcements:

Ben:  So this is the part of the show where we tell you about cool stuff that we've discovered that go above and beyond just nerdy studies.  First of all, Rachel, you're probably not even interested in this, so you could probably go take a pee while I tell folks about this but it’s… because, Newsflash, Rachel is vegetarian.

Rachel:  It's true.

Ben:  You're still vegetarian, right?

Rachel:  Do you know what?  I'm actually dabbling in fish now.

Ben:  Oh, drum roll please.

Rachel:  Oh my god.

Ben:  Aww.  Cute little fish?  You're eating them?

Rachel:  I know.  No, I am.  I'm thinking about pescatarian.

Ben:  Aww, those cute little…

Rachel:  I'm moving over to the Dark Side.

Ben:  Oh my gosh.  Killing fish.  Anyways, this company called PaleoValley, so I found these fermented beef sticks.  So when you ferment beef, it actually concentrates the probiotics in beef.  That's why a lot of like our ancestors would've like buried the meat.  Or another thing a lot of hunters will do is like they'll, and I have one of these in my garage, a humidity and temperature controlled fridge where I can ferment, or what's also known as dry age, the meat that I eat, but it yields one billion naturally occurring probiotics, which of course cultivate gut health when you ferment beef.  And it also allows you to avoid the use of any artificial preservatives.

And what I mean by is most beef jerky use a citric acid, or lactic acid, and often get this from GMO corn coated in hydrogenated oil to get their beef sticks to actually last in your pantry.  But you can also just ferment the beef, and so this company PaleoValley, they use completely organic cows, so you've got a really high level of omega-3 fatty acids, 'cause that's one of the primary differences between like grain-fed cows, and what are called grass-fed and grass-finished cows, meaning these cows, it's not like they’re grass-fed their whole lives and they get grains for the last six months before they kill 'em off, these are grass-fed and grass-finished cows.

And so this company makes this jerky that is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, and it's fermented, and it has some really good flavors.  I like the garlic summer sausage flavor myself, but they've got like jalapeno, and original, and, if Rachel, if you ever decide you're going to go above and beyond fish, this would be a good place to start.  They're called PaleoValley.  Here is how you get a discount on 'em: go to and use code BEN10 to get 10% off.  We'll put that in the show notes too, but  You have to try these beef sticks.  They are amazing.

Also, I am headed down your way, Rachel.  I'm headed in the direction of Vancouver, Washington, very close to Portland, Oregon, right across the border.

Rachel:  I hope you're going to come and visit me.

Ben:  Well, no.  You'll have to come visit me at the NTA Conference.  I'm speaking at this Nutritional Therapy Association Conference, and this is a company that gives like nutritional therapy practitioner and consultant certifications.  I mean if you want to be a nutritionist, these are the folks to go through 'cause they have this really bio-individual ancestral approach to healing the body or nourishing the body with really nutrient-dense whole food.  So it's a very unique way to get a nutrition certification.  You're not going to learn about the USDA Food Pyramid from these folks.  This is like the frickin' like bone broth, kale nutrition certification.  So not only do they offer certifications, but then they also have this conference, and I'm going to be speaking at.  It goes March 3rd through the 5th, and so we'll put links in the show notes for you to register, but also if you just want to get the certification, you go to  And a whole bunch of folks you may have heard of before are going to be speaking at the conference, Natasha Campbell McBride, Nora Gedgaudas, Allison Siebecker, who is kind of like the world's leading authority on small intestine bacterial overgrowth, pleasant thought.

Rachel:  Sounds fascinating.

Ben:  Terry Wahls.  As a matter of fact, I think all the speakers are female expect except me.

Rachel:  Oh, I love that.  I am definitely going.

Ben:  Yeah.  So there you go.  Yeah.  So check that out.  We'll link to that one in the show, or you could go to

I was talking about vegetable oils earlier, and I've talked a few times already about a new book that I just read.  It's kind of a redo of a book that I read a long time ago in 2008, but in 2016, the whole book just got rewritten.  So it looks at diets that are around the world to help people live longer and healthier lives, and this book delves into four different nutrition habits that have been shown to do things like produce symmetry, like make strong, and not just strong, but beautiful and intelligent children, and to cause like elders to live a really long time.  The four things it goes into are fresh food, fermented and sprouted foods, meats that have been cooked specifically on the bone, and organ meats, what they call The Human Diet.

It's a fascinating book, it also goes into how sugar isn't as big of a deal in our diets when it comes to health as vegetable oils are, in terms of being extremely destructive, which kind of harkens back to that saturated versus polyunsaturated fat article I was just talking about earlier.  But this book is called “Deep Nutrition”, “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food”.  One of the best diet books that I think I've ever read.  You shouldn't read it, Rachel, because you'll probably want to start eating meat off the bone if you do.  I'm just saying.  I mean you're a Crossfitter now.

Rachel:  I know.

Ben:  You don't run into many…

Rachel:  Oh, they gave me a big nutritional talk about eating meat as well.

Ben: Yeah.  You don't run into many live vegetarian Crossfitters.  You gotta eat meat if you're going to snatch.  Everybody knows that.  That should be a meme.

Rachel:  So you didn't read the book, you listened to it.

Ben:  Yes, and it is over it Audible, and everybody who is listening to this show, you can get this book for free, 30-day trial.  You go to, and that lets you download the [0:37:25] ______ for free, and start listening, and it will allow you to like have Whispersync, which lets you switch back and forth between reading and listening on Kindle, you can share audio excerpts from your favorite listens with anyone, you can listen fast if you want to listen to it really fast, or you can listen to it slow.  But anyways,, and that's the book I'd recommend you check out.  Honestly.  It's on Audible, it's got a high, high rating as well.  So check that one out, “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food”.

And then finally this podcast is brought to you by something that is on my wrist right now, the Denali.  Have you seen the Denali?

Rachel:  I haven't seen the Denali.

Ben:  Okay.  So the Denali is a watch and it's made by this super cool company called MVMT Watches.  It's called a sport series watch, and it is this beautiful, beautiful watch, it's got like black and rose gold hands, the case is made out of stainless steel, it's got like this flexible, kind of steely type of band that moves as you go on it.  Anyways, but it looks good.  It looks like a frickin' $500 watch, and these watches run anywhere from 100 to a 150 bucks.  They've got some that are just 95 bucks.  So beautiful watches, like they cut out the middleman to give you a really good price, but then they have like for men and women, these minimalist styles, quality construction.

Rachel:  Wow!  They're incredible.

Ben:  Did you go to their website?

Rachel:  Yes!  Oh my god, there's a gunmetal gray one there.  That looks awesome.

Ben:  I have a white one too with a leather strap.  It's amazing.  I put that on when I wear my white pants a lot…

Rachel:  I love a good watch.

Ben:  And my adjustable high heels.  Anyways though, so this company, they're providing all of our listeners with a discount.  You get a 15% discount when you go to  That's, and you can step up your watch game.  So there you have it.

Rachel:  Beautiful.

Ben:  Yes.  And I believe those are the majority of our news flashes.  There's probably one other thing we should mention, or a couple of other things we should mention.  We'll put these in the show notes, but I'm teaching at the Brain Optimization Summit, January 20th through the 22nd, and that's an online summit in which a whole bunch of biohackers, and nootropic professionals, and scientists reveal things that specifically improve mental performance.  So we'll put a link to that one in the show notes over a  And then I think, what else?

Rachel:  And finally, we are giving away a Joov light if you go to, there's three days left to enter, and there are multiple ways to enter to increase your chances of winning.

Ben:  So Joov Light, real quick, what that is, for those of you who are curious, is the Joov light is the light that I shine on my balls for about 5 to 20 minutes.

Rachel:  Right on the knackers.

Ben:  And it can be used in both men and women for vascularity, and for increasing libido, et cetera, but it can also be used to do things like induce nitric oxide production and to basically give you a lot of the benefits that you get from something like infrared therapy.  So it's called the Joov Light, I'll flip mine on right now.  See?  Flipping it on, pulling my pants down, naked, shining red light on my balls.  But it works.  Seriously.  Within five minutes, I'm going to be so fertile.  My sperm will be coming through the, this is getting gross.  We should probably move on to…

Rachel:  Moving on.

Ben:  Moving on.

Listener Q&A:

Joe:  Hi, it's Joe Deduro calling from Phoenix.  I'm just wondering if you could explain how to train your heart rate variability with mental exercises or breathing exercises for your Fitbit HRV program.  How can we train our HRV, much less monitor it?  Thanks a bunch.

Ben:  Heart rate variability.  We've talked about it a lot before on the show.  Do you measure heart rate variability, by the way?

Rachel:  I went through a phase of doing it, but honestly I know we have talked about it a lot of on the show, but I still don't really get it.

Ben:  Very, very simple.  It's the variation and the time interval between your heartbeats.

Rachel:  I get that part.  I don't get the training it and the, like understanding all the different metrics and all that sort of stuff.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, we've got some podcasts on it, so I'm not going to kick the horse to death when it comes like beginner HRV, but the idea is that you measure the variation in the beat to be intervals.  So not your heart rate per minute, but the amount of time in between each heartbeat, and that reflects a whole bunch of different physiological factors that modulate the normal rhythm of the heart.  So it allows you to look at the interplay between your sympathetic, or your fight and flight, and your parasympathetic, or your rest and digest, branches of your nervous systems.

So what they've shown is that this can do everything from help to predict impending cardiac disease, to help to predict like overtraining, injury, help you to know if something you did the day before affected your nervous system, help you to know whether you're ready, Rachel, for another Crossfit WOD, just tells you a lot about your readiness to train.  ‘Cause your heartbeat varies from beat to beat, and that's your heart rate variability.  And counterintuitively, you would think that the higher your heart rate variability, the healthier you are, but sometimes that's not necessarily the case.

You want some amount of variability, but that variability means that the time in between one heartbeat might be .93 seconds, and then the next one might be .98 seconds, and then 1.3 seconds, and then .95 seconds.  So it's kind of like little, tiny responses, or little, tiny variations in between each heartbeat as you go through it.  Now there are certain ways that we can increase, HRV, and some of them, we've talked about before, just getting good sleep, and properly programming or training so you're not overtraining, et cetera.  But then there are some other things that you can do that we haven't talked about on the show before, like new ways that you could increase your HRV.  And I'll get into those in just a second, but before I do, I want to throw a caveat in here, because you having your HRV high isn't necessarily always good.

Rachel:  See, this is where it gets confusing for me.

Ben:  Okay.  So I'll…

Rachel:  So break it down for me, Ben.  C'mon.  Layman me.

Ben:  I'll break this down.  So we found that acute decreases in heart rate variability can occur following intense bouts of endurance training, intense bouts of resistance training, and intense bouts of competition.  And so low HRV is commonly thought to provide a reflection of acute fatigue from training, or from competing, and sure enough, we see decreased HRV, especially in athletes before competition due to heightened levels of excitement, or heightened levels of anxiety, or training really hard going into the competition.  But that doesn't necessarily forecast that there is going to be a reduction in performance, and in some cases, we'll see athletes who are kind of nervous going into a race, or excited, and aren't necessarily overtrained actually having improved performance with a low heart rate variability.

In some cases, you can purposefully train yourself, and train really, really hard, get your HRV kind of low, and then throw in a few recovery days, and you super compensate, you bounce back even stronger than you were before.  So sometimes, you actually want to train yourself into a state of low heart rate variability to induce this hormetic response in which you bounce back even stronger than ever.

And then in other cases, you should know that, and this is, for example, a study that they did in tennis players, and they also did another study on soccer players, and they found that these folks leading into their competition had a low HRV on the day of the competition, but it was due to excitement and nervousness, not necessarily overtraining.  And sure, you can improve that with things like meditation, and mindfulness, and visualization, and things along those lines, but it doesn't necessarily mean your performance is going to go to crap or you shouldn't workout at all if the HRV is low.  Sometimes it just means that you are excited, you're anxious, and you can acutely fix that with something as simple as meditation, or a nap, or visualization, or something like that.  You don't have to like say, “Okay, I'm going to go take two days off and I'm not going to compete.”

Rachel:  But is it true that a consistently low HRV is bad?

Ben:  Consistently low for a long period of time, yes.  That's unfavorable, and typically if it's staying low for about three to five days in a row, there is going to be some type of injury or illness that follows.

Rachel:  Interesting.

Ben:  But at the same time, having it always high, extremely high, if you are an endurance athlete in particular, can be concerning.  So what they've found in research on endurance athletes is that in many cases, if you are an endurance athlete doing a lot of training of the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning long aerobic exercise, which tends to have a stimulatory effect on parasympathetic modulation, that's going to increase HRV.  But that increased HRV is essentially due to a parasympathetic nervous system that's being constantly stimulated with very little bouts of high intensity interval training and very little bouts of high intensity training.

So what this means is that if you're not doing strength training, and you're not doing intense interval training, and you're an aerobic athlete like a marathoner, or a cyclist, or a swimmer, or a triathlete, and your heart rate variability is always high, but you're feeling kind of beat up and you can't figure it out, you're like, “My HRV is high, but I am still struggling with my training sessions.”  It could be because you're simply doing way too damn much parasympathetic nervous system work.  And in those type of cases, HRV stays high, and it's not a good thing.

Rachel:  And you would be able to notice that in your, is it LF and, what's the other one?

Ben:  Aye. Wow.  Nice.  You've been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.  If you use, so I developed an app for measuring heart rate variability, it's called NatureBeat.  You can find it if you just do a search for NatureBeat, but it will show what's called your low frequency power and your high frequency power.  High frequency will correspond to your parasympathetic nervous system and low frequency to your sympathetic nervous system.  So if you have a very, very high high frequency power, but a very low low frequency power, and your HRV is high, then that would mean you fall directly into that category that I just talked about in which a high HRV is not necessarily a good thing.  Makes sense?

Rachel:  Yes!  It makes sense, but it's just so, I guess, it's complex and it seems like it's an individualized thing.  You can't just like, it's not general.

Ben:  It is kind of general, actually.  It's individualized in that, let's say if you're in aerobic athlete, then things are going to change versus if you're, say, a Crossfitter.  So if you're a Crossfitter and you're doing a wide range of different activities and your HRV is high, you're probably recovered.  You're an aerobic athlete and you're doing a ton of aerobic training and your HRV is high, you might actually be overtrained.  Specifically your parasympathetic nervous system…

Rachel:  So you're not always looking at just the HRV metric, but you're looking at the balance of that LF and the HF.

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Now…

Rachel:  And if you have all three of them, then you're doing really well.

Ben:  Yup, yup.  You got it.  And we've done a lot of podcast before on how to increase your heart rate variability, like we've got one podcast called “How To Hack Your Nervous System”, and another one called “How To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve”, and we go into a ton of different ways that you could increase heart rate variability in those episodes.  Like I talk about using Chinese adaptogenic herbs.  So that's things like ashwagandha, and rhodiola, and there's this little packet of Chinese adaptogenic herbs I'll occasionally take if my heart rate's really suppressed, or my heart rate variability is supressed, it's TianChi.  Cannabidiol has been shown to have a favorable effect on heart rate variability, as can neurofeedback, and also a form of heart rate variability training called quick coherence training.  And so I'll link to that podcast episode called “How To Hack Your Nervous System” in which I go into some of those methods for increasing heart rate variability.

I also interviewed a guy named Dr. Joseph Cohen in which we talked about 32 different ways that one could stimulate their vagus nerve, and the reason I'm bringing that up is because the vagus nerve, if you are increasing the tone of your vagus nerve, then what you're doing is actually stimulating the nerve that's most responsible for allowing you to increase your heart rate variability.  And in that particular episode, we talk about some other kind of more fringe ways to increase vagus nerve tone, and we're talking about things like massages, and fasting, and even like gargling, and chanting, and singing.

We also get into some other things that increase it, that perhaps fly under the radar a little bit more.  For example, large amounts of exposure to sunshine, speak of the devil.  It's really good for stimulation of the vagus nerve, paying attention to your thyroid hormone status, and especially making sure that your free T3 is high, your active thyroid hormone is high, that also would be a way to check up on the status of your vagus nerve, or to increase the health of your vagus nerve.  We even talk about little things during that episode, like chewing gum, because chewing gum releases something called cholecystokinin, in which is like a digestive stimulant, and that can actually cause a stimulation of the vagus nerve, 'cause the vagus nerve travels from your brain to your gut.  Coffee enemas, coffee enemas can actually stimulate the vagus nerves as well, as can acupuncture.

So there's a whole bunch of different ways to do this, but one thing that we talk about that I think a lot of people don't do enough of is exposure to electromagnetic fields, and specifically not the type that come from your cell phone, okay?  So don't start holding your cell phone up to your ear and telling everybody you heard about that in the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show as a good way to make your nerves healthy.  It's actually the use of either grounding, or earthing, like getting outside in your bare feet, grounding by like laying down a grounding mat, or laying down the Earth.

But then also one really interesting, kind of n=1 experiment, and there was a great article over on the SweetBeat website, and SweetBeat, they're folks who do a lot of research on heart rate variability, and they talk about this little device, and I sleep with this device, it's called a DeltaSleeper, a DeltaSleeper.  It's a pulsed electromagnetic field therapy device that emits a very, very low power signal.  So we're not talking about something like sleeping with a cell phone on you, but you put on your collarbone, directly over your brachial plexus, which is a nerve bundle right near your shoulder that causes a delta brain wave signal to be sent to your brain, so it enhances sleep.  You put this thing on, you press the little button, and you fall asleep like a baby.  But the idea is that that also stimulates the vagus nerve, and so you can put this whole device over the brachial plexus, sleep with it while wearing it, and that's a really, really good way to increase heart rate variability.

I haven't talked about its effect on heart rate variability before on the show, but you'll notice if you measure a distinct increase in heart rate variability when you wake up, after having put this thing on either the collarbone, or the other place that you can put it, oddly enough, is over your third eye chakra, that center right in between your eyes, and when you do that, it not only stimulates your vagus nerve, but it also assist with lucid dreaming.  So that's kind of a lesser-known way to increase HRV, but one that I'd definitely throw in there is a pretty potent way to do it.

Rachel:  And in your other articles, do you talk specifically about breathing exercises?

Ben:  Yeah.  Breathing is a big one, especially like deep nasal breathing.  And one of the best ways is alternate nostril breathing where you breathe in through your left nose with your right nose plugged up with the finger, and then you breathe out through your right nose as you plug your right nostril as you plug your left nostril.  Alternate nostril breathing is really good.  Other things that we talk about are high intake of seafood, like EPA and DHA, that's really really good for the vagus nerve, oxytocin which you, I have some in my freezer that I can inject, but believe it or not, you can also get it from having sex, or hugging, or…

Rachel:  Sounds way more fun to do it that way.

Ben:  You don't want a freezer full of oxytocin?

Rachel:  No, or needles.

Ben:  A lot of different ways that you can do this.  But I'll link to, because we have 32 different ways you can stimulate the vagus nerve and increase heart rate variability, I'll link to that podcast, as well as the one on how to hack your nervous system, as well as the one on this PEMF device I just talked about if you just go to  But that's where I would start.

Andrea:  Hey, Ben Greenfield!  It's Andrea Bowden, and I am an almost 52-year old athlete who intends to win a Spartan Sprint.  And what I would like to know is if you have any Ben Greenfield sage advice for a 52-year old athlete that you might not give a 20-something, or a 30-something year old athlete, something that would be different other than the normal training things and recovery things, something that would give me an edge that I might not have already thought of.  Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing your answer.

Ben:  Well, the good news is, Rachel, is that they have done research and they've shown that you don't just have to crawl into a grave as soon as you turn 50.

Rachel:  Good stuff.  You don't just have to roll over and die.

Ben:  Yeah.  Now I actually wrote an article on this study a little while ago, it was last year that a study came out in which they took young men, and they took old men, and they had them do 10 weeks of pretty high volume weight training.  And they did a whole bunch of different weight training exercises for 10 weeks in a row, and what they found was that while the young men actually did have higher amounts of mass, higher amounts of hypertrophy in terms of developing muscle, both groups experienced very similar increases in strength.  The young men were, on average, 29 nine years old, the old men were on average, 64 years old, but they both had similar increases in strength between the younger and the older men.

And so it turns out that, yeah, if you want to get swole, you might not be able to do it quite as easily when you're old, unless you're doing things like testosterone injections, and growth hormone injections, and all these things that would help you to maintain muscle mass as you age.  But when it comes to strength, it turns out that by just continuing on a strength training program, you can maintain strength, or increase strength just as well as you did when you were younger.  At least we know this up to the age of 64 years old, and in that study, it was 64 plus or minus eight.  So the oldest person in that study was 72 years old.

So that's kind of promising, that we know that you can maintain strength.  And when we look at the studies that have been done on how seniors should train, we can see some of the things that they tend to respond best to.  So for example, motor neuron recruitment, or stimulation of the neuromuscular system, that's something that becomes extremely important as you age.  That means improving things like postural control, and adding what are called sensorimotor components to strength training.  So this means the things that perturbate the brain, meaning exercising on an unstable surface, including things like slacklining, including things like a balance board that you could stand on while you're working, including things like single leg training, I don't want you to be the idiot at the gym standing on the BOSU ball, pressing 50-pound dumbbells, or doing like barbell squats on a stability ball.  But at the same time, if you're a senior, every single exercise session that you do should include some kind of a balance component because it appears that when we look at the response of, especially seniors, and when I'm saying seniors, the ages vary, but usually we're looking at 60 plus years.  I realize that Andrea is saying she's 52, but a lot of this stuff, these are things that are important as you approach that age of 60 to become all the more important.

So focusing on balance appears to be very important, strength training of course is important, but strength training with balance worked in, that's crucial.  Another thing that they found, two other things I would like to mention before we delve into the training protocols that I'd recommend for something like Spartan Training, one that they found to work really well, especially in older trainees, because it allows for you to be able to, without putting a lot of stress on the joints, get a large amount of skeletal muscle hypertrophy and a growth hormone release even when exercising at very low intensities is something called blood flow restricted exercise.  This is also known as occlusion training, and also known as Kaatsu training.  Have you heard of this before, Rachel?

Rachel:  Yes.  You did a post on that on Facebook recently.

Ben:  Yeah.  I have some now.  My friend gave a few of these, what they're called BFR bands, blood flow restricted bands to mean, and what you do for example is you'll strap them around the legs and you'll do a set of 30 squats, and then rest for 20 seconds, then a set of 20 squats, then rest for twenty seconds, then a set of 10 squats, and rest for 20 seconds.  Or you'll put them around your arms and do a 30, 20, 10 push-up routine.  A lot of different ways to do it, but the idea is that you're using a modified blood pressure cuff, or more or less a tourniquet, or some other type of wrapping device to cut off blood flow to the muscle while you're training.

When you do that, you get a huge flux of lactic acid building up in the muscle tissue.  They've shown that you stimulate the protein synthesis pathway, mammalian target of rapamycin, also known as the mTOR pathway, and you get a big growth hormone response.  In one study, they found a growth hormone response 290 times above baseline when you use occlusion training, or blood flow restricted training, during your strength training sessions rather than leaving your muscles untourniqueted, and able to breathe, and have blood flow as normal thing.

Rachel:  That's insane.  So you can…

Ben:  That's much higher than you would even see with like a traditional high intensity exercise, like sprint routine.

Rachel:  Can you just add the bands to your already established strength routine?  You don't have to change it?

Ben:  Yup.

Rachel:  So could you just add the bands in a CrossFit class?

Ben:  You could just add the bands in a CrossFit class, although because blood flow is restricted, you need to make sure that the complexity of exercises is taken into account.  And the whole idea behind doing this, and the studies that have been done in seniors, and the elderly in particular, used strength training that was kind of lower intensity, slightly higher rep, and a little bit more of what you would consider to be like a circuit-based machine workout at the gym versus extremely complex exercises, which can be tough to do when your fingernails are turning blue.  And by the way, don't put these things on so tight that your fingernails turn blue.  You can actually do a blood flow check.  You put 'em on, and then you press down on your fingernail, and if the blood returns, they're not too tight.  And if the blood doesn't return and your fingernail stays white, that's bad news bears.  So you need to loosen up the tourniquet a little bit.

But occlusion training is certainly something that, as I age, I'm going to be doing more of, based on these studies that have been done in seniors.  The other thing that has been found is that the need for small frequent feedings of about 20 to 25 grams of protein, as we already kind of touched on interestingly enough, appears to be extremely beneficial to maximize and stimulate protein synthesis, especially as you age, if you want to maintain muscle mass.  And so, whereas this whole concept of like the Warrior Diet, have you heard of the Warrior Diet before, Rachel?

Rachel:  Yep.

Ben:  Yeah.  So you like go a long period of time between eating, you eat like maybe your hunter-gatherer ancestors would have where you might find a deer, or shoot a deer every three days and have massive amounts of protein, and then you've got protein-restricted diet for several days following that.  Well in seniors, that's not a good idea.  And even me.  Like I'll have a big ol' rib eye steak, like once every few days, and then I'll do trace amounts of seeds, and nuts, and eggs, and fish in between.  But as you age, it appears that small frequent protein feedings become very important because your body has a reduced ability in terms of its hydrochloric acid and its digestive enzyme production to be able to break down proteins.  And so, getting small frequent bits of protein throughout the day is really important if you're a senior.  So that, along with occlusion training, along with balance training, are probably the three most important things that you should focus on as you age.

Rachel:  You're probably about to answer this question, but I want to ask anyway.  So she's 52 and she wants to win a Spartan Sprint, and she's going to be going up against people who are all different ages.  How could get an edge over them?

Ben:  Yeah.  So one of my friends, Matt Novakovich, he's also known as “The Bear”, he's one of the top senior, he's like 40, like early 40's, but he's like a Masters supposed I’ve seen him, but a Masters.  You know one of his secrets to training is, and I started doing this last year because the guy who was coaching him at the time, Yancy Culp, made this recommendation to me.  Probably one of the best investments I ever made, and it's sitting out in my garage, and it allows me to get the same metabolic benefits of running with none of the joint impact of running, and Matt's able to run an extremely fast 5K, an extremely fast per mile pace, and everything from Spartan Sprints up to Spartan Beast, and this is the single part of his training that he does most often.  And you know what it is?

Rachel:  What?

Ben:  It's an incline treadmill.

Rachel:  Really?

Ben:  Most treadmills at the gym will go up to 15%.  This one goes up to 40%.  It's an incline treadmill.  You can carry sandbags on it, but I mean I can walk it three and a half miles per hour in a 30% incline and feel as though I'm running at a steady, very hard cliff, but with almost no joint impact, which is really important, especially as you age and especially when you take into account that a lot of these Spartan races do have pretty significant amounts of incline.  So your ankle is in the same type of dorsiflexion as you're going to experience on some of these steep slopes in a Spartan, 'cause god knows they like to choose courses that have these big, steep, hilly routes that go through them.  But it's the incline treadmill, and you can hit an incline treadmill almost every day, and bounce back, and be ready for the next session.  Whereas when you run, it's a good 48 hours, especially as you age, before your joints kind of feel normal again.

Rachel:  Yup.

Ben:  So that's probably one of the most potent things that you can do is to get your hands on an incline treadmill and start to use that thing quite frequently for walking, for interval walking, for carrying sand bags, et cetera.  That would be one thing that I would do a lot of.  The other thing I know Matt does quite a bit of is hanging.  He'll spend long periods of time hanging.  One really effective grip workout that Yancy Culp will give to me, and I know Matt Novakovich will do this, and it's called the 10-100 training protocol where you do one pull-up, and then you drop out of that pull-up and you hang for 10 seconds, and then you do another pull-up, and you drop out of that pull-up and you hang for 10 seconds.  And you can even put an interval timer on your phone to help you keep track, where it beeps or vibrates every 10 seconds.  And every time it beeps or vibrate, you just do another pull-up, and you see how many pull-ups you can get up to.  And a pretty respectable number is 10.  So if you can do 10 pull-ups with a 10 second hang in between each one, that's a pretty good sign that your grip strength is going up, and I think that's a good number to shoot for, especially as you age.  So that's another thing to focus on.

What I tell people is if you want to be good at Spartan, it's mostly being a good, efficient, economical runner, and having really, really good grip strength.  Like if you were just going to focus on two things that would be it.  Probably the third most important thing would be able to move after you've done an obstacle to be able to get back to running or moving very quickly.  You'll see a lot of people will walk for a hundred yards after an obstacle, or stop with their hands on their knees, taking their breath between an obstacle.  And if you can include workouts that force you to run right after you've done a set of pull-ups, or run right after you've done a set of bear crawls or mountain climbers, or run right after you've done a bunch of med ball squat thrusters, that's a really, really good way to train your body how to just get used to clearing lactic acid while you're still moving.  And that's something else I'll do is I'll use that incline treadmill in the garage, but then I'll have like a heavy bucket, and a pull-up bar, and like a sandbag, and I'll hop off the treadmill every four minutes or so, and do a really quick weight training circuit, and then get back on the treadmill while my heart rate's still high from the weight training, and start moving again.  Just to train the body to move, lift, move, lift, move, lift.

Rachel:  And is that a common training technique in Spartan training?  Does every know that, or is that like a little secret?

Ben:  People know that, but a lot of people, they'll just say, “Oh, I'm going to go do CrossFit and go on a run once a week.”  Whereas sometimes, you have to get a little bit more sport specific to be good at Spartan.  I will put a link in to two other helpful articles for you, Andrea.  One is called “The Anti-Aging Secrets of the World's Fittest Old People”.  And in that, I go into the training protocols of folks like Charles Eugster, who's one of the top old sprinters in the world, and some of the things that he does, Laird Hamilton, Mark Sisson, Don Wildman.  I get into a whole bunch of their specific training protocols and some little secrets that I took away from studying what they do.  So I would definitely check out that article.

And then the other one that I would read is my article on how to naturally keep growth hormone levels elevated as you age because blood flow restricted training, which I just talked about, is, as you probably know, a potent way to increase growth hormone, as is sleep.  But a few things that I talk about in that article are things like colostrum, things like raw milk, whey protein, all these little things that, especially as you age, you should definitely include in your diet as natural sources of what's called IGF-1 and growth hormone.  So if you're going to spread little protein feedings throughout the day, you should also, as you age, use a little bit of colostrum every day, and try and get some raw dairy into your diet, even if it's just a few times a day.  I mean you could even do like little raw cubes of cheese, or butter.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a goat that you adopt and name Myrtle who travels around with you everywhere you go on a leash.

Rachel:  I would be down with Myrtle.  I would like to have a Myrtle.

Ben:  Little Myrtle.  Little dwarf goat named Myrtle that you keep in your purse, like Paris Hilton.

Rachel:  What are your goats' names?

Ben:  Our goats' names are Toffee and Caramel.

Rachel:  Toffee and Caramel.

Ben:  They're Nigerian dwarf goats, but they're pretty damn big fat goats.  They're not like these tiny, little petite dolls that you carry around with you.  They're still pretty big.

Rachel:  Goats are hilarious.  Have you seen goat yoga's taking off?  Yoga?

Ben:  I did see that goat yoga.  How does goat yoga work exactly?

Rachel:  You just do yoga in a goat pen, and it's incredible.  They come and like jump all over you, and they like give you little kisses on the face.  Then you downward dog, they like climb on you.

Ben:  That sounds incredibly annoying.

Rachel:  Oh my god.  I can't wait.

Ben:  Have a goat in your face.  I can't even do yoga with my dogs around 'cause they get in my face, and they lick me, and they get really clingy.  You're doing down dog, and you look up, and there's some dog's (censored) right there in your face as they're just kind of like chilling, or they'll like sit on your hand.

Rachel:  Yup!

Ben:  Yeah.  I don't know.

Rachel:  I'm down for goat yoga.

Ben:  Goat yoga, dog yoga, baby yoga.  I just, I want to do yoga.  I want to just be out by myself, just be a complete (censored), lock myself away, do my yoga, get my meditation on.

Rachel:  Well, you can do that too.  I'm going to hang out with the goats.

Ben:  No goats.  I don't want any goats.  No, thank you.  But goats are good to drink the milk of.

Rachel:  They are.

Ben:  So there you go.  Alright.  So hopefully that helps, Andrea.  Best of luck, and I'll put links to this stuff over at

Mark:  Hey, Ben.  This is Mark.  My question is about training to climb Denali.  I signed up for a trip there in about seven months, and I have a good amount of climbing experience, but nothing quite like this.  This is definitely the next step.  So a few questions.  One is what you'd recommend for training strategies, strength versus endurance, certain exercises you would definitely include to train for this.  Also, how you would prepare the body for the cold that we'd see up on the mountain.  Also, what you'd recommend for dealing with the high altitude, any strategies for training.  I live in New England, so we have some mountains, but nothing high altitude.  So how to prepare the body for altitude, and then even on the mountain, any strategies or supplements you'd recommend to deal with high altitude.  And then finally, nutrition for a trip like this.  It's about two to three weeks of climbing.  And in the past, on trips like this, I've definitely lost a lot of weight.  So any ideas or strategies for that as well?  Thanks so much!  Love the podcast.  Take care.

Ben:  You ever been to Denali, Rachel?

Rachel:  I haven't, Ben.  Have you been to Denali?

Ben:  Well, like I mentioned, I've got a watch on called the Denali watch.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  Yeah.  No.  Isn't that where Mt. McKinley is?

Rachel:  I don't know.

Ben:  I'm pretty sure it's in Alaska.

Rachel:  It is.  Yeah.

Ben:  And I thought Mt. McKinley was in Alaska.  I think.  I don't know.  Yeah, it's in Alaska.  Mt. McKinley, Denali, Alaska.  20,000 feet high.  So, yeah.  There's some definite things that you can do if you're going to climb.  He's got a lot of questions here.

Rachel:  There's a lot.

Ben:  So let's kind of take these on one at a time.  First of all, training strategies and recommendations for doing with high altitude, like in terms of strategies, supplements, et cetera.  That's the biggest piece of this question, so let's respond to that first.  I want to give you, let's say my top five ways to train for altitude that don't necessarily involve moving to the Himalayas or sleeping in an altitude tent.  Okay?

Rachel:  Right.

Ben:  So let's say you're just like the average person and you need to get ready for altitude.  One would be static apnea tables.  Free divers use these a lot to increase their tolerance to low amounts of O2, or high amounts of CO2.  And what that means is, and you've taken a free diving course, right Rachel?

Rachel:  I have, yes.

Ben:  Yeah.  So it's a carbon dioxide, or what's called the CO2 static apnea table basically has you hold your breath for a certain amount of time, like let's say two minutes, with decreasing intervals of recovery between each hold.  You can do these while you're freakin' watching Game of Thrones, or driving, well, don't do it while you're driving your car.

Rachel:  Probably not a good idea.

Ben:  Maybe while somebody else is driving your car.  Or you're on an airplane.  But you hold your breath for two minutes, and then you recover for two, then you hold your breath for two minutes, you recover for a minute and half, then you hold the breath for two minutes, you recover for a minute, and then you hold your breath for two minutes, and you recover for thirty seconds.  And there apps, if you go to the iTunes App Store, or any other app store, you can find apps that literally just like ding every time you're supposed to hold your breath, and then every time you're supposed to recover and breathe.

And an O2 table, whereas a CO2 table increases your tolerance to build-up of CO2, an O2 table is, it's kind of the opposite where you'll hold your breath for two minutes, and then recover for two minutes, then hold your breath for two and a half minutes, then recover for two minutes, then hold your breath for three minutes, and recover for two minutes.  And so it's kind of the opposite.  The breath hold time gets increasingly longer, rather than the rest intervals getting increasingly shorter.  But you can easily go through a couple of static apnea tables a few times a week while you're doing other activities.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  So that's a really cool way…

Rachel:  Quick and easy…

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah there's like this book called “The Oxygen Advantage” in which, and I'm interviewing this guy and releasing a podcast with him soon where they talk about like how Bear Grylls, when he was training for, he did a big climb somewhere, I think it was Everest, he did a ton of, because he didn't have access to altitude, he would do like breath restricted swim training, which is very similar to these static apnea tables where you go for a long swim, and you hold your breath, and only breathe every six strokes, for example.  But these type of things can actually help significantly with your ability to be able to tolerate high amounts of CO2 and also your ability to be able to produce blood cell precursors, specifically erythropoietin, or EPO.  So that's one thing that I would do.

The next one would be sauna, and there's been some really interesting studies that have found that training in the heat increases plasma volumes, so blood plasma volume and this eythropoietin, very similar to the apnea tables, but that can also elicit physiological adaptations that allow you to replicate much of what you would get if you were going to do altitude acclimation.  So there's this odd crossover between exercising in a hot environment, like pulling an exercise bike or a treadmill into a sauna, or even just exercising really hard, and then going in, and doing some yoga or stretching for a while in the sauna afterwards.  But it turns out that even the studies that they've done where they've taken groups of folks, and they've had them do altitude training, and then they've had another group of folks do sauna training and brought them both to altitude, it appears at the sauna training is just as efficacious as altitude training, with the caveat that the effects don't stick with you as long as they stick with you when you're doing altitude training.  But still, very, very cool way to be able to train for altitude even if you don't have access to altitude.

Rachel:  Right.  Exactly.

Ben:  Yeah.

Rachel:  So sauna and static apnea tables.

Ben:  Yep.  So we've got the sauna, we've got static apnea tables.  The next one that I would look into as a strategy would be echinacea.  So I actually interviewed this fella named Craig Dinkel, and I link to my podcast interview with him, but in that podcast, he goes into the use of echinacea to improve oxygen transport capacity, and also to stimulate erythropoiesis production, and also the activity levels of T-cells, which causes you to produce your own growth factors also responsible for increasing EPO production.  And so, they've shown massive increases in oxygen availability and a huge boost in eryhthropoietin, very similar to if you were blood doping with the use of echinacea.  And this guy actually makes, based on this, full disclosure, he sells a supplement that has like echinacea and a bunch of other things that assist with, specifically altitude performance.  He's a climber, so it's got like desiccated liver fat, or desiccated liver powder, and chlorella, and beetroot, and all these things have been shown to help with altitude.  But then also echinacea, which kind of flies under the radar.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  And we talk in that interview about the mechanism of action, via which erythropoietin can be stimulated with the consumption of echinacea.  But it's really interesting, you can use echinacea as a way to increase your blood cell count and increase erythropoietin production.  And that's a relatively inexpensive little supplement hack that you can use.

Rachel:  I would love to see these all done, and then I would love for Mark to come back and tell us if it worked.

Ben:  Uhuh.  Yeah, exactly.  Because all these little things do add up quite a bit.  And granted there are other compounds in addition to erythropoietin that work really well that you'll see like a lot of Sherpas who guide people up Mount Everest using, like rhodiola, and cordyceps, although cordyceps is actually in that supplement that I just mentioned, that Bio Tropic Supplement.  And I'll link to the interview that I did with those guys in the show notes.  But, yeah.  Echinacea, if you're just going to choose one, appears to be one of the most potent and one of the lesser known for performance at altitude.  A couple of other things that I would do, so I've given you three so far, right?

Rachel:  Yup!

Ben:  The sauna, the static apnea tables, and echinacea.  Another one would be, and a lot of people laugh at this, but it actually does work.  So this particular device will increase the amount of CO2 that's right in front of your mouth when you breathe.  So you increase your tolerance to carbon dioxide and what's called metabolic acidosis, but it also puts a relatively large strain on your intercostal muscles around your ribs, your serratus muscles, and your diaphragm, and your inspiratory and expiratory muscles.  It's a form of resisted breath training.  Whereas a static apnea table would be a form of restricted breath training, this be a form of resisted breath training.  Does not decrease the partial pressure of oxygen in the air that you are breathing, but it does have a really potent effect on improving your ability to be able to withstand lower amounts of oxygen availability, or specifically higher amounts of CO2.  And they've shown, in clinical studies, that this can increase aerobic capacity, improve lung function, and even increase what are called some of the hematological variables, meaning some of the same blood variables such as hematocrit, or hemoglobin, that are involved in altitude training.  And if this is the…

Rachel:  What is this?

Ben:  This is the training mask, just the basic training mask that a lot of people laugh 'cause the Crossfitters in their knee-high compression socks go running down the streets with their barbells over their shoulders wearing their training mask.  But this thing actually does work, especially if you don't have access to a $4,000 hypoxic training device.  But it's literally just restricting breath flow.  You can wear it when you're driving in your car, or doing a workout, or doing yoga, or whatever, and it's just kind of a relatively cheap way to train for altitude.  So I'm going to throw that in there, I mean I know a lot of people laugh at it, but I personally use a training mask a few times a week just because it's cheap and easy.  You just strap it on and do what you were going to do anyways.  So the one exception is that you want to be careful that you're not doing extremely complex, heavy-loaded exercises in it 'cause sometimes you get so blue in the face wearing it that your form suffers.  So kind of be careful when you decide to use it.  But that's another one that's not too bad.

And then the last one that I would recommend for training, for climbing, or anything like that would be something I already mentioned, that freaking incline treadmill.  I mean it just, it works.  I mean if you really wanted to, you could make your own hypoxic air generator.  I interviewed a guy about how to do that.  I'll put a link in the show notes.  It's actually not that expensive if you can get your hands on one of these, it's like a hypoxic generator machine that you can purchase from, typically, a lot of local like health outlets, like stores that sell health equipment.  Usually they're located close to hospitals, they're called oxygen concentrators.  Or you can look for an oxygen concentrator repair shop in your area and you can actually create your own hypoxic air generator using one of these.  And you can do what's called intermittent hypoxic training where you'll go like five minutes of walking on the treadmill with the hypoxic air generator on, then five minutes with it off, and do that three times through for a 30-minute session.  I have one in my garage.  And honestly, they're not that expensive to build, and I'll put the full link.  I don't have time to go into it in a lot of detail right now, but I'll put the link in the show notes.  But it's really interesting.  You can actually build your own altitude training device you could keep next to an incline treadmill like this, and it doesn't cost as much as you'd think if you follow the instructions I have.

Rachel:  What kind of cost?  What's the ballpark?

Ben:  By the time that you've put everything into it, we're talking about like 600 to 800 bucks with usually about probably 5 to 10 hours of your time driving around, buying everything, and building it.

Rachel:  Yeah.  That's not bad at all.

Ben:  But compared to like thousands and thousands, I mean just to rent one would cost you that much per month.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  So there's some ideas for you.  And then finally, a few other things I'm going to throw out there for you.  First of all, I did a podcast with the folks from Obstacle Order in which we talked about a whole bunch of these altitude hacks for like an hour.  So if you want to listen to that, that's an obstacle training podcast, I'll put a link to that in the show notes.  It's called the Obstacle Order Podcast.

Another couple of recommendations that I would give to you, just to quickly cover some of your other questions, how to repair your body for the cold, that's not rocket science.  Cold, I mean I still do cold showers.  Morning.  Evening.  Every day.  As cold as you can get 'em.  That doesn't get much more complex than that.  Or you can use like one of these cool fat burner-type of vests, or gut devices, but honestly just cold showers, that's one of the biggies.  That and just getting out in the cold.  When I prepared for the 38 degrees below zero Agoge race in Vermont, I would actually, and I was preparing for it in the winter, I would just go on shiver walks where you got your shorts, it's a really sexy look, your shorts, some mittens, some shoes, and something to cover your head.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ben:  So you cover up all the vital parts, leave everything else exposed, and you go for a walk.  And my neighbor, at one point, when my boys and I went up to her house, up the hill aways to offer to help her with yard work or anything else she needed done, she's just this single widow who lives up there, as we were talking with her, she asked me if I had seen any suspicious activity in the area.  And I said, “Well, what do you mean?”  She said, “Well I think there's, he might be a druggie, or a crazy person, or something, but at about 6 AM in the morning in the dead of winter the past few nights, this person's run by my house without wearing anything except their underwear, and then they disappear into the forest, and they kind of seemed to be like headed down into the forest, like kind of down in the direction of your house.  So I just wanted to warn you about this person that seems to be running around our neighborhood.”

Rachel:  Did you tell her it was you?

Ben:  No.  I just nodded.  I nodded and I said, and I kind of switched my course up from that point quick kind of across her yard.  But I mean they do work, those shiver walks.  They're really good for burning fat too.

Rachel:  Really good for entertaining your neighbors as well.

Ben:  It's a Wim Hof technique.  Okay.  And then finally, as far as nutrition goes, I'll link to you to two podcasts in which one podcast I did on want to do during a long boy scout trip, another podcast I did on what to do for about two weeks of training in Mongolia.  And I cover all these different foods that I think are really, really good for long periods of exercise, or trips where you got to have a lot of caloric density without a lot of weight.  And I go specifically into things like pemmican as one, macadamia nuts as another really good one, amino acid capsules, and also spirulina and chlorella capsules as another really good option, and then like a really dense meal replacement powder.  We're talking about something like whether there's one that I like called SuperGreens, there's another one called SuperBerry.  I talk about all of these in both of those podcasts, but I mean if I could choose just one food, Rachel, and you were to just shove me out the door and say, “Walk,” whatever, Portland, like 30 miles from here, and then I walk to Coeur d'Alene, you know what I would grab?

Rachel:  What?

Ben:  Macadamia nuts.  Because of their extremely high caloric and saturated fat density with a relatively low load when it comes to overall weight.  And probably my second choice would be pemmican, which is like a rendered fat.  It's like an old Native American recipe.  Pemmican.  So those would be my top two, but there's plenty of others, and I'll link to some previous podcast that I've done on those in the show notes for you.  So you can go to town on those, Mark, and those will be at

Monique:  Hi, Ben and Rachel.  This is Monique from Victoria, BC, just a hop, skip, and a ferry boat ride away from Spokane, Washington.  I have a question for you today about glutamine.  I am a whole foods plant-based vegan trying to get everything that I need in my normal diet without supplementation.  I was recently having a really great conversation with a good friend of mine who is my local health, and fitness, and nutrition resource here in Victoria, and I respect him a lot.  He is not super on board with the vegan lifestyle, but he supports me and always has great suggestions for ways that I can maximize the nutrition in my day to day life.  His primary concern is glutamine right now, because I am focusing on fitness in a big way right now.  And as one of the conditional essential fatty acids, this is apparently something that I don't get in my normal whole foods plant- based eating plan.  So I would just really like to know your take on the situation, whether or not plant foods can be a sustainable source of glutamine, and if I can get enough that way, or if this is something that I will need to supplement on.  Any other advice that you might have would also be welcome.  I love your podcast, I can't wait to hear your response, and I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.  Thanks in advance.

Ben:  This one's going to be near and dear to your heart, Miss I'm-just-thinking-about-eating-fish-girl.

Rachel:  I know. I feel like I'm letting you down, Monique.

Ben:  Yeah.  Fish don't have a lot of glutamine in them, they have some glutamine in them, but glutamine, it's what's called a conditionally essential amino acid.  What that means is it only appears to benefit the body if you have a deficiency in it.  And if you don't have a deficiency in it, it doesn't really seem to give you much of a step up in life.

Rachel:  Well, that's good to know.

Ben:  That is specifically with regards to exercise, especially endurance exercise.  However, in some people who have got dysfunction, or what's called leaky gut, two compounds that have actually been shown to be extremely effective for that, one is colostrum, which I talked about a little bit earlier, as a good thing for seniors to take for maintaining growth hormone and IGF levels.  But another is glutamine.  It appears to be very, very good for healing the lining of the gut as well.  And so if you have intestinal issues, or immune system issues, because those are typically related to leaky gut issues, glutamine can also be useful to take even if you're not deficient in it.  Systemically, it can help with your stomach health.  Now it's usually found in pretty high amounts in a.) meats, b.) egg, and c.) a whey protein.  Whey protein or casein protein.  Either one.

Rachel:  Why is it important?  Why is her friend saying it's important for her to have glutamine if she is exercising as a vegan?

Ben:  Okay.  So glutamine is an extremely prevalent amino acid. It's the most prevalent amino acid you're going to find in your bloodstream, and you'll find it in really high concentrations in skeletal muscle, and skeletal muscle actually has the highest, what's called, intracellular concentration of glutamine.  Up to about 60% of your total glutamine stores in your whole body are in skeletal muscle because muscle is responsible for exporting it to other tissues, and it's the primary storage depot of it, and it's extremely beneficial for recovery, like post-exercise recovery, or recovery from metabolic stress.  For example, when you're exercising hard, glutamine actually gets released from your skeletal muscles into your bloodstream.  And that can assist with everything from injury, to infection, to malnutrition, et cetera.  So it's not only necessary for muscle function and muscle growth, but also for the rest of the body in terms of being able to provide the body with what it needs to mount immune system reactions, and to have proper gut function to be able to respond to trauma and stress.  And so glutamine is extremely important, not just for the muscles, but also for overall health, and especially gastrointestinal health and immune health.

Rachel:  Okay.

Ben:  So that's why it would be something to kind of be looking into.  So the idea is that, of course, because eggs, and meat, and whey protein are three of the primary sources of glutamine, that it can be tough for vegans and vegetarians to actually get.  In a situation like that, you can supplement with glutamine, and it can be a good idea to supplement with glutamine.  The actual dosage for supplementation tends to be about five grams or so.  Five grams.  Now once you get into very high doses, once you exceed about 10 grams or so, you're going to produce a lot of ammonia because that's one of the breakdown byproducts of glutamine.  So it's not like more is better, but around five grams, very similar to the recommended dose for creatine for vegans and vegetarians, which would be five grams per day, five grams per day of glutamine would also be extremely beneficial and recommended for anybody who's not eating meat and eggs because there are not a lot of plant foods that are very sustainable sources of glutamine, or that are going to come very close to what you'd find in, for example, meat or eggs.  Cabbage has a little bit, some nuts have a little bit, beans and legumes have a little bit, but nothing comes close to meat, eggs, whey protein, et cetera.

Rachel:  And it's something that you'd want to supplement with every day going forward?

Ben:  Yeah.  You can just use that five grams a day as kind of like a daily tonic.  As far as where to get it, I'm a fan of, here's one called L-Glutamine made by Thorne.  I like it because it's available in a capsule.  It's also available in a powder.  That's the one that I tend to recommend most often, unless you're just going to use like a basic whey protein.  And you could use, well, obviously if you're vegan or vegetarian, you're not going to use a whey protein.  So kind of a moot point.  You can get a little bit, here's a little biohack for you.  You can get a little bit extra glutamine availability from a vegan-based protein source if you consume a digestive enzymes complex prior to consuming your vegan protein.  Like if it's a rice, or a pea, or a hemp-based protein and you take a digestive enzyme along with it, you get similar amino acid bioavailability as you would get from something like whey protein.  So that would be another little hack that you can use.  But if I were vegan or vegetarian, glutamine would be you know, in addition to some of these other things like creatine, and amino acids, and some form of DHA, like a chlorella, for example, or an algae, glutamine would definitely be pretty high up there in terms of one of the supplements that I would take.  So absolutely, I would use it and I would be at about five grams per day.  So, Rachel, does that mean you're going to rush out…

Rachel:  Buy some glutamine?  Pretty sure I got some in my cupboard already from an awesome Ben Greenfield Fitness surprise gift box that I got.

Ben:  Boom.  There you go.

Rachel:  So I'm sorted.

Ben:  Which you, too can find  That's a mouthful.  By the way, for those of you who want a little bit of excitement coming down the pipeline, I am basically rebranding the entire business.  So there will be no Ben Greenfield Fitness, there will be no Greenfield Fitness Systems.  We're basically rebranding everything that I do to become a more globally recognizable brand, more like the Coca-Cola of fitness.  The Nike of fitness would probably be more appropriate.

Rachel:  Yes.  The Nike of fitness.

Ben:  That's right.

Rachel:  That's what you can expect coming up from us.

Ben:  The Sony of fitness.  Anyways though, by the way, if that's something, if you're sitting back, listening in, you love the podcast, and you're interested in learning more about that, or supporting what I'm up to, you can always e-mail us, the colloquial massive global us, at [email protected].  And if you e-mail [email protected] and you want to kind of be a part of that and support what we're doing, then we can fill you in.

But in the meantime, you're just going to have to sit back and wait with bated breath.  And you can also, however, support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes.  We've been getting lots of really good reviews on iTunes which is great.  If you go in and leave a five star review, it's one of the best ways for this podcast to grow, and for people to find out about it, and also to make sure that you don't lay awake at night feeling bad about yourself 'cause you've never done anything good for the world and you've spend zero amount of karma.

Rachel:  Yeah.  We get really good karma.  Exactly.

Ben:  Yeah.  So.  It's karma time.  If you hear your review read on the show that means we're going to sell, we're going to sell?  No, we're not going to sell you.

Rachel:  We’re gonna send you.

Ben:  We're just going to send you a Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear Pack, jam-packed with goodies.  Beanie, a BPA-free water bottle with the Ben Greenfield Fitness goodness on it, and also a really cool tech t-shirt.  It's actually sexy.  Makes you look good with your newfound guns.  So we've got a review left by jarheads.  So jarhead, e-mail [email protected], include your t-shirt size, and we'll send you a cool little pack.  It's called “A man among men in the fitness industry”, and it's five stars.  Rachel, you wanna take this one away while I sit back and let my head get big?

Rachel:  As long as you can fit through the door on the way out.  Alright.  It's by Workout jarhead, just to be clear.  “I've been listening to Ben for about a year now and I love every podcast.  His interviewing skills are top notch and he squeezes so much info out of every guest.  I've been on a quest to improve my fitness and nutrition profile ever since I've turned 40.  With Ben's help I've pretty much gotten in the best shape of my life, including my time in the Marine Corps.”

Ben:  Corps.

Rachel:  Corps.  I always get that wrong!  “If I had any complaints, it would be that I don't get enough of my down under fix.  More Rachel!!”  That's so sweet of you.

Ben:  Hey, hey, hey!  And he'll be happy…

Rachel:  You're definitely getting something free.

Ben:  Rachel's like, “Oh, yeah.  You're definitely getting something, dude.”  You just made Rachel's day.

Rachel:  Yes.

Ben:  And by the way, in terms of my interviewing skills being top notch, you know what my secret is?

Rachel:  What is your secret?

Ben:  Larry King.  I have posters of him everywhere, all over my office.  I own the suspenders and the glasses.

Rachel:  I hope you can take a photo of yourself wearing them.

Ben:  I can. Maybe I'll upload it for you.

Rachel:  I'd love that.

Ben:  Me in my Larry King suspenders, my Larry King poster.

Rachel:  And then we should do a caption contest.

Ben:  That's right.  Studied the heck out of Larry King.  That's how it's done.  If you want to get podcast, it all comes down to Larry King, baby.

Rachel:  That's good to know.

Ben:  So that's the final tip I'm going to leave you with.  And all of the goodies are over at  Rachel, thanks for joining me on the show.

Rachel:  Thanks for having me, Ben!  I love this show.

Ben:  That's right.  I love it too.  Alright, everybody.  Thanks for listening in. We'll catch you next week.



January 25, 2017 Podcast: 363: The Best Time Of Day To Exercise, How To Be The Fittest Old Person, Top 5 Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude & More!

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar of events.

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on and Google+.


Special Announcements:

This podcast is brought to you by:

PaleoValley – Go to and use code BEN10 for 10% off

-Nutritional Therapy Association – Go to for more information about Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications. Classes are filling quickly! Registration closes Feb 6 and classes start Feb 13.

Audible – Get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial today by signing up at

MVMT Watches – Get 15% off any watch today at

Click here to donate any amount you’d like to support the podcast!

-Joovv is giving away a Joov light to a Ben Greenfield Fitness follower. Click here to enter!

Click here to follow Ben on Snapchat, and get ready for some epic stories on his morning, daily and evening routine! What did you miss this week? A clay mask, a park workout, a morning routine change-up, an epic post-race salad and more.

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar.

January 20th-22nd: Brain Optimization Summit. 31 doctors, scientists, biohackers and nootropics professionals reveal lifestyle habits and supplements that improve mental performance. Check it out by clicking here!

March 3-5, 2017: Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, WA: Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications that teach how to use nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. I’ll be speaking at the conference! Tickets are on sale now. Go to to register and tell them I sent you if you want to get their VIP treatment.

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Elle Russ? It was a must-listen – “The Key To Deciphering The Mysteries Of Your Thyroid And Fixing Your Thyroid Hormones Forever.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!


Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

New Ways To Increase Your Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

Joe says: He’s from Phoenix. He’s wondering if you can explain how to train your HRV with mental exercises or breathing exercises for your NatureBeat program. How can we train our HRV, much less monitor it?

In my response, I recommend:
How to hack your nervous system
How to stimulate your vagus nerve
My DeltaSleeper podcast

How To Be The Fittest Old Person Alive

Andrea says: She’s an almost 52 year old athlete who intends to win a Spartan Sprint. She wants to know if you have any sage advice for a 52 year old athlete that you might not give a 20 or 30 year old athlete. Something different than standard training and recovery techniques, something that would give her an edge?

In my response, I recommend:
Occlusion Training with BFR Bands
My article on how seniors get stronger
Nordic incline treadmill
My article on IGF-I
Secrets of the fittest old people

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude

Mark says: He signed up for a trip to Denali in 7 months and although he has a good amount of climbing experience, he’s never done anything like this. A few questions: 1) What would you recommend in terms of training strategies – strength V endurance, and certain exercise you would definitely include? 2) How does he prepare the body for the cold that they’ll see up on the mountain; 3) What you recommend for dealing with high altitude, what are the best strategies and supplements? 4) Nutrition for a trip like this with 2-3 weeks of climbing. In the past he has lost lots of weight so what are you ideas/strategies for this? Thanks so much, and he loves the podcast.

In my response, I recommend:
Static Apnea Tables
Training Mask (use 20% code GREEN1)
Echinacea (BioTropic Blood Oxygenating supplement (use code ben to get 20% discount and free shipping)
Read more
Incline Treadmill
What Doesn’t Kill Us podcast
Obstacle Order altitude hacks podcast
How to make your own hypoxic air generator
Podcast on the boy scout trip
Podcast on Mongolia training

Glutamine For Vegans

Monique says: She’s from Victoria, BC. She has a question about Glutamine. She’s a whole-foods, plant-based vegan trying to get everything she needs in her normal diet without supplementation. She was recently having a good conversation with a friend of hers who is her local health, fitness and nutrition resource. He’s not super on board with the vegan lifestyle, but he supports her and always has great suggestions for how she can maximize nutrition in day to day life. His primary concern is Glutamine because she is focusing on fitness in a big way. As a conditionally essential amino acid this is something she doesn’t get in a normal whole-foods, plant-based eating plan. She’d love to know your take on the situation, whether plant foods can be a sustainable source or Glutamine or whether she will need to supplement, and any other advice you have. She absolutely loves the show and is grateful in advance for you advice.

In my response, I recommend:
Thorne Glutamine capsules
Thorne Glutamine powder



363: The Best Time Of Day To Exercise, How To Be The Fittest Old Person, Top 5 Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude & More!

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

January 25, 2017 Podcast: 363: The Best Time Of Day To Exercise, How To Be The Fittest Old Person, Top 5 Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude & More!

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar of events.

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on,,, and Google+.


Special Announcements:

This podcast is brought to you by:

PaleoValley – Go to and use code BEN10 for 10% off

-Nutritional Therapy Association – Go to for more information about Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications. Classes are filling quickly! Registration closes Feb 6 and classes start Feb 13.

Audible – Get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial today by signing up at

MVMT Watches – Get 15% off any watch today at

Click here to donate any amount you'd like to support the podcast!

-Joovv is giving away a Joov light to a Ben Greenfield Fitness follower. Click here to enter!

Click here to follow Ben on Snapchat, and get ready for some epic stories on his morning, daily and evening routine! What did you miss this week? A clay mask, a park workout, a morning routine change-up, an epic post-race salad and more.

NEW! Click here for the official BenGreenfieldFitness calendar.

January 20th-22nd: Brain Optimization Summit. 31 doctors, scientists, biohackers and nootropics professionals reveal lifestyle habits and supplements that improve mental performance. Check it out by clicking here!

March 3-5, 2017: Nutritional Therapy Association Conference in Vancouver, WA: Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) offers Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Consultant certifications that teach how to use nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. I’ll be speaking at the conference! Tickets are on sale now. Go to to register and tell them I sent you if you want to get their VIP treatment.

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Elle Russ? It was a must-listen – “The Key To Deciphering The Mysteries Of Your Thyroid And Fixing Your Thyroid Hormones Forever.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week's top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!


Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the Podcast Sidekick.

New Ways To Increase Your Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

Joe says: He's from Phoenix. He's wondering if you can explain how to train your HRV with mental exercises or breathing exercises for your NatureBeat program. How can we train our HRV, much less monitor it?

How To Be The Fittest Old Person Alive

Andrea says: She's an almost 52 year old athlete who intends to win a Spartan Sprint. She wants to know if you have any sage advice for a 52 year old athlete that you might not give a 20 or 30 year old athlete. Something different than standard training and recovery techniques, something that would give her an edge?

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Train For Altitude

Mark says: He signed up for a trip to Denali in 7 months and although he has a good amount of climbing experience, he's never done anything like this. A few questions: 1) What would you recommend in terms of training strategies – strength V endurance, and certain exercise you would definitely include? 2) How does he prepare the body for the cold that they'll see up on the mountain; 3) What you recommend for dealing with high altitude, what are the best strategies and supplements? 4) Nutrition for a trip like this with 2-3 weeks of climbing. In the past he has lost lots of weight so what are you ideas/strategies for this? Thanks so much, and he loves the podcast.

Glutamine For Vegans

Monique says: She's from Victoria, BC. She has a question about Glutamine. She's a whole-foods, plant-based vegan trying to get everything she needs in her normal diet without supplementation. She was recently having a good conversation with a friend of hers who is her local health, fitness and nutrition resource. He's not super on board with the vegan lifestyle, but he supports her and always has great suggestions for how she can maximize nutrition in day to day life. His primary concern is Glutamine because she is focusing on fitness in a big way. As a conditionally essential amino acid this is something she doesn't get in a normal whole-foods, plant-based eating plan. She'd love to know your take on the situation, whether plant foods can be a sustainable source or Glutamine or whether she will need to supplement, and any other advice you have. She absolutely loves the show and is grateful in advance for you advice.

In my response, I recommend:
Thorne Glutamine capsules
Thorne Glutamine powder


Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!

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[Transcript] – The Key To Deciphering The Mysteries Of Your Thyroid And Fixing Your Thyroid Hormones Forever.

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction

[05:05] About Elle Russ

[10:27] Why Elle Call T3 The “Hormone of Life”

[19:00] How to Find a Doctor Who Actually Knows How to Run Thyroid Test

[23:53] Why Most Thyroid Supplements Don’t Actually Contain Thyroid Glandular or Thyroid Hormones

[25:30] The Confusing Hormone “reverse T3” and The Ancestral Reflex That Causes Your Body to Make It

[38:10] Whether Body Temperature Tests Really Work, and If There Any Science to Back Them Up

[44:20] What Vitals You Should Track and The Best Way To Do It

[50:30] What Elle Thinks Is The Best Natural Over-The-Counter (OTC) Thyroid for People Who Want To “Self-Test” and “Self-Medicate”

[51:50] Why Coconut Oil Can Help to Heal Thyroid Issues (and Whether or Not Marijuana or CBD Should Be Used)

[54:55] The Best Prescription Form of Thyroid Hormone to Use and What Elle Personally Takes

[68:27] The Shocking Link Between Chiropractors, Acupuncturists and Thyroid Hormone

[70:27] What To Do If You Have Tried Everything and You’re Still Having Issues

Ben:  Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield.

Today’s show is all about the thyroid.  Thyroid issue, thyroid tissues, thyroid confusion.  The topic near and dear to my heart.  You're going to learn why in today’s show.  So enjoy!

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“Eighteen hundred genius, English physicians was like, ‘what’s all these people with goiters on their neck and hyperthyroidism?’ He extracts cheap thyroid gland.  He injects it into a human and it works.  Thus comes natural desiccated thyroid which was the treatment for people up until the 1950s when drug companies could not patent desiccated thyroid.  So what’d they do?  They created C4, synthroid.  And they touted it as the one-stop only answer.”  “He can’t afford to have children right now.  We’re gonna cut his sex drive and decrease his testosterone.  Same goes for females.  She’s not in a position to have a baby right now.  She’s starving or running from danger.  We need to shut this down.”

Ben:  Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and I will admit it.  I have thyroid issues.  I’ve had thyroid issues pretty much ever since I went through about a 12-month stint where I combined, what I would say is called ‘Extreme Ketosis’.  We’re talking like a 90% plus fat-based diet without like cycling carbohydrates in or anything like that just full-on fat based diet for about a year.  And I combine that with really hard and heavy training for Ironman Triathlon.  Now granted a big part of this was for a study that I participated in called the ‘Faster Study’ over at Dr. Jeff Volek’s laboratory which at the time, was at the University of Connecticut where we were trying to see like what would happen to the human body in terms of fat oxidation rates and becoming a fat burning machine when you’re essentially restricted carbohydrates pretty intensively, and combine that with a lot of endurance exercise and, sure enough, I became a really intensive fat burning machine.  But at the same time, since then, I’ve actually had to battle rock bottom.  Your relatively rock bottom T3 levels and really high TSH, Thyroid Stimulating Hormones, over the past several years.

And so, hypothyroidism and the thyroid in general is a topic near and dear to my heart.  And I know there's other people out there.  I mean there's over 200 million people in the world and 20+ million Americans who have some kind of thyroid issue, and 60% or more of those are undiagnosed or completely unaware of their condition and it causes things like poor sleep and constipation, and in women, gynecological issues like miscarriages and fibroids that causes hormone imbalances.  It can lead to anemia.  It can lead to different forms of adrenal fatigue.  It can even lead to things like type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

And so, whenever I see a good book on thyroid come out I like to look through it and frankly, in the past several years there has been like a dearth of books about the thyroid.  However, I recently got my hands on a book that I would say is one of the most comprehensive resources that I found in terms of not like, not insulting your intelligence by spitting out what every other book out there, I think, tends to say about the thyroid.  But instead taking a really, really deep dive in the world of thyroid hormones and then teaching you how to fix your thyroid for good.

And the author is right here on the show with me.  So the book is called The Paleo Thyroid Solution: Stop Feeling Fat, Foggy, And Fatigue, a little bit of an alliteration there, At The Hands Of Uninformed Doctors – Reclaim Your Health”.  The author is Elle Russ.  And Elle is of course an author.   She's a health coach.  She’s the host of a different podcast called the Primal Blueprint Podcast.  She does that with Mark Sisson.  That’s kinda like part of his brand, the whole primal brand.  And she actually sits on the advisory board of the Primal Health Coach Program that Mark Sisson has created.  So, she wrote The Paleo Thyroid Solution” recently.  I recently read it and I had to get her on the show to talk about not only that her intriguing journey fighting thyroid, but also some of the fascinating topics that she delves into in this book.  So Elle, thanks for coming on the show.

Elle:  What a great intro.  Thank you so much for having me.  And I was unaware of your personal thyroid issues and we can either, I have some ideas as to why that happened to you once you describe what you went through for a year, and also we can cover anything off the podcast afterwards if you wanted to talk blood work and look at stuff.

Ben:  Sweet.  I love being a podcaster.  I get free medical consulting from experts.

Elle:  (laughs) That’s right.

Ben:  Amazing.

Elle:  Exactly.  From, you know, like non-MD holding experts yet but…

Ben:  That’s right.  So I can sue you.  Or no actually I wouldn’t.  I think that means I can’t sue you if you’re not an MD, but you give me medical advice.  I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

Elle:  I’d love someone trying to sue me for malpractice. (laughs)

Ben: (laughs)

Elle:  And I don’t want it to be like a mismatch.  I’m not surprised based on what you said that you had thyroid problems that year, so we can get into that later.  But as you were describing that I was like, “Oh! Well of course you had thyroid problems.”  So we can talk a little bit about that in detail later about your personal experience, but yeah, where should we start?

Ben:  Well…

Elle:  This is a huge topic and thank you for the review of my book.  And one of the reasons is best book I couldn’t find when I was looking for it.  And I am tired as well of the same thyroid information given to in every book, but they don't tell you what to do, how to look at labs, what should stuff look like, all the different nuances.  They don't really tell you what to do.  And I really wanted to empower people to understand this because there is a world of uninformed doctors out there, and you need to kind of come armed with your own knowledge.

Ben:  And I know when you like have a hammer the whole world looks like a nail, the saying goes something like that in the book, and you obviously wrote a book on thyroid and you had thyroid issues and you use this term in the book.  So I’m curious like how you can justify using this term but you actually call Thyroid and specifically, I think, it’s T3.

Elle:  Yeah.

Ben:  The ‘hormone of life’ in the book.

Elle: Yeah.

Ben:  How can you justify actually calling it the ‘hormone of life’ when there’s so many other hormones like testosterone and cortisol and all these other hormones that we depend upon.  Why is T3 the ‘hormone of life’?

Elle:  All those other hormones you just talked about will be useless without proper thyroid function because thyroid function is the master gland of the entire body.  You will die without a gland.  Can't have one.  If you don't have one, you have to take the hormones that you otherwise…

Ben:  I thought some people like get it, take, can you get it… bladed?

Elle:  Well, here’s the thing.  The people who have their thyroid removed.  A couple scenarios.  Thyroid cancer?  Cut it right out.  If you have Graves’ disease and you have hyperthyroidism, oftentimes that cannot be controlled for a very long time.  What they do is they’ll either remove the thyroid or radioactively zap it.  Thus, making the person hypothyroid and they have to go on thyroid hormone replacement anyway.  But the bottom line is this:  you literally will not live without the gland at all.  Period.  End of story.  Now, sometimes people have like a partial or a little bit of their thyroid gland removed, but as far as the entire gland goes, you can’t live without it.  Most people are not born without it.  It’s very rare to be born without it.  So, you would die without this gland.  It’s the master gland of the human body in charge of every single metabolic function because everything stems from it.  So, you won’t even have cortisol production or testosterone or anything else if the thyroid and T3 wasn’t working properly.

So, if you would die without a thyroid gland, what do you think's going to happen to you when you have suboptimal or sluggish or even really severely low levels of thyroid hormones?  You’re dying slowly and that's literally what it feels like when you’re severely hypothyroid.  And everything in the body will start to breakdown.  The hormones will get thrown off, then you’ll get fibroid, you’ll get low testosterone, you won’t get hard-ons in the morning as a dude.  All these things go wrong because it's like a domino effect.

Ben:  So let’s use what you just talked about like guys not getting a hard-on in the morning.

Elle:  Sure.

Ben:  ‘Cause that happened to me when I was going through that time but I wasn’t sure if it was the low testosterone and something like adrenal fatigue causing low thyroid production or if it was the opposite.  But what you’re saying is it was the T3 that kind of starts the cascade to everything else?

Elle:  Well not necessarily.  So, here’s the thing.  Your adrenals could have affected the thyroid, right?   And adrenals can also affect testosterone.  But at the end of the day, when a guy who's of age where you should be waking up with erections, if you're not having that then you really should be looking at, not only just the testosterone, but the DAGA.  The DAGA is also another factor here and often people are very, very low.  So you probably exhausted your adrenals and in the end that came a thyroid and an adrenal response that messed with your testosterone.  Now, you could naturally corrected that testosterone would come back naturally, unless you had a true thyroid problem, but it sounds like you ignited yourself into a thyroid problem.  And I don't know if you’ve naturally gotten out of it or not.  We can talk about the details on that later, but why do I say T3 is the ‘hormone of life’?  Okay.  So, there's really two primary thyroid hormones that are really of consequence here and one you can live without and the other you cannot.  You can live without T4.  In fact, I have spent the past four years with no T4 in my body.  You cannot live without T3.  Now, T4 converse to T3.  So if you're not converting probably or there's an issue, bottom line is you need enough T3 to function and free T3, which is a test, is absolutely related to how people feel.

So, someone who is a total mess and seriously hypothyroid would have free T3 in the bottom of the range or even under.  It’s individual, so you know the most of human population have normal working thyroids, have a free T3 in midrange, but essentially this is the metabolically active thyroid hormone.  T4 is not.  Okay.  So you can give a person all the T4 you want or they can have all the greatest T4 levels on planet earth and they’re like “I still feel crappy.”  Well, have you tested the free T3?  Because all that matters is that the T4 converted into the thing that matters which is T3.  Why is T3 the ‘hormone of life’?  Well, it’s the difference between too hot, too cold.  No metabolism, metabolism.  Inflammation, you know, and no inflammation.  It is a Goldilocks scenario.  It is the regulator of our temperature/everything else that follows that.  So…

Ben:  So how are you able to have T3 without having T4, if T4 is what gets converted into T3?

Elle:  Because I take T3 only.  Which is very rare.  It is something that is used to…

Ben:  You take it like a supplement?

Elle: Oh no, it’s not a supplement.  It’s the actual hormones.  You can’t buy it over the counter.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:  I take like actual T3 hormones.  And now that’s rare.  A lot of people aren’t on T3 only.  You actually want this conversion process to happen.  You want the T4 to dish out and decide when you need T3 throughout the day and hopefully that process is working correctly.  And it’s all testable by the way.  You can see whether or not these things are converting properly and you can, you check levels.  These things are absolutely discoverable.  So T3 only is a very rare place to be and it is one of the options that is used when you cannot resolve a reverse T3 problem naturally or by other means because I don't know if you want to give, I can give a snapshot of how the thyroid works right now if that'll help everybody.  Essentially what happens is this.

Ben:  Yeah.  And by the way before you delve in, I mean like you have like a deep deep dive.  One of the most comprehensive dives I’ve seen in the book.  But yeah, give us the overview again.  Like I know a lot of people listening right now, you’re pretty smart cookies.  You’ve probably, especially if you click play on this, you kind of know a little bit about the thyroid, possibly.  But go ahead and give us that overview.

Elle:  Sure.  So what happens is, the first order of business is that the base of your brain, the pituitary, senses when your body is low on thyroid hormones.  And when it senses that it sends a signal to the thyroid that will say, “Hey, wake it up.  Produce more hormones.”  And that signal is called TSH, Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone. Now, it’s not a thyroid hormone, it is absolutely 100% not supposed to be used as a soul assessment measure for hypothyroidism.  That is one of the mistakes all the uninformed doctors use over the years.  I went undiagnosed for two years because they kept testing my TSH and I’ll explain that in a minute.

So, the brain senses the body is low on hormones.  It sends a signal to the thyroid to wake up and produce more.  When the THS signal is sent to the thyroid, the thyroid can take that signal and, if you have a normal working thyroid, it pumps out the right amounts and those right amounts get converted properly and everything's metabolized properly in the body.

You've got good levels of selenium and D and B12, and there's all these other factors adrenals, etcetera.  Sometimes the thyroid doesn't take the bait and so the problem lies in a few areas.  Doctors in the past were only testing the TSH which absolutely makes no sense.  It’s a 1973 protocol. It’s useless when used with other labs, and I’ll just rattle off a good comprehensive list which is TSH, free T3, free T4 and then you're looking at the two Hashimoto’s antibodies TPOAB and TGAB and then reverse T3.  Those tests right there…

Ben:  Those are all the ones that you should get tested.

Elle:  That's a comprehensive, now there are other you know factors and you can do a million food sensitivity test and hormonal tests, but that’s the basics right there.   Everybody should know the basics.  Now go to an endocrinologist, they're only going to test the TSH and the free T4. They’re not even testing the thing that matters which is…

Ben:  Why? The more expensive to do the other test?

Elle:  No!  It’s because they're indoctrinated in an old belief system.  It would be like someone telling you today, “Ben, you should not eat fat off the steak because you're gonna have heart disease.”  You would laugh in their face.  Because you and I know that that is all old outdated bunked medical wisdom.

Ben:  Unless it’s a crappy grain-fed cow.

Elle:  That’s right.  But it's the same with thyroid hormones.  The doctors that are in the know are up on the latest and the doctors that are not, including endocrinologists, who are the most indoctrinated, and I suggest nobody go see an endocrinologist for your thyroid health.  They want to see everybody’s free T3 in the middle of the range if they even test it.  Most of the time they don't test it and they happen to be quite ignorant on a lot of the subjects that are on thyroid health.  Whereas functional medicine doctors, DOs, integrative doctors and anti-aging doctors, those are the people that are usually up on the latest and understand how to take and evaluate and assess these tests.  So…

Ben:  Is there like a directory somewhere that people could use if they wanted to actually find a doctor who they didn’t have to tell to run those tests, but the doctor would actually know to run those tests.  Like is there like a practitioner, director or somebody like that where somebody's listening, they can actually find the right kind of doc?

Elle:  Good question, and yes.  And I would go to the NTH Yahoo group.  That’s Natural Thyroid Hormones Yahoo group.  And within there, if you join their free Yahoo group and they have files and they have a good doctor list compiled by thyroid patients all over the country and I think they have an international one.  That’s a great place to go and look to see about an informed doctor.  I can’t guarantee that everyone on there is gonna be great, but that's a good start. And that's kind of where I tell everyone to go.

Ben:  And by the way, for those of you listening in, I'll put a link in the show notes.  The show notes for this particular episode you can find.  It’s just Elle’s name.  You go to  That’s E-L-L-E.  And if you go to  I'll put a link to like the Yahoo group and Elle’s book and all that jazz.

Okay.  So most docs are not testing for the full spectrum of thyroid hormones.  T3 is the ‘hormone of life’, but you still have to test, what you said, TSH, T4, free T3, free T4, all of your thyroid antibodies, etcetera.

Elle:  And reverse T3.  Yeah.  So for example if you were to take my blood right now, my TSH would be zero, my free T4 would be zero, my reverse T3 would be zero , and the only thing that would really show up would be my free T3.  That’s very rare by the way.  I'm not suggesting T3 to anyone.  That is the last resort and it's very hard to find a doctor who even knows what they're doing with T3.  So if anyone thinks they're going to go out there and buy some T3 and like lose weight and fix their problems, you're asking for a lot of trouble.  Now if you were to go online…

Ben:  Crap.  ‘Cause I order T3 from this online pharmacy every week.  No, I'm just kidding. Okay, so what were you saying?

Elle:  Here's the thing, if you go online and you were to research Cytomel which is the brand name for T3 or liothyronine sodium which is T3, a hundred thousand bodybuilding websites pop-up and your like, “Oh, that's interesting.”  Well, here’s why.  T3 is the only metabolically, it is metabolism.  So why do bodybuilders take it?  They jam themselves for six to eight weeks with T3 so that they can burn as much fat as possible before a competition.  Is that smart?  No, it’s not!  They can really F up their thyroids. However…

Ben:  Why?

Elle:  They do it because it is the most…

Ben:  Is it just like a negative feedback loop thing?

Elle:  Right. Well here's the thing, when you take T3 directly, specifically it really shuts down the TSH and everything else, so now they're overriding the system.  And if they wean themselves back off, does their system come back?  Or they may suffer a little while, while you know the body goes, “Oh okay, so we’re doing this again now?” versus having it shutdown.  There's where you can get into a problem.  And also it's dangerous.  It kind of is dangerous the way that they do it.  They’re not doing it, in my opinion, in a smart effective way if they were going to do it like I would probably have some advice for those people a way to do it better if they we're going to do that.  But the bottom line is this, it's a fat burner.  So why do you think a little T3 levels hypothyroid patients get fat?  Hello!  No T3.  Why do hyperthyroid patients like pretty much have trouble putting on weight?  There you go!  Over T3.  They’re pooping and burning fat constantly.  They’ve got higher body temperatures.  That’s not healthy either because that’s hypermetabolic and can be inflammatory, etcetera.  But you go the other way, and you go hyperthyroidism and, again, it’s all about T3 and T3 metabolism essentially.  So that's why, I mean I say it’s ‘the hormone of life’ cause without it you're done.  You know what I mean.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  And if the T4’s not converting properly into the thing that matters then it doesn't matter how much T4 you ever give somebody.

Ben:  Well, as much as I am a fan of lurking on bodybuilding forums and taking the advice of broheads.  It kind of makes me think, you know, if so many of these people are like using T3 as a way to get a nice body or to burn more fat, what about like eating thyroid gland?  Like can you order and eat like thyroid gland like you can order like kidneys and liver, and stuff like that? 

Elle:  Well, desiccated thyroid gland is thyroid hormone replacement in the form of Natural Desiccated Thyroid or NDT.  That's what natural thyroid hormone is.

Ben:  You mean like the capsules?

Elle:  Not something you can get over the counter!  If you’re talking about the Glandular, there's glandulars where they might chop up a little bit of adrenal or chop up a little bit of thyroid.  But the essential natural desiccated thyroid is sort of the best option for a majority of patients.  It's natural.  It’s…

Ben:  And you have to have a prescription to get that?  Like you can’t like go to Amazon or other websites and get like a desiccated thyroid?

Elle:  You can.  You can actually, you can order it online without a prescription but you have to seek out and kind of look around a little bit further because you know, there's a lot of BS by the way.  You know there’s a lot of BS supplements out there like, “Oh T3 power!” and you’re like, “Ah I’m taking T3.”  No, you’re not.  The most important element in any of those supplements is selenium and why is that?  Because selenium is ultimately responsible for the conversion from T4 to T3.

Ben:  I've actually noticed that when I’ve gone to like super supplements or GNC, and you go on and you grab the bottle that says that it’s like the “thyroid booster” or “the thyroid support”.  Usually it's like a coleus forskohlii is one that I see in there a lot.  And then like selenium, like you mentioned, usually like iodine is in there, a whole bunch of B12.  But when you look at the label there's no actual thyroid in most thyroid supplements.  It’s mostly like a bunch of stuff that supposedly theoretically not according to like peer-reviewed clinical research, but it's supposed to support the thyroid.  It’s like a shotgun of stuff that the thyroid supposedly uses, right?

Elle:  Well, certainly.  In vitamin D and selenium and B12, of course.  There’s all these things that synergistically there’s, you know, not just thyroid hormones.  You can literally give a person all the correct thyroid hormones, but if they have a low ferritin, low iron storage, or adrenal insufficiency then they're not going to do well.  They're not going to be able to, here's why.  You can give someone all the hormones no matter what hormones they are all you want unless they are being properly metabolized and distributed and getting into the cells.  So back to the TSH and the way things work.  Throughout the day what normally happens is your body, your thyroid, if your normal, dispenses about 80% T4, about 20% T3, and about 40, 50% of that T4 will be converted in to T3 throughout the day as you need it.  Whatever is not used of the T4, gets flushed out through a system called reverse T3.  And that’s a natural, that's why I have no reverse T3 results because T3 does not convert into reverse T3.  Well, what is reverse T3?  Why is it important?  It’s really really important and this is probably what happened to you.

Ben:  Yeah.  That one’s kind of confusing for a lot of people.  Reverse T3.

Elle:  It is confusing.  So, now we know, okay, it's this way we're excess T4 is flushed out through the body.  Why do we have that there?  Here's why.  Reverse T3 is literally the marker of wellness and unwellness in most people.  For example, if you are have horrific morning sickness as a pregnant woman, likely you have elevated reverse T3.  If you have just gone to a huge car accident and went through a lot of trauma, you’re reverse T3 is going to probably be high.  Why is that?  Because your body wants to save you at all times.  And reverse T3 is there as an emergency alarm and an emergency brake to make sure you do not become hypermetabolic in times of stress or inflammation.  So, let's take the example of you.  I’m willing to bet it was not the high-fat ketosis that screwed up your thyroid.  It was probably the overtraining combined with maybe 2) lack of calories because your appetite was probably very suppressed on the fat.  Or also could’ve been a selenium deficiency, ferritin, I don't know the other, I don't know your other blood values before you started that train, right?

Ben:  Right.

Elle:  So those elements.  However, here's the thing.  Here's the Primal perspective, the paleo Primal perspective of our bodies.  “Oh my god,” So, you're running like whatever, 50 miles a day.  They’re like, “Oh my god, this guys either running from danger.  He doesn't have enough fat on his body.  We ‘ve got to reserve all the, and he might not get food soon.  We're not going to, this T4’s going right to the reverse T3 because we don't want to increase his metabolism.”

Ben:  Oh okay, so it’s down regulating metabolism.

Elle:  That’s right.  “Not only that, he can’t afford to have children right now.  We’re gonna cut his sex drive and decrease his testosterone.”  Same goes for female, “She's not in a position to have a baby right now.  She's starving or running from danger.  We need to shut this down.”

Ben:  So it's like an ancestral mechanism.

Elle:  It's a wonderful saving mechanism for us.

Ben:  Right.

Elle:  That is why, and I’m just gonna cut you really quick, we don’t have to get into a whole conversation on T3 only.  But that is why being on T3 only is a pain in the ass to manage and difficult and not optimal because you're making the, I mean literally how can I decide what my body needs at what times.  There are certain things I can measure temps and, you know, symptoms and go by pulse and things like that and that's how we can, I can manage T3.  However, when we think about this sort of like slow release mechanism that is T4 which is a storage home in a prohormone. Ah, that's a better system, right?  That's more elegant.  It's choosing for me and if it's choosing correctly then I'm getting all the right amounts of T3 when I need it and I'm not getting any more or any less.  Now I gave myself hypothyroidism by chronic exercise.  I'm pretty convinced because it doesn’t run in my family.  And, you know, now that I look back and see what kind of life I was living, I was a sugar burning, eating every 2-3 hours Zone South Beach type of philosophy and I was doing a crapload of chronic cardio probably became iron deficient at one point and I knew I was selenium deficient at one point.  All of those things could’ve just caused me to get a thyroid problem, but it was probably the body saying, “You're starving.”  And so in that sense we caught like euthyroid sick syndrome.  Starvation can absolutely increase reverse T3 and cause a thyroid problem.  So a lot of people who extreme dieting, Do you know what I mean?

Ben:  Right.

Elle:  Its, yeah…

Ben:  How long ago did this happen to you?

Elle:  So I’m 43 and then it happened when I was 30, then I had a second bout a reverse T3 problem of like six years later.  And both I had to absolutely correct myself without the help of a doctor at all which is why I wrote the book because that’s unacceptable to me.  Totally unacceptable.

Ben:  In your book you actually publish a whole bunch of like your lab results and you have for example like, you know, when your body sounded that emergency alarm and you were producing a whole bunch of reverse T3.  But I just flipped open to the book where you talk about.  Where you’re making a whole bunch of reverse T3.  But I'm looking at your values and your free T3 and your free T4.  They're both high.  This is July 2011.  Did something happen after that?  Because you keep saying that like your body doesn't make any T4, like what happened there?

Elle:  Oh well, no wait.  Those results are from when I was on natural desiccated thyroid.  I was on T4 and T3 at the time of that table that you're looking at.

Ben:  So what was it that caused your body, like what led to you having to take these supplements to get your free T3 and free T4 up?  Was it just this overtraining and under-eating you were talking about?

Elle:  No, the reverse T3 problem was separate.  I was already on natural desiccated thyroid and doing quite well after many years I already solved it.  However, I was still a sugar burner.  Was not aware of, you know, getting fat adapted and following this train so I was still in an over exercising, you know.  I had an extremely stressful year preceding my reverse T3 issues.  That severe stress can, I mean normal people who aren’t even on thyroid hormone get reverse T3 thyroid issues going through major stress and adrenals.  So you don't, and the answer’s not always thyroid hormones.  Minus the answers, fix the adrenals, decrease the stress and the whole symphony gets back in and again the body sensing a stress of some kind and again the stress could be chronic underlying infection like Lyme's disease.  You know, any kind of acute infection or stress that's going on in life can screw up a thyroid.  So, it doesn't have to necessarily be like a thyroid assault.  Specifically, it can just be life or over-exercising.

So, when I got the reverse T3 problem, I believe it was just a cascade of things.  I later found out I was selenium deficient.  Everybody who’s taking thyroid hormone and people in general only should shoot for 200 to 400 micrograms of selenium every day.  That was something I didn't do.  My iron dropped.  There is a lot of things that maybe I didn’t keep up with as a menstruating female over those years and then you know ran into this reverse T3 problem.  Now, I tried to correct it naturally but when I could not find success there then the only answer at that point is really to go on T3.  And that's because T3 doesn't convert into reverse T3.  So the idea is you wean yourself off of the T4.  It clears out of your body.  You replace it with T3.  Those receptors, well this is how we can look at reverse T3.

Reverse T3 is like in a guard that stands in for the T3 cells and protects anything from going in it.  Because it's like we don’t want his cells to be affected right now for whatever reason.  So what we're going to do is we’re going to block the cell receptors and we're just, and it's going to pull in your blood, which is why the reverse T3 problem, will show that you might even have a decent or high amount of reverse T3 in the blood and the, I mean, of T3 in the blood.  And so the only way to really detect a reverse T3 problem is to get reverse T3 and free T3 done at the same time and we do a ratio between the two and 20 or higher is considered healthy.  So when I had a reverse T3 problem, my ratio was like 12.  Severely hypothyroid even though I was taking thyroid hormones every day.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

Elle:  Now, stagnant liver, you could do a liver cleanse and try to, you know, get rid of a reverse T3, there’s lots of natural protocols that can absolutely do it but I just happened to try all them and it didn't work.  So, reverse T3 is really there to protect us and to prevent us from becoming hypermetabolic in situations where that would be dangerous for us if that makes any sense.  And so for you, I'm not surprised, and this is what happens to a lot of people training for marathons and marathon runners often very thin, over exercising.  That's the wrong messages you're sending to your whole thyroid process.

Ben:  Oh yeah.  Like my body fat at about two to three percent and I was doing a lot of training and no carbohydrates and yeah.   I mean it took a while for me to get myself back to health and back to like where I wouldn’t, I used to spend like the first four to five hours every morning like during work like shivering wearing like three layers of clothing because I was just like so freaking cold from very low thyroid hormone production.  So and like constipation and then like poor sleep was a biggie.  Like having a really hard time like staying asleep.  What you think that's kind like counter intuitive, right?  If you think of your body was like all sluggish that you’d just like collapse in bed at the end of the day and you’d be tired but the body doesn't fall asleep.  It’s really weird.  Really frustrating.

Elle:  Well here’s why.  Because when you’re hypothyroid, often you have adrenal issues because when you have low T3 then the adrenals are trying to take over to give you energy that's why when you have low T3, you're craving carbs and sugar.  Very hard to even, first of all, you’re metabolically inefficient for losing weight when you’re hypothyroid, but then the crapper is also that, because you have, now your body is screaming for energy.  So, you are like craving, you know.  And it’s very difficult.  So now you’ve got this added extra horrible like sugar addiction food obsession issue going on as well because your body’s like, “I need energy from somewhere.  You’re not giving it.”  So what it does is it over pumps the cortisol, now you’ve got adrenal fatigue.  That happens with most people, Do you know what I mean like who have hypothyroidism that goes unchecked for a while.  And so…

Ben:  Even though I had like through the roof cortisol.  I still do.  I would like, my cortisol is still quite high.  So like my adrenals never really like quit producing what they're supposed to produce.  It’s just like my thyroid hormone just pooped.

Elle:   Well and here's the thing so getting back to why you were having trouble sleeping.  So often people of these cortisol issues.  You’d think, you know, you're sluggish and you're sleepy all the time then why can't you go to bed if you have hypothyroidism.  I never had issues sleeping, but people who did have usually have a combination of low and high cortisol and what happens is they might start to feel a little bit of pep and better after 6 p.m.  And then they have nighttime, high nighttime cortisol and can’t go to sleep.  So that's where the sleep comes in.  It's adrenal related usually.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

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Ben:  Hey, I want to interrupt this show to tell you about the Nutritional Therapy Association which, if you’re drooling over all this talk about thyroid, is probably right up your alley because what they do is they have nutritional therapy practitioner and consultant certifications that actually teach you how to use nutrient-dense food.  So, rather than learning how to use number one doctor recommended ensure to fuel a healthy lifestyle, you instead get a really bio individual ancestral approach to you or your clients or your customers learning how to eat healthy.  It's a certification.  You get the certification.  You can actually work with people legally to help them eat right and help them get healthier.  And so it's at, or you can sign up for one of their practitioner and consultant certifications.  And then registration for those closes on February 6th by the way.  But you can also go to their conference.  It’s called the MTA conference and guess who’s speaking there.  Yours truly.  March 3rd through the 5th.  That's in Vancouver, Washington and tickets for that are on sale now.  So, for that you could just go to and you just register, tell ‘em I sent you.  They’ll give you the white glove treatment and you can come party with me in Vancouver, Washington in March or you could just go to and get the certification without the party.

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Ben:  Now, speaking of being cold like one of the things that you talked about in the book is this whole idea of taking your body temperature to figure out whether or not you are hypothyroid.  Is there actual research behind that?  I mean, well first of all, explain how you were tested, but then I'm also curious like is there anything to that like as has that ever been correlated with thyroid blood levels?

Elle:  Okay, well let's just take a second.  So why if you go anywhere in the world to a doctor they take your temperature?  The reason is because humans have a general thermostat of being about 98.5, 98.6 in the afternoon and there's an average too…

Ben:  It’s also ‘cause they like to make you stick your, like to make you stick your tongue out and look silly…

Elle:  They’re just trying to antagonize you as well.  So yeah, so we're all like 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit usually in the afternoon and then in the morning there's also a range of basal body temperature and anyone can look up Broda Barnes who kind of invented this.

So, here's the thing there's so many, human body temperature I mean, it's an extension of basic body metabolism, right?  Heat is a form of energy, every reaction in the body has it so, low T3 now you're cold, now you're freezing, now you're sluggish, now you're producing less hydrochloric acid, now you’re digesting less, now you're absorbing less nutrients, now you're constipated, see the cascade of things that happen?  Now your hormones are off, now, you know I've had low testosterone twice even as a woman that's very important too.  So I know how that feels.  So body temperature is really important.  Now, for example, you know people can have the flu and you can have a hundred-and-two-degree fever, but you have the chills.  Okay?  Now, or you could be waking up in the morning like you're freezing, well how do you know you don't have a fever or not?  How do you know you don’t have chills coz you're sick?  Well you can go “I don’t feel bad so maybe I don't have a fever.

The only way to test your body’s temperature is to take the temperature.  You can feel cold, what’s your temperature?  Sometimes you can feel hot but maybe you just spent a day in the sun and your actual body temperature isn't abnormal.  Now what we do know, is this, when you take temperatures for like 5 days in a row and you do an average, what we're looking for when you're testing this at home, and I do tell this in my book, is really stability within temperatures versus crazy fluctuations because for females for example, second half of our month after ovulation our body temperature naturally rises and of course you know…Why do people do ovulation predictors with temperatures, I mean these things are all mapped up already, now, correlation with thyroid?  Obviously, there are a million things in this world that can lower or increase temperature, but assuming the person is a generally healthy person with no acute crazy infections, and diseases, and they're just having hypothyroidism, one of the ways to either:  a.) see if you have adrenal issues or hypothyroidism, and this is to test at home and you can really, like do this with body temperature and go “Okay, I think this is suspect” and then go from there and actually get tests.

The other thing that we use it for is it's imperative when it comes to increasing and getting and reaching your optimal dose.  When you start thyroid hormone replacement, you don’t just take your optimal dose, you graduate up to what that is and along the way when you take them, you can kind of decide “Am I closer?” or “Am I too far?” for example, I’ve been Hyperthyroid before.  When I was hyperthyroid my basal body temperatures indicated that they were 98.3 in the morning.  That's at the top end of that range.  That's pretty suspect of hyperthyroidism.  The other thing too is in the afternoon I’d be like 99 degrees, so, not to mention my pulse, so there's like a lot of different ways to assess “Am I on too much?” and “Am I on too low?” versus just looking at lab results, because everyone functions at different T3 levels, like my friend Kara functions really well when hers is towards the top of the range.  I know someone who functions well when it's just mid-ranged.  Everybody's individual, but you can assess labs with symptoms and also tends to get a fuller picture, so that's how temperature is involved and then also just in general, when you're too cold you've got mitochondrial impairment, there's not enough energy being created.  When you’re too hot, too much energy being created right? It's a Goldilocks scenario.

Ben:  What kind of thermometer do you use? Like, is there a certain thermometer that works best for doing like a…

Elle: Yup!

Ben:  Like, you know, you have all your instructions in the book about how to run yourself through the whole-body temperature protocol, but what kind of thermometer do you use?

Elle:  I mentioned in the book:  “Do not use a digital thermometer.”  Patients have found out that those are just unreliable and not as accurate.  What, and since we don't have the old school mercury thermometers anymore, there's something very similar called a Geratherm Thermometer, G-E-R-A-T-H-E-R-M, it’s like 3 or 10 bucks anywhere, Amazon or you know, the local Walgreens, and it looks kind of like a Mercury where you have to kind of shake it down and it’s got that ball in the end,  and what you really need do is hold it under your tongue for like seven minutes but you know you get more accurate temps this way, and of course, I detailed the protocol in my book.  So temperature is really important not only as your increasing your optimal dose but, let’s say you’re on Thyroid Hormone, and you're feeling something's off. Well, you can take a couple weeks of temps and kind of gauge what's up.

Ben:   Yeah.

Elle:   There are people that need a little bit more Thyroid Hormone in the winter and a little bit less in summer and there's lots of nuances, so temps is always a great way to go.  Now, there are some nuances to this.  There are some things that make temperature really high, there’s adrenal issues and iron issues that can make temps high when it’s not indication of hyperthyroid, and there’s a lot of variables there that I don’t know…

Ben:  So it’s basically like, giving you kind of a clue.

Elle:  It’s giving a great clue.  Not only for thyroid status but adrenal status as well.

Ben:  I track my temperature every day.  I actually use a ring now, have you tried one of these?  The Oura ring?

Elle:  No, I haven’t.

Ben:  It measures your temperature 24/7.  So, I can like wake up in the morning and it’ll be like “Hey, your body temperature peeked” at whatever, like, 4:00 AM last night, and it usually peeks at 2:00 AM, this can be a sign of over-training or under recovery and so, on this day, it’ll set like your recommended number of steps lower or tell you that it needs to be like an easier recovery day.  It’s kind of cool cause it’s skin temp, it’s not this Geratherm Thermometer that you’re talking about, but that’s what I use now and it’s really interesting.  It’s just like, it’s constantly measuring body temperature and it’s…

Elle:  Another thing that’s a great resource is, aside from the thermometer, I’m a huge fan of continuous heart rate monitors, particularly when it comes to thyroid dosing…

Ben:  And just like walk around with a strap around your chest all the time? Elle: No, I just do the wrist one…

Ben: Oh, yeah.

Elle:  They have the wrist ones now.  Pretty damn accurate and good at this point.

Ben:  Yeah, well this ring does that too!

Elle:  Oh, nice!

Ben:  I’m not trying to turn this into an advertisement for a ring but… Elle: Sure.

Ben:  But it does my heart rate too.  But you talk about a whole bunch of other vitals that you track, or that you recommend tracking that go above and beyond just temperature.  Like, other things that, whether you’re fixing your thyroid or whether you’re trying to figure out if you have thyroid issues, that you personally recommend tracking.  Like, which vitals you track in addition to just temperature.

Elle:  Yeah, you know, I wish I actually, and then maybe in the second edition I'll put even more.  You know, the book could have been eight-hundred pages because there's so many variables and nuances and tangents to every aspect of everything I say in there, and I would love to have gone into more detail on this.  But for example, I track, so pulse, blood pressure and temps, so you’re looking at heart rate…

Ben:  Why blood pressure?  Does blood pressure respond to thyroid?

Elle: Yes it does. So for example, a lot of people who are misdiagnosed who are treated with uninformed doctors are like on blood pressure medications, statins, antidepressants, by the way, all related to thyroid.  Thyroid affects the brain if you think you are having depression or bipolar issues, check your thyroid first before going on a Prozac or something like that because it won't last longer than three months you’re going to be back to the same problem.  Same goes with blood pressure and any kind of cholesterol issues.  Those are always resolved once your thyroid gets fixed.  So this is another problem too, about people going into a doctor right?  “So I thought you’re depressed, we’ll put you on an SSRI.”  “Oh you've got horrible cholesterol we need to put you on statins right away.” They're not even looking at the thyroid and that is the master gland, it controls everything right?  ‘Cause it's controlling our metabolic process, how every organ functions, so of course, you're not going to be processing fat correctly when your body is at 96 degrees, which mine was constantly all day when I was severely hypothyroid.  I was freezing all the time.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  You know?

Ben:  I’ve definitely run into that.

Elle:  And the constipation is horrific.  So anyways, let's talk about heart rates and so, for example like, basically, above 60 and below 90, you know, that’s kind of what you’re looking at for people.  Everybody's different, athletes are going to have a lower resting heart rate.  But, for example, a normal heart rate for an average person might be between 70 and 80 so for example:  for me, when I was on too much T3, like I might just be hanging out talking to you right now and my pulse could be like 96.  That's insane.  That’s…

Ben:  How much T3 were you taking?  Like what's the actual amount?  How is that measured?

Elle:  That actually has nothing to do with it.  ‘Cause it’s too much for me is what it really was.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:  Because there are people that can take 175 micrograms and that would like kill somebody, or you can take 30 and be fine a day, so it just depends you know, on individually.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:  But for me at the time, and that's how I noticed.  I started to become really warm, you know, I’m just like “I'm too warm” and then I noticed my pulse and I also noticed a level of anxiety because when your pulse goes up, and then the core is on the adrenals right?  So, I was kind of like on edge.  When your hyperthyroid, not only are there overstimulation symptoms with pulse and things like that, but there are overstimulation symptoms as well like, with feeling aggro or agitated or, do you know what I mean? There's other things that you can tell whether you’re over-stimulated.

So, that's why pulse and heart rate and things like that are normal, and I just feel also it's great to get a good baseline for people of where they’re at before they start, where they're at midway and when they finish.  Then you kind of know what's right for you, do you know what I mean?  And so, for example, when I lowered my T3 and then my pulse went back down and temps went back down, totally different ballgame.  Also, you could be hyperthyroid and feel chilly because you essentially are mimicking a fever into your body. You know what I mean?  And then that causes inflammation.  So getting back to just anyone out there who’s thinking they're going to take T3 to lose weight.  Good luck.  You’ll run into problems, you’ll screw yourself up and you can actually get fat.  So, it’ll totally backfire!

Ben:  But you’ll have something to say on the bodybuilding forums.

Elle:  (laughs) Right.

Ben:  ‘Cause everybody's gotta pipe in there with their own N equals one story, otherwise you’re just useless on the forums and your little avatar of biceps just is not going to have any credence to it.  So, that's the one exception.  I'm just saying.  You’ve gotta mess round with some form of like self-experimentation if you wanna be taken legit on those bodybuilding forums.  Anyways though, we digress.  You mentioned…

Elle:  Let me just throw one thing out there…

Ben:  Oh, go ahead.

Elle:  I just want to throw a whole thing out there.  So, for example, like a low heart rate, or a low normal, but a raised blood pressure and lower temps?  That might be an indication of hypothyroidism, okay?  A high heart rate with a raised, you know, blood pressure, maybe an indication of adrenaline production.  You know, due to weak in adrenals and low cortisol.  So, there's a lot of variables here that can go on with temp, blood pressure and pulse. And so…

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  It's just you know, I think important to not monitor and see where you're at and what’s going on and, you know, even for example, like, recently I put my heart rate monitor on my brother who’s got perfect normal thyroid function just to see, like, what his pulse was while we were hanging out together, we’re roughly the same age, and I was like “What’s he got?”  You know what I mean?

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  And mine was roughly about his.  And I'm not saying I’m trying to match his pulse, but I’m saying, you know, with mine higher than his I would feel it and it doesn't feel good either.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  So there’s other somethings involved, you know?

Ben:  So what, in terms of thyroid medications and thyroid supplements, let me first ask you this:  like, in terms of like over the counter thyroid for people who wants to, let's say, not that there's anybody out there that wants to do this, let’s say somebody want to like, self-test and self-medicate.  Where, they're going to go to DirectLabs, they're going to get all the thyroid tests you just talked about and they maybe don't want to go through a doctor but they want to like try one of these, like, over the counter medications.  ‘Cause I know like I've talked before, like, about desiccated thyroid, and for example, one company I’ve talked about in the past was Natural Thyroid Solutions where like they have a supplement called Thyro Gold,  and I think it's like T1, T2, T3, and T4.  It’s like a desiccated thyroid like we just talked about.  That’s one example. There’s a whole bunch of others out there but, are there any over the counter natural thyroid supplements that you recommend or that you endorse?

Elle:  No and yes.   The no answer is:  Anything that actually has the thyroid hormones in it, you know, should be natural desiccated thyroid.  Just so you know, because we go by grains.  But let’s say 60 milligrams of natural desiccated thyroid usually is starting dose for most people, equals 38 micrograms of T4 and 9 micrograms of T3.  Now, as I told you earlier, that 38 micrograms of T4 is going to be converted 40 to 50% into T3 throughout the day, and what's not used will get flushed out through reverse T3.  So, each pill of desiccated thyroid is standardized to equal these amounts, okay?  So, anything that's not that?  I wouldn't trust as far as natural thyroid.  You know, I don’t know about “Thyroid Gold”, it's not something I hear about often.  The major brands are really:  Armour, Nature-throid, WP, Acella, and you know, of course there’s countries everybody has a…

Ben:  Aren’t those all prescription?

Elle: They are, and you can get them without a prescription.

Ben:  Oh, really?

Elle:  So, talking about the best over the counter for thyroid?
Couple things.  Vitamin D, B12 or Methyl CPG if your homocysteine is high, Selenium in the form of Se-methylselenocysteine, which is supposedly the most absorbable form, and then also, you know, things like coconut oil.  People have noticed that taking coconut oil sometimes can stimulate things.

Ben:  Really?  Why is that?

Elle:  People have said that.  I'm not so sure exactly the mechanism behind why that is the case.

Ben:  But it’s not the fact that it’s just like a copious number of calories that are helping, do you think?  Or is there something unique in coconut oil…

Elle:  It could be that or it could be the actual saturated fat that people are, you know kind of eating less fat anyway, and they do so little good some healthy fat and then, you know, saturated fat as we know, cholesterol, production of hormones, right? everything is involved with that, so maybe that’s part of it too is that they're getting some good straight fat.  Eliminating things like raw cruciferous vegetables.  Those have always been a point of contention and argued over but at the end of the day, they say that raw cruciferous vegetables might have an anti-thyroid effect, so you could either cook them or avoid them altogether while you're trying to heal a thyroid issue.  I would.

So yes, selenium is really the biggest one.  And then also, lifestyle.  Again, you can take all of these things but then, are you running 3 miles a day?  You know what I mean?  Like, how are your adrenals?  Are you sleeping?  What do you, so, you know what I mean?  ‘Cause that all, like we talked about earlier, is really this primal perspective of your body and the signals that are being sent, and you have to make sure, and this goes into the whole people are like:  “low carb causes thyroid problems”  No, I'm not willing to agree with that and I have a million thoughts on that subject, but one of the reasons is, I think part of the problem with that is when people go low carb and their appetite gets suppressed and then sometimes they just really don’t eat enough calories in general ‘cause their appetite is so suppressed, and that could be the problem. Right? Do you know what I mean?

Ben: Right.

Elle:  Also we don't know if people came to the fore…

Ben:  That’s an easy fix.  You just smoke weed.

Elle: Just smoke some weed and eat some coconut oil together.

Ben:   Right.  Exactly.

Elle:  Or just do cannabis coconut oil and…

Ben:  That’s what your next book should be.  “The Coconut Oil Marijuana Diet”

Elle:  Oh, alright, listen.  I’m a huge fan of THC.  Would love to write that book.  I don’t like alcohol.  (laughs) But yeah, I don’t know if THC can help the thyroid.  That might be something to look into, but yeah…

Ben:  I don’t know if there’s been any research on that.  I would be curious. Like, I’ll usually go to, typically it's CBD that you tend to find more of the therapeutic components in and there's is a website that has just like a ton of research on whether or not CBD is useful for a variety of different medical conditions, but I actually haven’t explored that for a, you know, any link between the endocannabinoid system and thyroid.  That’d be interesting.

Elle:  I just did a whole interview with Stuart Tomc from CV Sciences on CBD and fat-burning.  They're discovering some new elements there and that's recent on our podcast if anyone's interested, but yes, CBD for anti-inflammatory, that could always maybe be an assistant.  Most people who are hypothyroid are inflamed in some way.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  And again, this goes back to, so, everything slows down, sluggish, nothing’s being processed, constipation, and so now what do you have?  Insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.  So this is just a train of nightmares unless you set.

Ben:  Now what about medication, you like, let's say you were going to get prescribed something.  You talked about levothyroxine and centroid and getting like just T3 all by itself is perhaps not being the best solution?

Elle:  It's not the best first order of solution ever, for anybody.  And it should never be considered a first order of business.  Now, here's the thing, you go to an endocrinologist, you go to an uninformed doctor, the first thing they’re going to suggest is Synthroid or T4 only or Levothyroxine.  Now, let’s just look at this for a second. As I’ve told you our own bodies do not rely on conversion alone.  Our bodies actually pump out some T3, okay? So right off the bat, that's just not endocrine mimicry anyway.  Can it work for a lot of people? Yes. It often fails a lot of people, and I’m gonna say this:  To everyone out there in levothyroxine or T4 only with levothyroxine generic name, Synthroid’s brand name, the doctor in my book said one thing about that.  Which is:  he will never ever prescribe levothyroxine generically.  He only prescribes Synthroid because he has seen that with that particular medication the brand name is far superior.  That says a lot.  A doctor who’s, the only thing he won't prescribe generic is that.  He has seen people's liver results be totally off and screwed up from generic levothyroxine, Thyroid levels all over the place.  So if you are on T4 only levothyroxine, it would behoove you to go call and get the brand name right away.  I would.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:  Based on what the doctor on my book had to say.  So, that’s one thing.  T4 only is the…

Ben:  And that’s the doctor you interviewed at the end of your book?

Elle:  Yeah.  Dr. Gary Foresman.  He’s a primal doctor and also a functional medicine doctor, really highly…

Ben:  That’s a really good interview, by the way.  I think the book’s worth it just for that interview.

Elle:  You know, I totally agree.  And I’ve had several podcasts with him.  So, anyone, if they just can't tolerate the reading and their brain can't comprehend it, which when you’re hypothyroid happens, just go listen to some of the interviews with Dr. Gary Foresman.  But, that's one thing, now here's the other thing.  So brief history.  Eighteen hundreds genius, English, physician, was like “What’s all these people with goiters on their neck and hypothyroidism?”  He extracts sheep thyroid gland, he injects into a human and it works.  Thus, comes natural desiccated thyroid, which was the treatment for people up until the 1950s when drug companies could not patent desiccated thyroid.

So, what do they do?  They created T4 Synthroid and they touted it as the only one stop only answer.  So the propaganda behind that is what has ruined patients for years.  So, then people got moved to T4 Synthroid only.  Then years would go by.  It was not doing well.  People still having problems.  Doctors were like “What’s happening? We thought this was the only answer.”  Turns out there's all these other elements they figured out, right?  And then they’re going “Uh Oh” and now really, the move has been back in the past 10 – 15 years to get people really natural desiccated thyroid in my opinion, is the best first choice of business unless there's other things that would dictate otherwise that it is.  And it's also the most endocrine mimicry.  It's giving you a little direct T3, it's also giving you enough T4 in the ratios that our bodies would normally do it anyway. Pigs are very similar to humans that way, so…

Ben:  So is that like Armour Thyroid?

Elle:  That's right. That’s Armour Thyroid, that’s Nature-throid,  NDT natural desiccated thyroid, it comes in lots of different brand names.  Every country has a generic form of it. Thailand has one called thyroid, like it’s very generic, it’s very cheap it's been around for a hundred years.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:  That’s really optimal, now, so here are the options.  You take T4 only, you can take natural desiccated thyroid, you can take compound T3 T4 combination.  That would be because you cannot separate the hormones in natural desiccated thyroid because they kind of come locked in that ratio.  But you can, to the microgram, adjust synthetic T4 and T3.  So, there are some patients who have compounded T4 T3 to couture to them specifically.  And these are people that really either need, are allergic to fillers or have issues with fillers and certain pills like natural desiccated thyroid might have some, or because their doctor really needs to adjust it to the microgrammer too. The only way to do that is through a synthetic T4 T3 compound and scenario or there’s T3 only.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:  So there's really four main choices.  Now, you can take T4 only Synthroid, add a little T3 to it.  You could take NDT add a little T4 in it.  And you know, you can make adjustments to all of it but those are the four main categories for treatment.

Ben:  And what do you take?

Elle:  I just take T3 only.  Slight amount.

Ben:  Okay. And that's like, you take T3 only.  Why?   As opposed to desiccated thyroid.

Elle:  I did take desiccated thyroid, but then I got the reverse T3 problem.   So, then I corrected that and I've been on T3 only for 4 years.  I absolutely am going back on NDT. I'm going to attempt that 100%.  I would prefer to be an NDT.  It's very difficult to manage T3 only and it gets really old after a while, However, it's a lifesaver so not gonna knock it.  But the reason I haven't tried to go back on NDT is because I was writing a book and I was like “If it fails me, if that T4 fails to convert, I don't need to become hypothyroid right now.”, while I'm writing a book trying to, you know what I mean?  So, that was really my main reason for delaying it.  And the other reason was I got a bunch of tests with the doctor on my book and we found some factors that had been screwed up while I had had that last reverse T3 problem.  And I needed to get rid of some inflammation and high homocysteine, and was able to do all that, but I wanted to correct all of potential underlying problems, so that when I go back on a T4 T3  combo in the form on natural desiccated thyroid, that I am primed for that to be converted and work properly just as it once did for me.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:   And f it doesn’t, I can always go back on T3 only right?  That's like the savior.  If it doesn’t work, and, I’ll know right away in the first 6 weeks whether this is converting correctly and whatever, and so, but there might be a week or two where I might feel hypo and so I didn't want to really risk that while I was being interviewed and writing a book of course, because you want your mental sharpness there.

Ben:  Yeah, sure.  Now what if somebody has tried all these things you’re talking about like they’ve quit over-training and they amped up their food intake, and maybe they’ve even started into either a desiccated or a compound, or they’re working with a doctor to get on the correct thyroid, and they're eating their coconut oil and smoking their weed and doing all these things that you talk about.

Elle:  (laughs)

Ben:  What if somebody tries everything and they’re still having issues?  Like what are some of the things that could still be causing problems?

Elle:  There's a couple things.  First of all, high HBA1C. Too many carbs, insulin resistance, you know?  Do you really have it?

Ben:  So HBA1C being like the three-month snapshot of your blood sugar levels.

Elle:  That’s right.  You want it to be 5.2 or lower.

Ben:  Okay.

Elle:   And if it's not, you're looking at having to adjust carbs.  Mine was 5.7 which was pretty pre-diabetic.  So that had been lingering even though I went paleo primal, I still, for me, didn’t lower the carbs enough to resolve that.  So, that was something that…

Ben:  Now, a lot of people think that's countering too.  Like, you're saying eat fewer carbs to fix your thyroid.

Elle:  I’m saying eat fewer carbs to fix the insulin resistance.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.

Elle:  Right, like I’m saying that’s what happened to me.  So, if everything hasn’t worked, right?  Well, first of all, medication should work but if everything has not worked, what I said in the book, there’s so many underlying factors.  For women, the number one is iron storage which is ferritin.  It should be between 50 and 100.  If it's not, you’re likely a candidate for iron supplementation.  That can scrub a thyroid.  You don't have enough iron storage no matter what thyroid hormone you take or no matter what thyroid hormone your thyroid is dispensing naturally, it will not get to go, and, where it needs to go without proper ferritin.  So Ferritin, B12, Vitamin D these are all things that are very important in underlying in this process.  So, you’ve got to look at those things if nothing's worked. The other thing I say is:  Look at the insulin resistance.  Because people might be like “Well I’m eating low carb and I'm eating Paleo Primal Paradigm.” but maybe it's not enough to nip that in the bud over there, and that's what happened to me.

So, insulin resistance, another thing would be Candida, Epstein-Barr, now, those are easily resolvable, but they usually take canceling out all sugar switching up probiotics every month and, you know, maybe even dosing yourself with a little oregano oil.  Those things can absolutely affect and mimic thyroid symptoms.  So can low ferritin. Brain fog, depression, energy and issues with eating.  So if you're still having all these issues and you're on thyroid hormone, then likely, you don't have the diet and nutrition dialed up, or you need some gut repair.  Most people with hypothyroidism get screwed up guts during the process.  And that needs to be corrected.  You know? And so there's where the Paleo Primal sort of lifestyle, cleaning it out, comes in, and repairing, you know, but while you heal.  It's not to say you'll never be able to enjoy a piece of pizza or, you know, but while you're healing is an anti-inflammatory program and protocol.  So there's that.  There’s the Candida, Epstein-Barr.  I, for example had something called excess fibrinogen.  So while I was hypothyroid, apparently my blood got extra sticky and all this extra fiber in there and it's really kind of a stroke/heart attack causer and no amount of diet or exercise can turn that around.  But systemic enzyme therapy turned that around for me and…

Ben:  Would that be like Wobenzyms and proteolytic enzymes things like that?

Elle:  Yes, Systemic Enzymes, like, I took Vitalzym XE, the professional version, and my fibrinogen went down from like 500 down to 300 and so now…

Ben:  That stuff can be useful for soreness too.

Elle:  Oh, well they give it to all the Olympic athletes in Germany and Japan.  I mean, if you look in to systemic enzymes they are very expensive, but I swear by them based on my experience.  So I had horribly fibrocystic breasts and terrible PMS, and they’re also used for inflammation, but I noticed that, I didn't take it for this, but I noticed that after a month of taking the systemic enzymes, my breast were like amazing and perfect and no PMS at all.  I couldn’t believe it, and I was like “What happened there?” Well, the excess fibrinogen in my body essentially was fibrocystic breast, fibroids, right? fibrin, fibra, right?  There we go. So, it's like I needed the brush cleaners of this, clean all of that out.  And what fibrocystic breasts are is estrogen dominance that often happens to women, you know, we get estrogen dominance and you get low testosterone issues, and also estrogen dominance.  There are some men who go through hypothyroidism, they start getting boobs, and they’re like “What is going on here?”. You definitely don’t want that, and if it happens, call me.  (laughs) That went to a new avenue.

But, so there’s all these other factors that can be affecting.  There could be food sensitivities.  I took a food sensitivity test and chocolate or cocoa was number one severe intolerance and it was the only one I had on the severe intolerance list.

Ben:  Bummer.

Elle:  But I didn’t know that.  I never felt the difference between cocoa but when I looked back, as a kid, I hated chocolate.  I hated chocolate, I hated hot cocoa.  Didn't understand why anyone liked it so that kind of is a tip-off.

Ben:  Yeah.  You were a weird kid.

Elle:  Yeah, then also it's just like, well, you can do as many tests as you want but there might be some element here that can help.  For example, I never had a problem with eggs.  I don’t have celiac.  I'm not even technically dairy or gluten sensitive in terms of what blood tests will tell you, but I am affected by them.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  So you know we have to go by both.  You can do some diagnostics.  I did an organic acids test and my serotonin was zero.  Well, it looked as though the serotonin of a person who’s up all night, stressed out and, you know, and I wasn't, I was sleeping every night great, but I was like alright well this is a problem. I know serotonin. That has to do with weight issues and energy.  And so there's all sorts of other things out there that can mimic thyroid issues and that's why you have to take a comprehensive approach, and that's why anyone who just takes a pill from their doctor and goes “Oh, I’ll just take this Synthroid and I’ll be fine.” you're asking for trouble because a.) those things need to convert and get metabolized properly, but then you also have these other factors that can be inhibiting or taking you two steps forward five steps backwards, you know?  Low B12, low ferritin.  So, I detail all this in my book but, again, those are some other factors that can come up where it’s like “Well I’m still not better.  I still can't lose weight” well, it’s like, look at the Candida, look at the HBA1C, maybe go get some more testing like food sensitivity or, for example, I'm not sensitive apparently, on paper, to anything but I did have a genetic test done and someone pointed out that I had a genetic marker that said that I might have an issue processing high-sulfur foods.  And then I was like “Oh that’s interesting! I do actually kind of have an issue with broccoli and garlic.” Those are high sulfur and someone said “Well, do you have a problem with eggs?”  and I said “No, I’ve been eating eggs all my life it’s fine” then I stopped myself and I thought “You know, now that I think about it, there’s been a few times when I’ve had eggs by themselves, and I just kind of felt gross for hours afterwards.” Not sick, not any major symptoms, just kind of like a “Ugh. I just want this to digest and be over with. Eugh. I feel gross.”  and then I thought “Maybe I should try cutting on eggs and seeing how that goes.” I cut out eggs for a few months and then I was like “ Oh. Well let me see what happens.”, reintroduce them? Nightmare.  Nightmare.

Ben:  Wow.

Elle:  Distended stomach like an Ethiopian starving child, bloated gas, horrible.  It was almost an instant horrific reaction.  I couldn’t even leave the house.  Again, nothing else was wrong, it was just “This is awful”, and so sometimes it takes, you know, like, you know a lot of biohacking and experimentation, along with some tests to see what's right for you.  You know what I mean? If you’re eating chocolate every day.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:   So of course, you’ve gotta look at these things and that’s why I say a functional doctor, or a medicine doctor, or a D.O. or an anti-aging doctor is really what you want because they're going to be looking at all of these things.  And so anyway, inflammation is one of those underlying things that sometimes can't totally be dissipated through diet and lifestyle, like my excess fibrinogen, but then you can get tested for it and then use other supplements to, you know, help that out.

Ben:  One thing that I thought was really interesting in the book is, you say that you’ve seen situations where people's thyroid issues were totally fixed with chiropractic visits or acupuncture visits.

Elle:  Yeah.

Ben:  What is the mechanism of action that would cause something like that?

Elle:  Well, you know, I'm not an acupuncturist but I will say this:   When I was severely hypothyroid I developed a fibroid and a polyp in my uterus.  Now when I went the acupuncturist, and she was the head of gynecology in Shanghai, and so this is like her specialty and she's really famous in LA.  And she said “I can get rid of this fibroid but I'm probably not going to be able to get rid of this polyp, then you’re probably going to have to get it operated on.”, and I was like “Alright, that’s interesting.”.  She did get rid of that fibroid, and when I went to the doctor and they took a second ultrasound, they were like “Oh the fibroid  is gone”, and  I go “Yeah, and so you think acupuncture is a bunch of BS?”. Do you know what I’m saying?

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  So I don't know the mechanisms of 3000-year-old medication, I mean, a medical system and herbs and whatnot that can bring things into balance. But at the end of the day that acupuncturist did tell me to take thyroid hormone. So…

Ben:   Well, I mean, you have different meridians…

Elle:  That’s right.

Ben:  And I won't even deny the existence of things like Chakra just ‘cause I've done a ton of Kundalini yoga and have found that it seems to just like, open up different parts of your body and we’ve done previous podcasts on Kundalini and talked about chakras and how that works, but I know when you needle certain points in the body like during acupuncture, you actually can invigorate what they call, like, the Yin or the Yang or they like the energy to specific areas, and so maybe it is, for example, enhancing the energy delivered to something like the thyroid gland area or something along those lines but it was something that…

Elle:  Also liver cleansing.  Also liver.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  They’re also very about liver and kidneys, and liver and gut health and all that stuff is responsible for, partly involved with conversion.  Stagnant liver might also be an issue there too, so there's where acupuncture might help.

Ben:  Right.

Elle:  Chiropractic work, sometimes if someone has a pinch or something's off, it can be affecting an area that could affect the throat or the neck or the thyroid that's there.  Do you know what I mean? So…

Ben:  So if nothing else is working, basically: quit eating chocolate, stop drinking booze, and go get needles stuck in your thyroid gland.

Elle:  Go get a bunch of needles, go get a human pin cushion, but yeah.  I believe in trying everything, and listen, a lot of people don’t want thyroid hormone replacement.  There's nothing wrong with it.  I don't want people to be scared of it, but of course if you can get your body to work the way it should work, hey, you know, I'm all for that, I absolutely want to tell everyone how to do that and there is a way to do that.

Ben:  Yeah.

Elle:  Particularly with Hashimoto’s by the way, when teenage kids and people first get diagnosed with Hashimoto's, when you go completely grain-free and adopt a real strict Paleo Primal protocol, you can almost turn that around and not have to go on thyroid medication and keep it at bay.

Ben:  Yeah

Elle:  That, you can have a lot of success with.

Ben:  Yeah.  Awesome.  Well there is obviously a ton of information in this book, especially ‘cause I'm like a total nerd, like the stuff where you talk about the science of the thyroid gland, I was just drooling over that section and everything from like, lab tests to, like, case studies, to this really interesting interview at the back.  We even talked about this Dr. Gary Foresman where you and he basically take a deep-deep-dive into the state of modern medicine and treatments for thyroid, and what works and what doesn't.  So, if you are listening in and you suspect you have thyroid issues or someone you know has thyroid issues, or you want to fix your thyroid or you’re a doctor or just want to like, educate yourself on thyroid, I mean, I would say I would love for doctors to read this book as well.

Elle:  Yes.

Ben:  It's called The Paleo Thyroid Solution.  It’s written by Elle Russ, and I’ll put links to some the stuff that Elle and I talked about.  If you just go to, that's, and there you can get the book, there you can delve into the resources and also, I’ll put a link to Elle’s podcast where she interviews a lot of people about this kind of stuff.  So Elle, thank you for coming on the show and for telling everybody why they're so freaking cold every morning.

Elle:  (laughs) Thanks so much for having me.

Ben:  Feeling fat, foggy, and fatigued I guess I should say.  That’s your trademark alliteration, right?

Elle:  That’s right.  And also on the note of, like you said, even the book, if you look at the Q&A, that's something you could actually bring into a doctor so a doctor can read and hear what another doctor is saying about why they don't know what they're talking about.  It’s pretty powerful ‘cause no one’s going to listen to me right? That's why I brought the doctor in on that one.  And also, if anyone wants to know about more about me, E-L-L-E-R-U-S-S dot com so.

Ben:  Awesome.  Cool.  I love it.  Alright folks, well, until next time I'm Ben Greenfield along with Elle Russ.  Signing off from, again, you can access the show notes over at  Thanks for listening in and have a healthy week.



I'll admit it: I have thyroid “issues”.

I've had them ever since I combined extreme ketosis (e.g. 90%+ fat based diet) for a full year, combined with hard and heavy training for Ironman triathlon.

So in light of the fact that I've had to battle rock-bottom “T3” levels over the past several years, hypothyroidism is a topic near and dear to my heart.

And I'm not alone. Over 200 million people worldwide and 20+ million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, but 60% are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. Undiagnosed or mistreated hypothyroidism can put people at risk for serious conditions, such as: depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, gynecological issues (infertility/miscarriages/fibroids/PCOS etc.), hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, anemia, and other diseases.

My guest on today's show has written one of the most comprehensive resources I've ever read for deciphering the confusing world of thyroid hormones, and fixing your thyroid for good. Her name is Elle Russ and her book is called “The Paleo Thyroid Solution: Stop Feeling Fat, Foggy, And Fatigued At The Hands Of Uninformed Doctors – Reclaim Your Health!“.

Elle is a writer, health/life coach, and host of the Primal Blueprint Podcast. She is fast becoming a leading voice of thyroid health in the burgeoning Evolutionary Health Movement (also referred to as Paleo, Primal, or Ancestral Health). Elle has a B.A in Philosophy from The University of California at Santa Cruz and is a certified Primal Health Coach. She sits on the advisory board of The Primal Health Coach Program created by Mark Sisson. Originally from downtown Chicago, Elle lives and plays in Malibu, CA.

Elle wrote The Paleo Thyroid Solution after consulting with over two dozen endocrinologists, internal medicine specialists, and general practice MDs…only to find that her thyroid condition was getting worse – and nothing from doctors resembled a solution, or even hope. Exasperated and desperate, Elle took control of her own health and resolved two severe bouts of hypothyroidism on her own – including an acute Reverse T3 problem. Through a devoted paleo/primal lifestyle, intensive personal experimentation, and a radically modified approach to thyroid hormone replacement therapy…Elle fixed her thyroid.

Her new book The Paleo Thyroid Solution dispels outdated, conventional thyroid wisdom still practiced by uninformed doctors, and instead provides the in-depth guidance necessary to solve hypothyroidism, achieve vibrant health, and optimize thyroid fat-burning hormone metabolism. It provides the only lifestyle and weight loss plan specifically targeted for maximizing thyroid hormone metabolism in harmony with paleo/primal/ancestral health principles.

In The Paleo Thyroid Solution, you will learn:

  • Primal/paleo protocols for naturally optimizing and even possibly reversing low thyroid function
  • How to work with your doctor to get the correct blood tests to diagnose hypothyroidism and accurately interpret results
  • How to work with your doctor to optimally treat hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone replacement
  • How to find a good doctor or work with your current one to diagnose and treat Reverse T3 issues (including T3-only treatment)
  • How to lose the insidious fat and weight gained from hypothyroidism
  • An MD’s perspective on why and how some doctors are uninformed and still practicing outdated thyroid protocols (in-depth commentary from integrative physician Dr. Gary E. Foresman, MD)

During my discussion with author Elle Russ, you'll discover:

-Why Elle call T3 the “hormone of life”, and what happened to hers…[10:30 & 13:20]

-How to find a doctor who actually knows the right parts of your thyroid to test…[19:00]

-Why most thyroid supplements don't actually contain thyroid glandular or thyroid hormones…[23:53]

-The confusing hormone “reverse T3” and the ancestral reflex that causes your body to make it…[25:30]

-Whether body temperature tests really work, and if there any science to back them up…[38:10]

-What vitals you should track, such as heart rate and blood pressure, and the best way to do it…[44:20]

-What Elle thinks is the best natural over-the-counter (OTC) thyroid for people who want to “self test” and “self medicate”…[50:30]

-Why coconut oil can help to heal thyroid issues (and whether or not marijuana or CBD should be used)…[51:50]

-The best prescription form of thyroid hormone to use and what Elle personally takes…[54:55]

-The shocking link between chiropractors, acupuncturists and thyroid hormone…[68:27]

-What to do if you have tried everything and you're still having issues…[70:27]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The FASTER ketogenic study Ben talked about

-Book: The Paleo Thyroid Solution

NTH Yahoo Group

The Oura ring for tracking body temperature (use coupon code “ben” and you’ll get 5% off your purchase and free shipping within the USA)

Geratherm thermometer



The Key To Deciphering The Mysteries Of Your Thyroid And Fixing Your Thyroid Hormones Forever.

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

I'll admit it: I have thyroid “issues”.

I've had them ever since I combined extreme ketosis (e.g. 90%+ fat based diet) for a full year, combined with hard and heavy training for Ironman triathlon.

So in light of the fact that I've had to battle rock-bottom “T3” levels over the past several years, hypothyroidism is a topic near and dear to my heart.

And I'm not alone. Over 200 million people worldwide and 20+ million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, but 60% are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. Undiagnosed or mistreated hypothyroidism can put people at risk for serious conditions, such as: depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, gynecological issues (infertility/miscarriages/fibroids/PCOS etc.), hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, anemia, and other diseases.

My guest on today's show has written one of the most comprehensive resources I've ever read for deciphering the confusing world of thyroid hormones, and fixing your thyroid for good. Her name is Elle Russ and her book is called “The Paleo Thyroid Solution: Stop Feeling Fat, Foggy, And Fatigued At The Hands Of Uninformed Doctors – Reclaim Your Health!“.

Elle is a writer, health/life coach, and host of the Primal Blueprint Podcast. She is fast becoming a leading voice of thyroid health in the burgeoning Evolutionary Health Movement (also referred to as Paleo, Primal, or Ancestral Health). Elle has a B.A in Philosophy from The University of California at Santa Cruz and is a certified Primal Health Coach. She sits on the advisory board of The Primal Health Coach Program created by Mark Sisson. Originally from downtown Chicago, Elle lives and plays in Malibu, CA.

Elle wrote The Paleo Thyroid Solution after consulting with over two dozen endocrinologists, internal medicine specialists, and general practice MDs…only to find that her thyroid condition was getting worse – and nothing from doctors resembled a solution, or even hope. Exasperated and desperate, Elle took control of her own health and resolved two severe bouts of hypothyroidism on her own – including an acute Reverse T3 problem. Through a devoted paleo/primal lifestyle, intensive personal experimentation, and a radically modified approach to thyroid hormone replacement therapy…Elle fixed her thyroid.

Her new book The Paleo Thyroid Solution dispels outdated, conventional thyroid wisdom still practiced by uninformed doctors, and instead provides the in-depth guidance necessary to solve hypothyroidism, achieve vibrant health, and optimize thyroid fat-burning hormone metabolism. It provides the only lifestyle and weight loss plan specifically targeted for maximizing thyroid hormone metabolism in harmony with paleo/primal/ancestral health principles.

In The Paleo Thyroid Solution, you will learn:

  • Primal/paleo protocols for naturally optimizing and even possibly reversing low thyroid function
  • How to work with your doctor to get the correct blood tests to diagnose hypothyroidism and accurately interpret results
  • How to work with your doctor to optimally treat hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone replacement
  • How to find a good doctor or work with your current one to diagnose and treat Reverse T3 issues (including T3-only treatment)
  • How to lose the insidious fat and weight gained from hypothyroidism
  • An MD’s perspective on why and how some doctors are uninformed and still practicing outdated thyroid protocols (in-depth commentary from integrative physician Dr. Gary E. Foresman, MD)

During my discussion with author Elle Russ, you'll discover:

-Why Elle call T3 the “hormone of life”, and what happened to hers…[10:30 & 13:20]

-How to find a doctor who actually knows the right parts of your thyroid to test…[19:00]

-Why most thyroid supplements don't actually contain thyroid glandular or thyroid hormones…[23:53]

-The confusing hormone “reverse T3” and the ancestral reflex that causes your body to make it…[25:30]

-Whether body temperature tests really work, and if there any science to back them up…[38:10]

-What vitals you should track, such as heart rate and blood pressure, and the best way to do it…[44:20]

-What Elle thinks is the best natural over-the-counter (OTC) thyroid for people who want to “self test” and “self medicate”…[50:30]

-Why coconut oil can help to heal thyroid issues (and whether or not marijuana or CBD should be used)…[51:50]

-The best prescription form of thyroid hormone to use and what Elle personally takes…[54:55]

-The shocking link between chiropractors, acupuncturists and thyroid hormone…[68:27]

-What to do if you have tried everything and you're still having issues…[70:27]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The FASTER ketogenic study Ben talked about

-Book: The Paleo Thyroid Solution

NTH Yahoo Group

The Oura ring for tracking body temperature (use coupon code “ben” and you’ll get 5% off your purchase and free shipping within the USA)

Geratherm thermometer

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

[Transcript] – Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.

Podcast from:

[3:19] Introduction

[7:02] About Dr. Dominic D’Agostino

[9:25] The Difference Between Ketone Esters and Ketone Salts

[18:08] How Do They Commercialize the Ketones From Their Labs?

[23:55&25:00&27:01] Three Unique Compounds and Others You Can “mix” with Ketones

[29:00] What Occurs on a Physiological Level That Would Allow the Consumption of Branched Chain Amino Acids to Maintain Ketosis or Elevate It?

[37:44] Sun in your Pocket – The Human Charger     

[39:17] Four Sigmatic

[41:07] Why Some People Including Dr. Veech Believe Ketone Esters to be Dangerous and That MCT Oil Blocks Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Absorption or Utilization

[47:50] Are There Any Evidence of People Experiencing Medical Issues with Using Ketone Salts or Esters?

[60:05] Why Ephedrine Can Be Safely Used for Fat Loss and Dom’s Own Experience With It

[65:40 & 1:05:41] Can You Combine Glucose with Ketones to Enhance Performance?

[72:15] Why Esters are More Expensive Than Salts?  Are There Ways to Make Either More Cost Effective?

[1:12:14] Why are Ketone Esters More Expensive Than Ketone Salts?

[1:28:40] End of Podcast

Ben: Hey, you smart cookie, it’s Ben Greenfield.  You better be a smart cookie because we put our propeller hats on in today’s episode with Dominic D’Agostino we get into ketosis.  And speaking of ketosis as a nutritional therapy, I’m headed down to Vancouver in March and you should join me.  March 3rd through the 5th.  I’m speaking at this thing called the NTA Conference.

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“We understood ketones as an energy metabolite but it would make sense that these energy metabolites even the Kreb Cycle intermediates, the energy metabolites are powerful signaling modules.  The receptors and pathways in our body, in our cells that sense that and there’s downstream signaling that are impacted as a result of that.  When you take MCT you make the beta hydroxybutyrate mostly and some of these may either convert to the L that resonate in there, but in the large part you produce beta hydroxybutyrate.”

He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there!  When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. 

Ben:  Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and it was a few months ago that I recorded this pretty controversial interview about ketosis with a guy named Dr. Richard Veech, and in that interview Dr. Veech claimed that the form of ketones that most people take nowadays when they’re using like a ketone supplement, they can actually be quite dangerous and his solution during that podcast was something called ketone salts.  And you may have heard of this that they’re extremely expensive, but according to him a far more natural and safe and healthy way to get your body very quickly into ketosis, for anything from like managing medical conditions to improving cognition, to increasing endurance et cetera.

And I actually, after that interview was sent a few bottles of these ketone salts and I tried them at home just taking a few at the kitchen table.  For those of you who do the whole ketosis thing if you’re a nerd sitting in your mom’s basement with nothing better to do than to measure your blood ketone values, then what you’ll learn next is pretty intriguing you know, my ketone shot in about 15 minutes from under one to about five.  And then I did this again during a race and this time combined it with drinking about 75 grams of pure glucose along with these ketone salts before a Tough Mudder event, and the results were equally as astounding.  I had an extremely fast race eating nothing and I actually won that race and proceeded not to eat for another 4 hours or so, and again, every time I measured ketones they were through the roof.  But my big question and yours too, might be whether or not these fancy expensive ketone salts are actually far better or safer than what most supplements have in them which ketone esters.  And our ketone esters which is what most people use are those actually gonna result in any kind of long term health issues.

Well, I decided to turn to the man himself, a ketosis expert Dr. Dominic D’Agostino to give us his opinion on this issue.  And Doms been a guest on the show before, you may have heard of him if you look into things like ketosis for everything from managing neurological disorders to performance enhancement in extreme environments, to holding your breath for longer periods of time.  He’s a professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at University of South Florida, and that means that wherever he is right now has got to be warmer than the 3 degrees out my front door.  And I would imagine he’s in quite balmier conditions than yours truly.  But his research is supported by the Office of Naval Research at the Department of Defense.  A ton of different private organizations and foundations turn to this dude to really learn what’s going on when it comes to ketosis and he’s no stranger to this podcast, he was a previous guest in an episode called A Deep Dive into Ketosis how Navy Seals, extreme athletes and busy executives can enhance physical and mental performance with the secret weapon of ketone fuel.  So I’ll link to that episode along with everything else that Dom and I talk today if you just go to, that’s  So that being said, Dom, welcome to the show, man.  Welcome back to the show.                    

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, thanks for having me on, Ben.  Appreciate it.  You know, I get a lot of great feedback from that original episode that was quite a while ago.      

Ben: It was.

Dr. D’Agostino:  A lot has happened since then.  Thanks for having me on.  Yeah, and I can clarify some of these things that you were talking about ketone esters or ketone salts. So what’s actually in the products that are on the market right now are ketone salts and I could delve into exactly what they are.  I have chemistry point of view versus ketone ester and get it in to all that.

Ben:  Okay, so what’s currently on the market that’s available for people to buy in most cases that’s a ketone salt?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah.

Ben:  Did I misspeak?

Dr. D’Agostino:  I think you described taking a bottle if it was liquid form.  It may have been if it was keto force which is a liquid that’s a ketone salt formula, but there’s also ketone…

Ben:  No, what I took was exactly what Dr. Veech had talked about and what they sent up to me.  You know what, I did misspeak.  I think I presented things completely backwards just a couple of seconds ago.  It’s the ketone esters that are the ones that are really hard to get your hands on.  Super expensive and those were the ones that are the three thousand or thirty thousand dollar bottle depending on who you ask.  Yes, the ketone esters are the ones that Dr. Veech sent to me.  The ketone salts are the ones that you can find in most products out there.  So just a clarification.  I’m not a complete idiot, but I did speak wrong there.

Dr. D’Agostino:  (Laughs).  Well, I put it under the umbrella yeah, no issue there coz I put it under the umbrella of ketone supplement and it’s easy to get the 2 mixed up.  So and you can get an equally expensive ketone salt if you wanted to.  So the expense just comes down to how, what kind of ketone salt you wanna make and what kind of ketone ester you wanna make based on your starting materials.

Ben:  But in most cases when somebody goes out and they buy one of these newer ketone enhancing supplements they’re purchasing the ketone salt not the ketone ester in most cases?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Absolutely, unless you’re getting it as a research chemical which we do.  We also make them in-house and I also buy them from a variety of sources, and we test in our lab like about 20 different types of formulas.  The individual molecules and formulations of them but yeah, if you’re gonna go out there the commercial products out there that you’re familiar with the marketing is a ketone salts and that essentially you take the beta-hydroxybutyrate molecule, and you can do this with acetoacetate too and you can use that for other purposes, but beta-hydroxybutyrate combined with a monovalent or divalent cation which is a fancy term for electrolyte, a mineral and that could be sodium or potassium that’s your monovalent cation that’ll bind very tightly, ionically bind to beta-hydroxybutyrate and its mono soluble.  You can assume it and your ketone levels spike up quick, or calcium, magnesium.  You could make a lithium salt with beta-hydroxybutyrate and then if you look at your periodic table, you know, strontium, barium you could make a lot of different types of ketone salt molecules but the ones that are being sold out there are typically sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Ben:  Right, pretty much all of them are just like beta-hydroxybutyrate bound with some kind of a salt.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Exactly.  Yeah, we use a lithium salt too, acetoacetate for some experiments coz acetoacetate has some unique properties.  So a salt does not have to be a sodium and we were just talking about excess sodium load.  I had formulations of ketone salts that have no sodium, so it’s just a mineral.  I actually tested one with a magnesium and got some blood work and my magnesium was sky high.  Maybe not a bad thing, I mean you don’t want it too high but it was an indication that a beta-hydroxybutyrate magnesium salt is actually very bioavailable.  And we know, you know people that are ketogenic dieting tend to run on a low on magnesium.  You definitely don’t wanna be low if you’re running marathons out there.

Ben:  Yeah, sure.

Dr. D’Agostino:  That was very informative to me as I test these things and you can also have a salt of an amino acid.  So the basic alkaline amino acids would be arginine, glycine and histidine and some people told me they’ve created a creatine salt but I have yet to kinda test that experimentally.

Ben:  So in the case of like a creatine salt or an amino acid salt, are you saying that beta-hydroxybutyrate could be bounced to a creatine salt or an amino acid salt, theoretically?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Absolutely, you could make an amino acid-balanced mineral salt with beta-hydroxybutyrate.  So you’d be delivering the ketone and also some beneficial alkaline amino acid like lysine in particular, it’s something that I add into my amino acid formula and balance out the minerals to supplement your electrolytes.

Ben:  That’s kinda cool.

Dr. D’Agostino:  So you could definitely do that.  And that’s what we do in the lab.

Ben:  Now what Dr. Veech was describing when I had him on my show was that to get as much beta-hydroxybutyrate delivered into the body as necessary to get your ketone levels really high or to get yourself into a state of ketosis that the amount of salt should have to have that bound to would be really high.  And as you just alluded to the salt would not necessarily need to be sodium per se.  You know, you mentioned that you did it with magnesium and your magnesium levels went through the roof, or you could do it with lithium on this amino acid salts or creatine salts, but painting with a broad brush does this just mean that any salt that you bind this stuff to, you have to take copious amounts of, potentially dangerous amounts of?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, he was speaking pretty much strictly about sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate and you could get sodium levels up.  Barely high to get into the, you know, 2-3 to 4 millimeter range.  That could be putting a stress on your body, conceivably.

Ben:  Like how much salt are we talking?  Coz like I personally will take, you know if you add up all the sea salt and stuff that I’m taking during the day.  On a typically day for me I’m consuming like a lot of times 3-6 grams-ish worth of salt.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, okay.  Yeah, when I first started doing this stuff like just testing and binding the sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate from like sigma, for me to get into that 1- 2 millimeter range like bumped up above where I was already at, I was getting about that amount up to ten grams of salt per day and through multiple dosing during the day.  So that’s why I realized quickly that the sodium could get you there but the sodium by itself tasted kinda horrible but what all the work was, you know, to bring this to the market you really have to balance out the mineral with potassium and other minerals and also formulate it with ideally with a carrier because when you consume sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate what I noticed and I also noticed this with the mono esters of beta-hydroxybutyrate, your levels shoot up really fast initially and that’s great if you want energy in like 10 minutes.  If you’d get on your bike, you drink it and then go and your energy’s kind of there.  But it also comes down and basically back to baseline within an hour with the salts and within an hour and a half to two hours with the ketone ester.

Typically, kind of it depends on your dose and how you take and what not.  So we started formulating the ketone salts in a balance preparation with sodium potassium, calcium magnesium and formulating it with various MCT-based powders; C8 and C10 powders and showing that if you deliver the ketone salts with the ketogenic fat it delays gastric absorption, and then the ketogenic fats also get broken down to ketones, the beta-hydroxybutyrate and then extends up pharmacokinetic profile.  We kind of tested a bunch of different combinations and then figured out which ones were optimal based on the testing that was done, and then different companies kind of got that and marketed that and were continuing to look at all the different forms of ketone salts and also ketone esters we worked with a variety of ketone esters in the lab.  And comparing them to figure out which one is most efficacious and which one is most potent.

Ben:  I wanna ask you about ketone esters here in just a moment, but when you’re talking about these ketone salts that you’ve developed and kind of like mixed with MCTs et cetera and companies that then take what you’ve developed and use in their product, how does that work, coz I know for example, one that I’ll use is Pruvit and earlier you mentioned Patrick Arnold I know he has one, I think it’s called Keto Kanan.  I’ve used that for example, for free-diving before to see if it would increase breath hold.  There’s a few other companies now, a lot of them actually popping up that are producing ketones but do folks approach you guys after you’ve kind of like fettered this up out in your lab in like license that from you or how does that actually work from like a commercial standpoint?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, good questions.  So I just stay in the lab and do my thing in the lab but we have, our university has a pretty good technology transfer office and a patent and licensing office, and they will basically say, “Hey, what are you doing?  Show us what you’re doing,” kind of thing.  And as we publish stuff too, they want it out there but typically they want it before you get it published, right, to get a patent out for it.  So as we are testing and screening things for the military work I was doing, some of the formulations that we’re testing were kind of standing out as superior against other formulations where we could achieve a level of ketosis that was above and beyond what we could get with even the highest dose of things in isolation when we start formulating them together.  And also from not only pharmacokinetic profile wise but also power ability and pound ability that is factored in there.

So our university will kind of just take all the raw data that they can get and they continually ask, and they look to see what other intellectual property is out there related to formulation and things like that.  And if it’s kind of something that’s a novel finding, a formulation that’s a novel finding or you could get a composition of matter where you’re creating different types of ketone salts which we’re doing in the lab too.  We work with our organic chemistry department to do some things, and Patrick Arnold was really great initially as a small company and an independent kind of chemist that’s kind of way out there and really forward thinking.  Patrick was instrumental in helping me kind of develop my research program by developing ketone salts or ketone esters and later ketone salts.

So essentially, we do the research and then we have people in our technology transfer office that looks through all the research to see if anything is patentable, whether it be a new molecule, or formulation, or a novel application of ketones.  Ten years ago, the only thing that the ketogenic diet was used for clinically was pediatric epilepsy.  And now a big theme of our conference that we’re holding The Metabolic Therapeutics Conference is that the applications are exploding in all these different directions, and you have high-end researchers at Ivy League institutions doing research on exogenous ketones that suppress inflammation to activate epigenetic pathways that confer protection against oxidative stress then maybe can extend longevity.  Like Dr. Longale will be speaking about longevity and Dr. Deep Dixit from Yale University will be speaking about Dramatic Inflamazone suppressing effects of exogenous ketones at our meeting.  This is all new information that’s just hitting.

We used to know that ketones viewed them only as a metabolite that supplied energy and Dr. Veech did some fantastic and spearheaded a lot of work to show that ketones are a superior metabolite and that their ability to generate ATP is greater.  The delta G of ATP hydrolysis is greater for ketone molecules and for glucose or beta-hydroxybutyrate.  So we understood ketones as an energy metabolite but it would make sense that these energy metabolites even Kreb Cycle intermediates, the energy metabolites are powerful signaling molecules.  The receptors and pathways in our body, in our cells that sense that and there’s downstream signaling that are impacted as a result of that.  And these are like metabolically independent which means independent of their effects on metabolism.  They have very unique signaling properties that are of high interest to the pharmaceutical companies.  I know coz they’ve contacted me (chuckles) and they wanted to basically reverse, kind of engineer molecules that work like ketones or specific pathologies.  So it’s an emerging field that really started emerging about 4 or 5 years ago.  It’s really new science.

Ben:  Careful with those pharmaceutical companies, man, they have a lot of money.  You might wind up with a garage full of test loads if you’re not careful. (Laughs)

Dr. D’Agostino:  Oh (laughs), yes, I know.  I’d like to add, one of the pharmaceutical companies that makes the most common anti-epilepsy drug out there is called Keppra and that’s made by UCB Pharmaceuticals, and I went to Belgium about a year or two ago and they held a conference with other ketogenic diet scientists to understand coz they know that the diet makes their drug work better.  Like you could use a quarter of the drug and get remarkable seizure control.  Or even get completely off the drug.  But I think more importantly they’re kinda fishing for understanding mechanistically the anti-convulsion effect of ketones by themselves.  So as the science starts to emerge, you’re gonna get more pharmaceutical companies interested in metabolism in general, but also specifically interested in the signaling properties of specific ketones.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s really interesting.  You’ve got into just a there a little bit ago, some of the things that you mix with ketones to enhance deliverability.  I know that for example, you see when you look at the label of a lot of these ketone supplements the addition of MCT, you know usually like an MCT powder.  You actually forwarded over to me a study that you did that showed that the blood brain barrier was relatively impermeable to a lot of hydrophilic substances and that would include something like ketones or ketone bodies, and so the transport of ketones across your blood brain barrier if you do want them to be available to brain tissue is dependent on these, I think what you described them as was proton-linked monocarboxylic acid transporters.  Meaning that MCT powder could basically act as like shuttle to carry ketone bodies across the blood brain barrier.  So if you inject your body, or not inject your body but consume, right some supplement that has a one-two combo of beta-hydroxybutyrate and MCTs, you could potentially increase what’s available to the brain.  Now, are there other things though in addition to MCTs that you have found that one could combine ketones with to enhance their deliverability or their efficacy?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, amino acids tend to be pretty, they’re good buffers so they tend to increase the tolerability, and now we’re doing the pharmacokinetics phase to see if they increase sort of extend out the pharmacokinetic profile.  How it influences the blood levels.  But medium-chained triglycerides are really, they’re awesome because they’re pretty cheap.  They’re very ketogenic.  If you give MCTs as a [0:25:44.5] ______ and intragastric gavage to a rat, you can achieve the level of ketosis similar to a ketone ester. And we’re really blown away by that.  The C8 oil is probably one of a bit more ketogenic maybe about the immediate, the regular C8, C10 is about 80% of what a C8 oil would be, but you could easily get the 5 or 6 milli more with MCTs.

Ben:  And then that would be something very similar to like the Brain Octane that Dave Asprey sells.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yup.  We’ve tested brain octane and it did really well against the standard MCT oil by Now Nutrition.  The Parrillo brand nutrition too, they sell it in like 1 liter bottles was really kind of a star performer in our lab too.  And the Parrillo Nutritions is kind of like a small company based in Florida that sells Cap Tri, I think is the name of the oil in 1 liter bottles, so we used that a lot for experiments.

Ben:  I’ll link to that in the show notes for people who wanna look it up.  So you’ve got like C8-type of versions of the MCT oil.  You also mentioned amino acids and I believe that you mentioned branched chain amino acids, Dom.  I’m curious why you chose those versus like a fuller spectrum of amino acids like essential amino acids.  And the reason I ask that is because I tend to personally during exercise find that essential amino acids seem to give me a little bit more of a boost compared to the BCAA’s, but I’m curious what your take is on that with the EAA’s versus BCAA’s?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, well, branched chain amino acids with leucine kind of the more potent of them.  If you take a formula that’s kind of a 2:1:1 ratio of branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine.  The other amino acids would kind of more or less get oxidized but spare the leucines that you can get like similar leucine levels with that.  So branched chain amino acids have been known for quite some time to impact anabolic pathways by activating mTOR more or less in a tissue-specific manner in skeletal muscle.  And it may also have or some versions of branched chain amino acids perhaps HMB may have anti-catabolic effects.  And there’s some evidence that indicate that branched chain amino acid may delay essential key when you send some [0:28:22.8] ______.  So I’m kind of a fan of that and also citrulline malate is something that’s in a product that I’d use myself, branched chain amino acids and extend for all formula without any sweeteners or anything in it that I’ve used myself.  We’ve actually used it in experiment that we’re doing in the lab even cancer experiments.  We find that the ketone salts when it’s combined with branched chain amino acids allows you to continue to maintain ketosis, and a high level of ketosis while you’re delivering.

Ben:  And what’s occurring on a physiological level that would allow the consumption of branched chain amino acids to maintain ketosis or elevate it?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Well, there’s 2 purely ketogenic amino acids and one is leucine and other is lysine.  They have minimal impact glycemic response.  So that’s one of the benefits of it and from a performance point of view, I think that they may offer some advantages we haven’t studied that.  I’m always a little bit cautious to talk about things that we haven’t directly studied in the lab, but there’s some evidence that suggest that they may be helpful taking intra workout.  I’ve taken them for years during fasting and I can tell you that they kind of help you get through periods of fasting and I believe have an anti-catabolic effect, if you are fasting.  You talked about also supplementing essential amino acids and I think it is important that you have essential amino acids for repair, muscle-building anabolic properties or whatever.  But the meal that you ate, I had venison and liver last night for my meal.  It was kind of a heavy meal I think.  Your gut and your liver actually store amino acid and throughout probably twenty four hours after you eat especially something like a steak and as long as you have baseline levels of those essential amino acids, they will be available for anabolic properties whereas the relative changes in a leucine are what’s most important for triggering through the anabolic machinery for growth and repair.

Ben:  Yeah.

Dr. D’Agostino:  And you know, you can take leucine and you get above some threshold level and that activates delta muscle protein synthesis but you think, you know if the essential amino acids are not there, how’s it going to rebuild?  But really, the meal that you ate the previous day provides availability of those essential amino acids.  I tend to couple my workouts or exercise later in the day, so if I kinda go into it fasting I will have a meal within a few hour time frame after.  Unless I’m doing an extended fast and there may be some utility and essential aminos but that’s not really been showing experimentally.  But I do think that anecdotally from just experimenting with different fasting protocols that branched chain amino acids can have some utility there and a number of people can be blood work and DEXA scans and what not are fasting with or without branched chain and it looks like they kept a couple pounds to lean body mass as they incorporated branched chain amino acids into their fasting which went from 3 days to… 1 guy did like fourteen days (chuckles).  I’m inclined to believe that they’re beneficial.

Ben:  I have a couple of thoughts on that.  The first is that for me what I’ve found is that in a calorically restricted state and frankly dude, I walk around at about a hundred and seventy five pounds and my normal stable way is about a hundred and ninety.  So I’m constantly eating about 80% of the calories I actually want to eat to stay lean for things like obstacle course racing, triathlon and some of these other events I compete in where having that mass to power ratio be a little bit more advantageous is a good thing.  What I found is that when I’m doing that, typically I am doing a lot of protein restriction and caloric restriction.  That’s where I found something like essential amino acids to allow me to maintain muscle more effectively than branched chains because what I did I interviewed Peter Attia and also spoke with him pretty extensively back when I was doing full-blown ketosis for Ironman.

This was like 3 years ago when I was literally bugged during the race and also in my meals and my diet leading up to the race just doing complete ketosis with zero to extremely low carbohydrates, and he recommended branched chain amino acids.  There was a specific brand that he used and I’ll link to the episode that I did with Peter in which we discussed this.  And I used the branched chain amino acids right about 8 hours into the event I bonked, right like I ran out of energy, and I also found that I had quite a bit of muscle loss during my training and then repeated that experiment using essential amino acids and I actually found that having a full respect for amino acids and again this is probably coz I wasn’t doing a lot of venison, and liver, and meat, and I was eating a relatively restricted diet from both a caloric and a protein-based standpoint.

I found the essential amino acids and still do find the essential amino acids to be more efficacious from a performance and a muscle-maintenance standpoint than the branched chains.  And that’s just kinda my N=1 experience with those. But the other thing and you mentioned this and I had kinda forgotten about this.  I don’t talk about this too much on the show these day but, HMB is something that you briefly mentioned a few moments ago as an active metabolite of leucine.  And I know that’s been shown in multiple studies to be able to reduce muscle protein breakdown, but I’m not sure if you saw the study last year and it was after the study came out that I started trying this combination especially before hard workouts and a ketotic or fasted state.

The combination of HMB and adenosine triphosphate.  This was in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and the results were substantial.  They showed that through a twelve-week protocol with a bunch of trained men in a double-blind placebo diet-controlled study, overall strength improved by more than 20% in the group supplementing with HMB and ATP compared to about 5% for the placebo group and they also had enormous changes in lean mass as well, meaning the supplement group increased their lean mass by something like 20 pounds over the 12 weeks compared to about 4 pounds in the placebo group.  So it looks like in this case even taking something like leucine in isolation combined with strength training and adequate calories and the addition in this case of ATP, they’re using about 400 milligrams of ATP per day.  There was a significant beneficial effect for strength power and lean mass.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, I do think there’s a lot of potential and those I’d like to see the data kinda reproduced in multiple labs so we have kind of an understanding how it works from a resistance training perspective to kind of like a more of a Crossfit workout, to like an endurance workout but I do think that HMB is something in a toll box that I think could be really helpful.  Talking with the military and going climbing to high altitude, a lot of proteolytic pathways get kicked on when you get above 14,000 feet and formulating something for prevention or muscle-sparing at altitude, HMB seems to be hitting a lot of the pathways that we think are hyper-activated in a hypoxia environment at altitude.

I talked with a number of researches that studied this and they think where HMB shines would be a situation where the person is putting themselves in kind of an overtrained state.  So if you take guys and really like hammer them hard in the gym and put them through a crazy hard workout and give HMB, you’re gonna see an effect.  But if you take like the average lifter you know, you may not see an effect.  You really have to almost put them into a catabolic state and give a relatively high dose to start seeing an effect.  The effect can be significant, I think.  But I think it’s context-dependent.

Ben:  Interesting.

Dr. D’Agostino:  But yeah, an interesting effect that you saw and makes me wanna look into it more and incorporate it into a formula instead.

Ben:  Yeah, I’m sure you have access to essential amino acids but if you want me to shoot you a bottle over after the call I can send you.  I also have some HMB and ATP around in the pantry too so I can shoot some in your way if wanna try it for your next massive dead lifting session.

Music Plays

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And then also, this podcast is brought to you by this company that makes amazing mushroom extracts and one of my favorites in the winter these days is their Hot Cacao with reishi.  So what they do is they take like an organic cacao and then they blend it with reishi mushroom dual extract.  So reishi is like the queen of mushrooms.  They call it the queen of mushrooms because it calms you down and ensures better sleep.  I don’t know what that has to do with queens but that’s apparently why they call it the queen of mushrooms.  It’s been shown to help to lower plasma cortisol levels, so it’s really interesting and each packet of this hot chocolate has 500 milligrams of log ground.  Yes it grows on logs.  Red reishi mushroom dual extract and then they throw in some cinnamon, some cardamom, some stevia.  Mwah, mwah, mwah, and of course cacao.  So it’s a fantastic way to have a nice cup of hot chocolate in the winter, or the fall, or the spring, or the summer, I suppose but it’s really amazing tasting and it’s got the reishi in it.  The queen of mushroom.  So how can you go wrong?  Plus you get a 15% discount.  Here’s how: go to that’s f-o-u-r sigmatic dot com/greenfield and the coupon code that you’re gonna wanna use is Ben Greenfield.  That will get you 15% off.  So and use code Ben Greenfield for 15% off.

Music Plays

Ben:  We touched on things we could combine with ketones.  We touched on how a ketone salt actually works and how the salt doesn’t necessarily need to be just sodium but could be as you mentioned lithium, or creatine, or an amino acid, or a magnesium salt, but why is it that some people including of course, Dr. Veech in that podcast that I did with him,  why is it that some people believe these ketone salts to be dangerous and also, and this is another thing that Dr. Veech mentioned, they also believe that MCT oil which we just talked about as being something that could enhance deliverability across the blood brain barrier, believe that to be able to block beta-hydroxybutyrate absorption or utilization?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, okay, good questions as there’s 2 questions there?  So ketone salts have been around for quite some time like even 60s and 70s, so even racemic compounds like 13 butanediol racemic was used back in the 1950’s and through sixties and seventies.  Actually, if you talk to some of those investigators who said it did super high concentrations to human and military studies, but getting back to the ketone salts, why they are dangerous?  So I think there’s a couple of things that Dr. Veech may be concerned about and I’m sure he probably did research, actually I know he did research coz I think he actually had some patents on sodium beta hydroxybutyrate like a long while back and probably put it on the shelf because he was concerned about the sodium overload.

So I think first and foremost if you’re trying to achieve therapeutic levels of ketosis like for treating clinical conditions, you probably don’t wanna load someone up with sodium beta hydroxybutyrate.  I don’t think it’s ideal, right but there are a range of studies and one published in the [0:42:45.4] ______ actually showing that even intravenous of pure sodium racemic beta hydroxybutyrate for a disorder, there’s a number of disorders actually that’s been used to.  It’s actually a prescription compound in Europe.  One is called MAD it’s called multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency syndrome, and kids that received this were basically kept alive because they’re given massive amounts of sodium DL which is racemic beta hydroxybutyrate, and it’s been used for a wide variety of disorders even glycogen synthesis deficiency disorder.  I know type 3 maybe even type 1 and 2 it’s been used.  And I have people that actually email me, some parents who have gone through exclusive channels acquired it for their children who have various forms of epilepsy and say it’s been a lifesaver coz they just could not get through child to adhere to a strict ketogenic diet for some reason or another.

So unless he has data to show that scientific publication.  For someone to say it’s dangerous, it should be backed up by science, right?  As scientists we all have opinions but we need to back up our data with science so unless there’s publications out there that I’m not aware of.  There are a number of safety committees for these things.  For ketone esters and what not.  So I think he may have said that because the ketone esters that he’s developed and put a lot of thought and experiments into, it’s kind of just one agent, right? But our lab is interested in testing you know, many different dozens of different things and testing it against one another.  And we have say, ketone salts up to twenty-five grams per kilogram per day in long term feeding studies.  And so no kidney, no mark in what we know we do comprehensive metabolic panel and CBC, and we see no indication of liver stress or kidney stress and then we harvest all the organs at the end and do histology, and have never seen anything that would be alarming and there’s nothing in the literature.

Actually, it’s saving the lives of many kids with different disorders and this is actually given very large doses intravenously.  And I would say, the science is not there unless he’s aware of something that I’m not aware of but when it comes and not even with sodium.  So I think ideally to make it even more safe once you’ve balanced out the mineral preparations.  So there may be a conflict of interest there related to patents and accompanying products, and things and I think that could be a factor.  But I think Dr. Veech believes in his heart that the R version of beta hydroxybutyrate in the ester form is best and it could be but it is not shaken out experimentally yet, and he may think that the sodium load.  You know, we kinda demonized sodium (chuckles) as being a bad thing but that could be a bad thing but it’s not. It just doesn’t show up in the clinical evidence or experimentally.

Ben:  And to clarify just a few things for those of you listening in who don’t have white lab coats on the racemic mixture that Dominic just referred to are the racemic salts are what most of these ketone salts are, and all that means is that it includes both the D and the L configurations.  So in chemistry a D refers to Dexter which would be like on the right and L, I think is what is that Lavice, Levice something like that on the left?  And so, when we look at something that’s in its D or in its L configuration, when we find beta hydroxybutyrate in like its physiological form in the human body in many cases it is in the D form, but a racemic mixture which is what a lot of these ketone salts are, it’s in both its D and it’s L form and so some would theorize that because that’s synthetic or non-native to the human body it might not be as good as the D form.  I know that’s one thing that Dr. Veech brought up and the actual form that he developed this ketone ester that he developed is apparently not only not a racemic mixture but more like a non- racemic mixture, and I think to his credit, Dom, I know that when you mentioned that he was experimenting with ketone salts some time ago, I think a few decades ago he was doing research on them, I don’t think he was using a racemic salt.  I’m pretty sure he was using like a non- racemic ketone salt.  It sounds to me though like what you’re saying is unless you’re seeing bodies in the streets from or disrupted physiology from people using this racemic salts, you’re saying it is in your opinion kind of a non-issue?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Just based on the medical literature for treating disorders and that’s published in the [0:47:56.8] ______ Journal of Biological Science dating back to like 1957 and you gotta remember, I mean the companies out there selling a lot of this stuff.  I looked at some of the financials and amounts that had been sold and it’s like literally millions of doses that had been consumed, and to my knowledge no adverse effects had been seen.  And keep in mind like a lot of animal work was done with racemic compounds.  Like I have a look through my computer here, like I have a whole file here on just studies done with racemic beta hydroxybutyrate or ketones showing lower oxidative stress, protects animals against hypoxia injury, protects animals against stroke, brain injury, various disorders like MAD and glycogen synthesis disorders.  So across the board, you know everything is positive there’s no negative thing.  Actually, I’ve contacted some of the researches that did some work through MIT actually and they looked at 13 butanediol which I’ll talk about that a little bit more because that’s actually how we make some of the ketone esters.  And there was a lot of intensive work done by AFRL, the Air Force looking at 13 butanediol which basically, splits and makes fifty-fifty beta hydroxybutyrate, and this was given very large doses to mice, rats, pigs, dogs.  Dogs were put on a treadmill with this stuff and given 40% of their calories from that and they showed that it could maintain their exercise performance, so it is synthetic.  They called it the most promising synthetic fuel for long duration space flight and it served the purpose that it was extremely stable.  It was highly energy dense, and actually if you incorporate it into food it was a [0:49:52.2] ______ which kept the food moist but it also protected the food from degradation.  The big showstopper was that it tasted really bad.  So it tasted pretty much like a ketone ester and 13 butanediol does and that’s what Dr. Veech actually makes his ketone esters from and that’s what we actually have used as a starting material to make our ketone esters too but by itself, 13 butanediol by itself breaks down in the liver.  It’s an alcohol, di-alcohol, it breaks down the liver to beta hydroxybutyrate in the racemic form, it breaks down too.  So what I’m saying here is that…

Ben:  You think that to use 13 butanediol and to market that is like a supplement for people to get into ketosis it’s simply not palatable for the general population or rather like disadvantages?

Dr. D’Agostino:  It’s not palatable, and actually if you divulge it (chuckles) to rodents and actually take it yourself and then take like Dr. Veech’s ester or a beta hydroxybutyrate mono ester the pharmacokinetic profile is pretty similar, actually.  So what the beta hydroxybutyrate mono ester is that Dr. Veech has is 13 butanediol, the R form with an ester bond that connects the beta hydroxybutyrate to that and we have a di-ester.  So we have our molecules 13 butanediol with 2 ketones attached to it acetoacetate.  So the 13 butanediol breaks down the beta hydroxybutyrate but then it releases the acetoacetate which has effects on neuroprotection that we’re interested in.  But that’s an ester though just to clarify, I talked about a salt being a mono valiant or di-valiant [0:51:34.7] ______ or amino acid in ester.  You can have an ethyl ester.  You can have a methyl ester.  So actually, if you have a methyl beta hydroxybutyrate you’ll get some methanol that you produce.  Not a good thing but people are using that, I think (laughs).  You could take an alcohol or like glyceride or a glycerol.  For example, you could take glycerol and attach 3 beta hydroxybutyrates to it and consume it.  So we have various esters like this in the lab and we have 13 butanediol mono esters and di esters and we test them pharmacokinetically and we also test them for different applications, but there’s a variety of esters that could be made too.  Not all of them have the same potency and not all of them are very palatable too.  So we found the most potent ester that we have in our lab tends to be the most unpalatable.  It seems like potency is inversely correlated with palatability (laughs).

Ben:  And by the way, just for the record I took the ketone ester that’s very similar with Dr. Veech and I talked about.  My wife pokes fun at me coz I eat anything.  I’ll suck down anything that people send me supplements and I’ll just drop them straight into my mouth, I don’t really care.  But I still, even with my jaded taste buds I didn’t think it tasted that bad it just tastes (inaudible) basically.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, I’ve tried it too.  I actually went to Dr. Veech’s lab and tried various versions of it that he had.  He was actually working with a girl working on the different flavoring agents and stuff and it’s totally from my perspective, you could totally dilute it out, you know, five, ten and twenty-five percent to put it in a bottle that would make it potent enough to get you in high levels of ketosis, and for me I can tolerate it but for the average I think it’s probably because for like a niche market but people out there are very picky about taste, I mean we’re not normal when it comes to taste like I can drink the stuff straight and it would put most people on the floor like puking coz I mean people have come but the performance maybe the people who are listening to your podcast are a little off the spectrum in terms of what they can tolerate.

But getting back to the issue, yeah, the racemic so there’s not a whole lot not anything to my knowledge to indicate that they would be harmful in any way, but what we want to determine is if they are optimal, right.  So that’s why it’s really important to test the various things and pick out 5 or 6 different things that are top performers and then test them all together against one another.  That’s the sort of the things that we’re doing now and we test a lot of things.  We have absolutely no intellectual property on or anything so we approach it unbiased.  Even companies that have their own intellectual property on ketones compounds we test them and buy a stash in here, and I’m equally as interested in all things.  But it does throw in when you have someone kind of negatively talking about other ketone products out there and they have patents and company enters a bit of a conflict of interest there, that’s why I’m kind of always careful not to put down any one.  I just like to put out science and then people can decide.  But if something is dangerous and the science is out there I’d like to see it.  I’m pretty much up on the science coz it’s kind of what I do.

And with racemic, keep in my mind that something like ephedrine, most of the pharmaceuticals out there that we use there was one in the history called the phulidumide, I think that impacted babies and this goes way back into the history of pharmacology where it caused developmental effects on the baby with racemic compound.  But keep in mind like a large majority of drug out there that we use on a regular basis are sitting next to me right here is a bottle of ephedrine and we do some research on ephedrine for divers all over the network for diving and it’s racemic ephedrine you know, it’s been used for years sudafed is racemic.  Ibupofen I believe is racemic.  So there’s lots of big drugs out there that are racemic.  So being racemic does not make it dangerous.  You can’t go back to one molecule of thousands in the history and say, look at that racemic compound it costs.  That’s just not scientific.

Ben:  I wanna actually ask you in a second about that second part of the question we didn’t address about beta hydroxybutyrate absorption and the presence of MCT all being inhibited.  But the ephedrine are you just using that or would folks just be using that as a decongestion, I assume for diving?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Ah, yeah, so a lot of divers use it prior to diving on enriched air.  My wife is actually in Palau right now doing research on manta rays.  I travelled for the last 2 or 3 weeks we both did and I visited my family and they’re all sick and I got the sniffles.  So I got like a little something.  I haven’t been sick in years, actually but I got the little sniffles now it was like, ah I hope you don’t get it and she’s on the other side of the planet and have to do research under the water and she’s on nitrox which is enriched air and needs to get down there to do research coz she’s funded to do that, and what a lot of divers do is that they load up on sudafed on ephedrine.  So Divers Alert Network realized that this was a problem, so our lab actually studied the effects of dosing high levels of ephedrine as in a stimulant to see if it would reduce delay in fetus seizure for CNFN toxicity which manifests itself as a grand malseizure.  For that to happen you really have to take a mega dose of it like you have to basically take 5-10 pills for you to get.  And I was actually surprised.  I thought it would quickly resolve in faster seizures but it does increase your chances but you really have to take a lot of it.  So that just came into mind because we have it on my desk here, it’s racemic compound and it reminded me that many of the drugs out there that are commonly used are racemic.

And it’s also important to notice that we have the resunate enzyme, so the L form and various tissues have different levels of this enzyme.  And were kinda looking into it but it’s even in the human metabalone project which is in a public website that you can go to, and see that this enzyme, we have the resunate to inter convert D to the L.  And that’s important.  So they’re saying it’s not the natural form is incorrect because we do have the ability to convert it over to and actually a lot of the percentage of it does.  So if you do the biochemistry or the pharmacokinetics and you administer racemic compound and they look at the D and the L form what ends up happening after about twenty-four to forty-eight hours of that.  You know, eighty percent of it is the D form and the L form just gets kind of oxydized like a fatty acid which just leads into the [0:59:18.1] ______.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s really interesting and ephedrine by the way, was something back when I was a body builder it was like the way to burn fat fast and of course, the alkaloids in it will cause a ton of issues with heart attack, and stroke, and seizures, and death, and I believe mostly the ephedrine supplements, if I’m not mistaken are now permanently banned in the US but it’s pretty synergistic for fat loss like especially when you combine it with caffeine.  I know the old like the body building go to for just getting shredded was ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin as kind of like the 3 ways to lose fat extremely quickly and possibly wind up seizing next to the bench press bench but still a pretty potent fat [1:00:06.3] ______.

Dr. D’Agostino:  (laughs) Yeah, I think you needed a really high dose of that.  Actually, I think ephedrine has a pretty good safety profile if you’ll look at who’s the obese this study done, I think given up to a hundred milligrams per day with the caffeine and I think it might have been like a fifty-two week study, so it has a pretty good safety profile.  The problem with ephedrine is, ephedrine hydrochloride is that you can make amphetamines kind of easy from it, so and even sudafed you can make amphetamines kind of easy.  So I actually had to get a decongestant that I gave to my wife just to make sure she had the best decongestant.  And they do sell sudafed but you have to go to the pharmacy and then they look at your driver’s license then they give you a small amount, and it’s pretty expensive and everything.  I still think it is one of the best decongestants out there but it’s sold.

I don’t think you can get ephedrine hydrochloride, I mean we have it in the lab coz we do research and stuff we have bottles of it, but I don’t think you can get, you probably can try to get anything overseas but it’s hard to come by.  But as you said it was a very powerful fat-burner especially when combined with caffeine.  You must be able to get it because several people have taken it and showing me their ketone numbers and what ephedrine and caffeine do is it mobilizes fatty acids from adipose which travel to the liver and kinda further stimulates beta oxidation of fatty acids in the liver so their ketones tend to shoot up.  And it might facilitate some glycogen depletion too in the liver but you generally see almost a doubling of ketone levels in guys that are kind of training taking that and if they keep all variables kind of equal, it stimulates the metabolism in a way that can bump up your ketone levels.

Ben:  Got it.

Dr. D’Agostino:  To a potential benefit of it.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s interesting.  The doses I think, were like about twenty to fifty milligrams and you do that like 3 times a day with ephedrine but as you’ve alluded to, yes super makes speed out if it, too if you wanted to.  So there’s that advantage, kids.

Dr. D’Agostino:  I used that in college, I think.  I never took more than twenty-five milligrams than I would.  Whenever I took it, I would always make sure that I work out that day.  I would never take it and not work out and I always took 1 pill back when it was legal.

Ben:  Oh, if you take it and you don’t work out, yeah, you’re bouncing off the walls.  Yeah, so what about this issue that Veech brought up about the inhibition of beta hydroxybutyrate to be absorbed or utilized when taken with MCT.  It seems a fly in the face or what you were saying earlier about MCTs enhancing delivery across the blood brain barrier.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, I would like to see that publication if that’s available but I don’t think that’s the case.  I kinda know what he’s alluding to.  I mean, it’s kind of theoretically saying that, if you were to take medium chains triglyceride oil, there’s sort of a rate limitation of how these things get used in metabolic pathways, and you may be restricting to some extent the utilization and the oxidation of exogenous ketones of the ketone ester if you were to take MCT oil.  But when you take MCT you make the beta hydroxybutyrate mostly, and some of it may interconvert to the L if the racemic is there, but in most part you produce the beta hydroxybutyrate.  So I don’t know of any evidence to my knowledge and I’m pretty up on the publications that taking medium chains triglyceride oil would in any way shape or form be dangerous or block beta hydroxybutyrate.  I mean, theoretically, you know, actually to finish, I can go back actually to look at our global metabolomic data and maybe look at the various pathways and metaboloids coming off of that pathways to see if that’s the case.  I’m sitting on a whole bunch of data right now and I can kinda go back and look at that but I don’t think he used like citing any actual research.  I think it’s more like…

Ben:  So it’s basically okay to use like MCT oils and ketones together and the MCT isn’t gonna like keep you from burning the ketones basically.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Absolutely, I actually think it’s optimal to do that and you know, I think MCTs may be a little bit threatening to people out there with synthetic ketone products like ketone esters or even ketone salts, but MCTs in our hands are really awesome like in rodents, you can get ketone levels that are really high with medium chain triglycerides.  If you can tolerate them, you know, they’re fantastic.  I know of a few people contacted me if they even take a teaspoon.  They’ll have like explosive diarrhea but I encourage them to take a half a teaspoon and try to build their levels up.  I think I did a whole MCT experiment after doing it for weeks to a couple of months, I could target like a hundred and fifty milliliters a day of it and I was staying in pretty strong ketosis just from MCTs alone when I really started getting into this and I didn’t have ketone esters yet.  So yeah, I am 2 thumbs up for MCTs, I think they’re great and I think they can even further enhance the delivery and bioavaibility of the ketone salts that are out there when they formulate together.

Ben:  For glycolytic performance, like I did in that obstacle course race, have you ever tried combining the use of ketones with just straight up glucose or sugar?

Dr. D’Agostino:  You know, I get that question a lot and I see no contradiction there.  We’ve actually done quite a bit of work to show that glucose utilization is increased when with ketone supplementation and we think that the combination of things going on, maybe an enhancement of insulin sensitivity.  I know Dr. Veech has written several reviews stating that ketones can enhance influence sensitivity in glucose utilization.  So I think the 2 together can be great.  Most people out there are not gonna be following ketogenic diet or maybe they shouldn’t unless they have some underlying disorder, but I do think it is good to go keto every once in a while whether you do it through carb restriction or intermittent fasting or whatever, but I think what may work optimally is take some kind of slow carb together some lower glycemic carb, or maybe in some cases a fast carb, and combine it with ketones and deliver it into work out depending on the type of workout you’re doing.  Most people that I know are not exercising more than like an hour and a half to two hours.  So in those cases you don’t need any really intro work out nutrition.

Ben:  And the amount of glucose that I took and found to be incredibly efficacious, we’re not talking about 4 gel packs an hour or what I would’ve used to have been doing during like an Ironman Triathlon.  We’ll that’s what I did do was every fifteen minutes slamming a gel pack to get up to four hundred calorie an hour of like fructose and maltodextrone.  This was seventy-five grams of glucose which is a relatively low amount of sugar taken essentially as the ketones and has the only form of glucose.  The only thing going into my body calorically or supplement-,wise for the entire race and really the entire next 6 hours so we’re not talking about like mainlining sugar into the body as much as possibly boosting the effects of the use of ketones with a little bit of glucose.  And I found it to be like rocket fuel, honestly.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, I think we need to do some testing of ketones alone and then ketones and glucose together.  And I know several people with ketone products want to do those studies, and we’d love to do them in our lab and I know we did a lot of hiking the last couple of weeks about 4 hours into a hike, I drank a ketone salt product, I think it was a Pruvit product, and I took and I ate a chocolate bar.  I was kind of off my ketogenic diet when I was part of my trip.  Maybe about twenty-five grams of carbs of sugar but it was dark chocolate, so it wasn’t full on sugar and I was fine, and we had hiked a lot already but the last 2 or 3 hours I was heading back and I was super buzzed.  I haven’t had any kind of sugar in a while and that combination seem to be pretty synergetic just take from my energy, you know.

Ben:  Yeah, the MCTs tend to slow the rate.  Whether it’s glucose or fructose sugar molecules, there’s a pretty big stabilization in blood sugar when either of those are included with MCTs.  I’m actually working right now with a company called Bariatrics which does a lot of work with diabetics et cetera.  I’m trying to develop a bar right now that is a combination of something that would be like ketosis-friendly but also be something acceptable that you could use for a long hike or a bike ride, or something like that.  And we’re actually using some pretty trace amounts of raw honey in it and finding that ketone levels stay pretty stabilized, and that blood glucose really doesn’t tend to fluctuate at all with that type of approach.  So I think that in some cases people shy away from sugar too much when in fact it can be a pretty cool addition to an MCT or a ketotic-based approach especially for performance.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah.

Ben:  So it’s an interesting combination in terms of sugar remaining stable over time from a blood standpoint.  You know, there was one study I looked into in the development of this and what they did was a fat spread that they enriched with medium chain, I think in this case it was a triacylglycerol and then they added some sugars to that and found that the sugars were completely stabilized.  So this is all super interesting stuff.

Dr. D’Agostino:  I’m not a big…

Ben:  Go ahead.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Oh yeah, I was gonna say as a  “keto guy”, as people think I am, which I am I mean that’s kind of the cornerstone of my research but  don’t believe in demonizing sugar.  I think the problem is the excess consumption of sugar, obviously and that I’ve been perfectly fine. I see my nieces and nephews they’re like sugar-holics and they’re burning it up like crazy.  You know, when we’re younger we can do that, but as we age there’s sort of an age-dependent decrease in our ability to use carbohydrates has an age to it.  The excess sugar.  And most of the people that are concerned with it are kinda athletes already and there are people who don’t have to be concerned necessarily with sugar because they’re burning it real fast, like you, but at the same time I have seen the benefits of guys that burn sugar really, really well and have no over metabolic problems transition to burning fat and ketones and doing remarkably well.

Ben:  Right.

Dr. D’Agostino:  So they didn’t have any pre-existing problem that was overly noticeable even from blood work but they did remarkably well.  And I think as an athlete you have metabolic currency with your mitochondrial health and everything that you transition very nicely into a high fat using diet and quickly get your ketone levels up or start using fat for fuel very efficiently.

Ben:  Right and the case with my kids, they get home and we only have a rice cake with honey and almond butter on it which is essentially like a little bit of a carb bomb with some nut butters and then they’re out making snow forts for 2 hours in 3 degrees and I’m not concerned at all about their blood sugar levels.

So, one other question that I wanted to ask you was expense, right, like we talked about like you know, I’ve heard Dave Asprey for example, say on his podcast that when he used ketone esters the cost of them was approximately thirty thousand dollars for a serving and I’ve certainly when the ketone esters have been sent my way by some of the folks associated with Dr. Veech, I was informed that they were incredibly expensive to make, so they wanted to ensure that when I use them I tested and didn’t just kinda pop them like candy but instead I was pretty cognizant of their expense.  Why is it that the ester would be so much more freaking expensive than a ketone salt?

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, I mean thirty thousand dollars per serving I think someone made a lot of money of (chuckles) Dave Asprey.  I’ll sell him some ketone esters for that.  So, yeah they are expensive because it’s more of an economy of scale thing, right?  So I needed like a little rotor rod device, like a little treadmill device that rat and mice run on and then automatically senses when they fall off, then we can look at exercise performance and not too many people make that device and it was like twelve thousand dollars.  I could go buy a really nice used car for that amount.  But there’s not a whole lot of people making ketone esters and I can tell you that the precursors are relatively inexpensive if there is an art, there’s a science and an art to doing the transesterification to make ketone esters whether it be glycerol, beta hydroxybutyrate triester or a 13 butanediol monoester, diester or whatever.  Each one has kind of several nuances into developing that synthetic pathway and you need a committed organic chemist running the facility pretty much non-stop to be able to make it in the kind of amounts that are needed.  So it’s just not cost effective for a company to do it and once you make it, then you have to do some testing on it to ensure the potency and the purity that you don’t have left over stuff in it like methanol or other things, so therein lies kind of the problem.  It’s an economy of scale thing.  It can be scaled up to be probably as cheap as I would say ten dollars per liter, I think when it’s maximally scaled up.

I think Dave Asprey or someone from his camp mentioned that there was formaldehyde in some of the, they’re testing some of the ketone esters or ketone salts rather.  So I can tell you that the way ketone salts are made like in Patrick Arnold’s lab, and the way they’re made here and even the way they should be made in China is that combining beta hydroxybutyrate to these monovalant or deviant cations is relatively simple chemistry and then no way throughout this synthetic process should you be forming formaldehyde at least with even the cheap precursors that are available.  I don’t know, I haven’t seen the data on that.  I know a lot of people have emailed me about that.  Is there formaldehyde and you know, we have some pretty good detailed chemistry analysis of at least the stuff that the companies are using like Pruvit and Patrick Arnold, and Keto Sports, and there’s no way through the synthesis of these things to be making formaldehyde.  Maybe in some clandestine labs in Asia or something he got a source from but there’s formaldehydes on any of the products out there based on synthetic chemistry.  But they’re expensive, I think just to answer your question because it needs to be scaled up, I mean we’re making in our organic chemistry but in little small batches and we’re making the R enantiomer and the racemic.  It’s much more expensive to make the R enantiomer, but if you scale it up in the right way, it could actually be dirt cheap (chuckles) and that’s what’s kind of, some people may call it heartbreaking because these compounds really do have the potential.  They have high therapeutic value for a wide range of disorders.

At the core, we’re talking just one of those like, what caused transported deficiency syndrome and I’m really networked with that organization.  These kids they just can’t transport glucose across their blood brain barrier and ketones can literally be a life saver for some of them and there’s a wide variety of inborn errors in metabolism that would be highly responsive to therapeutic ketosis in the form of a ketone ester.  But these rare disorders really don’t get enough attention and investors behind making it but when you look at it on a grand scale, we also know that their very significant performance, advantages, cognitive and physical performance advantages, to get from synthetic ketones and therein lies probably the opportunity for savvy investors, forward thinking investors to say, hey, the science behind this basically sells itself.  So it really would be good technology to invest and I gotta say the ketone salt products on the market they’re about one-third to half as potent as the ketone esters would be, and you know maybe we don’t want some of the other ketone esters that would be too potent and too tasty because you could technically drink too much and get into ketoacidosis.  Not so much with the ketone mineral salts because you try out some GI issues and come out the other end before you reach toward the blood levels.  That would be dangerous.  But with the ketone ester I can tell you from the safety studies that we’ve done you, you can do inter gastric divulging of a rodent and then you can slowly push them into ketosis.

So for a human you would have to drink about seven hundred to a thousand milliliters of the pure undiluted form to really get to the point where you’d be in trouble and that would be very expensive and it would be horrible to anything.  So any form of ketone ester that’s like gonna be on the market, it’s gonna be at least a twenty-five percent dilution which means like twenty-five percent of it is the ketone ester and only after that does it, you know, it becomes palatable.  But typically, if you see ketone esters hitting the market in liquid form, that’ll probably a five to ten, maybe the super concentrated form will be like twenty-five percent ketone esters and it’ll be heavily flavored and then you got to drink a ton of that stuff to where it’s stretching your stomach to start reaching ketoacidosis.

Ben:  Yeah, and to put that in context, I mean ketoacidosis we’re talking about more than twenty millimolar in most cases for something that classify as ketoacidosis.  In twenty days of fasting a lot of times will get you up to around ten.  I mean to just not eat anything into a water-based fast, so you would have to take copious amounts.  Aside from, I don’t know if you saw this…

Dr. D’Agostino:  You would throw up (laughs).

Ben:  This anecdote, that paper.  I think it was published in the Diabetic Medicine Journal  and there were several cases in which folks using MDMA or ecstasy combined with the excessive movements of rave dancing actually enter into a ketoacidotic state.  So apparently, if you use ecstasy you might be able to get there faster.  So if nothing works out for you by listening in to this podcast and you don’t wanna try the ketone esters or the ketone salts, it appears that you could just pop some E and go to rave for a while and potentially just get all of the benefits with none of this confusion.  So there you have it.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Interesting you mentioned that, I just met with my lab folks which are students from all different backgrounds and stuff we’re telling kind of our stories about things like that, and I know MDMA can be a metabolic stimulant and if you’re around people who had been taking it, you know you get real thirsty, right and you start kinda heating up and one of the main side effects of too much MDMA is that you start like basically overheating.  Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me and it kinda makes sense. Any kind metabolic stimulant will mobilize fat from adipose and it will start making ketones and that’s what you see if you give a stimulant like even caffeine and ephedrine are good examples.

If you take a normal person on even a mild ketogenic diet running about 1 or 2 millimolar and keeps all variables the same and starts getting some pretty moderate to high dosing of ephedrine in caffeine, I’ve seen the blood work it like spikes right up and stays there.  It can double their ketone levels and it’s a good and it’s a pretty dramatic demonstration of you kind of the fat burning effect or the fat mobilizing effect and of course, once you start using it you’ll get that effect and then that’ll attenuate over time but I would say use it for 2-3 weeks and then get off of it for like 2-3 weeks and then use it again.  It kinda works better if you don’t use it all the time but I’ve seen enough data to indicate you have stimulants like MDMA and other compounds can be ketogenic in that way.  We’re also interested in amino acids that may enhance the liver civility of ketogenesis, and taurine is an amino acid that can more or less help your liver make more ketones.  I was thinking of an idea throwing it out there for scientists that would jump on it of developing compounds that stimulate their specific enzymes in the liver.  Enzymes involved in ketogenesis.  So if we could stimulate the enzymes involved in ketogenesis, we can drive our own ketone production, anyways.  And I think there’s opportunities out there to do that that people probably could start looking into.  But there’s an indication that taurine given 2 grams 3 or 4 times a day can increase your body’s ability to make ketones.

Ben:  That’s interesting, yeah, 2 grams is a relatively high dose.  I don’t know how much is in of course, Red Bull but I know that’s what most of the energy-enhancing effects of Red Bull are attributed to is the taurine, yeah.

Dr. D’Agostino:  And the caffeine.

Ben:  Yeah, well interestingly one of the most well-known usages for taurine back in the day, speaking of the devil was that ephedrine and the cramping and some of the potential muscle seizing caused by ephedrine you could reverse that with taurine.  So it seems to pair it quite well with central nervous systems stimulants as well to kind of like knock some of the edge off of the caffeine or the CNS stimulant, but that’s really interesting that it could potentially be used as something to go along with for example, ketones and MCT.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, boosting your own body’s ability to make ketones.  Going back to when I was doing my post- [1:24:01.9] ______ up in Ohio, there was a guy in emergency medicine and he was like all about taurine and I started looking, I didn’t know much about it at all at that time but I delve into the literature and I was like, wow, this stuff is remarkable.  Maybe it’s just not known because there’s not a whole lot of money to be made from it or the way to patent it, whatever but yeah, it seems to have a lot of applications, especially applications like brain injury and things like that and just maintaining osmotic gradiance neurons for neurons to do that under certain conditions.  I think it has a range of utility and it’s pretty cheap.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s particularly interesting yeah, and mostly benefits, of course for physical performance what they found is with aerobic exercise particularly that cyclist who get taurine just have a time trial performance that goes through the roof without an increase in rating of perceived exertion.  And I know also it can interact with the leydig cells so I think I’ve also in addition to kinda like researching how to create like more of a good fat-based energy bar.  I’ve been looking into a good testosterone supplement and one of the things I’m looking into is taurine just because of its interaction with the leydig cells and also its ability to reduce some oxidative stress particularly in the nether regions.  So perhaps a discussion for another day as we’ve been going for a while and I should let you go soon.  I should probably go have lunch and also take a pee soon because I had an enormous cup of tea before we started.  I’m on this 3.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Gotta make time to do that.

Ben:  I know, I’m on this 3-month, it’s almost like a 3-month detox protocol where I’m drinking copious amounts each day of licorice, marshmallow and the slippery elm bark and it coats your stomach and makes you feel amazing, but it also means I’m drinking about as twice as much fluid as I’m used to.  So regardless that we covered a lot of material today and I took copious notes.  So for those of you listening in, all the notes are at, that’s  If you wanna hop over there I’ll link to the previous episodes with Dominic.  That interview with Peter Attia I mentioned.  My own article and writings about my experience with ketosis and the use of some of these ketone salts and ketone esters.  I’ll even imbed a relatively entertaining video where I snap chatted my use of ketone esters during that Tough Mudder event I alluded to and I’ll put plenty more in there as well.  Just go to for that.  And of course I’ll also put a link to the original interview I did with Dr. Richard Veech about the ketone esters.

So Dom, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all these stuff with us man.  You’re a wealth of knowledge.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, thank for having me.

Ben:  Yeah.

Dr. D’Agostino:  Yeah, we have such a far reach and I think your listeners are really a group of interesting people coz many of them would email me too about questions and you always have an erudite group of listeners out there, kind of another stuff just from listening to your podcast.  So I appreciate you’re giving me the platform to speak and I wish you all the best.

Ben:  Awesome.

Dr. D’Agostino:  And I’m here anytime you wanna discuss anything.

Ben:  Thanks man and I have to add erudite to my vernacular more often.  I’ve forgotten about that word.  It’s a good one.  Alright, for those of you listening in.  Thanks for listening.  And until next time.  I’m Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Dominic D’Agostino signing out  Have a healthy week.



You've been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.  Go to for even more cutting-edge fitness and performance advice.


A few months ago, I recorded a highly controversial ketosis interview with Dr. Richard Veech, in which Dr. Veech claimed that the form of ketones most people take to get into ketosis (ketone salts) are actually quite dangerous.

Dr. Veech’s solution was something called “ketone esters“, which are extremely expensive, but, according to him, a far more natural, safe and healthy way to quickly get the body into ketosis – for anything from managing medical conditions, to improving cognition, to increasing endurance and beyond.

In the video below, I actually experimented with these spendy ketone esters myself and, as you can see, the results were astounding…

After shooting this video, I took another bottle of ketone esters to a Tough Mudder event and recorded a crazy video on Snapchat during which I elevated both blood glucose by drinking 75 grams of pure glucose and elevated blood ketones by drinking a bottle of the ketone esters, and the results were equally as astounding, resulting in one of the fastest races of my life.

But the question remains: are these fancy, expensive ketone esters actually far better than ketone salts? Are ketone salts, which is what most people use, actually going to result in long term health issues?

In today’s podcast, I bring on ketosis expert Dr. Dominic D’Agostino to get his opinion. Dominic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He is also a Visiting Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). His laboratory develops and tests nutritional strategies and metabolic-based supplements for neurological disorders, cancer inflammation and performance enhancement in extreme environments. His research is supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Defense (DoD), private organizations and foundations.

He’s also no stranger to this podcast, having been a previous guest in the episode “A Deep Dive Into Ketosis: How Navy Seals, Extreme Athletes & Busy Executives Can Enhance Physical and Mental Performance With The Secret Weapon of Ketone Fuel“.

During today’s discussion, you’ll discover:

-The difference between a ketone salt and a ketone ester…[9:25]

-Three unique compounds you can “mix” with ketones to enhance deliverability, and the important difference between BCAAs and EAA’s…[23:55]

Why is it that some people, including Dr. Veech, believe ketone esters to be dangerous and MCT oil to block BHB absorption…[41:05 & 62:40]

-What Dominic has found by testing both ketone salts and ketone esters in his lab…[44:30]

-If there is actually any evidence of people experiencing medical issues with the use of ketone salts or esters…[47:50]

-The safety of using ephedrine for fat loss, and Dom’s own experience with ephedrine…[60:05]

-Whether you can combine glucose with ketones to enhance performance…[65:40]

-Why the esters so much more expensive than the salts, and whether there are ways to make either that actually are cost effective…[72:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My article and review of common ketone salt supplements such as Pruvit and KetoCaNa called “How To Get Into Ketosis

The ketone esters I experimented with from Dr. Veech

-The Metabolic Therapeutics Conference

NatureAminos amino acids supplement

Brain Octane

The HMB/ATP stack that Ben takes (and the study that discusses this approach)

Is It Possible To Be Extremely Active and Eat A Low Carbohydrate Diet? (my interview with Peter Attia)



Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.

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

A few months ago, I recorded a highly controversial ketosis interview with Dr. Richard Veech, in which Dr. Veech claimed that the form of ketones most people take to get into ketosis (ketone salts) are actually quite dangerous.

Dr. Veech's solution was something called “ketone esters“, which are extremely expensive, but, according to him, a far more natural, safe and healthy way to quickly get the body into ketosis – for anything from managing medical conditions, to improving cognition, to increasing endurance and beyond.

In the video below, I actually experimented with these spendy ketone esters myself and, as you can see, the results were astounding…

After shooting this video, I took another bottle of ketone esters to a Tough Mudder event and recorded a crazy video on Snapchat during which I elevated both blood glucose by drinking 75 grams of pure glucose and elevated blood ketones by drinking a bottle of the ketone esters, and the results were equally as astounding, resulting in one of the fastest races of my life.

But the question remains: are these fancy, expensive ketone esters actually far better than ketone salts? Are ketone salts, which is what most people use, actually going to result in long term health issues?

In today's podcast, I bring on ketosis expert Dr. Dominic D’Agostino to get his opinion. Dominic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He is also a Visiting Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). His laboratory develops and tests nutritional strategies and metabolic-based supplements for neurological disorders, cancer inflammation and performance enhancement in extreme environments. His research is supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Defense (DoD), private organizations and foundations.

He's also no stranger to this podcast, having been a previous guest in the episode “A Deep Dive Into Ketosis: How Navy Seals, Extreme Athletes & Busy Executives Can Enhance Physical and Mental Performance With The Secret Weapon of Ketone Fuel“.

During today's discussion, you'll discover:

-The difference between a ketone salt and a ketone ester…[9:25]

-Three unique compounds you can “mix” with ketones to enhance deliverability, and the important difference between BCAAs and EAA's…[23:55]

Why is it that some people, including Dr. Veech, believe ketone esters to be dangerous and MCT oil to block BHB absorption…[41:05 & 62:40]

-What Dominic has found by testing both ketone salts and ketone esters in his lab…[44:30]

-If there is actually any evidence of people experiencing medical issues with the use of ketone salts or esters…[47:50]

-The safety of using ephedrine for fat loss, and Dom's own experience with ephedrine…[60:05]

-Whether you can combine glucose with ketones to enhance performance…[65:40]

-Why the esters so much more expensive than the salts, and whether there are ways to make either that actually are cost effective…[72:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-My article and review of common ketone salt supplements such as Pruvit and KetoCaNa called “How To Get Into Ketosis

The ketone esters I experimented with from Dr. Veech

-The Metabolic Therapeutics Conference

NatureAminos amino acids supplement

Brain Octane

The HMB/ATP stack that Ben takes (and the study that discusses this approach)

Is It Possible To Be Extremely Active and Eat A Low Carbohydrate Diet? (my interview with Peter Attia)

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