The Key To Deciphering The Mysteries Of Your Thyroid And Fixing Your Thyroid Hormones Forever.

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 fat 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

Geratherm thermometer

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

Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.

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!

The Most Potent Natural Alternative To Viagra (& One Of The Most Shocking Biohacks I’ve Ever Done).



I lay as still as I possibly could, trying to resist the urge to peel back the sheet covering my crotch and get a closer look at exactly what she was doing down there.

The she popped her head up. “You OK with that level? Want more?”

I pulled off an embarrassed grin and nodded. “Sure, turn it up all the way.”

The nurse reached for the dial on tiny gray machine next to my exam table seat and jacked it up all the way. Then, holding the sound wave wand attached to the machine, she turned her attention back to my groin, which was slathered in numbing cream, and continued to vibrate my nether regions with the pulsating action of her fancy medical tool.

So what the heck was she up to? 

Why was I laying in a pristine, white medical examination room in Aventura, Florida getting my penis pulsated?

And, perhaps most importantly, what was the consequence of me taking yet another one for the team (you!) and offering myself up as a sacrificial guinea pig to a state-of-the-art sexual procedure?

You’re about to get the answer. And you’re about discover the most potent natural alternative to Viagra that exists, one of the most shocking biohacks I’ve every tried, and why I think I’ve stumbled upon a quite formidable libido and sexual enhancing tactic for both men and women.

The GainsWave Adventure Begins

As you may already know, in my daily routine I practice many of the strange biohacks in the article “The Ultimate Guide To Biohacking Your Testosterone: 17 Ways To Maximize Muscle-Building, Libido & Anti-Aging“, including bathing my gonads in infrared light, daily use of creatine (5 grams) every single day of the year, and even the use of a tiny little PEMF the use of a small tiny PEMF device called a “DeltaSleeper” for sleep, which combats the havoc that frequencies from things like cell phones can wreak on your testosterone and sperm levels.

When it comes to sex, libido and testosterone, I also cover the basics…

…I eat zinc and magnesium rich foods…

…I avoid excessive chronic cardio in favor of sprinting and heavy lifting…

…I get plenty of sleep…

…I eat lots of saturated fats…

…I don’t drink out of plastic water bottles…

…you get the idea.

But when a company called “HealthGAINS“, based out of Aventura, Florida (with clinics all over the USA) reached out to me about some fancy sound-wave therapy protocol called “extracorporeal shock wave therapy,” also known as “audio frequency shockwave therapy”, I was intrigued.

They claimed that within a quick 20 minute procedure, this treatment could enhance one’s sex life, build entirely new blood vessels to the genitals, fix libido and sexual issues, completely eliminate erectile dysfunction while increasing size and vascularity, and much more.

I was admittedly skeptical, but on a trip home from a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, I took HealthGAINS up on their offer for me to trial the procedure and stopped off in the Ft. Lauderdale airport to hop on an Uber over to their clinic headquarters to see what this supposedly natural alternative to Viagra was all about.

How GainsWave Works

If you listened to last week’s podcast with Dr. Richard Gaines entitled “The Non-Pill, Natural Alternative To Viagra That Instantly Fixes Erectile Dysfunction, Boosts Libido In Men & Women, Enhances Orgasm & Much More.“, then you probably already know a little bit about the science behind this procedure.

The science behind the technology involves something called low intensity shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy has been around for decades and was primarily used as a treatment for lipoatrophy (localized loss of fat tissue) and to break up kidney stones using high frequency acoustic waves. About 15 years ago, researchers in Europe (links to studies below) realized that by using lower intensity acoustic pulse waves, they could also apply these same waves to the penis without damaging the skin or organs. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall as a bunch of kidney doctors started blasting their crotches with sound waves to see what happened, but, anyways, based on this breakthrough, physicians were eventually able to treat erectile dysfunction at its root source: poor blood flow.

When the acoustic pulse waves are applied to the penis (or the vagina), they not only break up the micro plaque but also create a micro-inflammatory process that release nitric oxide, a powerful vasodilator and the same chemical induced via the consumption of Viagra, Cialis or any other male and female libido or sexual performance pill. Over the course of eight to twelve weeks after the procedure, new blood vessels in the genitals grow, a process known as “neovascularization”.

Over 40 scientific studies show that this therapy is more effective than other treatments including medications. However, partially thanks to the overcrowding of the sexual performance industry by pharmaceutical and supplement companies, there were no standardized protocols, machines, or training programs until the folks at HealthGAINS designed a safe and effective way to bring this technology to the masses, with the results of the technology and their patent pending protocols yielding an astounding 90%+ success rate.

As a bonus, these same shockwaves also have the ability to “wake-up” dormant stem cells in the penis, which can lead to improved erectile function and enhanced tissue growth. In other words GAINSWave therapy may also increase the size of the penis, in a much, much more potent way than, say, a penis pump. I’ll talk more about my experience with that later in this article.

In researching this protocol (just to objectively determine whether sound waves blasted onto one’s genitals is, in fact, safe and healthy), I came across several clinical studies that verify the effectiveness of GAINSWave therapy for the treatment of vascular related erectile dysfunction, specifically:

1. Shockwave treatment of erectile dysfunction

Summary: LI-ESWT is a revolutionary treatment of ED, and probably possesses unprecedented qualities that can rehabilitate erectile tissue. The clinical improvement in subjective erectile function together with the significant improvement in penile hemodynamics following LI-ESWT confirm that LI-ESWT has unique properties that may create a new standard of care for men with ED.

2. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for the Treatment of Peyronie’s Disease

Summary: After 12 wk, mean VAS score, mean IIEF-5 score, and mean Quality of Life score ameliorated significantly in patients receiving ESWT. In patients with Peyronie’s Disease, ESWT leads to pain resolution and ameliorates both Erection Function and Quality of Life.

3. Can low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy improve erectile dysfunction?

Summary: This placebo-controlled study over 5 weeks shows that 57% of the men who suffered from erectile dysfunction had an effect from LI-ESWT. After 24 weeks, seven (19%, active group) and nine (23%, active placebo group) men were still able to have intercourse without medication. This study shows a possible cure in some patients, but more research, longer follow-up in the placebo group and an international multicentre randomized study are needed.

4. Low intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy for erectile dysfunction

Summary: LI-ESWT demonstrated a positive long term clinical effect with improvement in erectile function of Indian men with vasculogenic ED who were prior responders to PDE5i therapy. The efficacy and tolerability of this treatment, coupled with its long term benefits and rehabilitative characteristics, make it an attractive new therapeutic option for men with vasculogenic erectile dysfunction.

5. A 6-month follow-up pilot study in patients with organic erectile dysfunction

Summary: Significant increases in the duration of erection and penile rigidity, and significant improvement in penile endothelial function were demonstrated. Ten men did not require any PDE5-I therapy after 6-mo follow-up. No pain was reported from the treatment and no adverse events were noted during follow-up.

6. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy in the treatment of erectile dysfunction

The present trial shows the tolerability and clinical efficacy of low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy in a subgroup of patients with erectile dysfunction.

So in summary (just in case you decided not to don your white lab cloak and read the full text of every study cited above)…

…as men age, the vessels in the penis weaken, filling with micro-plaque, resulting in men having a harder time getting and maintaining an erection. Oral medications such as Viagra and Cialis do not address the root physiological cause of poor erection function but instead act as a band-aid by merely forcing blood into the weakened vessels. In addition, the need to constantly take pills and manage side effects, while a boon for the big pharma and drug companies, is not the best choice for patients seeking better erections naturally. Painless high frequency acoustic waves can open up old blood vessels, stimulate the formation of new vessels, and eliminate micro-plaque.

And hence the efficacy of GAINSWave.

Why Not Just Take Viagra Or Cialis?

So why not just take Viagra, Cialis, or any of the other boner pills one finds in their local physician’s office, in online pharmacies, or “abroad”? Above, I touched briefly above on the fact that drugs like Viagra and Cialis don’t address the root cause of the issue, and instead just blast blood into your genitals like a firehose.

But despite having personally experimented with these drugs for everything from sex to exercise performance (yep, they’re Performance Enhancing Drugs and I was curious) I now have some other concerns about these pills too.

For example, researchers have found that men who don’t need these pills but take them anyway because they like how hard it makes their penises are dooming themselves to a future of self-doubt and the sexual floundering that comes with underconfidence.

In other words, even if there was zero evidence linking long term use of something like Viagra to cause a physical, chemical or hormonal decline in a man’s ability to get an erection, that doesn’t mean that using Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs doesn’t produce potentially bad effects for people who dabble without dick issues.

So one major problem with Viagra is not medical, but mental. Men who use these drugs risk getting themselves used to the sort of raging hard erections generated by chemicals and not the good, old fashioned organic ones they can make themselves, from scratch, using their own body and their own endogenous releases of nitric oxide.

As a result, guys can become less confident in their ability to achieve erection themselves, without the aid of fancy chemicals. And this can translate to less confident sex and more dissatisfied partners.

These drugs can also mask a natural decline in sexual functionality that could be highly related to, for example, cardiovascular disease. One well known fact in heart medicine is that erectile disfunction often precedes a heart attack, because you tend to lose blood flow to your nether regions before you lose blood flow to your heart. This means that men who quit Viagra or Cialis after a prolonged reliance on these drugs may not only be surprised by their complete lack of sexual prowess (which leads to underconfidence, which leads to awkward, nervous foreplay sessions, which leads to soft crying and rolling up in a confused and utterly dissatisfied fetal position on one’s bed), but may also be masking a big warning sign their body is giving them.

And should you need yet another reason not to use sexual prescription drugs, you should check out the article “Long-term safety and effectiveness of sildenafil citrate in men with erectile dysfunction“. In this study, over a 4-year study period, a significant percentage of the men had one or more adverse events that led to changes in dosing or to temporary or permanent discontinuation and were determined by the investigators to be treatment-related. Of the events, headache and dyspepsia were most common, followed by rhinitis, flushing, abnormal vision, dizziness, heart palpitations, moderate tachycardia, diarrhea, nausea, myalgia, hypertonia, respiratory disorder, conjunctivitis, and photophobia.

No thank you.

What Happened After I Got GAINSWave

OK, OK, so I know you’re wondering…what exactly did I experience after my quick 20 minute procedure at the HealthGAINS clinic in Florida?

First, don’t get me wrong: I didn’t just waltz in and get thrown into a room for some random medical team to begin poking at my genitals. 

I first sat down with Dr. Richard Gains for over an hour. He reviewed bloodwork, labs, health history, life history, and asked me a series of targeted questions about my diet, supplementation, exercise, sleep, stress, and of course, sexual performance. After that, I went through a full physical medical examination (that culminated in me being handed a bottle of “penis numbing cream”).

Second, regarding that latter point, I don’t have erectile dysfunction or “libido issues”. As I explained to Dr. Gaines, I simply wanted to go from “good to great”, and also dabble in the better-living-through-science a clinic like his can offer.

Third, let’s face it: after reviewing the science you’ve just read about, I was pretty intrigued with this whole extracorporeal shock wave therapy thing.

Anyways, as I was preparing to leave the clinic, a funny moment occurred when a member of the medical team asked me “if I planned to be with a woman that night”. I chuckled and informed him that I and my 90 year old Grandma were having dinner at a local Cuban restaurant and then, my groin still senseless from the medical numbing cream, hopped in my Uber and headed off to see Grandma.

Later that night, once the cream wore off, I woke just a couple hours after falling asleep with what we in the highly respectable scientific community like to call “a raging boner”. Having eaten my fair share of pork, Cuban black beans and rice, and plantain chips, I can attest to the fact that this was not an occurrence I would blame on the food in Florida.

I fell back asleep, but woke again in the mid-morning to pee, once again with a might large “tent popped” under the sheets.

That morning, when I finally awoke around 6:30am, my experience replicated just about every morning I experienced as a fifteen year old boy: big, healthy, vascular, hard morning wood.

I am now writing this article a full month after having gone through the GAINSWave procedure, and things haven’t changed. Not only do I experience random “mini-erections” during the day, but whether it’s for a morning quickie, an afternoon romp, or an evening adventure, my sexual performance has skyrocketed, as has my stamina, my firmness, my size, and my time-to-ejaculation.

Let’s just say I was pretty pleased with these results, and I’m mighty grateful to Dr. Gaines and his team for turning me into the equivalent of (pardon the expression) a sex machine with more blood flow, bigger size and toe-curlingly phenomenal orgasms and much more.

Better yet, I don’t need to pop any special boner pills, nor have I needed to return to the HealthGAINS clinic for any kind of follow protocol. The way they’ve explained it to me is that unless I have some kind of underlying medical condition that would cause something like erectile dysfunction, the results just kinda stick with you.

And I’m quite, quite happy about that.


So let’s say you (you brave soul, you) want to go try this for yourself.

First, you can mosey on over to the HealthGAINS website and simply type in your zip code to find a clinic near you. If you want to go to the Miami, Florida area and have the protocol done by Dr. Gaines’s office (which is what I did), just mention this article or “Ben Greenfield” to save 5% off your entire protocol and any follow-up procedures you decide to get done – (from P-shots for guys to O-shots for women to sound wave therapy and beyond.)



Yeah. If you listened to last week’s podcast with the founder of HealthGAINS, a guy named Dr. Richard Gaines, then you know this GAINSWave thing isn’t all these folks do.

For example, theirP-shot (AKA the “Priapus shot”) was named for the Greek god of virility. It’s basically a pain-free penis injection that uses PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma. PRP is made from you own blood. As in any procedure that uses PRP, the P-Shot begins with drawing a small amount of your own blood. They usually only need about as much blood as you would give for a simple blood test to make the injection. Then, using a centrifuge, they separate stem cells and growth factors from the red and white blood cells. What is left is the super-concentrated, super-healing Platelet Rich Plasma that is the basis of this penis enlargement shot, and when you inject it back in you supposedly get:

• Longer, firmer and more sustainable erections
• Penis enlargement
• Increased sexual stamina 
• Less problems with premature ejaculation
• Better sexual sensations and increased pleasure

They’ve also got, for you ladies out there, the O-shot. It’s the same as the P-shot, really. It uses your body’s own growth factors  to increase blood flow to the vaginal area, resulting in smoother, healthier, skin on the lips of the vagina, a tighter opening, increased natural lubrication, improved libido, and an overall more youthful appearance.

And of course, they do everything else that you’d expect from a concierge age-management practice, like hormone optimization programs, sexual wellness treatments for men and women, testosterone therapy, hormone testing, supervised human growth hormone injections and a whole lot more.

So that’s it.

Let me know if you try any of this stuff out, and keep me posted on the results. Of course, I take zero responsibility for any tents you may pop, new children you may acquire, herniated abdominals you may get from wild multi-hour romps in the bedroom or anything else you may experience from a sexual enhancement protocol.

Just do me a favor and throw out the boner pills.

In the meantime, do you have questions, thoughts or feedback about HealthGAINS, the GAINSWave protocol, or other natural alternatives to Viagra? Leave your comments below and I will reply!

The Non-Pill, Natural Alternative To Viagra That Instantly Fixes Erectile Dysfunction, Boosts Libido In Men & Women, Enhances Orgasm & Much More.

Last month, I hopped on an airplane and flew down to Miami, Florida, where I underwent a special type of protocol that is technically called “extracorporeal shock wave therapy,” also known as “Audio Frequency Shockwave Therapy.”

Basically, although the physician on today’s podcast will be able to explain the nitty-gritty science behind it, this technique uses mild acoustical waves to “shock” a male or female’s genitals either A) back to life in the case of things like low libido, erectile dysfunction or small size or B) turn one into the equivalent of, pardon the expression, a sex machine with more blood flow, bigger size, better orgasms and much more.

Let’s just say I was pretty pleased with my own personal results, so pleased in fact, that I decided to get the doctor who oversaw my procedure onto a podcast. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, if you’re interested in enhancing your sex life, building new blood vessels, or fixing libido and sexual issues, this is a must listen.

Dr. Richard Gaines, MD, FAARM, ABAARM, is the Chief Medical Officer at an age management medical practice company called HealthGAINS. He is a leading practitioner of the rapidly evolving science of “physician-guided age management”, and has been administering bioidentical hormone therapy since 1993.

After a distinguished thirty-year career as a physician and health-care executive, Dr. Gaines became president and chief medical officer of the age management medical practice HealthGAINS, which he founded in 2005. He graduated from Boston University School of Medicine in 1981, completed his internship at Tufts University School of Medicine and his residency at Harvard Medical School and earned a fellowship in cardiac and obstetric anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He subsequently served as a physician at Huntington Memorial Hospital and as an anesthesiologist at Harvard Community Health Plan and Sheridan Healthcorp.

Dr. Gaines is also a member of the following professional organizations:

-ACAM – The American College for Advancement in Medicine
-A4M – The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
-IFM – The Institute for Functional Medicine
-AMMG – Age Management Medicine Group

His professional certifications include:

-Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (FAARM) from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

-Board certification from the American Board of Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine (ABAARM).

-Certification as a Functional Medicine Practitioner with advanced training at The Institute for Functional Medicine.
Hormone Replacement Therapy

Dr. Gaines is a pioneer in the use of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT for both men and women. Before dedicating himself to helping men and women be healthier, happier, and more vital from their 30s to their 40s and beyond through HRT, Dr. Gaines worked as an anesthesiologist. For three decades he was a board certified anesthesiologist at some of the most well-known hospitals in the country, and he maintains that specialty to this day.

Most notably related to today’s podcast, Dr. Gaines is the creator of something called “Gaines Enhancement”, which is one of the only drug free, surgery free male enhancement procedures that not only provides effective treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED), but that can also increase both the length and girth of the penis.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The shocking number of guys who take Viagra, Cialis or some other kind of ED med…[10:25]

-Aside from the exorbitant cost, are there any known deleterious side effects to Viagra…21:25[]

-The fascinating history of the use of sound wave therapy and pulse wave therapy in medicine…[25:45]

-How this same technique can be used to significantly decrease risk of heart attack…[31:40]

-Whether the GainsWave therapy is any different than a “pump” that many men use…[46:00]

-The “P-shot” and “O-shot” that Dr. Gaines injects into the genitals of men and women…[50:55]

-How what Dr. Gaines does is any different than a company like, say, Cenegenics does…[52:53]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The GainsWave website (if you want to go to Miami, Florida and have the protocol done by Dr. Gaines, simply mention this podcast or “Ben Greenfield” to save 5% off your entire protocol and any follow-up procedures you decide to get done – from P-shots to sound wave therapy and beyond.)

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

What Doesn’t Kill Us: Why Your Body Needs Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude & Environmental Conditioning.

Our ancestors crossed the Alps in animal skins and colonized the New World in loin cloths. They evaded predators and built civilizations with just their raw brainpower and inner grit.

But things have changed and now comfort is king.

Today we live in the thrall of constant climate control and exercise only when our office schedules permit. The technologies that we use to make us comfortable are so all encompassing that they sever the biological link to a changing environment. Now we hate the cold and the heat. We suffer from autoimmune diseases. And many of us are chronically overweight. Most of us don’t even realize that natural variation – sweating and shivering – is actually good for us.

The new book What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength uncovers how just about anyone can reclaim a measure of our species’ evolutionary strength by tapping into the things that feel uncomfortable. When we slightly reimagine how how our body fits into the world and then we can conditioning ourselves to find resilience in unfamiliar environments.

The feeling that something is missing from our daily routines is growing and has spawned a movement. Every year, millions of people forgo traditional gyms and push the limits of human endurance by doing boot camp style workouts in raw conditions. These extreme athletes train in CrossFit boxes, compete in Tough Mudders and challenge themselves in Spartan races. They are connecting with their environment and, whether they realize it or not, are changing their bodies.

Perhaps no one exemplifies this better than Dutch fitness guru Wim Hof, whose remarkable ability to control his body temperature in extreme cold has sparked a whirlwind of scientific study. Because of him, scientists in the United States and Europe are just beginning to understand how cold adaptation might help combat autoimmune diseases and chronic pains and, in some cases, even reverse diabetes.

My podcast guest on todays show, award winning investigative journalist Scott Carney, dives into the fundamental philosophy at the root of this movement in three interlocking narratives. His own journey culminates in a record bending, 28-hour, climb up to the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro wearing nothing but a pair of running shorts and sneakers.

Scott is an investigative journalist and anthropologist whose stories blend narrative non-fiction with ethnography. He has been a contributing editor at Wired and his work also appears in Mother Jones, Foreign Policy, Playboy, Details, Discover, Outside and Fast Company. He regularly appears on variety of radio and television stations from NPR to National Geographic TV and has had academic work published in Nature and SAIS Journal. He holds a number of academic appointments including as a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. 

In 2010 he won the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for the story “Meet the Parents” which tracked an international kidnapping-to-adoption ring. His first book, The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers, was published by William Morrow in 2011 and won the 2012 Clarion Award for best non-fiction book. His second book A Death on Diamond Mountain: A True Story of Obsession, Madness and the Path to Enlightenment came out with Gotham Books in 2015.

In 2015, Scott founded WordRates, a website that aims to add transparency to the business of journalism with Yelp-esque reviews of magazines and editors. He first traveled to India while he was a student at Kenyon College in 1998 and spent six years living there. Along the way, he learned Hindi and twice drove a motorcycle across the country. In 2004 he received a MA in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Denver, CO.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The shocking story of the huge number of people Scott has found who have died during meditation experiences…[10:25 ]

-What Scott experienced when he first met Wim Hof…[9:55 & 15:00]

-The Native American who hung out in the dead of winter in the Boston area wearing nothing but a loincloth…[25:32]

-The #1 food item you can consume that will inhibit your body from converting white fat into metabolically active brown fat…[32:22]

-Scott’s “power pushups” and 15 minute daily workout…[48:40]

-What was the hardest part of the Laird Hamilton underwater workout for Scott…[58:30]

-The new, little-known synthetic thyroid hormone that activates brown fat tissue…[62:55]

-The crazy things heat acclimatization can do for soldiers…[70:15]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

-Book: What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength

-Book: A Death on Diamond Mountain: A True Story of Obsession, Madness and the Path to Enlightenment

-Book: The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers

-Book: The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant

-Book: Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan

-Book: The Oxygen Advantage

The story of Samoset the Indian

My podcast with James Nestor

My podcast with Wim Hof

My podcast with Laird Hamilton

The HRV NatureBeat app that Ben describes and uses each morning

Rise Of The Sufferfests documentary

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

WHOOP: The Performance Enhancing Wearable That Tells You When To Sleep, How To Exercise, Your Strain Levels & More!

My guest on today’s show – Will Ahmed – grew up loving sports and exercise. Many of his childhood heroes were athletes. He was recruited to Harvard and became Captain of the Men’s Varsity Squash Team. As a D1 athlete, he was amazed by how little he knew about his body. He would train for 3 or more hours a day with his teammates without knowing what gains he made. He was surrounded by athletes, himself included, who overtrained, misinterpreted fitness peaks, underestimated recovery and sleep, and got injured. Being prepared for game day often seemed…random.

So he became inspired by a simple idea: Humans, especially athletes, could optimize their daily performance. Optimizing performance was not a random sequence of events and decisions, but rather a systematic approach to understanding your body.

At Harvard, he met with cardiologists and physiologists. He read over 300 medical papers because he became obsessed with understanding the human body. What he learned was amazing: There are secrets that your body – your physiology – is trying to tell you. These secrets can help prevent overtraining and injury, they can detect fatigue and even sickness, and, sure enough, they can be used to optimize human performance. But few actually monitor those metrics.

He partnered with his co-founder John Capodilupo, who was studying math and statistics at Harvard before dropping out to found a self-quantification company called “WHOOP”, and also partnered with Aurelian Nicolae, a graduate from Harvard with a gift for mechanical prototyping and engineering. They then spent the past 4 years building a technology called “the WHOOP System”. They assembled a scientific and performance advisory board and now work alongside our team of 50 engineers, designers, and data scientists in a downtown Boston office overlooking Fenway Park.

They’ve been fortunate to work with many of the best athletes in the world. What they’ve discovered has amazed Will, and we talk about it all on today’s show. Self quantification can transform your life and induce effects like positive behavior change, fitness improvements, injury reduction.

Will believes that the data he’s collecting on athletes is unprecedented, both in its sophistication and scale, and that no physiological studies have ever occurred on this magnitude. WHOOP benefits from the fact that athletes also have tangible performance data (wins/losses, batting average, time trials, etc) across sports. They want to share this data: the unbelievable correlations between physiology and performance; the approach to health monitoring and the different ways to interpret or action your body’s feedback. Beyond building a product that people love, Will and the team at WHOOP hope to advance human knowledge with our discoveries.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The key defining characteristics that set WHOOP apart, including skin conductivity, accelerometer data, and continuous HRV monitoring…[13:25]

-Why WHOOP is the only company to measure the activity and fluctuations of the cardiac autonomic nervous system, particularly as it relates to recovery, training status, and training readiness…[13:57]

-The actual hard data being collected by the WHOOP, and HRV, pulse oximetry, temperature, respiration, etc.)…[15:30 & 24:30]

-Why the WHOOP uses a combination of PPG (photoplethysmography) sensors (4 LEDs and 1 Photodiode) along with 3-axis accelerometer, capacitive touch sensor, ambient temperature sensor…[18:17]

-How coaches and trainers can use WHOOP to monitor the sleep, training and recovery status of a large number of athletes and clients…[20:00, 30:00 , 35:50 & 47:50]

-Why the WHOOP has 90% sleep/wake accuracy compared to gold-standard sleep labs…[22:10]

-How the WHOOP sleep coach automatically calculates sleep needed based on your sleep baseline, any sleep debt that has accumulated over the last few nights, and any naps taken for that day…[39:15]

-The technology the WHOOP uses to tell you how much sleep you need and to give you a picture of when you should go to bed based on your habitual sleep efficiency and desired wake up time…[40:15]

-Why athletes like Lebron James and Michael Phelps are using the WHOOP…[59:15]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

WHOOP (use code GREENFIELD for $50 off at checkout)

How A Bear Attack Affects Your Sleep

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

Pee Strips, Power Lungs & Pulse Oximeters: How To Flip The Switch On Your Body’s Own Natural Ability To Heal Itself (& Little-Known Ways To Breathe Better).

In the past several months, I’ve taken a deep, deep dive into breath work. Sure, in the past years I’ve written articles on everything from combining ketosis, breath holds and freediving, to how to make your own hyperbaric “exercise with oxygen therapy” (EWOT) device, to Wim Hof style breathing for cold thermogenesis to underwater workouts with Laird Hamilton to making yourself high with holotropic breathwork to the use of fancy breath strips and “Turbine” devices to enhance nasal breathing during both exercise and sleep…

…but lately, I’ve been making a very concerted effort to consistently do deep nasal breathing, rhythmic breathing and breath hold tactics during walks, weight training sessions, road trips and beyond. And by concerted, I mean consistently, every day, until these forms of breathing become fully automatic.

In her new book “Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health” my guest Dr. Belisa Vranich explains why breathing is so crucial for optimizing brain and body performance, and she delves into one of the most comprehensive treatises of practical breathing tactics that I’ve ever read (the other best book on this topic is “The Oxygen Advantage” by Patrick McKeown, who I’m also getting on the podcast soon). She highlights the results she’s seen in her research and in her own patients, including…

Insomnia? Gone.

Anxiety? Gone.

All without medication.

Unpleasant side effects from blood pressure pills? Gone.

A cheap and effective way to combat cardiovascular disease, immune dysfunction, obesity, and GI disorders? Yes.

Sounds too good to be true?

Contemporary science confirms what generations of healers have observed through centuries of practice: Breath awareness can turn on the body’s natural abilities to prevent and cure illness. The mental and physical stresses of modern life, such as anxiety, frustration, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive woes, and immune dysfunction can all be addressed through conscious control of your breath. In addition, it can increase energy, accelerate healing, improve cognitive skills, and enhance mental balance.

Yet most of us stopped breathing in the anatomically “right” way, the way to take advantage of these benefits, when we were four or five years old. We now mostly breathe in a way that is anatomically incongruous and makes for more illness. But in the book “Breathe“, Dr. Vranich shows readers how to turn back the tide of stress and illness, and improve the overall quality of their life through a daily breathing workout.

In a fascinating, straightforward, jargon-free exploration of how our bodies were meant to breathe, she delves into the ins and outs of proper breathing. By combining both anatomy and fitness with psychology and mindfulness, Dr. Vranich gives readers a way of solving health problems at the crux and healing themselves from the inside out. Breathe is an easy-to-follow guide to breathing exercises that will increase energy, help lose weight, and make you feel calmer and happier.

Dr. Vranich is a clinical psychologist with over twenty years of experience, and she has spent the last decade dedicating herself to the study of breathing. She is the founder of The Breathing Class and has appeared in dozens of national media outlets, including Anderson Cooper, CNN, Fox, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Fitness and Huffington Post. She is also the former sports psychologist for Gold’s Gym and columnist for Shape.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How to determine something called your “baseline breath”…[10:35]

-The best biohacking gear that you can use to self quantify and test your breath…[24:45 & 28:10]

-What percentage oxygen level you should look at when using an oximeter to check your blood oxygenation levels…[29:15]

-The acid-alkaline relationship between something called “overbreathing” and craving junk foods…[19:20 & 34:40]

-Why your breath hold time may not be that important (unless you’re into freediving, spearfishing, shooting, golfing, surfing, surgery or tattoo artistry)…[38:00 & 42:00]

-Why rock musicians have very strong vagus nerve stimulation…[52:20]

-How breathwork detoxifies your body and moves lymph through your circulatory system…[57:30]

-The $3000 device that Dr. Vranich swears by for full body massage and diaphragmatic stimulation…[64:45]

-What Dr. Vranich thinks of devices like the Powerlung and the Elevation Training Mask…[70:50]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

My article on “30 Ways To Breathe Better”

Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan

Fingertip pulse oximeter

Urine pH strips

Spirometer / flow meter for measuring lung capacity

PowerLung breath training device

Elevation Training Mask (use code GREEN1 for 20% discount)

Eat Wheat by Dr. John Douillard

The Myobuddy massage device that Ben uses

DMS Professional Deep Muscle Stimulator Massager that Belisa uses

The Official Bas Rutten O2Trainer

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

[Transcript] – Elephant-Poop Coffee, Chocolate Ceremonies, Cold H2O Training, Holotropic Breathing, Nootropics, Ketosis, Meditation, Fasting & More: The Kevin Rose Podcast

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction

[4:44] Introduction to this Episode

[6:17] About Kevin Rose

[8:56] Kevin Microdoses on Lithium

[14:52] Ben and Kevin’s mutual connection called Summer Tomato

[18:24] Kevin and his Infatuation with Chocolate Ceremonies

[24:23] Kevin and His Ketosis and Kitavan Diets

[32:40] The Human Charger

[34:12] EXO Protein

[36:19] What Kevin does with Cold Water and Heat Training

[46:19] Why You Should Be Careful with Breath Work

[47:33] Ben Talks About Kundalini Breath Work

[53:55] Kevin’s Fasting App and Why Fasting by Sunset is Highly Effective

[1:03:05] How Dietary Change Caused Kevin’s friend with Stage 4 Cancer to be in Remission

[1:08:12] Hautou – A Coffee Shop in Tokyo, Japan that Serves Old Beans

[1:12:08] Blue Spruce Essential Oil and Shutran

[1:15:12] Cool Apps – Wild Fulness and Brain FM

[1:20:20] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, what’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield.  Get ready for a really entertaining podcast with a guy whose name I will reveal shortly, that’s mysterious enough for you.

Speaking of being an over-achiever man, we have a lot going on in today’s podcast.  We talk about a ton of different topics from chocolate to elephant poop coffee and beyond, so you’re gonna dig this one.  I actually purposefully used that word dig and you’ll learn why in just a moment.  Let’s not digress anymore.  Shall we?

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“By the tenth week, I was filling my bathtub full of about eight to ten bags of ice and I could sit there, you know, twenty minutes up to my neck in ice water and not even shiver.  It was just insane and I felt better than I ever did like just I was operating on a different level.  It was amazing.  “The forced environment promoted lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity just from sitting around the trees.”

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, its Ben Greenfield and my guest on today’s show was actually named by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential people on the web.  I’m not quite sure what that means but he was definitely ranked as that.  He’s also actually been ranked as the top 25 angel investors or one of the top 25 angel investors by Bloomberg.  He serves on the Advisory Board of Goggle Ventures and the Tony Hawk Foundation.  So obviously he pulls a lot of sway when it comes to both internet and skateboarding.  He founded DIG.  He founded Revision3.

He was the general partner at Goggle Ventures and perhaps most interesting for me and for you, and perhaps not as well known to a lot of folks is that he also considers himself to be a pretty well-versed body hacker and I can attest to the fact that, that is the case after listening to a few podcasts that he has done with another previous podcast guest, Tim Ferris.  Because my guest today is Kevin Rose who actually co-hosts a show called “The Random Show” with Tim Ferris and he’s frequently experimenting with things like cold water training, and breathwork, and nootropics, and ketogenic diets, and meditation, and fasting, and all manner of hacking efforts that we’re actually gonna discuss on today’s show.

He’s actually even recently released a free-app which I’m gonna put in the show notes for you guys to go check out.  And the show notes by the way are gonna be over at, that’s  And this free-app is designed to help people track their fasting which might be top of mind for you if you’re listening to this podcast when it comes out which is just about right after the time you’ve probably polished off your last holiday cookie and maybe sucked down that last little bit of special whiskey that you got for Christmas.  So Kevin is a wealth of information we’re honored to have him on the show.  He’s an investor.  He’s a podcaster.  He’s a self-experimentor.  He’s a cool dude.  Kevin, welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.

Kevin:  Ben, thank you for having me on.  I’m a huge fan of yours.  I’ve been listening for a long time.  I have to say I love your podcast because you guys are not afraid to tackle pretty much any and every subject, like a lot of cool woo-woo stuff I actually like.  Which is (giggles).  That’s actually a complement.

Ben:  Yeah, woo-woo and orifices.  Ears, eyes, butt holes.  We stick stuff anywhere and then report on what happens.

Kevin:  It’s awesome!  It’s awesome ‘cause I find that a lot of the best science actually comes out of these little tiny things that we once thought were woo woo but you know, actually prove out to be something real.  So it’s good.  Good to be on.

Ben:  Yeah, this little tiny things like you were telling me that you were experimenting with microdosing with lithium, speaking of little things that seem to actually produce pretty big results.  Is that the case or are you actually using lithium as a nootropic?

Kevin:  Yeah, I have been f0r a while.  So you know, I think that it’s a real shame that lithium tends to be thought of as just a substance for people with bipolar disorder.  It kinda often gets demonized and lumped into like, oh if I’m taking lithium something must be wrong with me, you know.  But it’s funny, do you know the whole backstory on lithium in soft drinks and in beverages?  It’s actually quite fascinating.

Ben:  I know it has something to do with 7-Up like in the same way that I guess like cocaine used to be some kind of an ingredient in Coca-Cola, lithium was part of 7-Up, was it not?

Kevin:  Yeah, so in 1929 there was this guy by the name of Charles Grigg, who launched a soft drink called Bib Label Lithiunated Lemon Lime soda.  Doesn’t run off the tongue nicely.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s nicely so.

Kevin:  Yeah, it didn’t sell that well but its slogan was, “it takes the ouch out of the grouch” and actually he held it as being improving your mood and curing hang overs and you know, blah, blah, blah.  Later he remarketed to 7-Up and supposedly the 7 in 7-Up is supposed to be the rounded up atomic weight of lithium which is 6.9.

Ben:  Oh, no way.

Kevin:  Yeah, so you know, I started reading about it.  There’s actually a really good book out there that you can get on Kindle or wherever on Amazon, it’s called “Nutritional Lithium – A Cinderella Story”, and it really kinda covers the whole all of the research that had been done over many, many years about lithium in our drinking supply and how they’re certain there’s been research that’s been done where they find high levels of lithium, naturally occurring lithium in our drinking water, and in where areas where that’s present there’s lower suicide rates and a bunch of other things.  I was thinking like why not try it like you know, you can buy this stuff on Amazon and you know and typically when you think about people that are getting dosed with lithium for say, bipolar disorder, that level of dosage is around 300 milligrams twice a day, so if you have a disorder like that doctors typically are going to prescribe to you around 600 milligrams or higher of lithium per day, and it’s really at those levels you have to be really careful like you have to get your  blood drawn and checked to see if you’re not gonna OD on this type of stuff because that is a concern.

When you buy it on Amazon you typically find it in kind of capsule form right around 5 milligrams in per capsule.  And so what I do is I went in and I did the research and in terms of these different drinking water supplies and kinda what their levels were at, and where people were feeling this kind of mood boost that comes out of just taking this as a supplement.  And it’s actually really, really tiny amounts of it as you’d imagine being found in this drinking water.  So I aim for around 2 milligrams per day.  So 1 milligram in the morning and 1 milligram at night, and so that means I’m taking you know, these 5 milligram capsules and cracking them in half and kind of like slowly twisting it so you get a little of the powder out.  I actually just recently found pure encapsulations makes a liquid form that you can do it in drops and it’s around 1 milligram per full dropper, so I do like a half a dropper on the tongue and then the other half at night and that gets me my full 2 milligrams per day.

Ben:  I may have to check on the label because this popped up a few weeks ago on a show that I did with this guy who we call the ‘god-pill’ which is just a blend of like 42 different nootropics it’s called Qualia.  Have you heard of his before?

Kevin:  No, I haven’t.

Ben:  Ok, so qualia is like the new darling of the smart drug of the nootropic community.  It’s made by these guys out of San Diego called the Neurohacker Collective.  It really is like just about everything you’ll find in research all thrown into 1 bottle and its 2 doses.  You take 1 dose on an empty stomach when you wake up for all the water soluble compounds that might have inhibited absorption if you continue with food, and you take all the other components later on with breakfast.  So there’s like dose 1 and dose 2 and I think its dose 1 that has lithium orotate in it.  I had one of the designers, a guy named Daniel Schmachtenberger on my show to talk about it, and he mentioned something about neurogenesis or neuroplasticity.  Like the development of or the maintenance of new neurons and like this neuro protective effect that has interestingly kinda similar to a lot of psychedelics.

Kevin:  Yeah, that’s a hundred percent why I take it.  So for me I don’t necessarily, I have a one buddy of mine that’s a scientist friend that takes it and notices a mood change, like when he takes it he gets a little less irritable and he just feels more like kind of zend-out when he’s taking the micro doses.  For me, I’m looking at the studies that talk about this as a neuroprotective and there’s also some old-timers research on this that show that people that take lithium have lower rates of that and so why not?  It sounds great and it’s cheap and you can buy it on Amazon. and so it’s part of my daily kinda regimen.

Ben:  Yeah, I wonder when they started taking it out of 7-Up?

Kevin:  I believe it was 1950, the last year it remained in 7-Up.

Ben:  So I never actually drank lithium in 7-Up.

Kevin:  No, we didn’t.  We just had pear-shaped as kids.  We had like bad version.

Ben:   Yeah, just like Coca-Cola unless you get the Mexican-sugar version it’s just pure hi-fructose corn syrup.  Unfortunately.

Kevin:  That’s right.      

Ben:  Well, you’re married to a neuroscientist, speaking of tweeking your biology with things like lithium, and it’s kinda funny because your wife, how do you pronounce the name, Darya?

Kevin:  Darya.

Ben:  Darya, I guess back when I first ran into her she was Darya.

Kevin:  Pino.

Ben:  Pino, yeah she was like a website called the Summer Tomato and we were on like this online nutrition webcast together about whether you could burn more fat by skipping breakfast or by eating like a big dense, high-fat breakfast, and that was my first introduction to the Summer Tomato but it’s kinda funny we’ve got a mutual connection that goes way back.  I’m kinda curious, she’s a smart cookie, she’s a neuroscientist and I’m wondering what that’s like being married to someone who is able to analyze the brain in that way whether she’d like gives you special foods or gives you special diets or makes you take lithium capsules or anything like that?

Kevin:  Honestly, I think she thinks I’m pretty crazy.  Like she’s like, really another thing that you’re doing?  Like, dude you’re trying something else again?  She tends to balance me out, to be honest like she recommends just eating whole fruits and vegetables and she has a book out called Foodist that is really kind of the balance in my life and I tend to go and try the really crazy hackary kind of ideas.  The beautiful thing about having a scientist in your household is you just send them all the published papers and she really helps validate my thinking when I’m reading through this stuff.

Ben:  Right.  That’s interesting.  I’m married to a rancher girl who probably fits very well into the saying that goes, the shoemaker’s wife who wears no shoes, right?  She doesn’t take supplements, she doesn’t have like a structured exercise program, she doesn’t biohack and she kinda laughs at a lot of this stuff that I do.  It sounds like you might be in a similar situation.

Kevin:  Oh, it’s the same thing.  I mean she may take a little Vitamin D if it hasn’t been sunny out (laughs).  You know,  like her side of the, when you go in our master bathroom and kinda open up the mezzanine closet there like my side’s just filled with stuff and she has like 2 things (laughs).   

Ben:  Oh, it’s so funny.  Before I came down here I was actually in my pantry where my wife was sitting there with her hands in her hips just like looking with the displeased face at this huge cupboard that I have that’s just full of bottles.  ‘Cause I get, I don’t know about you but I get random bottles and weird variations of bone broth and dietary powder and all that stuff.

Kevin:  Oh yeah, same here.  I get all that stuff.

Ben:  And sometimes it’s kinda creepy it’s like some hand-made stuff with little handwritten notes on it [0:17:28.4] ______.   

Kevin:  Yeah, you don’t know if you should open it or not.  Like I get some of that stuff someone random will find my address like send me something and I’m like, is there poison in here or?

Ben:  Or it’s just like a white blank plastic bottle with sharpee markers on it and you open it and it’s like something someone encapsulated.

Kevin:  (Laughs) Right.  It’s scary.

Ben:  You take lithium, do you do other special nootropics or smart drugs or anything else when it comes to spinning the dials in your brain?

Kevin:  Oh you know, I’ve tried a handful of different things but nothing that I would stick with ongoing.  I think for me it’s always been more recently in the kind of what can I do to the outside of my body to impact the release of certain compounds like norepinephrine with my ice baths and things like that or extreme sauna use or you know, fasting and things like that but I haven’t done a whole lot of nootropics recently.

Ben:  Ok, got it.  Now one thing you at some point, you sent me a video about chocolate.  Chocolate.

Kevin:  Yes.

Ben:  I think you called them chocolate ceremonies.  That intrigues me.  What is it that you found from chocolate?

Kevin:  Yes, so that I guess you could consider that kind of a brain hack in a way, so gosh, there’s a couple of things.  I’ve run with a little group out here in New York that is really into kind of old school Mayan chocolate ceremonies.  And essentially what they’ve done, this sounds crazy, but what they found out is that if you don’t kind of overly roast chocolate and you buy it like in its whole bean form, you can create a beverage that is just essentially pure, pure, pure a hundred percent chocolate that you drink down and after about a half hour and this is you know, involve people sitting around and doing some drum circle work and things like that.  You start to get really emotional and you kinda feel this a little bit of a release and some people close their eyes and they see visions but they believe this to be a very kind of spiritual compound that’s been used for thousands of years and we’ve just kind of lost touch with it and so we’re talking really intense high dose chocolate in a ceremony.

Ben:  Interesting.  I’ve never heard of that.  First of, where do you get like a 100% coffee bean to build something like that?

Kevin:  Yes, so they fly it in actually fresh which is kinda crazy and then they use that to process it down.  So they’re not buying like the overly roasted dead version of that, so they’re bringing it on fresh.  The one thing that I found out I’ve used this as a supplement and I think it’s a great afternoon pick-me-up because you know every once in a while a couple times a week I’ll hit that 2pm, oh gosh should I have a second sip new cup of coffee.  And the answers always no, like you shouldn’t ‘cause I’ll just be up all night long, but I found a chocolate producer that I’ve been working with, out here in New York called Fruition and they make a 100%…   

Ben:  Oh yeah, I’ve had those.

Kevin:  Yeah, have you tried their hundred percent bar?

Ben:  I have not tried the hundred percent bar.  I’ve had a Fruition chocolate bar though I remember it being really good.

Kevin:  Yeah, so they do obviously all types all the way down to milk and what not but they do a one hundred percent bar that has obviously it’s a hundred percent solution.  So there’s no added sugar or anything else in there but the secret is you know if you were to go to a grocery store and pick up a hundred percent bar it’s typically that kind of baker’s chocolate and that stuff is horrible.  I mean it’s been over roasted.  It’s just disgusting.  It’s bitter.  It’s really not pleasant at all.

Ben:  It’s got an extreme pucker factor.

Kevin:  Right.  Right.  So they purposely lightly roast it, so they don’t just like destroy because it’s not going in their cookies or baking.  It’s meant for consumption so I break off about a third of that bar and just have that in the afternoon and just like that rush of energy that you get from the chocolate and caffeine and everything else.  It’s beautiful.  It’s a beautiful thing. But that is just a very kind of watered-down version of what you would do if you’re doing one of these Mayan chocolate ceremonies.

Ben:  Ok, got it.  And can you just get like Fruition 100% chocolate on Amazon?  Or do you need to go to like a special shop in New York?

Kevin:  Yeah, I believe it’s all over the place.

Ben:  And do like a secret hand shake?

Kevin:  No, Fruition has their own website and they sell out from time to time but they have just the bars on there and their standard chocolate bars but they’re great.

Ben:  Ok cool.  I’ll hunt down links for those of you listening in and put them all over at

I’m curious if it’s just like central nervous system stimulant you know, the theobromine in the chocolate that’s giving people this type of a factor if there’s something else happening.  I mean, I know there’s a big serotonin dump which I guess which is that’s why a lot of people get addicted to chocolate.  I’m curious what chemical it is that’s allowing people to have that type of reaction to 100% chocolate?

Kevin: Yeah, it’s crazy how they just start breaking down in tears.  I actually sent you a video that shows the ceremony going on and what people go through in the visions that they see, and yeah you can link that up in the show notes but it’s kinda pretty intense.  So you can search online I think there’s some kind of like local, depending on what city you live in there’s people that still practice this.

Ben:  Yeah, interesting.  I do know that chocolate does have some cannabinoids in it. And so, it may be similar in the endocannabinoids system as well.  There’s a lot to chocolate.  There’s a new book by Stephan Guyenet, it has really good research in like what over stimulates us to eat.  And it’s actually is a fascinating book.  I don’t remember the title of it.  I’m like I’m halfway through it but I’m horrible at remembering the actual titles of book as I’m reading them.  But he actually goes into how chocolate is basically like one of the most addictive calorie-dense foods on the face of the planet which can be good and can be bad because he talks about how if you look at ancient hunter-gatherer tribes for example, they would eat just copious amounts of foods to increase their fertility and to satisfy their evolutionary thirst for simply consuming calorie-dense foods when they got their hands on them like how like the Hadza when they’re hunting, I forget the name of the animal that they do like a persistence hunt on, but if they walk by like a giant hive of bees, they’ll just stop completely forsake the hunt and go after the honey ‘cause that’s more calorie-dense.

Kevin:  Right.  Right.

Ben:  And much less energy cost than actually going after the animal and it appears chocolate kinda satisfies that need for us from an ancestral standpoint whereas, extremely calorie-dense assists with fertility, and it’s one of those things that we can get a lot of energy from in a very small package.

Kevin:  Yeah, and what’s awesome about it is with the hundred percent bars when I was really deep into ketosis and I was measuring my ketone levels a few times a day with pricking my finger, it didn’t kick me out.  I could stay in and still look at that kind of chocolate flavor and obviously you know if you do even a ninety percent bar with a little bit of sugar, it’s gonna kick you out right away.

Ben:  Right, so this stuff doesn’t have all the both the milk sugars as well as the added sugars put into this Fruition 100%.  Okay cool.

Now with ketosis, is that something you’ve been doing for a while?  Are you like one of these guys who streaks ketosis 24/7 or why is it that you’re doing that type of diet?

Kevin:  Yeah, well you know I’ve been trying all different types of diets out and I think that I really want to see about this.  This energy that everyone talks about that you can just tap into when you’re running off of ketones, and so for me, I was just an experiment, I thought ok, well let’s draw my blood ahead of time, so we have all the kind of bio markers as they are and then go on and see what happens.  And so I jumped into it and cut out a ton of protein and focused on the fats and you know, I got all the way in and I was wearing a continuous glucose monitor, so I had a Dexcom on me which is you know, you kinda pinch the fat around your stomach and you inject yourself with this monitor that sits on your side and that stays on 24/7, so it’s monitoring that.

Ben:  Yeah, the continuous blood glucose monitor.

Kevin:  Yeah, it’s great.  You have to get a doctor’s prescription to get it but it’s great because once you have it, you can find all the little hidden sugars that you don’t think are there.  Like you’ll be out somewhere and you’re like okay that looks like pretty fatty and you give it a shot and then all of sudden you realize that someone snuck some sugar in somewhere and you can see it right away as its happening.

Ben:  Right.  Right.

Kevin: Yeah.  Ketosis was fun for me.  It was a great way to get some extra energy.  Unfortunately, I’m one of those you know, 5% of people or whatever it is that it kinda wreaks havoc on a few of my different inflammation markers and also on my cholesterol levels were not.  I wasn’t taking to it well.  I have a history of heart disease in my family so it was something we have to monitor pretty closely and so I just think it was the diet for me so I had to get off of it.

Ben: That’s interesting.  Are you one of the people who has the Apple E-gene that causes you to store things like saturated fats as cholesterol and elevated triglycerides?

Kevin:  That’s right.

Ben:  Ok.  Yeah, so that is a genetic marker that seems to respond really well to like, are you familiar with like a Kitavan Diet, like a high-fiber, slightly higher carbohydrate diet that’s got a lot of dense cellular carbohydrates in it but it’s anything but a ketogenic diet.  Have you looked into this at all?

Kevin:  Yeah, that’s more or less what I’m on now.  I’m on a pretty high-veggie kind of dense-grain diet and that’s how it worked wonders actually.

Ben:  Yeah, they do like a lot of tubers, and coconut, and fish, and I know they’ve got like cassava, and yaka, and sweet potato, and a lot of these non-wheat, non-sugar based carbohydrates that a lot of people with that genetic factors seem to respond really well to this Kitavan-based diet.

Kevin:  Yeah, I love the sweet potatoes.  I go for the purple sweet potatoes that they eat so much in Okinawa.

Ben:  Yeah, those are…

Kevin:  Have you ever been down to Okinawa?  Have you visited that island at all?

Ben:  No, I haven’t.

Kevin:  That’s that island right off the coast of Japan where they have more people over the age of a hundred than any other place on earth.  They all…

Ben:  It’s a blue zone, right?

Kevin:  Yes, it’s a blue zone.  That’s right, and they just consume tons of this purple and they just look healthy when you can see that dark dense like purple in color.  I cut those up and have them with pretty much everything.

Ben:  I love those.  I used to do the Ironman Triathlon down in Hawaii on the big island every year and that was my go to meal the night before the race.  It was like a couple of those purple sweet potatoes and prepare them with a little bit of nut butter and honey and sea salt.

Kevin: That’s perfect (laughs).

Ben:  My goodness!  You’d wake up in the morning feeling like a million bucks.  But I actually did myself you know, last couple of years I did Ironman, I switched to ketosis and I saw some hormonal issues too.  It’s like rocket fuel for your liver and your diaphragm and your heart for long term endurance sessions, but for me my thyroid wound up taking a little bit of a hit that kinda sticks with me to this day, and then also testosterone just plummeted on that combination of extremely low glucose availability and high activity levels.  So it can be difficult.  You said your inflammation went up when you were on a ketogenic diet?  Well, like your CRP?

Kevin:  Yeah, I’d have to go back and look.  I haven’t looked at the blood work in a while but I can’t remember what marker it was that we were looking at, but something was a little out of whack and enough to where there’s enough signs where I say, ok this isn’t for me, and mainly it was because my father died of a heart attack and there’s 2 other strokes on my father’s side and we were like, let’s not risk it so I bounced from it.  You know the supplemental ketones is a fun way to get a quick little boost.  I’ve done that as well.  I tried those Pruvit brands, it’s like an orange-flavored little shake, and you mix it in and you know if I’m just looking for to run, go out and run 5-7 miles, I’ll just take one of those and you can do that once or twice a month and that’s a nice, nice little boost of energy.

Ben:  Yeah, I took those the very first time I went free diving.  I took a week-long free diving course down in Florida just to see what they would do to breath hold time.

Kevin:  Yeah, it’s supposed to increase it, right?

Ben:  Oh, I added almost seventy-five seconds to breath hold time.

Kevin:  Wow!

Ben:  And that wasn’t by like eating a high-fat breakfast or by consuming a bunch of coconut oil.  It was literally just like eating what I normally eat and I remember you know, when we first got to the dock for one of our first dives we wound up at a sandwich shop.  That was the place where our free-diving instructor brought us to eat.  So I had like a tuna sandwich which by the way, is a bad call before you head out into the rollicking ocean waves, but I also had those ketones to put myself into ketosis and it vastly improved the breath hold time.

Kevin:  Well, they’re talking about government research that was funding a lot of these, right, so that they can have Navy Seals with longer breath times and things like that, so that makes sense.

Ben:  Exactly.  It’s to combat a lot of the effects of like hypoperfusion to the brain and hypoxia at depth.  Yeah, it certainly has some beneficial like therapeutic effects when you’re doing a lot of hypoxia as well.  The other interesting thing are these ketone esters.  There’s a researcher named Dr. Richard Veech, I’ve had him on the show before and he has developed an extremely potent form of ketone that is the same form as the body produces, like all these other ketone salts on the market.  They’re not necessarily unhealthy, at least they haven’t been proven to be, but they aren’t the form that the body makes and Dr. Veech actually produces these ketone esters that I took a bottle ‘cause that’s how you consume like a liquid bottle, and tested my ketones.  And for those of you listening in or for you Kevin if you’ve tested ketones you would know how profound this is, within ten minutes my ketone values were above 5.

Kevin:  Wow!  And were they like .3 before you started or something or?

Ben:  No, normally what it would be when I wake up, you know a little bit below 1 you know, like 0.5 to 1 in that range when I wake up in the morning for blood [0:31:08.1] ______ of ketone.

Kevin:  In ten minutes (chuckles), that’s insane!

Ben:  In ten minutes shoved it.

Kevin:  How did it taste, though is that stuff pretty gnarly?

Ben:  They warned me that it tastes just like rocket fuel, you know that’s what Dominic  d’Agostino and Peter Attia when they first way back in the day when they were doing their research on ketones where Peter was in the lab riding the bicycle.  He said it was just horrible but these actually they didn’t taste that bad but of course, I drink what my wife calls cat diarrhea for breakfast which is essentially kale mix with a bunch of nasty nutrients, so it could be that I’m just immuned to the taste.  But yeah, if you get a chance to try ketone esters, I tried them in a race too.  I tried them in a Tough Mudder.  Got out of bed, raced the Tough Mudder and was just like on fire for like 6 hours just on this little bottle of ketones.

Kevin:  I gotta try those.

Ben:  Yeah, if you can get your hands on some or contact me later I’ll intro you to Dr. Veech and we can have you try a little bottle of these ketone esters ‘cause you can’t buy them.  You can just get them from his lab.  They’re not like sold f0r human consumption or anything like that although I believe, are you familiar with this Patrick Arnold guy, he developed?

Kevin:  No.

Ben:  He develops ketone press similar to those Pruvit ones that you mentioned.  I think his is called Ketoforce and I think he’s trying to develop like a consumer version of this ketone ester.  I believe he’s the guy.

Kevin:  Yeah, I know the Ketoforce.  I haven’t tried that, though.

Ben:  Yeah.

Music Plays…

Ben:  Hey, I wanna interrupt this podcast to tell you about a device that I stick into an orifice of my body every single morning and no, it’s not what you’re thinking.  It’s called a human charger.  It is bright in-ear light therapy that is like a cup of coffee for your brain.  It was originally designed for jetlag and for seasonal effective disorder which it works great for me.  I live on a north facing slope in the forest where I get sun from about 10am to 2pm, so for me blasting my ears in the morning with sunlight is really cool because there are photo receptors in your ear that actually interact with the surface of your brain.  They’re very similar to these photo receptors in your eye and so this concept of like looking at the sun when you get up in the morning to regulate your circadian rhythms, if you don’t have access to the sun you can do the same thing with this tiny little device that goes into your ear.  Goes into either ear and that looks just like headphones.  Fits just like headphones.  It’s just this little LED set of earbuds that fits snuggly into your ears, you turn it on, stays on for twelve minutes and you get light therapy.  It’s like having the sun in your pocket.  As a matter of fact, that’s their slogan, The Human Charger – The Sun in Your Pocket.

Anyways though, you can get a big discount on one of these for yourself.  Try it for yourself.  It’s called the Human Charger.  You go to, that’s and you use code B Fitness that will get you 20% off one of these bad boys.  So it’s called the Human Charger and code B Fitness for 20% off.

This podcast is also brought to you by one of my favorite energy bars.  It’s really more of a protein bar than energy bar you know, a lot of energy bars are just like caffeine and carbs but this one is pretty tasty.  For example, it’s nutrient-dense.  It’s designed by 3 Michelin star chef.  My favorite flavor is the peanut butter and jelly which combines peanut butter with whole strawberries and toasted gluten-free oats and here’s the most unique part; they add the flour of something called acheta domesticus, yes that is cricket flour.  They add cricket flour to these protein bars, extremely sustainable protein, extremely high in minerals.  The entire bar is made only with real food ingredients.  If you look at the ingredient’s list you’ll see; peanut butter, strawberries, apricots, cricket flour, gluten-free oats, ground flax seeds, little bit of puff brown rice, some vanilla extract and sea salt.  Tastes amazing.

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Music Plays…

Ben:  So you’re doing I think what you called the body hacking or body work where you’re focusing on things you know aside from just drinking or chocolate or consuming lithium, you mentioned cold water and heat training?  What are you doing as far as like heat and cold go?

Kevin:  Yeah, well you know gosh, I’d say a little over a year ago Dr. Rhonda Patrick, have you had her on the show at all?

Ben:  Oh yeah, Dr. Rhonda and I were just over in Finland for a week.

Kevin:  That’s great.

Ben:  We were visiting a bunch of saunas over there and doing the whole Finnish slightly awkward huge smoke saunas full of fifty coed nude people whipping each other with birch branches.  So yeah.

Kevin:  Yes, (laughs) I love that.  We have that here in New York.  I do that all the time.  Yes, so you know how Rhonda feels about all this stuff and she came out with the great cold stress PDF where she looked at all the different studies, pulled together all the information and kinda found the temperatures that you wanna be at to release this norepinephrine in the brain and into the blood stream.  You know, I’d heard great things from people doing this ice kind of cold training and I was first turned on to Wim Hof who I’m sure most of your listeners have heard of before.  He’s the Ice Man.  He has a world record for most time under ice or an ice water.  It’s crazy.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s like over 2 hours.

Kevin:  It’s insane like most people die when that happens, right?  So his whole method, the Wim Hof method is a ten-week course and around this time last year, I thought well you know, let’s give it a shot, like this guy obviously is a pro here.  He teaches you some kind of yoga breathing exercises to help you really focus yourself before you go into these extreme cold conditions, and I thought that coupled with kind of Rhonda’s research you know, aiming for a little under fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit in water temperature, let’s just give this a shot and see how I feel because I’ve heard so many people reporting back that you just get this great euphoria, and you feel so much better, more energy blah, blah, blah.  So I started off by doing the ten-week course and it starts you off pretty easy wherein you start with the shower which is a typical hot shower and then you end with thirty seconds of cold water.

Ben:  Right.

Kevin:  The key here really though is figuring out if you can get your cold water and the temperature coming out of your faucet to below fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit.  So I went out and I purchased one of these lasers that you can point at the water, you know, the laser little temperature monitors.

Ben:  Uhm.  Just like everybody has in their shower.

Kevin:  Yeah, exactly like we all have (laughs).  And I went and got a couple of a cup and turned on the shower and mine was not quite that cold.  It turns out that most showers at least the ones that go cold and hot with 1 knob versus having 2 knobs for cold and hot, they have governors built-in so they can’t go cold on us.  So I had to unscrew my shower, take it apart and remove the little governors so that it would go all the way to the coldest possible setting.  And here in New York obviously the cold water’s coming from outside in the streets and so it’s coming in pretty cold.  So I just measured before we jumped on the call today and the water out here now is around fifty-four degrees Fahrenheit which is about twelve and a half degrees Celsius.

And so, it’s right where I want it.  So essentially you know, I put it back together and said ok let’s start this.  The first week is 5 days of these breathing exercises and then you go and you do the thirty seconds of cold.  It’s difficult and it’s a shock to the body and you know I really didn’t feel anything after the first week.  It was kinda fun and it was a fun little jolt of energy when you get out of the shower and you’re like, oh that was exciting.  But then around the week 2, something really odd started happening and that’s that I felt as though you know, I would say I’m a pretty happy person in general and I think that we all kind of ride this little roller coaster in the upper third of things where you know, you may feel a hundred percent one day, some days you feel eighty, eighty-five percent, some days ninety percent in terms of mood over all, right?

Ben:  Yup.

Kevin: And what happened for me is the bar was just lifted a little bit higher.  I didn’t think it could go this high like I remember jumping out of bed and still like, god I feel so good today.  It’s almost like I’m fifteen again.  Just the amount of energy and just mental clarity and you know, I know these are all buzz words, but when you actually feel it you’re kinda shocked.  And that started happening around week 2 and that’s when I started kinda ramping up to sixty seconds of cold per day, and then you continue through the ten weeks and by the tenth week I was filling my bathtub full of about eight to ten bags of ice and I could sit there twenty minutes up to my neck in ice water and not even shiver.  It was just insane and I felt better than I ever did just that I was operating at a different level.  It was amazing.

Ben: There’s a lot of really interesting hormonal mechanisms and by the way, you were that guy who went into 711 buying the giant pegs of ice?

Kevin:  Exactly (laughs).

Ben:  Not because you’re having a party but because you’re having a bath.

Kevin:  Right (laughs).

Ben:  The interesting thing and I know the NIH for example, you kn0w a l0t 0f people take thyroid hormone like armor thyroid, or nature thyroid, or something like that when they’re slightly low in thyroid to elevate mood levels and enhance sleep, and the NIH is actually doing studies right now on cold thermogenesis and its effect on human thyroid levels, meaning that the long term effect of doing repeated cold exposure could actually have a really beneficial effect on your thyroid.  We all tend to think you know, like a sluggish thyroid would cause you to feel cold all the time but it seems that like if you expose to cold that it can actually upregulate thyroid function.  And then you mentioned Wim Hof and I’m sure you’ve seen this study where he like injected himself with endotoxins, I think it was like ecoli or something like that and actually showed that by using his methods right, like the shiver walks and the power breathing and stuff like that he could actually enhance his immune system’s ability to be able to fight off endotoxins.  So it’s really interesting there’s all sorts of very cool hormonal responses to this cold exposure.

Kevin:  Have you tried the cold at all?  Have you done any of this work yourself?

Ben: Yes, so I have a nineteen foot cold pool.  It’s on the snow right now.  I had a crane drop it out here in the middle of the forest where I live ‘cause there is no natural body of water.  I keep it at about 45 degrees and every morning what I do is I built an infrared sauna in my basement.  There’s this company called ClearLight, they send like a kit to your house and you can build this enormous sauna that you can do yoga in, and I’ve got dumbbells and a kettlebell in there, and so I do just about every morning 30 minutes of extreme sweating in that infrared sauna and I’ll do like kundalini yoga and breathwork and Wim Hof style breath of fire and stuff like that.  And then I go out and I do a 5 minutes of underwater swimming back and forth in this cold pool.  And so yeah, it’s a daily practice.  I haven’t taken a hot shower in about 3 years.

Kevin:  Wow!  Yeah, that’s great.  Can you notice the difference in mood and just energy and things of that nature or was that not a big factor for you?

Ben:  Yeah, mood, energy you know, the interesting thing and this has actually come back to bite me a few times in terms of essential body fat stores but I stay almost [0:43:29.3] ______ like you burn fat so rarely.  I started doing this entire practice.  Are you familiar with Ray Cronise?

Kevin:  No.

Ben:  Ok, he was on my podcast with Tim like 3 years ago, and we actually did a full podcast on cold thermogenesis.  And Ray came out to Spokane here where I live and gave a talk at a conference that I put on and he showed this fascinating graphs of fat loss, like extreme fat loss in this folks he was working with and all he was having them do, he didn’t modify exercise, he didn’t modify diet.  Nothing.  All he had them do…

Kevin:  Is this the brown fat activation stuff?

Ben:  Uhuh, yeah you have to do a 5-minute shower in the morning and a 5-minute shower in the evening doing almost exactly what you just alluded to.  They were doing twenty-seconds of cold, ten-seconds of hot ten times through, right, for a total of 5 minutes and the fat loss effects were staggering.  So when he showed all those graphs, so that’s when I kinda started doing it.  A cold shower daily and often twice a day and then, like this cold plunge in the morning, and yeah you’re right, it’s one of the best things you can do for your body you know, aside from exercise and I guess taking lithium and eating chocolate.

Kevin:  Yeah, well when people ask me like you know, coz they know I’m into these types of things and try all kinds of crazy little experiments, and this is definitely my top 3 of things that I’ve actually felt a change, you know like you take a lot of supplements thinking like, oh maybe I’ll try this or that and you don’t notice anything one way or the other, this for me was real.

Ben:  Yeah, it works pretty well but now that you’ve said it I have to ask you, what are the other 2?

Kevin:  Of things that I’ve tried that haven’t worked (chuckles)?

Ben:  No, you said it’s like in your top 3.

Kevin:  Oh, top 3 of things, oh gosh well, that’s a good question, I think the breathwork is another big one.  You know, I think.  Have you done any of the holotropic breath work or anything like that?

Ben:  Yeah, I did.  I did a very long session, meaning the proper version.  It’s like choreographed in music with an instructor there in the room when you’re all lying down the floor.  I did this in San Diego.  I took a course called SealFit with a Navy Seal Commander named Mark Divine, and one of the things that they had us do was this holotropic breathwork and yeah, it was basically the highest I’ve ever gotten without the use of stimulants.

Kevin:  It is really crazy, and that’s actually part of Wim’s program as well and something people should be aware of to be careful with.  I actually had a buddy that was doing some of this breathwork that ended up passing out in a pool.  So he was doing it in a cold pool at that time, passed out, went underwater, unconscious.  They had to pull him out, revive him.  It’s really dangerous stuff, so it’s important that when you’re doing this breathwork that Wim’s teaching, and he even says this as you take the course but to keep those things separate so you’re not like about to pass out while you’re in cold water especially you know, a pool of water.

Ben:  Yeah, you need to be [0:46:18.1] ______.  Kundalini is the other one.  I had a bunch of guys over to my house last weekend for like a 3-day mastermind, and every morning we did yoga in my basement, and the first morning we did kundalini yoga.  One of the guys just flat out, passed out just doing basic kundalini breathwork.

Kevin:  Wow.  It’s powerful stuff but that’s one of the other 3 I have said definitely felt in terms of…  I actually use Wim’s method which is thirty really deep long fast breaths and then you hold your breath until you can’t hold it anymore, and then take 1 gasp of air in and then release and then do another thirty.  And you do this for 3 sets.  So when you do that you get that same kind of feeling that we all know that’s like this really euphoric kind of high and then I’ll take that right into meditation.  So that’s what really calms my brain.  It makes it so that the monkey mind isn’t activated, you’re not thinking about thousand other things just kind of a really zend-out state to begin with and then go right into a half hour meditation.  And that for me is just phenomenal.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s really interesting that you bring that up because that was my first experience with kundalini.  Have you ever done kundalini?

Kevin:  No, I have not.

Ben:  Okay.  Kundalini is really cool.  A lot of people will combine it with cannabis but a lot of people will just do basic kundalini and it’s really intense breath work combined with these special movements that you’ll do like for example, you’ll clench both fists at your side with you elbows against your ribcage and then punch with the left hand as you exhale, punch with the right hand as you exhale, but do that like rapid fire as fast you can for 3 minutes.  And then you finish kinda similarly to the Wim Hof method where you’ll have your breath held for as long as you can and then you exhale for as long as you can, and you get this.  This rush of nitric oxide and your fingers start to get tingly and you start to experience a lot of things you get during holotropic breathwork but usually you finish with meditation or with chanting you know, where you’ll put your fingers together and do like the, sa-ta-na-ma over and over again and when you precede it with the breath work, it’s a whole different experience.

Kevin:  Yeah, I love that.  I have to try that.  I’m taking notes as we’re talking.  I’m gonna try the kundalini.  It sounds great.

Ben:  There’s this girl named Summer Nicole and she was down in Kawaii and she does custom courses where you get on a Skype call with her for about fifteen minutes.  She interviews you and asks you what it is you wanna accomplish.  Like I told her I wanted to improve my cardiovascular capacity.  I wanted to improve my ability to rest and relax during the day and want to improve my ability to meditate.  She does like a custom kundalini routine where she targeted my heart chakra and my lungs and then my relaxation and some of the moves that decreased salivary cortisol.  It’s really cool like how you can like kinda have your own little custom routine and then…

Kevin:  That’s awesome.

Ben:  I just watched the video that she shot a few times and then I memorized it.  So you gotta cold, breathwork. and what’s the third that you would say is in your top 3?

Kevin:  Oh gosh, as far as just overall things that I’ve seen a big impact, I mean you know, for me it’s been meditation but not in the kinda traditional sense of mindfulness meditation.  I started out like most people using a meditation app you know, I’ve tried pretty much all of them out there, and almost all of them…  In fact, I haven’t found one that doesn’t teach you mindfulness meditation but typical following your breath is the kinda go-to form that they teach and recently in the last year I got into and tried transcendental meditation, and I don’t know if you know much about it at all but it’s more…

Ben:  Yeah, I took a course last year.

Kevin:  Ok, so you know the mantra-based.  I’m not a fan of the organization.  I think they charge an awful lot of money for you to do this courses in something that you can learn online.  I did like the few days of instruction and kind of like how they help you over a few of the different hurdles that come up, but I think in general it’s a pretty expensive product for what you get but I am a fan of mantra-based meditation which I hadn’t done before.  I find that I go a lot deeper quicker, and so I started doing mantra-based meditation and for me that was just kind of a game changer in terms of reducing overall daily kind of stress and anxiety and just feel good in general.  And the big change for me had always been, ok, let me fire up one of these apps and do it for ten, fifteen minutes.  And I really think you’re not getting the full taste coz your mind doesn’t really settle down until you hit that thirty minute mark.  And so for me I have to go thirty plus in order to get the true experience and the true feeling of doing this practice.  So I made the switch and actually committed to doing this for longer periods of time and that’s been a big difference for me.

Ben:  Now when you’re doing a mantra like when you take a TM course, you’re assigned a mantra during a special ceremony where they like burn a candle over fruit with a picture of an old Indian dude up there in a frame, and my apologies for blaspheming transcendental meditation for all of you listening in.  I’ve actually found it to be pretty useful but the ceremony was for me slightly awkward.  However, I got a mantra.

Kevin:  I’m with you.  I’m with you.  It was an awkward ceremony.

Ben:  But for you when you’re saying you do like mantra-style meditation, where do you get your mantra?  Do you just like make-up a word or did you actually find like a special word that’s all yours?

Kevin: Yeah, I stuck with the one that they gave me at the TM course.  I think the key is that it just really shouldn’t be something that you have any attachment to.  Meaning that it shouldn’t be a word for you that you would recognize.  It really kinda has to mean nothing and obviously as you get deeper and deeper into it the mantra kind of evolves in your head as you’re doing it anyway.  So, there’s a list if you just do a search for transcendental meditation mantra words they’ll have a complete list online.  I found tons of different ones and you can just pick one in and run with it.

Ben:  Yeah, I did that actually after my course I found my word was actually…

Kevin:  Right, your secret word (laughs)?

Ben:  My secret word.

Kevin:  When you do the course they tell you like, this is your secret word don’t give it to anyone.  And it’s really serious, I was like, ok this is you know, [0:52:46.2] ______, and then of course goggle and it’s like, were you born in this year?  And then it gives me my exact word.  I was like, damn it!

Ben:  Yeah, exactly, but I men all due respect I think by taking the course and paying the money, you actually do almost paint yourself into a corner of doing it and sticking to it for their ten or twenty minutes you do once or twice a day.  For me now, it’s twice a week for twenty minutes, I do my TM and I’m supposed to be doing it every day for a couple of times but you know, I think I’m still getting quite a bit of benefit.  But yeah, you are right, it just can’t be like, sponge bob square ants that you say over and over again in your head.  It has to be like a special word.

So you’ve got breathwork, you’ve got cold, and you’ve got a meditation or mantra-based meditation that you do.  That’s interesting.  Now you’re on, I think you also mentioned you’re into fasting?

Kevin:  That’s right.  Yeah, I’ve been doing fasting on and off for quite a while and just recently decide to kinda build an app around it to give it a little bit of structure and to help other people that wanna do more fasting.

Ben:  Now why, playing devil’s advocate here would someone need an app to tell them not to eat?

Kevin:  Yeah, I mean the app actually is, it’s a great question and honestly I just built the app because it’s a really simple app that I want to see exist.  I don’t charge for the app, there’s no ads for that or anything like that.  It’s just completely free and that’s what I do for a living is build software, so for me it was like let’s build an app that can do a couple of things; one I wanted a really easy way to log my fasting overtime.  So the app goes in and saves historic data of all of your fast over the course of a year or multiple years and then there’s a button to export it out as is like an excel file that you can open up and do whatever you want with so you can look at trends over time.

The other thing I wanted to do is that there’s been a lot of research lately that show that fasting, especially intermittent fasting where you’re doing like a daily fast, it’s important to start this fast closer to sunset.  That the closer to sunset the better.  Dr. Panda has a bunch of research that actually Rhonda Patrick who we’re talking about earlier, the scientist.  She interviewed 3 different people in the world of fasting, and Panda and Longo, also another great scientist doing fasting work.  Your circadian rhythms play a big part in some of these biomarkers in the efficacy of the fast, and so she found that the later that you go into the night and while you continue to eat as it starts to get dark, your body starts to produce serotonin, honestly we know this, and it starts to prepare you to go to bed, and go to sleep.  And if you’re eating into the night it can kind of screw things up a little bit. Your body should have that down time to focus on doing repairs and maintaining your body not really on digesting you know, 5 or 3 sizes of pizza that you ate at midnight.

Ben:  Digesting or having the insulinogenic response because I know like with growth hormone for example, for people who inject growth hormone, you get the benefits when you’re in a very low insulin state, right, so the same way with indigenous growth hormone, right, when insulin levels are low while you’re sleeping, you get more growth hormone produced.

Kevin:  Exactly, so you know there’s been some great research.  I think the only thing that we can really look to when it comes to fasting is you know, all of the research that’s been published by scientists and pure review journals.  And there’s some interesting data.  One of the things that I was really kind of compelled by was that it decreased breast cancer risk in reoccurrence by as much as 36%.  For people that were doing just a thirteen-hour fast but eating as close to sunset is possible.  So thirteen-hour fast is super simple to do.  You just have to start earlier in the night so the second the sun starts to go down.  So the thing about the app and the reason I created the app is what it does is it fetches your location and then we calculate in real time when the sun is going to set.  And so it also logs your night time eating hours.  So it knows, let’s say you start your fast at 8pm and you hit start on the app it knows, ok the sun set at 6 so we’re gonna log 2 hours of night time eating and then it puts that in the excel data as well.  So for me you’re right, any dumb tracker timer that you have on your phone can time your fast, but this is just more for any of the geeks out there that just wanna kinda log all these stuff and look at trends over time.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s really interesting because both light and food are a psych guys which is like a circadian rhythm regulator.  And so, for people who have like jet lag or sleep issues, one of the best things you can do in the morning is huge blast of sunlight and a big breakfast.  But it sounds like from what you’re saying, the flip side could be true for an evening habit and a very light meal or fasting in the evening as soon as everything gets dark could be quite beneficial for night time health.

Kevin:  That’s right.  So I tried the fast that I’m doing right now is actually for 2 reasons; one I’m trying to eat as close to sunset as possible.  I keep it under 3 hours of night time eating per day.  And that’s based on that research around all the cancer and all the positive benefits that happen there and the other piece of it is that honestly as silly as this sounds, Hugh Jackman came out and talked about intermittent fasting for training for Wolverine. So one of the ways that you got…

Ben:  Somewhat bust work (laughs).

Kevin:  So I’m not telling you, one of the reasons he got absolutely ripped is that his trainer put him on a daily sixteen-hour fast, and he talks about when he was training for his first movies how it was really difficult and he had to spend all this time on the treadmill, and then later as he actually was older in life it was much easier for him just doing a sixteen-hour fast.  So you know, you stop eating around 8pm and then have your first meal around lunch time and the fat just kind of falls off, so.

Ben:  Yeah, I wonder if it helps with side burns, too?

Kevin:  Yeah, (chuckles) those nice sideburns and metal claws?

Ben:  Exactly.  Uhuh.  Yeah, the interesting thing with fasting when it comes to that is that it seems to be different for women versus men.  Have you run into this at all?  You know the issue that a lot of women have with like hormonal issues when they do too much fasting?

Kevin:  I haven’t seen any of that, no.  I’m pointing everyone when you have the app or any of this stuff, I point everyone to all the published papers and all the science and have them talk to their doctors because it’s so important to have a doctor kinda help you through this stuff.

Ben:  Yeah, I’ll put a link in the show notes for people but basically the deal is like with women they tend to report that they’ll start to miss their periods when they do this 12 to 16-hour intermittent fast, and apparently the reason for that is that women have a high production of this molecule that neurons used to communicate it’s called kisspeptin.  And kisspeptin actually simulates the gonadotropic releasing hormone.  That’s like the hormone that tells you to release like glutinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone, and all these things that allow women to have their period.  And apparently when women in particular fast, their kisspeptin level just like plummet.  And so it’s almost like men have this built-in hormonal mechanism to do better with long periods of time without eating compared to women who of course who do better with the higher essential body fat stores but appears better with eating as well.

For me though, I’m onboard with you.  The way that I do it, I don’t have an app but I’m very competitive.  So when I and I’ve done this for the past few years about as long as I’ve done this, you know only-take-a-cold-shower thing when I finish dinner, I take out my watch, I press the mode button, open up the chronograph and I press start, and I’ve a very simple rule that no caloric-based substance including MCT oil, or bullet-proof coffee, or anything like that is gonna go into my body for twelve hours.  So, I always have at least a 12-hour window and I try and achieve for sixteen-hours that I just go without eating.

Kevin:  Do you do black coffee without anything added?

Ben:  Uhm, black coffee, sometimes I put some mushrooms or anything like chaga or in the morning typically, it’s chaga or cordyceps is the other one that I’ll use but yeah, no just black coffee in the morning and that’s it.

Kevin:  Yeah, I’m the same way.

Ben:  Have you seen the video going around Facebook with the guy who is doing a biohacker Perry video, and there’s a pretty funny part of it where he drops a couple of sticks of butter into his morning cup of coffee and…

Kevin:  (Laughs) No way.

Ben:  Simply amazing!  It astounds me how putting eighteen hundred calories of butter into my coffee each morning allows me to stay in a fasted state without getting hungry.

Kevin:  Right (laughs).

Ben:  So yeah, those morning calories count.  But that’s interesting.  Is that fasting app actually released?

Kevin:  It is.  Yeah, it’s just called Zero which is named after the amount of food you eat while fasting.  You just go to the IOS like the Apple App store and type in Zero fasting. And it’ll come up and yeah, like I said it’s completely free, so…

Ben:  I’ll find it and I’ll put a link to it in the show notes.  I see that a medium did an article on it as well.  So there you have it.  We’ll hunt it down.

Kevin:  Yeah, have you seen the research from Dr. Longo at all around fasting that he’s done at the Salk Institute?

Ben:  Hmmm, which research is that?

Kevin:  So out around the cancer, fasting in combination with chemotherapy?

Ben:  Oh, I haven’t seen that.  I had a fascinating interview with a guy named Dr. Minkoff about the metabolic theory of cancer, which is basically stating that cancer originates from damage to a cell’s capacity to generate energy with oxygen.  Like oxygenated energy production, and so these cells just go into like extreme glucose utilization and churning out lactic acid and a big part of cancer is due to extreme glucose metabolism and a lot of that could be managed by not having glucose around which should be fascinating.

Kevin:  Right, exactly.  I had a friend of mine here a year and a half ago that came down with stage 4 cancer and that was really scary there for a while and he, Dr. Longo who again who run the interview has this program where you fast actually a couple of days prior to doing chemotherapy with the idea of kind of helping weaken and kill off these cells that might otherwise turn cancerous.  And he did it and for 6 months fought it all back, and now he’s, knock on wood, he’s in foreign mission a little over a year later.  And I was just blown away coz he was talking about how much better he felt to having fasted prior to doing chemotherapy because he was 3 chemo sessions in, and decided, “ok why I did this fasting, it’s really brutal and it’s hard to do.  I’m just gonna eat for this round of chemotherapy”, and he ate food prior to going in to it just like they always typically tell you to do, and felt like just absolute hell after eating and then said that the side effects and symptoms from the chemotherapy were so greatly reduced when he did 2 days of fasting prior to going into it.

Obviously, this is all the stuff you wanted to chat with your doctor about it if this is affecting you, but the research is out of the Salk Institute from Dr. Longo was really compelling when it comes to fasting combined with chemotherapy to kill cancer.

Ben:  Yeah, thanks for including the disclaimer by the way, for those of you listening in Kevin is not a cancer physician.

Kevin:  That’s right (laughs).

Ben:  But he’s spot on and there’s a book called “Tripping over the Truth”.  Have you read this book Kevin?

Kevin:  No, I have not.

Ben:  It’s about that whole metabolic theory of cancer.  And the book when people tell me that a loved one has cancer or that they want to lower the risk for something you know, some cancer they have a risk at like breast or prostate, I tell them to read this book and go especially towards the end of the book even if they wanna skip all the science.  Just to go into all the practical recommendations about; a) how to improve mitochondrial health which is the key to curing or managing cancer and then b) how to eat a diet that is basically fasting and ketosis.  And someone actually wrote me, and this was just yesterday someone wrote me and told me that they have a loved one who had gotten cancer and they had this whole plan set-up, and they were gonna be doing like fruit-juicing and vegetable-juicing and only consumption of grains and very lean proteins and I told them that was probably one of the worst things that they could do to manage cancer.

Kevin:  Right.  Spike in their sugar.  Yeah.

Ben:  Right, exactly like mainlining sugar into the blood stream along with grains and proteins in the absence of any fats.  And so yeah, this metabolic theory of cancer, but you’ll probably like it, it’s called Tripping over the Truth.  It’s actually pretty easy read but it’s a great one.  Its right in line with everything you’ve been talking about.

Kevin:  Great.  I’ll check it out.

Ben:  So you’ve also got this email newsletter.  I didn’t know about it.  I was stalking you however, leading up to this podcast and I was subscribing to it yesterday, so I haven’t actually gotten it aside from the confirm-your-subscription email, but I’m curious about it.  What is the journal that you put out and what’s you know, as a follow up, what’s the coolest kinda like heath related topic that you’ve talked about in the journal in 2016?

Kevin:  Yeah, well the journal it’s just called “The Journal’ actually, it is a monthly newsletter that I put out and I tend to having started to dig way back in the day and been a big fan of kind of tracking all things that are going on the internet.  I tend to read a ton of different articles when it comes to technology-related products and health-related  stuff, and so I put all these into a spread sheet and at the end of the month I pick my kind of top 5 articles, and then I publish them in a newsletter.  So it’s a once a month newsletter.  It’s not something that bombards your inbox every day or every week.

So I put this out we’ve got around 70,000 people that are subscribed to it and yeah, it’s just a collection of the best stuff.  I call it a newsletter for the curious because I’m always finding little hacks and how to create productivity hacks or whatever it may be.  But as far as health-related stuff gosh, I’ve covered a lot of meditation in various little compounds that I’ve tried throughout the year, but one of the things that I thought actually recently was pretty cool was this idea of Japanese forest bathing.  Do you know much about this at all?

Ben: I wrote an article on it at some point last year, the Shinrin Yoku it’s called, right?

Kevin:  Yeah, so literally it’s just being with the trees but what was so fascinating is I love all things that are from Japan for some reason it’s just everything they do is so much cooler than what we do.

Ben:  Oh, I’m right there with you even the fried chicken.  I used to go over there and compete in triathlons every year in Nagoya, and I always take the bullet train over to Kyoto and what amazed me was that the fried chicken in Japan is freaking off the hook.

Kevin:  Oh, everything there that they put their effort and attention on is just amazing. And so here’s something you’ll probably like and since your ear love health-related stuff.  One of the things I found in Tokyo, it’s this place called hautou, H-a-u-t-o-u, I believe.  It’s a coffee shop, ok and it’s down this little tiny alley in Tokyo and a friend of mine told me you gotta go check this place out.  So I go in, I’m ok I wanna have my morning coffee it sounds great.  I sit down, they don’t speak in English but the only thing that you can tell them when you sit down is the word old beans.  You just say old beans to them.

And this guy, this old man who’s in like a full on suit with his tie and everything, he brings this fermented coffee beans like age-old coffee beans that had been fermenting and he grinds them up in front of you and he puts them in this kind of bag.  This kind of pour-over bag but it’s more like a little satchel like almost like a little leather sack, and he slowly pours hot water over the top of this fermented beans once he’s ground them up.  The entire process, I kid you not, takes about fifteen to twenty minutes for 1 cup of coffee and then he like proudly serves you this cup of coffee which cost about three and half four dollars and it’s the most amazing like attention to detail and absolute like perfect Japanese experience when you go on there and plus there has to be something super healthy about fermented.  You know, all things fermented as we know.

Ben:  It must be nearly as good.  That’s why they say like if you know like the Black Ivory Coffee that which they collect from elephant dung or the weasel coffee.

Kevin:  The weasel’s the one I had.  Yeah.

Ben:  Right.  Yeah, apparently one of the reasons is it’s so healthy for you it’s because the fermentation of the bean that takes place in the gut of these animals.

Kevin:  That’s right.  I actually got a little small bag to go and I examined these beans later and they’re just super oily just like ultra-oily, and they kinda have a slightly rotten smell to them, but the cup of coffee was phenomenal and it was just a fun little experience but that was just a side-tangent on all things awesome that come from Japan.

But this idea of forced feeding, they had 380 subjects that they did in a study.  It was like a four million dollar study that was funded out of Japan, and they measured in these subject’s cortisol levels, blood pressure, pulse rate and heart rate variability.  They took these subjects and they put them in the city for a day, measured all these things and they put them out in the forest for thirty minutes.  And they found that the forest environment promoted like lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, like it was just amazing just from sitting around the trees.  And it’s funny it’s like we don’t even, these are the things that are readily available that aren’t compounds and the things that we can do that we just forget to do them.

Ben:  Yeah, after looking into some of that research, I live out in the forest but you know, not right now it’s fourteen degrees outside I don’t necessarily have the windows and the doors open all the time, letting all the plant polyphenols and flavonols and like pine oils sip into my home but what I started doing after I looked into that, I don’t know if you mess around this at all, Kevin but I get pine oils and my favorite is Blue Spruce.  I get a blue spruce oil and I diffuse this in my office.  So my entire office smells like a forest when you walk into it.

Kevin:  Where do you buy this stuff?  I don’t want to get into the kind of aromatherapy world but I have no idea what I’m doing.

Ben:  Most essential oil companies are multi-level marketing companies.  You gotta get past that.  I have no clue why like the Dotera and Young Living, and all these companies that they all have the websites that have the opportunity button.

Kevin:  Right (laughs).  You too.

Ben:  Like it’s always the red flag when you visit a website has the opportunity button at the top of it.  But I get mine from Young Living Essential Oils.  It’s Blue Spruce.  It’s an Idaho blue spruce oil and I don’t know how they’ve measured this but you know how everything in Biology vibrates with a certain frequency?  So apparently this blue spruce extract vibrates at the highest frequency of any of the plant essential oils known to man. So it’s got this very like vibratory, energetic, uplifting-type of scent, but the other interesting thing is they do this cologne called Shutran s-h-u-t-r-a-n, and women cannot stay off you when you have this just a few drops of this Shutran oil.

And one of the things that’s in it is blue spruce and the amazing thing about that is they fed blue spruce in rats and in rodent models.  They put blue spruce in the drinking water and saw nearly a doubling of testosterone levels.  So there’s all these cool things that you get from pine trees and in this case spruce.  And yeah, I started using blue spruce after I wrote that article on Shinrin Yoku coz I was like how can I just get this all the time and so I have it.  It’s right next to me right now.  I have this cylindrical essential oil diffuser on my desk here and you put like just a little bit of water and a couple of drops of oil in there and then you press a little button on it and it just like diffuses oil all the time you know, wherever you’re at your bedroom, your office wherever.

Kevin:  That’s amazing.  Ok, I’m in.  Does your wife approve of this Shutran?  Do wear this around her?

Ben:  She actually likes it.  So I do Shutran and then the other one that I do is I get vanilla and sandalwood, and blend those half and half where I just put a little drop a bottle half and half, and she digs that one too.  It has a very manly scent but again there’s no like most colognes have all the things in them that give you man boobs basically, and so it does not have any of those endocrine disruptors in it.

Kevin:  You know what’s funny, I was gonna tell you my wife actually really digs the facial wash stuff that you sell.  I actually bought a bottle of that stuff. It’s like…

Ben:  Oh the skin serum?

Kevin:  Yeah, the skin serum it’s amazing.  It smells awesome.  I use it at night.  She loves that.  What do you put in there?  It’s like a combination of like ten different things, right?

Ben:  It’s got twelve different oils in it like jojoba and oregano.  What I did was I went and found all the oils that had been shown to do things like decrease wrinkles, and increase the actual tone and color of the skin without actually drying it out and just put them all into one bottle.  Yeah, it’s privately bottled for me down in Florida.  And then yeah, it’s aloe vera, and jojoba, and triphala, and lavender, and all sorts of stuff, but yeah the cool thing is if you hunt down a wrinkle on your face that you can keep track of by looking at it in the mirror each day, and you just put this on your face each day, you can literally watch if you just identify that one wrinkle.  You can watch it disappear over about 30 days as you put the serum on.

Kevin:  Yes, it’s great stuff.  Thanks for making that.

Ben:  Yeah, your check’s in the mail, man.  Thanks for mentioning it (laughs).

Kevin:  (laughs)  Yeah, I was gonna tell you one other thing since we’re talking about the forest bathing, so after I had read that research, I found this app that is free.  It’s pretty cool.  It’s called Wildfulness, w-i-l-d f-u-l-n-e-s-s, and it’s essentially these different scenes kind of like animated that you just launch the app and it’s got like you know, a deer in the forest that’s animated with  some raindrops falling down.  And these designers went out and built this app.  It’s really, really beautiful app, and put together this really hi-fidelity audio to go with it that brings in all these sounds from the jungle or the forest or wherever they may be, and so when I can’t make it out of nature I actually have this on on my Iphone and I’d leave it there sitting while I’m working on the computer and just plug in some headphones, and it kinda takes you back there.  So maybe I’ll combine this with your essential blue spruce oils and be set.

Ben:  Oh, you need to plant like a little tiny baby pine tree on your desk and you’ll have everything (laughs).

Kevin:  (laughs) Then I don’t ever need to leave the house, perfect.

Ben:  Exactly, you’ll never need to go into the forest again.  That’s funny.  That’s very similar to this other app I just started using a couple of weeks ago called Brain.FM and it lets you choose like four season rain sounds.

Kevin:  Oh, I heard about this.

Ben:  The weird thing is you’ll set it.  I put it on my mom over at Christmas and just later down put my little sleep mask on her face, you know, the Bose sound blocking headphones coz that’s my MO now when I use this app, and it just takes you into like this dreamland.  I put it on her for 5 minutes and she thought she was asleep for an hour.  When I took off the mask and took off the headphones, she’s like where’d you go? What happened?  It’s like that holotropic breathwork you were talking about, right, like you get into this hallucinogenic relaxed state almost effortlessly.  It’s a really interesting app.  I’m getting him on the podcast.

Kevin:  The little guy with the smiling headphones.

Ben:  Right, yeah exactly.  I’m getting him on the podcast to find out exactly what coz it’s not binaural beats which is what a lot of these apps are.  It’s something else.  Some way that they mix the sounds but it’s really interesting especially when you use it with like the really nice Bose noise blocking headphones, and then like a really good sleep mask you’re just drowning out all light and sound, and you just have this one app going.  You know if you only have like 10 minutes to hit the reboot button on your body, it’s freaking amazing.

Kevin:  Awesome.  I just downloaded it.  Perfect.

Ben:  Yeah, so Kevin’s journal is what that’s called and I’ll put a link to that one or towards, right?

Kevin:  Yeah, it’s a dot email domains, so just yeah,  Thank you.

Ben: Ok, cool.  I’ll link to it.  Kevin you are a wealth of information, man.  The show notes for today’s episode are going to be a novel, but for those of you listening in that’s part of the fun of these podcasts where we get people on who have access to all sorts of interesting things and then hook you up with the information.  So I’ll put everything over at if you’re interested in, I guess, coffee that elephants have pooped out or chocolate ceremonies, or anything else that we talked about.  Or 7-Up I suppose.

Kevin:  Yeah.

Ben:  We should probably put like an Amazon link for 7-Up on there. That people.

Kevin:  Yeah, I’ll give you a link.

Ben:  You can add lithium to it and make it just like the old days.

Kevin:  Then you’re set, yeah.  I’ll give you a link to that Japanese coffee house, too.  The only thing is you have to be really quiet and respectful when you walk in.  It’s a little tiny place.  But if anyone’s visiting Tokyo that’s a…

Ben:  So basically no Americans allowed?

Kevin:  That’s kind of the vibe when you walk in so just be really, really cool when you walk in there.  Not loud.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly.  You don’t wanna be that Westerner.

Kevin:  Exactly.

Ben:  Cool.  Well, Kevin thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all these stuff with us, man.  It’s super cool what you’re up to and I’m looking forward to my first delivery of The Journal whenever that’s gonna happen.

Kevin:  It’s coming in a couple of days.

Ben:  Alright.  Sweet, man.  I’m looking forward to it.

So folks, thank you for listening in and again show notes over at, and until next time.  I’m Ben Greenfield along with Kevin Rose signing out from  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.



Kevin Rose is a technology investor, podcaster, and self-experimenter. He has been named a “Top 25 Angel Investors”, by Bloomberg and to the “Top 25 Most Influential People on the Web” list by Time magazine. You’ve might have also heard or seen him on Jimmy Fallon, Charlie Rose, or Kevin’s own podcast “The Random Show“, which he co-hosts with Tim Ferriss.

Kevin also serves on the advisory board of Google Ventures and the Tony Hawk Foundation. Previously, Kevin founded Digg, Revision3, and was a General Partner at Google Ventures.

Perhaps most interesting for me and you, and not as well known to most folks, is that Kevin considers himself a well-versed body hacker, and he is frequently experimenting with things like cold water training, breathwork, nootropics, ketogenic diets, meditation, and fasting. Kevin even recently released a free app to help individuals track their fasting progress, which we discuss during this episode.

During our fascinating discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Kevin microdoses with lithium (and the surprising link between lithium and 7-Up soda)…[9:00]

-The neuroscientist and mutual connection Kevin and I have that goes way back and is known as the “Summer Tomato”…[15:10]

-The surprising boost you get from 100% chocolate and Kevin’s new infatuation with “chocolate ceremonies”…[18:25]

-Why Kevin gave up on ketosis and instead switched to a Katavan-style diet with purple potatoes…[24:25]

-What Kevin does with the dozen giant bags of ice he buys each week…[36:15]

-The crazy form of breathwork that made someone pass out in Ben’s basement…[46:20]

-Why, if you are going to fast, you should only eat as close to sunset as possible…[54:40]

-How Kevin’s friend sent his stage-4 cancer into remission with a simple dietary change…[63:00]

-What Kevin discovered in an old teahouse in the heart of Japan (and what it has to do with elephants pooping coffee)…[68:10]

-The #1 ingredient in cologne that makes women go absolutely crazy over a man’s scent…[72:45]

-An app/headphone combo that drives you straight into a state of deep relaxation within 10 minutes…[75:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Should We All Take A Bit Of Lithium

Nutritional Lithium: A Cinderella Story: The Untold Tale of a Mineral That Transforms Lives and Heals the Brain

My article on “The God Pill”

My original webcast with Kevin’s wife Darya

Kevin’s videos on chocolate ceremonies

Fruition 100% chocolate

-The book by Stephan Guyenet The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat

The Kitavan diet

Dr. Veech podcast on ketone esters

Rhonda Patrick’s Cold Stress .pdf

My podcast with Wim Hof

My experience with holotropic breathwork

How to get a custom Kundalini yoga routine

The Transcendental Meditation podcast Ben recorded

Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s fasting interview with Satchin Panda

Kevin’s Zero app for fasting

Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure

Black Ivory Coffee (naturally fermented by elephants)

Young Living Blue Spruce oil Ben diffuses in his office

The Greenfield Anti-Aging Skin Serum

The Wildfulness app

Brain.FM app

Kevin’s Journal



Elephant-Poop Coffee, Chocolate Ceremonies, Cold H2O Training, Holotropic Breathing, Nootropics, Ketosis, Meditation, Fasting & More: The Kevin Rose Podcast

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

Kevin Rose is a technology investor, podcaster, and self-experimenter. He has been named a “Top 25 Angel Investors”, by Bloomberg and to the “Top 25 Most Influential People on the Web” list by Time magazine. You’ve might have also heard or seen him on Jimmy Fallon, Charlie Rose, or Kevin’s own podcast “The Random Show“, which he co-hosts with Tim Ferriss.

Kevin also serves on the advisory board of Google Ventures and the Tony Hawk Foundation. Previously, Kevin founded Digg, Revision3, and was a General Partner at Google Ventures.

Perhaps most interesting for me and you, and not as well known to most folks, is that Kevin considers himself a well-versed body hacker, and he is frequently experimenting with things like cold water training, breathwork, nootropics, ketogenic diets, meditation, and fasting. Kevin even recently released a free app to help individuals track their fasting progress, which we discuss during this episode.

During our fascinating discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why Kevin microdoses with lithium (and the surprising link between lithium and 7-Up soda)…[9:00]

-The neuroscientist and mutual connection Kevin and I have that goes way back and is known as the “Summer Tomato”…[15:10]

-The surprising boost you get from 100% chocolate and Kevin’s new infatuation with “chocolate ceremonies”…[18:25]

-Why Kevin gave up on ketosis and instead switched to a Katavan-style diet with purple potatoes…[24:25]

-What Kevin does with the dozen giant bags of ice he buys each week…[36:15]

-The crazy form of breathwork that made someone pass out in Ben’s basement…[46:20]

-Why, if you are going to fast, you should only eat as close to sunset as possible…[54:40]

-How Kevin’s friend sent his stage-4 cancer into remission with a simple dietary change…[63:00]

-What Kevin discovered in an old teahouse in the heart of Japan (and what it has to do with elephants pooping coffee)…[68:10]

-The #1 ingredient in cologne that makes women go absolutely crazy over a man’s scent…[72:45]

-An app/headphone combo that drives you straight into a state of deep relaxation within 10 minutes…[75:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Should We All Take A Bit Of Lithium

Nutritional Lithium: A Cinderella Story: The Untold Tale of a Mineral That Transforms Lives and Heals the Brain

My article on “The God Pill”

My original webcast with Kevin’s wife Darya

Kevin’s videos on chocolate ceremonies

Fruition 100% chocolate

-The book by Stephan Guyenet The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat

The Kitavan diet

Dr. Veech podcast on ketone esters

Rhonda Patrick’s Cold Stress .pdf

My podcast with Wim Hof

My experience with holotropic breathwork

How to get a custom Kundalini yoga routine

The Transcendental Meditation podcast Ben recorded

Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s fasting interview with Satchin Panda

Kevin’s Zero app for fasting

Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure

Black Ivory Coffee (naturally fermented by elephants)

Young Living Blue Spruce oil Ben diffuses in his office (also the source for the “Shutran” and “Valor” oils Ben uses for cologne)

The Greenfield Anti-Aging Skin Serum

The Wildfulness app

Brain.FM app

Kevin’s Journal

Japanese Coffee Place (Chatei Hatou)

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

[Transcript] – Blue Lips, Meat Packs, Baling Hay & Beyond: The Man Responsible For Sparking A Fitness Revolution In The Hunting Industry.

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction

[0:50] Detox With Ben

[6:08] Introduction to this Episode

[8:40] About Kenton Clairmont

[12:16] The Autoimmune disease that Kenton had

[18:10] What Kenton Did To Help Treat His Arthritis

[20:12] The Natural Chinese Remedy Alternative to Common Immunosuppressant Drugs

[28:04] Quick Commercial Break/Kimera Koffee

[30:05] Onnit

[31:38] Continuation/Kenton’s Hunting Story

[38:54] A Typical Train To Hunt Workout

[54:30] Why the Train To Hunt National Champion’s Key Workout is “baling hay”

[57:00] The 2015 Train To Hunt Nationals

[1:05:00] The Meat Packing

[1:10:01] Obstacle Course With Weapons

[1:18:06] What the Brand New Train To Hunt Challenge Course Now Looks Like

[1:18:48] How the Meat Pack Portion of the Challenge is Going to Change Significantly

[1:34:05] End of Podcast

Ben:  Yo.  Hello.  That was my best Paul Harvey impersonation.  Or does he say “Good day”?  Good day.  I don’t know.  Whatever he says, he ends it like it’s a question.  Like that.  Anyways though, in case you were wondering, this is not Paul Harvey.  You might not even know who Paul Harvey is, I guess if you’re a young buck listening in.  This is Ben Greenfield.  And speaking of young buck, today’s show talks a little bit, a lot actually, about hunting and hunting fitness.  And so if you’re like a mushroom forager, or like some kind of a green smoothie fanatic, please don’t run for the hills ’cause it’s actually pretty entertaining.  We also get into like Chinese herbal remedies for rheumatoid arthritis, and how to ruck for copious amounts of time in a heavy backpack, et cetera.  So I think you are going to dig this one.

I have a few special announcements.  So the first is pretty quick, and that is that “Detox With Ben” over at kicks off in like two weeks from the time this podcast is being recorded.  So get in on that if you haven’t yet.  I spent almost four hours over Christmas weekend, ’cause apparently I don’t have a life, writing out the entire workout portion of this program.  And we’re combining workouts, we’re combining biohacks like dry skin brushing, and coconut oil pulling, were adding in a brain detoxification program, a body detoxification program partnered up with one of the most brilliant detox minds on the face of the planet, this guy named Dr. Dan Pompa.  And anyways, were opening up to 100 people to do the detox along with me.  So everything I do every day, you’re going to be doing.  Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be just drinking copious amounts of like bone broth, and weird teas, and all these different recipes I’ve uploaded.  It’s going to be fun.

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“I want you to do as many rounds as you can of five push-ups, five squats, five sit-ups.  I want you to do that over, and over, and over for the next 5, 10 minutes that you have on your lunch break or whatever.  That would be a typical, like really quick, hotel, maybe lunch break-style type of training.”  “You load your 50 pound pack on, you get it where you want.  You grab the two arrows you have left, put ’em into your quiver.  Very important.  You can run with arrows in your hand.  You have to have it in a quiver, or in a hip quiver.  You have ’em secure so that if each of them fall, you won’t end up getting stabbed.  You don’t want anybody to get stabbed.”

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.  What’s up, folks?  It’s Ben Greenfield.  And I got to tell you, I’ve raced plenty of triathlons, I’ve done sprint distance up to Ironman distance, and I’ve also done a lot of obstacle races, including some of the toughest Spartan challenges, particularly in the world.  And I’ve done adventure races, and brutal workouts that say that they’re like the hardest workout in the world, and SEALFIT training, and Spartan Agoge challenges, and The World’s Toughest Mudder, and all sorts of crazy, crazy things that I think are probably going to take a few years off my life, but also make life a lot more fun.  But I have to tell you, my lungs have never sucked quite as much, and my brain and body at the same time have never been challenged quite as much, and I’ve never really experienced any form of competition so freaking functional as this challenge I do every year called “Train To Hunt”.  

And my guest today is the evil mastermind behind “Train To Hunt” and everything that it involves.  If you’ve never heard of it before, if you’re not interested in hunting at all, I think you’re still going to find some of this stuff fascinating in terms of how to challenge your brain and body with things like bow hunting, and shooting when you’re tired, and activating your nervous system, and training in a way that makes you be able to be a real predator in the mountains, so to speak.  And my guest’s name is Kenton, Kenton Clairmont, and he’s the owner and the creator of “Train To Hunt”, like I mentioned.  It’s a unique mash-up of bow hunting, and obstacle racing.  It’s taken the nation by storm.  They’re opening up challenges in a whole bunch of different States, and today we’re going to delve into hunting, fitness, and “Train To Hunt”.  So Kenton, welcome to the show, man.

Kenton:  Thanks, Ben.  It’s an honor to be here, my man.  It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I’m just excited to be back on the phone with Ben Greenfield.

Ben:  It has been a while since we talked, and I think one interesting thing is that you and I both went, back in the day, to the same college down at Lewis-Clark State College.  You played baseball and I played tennis.

Kenton:  Yeah.  That’s wild.  It’s funny because I’ve known who you are for probably 15 years, and then when we kind of for the first time got formally introduced and started talking, it was really interesting to know that we went to the same college, we were both into a hand-eye striking sports.

Ben:  That’s right.

Kenton:  I would definitely say that tennis players are…

Ben:  Mine was a little bit refined and preppy though.  Yours is more red-blooded American male.

Kenton:  Yeah, yeah.  That’s true.  That’s true.  A little bit more red-blooded American man.  However, I would say that you definitely had to be in better shape to play tennis than baseball.  I’m just saying…

Ben:  Yeah.

Kenton:  But, yeah.  It’s just crazy.  I loved the college I went to.  It’s small and, I don’t know.  I loved the LC community down there.  It was fun to realize that we had the same experience down there.

Ben:  Yeah.  The one prevailing characteristic though that defines both baseball and tennis is that you can be amazing at either sport and not possess the ability to run any longer than a half mile.

Kenton:  Correct.  Yeah.  Yeah, that’s right.  The explosive sports, I would say, and hand-eye coordination for sure.

Ben:  Yeah. I remember that blew my mind when I was reading, I didn’t blow my mind.  It just made me understand physiology more when, this was before I started studying Exercise Science at college, and I was a reading an article, I believe it was an interview with Venus Williams, and she was just getting started her pro career back in the day, but she was already cleaning up on the pro level, and I remember reading in the interview, she’s like, “I’ve never run a mile in my life.  My coach actually has me avoid running a mile.”  And so she can maintain that fast twitch explosiveness, of course.  But it’s pretty interesting how we perceive these athletes who last like four to five hours during a match out in the sun in Australia, they must be able to run a marathon.  But the fact is they rarely run more than a mile.

Kenton:  Yeah, yeah.  Crazy stuff.  Crazy stuff.

Ben:  Yeah.  So you were playing baseball, and we’ve done a couple of podcasts with you before.  We have a whole bunch of podcasts about hunting and hunting fitness, and I’ve interviewed guys like Aron Snyder, and Chad Wheeler, and Marc Warnke, and some of these people who are helping even beginner hunters not just get fit but also get into hunting, and I’ll put a link to all of these previous episodes that we’ve done if you go to  That’s  But one thing that we kind of touched on the last time that I interviewed you, but we didn’t take too much of a deep dive into, you had kind of like an auto immune disease that hit your body.  Was it when you were playing baseball at LC?

Kenton:  It was well after that, Ben.  I had been out of baseball, in fact, I graduated college, and went on to the workforce, and was out trying to get a teaching job ’cause I went to college for PE and Health Teaching, and then get I got a kinesiology degree on top of that.  And once my baseball career was over in college, like I think like most collegiate athletes, once that’s over and you haven’t made it to the next level, you kind of make a decision.  Am I going to start career or am I going to continue to try to fight for a position as a pro athlete?  And I just decided that I’m going to start my career, I’m 23, it’s time to move on and grow up, and I got into, I was substitute teaching, and being a baseball coach, and wrestling coach, and a football coach.  Then at 25, I was coaching this baseball team and they said, “Hey.  Coach, you should really just go try out at some place ’cause you got it still.  You can still throw, and run, and hit real well.”

Long story short, I made it, and I went on, and I played one year of Single-A ball, and that was a 25.  At 26, I came back and was just really, it was just a really good time in my life because I realized that I could still play baseball, I still liked having fun, and I was having fun again playing sports.  Kind of move past the whole obsessed and nightmare you know, because I think it’s pretty common for college athletes when they have these big dreams of being professional athletes, but once those dreams are kind of decided for ’em at some point, they start having nightmares, and those went away after I played my one year in the sun.  But I came back to reality and decided I was going to start my career again, and I got a job at private school and I was teaching PE.  At age 30 is when I just started feeling these aches and pains, and I wondered what’s going on with my wrist and my knees.  And, well, shoot, Ben, I wrestled for 20 years, I played baseball for 20 plus years…

Ben:  Now if I could interrupt you there.  A lot of people get aches and pains, do you know what mean?  Like I wake up sore a lot of times some morning, usually related to some crazy workout that I did the day before.

Kenton:  Right.

Ben:  But when you say you were waking up with aches and pains, I mean you were an athlete.  This was something that you weren’t used to?

Kenton:  Right.  Well, no.  I wasn’t frankly used to it.  It was above and beyond the pain that I was used to, but I had just figure that I’m just going to let this play out because it might be because I turned 30, I was like, “Well, maybe it’s just as you get older, you are feeling a little more pain than you normally do and it takes a little longer for you to recover than you normally do.  I had just written it off to age and overuse of my body throughout my 20’s and early life.  And about six months into this that I recognized that I was definitely more sore than I normally was, ’cause I was still training and I was still lifting weights, still running and that kind of thing.  I realized that this is above and beyond just being sore from working out because I would wake up and like both of my feet felt like I had sprained both my ankles, and my wrists, my hands, I could barely move my hands.  When my feet his the floor, I felt like I was walking on nails.  This would last for about 20 to 30 minutes in the morning, but then as I moved around, I’d feel better…

Ben:  So it was like deeper, more intense, or more sharp than what you’d get from, say, like delayed onset muscle soreness?

Kenton:  That’s right.  That’s right.  It was way beyond, it was concerningly painful.  It was like, “Why do I feel like my ankles…”  Literally, it felt like I had sprained both my ankles, and then my hands felt like, there was something wrong.  I just knew, I’ve been sore, like you said, I’ve been sore before, but there was something above and beyond this soreness.  So I went and got checked out and lo and behold, they said, “You have rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disease.”  And I learned a lot about what it means to have an autoimmune system disease.  Luckily, if there is such luck in contracting an autoimmune system disease, I found out that it was probably the most treatable autoimmune disease, if there was, at the time.

And so I just started getting treated and I’ve actually been able to live a normal, functional 12 years since I’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  I still have my bad days, Ben.  But for the most part, it’s not like it was before I got treated, which was just indescribable.  I would never want anybody to have to go through that kind of pain and mental, really the mental anguish was probably the hardest.  I was really depressed, I had a really tough time kind of coming to grips with, “I may never run again.  I may never be able to jump or run again.”  It was tough.  It was a really tough time in my life.  But since then, like again, I’ve come to control it via diet, via natural supplements, turmeric and these things, anti-inflammatory…

Ben:  That’s actually what I was going to ask you, like what moved the dial the most from a diet or a supplement standpoint?  Or did you do anything else, like did you infrared therapy, or magnetic wraps, or any of these other kind of things that some folks will do for joint pain?

Kenton:  The thing that moved the needle the most for me was just diet, was really cutting back on red meat.  It’s funny to hear like a hunter say, “I have to cut back on red meat,” but I just cut back on my red meat, I cut back on my…

Ben:  You’re a baseball player too.  Red meat and copious amounts of sunflower seeds?

Kenton:  That’s right, that’s right.  That’s right.  And nightshade vegetables, I’ve cut all my dairy out, sugars, anything that affect inflammatory response, I cut out.  And that’s helped a lot, but I’m still, Ben, I’m still taking methotrexate, which is a very common rheumatoid arthritis medication because it doesn’t help enough to allow me, like even my diet changes, they don’t help me enough to allow me to live and move the way I need to be able to live.  So I do still take…

Ben:  Yeah.  And that’s just basically, it’s an immune system suppressant, right?

Kenton:  That’s all that is.  Yep.  That’s right.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah.

Kenton:  So, yeah.  It was a tough time in my life, but I did march through it, and it’s great.  I think it’s a blessing in disguise, Ben, because when I contracted rheumatoid arthritis, I switched from “I want to be a teacher and a coach” to “I need to get into the fitness industry, and health, and nutrition, and really delve into this stuff pretty thick so that I could learn about how to take care of myself and others”.  And it’s led me to where I am now.  So it’s kind of been a blessing in disguise, contracting this disease.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  It’s really interesting.  And I want to hear more about how you got into starting “Train To Hunt” from the CrossFit gym after that, but one thing I wanted to let you know, we didn’t have a chance to talk about this, I think it was the last time you were over at my place.  But there’s an interesting study that they did on a Chinese herbal remedy that appeared to be just as effective as methotrexate and some other mean immune system suppressants at controlling the symptoms, specifically, of rheumatoid arthritis.  They did a big study over at a medical institute in China, and this stuff, it’s kind of cheesy, but it goes by the name Thunder God Vine over in China, and it’s an extract of a special plant over there, and they gave it to these patients, and combined the effects with patients who are taking the MTX, the methotrexate, and they actually found that the effects in most cases were the same, or better, without some of the side effects of the immune system suppressant.  So I should shoot a link over to that study, but it’s really interesting.  It’s just a Chinese herbal remedy.

Kenton:  Absolutely.  Anything to do with that, with new studies found [0:21:11] ______ for sure.  It’s one of those like having an autoimmune system disease and being [0:21:19] ______ really having a decision.  Do you want to treat it or not?  If you treat it, then there are some side effects to these treatments, like nausea, and it’s hard on your kidneys and your organs, and you have to get these panels done every couple of months to make sure that you still have proper liver function and kidney function.  So I’m always up for, is there any some way to treat this thing naturally, I’m in.  So, yeah.  I’d love to hear that and read that study, Ben.  For sure.

Ben:  Yeah.  I’ll put it in the show notes too.  For people listening in, if you want to read that study, I’ll put it over at  And then Kenton, like from there, I remember running into you again briefly back in the day, or I actually wasn’t running to you, I was running into your name ’cause I wandered into a CrossFit gym.  It was Spokane Valley CrossFit where my brother, Zach, was training, and there was a guy named Dan Staton, Dan Stanton?  Dan Stanton?

Kenton:  Staten.

Ben:  Staten!  And he was running a CrossFit gym with you focused on fitness for hunters.  Is that correct?

Kenton:  Well, our CrossFit gym really just, we started so early, Ben.  It was like 2008.  We just got a head of the big wave.  When we opened CrossFit Spokane Valley, we were like number 590 something affiliate in the world.  There’s thousands upon thousands now.  So when we opened that gym, and the story goes that Dan and I worked together at Ozfit and we both had this entrepreneurial mindset of like, “We could to do this.  We need to start our own gym.”  And we really had a passion for helping people and helping young athletes, and we discovered CrossFit, and so we said, “This is the way to go.  This is the great business plan.  It’s great [0:23:15] ______ support.”

And so we opened up a CrossFit Spokane Valley in 2008, and Dan and I were partners on it for, gosh, five or six years.  And we loved it.  It was humble beginnings, of course.  We were standing out on the street, there was a time, Ben, when you would say, “Hey, have you ever heard of CrossFit,” and 9 out of 10 people would say, “No.  I’ve never heard of that.  What is that?”  And we would just pull ’em in off the street and say, “Come get a free month of workouts.  We’ll just train you for free just so you can get a taste of what this new idea of training is which is called CrossFit.”  And now, of course, it’s huge.  But that’s how we thought…

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s massive.  I wandered into a gym, I had a bunch of guys over to my house last week and we were supposed to go run this obstacle course that I built on my land, but it’s covered in snow and ice, so we couldn’t even get up on anything.  So we rented a local CrossFit facility and went there, and they ran us through a workout.  That was the first WOD that I’ve done in quite a while.  It was four different five minute long stations of going as hard as you go for a minute, and then 15 seconds off.  I had forgotten how brutal it can be especially from a muscular endurance, or kind of like short term glycolic stamina standpoint.  I mean, I was pretty wrecked for the rest of the day.

Kenton:  Yeah, yeah.  Absolutely.  I think you kind of wrapped up what about 90% of CrossFit workouts are about, and it’s that ultra-high-high intensity workouts.  And I love them.  I remember when I found CrossFit, I was, and I still do.  I still do love CrossFit.  I branched out and really, after doing the CrossFit competition for five years, I was like, “What am I really training for?”  I really enjoyed the competitions, I really enjoyed daily workouts, I enjoyed the people.  And at one point, Dan and I were like, “What are we really training for outside of just being able to say we’re good at working out?”  And we said, “We’re training for hunting.”  And so the light bulb went off, and I thought, “Why don’t we start a training regimen specifically for hunting?”  I mean you have some experience in the hunting area now, Ben, and you can attest to this.  There is very specific movements in specific muscle groups and modality you have to be good at, efficient at in order to move through the mountains with efficiency.  Right?  Like it’s…

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  Well not just move through the mountains with the efficiency, because I mean a lot of people think it just comes down to being able to ruck and hike for long periods of time, but I mean also just freaking like drawing 65 pounds while you’re in a lunging position with your bow, and doing so in almost like, it’s not an isometric contraction, but it’s a pretty slow, controlled contraction when you’re trying not to spook an animal.  And little things like that that require, and in some cases, as you just touched on, your heart rate’s jacked ’cause you did just climb a hill, or you did just make it up the side of a mountain, or maybe you didn’t even just hike, but you’re just at 13,000 feet altitude, ’cause a lot of these places you hunt, the air is thinner.  Yeah.  Those are a lot of the things people don’t think about, the stuff that goes above and beyond just rucking or hiking.

Kenton:  Correct.  Yeah.  With that said, that’s why “Train To Hunt” started.  It was a training regimen specifically for the hunter.  And it made sense to me because you can find a trainee regiment for a volleyball player, a football player, a triathlete, pretty much anything, a mountain bike racer.  But there was nothing out there that was training the hunting athlete.  Nobody had touched that area.  I think for several reasons.  I think that it’s still a very controversial area for the most case.  And then I think that it’s kind of an old school, traditional sport where there’s a lot of resistance to change in that sport.  Even today, I get some backlash for even bringing up the fact that you will be a better hunter if you’re in good shape, if you’re fit, if you’re healthy.  I still get backlash for it.  So I think that’s why it hasn’t been touched up to that point, but now as you can see in the last six years, there’s a lot of stuff that’s coming up and people are starting to recognize that hunting is just easier, it’s more enjoyable, and you can be better at it if you choose to be in hunting shape.

Music Plays…

Ben:  Yo.  What’s up?  I’m interrupting this show to bring you a sweet recipe.  I made this this morning, and I’m not kidding, I’m not just making that up.  I made this this morning, it’s going to knock your socks off.  It is called Coconut Chia Pudding.  And here’s how it goes, it’s two layers.  The first layer, you take a bunch of chia seeds, and you mix them in with almond milk, a touch of organic maple syrup, a little bit of full-fat coconut milk, a pinch of sea salt, and little bit of stevia or coconut sugar.  And then you also make a second layer in a different container, and that one’s chia seeds, almond milk, and coconut milk, like the other one, along with sea salt, and a little bit of sugar or stevia.  But to that second pot that you put all the stuff into, you put a cup of coffee.

And what you do then is you chill all of this for anywhere from 30 minutes to preferably overnight if you can.  You want to stir it a couple of times.  If you’re chilling it overnight, make sure you stir before you go to bed.  And you’re going to get this thick chia pudding.  And what you do is you take layer one and you’ll scoop that into a bowl or a cup, and then you put layer two on top of it, and it tastes like this amazing coconutty chocolate coffee pudding.  And you could put like peanut butter, and almonds, and bananas, and dark cacao nibs, or anything else that you want on there to amp up the flavor even more.

So the recipe that I just gave you comes courtesy of Kimera Koffee, K-I-M-E-R-A K-O-F-E-E.  And at, you can get coffee with nootropics added to it that upspin the dials in your brain, and yes I just made that word up.  They upspin the dials in your brain.  So we’re talking about nootropics like alpha-GPC, and taurine, and DMAE, and l-theanine, and all these things that make coffee, coffee!  So check it out. and you want to use code Ben because that will get you 10% off.  And if you to that website and you click on “Recipes”, you’ll also get that recipe for the awesome two-layer chia putting.

Another thing you could add to that pudding actually that would taste pretty good would be emulsified MCT oil.  I have a new blend of emulsified MCT oil I’ve been using.  It is perfect for the fall.  It’s called Pumpkin Spice.  And if you’ve never had emulsified MTV, MTV?  Emulsified MTV.  Emulsified MCT, you are missing out because it’s like MCT oil, but it doesn’t clump.  There’s no mess, there’s no clean-up because it’s emulsified, what that means is it mixes into anything you put it into, like teas, or coffees, or anything.

And there’s not just Pumpkin Spice, if pumpkin isn’t your thing or you’ve got something against pumpkins.  They’ve got strawberry, they’ve got vanilla, they’ve got coconut, and it is all brought to you by this company called Onnit.  O-N-N-I-T.  And when you go to, that’s, you get 10% off this amazing emulsified MCT oil.  And one of the things that I do in addition to putting the Pumpkin Spice in teas and coffees, is I get the coconut one and I drizzle their coconut emulsified MCT oil, over of all things, sushi.  I know that I just completely insulted anybody who loves sushi.  That’s probably blasphemy in Japan to dump some coconut-flavored emulsified MCT oil on sushi, but it makes sushi taste like, well, sushi!  So check it out.  Alright.  Let’s jump back in with Kenton.

Music Plays…

Ben:  You had like a pretty personal experience with this.  I think this was a story you were telling me about how you when hunting with your dad, I think it was.

Kenton:  That’s right.

Ben:  And I want to hear that story, ’cause it highlights one really important thing, especially regarding hunting, and even leading into, at least the past few years of Train To Hunt competitions, the need to compete on back-to-back days, and I think we’ll touch on that later and how you guys, again, changed the competitions going forward.  But like when I hunt, like you know and I’ve interviewed, like I mentioned, like Marc Warnke from GotHunts, and Chad Wheeler, and some of these guys who will put together hunts that I go on, but they’re like five, or six, or seven, or in one case, eight days long, day after day of getting up and having to perform.  It’s not just like one day, and then you could sleep in the next day, and recover, and take a magnesium bath.  So can you go into that story about, I think it was you, and your dad, and your brother hunting sheep?

Kenton:  Absolutely.  Well, it starts when we were super young, Ben, and that was with the idea that, “Man, those guys are super lucky to be able to go to Alaska,” like the great, the last unexplored place on Earth, and be able to hang out in Alaska, and hunt these amazing animals and sheep.  And we used to watch them, and talk about it, and how great that would be, really understanding and knowing that that was something we would never be able to do.  Fast forward 15, 20 years, and my brother’s in the military station in Alaska, and now we have the opportunity to go to Alaska, and for those of you that don’t know, Alaska, if you hunt sheep, if you do not have a next of kin, which is a brother, a dad, second generation next of kin, you have to hire a guiding service in order to hunt Dall sheep.  Well, my dad and I had Ryan up there.  So we didn’t have to hire a guide, which can be upwards of 15 to 20 thousand Dollars.

So we were saving a ton of money, we were able to get this opportunity to go hunt the Dall sheep, and it was something that has been a lifelong dream of all of ours, especially my dad, who at the time was 58 years old.  So he got in good shape, and he did some biking, and step classes, and stuff.  He did everything he could.  He lost like 25 pounds.  He did everything that he knew how to do to get ready for this sheep hunt.  And we get flown in, dropped off, and it was a 10-day hunt that we planned for.  So we got dropped off on day one, the plane flew out, and we were left there with…

Ben:  Oh, wow.  You guys got dropped off by a plane out there, huh?

Kenton:  Yeah, yeah.  10 days’ worth of gear in, here we go.

Ben:  Nice.

Kenton:  We hit it hard on day one, and probably covered somewhere between 8 to 10 miles, like you always do on your first day because you’re so excited about getting out there, and you usually end up going a little bit too hard on day one.  And then on day two, we hit it pretty hard again, probably another 6 to 8 miles.  And at the end of day two, we found this band of rams that were above camp about 1,500 feet.  And we went to bed at night knowing very well that in the morning, they could still be there.  And if they were there, we were going to go after them.  So on day three, we wake up and lo and behold, there they are.  And my brother and I are up, and we’re looking at these sheep, and we’re like, “Dad, they’re still there.  It’s time to go.”  And my dad basically said, “Guys, I don’t have it in me.  I’m done.  I’m too sore, I’m too tired, I’m worn out.  You guys go ahead.”

Ben:  Bummer.

Kenton:  And, Ben, it was like, it was really like taking a bucket of ice cold water and just throwing it right on my head.  It took my breath away when he said that because it was a lifelong dream of his, he could see the animal he’s always dreamed of being able to hunt, and shoot, and harvest, and he can’t get out of his sleeping bag.  And I realized at that very moment that that’s tragic.  That’s beyond like, “Oh.  Well, that’s too bad.  He should’ve trained harder.”  My dad did everything he could in order to get ready for this hunt and it just wasn’t good enough.  And so it really hit home hard, like there are good men out there, good women out there, good hunters out there who want to be in shape, they want to do the right thing, they want to give themselves the best advantage they can to be able to withstand a 2, 5, 10-day hunt, and they’re doing everything they can, and they’re doing it wrong.

And I was like, “I don’t want that to happen to my dad again.  I don’t want that to happen to anybody again.”  You want to be in shape, the top shape you can be in for hunting, you should have access to that information.  So that’s why I started “Train To Hunt”.  I was like, “I’m gonna give people the information and make sure that does not happen anybody else.”  And the story ends good.  My dad gets out of his sleeping bag, and getting stretched out, and getting moving around.  It took us two and a half hours to get there, but we got there, Ben.  And he ended up killing that ram, and it was, it’s probably one of my most cherished hunting moments I’ve ever had on the mountains with my dad, and my brother, and myself, and it was three grown men weeping over an animal.  It was a “here forever” moment.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  And I could just see it in my head, you guys filling up your dad with coffee and stretching him out, basically being like two massage therapists up there on the mountain trying to get him out.  That’s interesting.  But you know, I’ve had the same thing happen.  Like I remember one time when I was up in Colorado, I was so exhausted from a day of horseback riding combined with a lot of steep hiking, and I then think we were at about 13 and a half thousand feet.  There was one morning where I, usually I’ve got the alarm set and everything, and I went to bed, didn’t set the alarm, and I woke up at like 7:30, which when you’re out hunting, to miss an entire morning like that is just a heartbreaker.  But I was that beat up from the day before.

And I do these things like obstacle course races, and Spartan challenges, and stuff like that, and I mean there’s there’s still this weird subset of fitness that you need for hunting that I know you’ve tapped into with some of these Train To Hunt workouts, and that’s actually what I wanted to ask you, man, was if we could walk people through like what a sample workout would look like.  And I know that you’ve got you’ve Train To Hunt website, and you’ve got like different workouts that come out almost like the CrossFit WOD website where there’s like a workout of the day for people who are a member over there.  But can you walk us through like what a typical day would look like?

Kenton:  Sure.  We have everything from a person who doesn’t have anything, like I got five minutes and I have no equipment.  That’s going to be like, I want you to do as many rounds you can of five push-ups, five squats, five sit-ups.  I want you to do that over, and over, and over for the next 5, 10 minutes that you have on your lunch break or whatever.  And that would be a typical, like really quick hotel, maybe lunch break-style of training too, what I would consider a true “Train To Hunt” workout.  Because when you’re hunting, and we touched on it, Ben, when you’re hunting, it’s not about being able to do something high intensity for 20 minutes.  Although I really, you and I both know there’s a physiological advantage to being able to do that, just the time saver on, and on, and on.  In hunting you have to be able to get up and do work at kind of a lower intensity for a long period of time.  So we do…

Ben:  Yeah, but granted, if I could interrupt you real quick, for people who don’t have a lot of time to be able to build up like the mitochondrial density or the endurance, I mean this was something I relied on when I used to train for Ironman, I didn’t have a lot of time, and something I talk about in the book, how there’s kind of two different ways to build mitochondrial density or aerobic capacity, there’s two different pathways.  One’s called a cyclic AMP pathway, and that’s the one you get, a lot of professional athletes who just do copious amounts of aerobic work achieve their mitochondrial density through that pathway.  But then there’s a second pathway, it’s called the PGC-1 Alpha pathway, and that’s how high intensity interval training can actually work to, say, like make a marathoner fit even though that marathoner is only doing, say, like a Tabata set, and some hill sprints, and some super-duper anaerobic glycolic work.

So there’s kind of like this strange crossover in the same and there’s like this weird crossover between like a triathlete who does jump squats to make themselves a better triathlete.  You wouldn’t think that’d work, you wouldn’t think that’d make you like a better cyclist, but they’ve done research and they’ve shown, like your muscles grab more motor units, you wind up with better efficiency, better economy, et cetera when you do power and strength for an endurance sport.  So there is a little bit of crossover there.

Kenton:  Absolutely there is.  Absolutely.  I’ve read your book, Ben, it’s like if you guys haven’t read “Beyond The Training” by Ben Greenfield, get a copy.  It’s really, it is a wealth of knowledge.  It is, Ben.  It’s a wealth of knowledge.

Ben:  Thanks, man.  Check’s in the mail.

Kenton:  Right on.  And you’re right.  There’s a ton of crossover on high intensity interval training for long, drawn out workouts.  And I like to do both.  I’ll tell you why I like to do, like I like to do a two hour workout, at least once a week on a weekend, and it’s because I’d want to know how my body is going to react to that kind of a workout.  If you’re always doing just one style of workout, high intensity for 20, 15 to 20 minutes, and then you put a pack on and you walk for 6 hours, you’re just not going to know how your body’s going to feel after walking with a pack for six hours.  So I like to do both.  Alright.

So, to the point, a typical Train To Hunt workout is going to have some sort of a gymnastic movement, whether it be a push-up, a box jump, a squat jump, a scissor jump, a lunge, something that’s going to get you fired up, get your heart rate up, fire up those legs, get them ready for what we would consider some sort of like mountain climbing strength that if you’re walking uphill, you’re going to be using you quads, using your hamstrings, using your core.  And then it will probably have some sort of a strength movement on it, whether it be a sandbag around your shoulders, sandbag dropped over your shoulder, sandbag deadlifts, some sort of a strength movement.

And then mixed with somewhere between 2 minutes and 10 minutes of cardio, of a run of some sort, or a row, or a bike, or some sort of high intensity, that kind of medium intensity cardio.  We really like to make you put your pack on and go for a half a mile or 300 yards.  The shorter the distance, the heavier the pack, the further the distance, the lighter the pack.  And you do that for, sometimes we’ll have you do as many rounds as you can for 30 minutes, for 60 minutes, for as long as you have.  If you only have 20 minutes, you’re going to do it for 20 minutes.  Sometimes we’ll do it for rounds, like anywhere between 2 rounds and 10 rounds.  And most of the time, if you have the ability, we’ll throw on a shock at the end of each round.  Like if you get back from your cardio, you push hard, [0:44:06] ______ now I’m going to grab my bow, I’m going to go for some, focusing on physical movement to, now I’m going to focus on accuracy of balance and a smooth release, which is really, I believe, what separates a Train To Hunt workout from any other style of workout is that we are asking you keep your focus, and go through your shot sequence, and be real cognitive right there at the end while your heart’s pounding through your eyeballs.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s the tough part is, well, I actually had two thoughts that came to mind as you were talking about how the workouts look, Kenton.  One is that when you talk about the muscles needing to be prepared for long periods of time with that backpack on, I could draw the same corollary again with triathlon, right.  Like I used to do all that high intensity interval training, but about once a month I would just get on my bike and I would be on that bike for four to five hours just to teach my butt muscles, build little uncomfortable callus around your (censored), and learn how many water bottles you need, and learn how the body feels when you reach back for a water bottle and the right hip flexor cramps ’cause you’ve been bent over for two hours, all those little things that you don’t get when you’re doing, say, like a 20 minute intense workout on the bike.

And the same can be said for the rucking too, right.  Like everything from pack fit, and when I interviewed Aaron from Kifaru, we took a deep dive into like how your pack should actually fit your body.  But even if your pack fits your body perfectly, which is almost like an art and a science, you still have to build up things like calluses, like new bone formation in areas that are loaded that you wouldn’t normally be loaded like your clavicles, and the axial load on your spine, and you have to get a feel for, how your gluteus medius feels when the pack’s riding low versus when it’s riding high when you’re hiking at 20% versus when you’re hiking at 10%.  Like there’s all those little things that if you just like put on a heavy pack and you say, “Okay, I’m just going to go ape-nuts for 20 minutes and call it good,” sometimes you need a little bit more than that if you’re going to have that pack on for 5 to 10 hours a day for seven days in a row.  And so you make a good point there.

The other thing that I wanted to mention that you delved into, it wasn’t the pack, it was the, oh, the shot.  That was the toughest part for me ’cause it’s kind of close to Spartan racing where you have to stop at some point during the race and throw a spear, and you need to take that deep, centering, anchoring breath, you need to get the heart rate down, you need to train in a way that you’re actually training for heart rate recovery where you’re, say like, one common workout is you’ll do five minutes of burpees and you’ll try and keep your heart rate like at your aerobic threshold the whole time you’re doing burpees.  It’s actually really kind of fun with your heart rate monitor that every time your heart starts to go beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, and the monitor alarm goes off, you have to stop doing burpees, make your heart rate recover, and then continue to do the burpees while keeping yourself in that aerobic zone.  And the Train To Hunt stuff is like that because I’ll do one of your workouts and go charging up my driveway, I do like the cooler step-overs, and the sandbag ground-to-chest, and the get-ups with a heavy weight, and then you try to shoot, and the target’s moving all over the place.  And every time your heart beats, your pin’s moving all over the place with each time your heat going “bu-bump, bu-bump, bu-bump”, and you have to learn this weird like meditative-style way of getting your heart rate low super-duper fast, super fast.

And it’s all, a big part of this is your vagus nerve, the health of your parasympathetic nervous system and its ability to be able to take over when you’re stressed.  And that’s where, I’ve done podcasts on the vagus nerve before where we’ve talked about like singing, and chanting, and humming, and cold water immersion, and meditation, and deep nasal breathing, and there’s all these techniques that you can learn to train your parasympathetic nervous system, but one thing that you touched on that I think is super unique about these is that when you’re doing the work out, you’re actually training your parasympathetic nervous system if you’re doing the scaled form of the workout you’re alluding to where you got to stop and shoot as you go.

Kenton:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  And I think that it’s one of the [0:48:33] ______, the part of it that stands out in mine ’cause I love the Spartan race, I love watching those things on TV and it is, when people ask me, [0:48:42] ______ my elevator pitch is, “Well, you know what a Spartan race is, right?”  “Yeah.”  “It’s kind of like that, with a bow.”  Like every station is a…

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly.  It’s obstacle course racing with a weapon.

Kenton:  With a weapon.  You talk to anybody who does Spartan races, and they will say the obstacle they dread the most is the spear throw.  Most of them are the spear throw.  It’s like a make or break station for a lot of, especially elite athletes, it’s the spear throw, and it’s because you have to switch gears.  Like you said, you have to switch gears right away, teach yourself the right techniques, and you’ve got to practice techniques, and it’s not sexy, it’s not something that’s fun because you don’t get your heart rate up.  In fact, you’re trying to bring you heart rate down, and then focus, make it happen, and then you got to switch gears again, and you’re off and running.  And it’s challenging but it is the thing that you have to be good at in order to be a successful hunter.  If you want to be a provider for your family and your friends of meat, you have to be good at being able to switch gears, focus, go through your shooting sequence, and make it happen.  And if you can’t, I don’t care what kind of shape you’re in, I don’t care if you’re the fittest man on the planet, if you’re a great tracker, a great stocker, you can go for days and days, if you can’t seal the deal, if you can’t make it happen at the time in which, if you can’t focus and make that shot when you need to, you’re never going to be successful.  So that’s from my passion.  Right here is my voice.  That’s what I think Train To Hunt is about.

Ben:  Yeah.

Kenton:  That’s what it’s about.

Ben:  Yeah.  I don’t think I got a chance to tell you this, Kenton, but I was able to do the course that Spartan is proposing to the Olympics Committee for obstacle course racing to be featured in the Olympics, and they actually switched out the spear throw with shooting.  So it’s an indoor track with multiple obstacles on it, extremely precise course in terms of measured distance and in terms of the way that the obstacles are actually built, so it could be repeated and measurable from country to country.  But at one of the stations as you’re coming around the track, you run up on this big line up of pistols, the exact ones that they use in pentathlon.  So they’re like laser guns, really.  And you’re shooting at a target, you’ve got five shots, or you have five times that you need to hit bull’s eye, and each time that you shoot, you need to reload the gun.

And so, while I was there, I watched the women compete, for example, and one woman went from being fourth place to winning the event overall ’cause she ran up on that shooting station and you could see her heart rate came down right away, and these other two girls who had, or the three girls who had been destroying her around the track, this girl was just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, took off and all of a sudden it reshuffled the entire deck when it came to shooting accuracy, which is exactly what happens in your Train To Hunt competitions.

We didn’t get to this part yet, but you put on these challenges all over the nation, and I’ve run into situations where I’m, you know this, I’m pretty fit going in.  I’m probably, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m probably fitter than the average hunter, but I go into those things and I will get my butt waxed on some of those challenge courses simply because somebody else shoots, whatever, five bull’s eyes, and I’ve got three body shots, and a wound, and one bull’s eye, and so all of a sudden, I’m getting like seconds knocked off my time, and they’re getting bonus points, and yeah.  So that whole vagus nerve stimulation, parasympathetic nerve activation, I think that’s one of the coolest parts of the workout.

Kenton:  For sure.  Without a doubt.  And you touched on with the challenges, that’s the way, when I designed the first Train To Hunt challenge course back in 2012, it has been a long time, I said, “Okay, there’s two people I don’t want to win this competition.  I don’t want the ultra, like basically the endurance pro, whether it be a cross-country, a mountain bike racer, a triathlete, whatever, I don’t want them to be able to pick up a bow, and come out, and win the competition.  So how can I avoid that?  Well, you have to just give ’em lots of bonus points for shooting well, and that’s how you can avoid that.  Well, I don’t want the pro to come out, the guy is just a great shot, he could shoot the eye out of an eagle at a hundred yards.  I don’t want him to be able to win either.  Well, how do you do that?  Well that part was easy.  You just make the course tough enough physically that there’s just no way that he can beat somebody by just shooting well.

So by design, Ben, it was “let’s be able to test,” and it was great to have you out because I know how into fitness you are and I know your history of the Ironman and how much success you’ve had there, so it was great to have guys like you come out and go, “Well, this is going to be put to the test,” because I know Ben just started shooting, and if he wins, then maybe I need to rethink some stuff.  And, I mean obviously the one that like the meat pack, why it’s scaring everybody ’cause you’re just, like you said, you’re in better shape.  And that’s the case with the meat pack, which was, you didn’t have to be able to shoot well in order to do well in that event.  We didn’t get into that.

Ben:  Yeah.  I interviewed Trevor Neistrath who won nationals two years in a row, 2015, 2016 for Train To Hunt, and he’s basically, he’s baling copious amounts of hay, he’s running, and then he’s basically just like hiking and hunting.  That’s like the core of his workout program.  And I think he’s doing some very, very much Train To Hunt-style workouts, but yeah.  It was interesting to hear about his routine.  He’s like, “I drive around, I farm who just need their fields done in terms of the hay baled, and basically I get paid to workout ’cause I go out there and bale their hay for ’em.”  It was a pretty entertaining podcast to hear his workouts.  For those of you who want to listen to me interview the guy who’s won these things two years in a row, I’ll put a link over at

Now, Kenton, you dropped a term there that I think, I know when I tell people I do these competitions, it confuses them, and that’s the meat pack.  They’re like, “You’re literally, you got a few dozen people out there in the middle of the forest doing a Train To Hunt challenge and you have big piles of meat that you’re shoving into your backpacks?”  And I have to explain to them how it really works, how we’re using big ol’ sandbags instead of meat.  But let’s walk through like what, I think the last Train To Hunt competition I did was 2015 Nationals down near Park City, Utah.  Let’s walk through how that weekend went so people can get a real taste of what a Train To Hunt challenge actually looks like.

And again, for of those you listening in, you could go to Kenton’s website and you could just do the Train To Hunt workouts if you just want some new workout challenge or something like that.  But I think the icing on the cake is you sign up for one of these challenges because that’s where you get put to the test, aside from your actual days out hunting.  So let’s talk 2015 nationals, Kenton.  We showed up, and for me I showed up in my skinny man jeans and my preppy t-shirt because my luggage was lost, so I was getting some funny looks, and we showed up and we get a piece of paper.  This was, whatever, 8, 9 PM at night, piece of paper, headlamp.  Tell us what shook down that first night of competition.

Kenton:  So understand that what we’re about to talk about here is the national championship.  So imagine I put 12 of these qualifiers on throughout the country, and now I’ve got the best of the best, and I got to put these guys through an additional test of fitness, and will, and shooting.

So the first thing that we did was we had them gather on Friday night at 8 o’clock, which is right before dark, and we gave them a piece of paper that had three coordinates on it, and we had put out three spots, we just basically GPS-ed three separate spots, put some letters, combinations in trees, and said, “You guys have to find these waypoints and report back before midnight or else you don’t get the points for doing this event.”  And so that was the first thing we did because we believe that hunters should be able to use a GPS, not necessarily a map and compass, or anything super fancy, but you should be able to get a waypoint to be able to find that point on the planet.  So we gave them three waypoints, everybody went out with headlamps, and found these waypoints, and came back.  That was the very first thing we did on Friday night.

Ben:  Right.  And some people were out there pretty late.  I mean my strategy, I think you said we had to turn the papers by 5 AM or 6 AM the next day, so I just boogied and headed ’cause I’m a little better at doing that stuff in the evening rather than the wee hours of the morning.  But some people were out there a while.  And I thought that was a cool twist, needing to know how to just use a basic GPS system.  You don’t even need to necessarily do old school map and compass, be able to ruck your way through the wilderness, find certain waypoints, come back satisfied.  Because a lot of times, when you are hunting, you got to find your way from point A to Point B, back to camp, over to the truck, back over to where you were two days prior.  And yeah, it’s an interesting skill.  But that one I didn’t expect showing up, but it was kind of cool to be able to get out and do that.

And then then we slept, and the next morning, we launched into the 3D shoot.  And for those of you listening in, a 3D shoot would, in a traditional sense, you’d be walking around, you get measured distances, 40 yards, 50 yards, whatever, you take a shot, you get a certain number of points based on that shot, but you have a lot of twists thrown into your 3D shoot, Kenton.  Can you walk us through what those four to five hours of wandering through the forest on the first morning of competition actually looked like?

Kenton:  Sure.  And it’s all about how realistic can we make each shot.  We break down each shot, and there’s only 20 shots.  For those of you that have done a lot of 3D shooting, you’re usually talking about 40, anywhere between 40 and 80 shots in a weekend.  We’re talking about narrowing it down to 20 arrows shot.  And every single shot, there’s some sort of a hunting scenario twist, like what could you possibly run into in the woods, whether it be you have to shoot from a kneeling position, which is a very basic, pretty common situation you might run into in a hunting situation.  All the way to the drawing back and having to hold full-draw for a minute before you can shoot.  And that’s a timed event.  There’s like somebody standing right there waiting for you to get to full-draw, and then they start a timer, and they, you just have to stand there full-draw, keeping the isometric position until a minute’s up, and then you get to shoot.  And that just simulates being caught by an animal drawing your bow, and you hear about it quite a bit, being caught by an animal drawing the bow, they’re not giving you a shot, or they’re behind tree, and so you just got to stand there and wait, wait, wait, wait, finally step out, “now I can actually keep my shot”.

And everything in between, Ben, like shooting from a tree stand, we have shooting from a blind, we have the follow-up shot, which is usually, it’s the shot that everybody talks about the most, I think.  It’s because it’s the shot that you shoot your arrow, and you have 10 seconds to reload your bow, and get a second shot off.  For that case where you get a shot, even if you’ve got a good shot on an animal, if they run just a little ways further and they give you an opportunity for another shot, most of the time, bow hunters will take an opportunity to shoot an animal the second time.  If nothing else, the blood trail is better, and then there’s a higher percentage, or it gives you a better chance of recovering the animal, which is…

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  And there’s so many…

Kenton:  Everybody’s [1:01:22] ______.

Ben:  So many things you don’t think about, for you to say this, it sounds pretty straightforward.  You practice eight couple shots in a row, you practice holding your bow, but there’s little things like during that one minute hold, not only is your body shaking in a way similar to what I was talking about earlier when you’re tired, but a lot of times you’ll get to like 35 seconds and you’ll feel, for example, if you’re using a compound bow, which is what most people, sometimes your cams will bounce around on you.  And if your cams are bouncing around, sometimes you’ll lose your full-draw, and then you’re just screwed.  You don’t even get your shot off at all.  Or during that two shots in 10 seconds, it’s about, there’s little things that happen.  Like sometimes you can’t get the nock on the string, like you get the arrow out, and you’re all ready to shoot, and you’re fast, all of a sudden the nock isn’t on the string, or a lot of people will use these trigger releases, and the trigger release, when you shoot once, sometimes that trigger will stay down.

I remember this happened to me in my first Train To Hunt competition.  So I was all ready to release that next arrow, and I didn’t even have the ability to hook my release onto the d-loop of the string to pull the string back because it just stays out.  Or another interesting one, and this relates to like the type of sights that people will use, the number of pins that they have on the side or how they have those pins set up, is you’ll have one shot, I know you did this at Nationals, one shot’s like 15 yards away from a tree stand down in the deer, and the other shot’s like 60 yards away, and it’s more of a straight shot across a ravine.  And if you have a sight that’s like, let’s say, a single pin sight, you don’t have enough time to shoot the first time at whatever, 15 yards, and then dial the sight in to adjust it for 60 yards to take that next shot.  You have to be able to have some kind of a set-up that lets you shoot on the fly like that at two different distances.  So once you start to dig into the nitty gritty, there’s all these little things that you’ll think about that you have to be prepared for the unique nature of these 3D shoots.

Kenton:  Absolutely.  Ben, I don’t quite know if I sound like a broken record, but it’s all in the name of simulating what you might run into while you’re hunting.  I mean that’s how hunting stories go, that’s how they’re born.  “Oh, you’ll never guess what happened to me.  There was a little branch that I didn’t see and I ricocheted off the branch.”  Or, “I pulled back and got stuck for two minutes and I couldn’t get a shot off.  I finally pulled out and I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even shoot.”  Or, “I was in my tree stand, and I pulled back, and my arrow came off of my string.”  And that’s what we want to stimulate in a competitive environment, to get your heart rate up, to give you the opportunity for your anxiety to be high, and then have to perform.  Because that’s what you’re going to run into in the woods.  So it’s fun, it’s great to see hunters, and just archers, and just people, fitness gurus alike, come out and say how much fun it was, and that 3D shoot is always a very popular event.

Ben:  Yeah.

Kenton:  You get the 3D shoot, and then we’re on to the meat pack.

Ben:  Yeah.  So we get an hour or two of recovery, you usually have a chance to have some lunch, a lot of people pack their lunch in.  Most of the time, these competitions are taking place at like shooting facilities, or at 3D three courses up in the mountains, and so a lot of time there’s not like a 7/11, or a Whole Foods, or whatever that you just duck into.  You’re out there camping essentially.  So you’ve got the meat pack that comes up next, Kenton.  Can you walk us through how that exactly goes?  Because in my opinion, that’s the hardest I’ve ever worked.  I remember the first time I crossed the finish line of a meat pack, and I think you were catching me.  ‘Cause you literally have to catch people as they cross the finish line, they’re so gassed.  And you were like, “Your lips are blue, Ben.”

Kenton:  Yeah.  In my opinion, it is the heart, it’s really the heart of the Train To Hunt competition is that meat pack scenario.  Because what we do is just, depending on your division, and there’s 10 divisions, everywhere from what we call the Men’s Open, which is if you’re male and you want to join the Men’s Open, that’s your division.  We have the counter of Women’s Open.  And then we have the Master’s, which is 40 and over, the Super Master’s which is 50 and over.  And we have teams.  Depending on your division, we load you down with a certain amount of weight.  Now at nationals, it’s 100 pounds.  The Men’s Open had a hundred pounds, the Men’s Master’s had [1:06:08] ______ , the Men’s Super Masters, which is 50 and over, 60.

As you can see, the pattern is the older you are, we just take a little bit of a load off of you and try to make it a little bit more realistic as how much weight you would probably be packing in the mountains for any kind of distance.  And then we just put you through a mountain course.  It’s a series of trails, and turns, and twists that you have to negotiate hills and walk over the logs in some cases.  And at nationals, it was bugger because we did two miles with a hundred pound pack through a mountain course, mind you.  And then you’d drop 50 pounds of that, and this was really the gut check.  This was the who’s tough, who’s gritty, who’s the guy you want in your hunting party because it was a big gut check.  There’s a not a lot people that can two miles in a racing scenario with a hundred pounds, drop it, 50 pounds, and then go do that same trail again with 50 pounds.  So…

Ben:  There’s a lot of people who came and get the 100 pounds that’s in the backpack onto their backs.  I mean that’s the trickiest part is you’re rolling around like a dead bug on the ground trying to even put a hundred pounds on your back and then be able to stand up.

Kenton:  That’s right.  That’s right.  It could be just having the technique and the know-how on how to get that 100 pack from the ground to your back standing is definitely a feat in itself, but that’s what we do.  And that is just to simulate the pack out.  Okay, I’ve been successful.  I’ve harvested my elk, my deer, my moose, in some cases, whatever it might.  Now the real work starts.  Now the real important stuff is about to begin.  We need to get this meat from point A to point B, and point B is always cut, wrapped, in my freezer.  Well, the first part of that is you got to get it from where the kill site is to transport, a vehicle.  And that’s what that is what stimulating is, “Alright.  There’s this meat on our backs and let’s go.”  So a really big part of hunting, it was a really, really big part of the Train To Hunt qualifiers, and will remain a huge part of the nationals for sure.

Ben:  Yeah.  And I have to admit, sometimes that backpack is just such a pain in the butt to put on with a hundred pounds in it.  When I’m training at home, I’ll sometime just grab a heavy sandbag, slap that thing over my back, and do some hill climbing workouts or repeats just at least get the feel without having to take that backpack on and off like you do in the meat pack part of the challenge.  But, yeah, it’s crazy because, for example, like if your waist belt on your backpack is riding too low, all of a sudden your hip flexors are turned off and you got to take these teeny-tiny steps, and you’re glute medius, your external rotators just blow up, or in other cases, you set up the pack correctly, this is what I do based on advice from Aaron Snyder over at Kifaru, you set up the pack correctly, you get it super-duper tight on the upper body so you’ve got some of the range of motion in the legs to be able to do what many of these packs weren’t designed to be able to do in, which is run.  But then all of your lung and inspiratory and expiratory muscles are cut off to a certain extent, so you’re turning blue in the face like I did.  You have no upper body mobility.

So, yeah.  There’s all these little curve balls that get thrown on you when you try and move from point A to point B with a hundred pounds on your back as quickly as possible, and then the little twist you throw at nationals where you do all that, and then you just lighten the load and do it again made it just a little bit more brutal.  And I have to admit that it doing it a second time with the weight that was like half as much still felt just as hard as doing it with the full weight.  I think I was so gassed from the initial lap.  So we’ve got at that point the evening to recover, at least that was the way that nationals went last year, and then you wake up the next morning, and launch into, really what you mentioned earlier, Kenton, the obstacle course race with weapons.  Can you walk us through how that goes?

Kenton:  Well, I’m excited to be able to announce that the Train To Hunt Challenge Course, as it’s called, is going to be just like the nationals, which is way more spectator friendly, it’s more like an arena feel than it has been in the past.  And what I mean by that is we have four lanes, shooting lanes, set up.  The targets are exactly the same target for all four shooting lanes in exactly the same distance.  We’ve allowed the competitors to go up and range find how far that target is.  So it’s a known distance in this case, and they know how far it is, they know where to shoot, where to aim at these targets.  And then behind each shooting line are these challenges that are these physical challenges that are just lined up, and what they do is on the signal of “Go”, four competitors at a time, will drag a tire somewhere between 30 and 50 yards, they’re going to be dragging this tire hand over hand, pulling it towards them in a grip strength test, but it’s a fairly light tire, you know, Ben, it’s a fairly light tires.  It’s not a huge test, let’s just get that upper body fired up a little bit.  And then as soon as you get this tire to you, you are going to take off on a loop run.  The best way to describe it, Ben, is kind of like the biathlon.  Like whether you got to do like these little loop like these penalty loop runs.  If they miss a shot, they do these little penalty loop runs.

Well, the same thing in Train To Hunt Challenge ’cause you’re going to do this physical challenge, you’re going to run this little two to three hundred yard loop run, then you’re grab your bow, and you’ll shoot your first arrow at your target.  And then you do the second challenge.  The second challenge is a sandbag you’ll have to hang on to, and you’ll have to go up and over a 20 inch box, a 20 inch step.  You’ll go up and over and up and over.  You’ll repeat this 10 times, and then you’ll do the loop, and then you’ll shoot arrow number two.

After you’ve shot arrow number two, you’ll do the sandbag over the shoulder drop.  Now this is to simulate loading your pack, believe it or not.  It’s being able to efficiently grab the weight of a weighted pack or some weight from the ground and move it to your shoulder, and we just have you drop it over your shoulder, this is what makes it really easy on everybody to know whether a.) I either dropped it over my shoulder, or I didn’t.  So you do 10 of those, you run your loop, and you shoot your third shot.  The next challenge you’re going to have is, it’s called the sandbag get-up.  And that is you’re going to take the same sandbag that you were holding over your box step-ups and you’re going to…

Ben:  These suck.

Kenton:  Yeah.  And you’re going to lay flat on your back.  This sandbag is going to be essentially sitting on your chest and you’re laying flat on your back, facing the sky.  That’s the down position of a get-up.  Then the top position of a get-up, how to finish the get-up is you stand back on your feet, but mind you, the bag can never touch the ground, you have to stand back on your feet, and then stand with the bag sitting on your shoulder, and that completes one rep of sandbag get-ups.  And then back to your back, weight sitting on your chest, stand back up, that’s two.  Do 10 of those, run the loop, shoot your fourth arrow.  And then the last thing we’ll wrap it up with is burpees.  And so you’ll do a burpee.  Everybody, I would assume at this point knows at least what a burpee is, and you’ll do a burpee, you’ll step over…

Ben:  Everybody has their own version of what they think a burpee is, Kenton.  As you know.

Kenton:  That’s right.  It’s what it is.  Right.  Yeah, yeah.  For sure.  So I can tell you that our version of the burpee is the bottom position is face down, chest on the ground, in contact with the ground.  And the top side of a burpee is back on your feet, once you’ve jumped over the sandbag, turn around and face the sandbag, and that completes your burpee.  And it’s 10.  And then you run the loop, you shoot your fifth arrow, you grab your 50 pound pack that’s already pre-packed.  So you load you 50 pound pack on, you get it where you want it, you grab two arrows, the two arrows you have left, you put ’em in your quiver.  Very important.  You can’t run with arrows in your hand.  You have to have ’em in a quiver or in a hip quiver, you have to have ’em secure so that if you trip and fall, you don’t end up getting stabbed.  We don’t want anybody getting stabbed.  And then you hit the mountain course right from there.  This is all under one lot, under one time.  And you’re going to do a two mountain, a two mile mountain course.  And two points along that course, you’re going to stop and you’re going to shoot two targets.

So you have already gone through these five challenges, run the five loops, shoot these five arrows, your heart rate’s already beating through your eyeballs, you’re going to put on this weighted pack, and you’re going to hit the ups and downs, and overlogs of the mountain course, and you’re going to have to shoot two targets along the way.  So that is, you shoot the two arrows, and then you’ll finish, your clock will stop, and you have now accumulated what we call a run time.  This is how long it took you from [1:16:18] ______ to finish.  That’s how long it took you to complete the tasks.  Then the scoring begins.  And we score it so that the people who shoot really well, if you shoot really well, let’s say you shoot a bull’s eye, we’ll just keep the terms really simple.

If you shoot a bull’s eye, you get 30 seconds taken off of your run time.  If you shoot just outside the bull’s eye, like really pretty close to the bull’s eye but not a bull’s eye, there’s no penalty.  You don’t get a reward, but you don’t get any penalty, and this is really just a shot placement where if you were shooting at an animal, it would be a very quick, humane kill where the animal’s going to be dead within yards.  And if you shoot outside of that zone, we actually penalize you pretty heavily.  You get 30 seconds added to your run time.  So you went and busted your tail and you get all these shoots but if you shoot poorly, we penalize you for shooting poorly and you get time added to your time, which Ben indicated to earlier about how if you shoot just a little poorly, it adds up pretty dang quick.

Ben:  Yeah.

Kenton:  And then obviously there’s the ultimate penalty, and that is if you miss.  If you miss any of these seven shots, it is instantly 20 burpees…

Ben:  And it’s always burpees with your, it’s not just burpees.  It’s burpees with your pack on?

Kenton:  Yeah.  If you get burpees in the mountains, you have to do those 20 burpees with your pack on.

Ben:  Yeah.

Kenton:  So it’s brutal.

Ben:  This new twist on it too where you’re doing everything in shooting lanes with a whole bunch of spectators, all of a sudden it turns it into like a hunting version of the CrossFit games, where you’re surrounded by people cheering, and shouting, and judges shouting into your face.  In my opinion, it’s far more fun than you just like running through the forest with your bow and getting to as spot where you, and maybe one or two guys if they’re on your tail or slightly ahead of you are going to be there at the shooting station, and then you take off again.  Man, when you’re there with a whole bunch of people screaming, and cheering, and the music is pumping, it’s quite the experience.  I think it’s one of the coolest new twists that you’ve thrown into these Train To Hunt challenge is this new version of the obstacle race.  That’s actually something I wanted to ask you though, Kenton, is this, so from what I understand based off of what you’ve kind of hinted at with me, that’s going to be like the main part of training hunt along with the 3D shoot.  Now are you still going to do anything like the meat pack, or is that just not going to be present for like the 2016 season?

Kenton:  So what we’ve done in the 2016, and I’m always trying to figure out how to reach more people, how to kind of, take the intimidation factor out of the cusp.  How can I make it safer?  How can I make it more attractive for people to come out and try?  And the number one reason that people weren’t coming out and just giving the Train To Hunt challenges a shot, they weren’t intimidated by the 3D shooting, they weren’t intimidated really necessarily by the challenge course, as it was.  It was really the meat pack that they were like, “I do not want to risk getting hurt during the meat pack and I do not want to go put myself through that, so I’m not going to do it.”

And so we got rid of the meat pack as it has been in the past, and we’ve traded it in for a new version of the meat pack, which I just went through.  And that is the 50 pound pack at the end of the challenge course where you have to go through the two miles of trail.  That is what we are calling the new version of the meat pack.  And it’s half the weight as it has been in the past qualifiers, but it’s also after a pre-exhaust.  So like you in that second trip with 50 pounds in nationals, didn’t feel any easier than the first trip with a hundred pounds.  It’s because of the pre-exhaust, right?  Because it’s…

Ben:  Well, that also is, sorry to interrupt.  That also, I think, is why CrossFit isn’t going to get you ready for something like this.  In my opinion, and this is what happens in Spartan races, like the CrossFitters always just crush it for like the first mile or two miles.  And then once you’re 25, 30 minutes in, once you’re kind of getting past what a typical CrossFitter would do for stamina or endurance, you start to see folks fading, and getting passed, and maybe even feeling some of the effects of not playing proper attention to nutrition, or electrolytes, or hydration.  And so it’s really interesting how that throws a whole new twist into things.  So that’s why I think doing something like the program that you’ve laid out, or something close to it where you have those sections of the week where you’re just freaking like putting on heavy stuff and going for a relatively long period of time is pretty crucial for this.

Kenton:  Yeah.  For sure.  For sure.  That meat pack is going to still separate, it’s going to separate people.  It’s going to be a big separator.  Even though it’s not a standalone event, it’s going to be a really tough finisher for most people at the qualifiers.  So, Ben, we really just wanted to make it, as far as the qualifiers go, we really wanted to make it a little more family friendly, and we did two things to make it a little more family friendly.  One was we made some kid’s events that I’m really excited about because I believe that the kids are our future, and they are the future of hunting and conservation, and I think it’s being into health and fitness, and somebody who believes that everybody should have the knowledge to at least make the right decisions, I want the kids to have those knowledge as well.  And they’ll have fun and they’ll have a pretty good experience in the outdoors…

Ben:  Oh, I think it’s great.  I mean my kids have a couple of bows now, Kenton, and that’s one of the things I want to do is take ’em to two or three competitions this year as a way for dad and the boys to not only see a few new states, but also for them to get out and learn some of these things like, for example, just this morning, as hokey as this may sound, like especially when they’re on summer break, or spring break, or like they are now on Christmas break, I give my kids little tasks during the day.  Like I’ll go grab a WOD from like, or I’ll throw some deadlifts at ’em, or like this morning, they actually had, just a basic body weight, push-up, pull-up, box jump workout, and they’re eight year old twin boys, but then they had a candle meditation where all they had to do was light a candle and sit cross-legged, in this case, they were inside the sauna, for 20 minutes, controlling their heart rate, staring at the flame, and allowing thoughts to just come and go through their head.  And that might seem like a far cry from shooting a bow, but there’s some parallel there where when you take a kid and you teach them how to focus, how to concentrate, how to, say, pull back on the bow when they’re tired, you train something that a lot of children these days aren’t training, which is focus, and meditation, and activation of that vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system.

Kenton:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  I can’t wait to see your boys do it, come out, and, it’s going to be fun.  They’re going to have a good time too, Ben, because they’re going to be able to do these just as many times as they want.  It’s going to be set up kind of like a carnival ride…

Ben:  That’s cool.

Kenton:  And all you do is pay.  When the parents show up with their kids, they just pay the one-time fee, and then the kid can go do, they can do it 20 times…

Ben:  That’s the way they do it at Spartan race.

Kenton:  Yeah!  Just let ’em go.  Let ’em wear their kids out.  And so, that’s exciting and it will be interesting.  It’ll be great to see the kids’ smiles and competitiveness.  There’s just so much a kid can learn just from competition.  That’s a whole another podcast, but I’m excited about the kids’ competition, and we made it a one-dayer, Ben.  Some of the old school guys were a little disappointed in that they feel like we may lose some of the community because it’s not an overnight event where we run, some of the event on Saturday and then big finale on Sunday, but being a family man myself, I have a five year old, and two three year olds, and a wife at home, I know the pain of leaving home on Friday and not really being able to be there ’til Monday.  It’s substantially different than being able to leave on Friday and come home Saturday night.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s actually going to be way, way better for the family.  Plus, I guess it saves some people hotel fees and things like that too, if they are doing that in the hotel.

Kenton:  Yeah.  That’s right.  Because essentially if you live within, say, four hours of any of the sites, you could drive there that Friday evening, or even Saturday morning, and then leave Saturday after the competition and then drive the four hours back, you and a buddy want to just team it up and go there and back, you knock it out in one day and you’re done.  Rather than have to find a camping spot, or a hotel, or we’ve got to get food, or whatever it might be overnight.

Ben:  It’s still going to be a long day, man.

Kenton: It will be a long day.  It’ll be one heck of a long day.  And there’s some give and take, because I believe that hunting, we talked about it earlier in the podcast, hunting is a multi-day fitness arena.  That’s really what we’re training for.  ‘Cause anybody can do it for a day.  It’s that second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth day that really starts separating the men from the boys and men from the women.  That’s big time.  But I wanted to do one day just because it’s going to be more family friendly.  And I’m going to stick with it because that’s just, if you want to get in shape using Train To Hunt, I guess great workouts, train every day in some way, shape, or form, recover, that’s  If you want to come out and do a Train To Hunt challenge that’s going to be family friendly, competitive atmosphere, meet some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet.

Ben:  Which States this year?

Kenton:  So we are in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona.  We are in Colorado and Wyoming, and then we start heading out to Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and we just finalized North Carolina.  And then we’re going to do, we’re teaming up with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers again this year, and we’re going to do, 100% of proceeds go to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in Train To Hunt challenge in Anchorage, Alaska.

Ben:  Nice.  I like it.  That would be a ton of fun.

Kenton:  Yeah.  Anybody looking for an excuse to get to Anchorage, Alaska, there’s…

Ben:  I was just going to say my boys were telling me the other day they wanted to see Alaska, so this might be a good excuse to throw them on a play and fly out from Seattle.  Nice.  Alright.  Cool.  Well, I know you actually conducted this entire interview while sitting in your car driving across Washington, I think you’re headed somewhere in the snow, but you’ve been super generous with your time.

And by the way, for those of you listening in, I’ve got a ton of previous podcast that we’ve done on everything from how to build primal fitness in endurance hunting, to backpacking, and bow hunting and shooting tips, to wilderness survival, and hunting fitness tips with all sorts of different folks.  We’ve actually got about like eight or nine different podcasts episodes just devoted to hunting.  And so I’ll like to all those in case you just want to knock yourself out, you got a long road trip, you want some cool stuff to listen to, along with Train To Hunt and everything else that Kenton and I talked about today if you go to  That’s, and when you go there be sure to click through and check out Train To Hunt ’cause he has everything from like a workout generator on there, to some blog posts about stuff we didn’t even delve into, like nutrition, and supplementation, and some of these things that are used in the hunting sector on that front.

And so there’s quite a bit over there.  It’s a fun website to explore.  Try out some of the workouts, let me know what you think.  You can always leave a question or your own comment in the show notes, again, over at  And if you dug this, if you liked it, go leave a review and iTunes as well.  Unless you’re like vegan or vegetarian, in which case you probably didn’t enjoy this episode too much.  But believe it or not, you could probably use some of these same fitness skills for what, Kenton?  Like mushroom foraging?

Kenton:  If you’re in the mountains, [1:29:23] ______ workouts for that.

Ben:  Yeah.

Kenton:  Yeah.  Mushroom foraging, just sight-seeing, bird watching…

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  Spearfishing.  I’ve actually had to use a lot of this when spearfishing ’cause your heart rate gets high, you’re down and up, you gotta study your heart rate, take a shot, you got to have the endurance for a long day.  So there’s a lot of crossover to life in general, and I love what you’re doing, man.  Keep it up.

Kenton:  Thanks, Ben.  Thanks.  I appreciate you having me on your podcast.  If I can, I just want to mention one other thing.  On Train To Hunt, we’re really kind of pushing this grand slam membership because I feel like it’s just such a really, really good buy for anybody who’s out there looking for either personal training, or maybe looking into doing one of these Train To Hunt challenges.  With a grand slam membership, you get to choose, I want the grand slam membership at $149 a year, and you get a Train To Hunt challenge pass.  So you can go to any Train To Hunt challenge you want for, it’s included with this grand slam membership.  If you’re not interested in doing the challenge, but you’re interested in the workouts, you can get a whole month of personal training from one of the Train To Hunt coaches.  So you get a whole month of training personalized to you, goal setting for you.  And then on top of those one of those two things, you also get 12 chances to win these monthly drawings.  Like last month, we gave a way a pair of binoculars from Vortex.  In January, we’re going to be giving away Earthmate, which is basically a GPS for your phone.  In February, we’re going to be giving away a brand new Bowtech bow.

So we’re giving away some really great prizes to the grand slam members.  And then on top of that, every month, the first Sunday in every month at 6 o’clock, we do what we just call a campfire.  And all the grand slam members are invited to a live seminar on Grand Slam Facebook page, and we just do seminars.  Like in December, we did one on the 10 pieces of fitness equipment we feel like every hunter should own.  And in January, I’m doing a seminar on the proper way of setting goals.  There’s a ton of value in the grand slam membership.  You get a three month supply of Hydrate & Recover from Wilderness Athlete, you get a free Grand Slam t-shirt.  Ton of value.

So if you go to, check it out.  Just check out what you’d get for your grand slam membership. And I think that if you’re going to train at all or if you’re going to do a Train To Hunt challenge, that’s the way to go.

Ben:  Nice.  I like it.  You don’t actually start something on fire during those campfire events, do you?

Kenton: Well, sometimes.

Ben:  You’re not there with a fire pit in front of your Skype or something?

Kenton:  No, no.  Not yet.  Not yet.  Maybe this summer.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’d be a cool twist, a Google Hangout with a real fire.  Nice.  That grand slam membership actually sounds pretty cool.  I didn’t know about that, but I’m going to have to go check that out.  So I’ll link to that as well over in the show notes for any of you guys who want to get in on that, or ladies.  Guys or gals, this is, we didn’t mention this, but this is a, why am I wanting to say unisex.  I also want to say bisex.  What’s the word I’m looking for, Kenton?  It’s multi-sexual.  It is, it’s coed!  That’s the word I was looking for.

Kenton:  It’s coed!

Ben:  It’s coed.  There’s a men’s division, and a women’s division, now apparently kid’s division, masters men’s, masters women’s division.  So anybody can go out there and have a good time with this stuff.  So, Ken, thanks for coming on the show, man.

Kenton:  Same pleasure.  Thank you very much, my man.  Have a great New Year!

Ben:  Alright.  You too man.  Folks, this is Ben Greenfield along with Kenton Clairmont signing out from  Have a healthy week.



I’ve raced plenty of triathlons, from Sprint distance to Ironman.

I’ve also done many, many obstacle races, including the toughest Spartan challenges in the world.

And adventure races. And brutal workouts that claim to be the “hardest workout in the world“. And SEALFit trainingAgoge challenges, the World’s Toughest Mudder and beyond.

But my lungs have never sucked as much, my brain and body have never been simultaneously challenged as much and I’ve never experience any other form of competition so freaking functional until I started doing Train To Hunt Challenges.

My guest today is a repeat guest. His name is Kenton Clairmont and he is the owner and creator of Train To Hunt, a unique mashup of bowhunting and obstacle racing that is taking the nation by storm.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The nasty autoimmune disease that took Kenton out of commission and sidelined him from a career as a professional baseball player…[12:20]

-The natural Chinese remedy alternative to common immunosuppressant drugs for issues like rheumatoid arthritis…[20:12]

Why being fit for hunting goes far, far beyond simply needing to be able to “ruck” or hike…[22:25]

-What a sample Train To Hunt work out looks like…[38:30]

-How a typical Train To Hunt workout looks, and why something called “vagus nerve stimulation” is a huge part of each workout…[42:20]

-Why the Train To Hunt national champion’s key workout is “baling hay”…[54:30]

-Why Kenton introduced the skill orienteering and GPS wayfinding into the Train To Hunt competition…[57:00]

-How the Train To Hunt “3D shoot” is far different and far more practical for hunting situations than any other style of a 3D shoot…[58:45]

-Why something called a “meat pack” is one of the hardest things Ben has ever done in his life (and why his lips turned blue after doing it)…[65:00]

-What the brand new Train To Hunt challenge course now looks like, and why it’s now extremely spectator friendly…[70:10]

-How the meat pack portion of the challenge is going to change significantly in 2016…[79:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Chinese herbal remedy as a replacement for methotrexate

-Other hunting episodes:

–Are Hunters The Fittest People In The World?

How To Get Into Hunting, Build Hunting Fitness, The Most Challenging Hunts & More!

Backpacking, Wilderness Survival, Combat Conditioning, Hunting Fitness & More With Aron Snyder.

Backpacking, Bowhunting & Shooting Tips From A Natural Born Hunter.

3 Ways Hunting Can Get You Ripped And 10 Ways To Get Fit For Hunting.

How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete

The National Champion & Poster Boy For One Of The Most Extreme Obstacle Races That Exists.

Train To Hunt: Train To Hunt was born out of necessity. All hunters alike want to hunt harder, longer, and farther. Fitness is the only piece of equipment that you can make better or worse. The team at Train To Hunt wants to extend wellness and longevity as well as improve performance for hunters. The workouts are a launching pad for serious outdoor enthusiast who want to learn the best way to be fit for their sport. Athletes hunt, and they have the formula to make you a better mountain athlete. Whether you’re a flatlander, hunt out West, or past your prime, they want to make you a better hunter through fitness. Their online program is designed to be your coach, trainer, and guide as you shape up for your passion. Click here to start into Train To Hunt online program now or to sign up for a challenge. 


Blue Lips, Meat Packs, Baling Hay & Beyond: The Man Responsible For Sparking A Fitness Revolution In The Hunting Industry.

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

I’ve raced plenty of triathlons, from Sprint distance to Ironman.

I’ve also done many, many obstacle races, including the toughest Spartan challenges in the world.

And adventure races. And brutal workouts that claim to be the “hardest workout in the world“. And SEALFit training, Agoge challenges, the World’s Toughest Mudder and beyond.

But my lungs have never sucked as much, my brain and body have never been simultaneously challenged as much and I’ve never experience any other form of competition so freaking functional until I started doing Train To Hunt Challenges.

My guest today is a repeat guest. His name is Kenton Clairmont and he is the owner and creator of Train To Hunt, a unique mashup of bowhunting and obstacle racing that is taking the nation by storm.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The nasty autoimmune disease that took Kenton out of commission and sidelined him from a career as a professional baseball player…[12:20]

-The natural Chinese remedy alternative to common immunosuppressant drugs for issues like rheumatoid arthritis…[20:12]

Why being fit for hunting goes far, far beyond simply needing to be able to “ruck” or hike…[22:25]

-What a sample Train To Hunt work out looks like…[38:30]

-How a typical Train To Hunt workout looks, and why something called “vagus nerve stimulation” is a huge part of each workout…[42:20]

-Why the Train To Hunt national champion’s key workout is “baling hay”…[54:30]

-Why Kenton introduced the skill orienteering and GPS wayfinding into the Train To Hunt competition…[57:00]

-How the Train To Hunt “3D shoot” is far different and far more practical for hunting situations than any other style of a 3D shoot…[58:45]

-Why something called a “meat pack” is one of the hardest things Ben has ever done in his life (and why his lips turned blue after doing it)…[65:00]

-What the brand new Train To Hunt challenge course now looks like, and why it’s now extremely spectator friendly…[70:10]

-How the meat pack portion of the challenge is going to change significantly in 2016…[79:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Chinese herbal remedy as a replacement for methotrexate

-Other hunting episodes:

Are Hunters The Fittest People In The World?

How To Get Into Hunting, Build Hunting Fitness, The Most Challenging Hunts & More!

Backpacking, Wilderness Survival, Combat Conditioning, Hunting Fitness & More With Aron Snyder.

Backpacking, Bowhunting & Shooting Tips From A Natural Born Hunter.

3 Ways Hunting Can Get You Ripped And 10 Ways To Get Fit For Hunting.

How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete

The National Champion & Poster Boy For One Of The Most Extreme Obstacle Races That Exists.

Train To Hunt: Train To Hunt was born out of necessity. All hunters alike want to hunt harder, longer, and farther. Fitness is the only piece of equipment that you can make better or worse. The team at Train To Hunt wants to extend wellness and longevity as well as improve performance for hunters. The workouts are a launching pad for serious outdoor enthusiast who want to learn the best way to be fit for their sport. Athletes hunt, and they have the formula to make you a better mountain athlete. Whether you’re a flatlander, hunt out West, or past your prime, they want to make you a better hunter through fitness. Their online program is designed to be your coach, trainer, and guide as you shape up for your passion. Click here to start into Train To Hunt online program now or to sign up for a challenge. 

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

[Transcript] – Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide to No-Nonsense Muscle Building With Vince Del Monte.

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction/ Organifi Green Juice

[2:20] HumanCharger

[3:35] On Q&A’s with Rachel

[4:32] Introduction to this Episode

[6:06] Vince Del Monte

[16:15] How Vince Made the Transition From Skinny to Becoming Muscle-Building Phenomenon 

[24:40] Vince and Ben’s Thoughts on Steroids

[27:35] Commercial Break/ Nutritional Therapy Association

[29:43] Four Sigmatic

[31:34] Continuation/ Getting Lean To Get Big

[33:34] Striking a Balance with Testosterone Levels

[47:50] DTS Training

[55:20] Massages As A Way To Build Muscle

[1:03:28] What Science Says About How Much Muscle One Can Really Build in a Month

[1:12:57] 7 Rotating Oils During The Diet According to Vince

[1:17:16] Rotating Protein Powder Sources

[1:25:42] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, folks.  It’s Ben Greenfield, and let’s talk matcha.  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of matcha, or it could be called matcha.  I don’t know.  Sometimes I read words and don’t actually know how to pronounce them.  But matcha is a form of green tea.  It’s got 6.2 times the antioxidants of goji berries, 7 times the antioxidants of dark chocolate, 17 times that of wild blueberry, and 60 times the antioxidants of spinach.  It’s got catechins in it, and catechins scavenge free radicals in your body, and EGCG.  It’s called, brace yourself for this because I’m going to make myself sound like a really smart cookie, epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG is actually really powerful anti-carcinogen.  And they found, at a study at University of Colorado, that one cup of matcha green tea has 137 times the amount of this EGCG compared to conventional green tea.  Matcha’s benefits go on and on.  It lowers LDL cholesterol, it can assist with weight loss and fat loss, they’ve actually found that it’s a very potent thermogenic aid, meaning it can increase your rate of burning calories by about 35 to 45%.  It even has fiber in it.

So why am I telling you all this about matcha?  Not only because all the folks over in Okinawa, Japan drink copious amounts of this stuff, so it must be good if you want to look like a really old Japanese person.  But it’s also a prime ingredient in one of the sponsors for today’s podcast, Organifi Green Juice Powder.  So they’ve taken matcha and combined it with a whole bunch of other stuff, chlorella, moringa, spirulina, mint, beets, wheat grass.  The list goes on and on, and you get this stuff for 20% off.  You add it to any smoothies, juices, teas, you name it, or you can just dump a packet straight into your mouth, wipe your lips, and walk away.  It is  That’s where you get this stuff., and use discount code Ben to get 20% off your Organifi Green Juice.

This podcast is also brought to you by something I’ve been using every morning so I don’t get depressed and go postal.  It is dark here in Spokane, Washington.  It is grey.  I live on a north-facing slope, so I get sun if the sun happens to be out from about 10 AM to 2 PM.  So every morning I take these little ear buds that produce a UV-free, blue-enriched white light originally designed for jet lag and for normalizing circadian rhythm, but they actually work really well for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  They work really well as like a cup of coffee for your brain before a workout.  But you put these little ear buds, these LED-set ear buds in your ears, you turn it on, and it just charges your brain using the photo receptors in your ear with light for about 12 minutes, and that’s it.  Boom.  You’re done.  It’s called a HumanCharger, a HumanCharger.  And you can check it out and get a pretty fat discount on the HumanCharger and your own portable version of light therapy if you go to  That’s and you use code BFitness for 20% off.  That’s code BFitness for 20% off.

Now before we jump into today’s show, I have received a few questions from you guys about when we’re going to start back into the infamous Q & A episodes with myself and my podcast sidekick, Rachel.  Well, you can look forward to those starting back up in the New Year.  It has been a hectic few months of holidays and travels, and when I’m not spearfishing in Costa Rica or gallivanting across a mushroom field in Finland, my podcast sidekick Rachel is drinking strange herbs that make her vomit in Peru, or sitting in 10-day Vipassana retreats elsewhere in South America, and so our paths simply have not been crossing very frequently to be honest with you.  So the Q & A’s will start back up in January.  You can look forward to those, and plenty more exciting content from Ben Greenfield Fitness coming up in the New Year.  But in the meantime, let’s jump into how to get swole, big, muscular, put on size, and get an amazing body with my buddy Vince Del Monte.

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“Your first goal is to get lean, ideally 10 to 12% body fat, and there’s a lot of psychological and physiological benefits to that.  So one of the big physiological benefits is that we’re going to improve your testosterone levels.”  “Lean is in.  So a lot of people just 10, 12% body fat and they’re like, ‘Crap.  I love the way I look right now.  I don’t need to add any more mass.  Maybe I’ll focus on improving my shoulders, and I’ll stay at maintenance calories, or just increase calories a bit on those shoulder and arm days.'”

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 here, and I think it was like eight or nine years ago that I was sitting slack jawed in this crowd at an event called “The Fitness Business Summit” listening to this guy who they build as, I believe they called him like “The Mysterious Mr. X”, or something along those lines, but he was like this massive, muscle-bound trainer up on stage.  And in this case, he was telling a story about like this e-book that he made, this online book, and I really wasn’t familiar with e-books, or information programs online, or anything like that, but he was talking about this e-book that literally made millions of Dollars online and had been used by hundreds of thousands of skinny guys all over the globe for sculpting their bodies into these Herculean, Adonis-like physiques.

So I actually got so inspired by the story that this guy told that I went on and I created my own kind of training program that I wound up selling online.  It was a training system for Ironman triathletes to train on less than 10 hours a week and still do Ironman, and I called that one the “Triathlon Dominator”, and it was the first big training program that I ever sold online inspired by this guy.

So there’s this kind of odd collision of fitness worlds because a few weeks ago, his book, a newer book, not this other one that I had seen eight or nine years ago, but this new book arrived to me in the mail, and lo and behold, it was written by the mysterious Mr. X.  And his name is Vince Del Monte.  You may have heard of him before.  He used to be known as Skinny Vinny, and now he goes by the name “The Skinny Guy Savior”.  So this book that he sent me I almost put down, because usually when I get books like this, they’re just muscle head content.  It’s just like eat a bunch of whey protein, drink Man-In-A-Can, crap out of a straw, and lift heavy stuff.  And this book, it’s actually intelligently written.  It’s got a lot of practical advice in it and it goes into some really good information about how to put some rock solid, shredded muscle on your body without using drugs, or expensive supplements, or spending copious amounts of time in the gym.  So I was pretty pleased to not only read this book by Vince, but to reconnect with them and get him on the show today.  So, Vince, welcome to the show, man.

Vince:  Thank you, Ben.  Holy mackerel!  I got to tell you, Ben, I’m a little bit nervous.  I’ve been listening to your podcast for some time now, man.  You stepped up your game huge, man.  I learned so much from your podcast, and people you interview.  So it’s an honor to be here.

Ben:  Well, it’s all about getting smart/jacked guys like you on the show, man.  And I had your wife on.  Your wife was actually a guest last year.  We had a podcast episode about kitchen items and detox.

Vince:  “You’re getting an interview by Ben Greenfield, Flavia.  Holy cow!  So pumped.”  Yeah, that was awesome.

Ben:  Yeah.  And by the way, for those of you listening in, I’ll link to my interview with Vinny’s wife, and also everything that we talk about in today’s show.  If you go to, because that’s the name of Vince’s new book.  It’s called “Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide To No-Nonsense Muscle Building”.  And lest you be a female about to press stop on this podcast, you may want to keep listening in ’cause there’s a lot of stuff in here that’s relevant to anybody that picks up weight at a gym.

And by the way, Vince, I’m going to blame you for my extremely sore chesticles this morning ’cause I was going through your book yesterday to prep for this interview, and a big, big part of it is being mindful, like really focusing on the muscles that you want to work.  And I was at the gym yesterday doing, of all things, the pec deck.  I don’t spend a lot of time in the pec deck.  I’m big time into functional exercise, but my kids had a tennis class in the gym, so I just had some time to dink around the gym, so I was like, “I’m going to do some of Vinny’s techniques and see how they feel,” and my pecs are definitely feeling it today.

Vince:  Man, that’s like, we could talk an hour about that one idea there.  But, I know we’ve got questions.  So, that’s fantastic.

Ben:  Yeah.  For sure.  And you used to be, I mean obviously I just alluded the fact that you used to be skinny, but you actually used to be like a triathlete or endurance athlete, didn’t you?

Vince:  Yeah. I actually represented Canada.  I went to the World Triathlon Championships in my teens, I was a provincial and national level runner.  So endurance running, endurance sport was my life.  My father got me and my two younger brothers into running.  My youngest brother went to the Olympic trials for the 800 meters, and we come from an endurance background, and it’s probably one of the most important things I’ll hand off to my own kids because I truly believe that mind endurance days solidified my spirit and a lot of character traits, if you will, to do what I do today with business and other areas of life.

Ben:  Yeah.  Endurance sports are a really, really good way to get more stubborn than a donkey.  Like for better or for worse, I’ve learned that endurance athletes just don’t quit.  So they always have that going for ’em.

Vince:  Yeah.  So that was a big thing with me, I was always a scrawny little runner.  And you know this as well, like endurance athletes aren’t wussies.  Like we might look like wussies, but we are beasts.   Like we are tougher than nails, and we feel like Ultimate Warriors on the inside.  After a track workout, a swim workout, a long bike, I mean I feel unstoppable.  I mean I’m not intimidated of anything yet.  On the outside, you don’t look like that.  You know what I’m saying?  You walk into a bar, nobody even notices you unless you have some amazing sense of humor.  I mean you’re getting walked by by every hot girl in that (inaudible) like my high school days, and those were my university days, “Skinny Vinny”.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s kind of funny because when I was competing in triathlon, and I still do dabble in triathlon a bit, I’m big for a triathlete.  Like I’m broad shouldered, my arms aren’t complete noodles, and yet when I was doing Ironman triathlon, you talk about walking into the bar, I’d be the skinniest guy in the bar.  You could be big as a triathlete or big as a marathoner and still be relatively scrawny when it comes to being able to stick up for yourself, or chop wood, carry water, or do whatever else you need to do from a functional movement standpoint.

Vince:  Yeah.  So that was kind of my story.  When I went to university, and an interesting thing happened.  I shacked up with a bunch of guys, we were all in the exercise science program, and I just happened to live with a couple of the most jacked guys on campus.  I kid you not.  These were the guys that other guys wanted to be and that the girls wanted to be with, and these were my roommates.  So I was in that situation where I was going to the bar hanging out with these guys and all these beautiful woman around us, and I’m like, “Crap.  This guy’s going to get laid again tonight.  And these girls didn’t even notice me.”  It was just like that.  Burning frustration with like why can’t I get that same kind of attention, but because I was a runner, that’s where my identity was.  I was a very good runner.

So I just went through university with like living vicariously through these guys and always having this curiosity about what if I transferred my efforts from running and endurance sport into the gym.  How big could I get?  How strong could I get?  And at the same time, my eligibility was over at the end of university.  So you don’t really make a career out of endurance sport as a professional athlete.  And I was kind of, I’ll be honest, more of a mid-packer, I wasn’t like winning, so there wasn’t really a future with competitive distance running.  And at same time, wrapping up my degree, I was getting into the real world and I just had to learn how to make some money, so I became a personal trainer.  And at the same time, I didn’t look like a personal trainer.  So I had like these multiple things all coming together at the same time.  I was sick and tired of my nickname “Skinny Vinny”, I had all this like muscle rubbing off on me that I was ready to now see what I could do in the gym, and I needed to start a career.  So I was highly incentivized to transform (inaudible) back in 2002.

Ben:  It’s actually really interesting.  ‘Cause I took the complete opposite approach as you.  Like I was a big bodybuilder.  I weigh, well right now standing here, I weigh about 175, and I was 215 as a bodybuilder.  So I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now, and this was back in college.  And when I decided, I remember I visited an Ironman triathlon and I saw these people crossing the finish line.  I was like, “I want to do that.  I want to experience that.”  And of course, my first triathlon, speaking of sore pecs, just from my huge bodybuilding pecs bouncing up and down during my very first triathlon, I remember that alone, along with my ripped back locking up pathway through the run, inspired me to actually lose some muscle to get good at triathlon.  And I wound up doing lots and lots of fasted aerobics workouts to basically eat away my muscles so I could get faster at triathlon.

I’m not claiming that that is necessarily healthy, because I do believe that as you go into your later years of life, you definitely want more muscle just because of sarcopenia, and muscle loss, and all the things that happen from a longevity standpoint when you lose muscle.  But regardless, I went from big to skinny.  And you did the opposite.  You went from skinny endurance athlete to big, and I’m curious, before we delve into some of the tactics in this book, like what’d you do to actually put on as much size as you did?  ‘Cause the photos in your book are pretty amazing.  Were you using steroids?  Were you eating just like copious amounts of an extremely high protein diet?  Like what were some your biggest tactics?

Vince:  Yeah.  For sure.  So absolutely no steroids.  This was back when I was 22.  So I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know what steroids were.  And the only supplements I use were a fish oil, a weight gainer, and creatine.  And it’s funny because my mom had never seen a tub of powder in her cupboards before, and she actually thought it was steroids, and she threw it in the garbage.  So my first experience with supplements was a negative one, and this was when I was 22.  So I moved back home, I was living with my parents, and because I used to run 60 to literally 100 miles per week as a competitive runner, I stopped running completely.  So there was a couple things, it all happen at once, and I like to give context to my transformation ’cause people hear how much muscle I gain, and that’s what they quickly ask.  “So you must’ve taken steroids?”  And we can dive into what the science talks about in terms of realistic muscle gains, and what the research has shown, and all that.  But I started off 149.  So that’s when I took my before picture, May 4th, 2002.  And I stopped running completely and I started weight training.

So I was a newbie.  So my gains were definitely what you would call newbie gains.  And I literally started doing what the bodybuilders taught in the magazines.  I did six meals a day, I did three shakes a day, weight gain shakes plus I did three whole food meals a day, and that was pretty much it.  I didn’t track the macros, I didn’t, like I wasn’t very precise but I was consistent with my meal frequency, and I focused on eating six times a day, which was something I had never really done as an endurance runner.  I mean, I didn’t even really know what protein was as a runner, we lived on bagels, pasta, craft dinner, peanut butter jam sandwiches.  I mean, we just figured we’d burn it up.  So I actually started thinking about what I was putting into my body for the first time, so that was pretty much it.  And when it came to weight training, I mean, again, it’s so boring.  I found this guy at my church of all places who was a provincial level natural bodybuilder, and I told him I’m about to do this split that I found in a bodybuilding magazine, and he advised that I do full body workouts.  And I never really understood what’s a full body workout, and he says, “Well, we’re going to hit the same muscle groups three times per week with lower volume but higher intensity…”

Ben:  Which you actually don’t hear a lot from the bodybuilding crowd.

Vince:  No!  And it’s fascinating because, I mean the bodybuilding crowd, I mean we could talk about drugs for an hour here, but I mean it really is a drug subculture.  So you know he was teaching me stuff that quickly made sense to me because, in track, you don’t bump up to the 10K unless you improve your 5K first.  You know what I mean?  It’s all about quality before quantity, especially when you’re trying to get better.  So he was like, he kept it really simple.  He said, “Why are you going to go to the gym and do 12 sets on your shoulders when we could get the same stimulus, a sufficient stimulus with one or two sets?”  And I said, “Is that all we need?”  And he says, “Well, if it’s done with quality.”

So early on, I was introduced the whole idea of quality versus quantity, and that we want to stimulate our muscles and not annihilate our muscles.  And he started talking about avoiding concepts like junk volume.  And I was like, “This is fascinating.”  ‘Cause this is like, whenever I get into junk falling with my endurance sports, when I got hurt, when I burned out, so a lot of this stuff made sense to me, so it was easy to put my trust in him.  And that was essentially it.  I followed full-body workouts.  And I said, “What about this?  What about that?”  And he really kept it simple.  We changed up the exercises each workout and we just focused on different stimuli within the workout with different rep ranges.  And I just trust the program, I stuck with the program, and six months later I went from 149 to 190.  And that was like a life changing event for me.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s really interesting.  In defense of the high volume approach, I know a lot of like mesomorhpic or endomorphic body types, guys who are pretty big to start with, pretty muscular start with, or just have bigger bones to start with, and many of them seem to do okay with this whole idea of body parts splits, like working the chest and the shoulders on a Monday, and the biceps, and triceps, and core on a Tuesday, et cetera, et cetera.  But for me, ’cause I’m a skinny guy, back when I was bodybuilding, what worked for me was very similar to the advice that you got from this first mentor, and that was full-body three times a week.  And the way that I did it was I had full body three times a week, and then I had one day where I’d go in and do my vanity exercises, where I’d have just a day where I focused on like the biceps, and the calves, and the triceps.  But aside from that, I mean for my bodybuilding routine back in the day, I was doing deadlifts, and cleans, and clean and jerk, and push press, and a lot of these exercises that would be considered more, either weightlifting or a power lifting exercises, not these single joint bodybuilding exercises.

Vince:  I fully hear you, and I teach a couple ideas.  When it comes to figuring out, people always ask me, “Should I do a full-body or should I do a split?”  And as you know, it always comes down to these two boring words: It depends.  And I always tell people it depends on your recovery ability.  I tell people you are, this is worth writing down for people listening, you are what you can recover from.  So there are people who can recover quicker, and if somebody is maybe taking steroids, they’re definitely recovering quicker.  So they can introduce a stimulus to their body at a more frequent rate.  So they’ll have more repeated belts, more repeated stimuli on the muscle, so they’ll be able to produce more muscle growth over the course of the year.

So at the end of the day, we definitely want to train our body to be able to do more.  Like that’s the ultimate goal.  And most of my training programs, the way they’re designed is, the book you’ve got there in front of you, the first 10 weeks is dedicated to full body workouts.  But we don’t stay there forever.  We definitely are going to challenge your body to recover at a quicker rate.  So on the second 10 weeks, we train four times per week.  And the stimulus to each muscle group is not every seven days, it’s every five days.  And then in the final phase, in the final 10 weeks, we bump the training frequency up again.  And then after those 10 weeks, we’ll go back to a full-body.  So we’re always cycling training frequency.  So we’re not doing the same training frequency all year round.  And that’s why these different cycling, these approaches work because your body will get slightly overtrained, and then it’s going to need to recover, and then it’ll be slightly undertrained, and then we overtrain it.  So we’re constantly (inaudible), skillfully organizing these different variables in a way that allows our body to avoid plateau and to avoid adaptation.  So we’re always moving forward.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s interesting too, what you say about steroids, how they can enhance or speed up recovery, and I think what a lot of people don’t realise is that that is musculoskeletal recovery, it’s not nervous system recovery, it’s not neuromuscular recovery.  And so, for example, there’s two ways that I’ll recommend to people to track your true recovery, like whether, because you can just pay attention to soreness to know if you’re muscular skeletal system is recovered.  But for neuromuscular recovery, you can do like a morning heart rate variability test, and in many cases, especially if you were taking steroids or some other form of supplement that vastly enhances muscular skeletal recovery, but doesn’t act on your nervous system, you’ll notice that even if, you’re not sore anymore, your heart rate variability stays low.  So it’s a very easy to work yourself into a state of like low libido, or overtraining, or exhausted hormones by using something like steroids for enhancing musculoskeletal recovery.  The other one that I like is called, I don’t know if you’ve done this before, Vince, the CNS Tap Tests, like this little app that you put on your phone and it lets you keep a running tally of how quickly you can tap with your thumbs on the screen for your right and your left hand.  You ever mess around with that?

Vince:  I haven’t.

Ben:  It’s kind of cool.  And if you’re slow, that means that it’s probably not a good day for you to do like a hard power or strength workout.  Or same thing, like if your heart rate variability is low, unless you’re purposefully, as you alluded to, like trying to get yourself to like a slightly overtrained state so you can super compensate, you’d want to back off.  But steroids kind of mask all that.

Vince:  You’re literally forced to do more when you take steroids.  I’m mean that’s why these guys have to do so much more because their body’s recovering at ridiculous rate, and protein synthesis is occurring at a different way because their chemistry has been altered.  So, yeah.  I find like that’s the problem, a lot of guys get easily influenced by their favorite YouTube idol, their favorite bodybuilder who’s promoting these hardcore workouts, when in fact, literally, I find the biggest problem with guys not making gains is they are doing too much.  And when you go into the gym, if I say, “Hey, ‘kay, Ben.  We’re going to be doing 24 sets today on chest.  Your first thought is like, “Crap.  I’ve got to pace myself.  I’ve got to make it through.”  And we have this mentality and this satisfaction around just finishing the work out when muscle growth for natural guys is completely different.  We just need to go in there, stimulate the muscle, do a little extra than last time, and then get out of the gym.

Unfortunately, that’s not too sexy, but unfortunately it’s the non-sexy stuff that gets results.  So bring somebody overall volume down.  Like if I tell you, “Hey, we’re going to train chest today, and we’re only doing one all-out set.”  You’re going to be like, “Just one set?”  I’m like, “Yes, but it’s going to be an all-out, ball-busting, go-’til-bloke set.”  75% of the workout’s going to be spent warming up, preparing for this all-out set, and then we’re going to do this set, and you’re going to experience more muscle recruitment, more muscle fatigue than you ever have, and that’ll be sufficient because you’ve just outdone your previous workout.  And now we’re going to move on to the next body part.  And that’s like an approach that when guys really embrace and experience, they never go back to these high volume junk set programs that force you to pace yourself and that are only ideal for genetic freaks, or guys who are enhanced.

Ben:  Yeah.  It makes sense.  It’s makes total sense.

Ben:  I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you about something called the NTA.  What do you think it stands for?  Well, I’ll fill you in.  It’s the Nutritional Therapy Association.  And what they do is they certify folks to help people with teaching others about nutrition, but they use a bioindividualized, ancestral approach to healing.  So you’re not looking at some like cookie cutter, Gatorade Sports Science Institute endorsed version of teaching people about nutrition.  Instead, when you go through the Nutritional Therapy Association for an education in becoming a nutritional therapy practitioner, or a nutritional therapy consultant, you learn how to use nutrient-dense foods as a way to enhance the body’s ability to heal, or as a way to enhance the body and brain’s ability to perform.  So they blend online and in-person courses in the US, in Canada, and in Australia.

And to check ’em out, you first of all go to  That’s where you can sign up for any of their therapy practitioner and consultant certifications.  Registration closes, by the way, February 6th and classes start February 13th of 2017.  So get on the ball if you want to do this.  Also, they have a conference in Vancouver, Washington that I’m speaking at, actually.  March 3rd through the 5th.  It’s the 10th Annual NTA Conference, and you can register for that if you just go to  That’s to register, and be sure to tell them that I sent you so that you get the white glove treatment.

So again, winter registration for their courses, it closes February 6th, their winter classes begin February 13th.  And the financial aid deadline, if you want financial aid to be able to get your nutrition certification, then the deadline for that is January 3rd.  And then that conference is March 3rd through the 5th.  And hopefully, I’ll see you there.  So check ’em out.

This podcast is also brought to you by about the most unique twist on hot chocolate that I think you are ever going to experience.  So if you’re sitting here this winter wanting hot chocolate, but perhaps bored with the same old little brown packet with the many marshmallows in it, have I got something for you.  So there is this special form of hot chocolate, it’s called Mushroom Hot Cacao.  And the ingredients include not just dense, dense cacao powder grown in the volcanic soils of Indonesia, but also a bit of guarana, which is a natural Amazonian adaptogen which amplifies the effects of any herb or superfood that it’s blended with, cayenne pepper, which is not just a thermogenic aid, but also leaves this little mild burning sensation in the mouth that results in the release of a whole bunch of feel good hormones.  That’s why you feel so good when you eat like spicy food.  And then they’ve also added cordyceps mushroom extract to this, which is great for ATP, for lung activation, for energy levels, and for just another basic uplifting effect.

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Ben:  Now in the book, I want to delve into some of like the principles that you outline in the book.  For example, you have this idea that you write about where you’re supposed to get lean to get big.  And I wanted to ask you what exactly you mean when you say you got to get lean to get big?

Vince:  Yeah.  That’s a fantastic question.  So two things that are going to help you build muscle quicker, and that’s the state of leanness you’re in.  So we always tell guys, so a lot of people listening to this call have a certain percentage body fat.  It might be 12%, it might be 15%, it might be 20%.  And before you even think about building muscle, your first goal is to get lean.  Ideally 10 to 12% body fat.  And there’s a lot of psychological and physiological benefits to that.  So one of the big physiological benefits is that we’re going to improve your testosterone levels.  By getting leaner, we’re going to lower estrogen levels, the female sex hormone that’s going to prevent you from optimizing that male master hormone, if you will.

Ben:  So what you’re talking about primarily is the ability of fat cells to store estrogens, or to release estrogens?

Vince: Yes.

Ben:  Okay.  So you’re looking at like the testosterone to estrogen ratio?

Vince:  Absolutely.  Yeah.

Ben:  Gotcha.  Now could you play devil’s advocate here and say that, because you see this in a lot of people, and I even recently visited an anti-aging clinic down in Florida to do a study and this was a few weeks ago, and they put me on a bioimpedance scale, which isn’t like the gold standard for body fat, but they tested my body fat.  It was pretty low.  It’s at like 3%.  And they told me one of the things they’ve noticed is guys with hypogonadism, or guys who have low testosterone, a lot of times, they’ll be down around that range.  The testosterone will be too low.  So where do you strike a balance?

Vince:  So they’re too low being overweight or underweight?

Ben:  No.  Like if you lose too much body fat, you can actually lower your testosterone.

Vince:  Yeah.  So I think that really starts, I actually experienced that myself when I competed ’cause I got my levels checked the day after the show, and they were in the absolute worst state.  They were like horrendous.  They were all in the toilet.  And it was because of deprivation, dieting, low fats, low calories for a very, very extended period of time.  So for what we’re talking about, 10 to 12% body fat, we’re talking about body fat levels that should be sustainable over time.  So it’d be interesting to see what body fat levels we’re specifically talking about because your test levels shouldn’t plummet when you’re in that 10 to 12% range.  They are definitely going to plummet when you start getting into single digit body fat, but a lot of this can also counteracted with regular refeed meals, or cheat days, which is a really essential, very important way to maintain testosterone levels as you get leaner.  But overall, a leaner individual is going to be able, they’re going to have better machinery, if you will, to build muscle.  And…

Ben:  Yeah.  I think it comes down, by the way, to like essential body fat stores ‘cause it depends on the body type, obviously.  Like somebody who’s mesomorphic or an endomorphic body type is going to have essential body fat stores that are higher.  They’re like 10 or 15%.  And a naturally skinny person might have essential body fat stores of like, oftentimes you’ll see like 6, or 7, or 8%, and then once you drop below that essential body fat store, for a lot of people, it is below 6%.  Like that’s I think when you start to see a lot of the metabolic, and hormonal, and endocrine issues that happen from basically getting below essential.  The difference between, you know this as a competitive bodybuilder, Vince, and how you look on stage, the difference if you’re just like at the beach between 3 and 6% is not significant.  It’s only really when you’re underneath the lights on stage that you start worrying about kind of pushing the envelope when it comes to essential body fat stores.

Vince:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  Those are like temporary looks for literally not even 24 hours.  I’ve competed with so many guys who are like shredded on stage at 2 PM on Saturday, and then on Monday at 9 AM, they’ve gained twenty pounds.  And it’s not just water week.  That’s a whole other conversation.  I think a big thing to is the rate somebody drops their body fat.  The more extreme you go, more metabolic compensation that’s going to occur in that and some other ugly thing.  So coming down slowly in body fat is one of the most effective strategies.  Again, nothing sexy, but I always teach guys that if you want to get lean, you want to do it as slow as possible.  And we need to have really half a percent of body fat per week.  And as long as it’s moving down gradually, that’s great.  I always tell guys if you try and force the fat off, your body is going to react.  But when you try and coax the body, it’s going to respond.  So we’re always trying to get the body to respond, and we’re never trying to force anything.  So that’s the big thing.

And then I think another thing too is the whole idea of insulin sensitivity.  So the ability for somebody to utilize carbohydrates, and the leaner you get, the more you’re going to be able to partition carbohydrates two to muscle growth as opposed to fat stores.  One of the big things that fuels muscle growth is simply good old-fashioned, hard training sessions.  Weight training is an anaerobic activity, so you’re going to perform best with glucose.  And if you can come into the gym in a state where you can train your butt off, that’s what’s going to be required to make gains.  So if your body is utilizing those carbs better, we’re going to be stimulating muscle growth better and we’re also gonna be able to protect our muscle mass because carbs are proteins sparing, which is a huge thing.  And we can lower our overall protein intake and increase our fat intake, which is also going to help with testosterone production.  So, I’m really big on getting guys lean because then we can get your carbs and fats up, and we can drop your protein.  And I found it to be a very effective formula once somebody is in that 10 to 12% body fat range.

Ben:  So a couple of things that arise here are that come to mind as you’re saying this.  The first is isn’t this kind of an opposite approach of a lot of mass gain programs or bodybuilding programs where you start off with a whole bunch of bulking, a whole bunch of eating, putting on copious amounts of size, and then kind of like getting shredded, or getting cut after that.

Vince:  Yeah.  It’s kind of old school now.  I mean, we’ve really come a long ways and what we’ve learned is that you can’t force muscle growth in terms of like if your body, what we definitely know, the research is very clear, that being in a hyper caloric state is an optimal environment for muscle growth.  So, essentially giving your body the materials it needs to build muscle is the state you want to be in, but at what rate it’s going to occur is going to be very dependent on genetics.  And I will talk a bit about some of the research in terms of what kind of gains people can make, but it’s kind of like building a house, like you just have to provide the workers with the materials.  Right?  I mean that’s the first thing.  Like everybody’s into these like weird concepts these days that come from the marketing world or whatever, but like lean, progressive bulk, like there’s no such thing.  There’s just one type of bulking.  There’s bulking.  Either giving your body the materials or not.  Your body’s going to decide what ratio of fat to muscle you’re going to gain, and that’s highly, highly genetic.

Ben:  Now when it comes to the actual concept, from a physiological standpoint, of getting lean to be able to put on muscle, or getting rid of some fat to be able to put on muscle, I’m curious if you saw the study, it was really recent, it was in October in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where they looked at anabolic sensitivity of people who are exercising.

So their ability to put on size, in this case they were looking at muscle protein synthesis, and this was in response to like eating a protein-rich meal, how equipped your body is to be able to build muscle after eating a protein-rich meal, and what they found out, and specifically like from the conclusion in the study, they found what’s called diminished myofibrillar protein synthetic response to the ingestion of protein-dense food if you are overweight or obese.  So somehow what they’re hypothesizing is that when you have a certain amount of fat mass, you actually aren’t able to take protein and convert that into muscle compared to if you were lean.  And I know this the study came out after you’d written the book, but I’m curious if you happened to see that at all.

Vince:  I haven’t seen that study, and I actually just e-mailed Brad Schoenfeld who’s pretty, probably one of the go-to researchers, virtually wrote him and asked him if he’d seen it.  And I do know that there’s another study from a guy named Dr. Gilbert Forbes, and he’s a pioneer in the study of body composition, and he showed that fat and lean tissue increase or decrease in relationship to each other.  So when a lean person overeats, 60 to 70% of the additional weight will be lean tissue, but it’ll be the opposite for someone with high body fat will gain 60 to 70% fat, and just 30 to 40% lean mass.  So this is really fascinating stuff.

Ben:  Yeah.  And then the other thing, and then, by the way, I’ll link to that study in the show notes for those who kind of want to see the physiological reason that you might want to consider lowering body fat before you start to try to put on size, but the other thing, I’m assuming when you say that when you get lean, you’re better able to partition your glucose intake into the muscle tissue.  Are you simply referring to the idea that like when you have increased fat mass, you’re not as insulin sensitive?  Or do you have like an increased upregulation of glucose transporters when you get lean?  Like what’s the mechanism whereby you become more efficient at utilizing carbohydrate if you’re lean?

Vince:  I believe those are both of them.  There may be more, but those are definitely two of them, two of the reasons.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  Interesting.

Vince:  It’s worth mentioning the psychological aspects as well because a lot of people who want to sculpt their physique.  To sculpt the physique, there is certainly a management of certain variables such as calories and macros, and beginning off in a direction where you’re required to incorporate some form of restraint, whether it’s portion sizes, or a certain number of meals, or whatever technique you employ, the entire exercise, and discipline, and habits that come with incorporating some form of restraint are going to help you move in a better opposite direction.  So when you start reintroducing calories, you’re going to have way more knowledge, data, if you will, on how your body responds, and how much you should be eating, and how frequently you should be eating, and what kind of macro combinations are more ideal for your body.

What I’ve also find, this is one more thing, is when you get more lean, most people are shocked by how amazing they look because they’re like holy crap, for the first time in their life, they see definition, they see rounder shoulders, a fuller chest, more vascular arms.  Some of the people might start even noticing some veins in around their stomach area.  And you start gaining more satisfaction from the discipline it takes to stick to a dietary strategy than it is to give in to certain maybe food temptations that you would have given in to earlier on.  So mentally, you just like, you start loving the results you’re getting.  So that’s a huge thing.  So you really increase compliance when you get leaner.

And a lot of people that I’ve even found is that they get lean, and the new thing now, even within my friends, we joke around like, ’tis the season to be lean.  Like lean is in.  It’s like the big, big muscularized physique is kind of out.  That was kind of like 10 years ago, [0:45:06] ______ being a certain percentage of the population that just, you know what I’m saying?  It’s like lean is in.  So a lot of people just get 10, 12% body fat and they’re like, “Crap.  I love the way I look right now.  I don’t need to add any more mass.  Maybe I’ll focus on improving my shoulders, and I’ll stay at maintenance calories, or just increase calories a bit on those you know shoulder and arm days.”  But that whole idea of like over feeding constantly where you’ve got to take your Tupperware container everywhere, I mean that’s kind of like, I mean I’m not appealing to those kind of guys, and a lot of people have evolved beyond that and like we just want to look good for the opposite sex, and we want to look good amongst our peers, and we want to feel good, and that whole bulking up and cutting down, it’s just those extreme lifestyles are just of like no interest to the kind of people that I try I want to help, and the kind of lifestyle that I live now.

Ben:  Yeah.  I think a lot of people too don’t realize how big you can actually look when you’re somewhat lean.  If it’s size that you’re going for, a lot of times, the decrease in body fat is just as important as the increase in muscle mass.  And you’re right.  I think people in this day and age can look a little bit better looking like, say, Brad Pitt from Fight Club versus Arnold Schwarzenegger from The Terminator.  I think that the former’s a better look.

Vince: There’s this cool thing called The Lean Threshold, and it basically states that guys between the percentage body fat of 13 and 18% don’t really look any different.  So if you had a guy [0:46:36] ______, it would be very hard to tell, like, “Is he 13% or 18%?” It kind of looks the same almost.  But once you get down to 10, 12% body fat, you immediately look, you look dramatically different and you do look bigger.

It’s funny because I’m 203 right now, and if you read comments on my Instagram and Facebook, people ask me, “Holy cow, you’ve packed on a lot of size.”  I’ve actually lost 10 pounds.  This past year I’ve just been refocusing on rebuilding my metabolism from some bad habits in the past, and my goal’s just been to lower my set point on the scale, and it’s required a very slow and tedious process.  But it’s taken a year to drop 10 pounds, but now that I’m 10 pounds leaner, everyone says, “Wow, you look a lot better.  You look bigger.”  And I’m like, “I’ve lost weight.  I’m lighter on the scale.”  So that’s one of the big benefits of getting leaner.  You do in fact look better when you have some muscle in the right spots.

Ben:  Yeah.  And the thing that you go into in the book, specifically, for putting on the muscle side of things, is something called DTS training, DTS training, and then that’s kind of like what I was messing around with in the gym yesterday and why my chest is so sore.  But can you go into what you mean when you say DTS?

Vince:  Yes.  I mean this is kind of the marketer in me, just to be honest, but Brad Schoenfeld came out with some research in 2010, and he discovered there’s three mechanisms of muscle growth.  Muscle damage, metabolic stress, and mechanical tension.  And there’s different training techniques to stimulate those different mechanisms.  So my training program essentially takes principles from science and then incorporates my own techniques to get that stimulus achieved.  And one, it’s effective because that’s what the science of [0:48:40] ______.  And two, it’s ’cause we’re now incorporating variety into our training programs.  So when we come to the gym, we’re not just doing four sets of you know 10 to 12.  We might be doing a certain amount of sets and reps, but with a very specific tempo.  Maybe you noticed on one of the days, we’re doing really slow eccentrics, and that’s designed to stimulate muscle damage.  So one of the workouts in your week, you get to come to the gym with a specific goal.  “Okay, today’s my really slow eccentric day.”  And you have a very specific goal with each workout.

Another one of the workouts is where we’re focusing on mechanical tension, which is just heavy lifting.  And that’s the day where we just focus on adding more weight to the bar, the rep ranges come down, the rest periods lengthen, the tempos speed up a bit.  And the whole purpose of that day, that’s you’re heavy game.  That’s the day you get to come to the gym, that’s the day that you get to focus on adding more weight to the bar.  And then another workout, we have our metabolic stress day, and that’s just a fancy way of saying high volume training, and that’s the day where we get to go for the pump.  We get to crank out a lot of reps with very short rest periods.  And the entire focus of that workout is to make the muscle burn.  And that’s how I design my programs.  There’s goals with each program utilizing the mechanisms of muscle growth, and there’s a lot of way to skillfully organize and periodize those.  And then people buy my stuff because I’ve got really creative and fun ways of using certain techniques that stimulate those mechanisms.  And I just use DTS as a simple way for people, a fun way for people to remind, to remember what we’re doing here.

Ben:  Now in terms of mechanical tension, one of the things you mentioned that I want to make sure I highlight to folks is that a lot of times, you only get the activation of type two muscle fibers when the type one muscle fibers are fatigued, which I know is one reason why you recommend to lift heavy.  But do you actually go out of your way in the program, or in your own training, to pre-fatigue type one muscle fibers?  Like to do something, for example, I remember I would do some of this back when I was a bodybuilder.  You do a set of push-ups, or a set of chest flyes, or something that is relatively light, high rep to pre-fatigue type one muscle fibers before you go in and hit the type two muscle fibers with, say, like a bench press or some other kind of loaded press?

Vince:  Yeah.  I know.  That’s certainly an effective technique and that’s definitely going to shock your body.  It is something that you could incorporate.  It definitely is something.  So now we’re kind of mixing multiple mechanisms into one workout, and that’s actually what we do in phase three of the program.  I have you doing all three mechanisms in one workout.  So we’re building up to that.  So there are certainly different ways and techniques to go about doing that.  So for me, it’s like every technique has an expiration date though.  So we set a date to the technique, so maybe eight weeks, or ten weeks, and then we move onto a different technique, ’cause that’s what the research is really pointing to, that muscle growth doesn’t occur in a linear fashion.  It really occurs in spurts, which is what a lot of people don’t understand.  So rotating your techniques is essential.

Ben:  The other thing that’s kind of interesting that you have in the book is you don’t like this concept of pausing at the top or the bottom.  Like a lot of people will do a squat, or a dead, or a curl, or any other movement, and you kind of pause at the top and you pause at the bottom.  Like basically I guess what would be referred to as inter rep rest.  Why aren’t you a fan of that?

Vince:  Yeah.  Well, so when it comes to applying the mechanism of metabolic stress, what we’re striving for is called constant tension.  So we want to, it is much, you want to get as much lactic acid into the muscle, and what that requires is constant tension.  So muscles, numbers, when it comes to constant tension, are arbitrary.  So when we’re talking about increasing stress, fatigue, cell swelling, lactic acid, different byproducts within the muscle that make the muscle burn, what we want to do is make it as hard as humanly possible on your muscles.  And what that basically requires is constant tension.  So we don’t want to give the muscle a rest at the top or the bottom.  We want constant tension, understanding that, I teach this concept called the principle of disadvantages, and essentially what we’re trying to present to our body is a disadvantage.  When it comes to building muscle, this is the big thing, you want to make it as hard as possible.  This isn’t CrossFit, this isn’t endurance sport, this is not any type of performance sport where you’re trying to become more efficient.  You want to stay inefficient.  You want to make it as hard as possible on your muscles.

And that’s why we use things like lock it down, don’t pause, squeeze it like it owes you money, contract against the resistance, change up the weight, don’t let the tension off, keep it on, keep it on.  If you came to one of my muscle camps, you’d hear me saying all those things to you while you’re in the midst of the set because we want to keep the tension directed to the tissue, the muscle tissue that you’re trying to stimulate.  And what happens is a lot of guys go to the gym and they just move weight.  The body is designed to always chase the path of least resistance.

So let’s say you’re doing a bench press with 200 pounds.  Well your body will figure out how to disperse that 200 pounds to as many body parts as possible ’cause it has zero interest in building muscle.  But if you want to build your chest, like concepts like inward intent so that you direct the torque to the muscle tissue that you’re specifically trying to sculpt.  So it really does require that kind of like coming into the gym and saying “What’s my goal?”  “What am I trying to do?  Am I trying to just lift more weight, or am I actually trying to sculpt a muscle?”  And those require different mindsets techniques and ways of performing the exercise.

Ben:  Now in your section of the book on recovery, you talk about massage, and a lot of people think of massage as a way to recover.  You talk about massage as a way to build muscle.  How is it that massage therapy, or deep tissue therapy, or foam rolling, or something like that would actually cause a muscle building response?

Vince:  Yes.  So with regards to massage, I think the big idea with any kind of therapy that increases mobility is that, yeah, you’re going to get better blood flow, and you’re going to help promote recovery, but one of the things that I will caution people with in terms of different modalities such as foam rolling, stretching, massage, and even stuff like ART is that while it can increase the neurological function of the muscle by improving the communication between it and the nervous system, you also have to ensure that you have other tools, one in particular that I’m a huge fan of called MAT, which stands for muscle activation techniques…

Ben:  Yeah.  You talk about this a lot in the book.  You seem pretty obsessed with this MAT thing.

Vince:  Yeah.  Because here’s the deal, man, I mean a lot of people don’t understand how the body actually works because I was trained to believe early on that if a muscle’s tight, that’s a bad thing.  If the muscle’s tight, you should stretch it.  And one day I had somebody just ask me “why are you stretching?”  “That why are you really trying to push your range of motion?”  And I said, “Well, ’cause the muscle’s tight”.  And he simply asked, “Well, why is that a bad thing?”  No one’s ever asked me that.  Like what do you mean why is that a bad thing?  The muscle’s tight.  You don’t want tight muscles.  And he presented that this entire new way of kind of looking at the body, and he was an MAT therapist, muscle activation techniques therapists, and their whole thing is that flexibility is a derivative of strength, and muscle tightness is secondary to muscle weakness.  So whenever you see a limitation in motion, this is an indication that one or more of the muscles that cross that axis cannot contract efficiently.  And when a muscle or a group of muscles cannot contract efficiently, it means that they cannot effectively shorten.  This in turn means the muscles of the opposite axis cannot fully lengthen, and this inefficiency in muscle contraction is expressed as muscle tightness.

So this kind of like blew my world wide open because I never understood, I thought, “Okay, something’s tight, but if you go on an ice rink, do you want your muscles to tighten up?”  Yes.  Because if your muscles tightening up, it’s going to prevent you from doing a face plant and cracking your head open.  So muscle tightness is actually a good thing.  So what I always tell people, whenever you add mobility to a joint axis, you better have a tool that adds stability.  And MAT gives stability by turning muscle tissue back on so muscle tissue can actually contract.

And that’s why I’m a huge fan of MAT, because muscle MAT is going to, really what it does is it focuses on the cause of pain by testing, correcting, and then maintaining muscle contractile efficiency.  But from a physique standpoint, it’s pretty fascinating because if you look at certain body parts, if you look at pro-bodybuilders, you got a guy maybe an Instagram with a massive set of shoulders and a massive set of arms, but he’s got no chest.  Like what is that all about?  Is that because he doesn’t know how to train his chest or he whimps out on chest day?  Why is his shoulders and arms so developed and his chest is underdeveloped?  Or his back is underdeveloped?  Well it’s because of movement patterns and ability to contract muscle tissue in certain areas.  He may have the inability to contract his pecs and his back properly.  So whenever he goes to the gym and lifts, his shoulders and arms are forced to take more of the load and are simply more developed because they’ve experienced more tension over the years.

Ben:  Interesting.  Yeah.  I have a podcast, I think I recorded it about three years ago.  It’s called “Doctor Two Fingers” Reveals His Teeth-Gritting, Body-Healing Secrets”, and he goes into this concept called advanced muscle integrative technique, or AMIT, which is based around the fact that every single section of tissue in your body is saturated with these proprioceptors, and they monitor like tension, and pressure, and movement, and temperature, and compression, and all these different things.  And basically if you get injured or you have a lot of inflammation from a workout, the receptors become kind of protective, and they shut off functionally, they shut off mobility in an area.  And what he does is he actually applies really deep pressure like with two fingers, or one finger, or with some kind of instrument in specific proprioceptive areas of the body.

And from what I understand, like MAT that you talk about a lot in the book, this muscle activation technique, I think it’s based on the same concepts as this advanced muscle integrative technique, or AMIT, except I think there’s a little bit more, if I understand correctly, like focus on range of motion in different exercises with a practitioner with MAT.  So it’s like a combination of functional movement along with actually putting pressure on a specific area and just reaming the hell out of it with fingers or some kind of a device.

Vince:  Yeah.  I mean I don’t know too much about that.  It’d interesting to have the two creators talking to each other about how they go about.  I mean I know there’s a lot of different body healers out there, and my thing, whenever I talk about MAT, I never try and put down any other body healer out there because I know they all contribute to their methodology and achieve results.  So what I do know about the MAT is that it really just looks at the body in terms of what’s not contracting.  And when we can turn that back on, then other muscles essentially don’t have to keep picking up the slack, if you will.  And that’s the big thing with injuries, right?  People don’t understand you know how injuries work.  They go to their guy and they say, “Oh, I pulled my hamstring.”  Oftentimes, there’s nothing wrong with the hamstring.  The hamstring was like completely fine.  Maybe it was something wrong with the left glute that wasn’t contracting, so the right hamstring had to work harder and just eventually got so pissed off at the left glute that he’s not doing his job.  He had to overwork, and that’s when he got hurt.

So that’s kind of been my experience with the MAT.  Whenever I go see my guy, I say, “Hey, my shoulder’s bothering me.”  He treats something in my foot.  He doesn’t even touch my shoulder.  And I leave, and the pain in my shoulder is gone.  I’m like, “What did you do?”  And he goes, “Well, there was instability in your bases supporting your feet.  I turned some feet stuff back on and now the tension is like literally, it’s not getting dumped into your shoulder.”  And that’s essentially what you’re doing with MAT, you’re turning musculature back on so that everything to do its job and other muscles don’t have to pick up the slack and get pissed off at the guys not doing their job, which end up, eventually they’re getting hurt.  Or, in some cases, overdeveloped, and that’s how you get these different physiques out there with like, “why is that body part so well developed and this body part so underdeveloped?”  And almost 100% of the time it doesn’t have to do with like, it’s always like a neurological deficiency that typically needs to get, it can be improved with exercise technique.  Actually, I shouldn’t say 100%, but…

Ben:  Yeah.  Cool.  So with the use of, or I should say without the use of what we would call of “gear” in the muscle building world, like steroids, or andro, or testosterone derivatives, et cetera, what is actually, based on research, a realistic rate of muscle gain?  I know it’s going to change a little bit based on whether you’re, say, mesomorphic or ectomorphic in terms of body type.  But what kind of information can you give folks listening in as far as what to expect when it comes to the ability to put on muscle and how quickly one can do so?

Vince:  Yeah.  It’d be fun to sit on this question for a bit ’cause actually have a lot to share here.  I think the first thing I want to do is just to kind of dispel the whole myth in terms of how muscle’s built.  I think a lot of people think that people with a big muscular physique gained it over like a long gradual period of time.  They just gain a little bit of muscle, bit by bit, and eventually they have that big awesome physique.  And it doesn’t work like that.

The way it works is that people gain muscle in spurts, and they large amounts of muscle in a very short period of time, but then they hit a plateau and they won’t gain anything for a certain period of time, if not a long period of time, before they introduce a different training stimulus that shocks their body, and then they might make another big surge in muscle growth.  And that was my experience.  I went from 149 to 190 in six months.

Ben:  I’m going to interrupt you just real quick.  Are you getting a beep on your end?  Did you just get a beep?

Vince:  Yeah.  I just hid it quick.  Yeah.  I was trying to shut it down while we were talking.

Ben:  Oh, I gotcha.  I thought it was on my end.  I’m like, “What the hell is going on?”  Okay.  Sorry to like totally derail you there.  Go ahead.

Vince:  Yeah.  So there’s a researcher named, [1:04:53] ______ and he’s from Finland.  I don’t know if I pronounced it right, but he’s done more studies on strength training than anyone and he’s shown that you don’t gain in that linear fashion.  You shock your body, and make huge gains, and then you plateau.  And then you make huge gains again and then you plateau.  And this is very similar for a lot of newbies including myself.  I gained 40 pounds in six months, but then I spent, I think two, three years, hovering around 190, 195.  It was hard to make the leap again.

So when we look at the research, there was a study done by Dr. Jose Antonio and he had several people in this study.  It was an eight week study, and a number of people in the study gained 13 pounds of lean mass over a course of eight weeks, which is 6 kilograms of muscle.  Now in the same study, what they found were some guys made literally zero gains.  And there were some guys in the study that literally lost muscle mass.  I have my theory on why that happened, but what pretty much the majority of research has shown, all the research I found, including a guy that’s done a ton of studies on this from the University of McMaster in Ontario, his name’s Dr. Stew Philips, and he’s done a lot of research on tackling short-term training programs, and what he consistently notices that guy gains on average between four and seven pounds of lean mass in a course of three months.

Ben:  Okay.

Vince:  That’s kind of like what is the average.  But like I was just sharing with Dr. Jose’s study, there was a couple guys that gained almost twice that amount.  So it’s really, you want to know what’s going on here, in my opinion, 90% of this is driven by genetics.  Genetics is kind of like, it’s kind of the driving thing with all of this.  So…

Ben:  Now what about Alan Aragon?  Have you seen any of his research in terms of like his natural, what he calls his “lean muscle mass gain model”?

Vince:  Yeah.

Ben:  And what he says?  ‘Cause his is based off of whether you’re beginner, intermediate, or advanced.  And he says if you’re beginner, like if you’ve been training one year or less, he says basically you take 1 to 1.5% of your total body weight and that’s how much you could put on per month.  So if you weigh like, I suppose, 180 pounds, you would be able to put on 1.8 to, I suppose it would be about 2.4-ish pounds of muscle per month.  Or if you’re intermediate, the more advance you get, the more it slows down.  So if you’re an intermediate trainer, it’s 0.5 to 1% total body weight per month.  And then if you’re advanced and you’ve been training for like five years or more, it’s about 0.25 to 0.5% of your total body weight per month you could put on.  So, again, if you’re like 180, it would be like almost less than a pound of muscle per month that you could put on based off of what science says about hypertrophy or muscle building potential.  Do you think that that’s too conservative?  I mean what are your thoughts on that?

Vince:  No.  That’s great.  I know Alan’s work very well.  I know Lyle McDonald.  He has another similar thing too.  I also follow a guy named doctor, I don’t know if he’s a doctor, David Epstein.  And in the Sports Gene, he has a definitive answer to how much muscle an individual can pack on, and it’s 5 pounds for every pound of bone.

Ben:  Interesting.

Vince:  Unfortunately, you need a DEXA scan to figure out how much muscle and bone you have, and by…

Ben:  So that would be like the biggest that you could get would be five pounds per one pound of bone?  Like your maximum size you could ever put on?

Vince:  According to David Epstein, yeah.

Ben:  That’s really interesting.  I’ve had DEXA scans done before.  I should go back and see how much bone I have.  ‘Cause I’ve always wondered like what would I top out if I really just like ate everything in sight and lifted heavy weights for three or four years.  Like what would be my actual genetic potential.  I wasn’t familiar with that though.  I’ve read his Sports Gene book.  I’m going to have to go look at my DEXA scan results now and see just how swole I could theoretically get.

Vince:  Yeah.  And this is interesting because we actually just had my brother, he was the guy who went to the Olympic trials for the 800 meters.  So he comes from a very, very competitive background of middle distance running, and he got the genes in the family, good looks as well.  He’s way better looking than me, and way more articulate, and everything else.  But you know he wanted to do a 12-week transformation.  So he went on a program that my coach put him on and I helped him with all the technique ’cause we work out together.  And we told him, “Do your DEXA, man.”  Like we wanted to see what he was actually going to gain, and I sent you the pictures, and he gained 20 pounds in twelve weeks.

And if you look at his pictures, I guarantee most people will say, “Holy cow!  He gained 20 pounds of muscle.”  ‘Cause it doesn’t look like he’s gaining any body fat.  Like look at the pictures.  I told him, “Take the pictures in the same position with the same posing.  Don’t screw around with the light, don’t screw around with any apps, or anything.  Let’s see what you could actually do in 12 weeks.”  And I sent you the pictures, and he got his DEXA scan results, and he was so disappointed because he only gained four pounds of lean mass according to the DEXA.  And I even to myself, I’m kind of boggled because I don’t see 16 pounds of body fat on his frame, but it did say that of the 20 pounds he gained, 16 was fat.  But it’s pretty amazing how the body can still look amazing 20 pounds heavier.  I mean you got to put the pictures up on your show notes because I thought it was just absolutely fascinating.

Ben:  Yeah.  You sent me the photos.  They’re pretty impressive.  So I’ll link to it, again, if you go to, I’ll link to these photos of Vince’s brother.  They’re actually pretty impressive.  They’re from your Instagram page, right?

Vince:  Yeah.  I think what I just want to say with in terms of my thoughts on these different models for what’s realistic, again, it’s just a model.  I mean, my story, I mean, I’ll be honest, it’s the way I built my name, and my brand, and my business.  It was my very incredible before and after pictures.  I mean I gained 40 pounds.  I mean to this day, people still accuse me of steroids.  Sorry about that.  I’ll turn that, I don’t know why that’s doing that.  People still think like, “He must’ve used steroids.”  But again, they’re newbie gains.

So there are going to be guys that blow away these models and there will be guys that don’t even come close to getting into the average, so you know what I’m saying?  So while it is a model, some guys are going to blow away and some guys won’t even come close to hitting it.  Just like that study showed where some guys gained 6 kilos of muscle, and some guys lost muscle in the same eight weeks study.  So there’s a lot of variables for that, but we kind of have to look at the average, and I think the average, a lot of scientists are agreed that 47 pounds over a 12 week period is considered, if you hit that, good for you.  You pat yourself on the back.  You did a lot of things right.

Ben:  Got it.  Okay.  Cool.  And we’ll put some of the links to these resources and calculators in the show notes for those of you listening in.  A few other quick questions that I have for you in the time we have left, Vince, and that would be kind of like the food-related side of things.  You have some interesting thoughts on food in general, and I’m glad to see that you’ve progressed from the days of, as you write about in the intro of your book, basically dipping things in peanut butter, and drinking copious amounts of Gatorade, and eating lots and lots of macaroni and cheese and power bars.  But you talk about your seven key oils.  You recommend rotating seven key oils through the diet.  Why do you recommend rotating those through the diet and what are your seven go-to oils that you have on hand?

Vince:  Yeah.  For sure.  I’ll be honest.  I don’t have a scientific answer for this.  It’s more from just something I learned from one of my nutrition coaches a long time ago.  And he said, “If you want to look solid, eat solid food.”  And he was a huge proponent of just really focus on variety and rotating food sources.  And for me, I just wanted to expand my repertoire.  So I regularly try and rotate around olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, flax seed, walnut oil, and they just kind of had different flavors, taste.  My wife, as you know, has taken a lot of professional cooking lessons, and we just try to explore, and learn different things, and make things taste differently, and certain things have different, what do you call it?  Heat points?

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  Different smoke points.  It’s funny.  Your tactic is similar to mine.  What I have on hand all the time is I’ve got ghee, butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil, and then MCT oil.  So I always have some different fats and oils that I can play around with.  Not super scientifically.  Sometimes it’s just for flavor more than anything else.  But sometimes there is some science behind it.  Like if I’ve cooked my eggs in coconut oil in the morning, for example, then I might, in the evening if I’m doing a saute, or cooking up a steak, or something like that, I might use an extra virgin olive oil or an avocado oil.  So I’m getting different blends of my monounsaturated mufas, polyunsaturated pufas throughout the day with some MCT thrown in.  And I think it is important not to just like have your, which I know a lot of people have, just like your go-to bottle of extra virgin olive oil and maybe your stick of butter in the refrigerator.  I kind of like the idea of having a variety of different oils in the diet.

Vince:  Absolutely.  Yeah.  And I do the same thing with my proteins.  I try to never have the same protein source twice in the same day.

Ben:  Really?

Vince:  And that was a challenge from somebody who said you should try and eat different protein sources, and that one question just forced me to ask, “Oh, how many protein sources are there out there?”  So, yeah.  I like to rotate my protein sources.  Fish, turkey, chicken, egg whites, different kinds of meats, different kinds of cuts, eggs…

Ben:  Really?  You do egg whites?

Vince:  I do egg whites.  I feel…

Ben:  I’m not into egg whites.

Vince:  I don’t do them all the time.  It’s one of those things when I’m more trying to control, manage exactly what I want.  But I definitely like the enzymes that come from obviously an egg.  I have whole eggs way more often than just egg whites.  But I guess it’s just one option if I need pure 50 grams of protein and I’m getting my fats from some other sources that day.  Again, it’s not like something I’m set on, but sometimes I like to start the day with a bro, I call it the “bro breakfast” ’cause it’s pretty old school.  Oatmeal and egg whites, and you put some cinnamon on it, or sometimes I add some oatmeal to the egg whites and you make an oatmeal-egg white pancake, you can add some jam.  So it’s like, again this isn’t gourmet cooking by any means.  A professional chef would be rolling their eyes if they heard me saying all this, but it kind of gets the job done every once in a while.

Ben:  Yeah.  I guess I’m too big of a fan of all the A, the D, the E, and the K, and the fat soluble vitamins and everything in the yoke that I stray away from egg white.  Plus I guess I get disillusioned with them too because I used to do more of them and had really, really high levels of albumin.  You can get like a blood test for albumin, and I find this is the case with people who eat a lot of eggs in general, people who eat egg whites especially, like really, really high levels of the this albumin-based protein, and I suspect part of that might be from getting a whole bunch of the egg white protein without the egg yolks and some of the fats that accompany the egg with the egg yolk.  So I’m personally careful with egg whites.  But you also talk about protein powders in the book and how you’re actually not really stuck on whey, which a lot of bodybuilders are.  So you say whey is not the only way, I see what you did there.  But what are the other protein powders that you use?

Vince:  Yeah.  I like to rotate proteins around for the same reason, sorry, protein powders for the same reason I like to rotate proteins.  So whey, for one, it’s highly insulingenic.  So meaning it may not be the best choice for someone over 15% body fat who needs to lose fat.  And for many people who are over 12, 15% body fat who need to drop body fat first, they’d be just better off with a whole food meal.  Even though insulin sensitivity is heightened after training, I would advise to eating as much whole food as possible and rotating different protein powders because, again, you’re just getting different amino acid profiles and some of them even, like one of my favorites, hemp protein, you’re going to get a good amino profile, and you’re going to get different nutrients.  And whey, by itself, doesn’t have the greatest nutrient profile compared to, say, eating steak, or a whole egg, or fish.

So when you’re looking for nutrient density with your meal, maximizing quality before quantity, you really want to just consider your sources.  So for guys who are trying to gain weight though, I tell guys you can definitely incorporate a shake, maybe one, no more than two per day.  Two maximum per day, but ideally one.  That way, the majority of your food is coming from sustained food that’s nutrient rich, it’s got a lot micronutrients, fiber, amino profile, healthy fats.  And that’s the biggest thing from the research when it comes to muscle growth.  It’s really comes down to just hitting your total protein goal per day.  So like say you need to hit 200 grams of protein per day, whether having a whey shake, people say what’s more quickly absorbed.  Well, after a workout, that is true ’cause insulin sensitivity is higher, but we’re not talking like the difference between like big gains and average gains.  Like I’ll be honest, this is what I call majoring in the minors, and it’s not going to need a whole lot.  If it’s a more convenient way to hit your daily protein intake, limit it to one, maybe two on a really busy days, but that’s it.  The more whole food you can eat, the better.  That’s why I always tell guys, “if you want to look solid, you’ve got to eat solid food.”

Then there’s just a couple other reasons.  There’s been some research to show that it might destabilize gut bacteria.  And for people who are obviously allergic to dairy, or aren’t aware that they’re allergic to dairy, they might want to cut it out.  And a lot of people that have whey, they experience digestive issues like bloating, gas, loose stools, and that obviously means there’s something going on in their machinery that isn’t making whey a great choice.  And I find guys that only have whey experience this more often as opposed to people that rotate in say, rice protein, pea protein, hemp protein.

So I’m a huge believer, like if you look at my cupboards, I’ve got a lot of different protein powders and I rotate them around.  So I’m not fixed on the whey.  The old Vince was just whey, whey, whey.  But now, I like to rotate my protein powders.  And I haven’t noticed any negative difference.  I get just one last point, it’s like really just focusing on being a healthy individual, right.  Because if your body’s functioning, all your hormones, your immune system, all your different systems in your body are functioning properly, you’re going to build muscle better.  So it all comes back to focusing on being healthy first and then aesthetic second.

Ben:  Yeah.  With proteins, I too used to be just stuck on whey protein.  I was sponsored by, I don’t know if you remember ABB, they used to do the bodybuilding shakes in the cans, and I would suck down like five or six of those a day, and was always under the impression that a whey protein isolate, or prior to bed, whey and casein were kind of the most superior protein powders for muscle building.  And not only have I come to the conclusion, similar to you, that whole food is far better, far more absorbable, if that’s a word, and produces far fewer of the infamous protein farts when you’re consuming like egg, and chicken, and beef versus protein powders, and protein farts are just nasty, acrid things.  They’re horrible.  But the other thing that I’ve found is that vegan-based proteins like hemp, and pea, and rice, they’ve got some really interesting studies on those that show that when you consume a bunch of digestive enzymes prior to consuming those, that you actually increase the bioavailability just as high as like a whey protein, or an animal-based protein.  So that’s another hack you can use if whey protein doesn’t agree with you is you just swallow a bunch of digestive enzymes before you have your vegan-based protein powder.

Vince:  I’m a huge fan of proteolytic enzymes, and I have a specific product jacked up with that.  And I take a proteolytic probiotic as well that just specializes on protein.  So I’m always about trying to get more for less.  So if I can consume, and there’s some really interesting research too on enzymes in terms of like when your body has more proteolytic enzymes, you’re going to absorb more of protein, right?  Or if you don’t have the proteolytic enzymes in your body, your body will have to rob them from other tissues, and it becomes like a vicious cycle where you have to consume more protein, but you’re getting less from it.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.

Vince:  It’s a fascinating thing bodybuilders, no one’s really talking about this, I think enzymes are going to blow up over the next few years in the bodybuilding industry, especially once guys start like just get sick and tired of doing 300 plus grams of protein a day and realize that they can get just as good results on half of it if they’re giving their body the enzymes to break those proteins down to amino acids so that their body can actually utilize them.

Ben:  That’s a really good point if you’re shoving your face full of protein and not putting on size.  Part of it might be enzymatic deficiencies, or hydrochloric acid deficiencies, not a protein deficiency.  You might just not have what you need on board to break down the protein.  That’s a really good point.

And we’ve been going for a while, Vince, so I want to respect your time, and what I’ll do for any of you listening in, just go to, and I’ll link not only to the previous podcast I did with Vinny’s wife, which is actually really fascinating when it comes to like kitchen tools and stuff like that, but also photos of Vince’s brother, Michael, and his impressive muscle gain using this program.  I’ll link to the book if you want to pick it up and go through it as a guide to no-nonsense muscle building, some of the studies that we talked about, and my podcast on the advanced muscle integrative technique, or the muscle activation technique, and plenty more.

So if you have any questions when you go over there for Vince or for me, leave them in the comments, right under there underneath the show, in the show notes.  And then also, leave a review on iTunes if you if you dug this show, if you got something out of it, be sure to give us a little love on iTunes.  Leave a review.  So, Vince, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this with us, man.

Vince:  Ben, it was an honor, man.

Ben: Cool. Well, folks, until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Vince Del Monte, The Skinny Guy’s Savior, signing out from  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.



Nine years ago, I sat slack-jawed in the crowd at an event called “Fitness Business Summit”, listening to a massive, muscle-bound trainer on stage tell his story of creating an e-book that made millions of dollars online and helped hundreds of thousands of skinny guys across the globe sculpt their thin bodies into herculean, Adonis-like physiques.

I was actually so inspired by this guy’s story that I went on to create my own “e-product” – a training system for Ironman triathletes to cross the finish line of an Ironman triathlon with less than ten hours of training per week, and still have plenty of time left over for friends, family, hobbies and career. I called it “The Triathlon Dominator“, and it was my first big training program that I ever sold online.

In an odd collision of fitness worlds, I have suddenly reconnected with Mr. X via a brand new book I recently received in the mail: Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide to No-Nonsense Muscle Building.

Formerly known as “Skinny Vinny”, Vinny’s real name is Vince Del Monte, and he now goes by the name “The Skinny Guy Savior”. Vinny’s new book is jam-packed with everything you need to quickly build 30 pounds of rock-solid, shredded muscle without dangerous bodybuilding drugs, expensive supplements, and long hours in the gym, and it’s actually not written like most books of this nature are, with pure meat-headedness.

Instead, this book is intelligently written, full of practical advice and during our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How Vince made the transition from skinny endurance athlete and collegiate runner to becoming muscle-building phenomenon…[16:15]

-The extremely unconventional training program Vince’s first bodybuilding mentor used…[18:40]

-Vince and Ben’s thoughts on steroids…[24:40]

-Why Vince says “get lean to get big” and how fat can diminish your ability to build muscle, especially in response to a high protein meal…[27:25]

-The three mechanisms via which muscles actually grow, and how to target each of the three mechanisms…[47:50]

-How massage therapy or foam rolling can directly assist with muscle building, and why Vince is such a fan of a muscle activation technique called “MAT”…[55:05]

-What science says about how much muscle one can really build in a month…[63:05]

-The seven key oils Vince uses and why…[73:00]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

My interview with Vinny’s wife Flavia “7 Essential Kitchen Items You’ve Never Heard Of But Need To Have.”

-Vince’s new book: Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide to No-Nonsense Muscle Building

Photos of Vince’s brother Michael’s impressive muscle gain

Study: Anabolic sensitivity of postprandial muscle protein synthesis to the ingestion of a protein-dense food is reduced in overweight and obese young adults.

-Podcast: “Dr. Two Fingers” Reveals His Teeth-Gritting, Body-Healing Secrets.





Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide to No-Nonsense Muscle Building With Vince Del Monte.

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

Nine years ago, I sat slack-jawed in the crowd at an event called “Fitness Business Summit”, listening to a massive, muscle-bound trainer on stage tell his story of creating an e-book that made millions of dollars online and helped hundreds of thousands of skinny guys across the globe sculpt their thin bodies into herculean, Adonis-like physiques.

I was actually so inspired by this guy’s story that I went on to create my own “e-product” – a training system for Ironman triathletes to cross the finish line of an Ironman triathlon with less than ten hours of training per week, and still have plenty of time left over for friends, family, hobbies and career. I called it “The Triathlon Dominator“, and it was my first big training program that I ever sold online.

In an odd collision of fitness worlds, I have suddenly reconnected with Mr. X via a brand new book I recently received in the mail: Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide to No-Nonsense Muscle Building.

Formerly known as “Skinny Vinny”, Vinny’s real name is Vince Del Monte, and he now goes by the name “The Skinny Guy Savior”. Vinny’s new book is jam-packed with everything you need to quickly build 30 pounds of rock-solid, shredded muscle without dangerous bodybuilding drugs, expensive supplements, and long hours in the gym, and it’s actually not written like most books of this nature are, with pure meat-headedness.

Instead, this book is intelligently written, full of practical advice and during our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How Vince made the transition from skinny endurance athlete and collegiate runner to becoming muscle-building phenomenon…[16:15]

-The extremely unconventional training program Vince’s first bodybuilding mentor used…[18:40]

-Vince and Ben’s thoughts on steroids…[24:40]

-Why Vince says “get lean to get big” and how fat can diminish your ability to build muscle, especially in response to a high protein meal…[27:25]

-The three mechanisms via which muscles actually grow, and how to target each of the three mechanisms…[47:50]

-How massage therapy or foam rolling can directly assist with muscle building, and why Vince is such a fan of a muscle activation technique called “MAT”…[55:05]

-What science says about how much muscle one can really build in a month…[63:05]

-The seven key oils Vince uses and why…[73:00]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

My interview with Vinny’s wife Flavia “7 Essential Kitchen Items You’ve Never Heard Of But Need To Have.”

-Vince’s new book: Living Large: The Skinny Guy’s Guide to No-Nonsense Muscle Building

Photos of Vince’s brother Michael’s impressive muscle gain

Study: Anabolic sensitivity of postprandial muscle protein synthesis to the ingestion of a protein-dense food is reduced in overweight and obese young adults.

-Podcast: “Dr. Two Fingers” Reveals His Teeth-Gritting, Body-Healing Secrets.

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

[Transcript] – Why The Media & Supplement Companies Lie To You About Diets & Supplements (& What You Can Do About It)

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction/ TryFuel

[2:42] Marc Pro

[5:02] Introduction to this Episode

[6:36] Kamal Pate

[10:14] How Examine Came To Be

[12:31] How Examine Works

[16:30] How To Tell If The Science Is Manipulated

[25:27] Quick Commercial Break/ Organifi Green Juice

[27:09] Kimera Koffee

[29:02] Continuation

[29:38] Looking Out For Red Flags in Media Headlines

[48:30] Reading an Abstract

[55:06] Top Three Most Beneficial Supplements According to Examine

[1:00:06] The Most Researched Supplements

[1:01:50] The Surprising Benefits of Daily Creatine Intake

[1:12:15] Supplements That People are Infatuated with but Low Credibility

[1:17:16] Best Supplement Stack According To Kamal

[1:40:48] Why You Should Spread Your Vegetable Intake Throughout the Day to Maximize Nitrate Exposure

[1:31:12] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield.  Merry Christmas!  If you’re listening to this podcast during the week that it comes out, it is Christmas week.  As a matter of fact, today, the day that I’m recording this episode for you, it’s my birthday.  So celebration is in the air.  I’m 21 years old.  No, I’m just kidding.  I’m a little lower than that.  But you can send me a bottle of your booze of choice if you really are convinced that it’s my 21st.  I’ll take it.  I’ll take it all.  Anyways though, this is also the time of year where we’re stuffing our faces with copious amounts of holiday cookies, and chocolate, and eggnog, and Turkey, and mashed potatoes, and gravy, and green bean casserole, and whatever else it is that floats your boat and makes your waistline expand on Christmas.  So what better thing to talk about than biologically appropriate food?  No, seriously.

There actually is a company that’s bringing you this show today that makes biologically and genetically adapted food, or I suppose I shouldn’t say adapted, I should say customized food that’s customized to your body.  It’s really kind of cool ’cause there’s all these mail delivery companies out there and they send you pretty good meals, but this stuff is actually designed for your weight loss goals, or your weight gain goals, your DNA, your genetics.  What they do is they look at your biomarkers, your genetic data, and your health, and activity levels, and then they deliver individualized, biologically perfect meals to your front door.  No prep, no cooking, no cleaning.  You just get this perfectly designed meal that you then toss on your, for example in my case, my cast-iron skillet, and cook it up.  And it actually tastes good.  It doesn’t taste like astronaut food as you’d think something like this would, or like the Willy Wonka Thanksgiving turkey meal in a pill meal.  It’s actually good food.  It’s no gluten, no preservatives, low glycemic index, they’re paleo friendly if that’s your thing, there’s no antibiotics, it’s USDA organic.

The company is called TryFuel.  T-R-Y Fuel.  Very cool concept.  I really do dig this.  So it’s, and they’re giving everybody who listen in a 20% discount.  And the discount code that you use for this is Ben’s Gift.  Ben’s Gift.  Like it’s coming from me.  It actually is coming from TryFuel, but it’s from me too.  I guess.  20% off and use code Ben’s Gift if you want an alternative to eggnog, or if you get sick of holiday chocolates, or if the new year is approaching and you need some meals that are perhaps a little bit more conducive to slimming your waistline or getting rid of some of that holiday weight gain.

Speaking of slimming your waistline, you may have seen these Made for TV commercials in which the person is lying on the couch, zapping their abs with the electrodes to give themselves six pack abs.  Those things actually, they actually do work.  Electrical muscle stimulation is something I’ve talked about before.  It does increase localized blood flow to tissue, it does increase heat in tissue.  You can spot reduce with it.  There are some electrical stimulation devices that will simulate like a 600 pound squat.  It sounds like cheating, but a lot of them work.  However, the one that I use the most often is not designed for six pack abs, or a six hundred pound squat, it’s designed for recovery and blood flow, and it’s got a special form of electrical muscle stimulation.  It’s not the square wave form that a lot of companies use, it’s a patented wave form that they use to deliver blood flow to tissue without harnessing your fast twitch muscle fibers too quickly so you don’t aggravate an injury.  You just take a little electrodes, you surround any area of your body that hurts, like your shoulder, or your knee, or your ankle, or whatever, and then you turn this thing on, and it provides therapy to muscles, allows muscles to recover faster, gets rid of soreness, and it’s a really cool way to biohack recovery.  It really is a biohack.

It’s an electro stimulation device called the Marc Pro, M-A-R-C Pro.  And you can go to and get 5% off of this EMS, this electrical muscle stimulation device, which can also be used at cocktail parties to entertain your friends as you make your thighs jiggle with the electrodes on them.  No, seriously.  You can do that.  I’ve done it.  It’s dangerous when combined with alcohol, but it can be done. and use promo code Ben for 5% off.  They’ve got the Marc Pro, they’ve got the Marc Pro Plus which allows you to select like high frequency, low frequency intensity.  Really cool stuff.  It’s a fun thing to own, especially if you’re an athlete or somebody who exercises.  So check it out. and use code Ben.  And now, we’re going to talk about how supplement companies and media companies lie to you.  Those bastards.  They lie to you when it comes to what you’re shoveling in your gaping maw in the realm of supplements.  So prepare to listen in and be entertained by me and Kamal Patel from   Let’s do this.

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“Research studies are very highly controlled, and in very specific populations at specific doses for a specific duration.  So making it into general advice for the general public is always a bad idea.”  “If you’re a freelance writer, or even if you’re on staff, like if you’re on staff at the New York Times, you can come up with whatever headline you want because it has to be a certain length and it has to be catchy enough so people click on the article.”

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’s probably no secret that I am a relatively veracious consumer of knowledge.  I always have been.  I used to sit in my bedroom when I was a kid and just read for hours and hours, and actually would often get punished by my parents, whether that’s good or bad, I won’t comment on that, for not even coming out of my room when we would have very important guests over, an old family friends because I had a fantasy novel to finish, or I had some encyclopedia I was shoving my nose into.  And still on an average week, I read three to five books.  I have a copious number of books on my bookshelf and several Kindles that are completely full, I listen to 15 to 20 podcasts a week, I read several dozen research articles per week, and one of my secrets to this kind of hyper productive digestion of information is that I use services, and websites, and journals, and newsletters, and basically digests that disseminate information into readily accessible bite-size pieces that let me cut through the clutter and get to the summaries, and takeaways, and the actionable items from the content that I’m consuming.

For example, I’m a huge fan of book reviews produced by guys like.  Derek Sivers and James Clear.  And in addition, I stay up to date with health, and medical, and science news via these newsletters called the Stone Hearth Newsletters.  And I follow exercise and nutrition research on this website called SuppVersity.  And for general life knowledge, I’m a recent subscriber to this blog called the Farnam Street Blog for staying up to date with the best pretty recently published books and articles from around the web.

And of all these things, there’s one really comprehensive exercise, diet, and supplement resource that I access on a weekly basis, and I spend a ton of time on this website, I spend a ton of time with the PDFs that they produce, and even the monthly digest that they put out, and that is the website Examine, over at  And it is produced, and founded, and directed by my podcast guest today, Kamal Patel.  And Kamal is the director of Examine, like I just mentioned, and he’s also a nutrition researcher.  He has an MPH and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, he is, I think, currently on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition, in which he’s researching the link between diet and chronic pain, he’s got a bunch of peer reviewed articles he’s published on vitamin D, calcium, and a ton of other clinical research topics.

So we’re going to be taking a deep dive today into things like why the media and supplement companies lie to you about diets and supplements, how to find really good unbiased information, how to know whether or not the science that you’re reading has been manipulated, and also we’re going to delve into really good supplements, really good stacks, what are the most proven things that you can shove into your gaping maw if you want to get a better body or brain.  So this will be a fun one.  And I will keep notes on everything that we talk about in the show notes for today’s episode, which you can find at That’s  So Kamal, welcome to the show, dude.

Kamal:  It’s my pleasure.

Ben:  I’m curious how this all came to life.  Because of when I go visit, and there’s like reams and reams of information on there, and I’m just wondering if it was just like you sitting there one day wanting to write up a nice article on creatine, or how this whole thing actually happened.

Kamal:  Well, I was actually sort of born out of Reddit, and Reddit Fitness, and Reddit Nutrition, and the sub-forums right around five years ago.  There’s always been websites with a lot of information on nutrition, and fitness, and other health related topics, but there was never really a website that only provided information.  So like when I was first getting into lifting weights, I used to read Usenet groups, and then luckily the web started and then there was like, or, I don’t know what it’s called now, but T Mag, T Nation, I guess.  I don’t know.

Ben:  Yeah.  There’s T Nation,  Plenty of pictures of vascular men and women on those sites.

Kamal:  Yeah.  I remember they used to have motivational pictures that just got more crazy vascular every week, and that motivated my 19-year old self.  So after a while, I figured out that the studies that were cited on those pages were really helpful.  You could go back, read the study.  If you could understand stats and stuff, you could figure some things out.  But any time that you have a website where you sell stuff, you have to make money, and it’s not bad nor good.  You just have to make money to run a website.  So any website that provided information like, it had a ton of good content, but it couldn’t be systematic because they didn’t have the manpower, or woman power, necessary to do all the research.  And then if you sell stuff, then you’re always going to have particular interests in things, and possibly an angle for selling things.  So again, that’s not bad or good.  It’s just whatever the people are interested in.  So Examine started to be a sort of a systematic resource, and my background was in evidence-based medical practice.  So, we basically just do kind of what research centers do, but for supplements and nutrients, and we’re not affiliated with the government.  But other than that, we do a very similar thing that they would do.

Ben:  So when you say “we”, how does it work?  Do you guys have like an office where people are getting supplements, and trying them, and writing about them?  Or do you just have like a team of folks who go to PubMed every day?  Like how does it actually work for you guys to put out all the information that’s on

Kamal:  So we’re a virtual team like, I guess, many teams nowadays.  I live in San Francisco, we have people in Toronto, and Ottawa, and France, and some other places.  And basically we’ve put out hiring calls in the past that have been moderately successful, but nowadays I just look on the internet for people who are really, really curious about things, and who are really analytical, and don’t have a set position.  And I’ll talk to them and I’ll see if they’re interested, if they have open time, and we contract with people and occasionally hire them full time to, like you said, read through research.  So we try to get people from different angles, like people interested in the pharmacokinetics of supplements, or people who have a public health background and know more about epidemiology, or people who have been in clinical practice, or people who haven’t been in clinical practice but are just voracious readers, and then we look at research from a bunch of different angles, and then we summarize that stuff on our website.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Now you say that you’re like an unbiased source on nutrition and supplements.  When I scroll through the typical, like if I were to go to your website, and I were to open up the page for, let’s say like, beta-alanine, it tells you, for example, what it interacts with, when you’d want to take it.  Basically a complete summary with literally dozens and dozens of research studies behind beta-alanine.  But when it comes to this website, I guess like floating itself with that huge team of researchers, there’s no links on there for me that I can see at least to actually buy beta-alanine, or to go to some affiliate website like Amazon or something like that and purchase beta-alanine.  How are you guys actually kind of floating this site?  Or is it just like a labor of love?

Kamal:  So we do have products.  All the information on the website is free.  So 99% of what we do is publicly available, and will always be, and will always be updated.  And then in order to make enough money to, I guess, pay the bills and to pay me, we do sell three products.  A supplement reference guide which has information collected by different outcomes, like if you have allergies, then you can click on a type of allergic reaction and see what studies have looked at that reaction.

And then we also have a stack guide, a collection of stack guides for different goals like aesthetic, skin and hair, or muscle building, or that kind of thing.  Just kind of very concise information on what and what doesn’t have evidence.  And then we have a research digest that comes out each month with some of the latest research papers that are important in different areas and we tear them apart.  So we look at them from every angle possible, and then try to be extremely critical of them.  So with those things combined, we can keep the lights on, and have enough staff at least to get through basically all the micronutrients and most important supplements.

Ben:  Gotcha.  I actually want to delve into those in a little more detail later on ’cause I haven’t used all of those.  Like the supplement reference guide, it’s like a thousand plus pages long, but it lives on my desktop.  And whenever people ask me about like some fringe supplement, I’ll go see if it’s actually proven and efficacious, or whether it’s just something that’s going to give them explosive diarrhea.  So you’ve got this idea behind being an unbiased source on nutrition supplements, but we’re constantly bombarded, as you know, Kamal, by claims that fish oil is are good for you, fish oil is bad for you, or I know you guys do articles on everything from steak, to eggs, to probiotics.  Now how do we know if a supplement company, or if the media, is manipulating science for their own benefits.  I mean what are some ways that things like that are actually occurring out there?

Kamal:  Well, the general way that I like to think about that kind of thing is anybody who’s really into reading stuff, like anybody who listens to this podcast, likes the idea of science and the scientific method.  And supplement companies, they’re not really always trying to pull the wool over our eyes, but they are trying to make money.  And then the media also, they don’t have perfect information.  They’re not in the life sciences, they don’t have PhDs.  So when they write about stuff, there’s imperfect information there.  So the way I like to think about this stuff is the scientific method is about finding the truth through iteration, and through finding out what’s false in data.  There are some markers of what’s false, like when websites have really crazy fonts, and unbelievable transformations stories, and stuff, then that’s obviously false.  But then there’s been times when there’s…

Ben:  What do you mean fonts?

Kamal:  Oh, so like for better, for worse, websites that look like they were designed in the 1990s usually either have outdated information, the person isn’t with it enough to keep up with what’s going on in the internet.  So there’s a lot of kooky websites out there that people forward to us, and then I try to read every message, so I comment back to them in a nice way, “This is what to look out for and this is what to not look out for”.  But we get a lot of e-mails from people who are in their 70s, and 80s, and stuff, and eventually I just started saying, “Look at the website.  Does it look believable?”

Ben:  Like what?  Do you have any examples of websites that you’ve been to recently that are just like, I mean not asking you to shove anybody into the bus…

Kamal:  Oh, yeah.

Ben:  Heck, I don’t care if you give examples either.

Kamal:  Yeah.  So I’ll try to come up with an anonymous one.  So there was one where, I’m sure you’ve done a variety of diets yourself, diet experiments, ketogenic diets, higher carb diets, whatever, cutting out foods.  So you know that elimination diets are something that people commonly use to try to address their medical conditions.

Ben:  Right.

Kamal:  So there was a website, probably three or four years ago, about somebody who was doing a nightshade elimination diet.  So, I was always…

Ben:  Like eggplants, and potatoes, and things like that.

Kamal:  So tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, red peppers, and then a couple other things.  So I was interested in that stuff because just a year or two prior, I was doing my PhD research on elimination diets for rheumatoid arthritis.  And there was this guy, there’s actually not a lot of research on nightshades.  There is some mechanistic research, and kind of the whole thing got started in like 1982 or so, there was an article about, I think it was cows or something in South America who became lame by eating some nightshade plants, and then they figured out it was arthritis that was induced by a vitamin D-type compound in those nightshades.

Ben:  Alright.  It wasn’t like the glycoalkaloids in nightshade like the solanines in eggplants, and the nicotine in tobacco, stuff like that?

Kamal:  Yeah.  So all the nightshades have their own glycoalkaliods.  Tomatoine, or whatever, and they can have different effects and different effects on different animals.  So when that came out, then the sort of anti-nightshade, while very minor, anti-nightshade movement started, I guess.  And then it started more in earnest when this guy who was a horticulturalist, who is actually a really smart guy, started doing some survey research saying like, “Oh, have you tried cutting out nightshades?  What happened?  Did your arthritis get better?”  And then his arthritis got better when he cut out nightshades.

So I didn’t see much actual research on it, and then I found this website, and it had good stories, but this makes it sound like I’m ageist, but it was by a person who was probably like 70 years old, and then they mentioned all the studies that were done, and they were like, “Oh, these studies show that if you cut out nightshades, then your arthritis will get better, your fibromyalgia will get better.”  And I was skeptical because fibromyalgia as not a discrete condition often.  It’s hard to diagnose, it can be a conglomeration of different things.  It’s definitely not like the nightshade condition.  So I was like, “He’s really grouping a lot of things in here.”  And then I started going through the website, and it was on, and I think it was transferred from GeoCities.  Do you remember that?

Ben:  Mhmm.  Yeah.  Vaguely.

Kamal:  So GeoCities was, I don’t know, Yahoo’s thing or something in the 90’s where you could have your own website, and it was one of the…

Ben:  Right.

Kamal:  So it was transferred from there, and the studies, when I actually tried to find the data, they weren’t studies, there were surveys put out by this company that helped you reduce your nightshade intake.  So the thing is I’m not pro or against nightshades.  There is a mechanism for nightshade reduction and elimination diet for two, four, six, or eight weeks to see noticeable results, but this guy’s website mentioned the vague term studies.  And if you don’t actually look into what the studies are, you can easily be tricked.  So just over time, I got to think that whenever people put up web sites and they didn’t care enough to make the information readable, if you’re a good writer, or to make the website look somewhat good, you know it doesn’t have to be a professional web site, but just a decent website, then be skeptical.  So these are just heuristics that I recommend basically to older people who don’t have the knowledge necessary to like tease apart if a p-value is important or not.

Ben:  I have a couple of thoughts on that.  The first is that you don’t necessarily think that like there’s zero evidence that glycoalkaloids can be implicated with like joint, or joint issues, or arthritis-related diseases, do you?

Kamal:  Oh, no.  I worked with a rheumatologist in Boston on the PhD research, nightshades were probably like the number four or five association with rheumatoid arthritis.

Ben:  Okay.

Kamal:  So, yeah.  It’s a thing.  It’s just, like I don’t have a pro or against stance on almost anything because I just think, for some people, they cut out a lot of things including nightshades, and then they see benefit, and they peg it on nightshades.  So that’s always…

Ben:  Yeah.  I gotcha.  Okay.  That makes sense.  And then like my other thought on that is like, I guess just because a website is ugly or has an unattractive font, to me, that doesn’t necessarily turn me off right away.  Like what I look for is, for example, what’s a recent one I was at?  SuperMemo.  So there’s a website called SuperMemo and they’ve got a section there on sleep, right, and it’s honestly kind of ugly.  It’s not laid out that well and it does look like it was made maybe like kind of the late 90’s, ish, or early 2000’s.  But the number of well-cited research studies and the amount of obvious attention paid to citing claims that are made gives me a great deal of confidence in a website like that.  So do you think that a website can be unattractive and ugly, and even made to look like it was created in the 90’s and still be a dependable source of information?

Kamal:  Yeah.  You know what?  Now that you mention that, I’m just going to retract my answer as a pretty bad answer.  It’s just ’cause I mentioned to one person, look at the website, and if the person takes care to write well and if the website looks good, then maybe there’s a higher chance that it’s credible.  But there’s a lot of web sites like the one you mention, like VitaminDWiki, it does not look good, but it has 5,000 citations for vitamin D articles that are very useful.  So there are a lot of websites that don’t make any attempt to look good, but are very useful.  So more so than what the web site looks like, if the website provide citations, and then provides both the pro and the cons side, then those are usually pretty good indications that the website is good.  So if a web site is all about something, then be a little bit more skeptical.  But if web site says “pros and cons of vitamin D supplementation at higher doses”, then that might be an indication that it’s useful.

Ben:  I’m going to interrupt today’s show to tell you about something I’ve actually been eating a copious amount of lately ’cause I had about 25 gentlemen over to my house for like health mastermind, and we did green juice powders all weekend, which is what healthy people do, healthy men do when they all gather together.  We don’t do crack cocaine, and hookers, and crazy amounts of burgers and steaks as you would think.  We just sit around, stuffing our faces with green juice powder.  And in this case, we had tons, and tons, and tons of this stuff called Organifi Green Juice.

It’s coconut and ashwagandha-infused green juice, and it’s like a superfood powder you can pour into teas, into mugs, into smoothies.  It’s jam-packed with tons of stuff.  Algae, and moringa, and spirulina, mint, beets, green tea, wheatgrass, turmeric, lemon, coconut water.  It’s like this shotgun of nutrients in this teeny, tiny little pack.  And it’s good.  And grown men can sit around and drink it, and still be grown men, still be masculine, with little green stains around their lips.  Women can drink it too, by the way.  It’s not just for dudes, not just for cool dudes hanging out, drinking green juice.  So anyways it’s called Organifi Green Juice.  Organifi Green Juice.  And it’s a powder, it’s not a juice.  So there’s no clean-up and there’s no mess.  And you can get it, not only can you get it, but you can get 20% off on it.  Go do this: go to, that’s, and use discount code Ben to get 20% off of this Organifi Green Juice.

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Ben:  Now in your guys’ Examine Research Digest, which is like your monthly publication that you put out that, actually is it twice a month now that that comes out?

Kamal:  Yup!

Ben:  Once a month?

Kamal:  Yeah.  Twice once a month.

Ben:  Okay.  ‘Cause I remember it used to be like really big and once a month, and it always took me a long time to get through.  Now that it’s twice a month, I can get through it a little bit more quickly, which I like.  But the research that you go through, sometimes you tell people like what you need to know, what to look for, and in some cases, you’ve pointed out studies that seem to appear credible, but that are flawed, for example.  So when someone is online and on their Facebook news feed, or even if they’ve opened up USA Today or something like that, there’s a story about a supplement, or a story about a diet, or a story about an exercise program, are there red flags or certain things that people should look for that would allow them to question the legitimacy of the claims being made in, for example, a media headline?

Kamal:  Yeah.  So there was a study done a couple years ago in the British Medical Journal that looked at how research from the top 10 or 20 highest impact factor journals, like New England Journal of Medicine, and German whatnot, how those were translated in media headlines.  And the three things that were present in the media headlines that were in the original research most often were positioning research as advice.  So research studies are very highly controlled, and in very specific populations at specific doses for a specific duration.  So making it into general advice for the general public is always a bad idea.

There were also a lot of times when studies were not implying causation, either because they were just observational studies or because causation can be employed for statistical reasons or whatnot, but then the media headlines said “Vitamin E causes cancer”, or whatever.  And then there’s also times when research was done in animals where the animal parts were very briefly mentioned.  And animal research is not bad, animal research can be very useful, but because occasionally animal physiology can be different, and then also animals get chow in the lab, they don’t have a natural lifestyle like humans do, or rather an unnatural lifestyle.

Ben:  Right.  So when it says like a high fat diet is producing unfavorable health parameters in, say, like mice, a lot of times that high fat diet is essentially like lard and soy feed, for example.

Kamal:  Yeah.  Now that you mention that, there’s this whole thing about is it bad to eat fat in order to, ’cause if you feed mice a lot of fat, or any rodent, then their intestines will become more permeable, and it’s the easiest way to make the intestine permeable through diet.  So then there is the question of translation.  For people who have gut issues, is it important to watch their fat intake in order to reduce parts of bacterial cells crossing through the intestine.  And people don’t really, really know the answer yet, and part of the reason is that we don’t know a lot about different people’s gut linings.  But part of the reason is that when you feed mice a diet of high fat, you’re feeding them a highly purified diet altogether.  Because they either feed mice a natural type diet or they feed them this chow that is soy bean, et cetera, oil, plus sugar, plus whatever stuff.

So they have a very dichotomous diet, whereas humans could eat like a bunch of purified fat, they could have a salad with olive oil salad dressing, they could eat a rotisserie chicken, they could eat grass-fed beef, and then they also eat it in meals, often with fiber.  And our guts are also different because we have different bacteria that live in our guts.  So any time you try to simplify animal findings for that, which is going to come out a lot in the next few years, there’s going to be more and more media headlines about gut stuff, it’s very hard to do.  And especially in media reports, they never talk about previous research.  So any one paper, it’s just part of an [0:33:19] ______ process.  And if you don’t mention the previous research that’s done. then you’re not really getting the full picture.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly.  Like for example, I just wrote an article about this on marijuana, about the recent studies that show that marijuana can increase the risk of a heart attack.  And then if you delve in and you look at the study, essentially what they did was they had mice stick their nose in this tiny little chamber filled with marijuana smoke and just breathe in the smoke for a full minute.  And the researchers noted in the study, like they admitted in the study, well, a huge part of the endothelial dysfunction that they say that this marijuana is causing can be caused by the smoke itself, not anything in like the THC or the CBD from the marijuana.

And furthermore, the other thing is that when they look at this huge cohort of patients, this was the other part of the study.  They looked at this huge cohort of patients who came into the hospital with heart attack type of symptoms, there was the marijuana group that had one form of symptoms, like the endothelial dysfunctional.  And then non-marijuana users had a different kind of heart attack risk.  So the media, you could’ve just have easily had said, “Oh, marijuana reduces risk of heart attacks”.  But in this case, they report marijuana increases risk of endothelial dysfunction or vascular dysfunction.  And so, yeah.  It’s really interesting how you can take the results of scientific research and really spin it one way or the other depending on what kind of message that you want to portray as the media.

Kamal:  Yeah.  I don’t think people understand that the media is not allowed to say “we don’t know”.  And if you can’t say “we don’t know” and you have to take a stance…

Ben:  What do you mean they’re not allowed to say “we don’t know”?

Kamal:  So like you’ve written before for websites, right?  Like outside of your own?

Ben:  Mhmm.

Kamal:  If you’re writing an article for major media, then you’re not always in charge of the headline.  They’ll come up with a headline, and if you’re a freelance writer, or even if you’re on staff, like if you’re on staff at the New York Times, you can’t come up with whatever headline you want because it has to be a certain length and it has to be catchy enough so people will click on the article.  So like really what a headline would be for that marijuana study, or for a vitamin D study, or whatever, should be, at minimum, 10 to 15 words long, which it never is, and it should have some words like “might”, or “could”, or “in some people”.  So like there was, you know the guy who wrote the paper about 90% of medical findings are wrong?  Whatever, four, five years ago.  There was this study came out by John Ioannidis who is methodologist professor in stats and medicine that said 90% of medical findings are wrong.  So it was really controversial, and then a lot of people kind of threw it around like, “Oh, I don’t believe studies because there’s a 90% chance they’re wrong”.

So it’s an extremely complicated issue, but it’s probably the most important issue in all of nutrition research.  Like I’m sure you get this because, as I understand it, you’re a self-experimenter, and I’ve always been into self-experimentation, but also into research, and people think that they conflict.  Like something works, and then the research shows that it doesn’t, so it must not work.  Or vice versa even.  And it’s a lot more intricate than that.

So like that study by John Ioannidis was true because of very statistical reasons and the fact that journals don’t really run like you would want them to run.  They publish results that are bound to get them attention, for example, and a lot of negative research findings don’t get published.  Because of a variety of reasons, a lot of medical research is wrong.  If you reproduced a trial, there’s a good chance that it won’t find significant findings anymore.  Like for example, the p is less than .05 is defined as significant.  So the minimum that somebody would know about stats is you go to PubMed, you see that citrulline, or vitamin D, or vitamin B12 improves blood pressure, p is less than .05.  So then you share it on your Facebook.  “Hey, vitamin B12 helps blood pressure and this study shows it.”

It’s not quite true because if anybody is really into stats who listens to the podcast, there’s a bit of an internal war in biostatistics about frequent statistics versus bayesian, and I won’t get into it at all ’cause it’s kind of boring, but also fun if you like stats.  But the end result is that if you take a study that is, let’s say,  p equals .047, so that means it’s less than .05 and it’s deemed statistically significant, and you can go to your friends and say, “Hey, this study showed that vitamin B12 does help this.”  If you take that study and you reproduce it exactly, there is something like a 50 or 70% chance or something that it won’t be significant anymore.

So most people would be surprised because if you reproduce a study, you would think you would probably get close to the same result.  But you don’t, and the reason is that trials are very rarely large enough to be done again and show the same results.  A study will be done on 50 people and show a significant finding of p is less than .05, .047.  But if you reproduce the study, then somewhere on the continuum of possible results, you’ll get one of those results.

Like let’s say you have a sugar pill that you test against another sugar pill, and you do that a hundred times.  Well, one out of a hundred times, at least one, 50 out of those hundred times, or not 50.  Five out of those hundred times, the sugar pill will be better than the other sugar pill, and it’ll be p is less than .05.  And all of those results will get published because journals publish positive results.  And the other, however, 10, 20, 30, 40 times it was tested won’t be published.  But if you reproduce that same exact experiment, it won’t be significant, and then that result is not likely to be published again.  Just a very small slice of the total pie of possible research, and that’s what people don’t really understand.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s really interesting.  Not to belabor the point too much about like the carbohydrates versus the fat issue, for example, but to be fair to like the high carbohydrate diets, in many cases when they say that like a high carb diet causes issues, they’re feeding rodents or mice like a bunch of a cellular carbohydrates, like refined sugars and grains.  Whereas somebody eating, whatever, sweet potatoes, and yams, and underground roots, and tubers, and carrots, and maybe quinoa, or amaranth, or millet, or fermented and soaked and sprouted beans, they might have a completely different reaction than what they’re reporting in a study on macronutrient.  So, yeah.  It’s one of those things where, that’s why I appreciate what you guys do is you kind of cut through that clutter and report accordingly.

So the other one, and I also want to turn to some of the things you found to be most efficacious, but the other one that I think is interesting, I’d love to hear your take on this, is this idea, for example, that athletes need a certain number of carbohydrates to perform well during exercise, like a certain mix of fructose and maltodextrin, for example.  And when you look at studies in which they will say that a high fat diet, for example, does not benefit athletes, or athletes need a certain amount of carbohydrates to exercise, they always take a sample group, for example, for a high fat diet, in which they feed them a high fat diet, they take them in off the streets, off a standard American diet, feed ’em a high fat diet for two weeks, and then compare that to a group that’s eating a normal recommended carbohydrate-based endurance athlete diet.  And they show that the carbohydrate diet is superior, but what they fail to do is actually have the athletes who follow like a high fat diet follow that for a year, or two years, or enough time to actually get the adaptive response to be able to, say, burn a higher number of fats for energy, or oxidize more fats during exercise.

And so in many cases, these research studies, they’re short, like they’re 6, or they’re 12, or they’re 18 weeks long, or whatever diet they’re feeding the participants is just a few weeks long, rather than looking at something that’s more lifetime-based or more one or two year-based just because research has limited time in terms of the scope of research in many cases.

Kamal:  Yeah.  So the ideal experimental side for that kind of thing would be to have a long lead in period.  So, like you said, months, if not a year, where you’re adapted to the diet, and then also have it be a crossover trial where you’re both under the high fat diet, high fat, low carb, and the high carb diet, and then have a long washout period in between the times that you’re doing those two experiments.  So very few, if any, of the performance trials are like that.  And since they’re not like that, the scenario that ends up coming up is you do a small study because you have limited funding of like 10 to 20 people, and then you report that a certain group did better than the other group, and it’s usually the higher carb group did better.  But you could have it the other way, depending on how you design the study.  And it’s very hard to have those experiments be reliable because in a very small proportion of the papers is the power calculation done.  Meaning the calculation that you would do before the study to show how many participants you need in order to find a result.  And then if you don’t do it…

Ben:  What’s that called?  The power calculation?

Kamal:  Yeah.  So if you don’t do a power calculation, there is one of maybe like, there’s like 10 to 20 basic things trials should do, or at least in the paper.  And very rarely are all those things done.  And when you don’t do those things, like when I was at my old position, the first project we did was of vitamin D guidelines.  So in 2008, or nine, we were contracted by the federal government to do the systematic review for the upcoming guidelines.  So for the first time in my life, I had to like really, really read deeply into papers and read a lot of papers.  And first of all, it’s really boring.  So I recommend not doing that.  But if you do do it, you’ll find that papers are not nearly as good as you think they are because, this isn’t for vitamin D, but for another project we did on fish oil.  So in meta-analyses, they pool results of different studies.  So a researcher will say a randomized control trial is the gold standard of research, and then meta-analysis is like even more of a gold standard, like a platinum standard, because it pools together results of a bunch of different rain mice trials.

I don’t actually have that view because we said “do a lot of meta-analyses,” and the thing that ends up happening is that because researchers have to publish stuff or else they get fired, meta-analysis is a good way to publish something without doing a study yourself.  So it doesn’t mean that meta-analyses are bad, but what it does mean is that people who do meta-analyses are often not experts in that area.  So we did have experts in vitamin D because we had a bunch of money that the government threw at us.  But I used to read some meta-analyses on like fish oil, for example, and they would pool together results on fish oil, but they would pool together results from like Japan, and the US, and like Russia, or something.  But people in Japan eat so much more fish and seafood from the time that they’re young, in addition to other differences between people from Japan and people from Western countries, that the studies really possibly shouldn’t be pooled at all.  And once you start pooling studies that are not similar and populations that aren’t similar, then you’re no longer getting a more accurate result by doing the meta-analysis.  You’re probably just muddying the waters.  And then when a meta-analysis gets reported, then people take it as like a super truth.  Like, “Oh, there’s 15 studies included in this meta-analysis.  It has to be true.”  It’s not true.  So it’s very hard to detect those things, unfortunately, and you have to become familiar with the research to do that.

Ben:  Yeah.  So even these huge studies that come out that are studies of a whole bunch of studies, those are themselves flawed in many cases?

Kamal:  Yeah.  Now there’s this sort of new thing called an “umbrella review”, which is a meta-analysis of meta-analyses.  And it’s crazy, ’cause on the one hand, there’s only been one umbrella review on a nutrition thing, I think, and it was a vitamin D, and coincidentally it was by that guy John Ioannidis who did the study on 90% of medical findings being wrong.  But he did this umbrella review of all the vitamin D outcomes because there’s been so many different analyses, and his conclusion was that vitamin D is basically overhyped, that there’s not as much solid research as you would think for vitamin D helping conditions.  So on the one hand, I think it’s cool that he did that study, and there are a lot of outcomes that vitamin D may or may not be type two that we just assume it is.  But on the other hand the meta-analysis loses so much granularity of the individual studies that once you do a meta-analysis of meta-analyses, you’re losing any granularity.

So like if a certain vitamin D study was done on post-menopausal women in Iowa, and then you pooled it together with this study of vitamin D in athletes, then you’re already losing some granularity.  But when you start pooling together different meta-analyses, then you’re losing so much granularity that it’s like, “why are you doing it in the first place?”  Like should you do a meta-analysis of all micronutrients so that you can say that a multivitamin is either good or bad?  No.  ‘Cause a multivitamin is important because of the different micronutrients within it, not the fact that it’s one pill.  So, I don’t know.  I’m just ranting at this point, but I think it’s just very hard to understand research by media headlines.  So you have to get in…

Ben:  One last quick question before I delve into asking you like some of the most proven supplements and stacks that you’ve found in this research that you’ve been doing, and that is like the whole idea behind abstracts.  Like a lot of times, people will tweet in the abstract, and I do that sometimes.  Like I’ll place a post to an abstract, not a full article.  Are there any cautionary steps that people should take when they’re just reading the basic abstract, the basic summary of a study without actually delving into the details of the study itself.  I mean is that dangerous to review an abstract, are there like red flags that you should look for?  What do you do when it comes to reviewing an abstract?  Or if somebody’s listening in, what’s the best way for them to get through an abstract that’s looking at a supplement, or a diet, or an exercise program, or something like that?

Kamal:  So when you look at an abstract, when I look at an abstract, Ben, if it’s an issue that’s really important to me, either for work, or for my personal health, or family’s health, or something, I’ll always look at the full text of the paper.  If I can’t look at the full text and there are certain things in the abstract that are red flags.  So…

Ben:  Right.  ‘Cause a lot of times, you have to click and like pay a bunch of money for…

Kamal:  Yeah.  Exactly.  So if you see an abstract where they conclude that the intervention, let’s say vitamin D, helped, but in the abstract they just say that the vitamin D group had better outcomes than that baseline, so like the vitamin D group had improved blood pressure, or the vitamin D group had improved depression, that actually doesn’t mean anything because the placebo group also could have had improved depression or improved blood pressure.

So really what it has to say explicitly is that vitamin D had a better improvement in blood pressure than the control group did.  And that’s the easiest trick in the book for researchers who are trying to get something published and of notoriety.  Because the reason you have a control group, a placebo in the first place, is so that you can compare that to the intervention.  So once you take the control group out of the equation and you start reporting on the intervention group only, then you’re not really following science.  ‘Cause I could have a sugar pill and I could say sugar pill XYZ improved bowel movements, and it improved bowel movements by 30%.  And then let’s say that the placebo group improved bowel movements by 28%.  So the difference was not statistically significant, but they don’t have to technically report that in the abstract.

So there’s actually a lot of leeway in abstract writing and it depends on the journal.  Even some high quality journals sometimes miss things.  Like when I’ve written abstracts, I was always the low guy on the totem pole.  So I would get vetoed.  I would say, “Oh, here’s my abstract.”  And they’d be like, “Oh, we actually need to change these things.”  And sometimes the change is to make the abstract better, but sometimes it’s to make the abstract more catchy.  So you have to watch out for those things.  You never take a conclusion of the abstract as truth.  You have to look at the results first.

Ben:  Yeah.  That’s really good advice because a lot of times when I’m, let’s say I’m reading like the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research, the abstract will definitely say one thing.  And then when you dig into the article itself, the results are far less significant than the abstract may have seemed to imply.  Or you find out like methodologies used in this study that they don’t even talk about in the actual abstracts.  For example, they might say something like “power training results in zero improvement in endurance running economy”.  And in the abstract outlines, there was a power training group and a non-power training group and no difference between the two, but then you go in and you actually read the methodology, and the power training group was maybe doing one set of 20 box jumps three days a week, and it was nothing like an actual true plyometric or power program that would be used for improving running economy.

So a lot of times you really have to delve into the details, and I find that the abstracts can be a bit dangerous, especially if it’s like that one-two combo of an abstract, and then what we are alluding to earlier, like a media news article that’s reporting what the media says about the abstract.  That’s like the most potent, dangerous one-two combo in my opinion for fooling somebody into thinking that something is or is not true.  Like the media report on Time Magazine website, or the Huffington Post, and then they click through to the actual study so it must be legitimate, and then all they get is the abstract, you don’t read the full study and you wind up getting fooled.

Kamal:  Yeah.  You should always think about the motivations of the person giving you information.  So if it’s a media headline, then it’s a media headline.  It’s something that they’re using to sell advertising space or whatever.  If it’s somebody who’s your friend, then they don’t have devious schemes trying to trick you, so at least you can get rid of that.  But if it’s somebody you know who’s high carb, or low carb, or whatever carb, and they forward you a study like you mentioned earlier about training and carb levels, then you really have to look at the abstract closely because, technically an abstract, in a perfect world, would say the strengths and weaknesses of the study right there.  It would say, “we looked at high carb versus low carb diet for triathlon performance, and this is what we found.”

The strength of the study is that we had highly trained athletes which mimics the population that is reading this article, but the weakness of this is that we looked at 10 different outcomes.  We looked at time to completion of the triathlon, we looked at perceived exertion, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Those outcomes are all correlated with each other.  So if one is significant, there’s a high chance that others will be too.  So this is actually a flaw of the study.  Or we had fifteen people and one dropped out, so we no longer reach the number of people we needed in the power of calculation.  Those are all important things, but researchers do not have to put that stuff in the abstract.  So you’ll never find out what’s wrong with the study, you’ll only find out what’s right with it.

Ben:  Yeah.  It’s a rabbit hole that we could go down for a long time, but I want to delve into some of the fun stuff from your website.  So let’s start here, because I think that this might be surprising to folks.  When it comes to supplements, there’s a ton out there, obviously, so I’ll cut straight to the chase.  What are the top three most proven efficacious supplements in terms of general applicability for just about everyone that you think everyone could benefit from based on the research that you guys have done over there at Examine?

Kamal:  So I think there’s probably only one that everybody could benefit from, which is vitamin D.  And that’s because I try not to think of supplements as a category.  ‘Cause basically when we research supplements, there’s things that you supplement onto your diet because they’re missing from your diet or lifestyle, like vitamin D, and then there’s things that are like, I don’t have a good term for this, at a talk at a conference, I said compliments ’cause I was trying to think back to like algebra, or trigonometry, or whatever in middle school. When you compliment an angle then you’re completing it or something.  I don’t know.  But a supplement is something that you’re supplementing on to what you already have.  A compliment, to me, is sort of like a treatment for something, or prevention, or something you tack on.

So vitamin D is a supplement and it’s a common supplement because the sun is just such an important thing.  And if you don’t get sun, we’re designed around the sun.  So you have to at least supplement part of the benefit you get from the sun.  It’s only part of it because you can’t take vitamin D and all of a sudden you’re happy because being in the sun means you’re probably more social, you’re getting fresh air, there’s nitric oxide synthesis, higher endorphin levels, and whatnot.  So you’re like outsourcing part of the benefit in the form of a vitamin D pill.  But there is nothing else that is really a supplement that everybody could benefit from because other than not being outside, people differ for a lot of reasons.  So like vitamin C, or vitamin K-2, or certain minerals can be helpful for large chunks of the population, but not for everybody.  And for most things, except for I guess K-2, there is some chance of harm.  So that’s why there’s nothing that I recommend to everybody.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Now here’s what comes to mind for me though.  When you say like vitamin D, well, two things come to mind.  First of all, it seems like you get down a slippery slope because when you say, “Oh, vitamin D would be the most recommended supplement that I would encourage everyone to take,” then you run into the fact that in nature, you very rarely, aside from exposure to sunlight, I suppose, find isolated forms of vitamin D.  Usually it’s delivered along with, for example in liver, vitamin A, and vitamin E, and vitamin K to prevent calcification from excessive vitamin D intake, or when you look at eggs, or the oils from fish, in many cases, it’s accompanied by a host of other fat soluble vitamins.  So when you look at all the research behind vitamin D, can you tell us, one, if you were going to take one supplement, just take vitamin D?  Or do you get concerned about people getting like calcification or something like that if you were to tell them to just take vitamin D?

Kamal:  So, I actually don’t recommend any supplements when people ask me personally.  So on our website, we never use the word recommend on purpose because, like our stance is that you look at what you eat, you look at your lifestyle, and then you maybe try something as an adjunct, and see if it helps.  But when people ask me, or there’s been a few times when I’ve worked in clinical situations, so there is a doctor I worked with in San Francisco who does a quantified self-tracking program for his patients, and around half his patients are former addicts, either of hard drugs or other things, and then half for kind of metabolic disease, former heart attack sort of patients, and we didn’t recommend any supplements.

So we always started with a very simple self-tracking of just like how did you feel that day, and like how hard did you try to be healthy.  And then we did that kind of stuff for a super, super long time, kind of like people who are really into weight lifting, probably at some point in the past 5, or 10, or 15 years have gone back to the basics with either the bar, or the broomstick, or whatever, and wrote down their squat form until they got it exactly right.  And we would do that kind of thing with diet and lifestyle before we ever thought about taking the supplement because, like you said, vitamin D is not something that everybody needs to take, and I don’t take vitamin D.  I tell my girlfriend she should take vitamin D just because she doesn’t get outside much, and we live near the beach in San Francisco and it’s always foggy.  But for anybody who can get enough time outside in the sun, I would never recommend vitamin D.  So…

Ben:  But perhaps I should rephrase that question then.  When I say the most recommended supplements, let me put it this way: what are the most researched supplements when you look at, for example, examine?  Like the supplements that you think have the most references behind them, and then the goals may differ.  It might be references for athleticism, it might be references for general health, or cognitive performance, but what would be like the three top most researched supplements that you have reams of data on at Examine that appear to be like the darlings of the supplement industry when it comes to things that actually do have a lot of studies behind them?

Kamal:  So, this is easier to answer.  So creatine is probably one of them.  And the reason is simple.  It’s just because creatine has a fairly high chance of working, working and “providing some increase and some outcome”.  And that’s pretty simple because creatine is a very basic molecule that isn’t hard to understand why it would have it’s effects, and there’s been a lot of research on both creatine benefits, and on various forms of creatine that basically never work as well as creatine monohydrate.  So creatine, let’s say every supplement has between a zero and a 100% chance of helping a given person.  Creatine has a higher chance than most supplements.  So that’s one of the most research supplements.

Ben:  And by the way, if I could throw it in there, a lot of people think creatine, I used to be under this impression, is just for like football players, and bodybuilders, and strength, and power athletes, but it actually has a lot of really cool neuroprotective and cardio protective properties.  Like I recommend to do just about everybody, and especially vegans and vegetarians, to take around 5 grams of creatine a day.

Kamal:  Yeah.  So we actually recently, or like a year ago, covered a creatine study for depression, and it was the first study showing that creatine helped major depression.  And I won’t get into the methodology pros and cons, but those are important, but it was cool because mechanistically, it makes sense.  So there’s a couple ways that creatine can help the brain, and one is that in neural pathways in the brain, the brain, like all organs, tries to be efficient in its set up.  We store energy as fat because it’s efficient, it’s a lot of calories per gram.  That’s why we’re not like huge bags of glycogen, ’cause then we’d be like extremely voluminous.  But the brain also tries to be efficient, so it’s mostly short connections and then connections between those connections, but there are some longer connections, wider connections.  So if the brain is a bunch of streets, then these connections would be like major freeways or highways, and those are called rich club connections.  So creatine could increase the prevalence of those rich club connections.  So it makes sense that creatine could help major depression.

So this isn’t like I’m feeling sad, or I’m taking an SSRI sometimes, but this is major depression where you’re thinking, “Either I get electroconvulsive therapy or I try some crazy thing like a ketamine infusion or something.”  Creatine could help that kind of thing, and that’s where kind of my faith in supplements is restored.  Because there’s a lot of crap out there, but if something as simple as creatine could help, or something as simple as a ketogenic diet for epilepsy or whatever, then it’s all worth it because that research does do something.

Ben:  Yeah.  And that’s what I like about the site too is I can and go a look at whether or not that fancy expensive brand of creatine that is advertised at, for example, or T-Nation has any benefits over and above, say like, a creatine monohydrate or something along those lines.  So it’s useful in that way.  And the other thing, of course, is you have a couple of other supplements I’ve noticed on your most researched supplements line.  It appears to be fish oil and marijuana as the next two most researched supplements.

Kamal:  Yeah.  So fish oil is interesting because if anybody’s ever looked into the history of fish oil, fish oil as a trend is almost brand new.  So fish oil used to be a waste product and then it was used as like maybe like fuel for lamps or something.  And then fast forward a while, and directly as a product of demonizing fat, and then transitioning to, “Oh, maybe a little bit of polyunsaturated fats, mostly omega-3, is good,” and then some early studies about fish oil possibly being useful for some cholesterol outcomes.  Fish oil exploded.  Within the span of five years, probably in the late 90’s or so, fish oil went from zero to a hundred miles an hour, and then that’s right around when Pfizer and some other companies started researching fish oil as a pharmaceutical.  So probably most listeners know that that’s a scam.

So LOVAZA as a fish oil pill is a scam.  There’s never going to be a trial of LOVAZA versus the fish oil from Costco because it’ll be exactly the same.  The difference is that the fish oil from Costco will cost 200 bucks for a year’s supply, and LOVAZA is like 1,600 bucks or something.  So it’s draining money from our health care system to make fish oil into a pharmaceutical.  There is a pharmaceutical that’s mostly EPA that’s coming out, that could be better for certain cardiovascular intermediaries.  But the reason people get heart attacks is not because they’re missing fish oil in their diet.  So fish oil is highly researched because there is money to be made from it and because it’s something that easily gotten from fish.  But it’s not one of the most useful supplements.

Ben:  Interesting.  So even though there’s reams and reams of research behind it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the research has shown it to be extremely efficacious?

Kamal:  Yeah.  As far as like if you were to make a quotient of a mountain of research over usefulness, then I think fish oil would be close to number one on there.

Ben:  Okay.  Interesting.  I did note that one of the things that seemed to be beneficial for fish oil, in terms of your guys’ is kind of like summary of it, is that it appears to be most beneficial for decreasing triglycerides, which I know are an independent risk factor for heart disease.  I, for example, work with WellnessFX.  Every Thursday, I’m poring over people’s blood results with them for four to six hours.  That’s my block of time to do my WellnessFX consults, and a lot of people have extremely high triglycerides and very low HDL, which is that triglyceride to HDL ratio is a risk factor for heart disease.  So in that case, I often make the recommendation for something like fish oil to decrease high triglyceride levels.

Kamal:  Yeah.  So this is where it starts getting a little bit more subtle.  So for things like fish oil and even for statins, so they’re not in the same category, but some doctors basically think that statins should be in the water supply.  And then some more progressive doctors think that stantins are extremely overused and shouldn’t be used by anybody, and have more side effects than benefits.  Then the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and the same is true for fish oil.

So if you have a history of heart disease, if your triglycerides are very high, if you’re not eating a great diet and you’re not likely to eat a great diet for the foreseeable future, and some other factors, then fish oil is not a bad idea as long as you’re not making a ton of it.  But fish oil is not something that everybody would take.  So it’s very similar to statins, because if you’re a 70-year old man who’s had a heart attack, then the decision to take a statin is very different than a 40-year old man who hasn’t had a heart attack, even if your cholesterol numbers aren’t very good.  So fish oil is neither bad nor good, it’s a complex story somewhere in the middle.  And unfortunately, that’s true with almost every supplement.  There’s very few that’s not the case with and is usually sort of either things extracted from food, or foods themselves.  So…

Ben:  Right, right.  And admittedly, I take a fish oil every day.  I’ve seen some of the other research that shows that it could decrease the risk of diabetes, which I, by the way, have a five times higher than normal risk for based on my genetic testing, and it also significantly decreases risk of a lot of different forms of cancer, and plaque build-up.  And so I take it, I suspect that a lot of the research potentially is not all using like good non-oxidized, non-rancid forms of fish oil.  So I use fish oil.  I really do.  I use fish oil, creatine, and a multivitamin.  Like those are three things that I take just about every day.  And…

Kamal:  Yeah.  I think that’s probably a pretty safe group of supplements to take.  And like you said, fish oil quality is important.  We don’t do specific brand names, but if you do take fish oil, if you’re questioning the oxidation, or heavy metals, or whatever, then there is a database, IFOS, International Fish Oil Standards, that does voluntary testing of most of the major brands.  So…

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.

Kamal:  It’s always good, I’m sure you’re taking good fish oil ’cause you know a lot about supplements but for some listeners, it’s probably good to look at that kind of website.

Ben:  Yeah.  The fish oil I take, it is, again, admittedly, expensive.  But, yeah.  What I tell people is taking a bad fish oil is much worse than not taking fish oil at all.

Kamal:  The one thing I was going to say about fish oil is that everybody has a complex history, so it’s always good to either hire somebody who’s really smart and knowledgeable, or have a friend who is, or try to find a primary care doctor that is because, like you said, you’ve had genetic testing done, you looked into research about fish oil and different outcomes, not everybody does that.  So like my family is full of thin diabetics.  My mom weighs 105 pounds and she’s a type-2 diabetic.  My grandma is the same, my uncle.  I have a high chance for diabetes, so I look into supplements that somebody else wouldn’t look into.  My family is also vegetarian.  So I grew up not eating a lot of meat, except for the pepperoni on my pizza at school and that kind of thing.

So, as I got more into ancestral health and thinking outside of just studies, and I started thinking like “am I different than the people that are being looked at in that this research” because I’m from a region of the world, northwest India that has probably been vegetarian for longer than almost any other place on Earth, several hundred years.  So, is my iron metabolism different?  My fatty acid metabolism, is that different?

We covered a study a year ago about how people from northern Africa and southern Asia have different fatty acid metabolism because they ate higher plant diets.  So in order to convert smaller chain fats to longer chain fats, you had to have a different mechanism for that in your body.  So there was a selective advantage to produce a different longer chain fats from plants.  So now that could be a disadvantage, it could be a reason why some regions in India have higher incidence of heart disease because we’re making more harmful long chain fats.  So I think about these kind of things, and about how some research could inform me and some research couldn’t, but I know that not everybody has a job like I do where I have to read papers.  So outsource it to somebody.  Find reputable people, websites, people who are interested in yourself and become friends with them because it’s the best thing you can do for your health.

Ben:  Gotcha.  Now when it comes to supplements, are there any supplements out there that you think people are very infatuated with, or the media, or researchers are quite infatuated with that have very low credibility?  Like is there one supplement that you think a lot of people are taking that has very, very little research behind it?  Whether it’s something that the athletic population is using, pre-workout, or some kind of recovery supplement, or something that you just know is pretty much across the board, something that has very little research, or is even potentially damaging?

Kamal:  So for the general public, libido boosters or testosterone boosters are, there’s not a lot of research for most of them, or almost all of them.  But I would think that your audience is pretty in tune with that, like not taking a bunch of random supplements because they think they might boost their testosterone…

Ben:  Actually, you know what?  I think a lot of my audience, they’re poppin’ a lot of pills.  I’ve seen the e-mails come in.  Like some folks are taking like 30 different pills in the morning.

Kamal:  So testosterone and then, the two major categories are testosterone boosters and fat loss supplements.  So there are things that could help, but there’s just so much bad research compared to the good research.  But less obvious than that I’d say is probiotic research.  So there’s a ton of probiotic research, and probiotics have been shown to be helpful for certain things, but I can’t count the number of ways that it’s been misleading.

So if you take a step back from probiotics, even the way that people throw around the term like, “Oh, try probiotics.”  What does that even mean?  Because you don’t say, “Oh, why don’t you try food for your diabetes?”  ‘Cause probiotics are different species of bacteria.  They’re not at all similar to each other.  So you don’t recommend that, “Oh, hey.  Go ahead and eat food for that,” because plants are different than animals, and fruit are different than vegetables, and different fruits are different than other fruits.  If you have some gut issues, then some vegetables and some fruits could maybe increase histamine problems and some could help with them.  So similarly, some bacteria can help with their issues and some can harm you.

So that’s why for probiotics, I think you really have to look into the research, and research is extremely overhyped.  Plus, people rarely think about dosages much.  They only think of dosages in terms of the more the better, like, “Oh, 10 billion units, or 20 billion is better than 10,” but you already have a complex ecosystem of bacteria and other organisms in your gut, so you don’t necessarily want to throw in a ton of stuff in there right away.  So if you have a sensitive gut, if you have IBS, especially if you have Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, it’s probably smarter to do something like either take the capsule apart and start with a microdose, and then increase it over time, or start with like a little bit of sauerkraut juice or something because you don’t necessarily want to interrupt what’s going on in your gut.

Like if you got a colonoscopy, sometimes a colonoscopy will help with your symptoms because you’re washing out good bacteria.  But it’s a double-edged sword because once you start eating crappy again, then there’s like a vacuum and nature abhors a vacuum.  So once there’s a vacuum in your gut, then you can get a huge buildup of bad bacteria very quickly.  So similarly, you don’t want to necessarily interrupt what’s already going on in your gut, so I think it’s good to think about the probiotics that you’re taking and not just start with a ton of them all at once.

Ben:  That’s really good advice because a lot of people really will think that probiotics, not only more are better, but that using the widest variety and array of probiotics is important.  And again, I think it comes down to testing, right?  We were talking about genetics, and diabetes, and fish oil.  You can also get a gut biome test, or you can get the the three day poop panel.  It’s my favorite where you poop in a little hot dog tray and send it off with a prepaid FedEx label, and you can find out which specific bacteria you’re deficient in, which you’re high in, which you’re low in, and supplement accordingly rather than just painting with a broad brush.

I also wanted to point out the fact that, for example, at Examine’s website, you guys have, you mentioned testosterone boosters, you have, for example, I see one page on here where you do list four things that actually do have decent research behind them for testosterone.  You’ve got DHEA on here, vitamin D, zinc, and fenugreek as four things that actually can help with testosterone.  And so, that’s actually what I like about the site and some your stat guides is, rather than me like taking some testosterone supplement that’s got like 18 different ingredients in it that purportedly assist with testosterone levels, I could just go and pop the few things that actually have research behind them, the things that you guys would call like a “stack” that actually has good research.

That leads me to another question that I wanted to ask you, and that is regarding stacks.  Now you have this this enormous stack guide that you guys have produced, and I own it, I’ll put a link to it, and all this stuff, again in the show notes, if you go to  And you list a whole bunch of stacks.  Everything from cognitive performance, to enhancing testosterone, to fighting inflammation, et cetera.  But for you personally, what would you say, for the folks listening in, when it comes to stacking supplements, putting a bunch of supplements together at once.  What would you say is the most beneficial stack that you’ve come across, or one that you use daily, or the stack that you like the best when it comes to general applicability to folks?

Kamal:  So the thing that’s probably most applicable to the highest percentage of people is caffeine-related stacks.  So, do you drink coffee?

Ben:  I do.  I have since I was 13 years old.  My dad was a gourmet coffee roaster growing up, so I have dumped copious amounts of coffee into my body from a young age.

Kamal:  So, I guess I’m the inverse of you ’cause I had one cup when I was 11 or so, and I’ve never had coffee since then.  And I don’t know if it’s because I’m a super taster, or just, I’m also as a slow caffeine metabolizer, but the thing that I see most often is, supplement-wise, is caffeine.  Because people drink coffee a lot, they often don’t think twice about it, whether it’s benefits or detriments.  So caffeine-related things are very important.  When people ask me for advice on stuff, I always say look at the things that are most prevalent in your life.

So people drink coffee a lot, people are in bed a lot, people sit at their desk a lot.  So because of those things, caffeine-related to stuff is going to be important, the type of bed you sleep on and your light exposure before bed’s going to be important, and your posture, or lack thereof, while working at a cubicle or at your desk is important.  And if you can take care of those things, that’s like 80, 90% of it.  So with caffeine, people will drink caffeine, and be jittery, and not think twice about it.  They’re just like, “Oh, I didn’t get a lot of sleep, so I drank an extract of a cup of coffee, and now I can’t function at work, and I’m just on Facebook all day because my mind is racing.”

So caffeine and l-theanine is the most basic stack that applies to the most people.  L-theanine is found in green tea, but it’s also isolated.  So you can take it as a supplement.  But for a decent chunk of people, l-theanine counteracts that jitteriness.   So you still get some focus from caffeine, but you can think logically and you can function basically.  So I think that’s probably the most useful stack for most people.

Ben:  So it’s caffeine, theanine, and what?

Kamal:  It’s just caffeine and l-theanine.  There are others that you could add in…

Ben:  Okay.  So just caffeine and theanine?

Kamal:  Yeah.  But that’s the most basic, I’d say.  And then I guess if you’re not looking to like what’s happening that day, if you’re looking for health I guess, this isn’t technically a stack, but nitrate containing vegetables, I think it’s good to, I guess, stack them together.  So if you have history of heart disease, or family history, or high triglycerides, whatever, the most basic thing you can do is to regularly eat vegetables that contain nitrates.  And the reason is that nitrates are good for heart health because they increase dilation in blood vessels, and it’s also good for performance as well.  Nitrates, or beet juice, or whatever before a workout is usually fairly effective, but nitrates have a fairly short half-life.

So in order to get benefits from the nitrates throughout the day, it’s good to eat vegetables, like maybe twice or even three times throughout the day, especially if you have some heart health issues.  Then you’re getting the benefit stretched out for longer.  So find vegetables that are higher in nitrates, pick out two or three that taste good to you, and buy them at the grocery store a lot.  So that’s not really a stack, but if you find two or three that you like, make it a staple.

Ben:  That’s actually really good advice.  I don’t think anybody has brought up before on the show to spread your vegetable intake throughout the day, specifically so you get the advantages of nitrate.  I like that.

Kamal:  Yeah.  There’s some spread out supplements, or spread out foods that people don’t think of.  Have you ever megadosed vitamin C?

Ben:  I have.  Yeah.  I actually did that last week when I came back from, you can hear I’m slightly congested.  Still I got hypothermic while spearfishing in Costa Rica and came back with a bit of a cold, and so I took quite a bit of vitamin D, echinacea, elderberry, and oregano.  That was my stack.

Kamal:  Okay.  That’s a pretty solid cold stack, I’d say.  So I guess you must be up on the research, but vitamin C is…

Ben:  Well, I have the Supplement Stack Guide here on my desktop.

Kamal:  I know.  Not to humble brag, but you must be looking at a good website.  So vitamin C is another thing where, and I’m just going to keep repeating this over and over again until it sinks in with everybody, no supplement is inherently good or bad.  So always look at the pros and the cons.  And also I try to look into things that I don’t know a lot about.  So like at the library I used to go to, there was this big painting of some ancient physician, and it was a quote, “Teach thy tongue to say ‘I do not know’ and thou shall prosper.”  So I try to really take it to heart now and look into things that I don’t know about.  ‘Cause everybody has their pet issues, but I want to know about things that I don’t know.  So like with vitamin C, when I first got into nutrition when I was 18 or 19 and I was like, “Vitamin C is so good.”  Linus Pauling and all this stuff.

And then I looked into the research and I was like, “Oh.  Vitamin C is so overrated.”  And then now it’s sort of in between.  ‘Cause the more I looked into the research and the more I looked into clinical experiences, the more I found that people who are often taking like 5 grams of vitamin C at once, and they’re like, “Oh, it’s just diarrhea, and I don’t feel better, and I hate vitamin C.”  But the bioavailability of vitamin C is such that basically after 500 milligrams, every time you double the dose, the bioavailability goes down by more than half.  So that means that 1 gram won’t produce diarrhea in most people.  2 grams, possibly not as well.  4 grams, yes.

So when physicians used to, there is things like vitamin C, iodine, some other nutrients, were used back in the day, like our great grandparents and such, well not great grandparents ’cause they didn’t really even know vitamins existed, but our grandparents.  They would say, “Oh, if you’re sick then iodine or vitamin C could be the thing that helps,” and that’s because a lot of people don’t eat a lot of seafood or sea vegetables, and iodine is critical for a lot of things.  Vitamin C, you need more vitamin C in times of stress.  So if you take vitamin C in a rational protocol, like 1,000 milligrams, and if you can tolerate that, then 2,000.  And then if you can tolerate that, 2,000 every two or three hours, then I think taking it in times of stress, or before a high stress event, like if you’re doing an ultra-marathon, or I don’t know about that ’cause there’s the whole like adaptation with antioxidants…

Ben:  Right.  Blood doing a hormetic response.

Kamal:  But it you’re going to be stressed out, let’s say, what’s not physically stressful?  A chess tournament.  Then megadosing on vitamin C could be a good thing, and it really depends on spreading it out.  And then there’s other times people don’t think about dosages, like there isn’t any research right now on optimal times to take vitamin D.  Like there used to be this anecdote, “Oh, if I take vitamin D at night, then I can’t fall asleep, and it must be because people usually get sun exposure in the daylight hours.”  Well, that doesn’t really make sense because when you take vitamin D, it’s not like it’s used right away.  It’s a different pathway than when it gets synthesized through the skin.  So researchers don’t really know if there is bad or good times to take vitamin D.  Researchers don’t really know like if you can wash vitamin D off your skin with soap.

So there’s things that people don’t know about protocols that could be really important.  So just because you take a supplement and it doesn’t have an effect doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t have an effect.  Look at different dosing schedules at different doses, like with probiotics, think about what you’re taking up with.  Like vitamin D, everybody knows that it’s fat soluble, but vitamin D isn’t actually absorbed that well if you take it with a lot of fat.  It’s absorbed much better if you take it with a small amount of fat.  So if you take it with no fat, it’s not absorbed well.  If you take it with like half a stick of butter, it’s not absorbed well.  But if you take it with a little bit of fat, it is absorbed well.  So there’s just a lot of intricacies that you have to think about before saying a supplement works or doesn’t work.

Ben:  Yeah.  And that’s why I appreciate you guys do on the website because I can’t tell you how many times during the week I’ll simply visit the stack guide, or the supplement goals reference guide on my desktop, and pull up the PDF, go through it.  And when somebody asks me a question, I can actually delve into research that is produced by someone who’s not selling supplements, which to me is quite valuable.

And for those of you listening in, basically there’s three things that I get from Examine that, in full disclosure, I have purchased each of these.  Their stack guide which is a whole, I think there’s 17 different guides in that stack guide, but it’s like step-by-step directions for stacks like Kamal just went into, caffeine and l-theanine, how much to take, how often you’d take that, in which dose, with or without food, et cetera.

Then they have their supplement goals reference guide, it’s big, but it’s not meant to be read cover to cover.  Like when you have a question about a supplement, or when one of your friends says, “Hey, I’m taking the newest form of beta-alanine in some type of extreme lipophylic deliverability system,” you can go into the supplement goals reference guide and see over 5,000 human studies and look at 400, or actually more than 400, different health goals that something like that may or may not be applicable, whether it be testosterone, or power, or strength, or pooping better, or whatever.

And then they’ve also got their Examiner Research Digest, which, that’s how I led into this podcast.  One of the things I’m big into are digests, or newsletters, or ways that I can cut through information quickly, ways that I can more or less biohack my digestion of copious amounts of research.  And the Examine Research Digest, it’s very straightforward.  It’s six new studies you get into your inbox, they’re analyzed every month.  They’re on audio, so you can listen to ’em, or they’re in PDF, so you can read them.  And they’re also printable.  So that’s a good way to stay on top of the latest research, and it is something that the lay population can consume.  You don’t have to be a propeller hat-wearing nerd, or a lab coat-donning researcher to get benefit out of that one.

So I’ll put links to each of those in the show notes over at, where I’ll also put links to a lot of the things that Kamal and I talked about, like the IFOS website for testing fish oil, the ugly web site I mentioned that has good research on sleep, caffeine-theanine blends, the gut panel for testing bacterial balance.  I’ll put as much as I can on there for you guys to access, and then of course leave your comments, leave your questions.  And if you really dig this episode, leave a review over in iTunes.

Kamal, thanks for coming on and sharing all this stuff with us.  I love what you’re doing, and I’m just super-duper stoked that I could get you on the call today and dig into your mind a bit.

Kamal:  It’s my pleasure.  It’s always good to talk shop with somebody who knows stuff.

Ben:  Awesome.  Well, folks, if you’re listening in, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Kamal Patel signing out from  And again, is where the show notes reside.  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.



I’m a voracious consumer of knowledge.

On an average week, I read 3-5 books, listen to 15-20 podcasts, and read several dozen research articles.

And one of my secrets to this hyperproductive digestion of information is through the use of services, websites, journals, newsletters and, well, “digests” that disseminate information into readily accessible bite-size pieces that allow me to cut through the clutter and quickly get to the main summaries, takeaways and actionable items from all the content.

For example, I’m a huge fan of the book reviews produced by gentleman such as Derek Sivers and James Clear.

In addition, I stay up to date with health, medical and science news via the Stone Hearth Newsletters, exercise and nutrition research via the website Suppversity, and, for general life knowledge, I’m a recent subscriber to the Farnham Street blog for staying up-to-date with the best recently published books and articles from around the web.

And – for one of the most comprehensive exercise, diet, supplement resources I have ever accessed – I am a frequent visitor to the website Examine and their monthly publication The Examine Research Digest, which is produced by today’s podcast guest: Kamal Patel.

Kamal is the director of, an independent and unbiased encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition. He is a nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and is on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition, in which he researched the link between diet and chronic pain. He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics, and in today’s episode, you’ll discover:

-How supplement companies and the media manipulate science for their own benefits…[11:38 & 16:30]

-Why Kamal thinks the “elimination diet” for nightshades is a hoax…[18:55]

-The best way to know if a diet or supplement website is delivering you fake information…[29:35]

-The truth about what they really feed lab rats and mice in high-fat diet studies…[31:35]

-Why an extremely high percentage of the research released in medical journals is flawed or biased…[35:00]

-The best way to quickly review an abstract without reading a full article, and red flags to look out for when reading an abstract…[44:50 & 48:30]

-The top three most proven and researched supplements that just about everyone could benefit from…[54:56]

-The surprising benefits of daily creatine intake…[61:50]

-Why Kamal   doesn’t take fish oil, but Ben does, and how genetics should influence supplement intake…[65:35 & 68:35]

-The two supplements most people most infatuated with that Kamal thinks have very low credibility…[72:15]

-The most beneficial one-two combo stack you can take for daily mental performance…[77:45]

-Why you should spread your vegetable intake throughout the day to maximize your nitrate exposure…[80:48]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Supplement Goals Reference Guide

Supplement Stack Guide

The Examine Research Digest

The SuperMemo sleep website Ben mentions

Ben’s article about whether or not weed causes heart disease

The CreaPure Creatine that Ben recommends

The SuperEssentials fish oil that Ben recommends

IFOS website for testing fish oils

WellnessFX blood and biomarker testing

A 3 day gut panel for testing your bacterial balance

NaturalStacks “SmartCaffeine” caffeine/theanine blend



Why The Media & Supplement Companies Lie To You About Diets & Supplements (& What You Can Do About It).

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

I’m a voracious consumer of knowledge.

On an average week, I read 3-5 books, listen to 15-20 podcasts, and read several dozen research articles.

And one of my secrets to this hyperproductive digestion of information is through the use of services, websites, journals, newsletters and, well, “digests” that disseminate information into readily accessible bite-size pieces that allow me to cut through the clutter and quickly get to the main summaries, takeaways and actionable items from all the content.

For example, I’m a huge fan of the book reviews produced by gentleman such as Derek Sivers and James Clear.

In addition, I stay up to date with health, medical and science news via the Stone Hearth Newsletters, exercise and nutrition research via the website Suppversity, and, for general life knowledge, I’m a recent subscriber to the Farnham Street blog for staying up-to-date with the best recently published books and articles from around the web.

And – for one of the most comprehensive exercise, diet, supplement resources I have ever accessed – I am a frequent visitor to the website Examine and their monthly publication The Examine Research Digest, which is produced by today’s podcast guest: Kamal Patel.

Kamal is the director of, an independent and unbiased encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition. He is a nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University, and is on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition, in which he researched the link between diet and chronic pain. He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics, and in today’s episode, you’ll discover:

-How supplement companies and the media manipulate science for their own benefits…[11:38 & 16:30]

-Why Kamal thinks the “elimination diet” for nightshades is a hoax…[18:55]

-The best way to know if a diet or supplement website is delivering you fake information…[29:35]

-The truth about what they really feed lab rats and mice in high-fat diet studies…[31:35]

-Why an extremely high percentage of the research released in medical journals is flawed or biased…[35:00]

-The best way to quickly review an abstract without reading a full article, and red flags to look out for when reading an abstract…[44:50 & 48:30]

-The top three most proven and researched supplements that just about everyone could benefit from…[54:56]

-The surprising benefits of daily creatine intake…[61:50]

-Why Kamal   doesn’t take fish oil, but Ben does, and how genetics should influence supplement intake…[65:35 & 68:35]

-The two supplements most people most infatuated with that Kamal thinks have very low credibility…[72:15]

-The most beneficial one-two combo stack you can take for daily mental performance…[77:45]

-Why you should spread your vegetable intake throughout the day to maximize your nitrate exposure…[80:48]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Supplement Goals Reference Guide

Supplement Stack Guide

The Examine Research Digest

The SuperMemo sleep website Ben mentions

Ben’s article about whether or not weed causes heart disease

The CreaPure Creatine that Ben recommends

The SuperEssentials fish oil that Ben recommends

IFOS website for testing fish oils

WellnessFX blood and biomarker testing

A 3 day gut panel for testing your bacterial balance

NaturalStacks “SmartCaffeine” caffeine/theanine blend

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

17 Ways I’m Detoxing My Body In 2017: A Special Solo Podcast Episode.

I’m going to detox my entire body and brain, beginning Monday, January 9, 2017 (and you can listen to today’s podcast episode to learn what the random, strange photo above has to do with this).

Anyways, I’m not going to do just any ol’ detox like putting cayenne pepper into a nasty concoction or pushing giant grocery shopping carts full of random herbs through the supermarket. These popular detoxes can actually release toxins from tissues such as fat cells and shove them into the brain, causing even more damage. Oops.

That’s a bad thing.

Instead, I’m partnering up with one of the most brilliant detox minds on the face of the planet: the guy I interviewed in the podcast “The Most Effective Detox You’ve Never Heard Of (And Exactly How To Do It).” His name is Dr. Dan Pompa, and Dr. Dan is going to walk me through the entire brain and body detox program that he’s studied and perfected for years.

I’m then going to combine his proven detox formula with my own exercise and biohacking protocols so that I can completely clean up my body without losing fitness by doing only, say, hot yoga and trampolining for weeks and weeks.

See, I don’t want to come out of my detox having lost my muscle or having to huff and puff whenever I climb a flight of stairs, so I’m pulling out all my fitness tricks that allow me to sculpt my body while I detox, without actually causing adrenal fatigue issues or ruining the detox protocol.

And I’m inviting YOU to join me.

During today’s solo podcast episode with yours truly, you’ll discover: 

-Why most detoxification programs can severely damage your body and brain…[6:55]

-What a “true cellular detox” is…[10:56]

-How to detox your body using a “Prep Phase”, a “Brain Phase” and a “Body Phase”…[17:53]

-The 5 strategies I’m personally using to ensure I don’t lose fitness or muscle during my detox…[20:52]

-How fringe techniques like dry skin brushing, rebounding and infrared therapy can maximize the effectiveness of a detox…[29:00 – 39:45]

-The exact workouts I’ll be performing during my detox…[30:00]

-Whether or not you should use the dietary strategy of ketosis during a detox…[46:00]

-The best fasting strategy to use during a detox…[41:25]

-How meditation can fit perfectly into a detox program…[41:38]

-How oil pulling can assist with detox…[49:00]

-Why fermented foods are crucial during a detox…[50:45]

-The crazy, unique tea blends I’ll be using to accelerate my detox and wean myself off coffee…[53:50]

-And much more! 

Resources from this episode:

The True Cellular Detox challenge I’ll be taking on in 2017 (click here to join me before January 1)

True To Form book

The Clearlight Infrared sauna I use

Kundalini yoga

Body By Science book

JumpSport Rebounder

WholeTones CD’s

Dry Skin Brush

Rumble Roller

My article on coffee enemas

Kettle & Fire Bone Broth

Eat Wheat book

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

[Transcript] – The Mysterious Micro-Workouts, Turning On Your Butt, Overdosing With Melatonin & More With The MindPump Guys

Podcast from:

[0:00] Introduction

[0:52] Stance Socks

[2:12] Exo Protein

[3:30] Introduction to this Episode

[5:04] MindPump Guys

[16:35] Why Justin is Creating a Special Stick That Can Measure Your Central Nervous System Integrity

[23:59] Q&A For The MindPump Guys/ Micro-Workouts Vs. Full Workouts

[28:13] What Would a “Trigger Session” Looked Like

[29:24] Commercial Break/Onnit MCT Oil

[30:55] Harry’s Razor

[32:59] Continuation of the Podcast

[36:05] Melatonin and Sleep

[46:35] The Best Way to Block Blue Light from Screens, Phones, Street Lights and Oncoming Cars…

[50:36] Three Proven Ways to Turn on your Butt, Deactivate your Hip Flexors and Eliminate Low Back Pain

[1:07:32] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey.  What’s up?  It’s Ben Greenfield.  I’m in San Jose, California.  Or it might be San Jose.  I don’t know. They don’t teach us these things in the Washington backwoods.  But either way, I came down here to hang out with some really interesting guys called the MindPump guys.  I’ll introduce them to you in just a moment.  They’ve actually been on the show before.  If you go to, you can listen in to them.  Their names are Sal, Justin, and Adam, and they’re a very fun group of guys.  This podcast gets like slightly explicit in a couple places, but, hey, what can you expect when you throw four full-grown, red-blooded American males into a room together to talk about things like biohacking, and sleep, and sex, and beyond?  So, this one ought to be an entertaining episode for you.

Before we jump in though, a couple of things.  First of all, socks.  Yes, socks.  So there’s this company called Stance, and I actually own now about 10 pairs of socks from Stance.  They’re some of the coolest canvases for self-expression.  I bet you never thought about using your foot as a canvas for self-expression.  But they’re some of the coolest canvases for self-expression that I feel you can find anywhere.  Why?  Because they have socks such as Lundy, which are these cool collections of flowers and leaves on your socks.  They have one with fireworks all over it.

I have Darth Vader underwear, I have cherry socks that I got from them.  For the women, they have the Sagittarius, the Makamae sock, which is perfect, I suppose, if you’re going to do yoga in your socks.  I even bought my kids a bunch of socks.  I bought them the camo socks, the Surfin’ Santa socks for Christmas, their camo trip socks.  So all sorts of different things that you can find at Stance for awesome gifts or for yourself.  It’s just, and if you order by the 20th if you’re listening to this in time, if you’re really on top of things, they can still get them to you by Christmas, just in case you need some extra Christmas stocking stuffers, or, heck, just a stocking to stuff something in.  So check them out,

This podcast is also brought to you by a company that makes some kind of weird bars.  Now, these bars come in a variety of interesting flavors like cacao nut, and blueberry vanilla, and apple cinnamon, and one of my favorites, peanut butter and jelly, although pretty much anything peanut butter and jelly flavored will be my favorite.  But that’s not what makes them unique.  What makes them unique is that they’re made out of a dried cricket protein powder.  And not only that, but they’re delicious.  They’re designed by like a five star Michelin chef.  And the cool thing about crickets is they have all the essential amino acids in them.  They’re very complete source of protein.

They’re actually 65% protein, compared to like 33% for beef jerky, 25% for salmon, 12% for eggs, and crickets also have two and a half times more iron than spinach.  So you can actually try any of these cricket protein flavors if you go to  You get a sampler pack with all of their most popular flavors for less than 10 bucks and free shipping.  So it’s a 33% discount, and it’s  So get your cricket bars fast ’cause there are a small and nimble start-up, meaning they sell out of their cricket bars all the time.  So you got to get ’em while the getting’s good.  Alright.  Let’s jump into this episode with the MindPump guys.

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“You want to look at muscles that are tight and improve extensibility in them, but you also want to look at muscles that are loose and weak and strengthen those as well.”  “I think the biggest mistake that people make with the microworkouts or trigger sessions is mirroring the full workouts or still in the intensifying.”  “Just sitting up and down without using momentum to get out of it basically, like you’re emulating a squat, but you’re really just focusing on connectivity in posterior chains.  So I’m trying to make sure that I’m properly recruiting by utilizing force more through my heel and giving my hamstrings and my glutes fire.”

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:  So, a couple of months ago these guys showed up at my front door and you may have heard the episode that ensued when we sat down in my studio out in the forest in Spokane, Washington after I had force them to bale hay for me, which they all enjoyed thoroughly.  That episode was actually probably one of more entertaining episodes that I’ve recorded the past couple of months.  You can listen to it if you go to, that’s  I’ll put a link to the original podcast that I did with these guys who are the three men who make up MindPump…

Justin:  The three amigos!

Ben:  What is it called? MindPump Media?

Sal:  Well, the show is MindPump, but the actual company is Sal DiStefano’s MindPump Media.  (inaudible)

Ben:  How come you didn’t call it MindBlow?

Sal:  ‘Cause, well, for obvious reasons.  You don’t want to Google that, by the way.  We checked that out.

Justin:  Anything with “blow” in there is a red flag.

Ben:  UrbanDictionary?

Adam:  I think we went around and around for a while on the name, didn’t we?

Sal:  We did.

Adam:  We couldn’t settle on the name for the longest time.

Justin:  The Bro Show.

Adam:  That was not going to be the name.

Sal:  I was sold pretty early on MindPump though.  I wanted “mind” in there.

Adam:  This the bad [0:06:16] ______ (crosstalk) is everything that you accomplish in your business, you get all the (censored) credit.

Sal:  Mmm.

Adam:  Sal has this beautiful thing that he does.  We all come up with these great ideas, we do things, and then somehow it turns out to be his idea always at the end of it.  It’s like, “Wait a second.  Justin, didn’t you…?”

Justin:  No, it had to be though.

Adam:  “Didn’t you say MindPump?  I can remember?”  No, no.  Sal’s like, “No, I’m certain it was my idea.”

Ben:  Well, that’s like the Three Stooges.  Larry, Curly, and Moe, right?  Who was the mastermind?  It was like Moe who was the mastermind, I think.  So you we’re the guy with like the black crew cut…

Justin:  Did you just compare us to the (censored) Three Stooges you (censored)?

Ben:  Well, actually, just so folks know who you guys are.  Actually, let me continue to lay down the scene here.  I came down to San Jose.  I’m now down in San Jose on these guys’ turf in their studio.  We just recorded a podcast for their podcast feed, and what you’re listening to now is a little bit more insight into these guys and also some fabulous questions that we had coming on Facebook that we’re going to delve into on lower back, and sleep packing, and something called micro-workouts.  But just real quick, 30 second intro of you guys.  I’ve got, to my right here, Adam.  Bodybuilder.

Adam:  What’s going on?  My name’s Adam Schafer.  Yeah.  You know what?  I don’t know if I even like being called a bodybuilder.  I did do it though.  I did do it for a couple years.  I got into it.  But the main…

Ben:  Now you just sit down and eat nuts.  He’s got a canister full of nuts here.  And by the way, sorry to interrupt.

Justin:  Always nuts on his face.

Ben:  I want to let you get back to your intro, but I just got to throw this out here.  Live.  On a podcast.  For all the world to hear.  Your guys’ chairs suck.

Sal:  Really?  You don’t like it?

Ben:  These are big, old plush couches.

Justin:  You’re used to standing.

Ben:  Yeah.  What you need are like the chairs that are shaped like a pelvis that you lean against.

Adam:  Oh god.  This comes from the guy who stands up when he podcasts.

Ben:  Or like a topographical mat.

Sal:  Well, hold on a second.

Adam:  How ’bout a pogo stick?

Ben:  I’m not going to have low back pain…

Sal:  Someone do me a favor and take a picture of him right now ’cause I know why you think the chair sucks.  ‘Cause you’re sitting on it like you’re a flamingo.  Like I don’t know how…

Ben:  This is my…

Sal:  You have to have your legs…

Ben:  This is my “take a dump in the woods” pose because…

Sal:  Well, no wonder it’s not comfortable!  It’s not made to poop in!

Ben:  I don’t want keep my hip flexors and turn off my glutes the rest of the night.  You never know, on a typical evening in San Jose, when you’re going to need your glutes.  And I don’t want to sit here for two hours with my hip flexors shortening.

Adam:  I think there was an acoustical strategy to getting these big cushion-ey seats, right?  I mean they absorb some of that.  Your voice sounds so much better standing.

Justin:  Adam has a lot of gas, so this helps.

Ben:  That’s true.  It absorbs.  So, Adam, anything else?

Adam:  Not really.  I’m pretty much the least important guest, or host that we have on the show.  I am the better looking one out of the three of us.  No.  I kind of represent the meathead side.  I did do bodybuilding that was kind of how I made my social media name, if that even makes (censored) sense.  I started with Men’s Physique and…

Sal:  Men’s Bikini.

Adam:  Yeah.  Men’s Bikini.  Worked my way all the way up through the…

Ben:  Eventually strip the pasties off.

Adam:  That’s right.  And I worked my way all the way up to the professional level, and the main thing I was trying to get across to people was there’s a better way to do that.  And I didn’t do it with a coach, I didn’t do it with a team, and I really did it to show people that there is a healthier approach, and I feel like there’s a major problem in the bodybuilding industry, or the bodybuilding world right now with these extreme ways of dieting, these extreme ways of training, and it’s turned into like people have just trying to become a martyr, and hammer themselves, and put themselves through misery to get up on stage, which is such a small, you get handed a plastic trophy, you know?  So…

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  I remember, when I was in bodybuilding, I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, when you go to the shows, to the expos where all the bodybuilders are walking around backstage, or front stage, or at the expo, in between the judging, you look at ’em and from a distance, they are cut, they’re like Adonis, like they stepped out of an Avengers or Marvel Comics movie or something.  Then you get up close, and their skins like the grandma from “Something About Mary”.

Sal:  They look unhealthy.

Justin:  It is like connective tissue inflammation, acne…

Ben:  And of course, if there’s connective tissue inflammation on the surface, it definitely goes muscle deep because muscles are connective tissue as well.  And these people are just walking around in constantly inflamed states.

Sal:  Oh, I remember going to Adam’s competition, the last one that he did.  Me and Justin were hanging around.

Justin:  We wanted to give ’em food.  They just looked like they’re dying.

Sal:  There were girls that were obviously competing that day that were sitting on the floor.  I mean, they looked like they were dying.  They’re sitting on the floor and they’re eating like Rice Krispies treats.

Justin: Emaciated.

Ben:  Ugh, so sexy.

Sal:  Or they were eating like gummy worms.  And you look at their faces, and these are young girls.  They’re like 25…

Adam:  It bummed me out, man.  I’m going to be honest.

Sal:  It looked bad!  Like if I didn’t know any better, I would be like, “Do you need some help?”

Ben:  They could’ve easily got on the cover or Cosmo though.  Just imagine.  It’s all worth it.

Justin:  No pain, no gain.

Ben:  Actually, when I was bodybuilding…

Sal:  It’s a really crazy sport.

Ben:  When I was bodybuilding, I was a student.  So I was studying, and then I’d come home, and I’d work out for two hours, after having worked out an hour in the morning.  Then I’d just lay on the couch.  I didn’t have hormones, didn’t have testosterone.  I was like a piece of meat laying on the couch.

Adam:  And that’s why I’m just teasing Ben, like I’m really offended that he said that or anything.  I’ve been a trainer for over 15 years, I became very fascinated with bodybuilding.  Not because I wanted to become a bodybuilder, because I saw that these were the people that were influencing the fitness market more than anybody else.  They’re the ones that are on the cover of the magazines, they’re the one doing the interviews if there are any of them on TV.  They’re these big bodybuilders or women’s bikini girls and they’re giving all this advice out.  And I’m just cringing on what they’re telling people is good, or healthy, or the best way to get in shape.

So I knew that if I was going to come out as an authority and tell people otherwise, I first had to show them that I could get in that shape, or else I felt like I would never get the respect.  Because I don’t have a PhD, I didn’t even finish college, and started as a personal trainer when I was 20 years old, pretty much self-taught and self-educated all the way through my entire career.  So I knew that I had to first show everybody that, and that was the whole mission, was to show them, and then I could come back and just kind of shed light on all the ugly secrets of the bodybuilding world.

Ben:  Yeah.  But now, all you need, you don’t have to be big anymore.  That’s not even in.

Adam:  No, it’s not.

Ben:  It’s the Justin Bieber, Cameron Dallas, skinny jeans, Converse shoes, stringy arms look.

Adam:  It is.  That is what’s…

Sal:  If you put the Converse on, you would hit that a little bit.

Ben:  Probably I got that.  Yeah, I got all the cover except my Jesus sandals.  So, Sal, that voice was the voice of Sal.  And you’re like, well, you’re the Moe of the Three Stooges.  The person who takes credit for everything.

Sal:  Yeah.  No, I don’t know…

Justin:  You’d better stop calling us Three Stooges.  I’m going to reach over there and grab him by his neck.

Sal:  So I’ve been in the industry for a very, very long time as a professional trainer since the age of 18, and I managed health clubs at a very young age, I’ve owned some gyms, I owned a wellness studio more recently, but I really have a passion…

Ben:  What is the difference between a wellness studio and a gym?  Let me understand this.

Sal:  Well, you have your big box of gyms, which is like your 24-Hour Fitness, your Gold’s Gyms where you’ve got equipment like cardio, weights, people go and they workout on their own, sometimes there’s trainers in these gyms, sometime there isn’t.

Ben:  Zumba?

Sal:  Yeah.  Classes.  Then you have your personal training studios, which are much smaller where you have personal trainers and their clients, and that’s it.  There’s no public workout.  There’s no like I-pay-a-fee-and-then-I-work-out-on-my-own.  A wellness studio, our approach was much more holistic.  It was a small facility.  I did have personal trainers, but I also had physical therapy, I had acupuncture, I had bodywork, I had somebody who…

Adam:  Massage therapist, chiropractor…

Sal:  Yeah.  I had people who tested for food intolerances.  And the goal was really to be a place where people could go to that maybe modern medicine didn’t help them, or they had lots of pain, or even if they just want to get in shape, but we have everybody there under one roof that can help that person get there with ways that are not typically done, not the Western…

Ben:  Wow!  Wellness studio sounds way better than a gym.

Sal:  Well…

Ben:  Did you guys do gastric bypass, or stomach stapling, or anything…

Sal:  None of that stuff.

Ben:  Have you done the cool sculpting?  Looked into that?

Sal:  No.

Ben:  Where you use like a freezing cold laser to cause fat cell apoptosis?

Sal:  Have you seen that?

Justin:  That is actually…

Ben:  It actually works. They did a study on like Yucatan pigs and they found that it actually reduced fat.  I’m not kidding.

Sal:  Yeah.

Ben:  You can Google Yucatan pics cold surgery.

Sal:  It just seems…

Adam:  Ben’s audience has no idea right now he’s totally prodding Sal in everything that he’s throwing at him right now because he knows this is the stuff that we talk (censored) about all the time.

Sal:  You know what trips me out about that is that people don’t think that there’s a problem with killing your tissue with a laser.

Ben:  Well, how’s that different than doing like a cold shower if you’re inducing fat cell apoptosis when you’re…

Sal:  I don’t know.  One’s cold and one’s a laser? (laughs)

Ben:  Cold laser.

Justin:  We’re talking about lasers, man.

Ben:  But it’s a cold laser.  It’s called Cool Sculpting Surgery.  There’s like banners and ads all over the…

Sal:  One thing I’ve learned with like you know cosmetic stuff, the more it sounds a harmless, the worse it typically is.

Justin:  It’s “Cool Sculpting”.

Adam:  Like, “Oh (censored).”

Justin:  It’s harmless.

Ben:  That’s right.  Just like foam rolling.   Hurts like hell, but they just call it foam rolling.

Sal:  Who wants to roll on some foam?  It sounds like a party.  So just did all that, and then started this podcast with these three gentlemen in the room.  Fitness and health are minor passions of mine, and my major passion is people, and I love communicating quite a bit, and so podcast is just, I mean getting paid to talk?  Are you kidding me?  I can’t believe that’s my life now.  It’s pretty awesome.  So I really enjoy talking on the podcast, talking about fitness, wellness, and whatever else is on my mind.

Adam:  We’ve been sharing our journeys a lot like Ben.  I think that’s what has definitely, we all hit it off.  I think he has a very similar approach where we’re all kind of going through this journey together of health and wellness, and trying to find out the best path for each of us.  I think we do a lot of that on our show too.

Ben:  How about you, Justin?

Justin:  I guess I’m Larry, then.  Is that who I am?

Ben:  Yeah.  I was gonna say.

Justin:  It’s alright.

Ben:  You said it.

Justin:  You could say it.  You could say it.  I’ll own it.  Yeah.  For me, I guess I’m probably more, as far as like my contribution would be more like sports performance-based, like strength coach.  That’s sort of more of my background.  Not exclusively.  I’ve worked with a ton of different types of clients.  Like I’m a trainer at the Core.  So that’s what I’m passionate about.

Ben:  You’re in the sticks, dude.  I have to just say that.

Justin:  I am in the sticks!  Yeah, I am.

Ben:  So I want to paint a picture for you.  These guys have their studio in kind of like this CrossFit-y gym space, and there’s these like flexible sticks, CrossFit-y wellness studio.

Sal:  Stick mobility, they’re stick mobility…

Ben:  Yeah.  They’re these sticks, and Justin, you’ve like invented some kind of a stick that measures force production?

Justin:  Yeah.  Force output.  So, yeah.  It was interesting.  Like some of my buddies that I actually worked at this gym with, they went through this course from Dr. Faygenholtz, I believe his name is, who does Stick Yoga.  And going through that process and with their background, they also had a sports background where they’re like heavy into strength training and performance, and what they did was they basically branched off and created their own version of that which was Stick Mobility.

And Stick Mobility, I went through and worked through the concepts that they’re working through to really enhance their experience as far as mobility is concerned and how to apply muscle tension to these specific poses.  It was a really very simple concept, but it was so effective.  And so it just sparked this idea for me, going through a lot more of the isometric type movements that they did and how they were really able to use the stick as a tool to apply more muscle tension throughout their body.

Ben:  Just stick?  It’s a lot like a PVC pipe with handles.

Justin:  Just a stick.  That’s it.  And they actually, theirs is flexible.  So when they use it…

Ben:  Actually.  Yeah.  That’s what I noticed, that it flexes but it’s super strong.  Like really strong, flexible PVC pipe.

Justin:  Exactly.  Yeah.  It’s some kind of special PVC.  But anyway, so that kind of sparked this idea for me as far as like we would do these specific poses, and I would apply all this pressure, but I was thinking, “Man, I have no idea how much pressure I’m really applying here and…”

Adam:  Are you progressing…

Justin:  Am I progressing.  Yeah, do I really have the type of connectivity in recruitment that I optimally could, and what does that look like?  And so my brain kept kind of going with this, and then I started to develop, with one of my partners who was a client at the time, this concept with the stick, and then we kind of found an engineer and started building it, and we’re pretty close, but it’s…

Ben:  And it measures your central nervous system?

Justin:  Yeah.  So basically, whatever the output is for the specific movements.  So, yeah.

Ben:  Okay.  So give me an example.  Like what would a movement be that you’d do holding a stick?

Adam:  Give him the therapy.  I think that’s a good way for most people.  When you explain that to people, I think that’s the best analogy.  We talk about like somebody who’s rehabbing, and if you were trying to go through therapy, how you’d use that tool.

Justin:  Yeah.  So let’s just say like they’re getting no muscular connectivity adducting.  So I’m going to place the stick in a specific spot to test that.  So I want to see how hard you could actually move isolating the specific movement.  And so applying that force into the stick, you’ll be able to measure, quantitatively speaking, so you’ll be able to find like the actual number to that so you can see progress later on.  So this can be really helpful for physical therapists, chiropractors.  There’s a lot of different elements there.

Adam:  Athletes…

Justin:  Athletes…

Ben:  Does it have like an app that you can look at from your phone to see what kind of force you’re producing?  Like there’s like an actual force, what’s it called?  Like a force plate or accelerometer?

Justin:  Yeah.  It’ll actually have a display on the stick.  So you’ll be able to see real time, you’ll be able to capture all this data.  So what’s cool about it is all of this is a new metric, and nobody’s really capturing this type of information yet.  It’s experimental.  Like I honestly don’t know where exactly it’s going to go, and that’s what’s exciting because I want to see how fitness professionals use it, how chiropractors are going to use it, and there’s lots of different applications for it.

Ben:  What are you going to call it?

Justin:  Axon, the saber.

Ben:  The saber?

Sal:  Light saber…

Justin:  It’s definitely inspired by that.

Ben:  The Axon?

Justin:  Axon, yeah.

Ben:  That’s kind of cool.

Sal:  You know, this was a game changer for me ’cause I had, tension is as a concept I’ve understood for a long time as a trainer, but a lot of it’s intrinsic.  Like you tell a client when they’re doing a stretch or a position, “Create this tension in your body.”  And it’s hard for a lot of people to be able to do without actually moving, you know what I’m saying?  Like if I’m holding a stationary pose or stretch, you have to tell people to stuff like, “Push your energy outward,” or “Push down on the floor,” but you’re telling them at the same time not to move.  They’re just kind of creating this tension.

Well, this is a device that kind of helps to measure that.  And I’ll tell you what, moving through mobility positions and stretches, and applying tension in the right way was a game changer for me.  ‘Cause for the longest time, when I’d improve flexibility, it would be dynamic stretches, it would be sometimes static stretches.  But learning how to apply tension within certain positions, I’m getting strength within that new mobility and it’s a real usable mobility.  It’s not just a larger range of motion.

Ben:  Yeah.  There’s a guy who I interviewed a while ago named Jay Schroeder.  He works with some NFL athletes and I think some of the pro like speed and power athletes.  He uses like high, high-end like Russian electro-stim, this thing called an ARPwave on his athletes.  He has a lot of isometrics, and he does a lot of tension holds to improve range of motion and mobility instead of just stretching.  Jay Schroeder.  I forget the name of the episode, if you went to my website and searched for his name, you’d find it.  I’ll try to put a link to it in the show notes.

Sal:  Mark my words.  You’re going to see a huge trend in fitness…

Justin:  Well, Dr. Spina too.

Sal:  Does he do that?

Justin:  Yeah.  The concept of irradiation and to be able to ramp up at max tension for that specific pose, you’ll increase range of motion.

Ben: Have you guys ever done electro-stim?

Sal:  I have.

Ben:  Like the high, high-intensity stuff?

Justin:  I haven’t.

Sal:  Not the high-intensity stuff, no.

Ben:  It’s crazy.  At PaleoFX, one conference that I go to every year, they have one of these ARP units that you can test, and you can roll in there and tell ’em, “Hey, do a session with my quads.”  “Do a session with my hamstrings.”  “Do a session with my abs.”  And with 10 minutes of stim, you’ll wake up the next day feeling like you did like 10 sets of 30 reps of squats.

Sal:  That’s got to be painful, man.

Ben:  Some kind of crazy hypertrophy.  It’s not…

Sal:  It’s like a gnarly muscle cramp.

Ben:  It’s not like those vibration platforms that the women at the gym stand on with their Jamba Juice in one hand, and shaking the body…  Like it’s full-on, like teeth-gritting…

Adam:  I just had a great…

Justin:  Makes ’em all tingle-y.

Ben:  If it hurts, it must be doing something though.  That’s my philosophy.  So your guys’ format on your show is typically you do Q & A, and you have like a few questions that people write in and ask you about, nutrition, fitness, injuries, et cetera, and I was looking at some questions that actually came through for you guys on your Facebook page, and I figured I’d put you on the hot seat…

Justin:  Oh, there we go.

Sal:  Ouch!

Ben:  Do your podcast, your podcast style on my show, although you’re not in the hot seat.  You’re in the plush chair that absorbs farts.

Sal:  If you sit properly…

Justin: Great description.

Ben:  The questions that I have chosen are going to challenge your mind and your body.  So prepare yourself.   Hope you used your Axon for this, Justin.

Sal:  My body’s ready.

Adam:  I saw what you did there.

Justin:  I did.

Ben:  So we have a question that came in from Ian.  Ian wants to know about the efficacy of something called micro-workouts versus full workouts, and I’m going to tell you guys right now, I have no clue what a micro-workout is.  I don’t know exactly what’s you’re referring, so you’re going to need to set me in and my listeners straight on what a micro-workout is, and how it differs from a full workout, and how you’d actually use something like that.

Adam:  Well this is definitely something that I think is the fun part about Q & A for us is half the time we try and figure out what exactly they’re asking, and do our best.

Sal:  This is not a normal term.

Adam:  My best guess would be he’s referring to like our trigger workouts.  That would be…

Sal:  Trigger sessions, yeah.

Adam:  I would think he’s referring to the trigger concept that Sal created in the first MAPS anabolic program.

Ben:  What is that?  What’s a trigger session?

Sal:  So, a full workout, so if you look at the whole concept of exercise and resistance training, the idea is to create damage, elicit a healing, and then an overcompensation, or super-compensation response of adaptation response.  And the main stimulus for that is damage.  But a while ago, I identified that damage was not the only signal that told the body to build muscle.  An easy example to understand that would be just to give somebody elevated levels of anabolic hormones, and without any additional damage to their body, they’ll probably, and they usually do, build muscle.

Ben:  You get a needle poke.  That’s damage.

Sal:  Right.  It is.  But I’m talking about how muscle damage tends to be the main…

Ben:  I’m just giving you hard time.

Sal:  I know you are.  So here’s the problem with that though.

Adam:  He becomes a smart-ass when he gets the driver seat.

Sal:  And I love it.

Justin:  I love it.  Yeah.

Adam:  Roast him.

Sal:  That problem with that, that constant “always focusing on the muscle damage aspect of stimulus for muscle growth or for change in the body” is you become limited by your body’s ability to recover.  Not only that, but if you constantly hammer the body, the body will prioritize recovery over adaptation.  So you end up getting sore from a workout, recovering, working out, getting sore, recovering, and never really adapting, not getting any stronger.  You’re kind of stuck in what I call…

Adam:  The recovery trap.

Sal:  Yeah.  The breakdown recovery trap.  And so a micro-workout, or a trigger session as what we call it, are very low intensity, small workouts that you do on the days in between your hard workouts, and you do them frequently throughout the day.  So I may take some resistance bands and do five or six exercises, two, three sets each.  It’s a grand total of 10 minutes.  Very low intensity, I’m getting a little bit of a squeeze, I’m getting a little bit of a burn, little bit of a pump, but nothing intense.

Ben:  This is like greasing the groove.  Is that kind of where, if you’re like really, really good at pull-ups, like I did this when I started getting into obstacle course racing, every single time I walked into any bar or any object I could do pull-up from, like a door frame, whatever, I would have to do three to five pull-ups, and got to the point where on a typical day, I’d be doing 50 to 60 pull-ups, sometimes more.

Sal:  And you get a lot stronger.

Ben:  Yeah.  Or when I’m at a conference where I know I’m not going to get a chance to workout, I just have like a rule where I’ll do 30 burpees every hour.  And by the end of the day, I’ve done 240 burpees and gotten a lot of these, I guess what you’d call, I mean would that qualify as a trigger session?  Or does a trigger session have to be like more therapeutic?

Sal:  So that’s definitely a micro-workout.  A trigger session is much more specific because we include, so the principle of this has to do a lot with that body responds very, very well to frequency, frequency of stimulation.  And we forget that with resistance training in particular because we focus just on damage, and it becomes this “hammer yourself real hard”, hit your chest really hard on Monday and then don’t touch it for a week, and they miss out on the fact that frequency really does a fantastic job of eliciting adaptation.  And so what you’re talking about is kind of a version of that.

I mean on our other MAPS programs, we have other versions like focus sessions, or mobility sessions in our other programs.  But with the original MAPS, it was a trigger session, which is the one I was explaining.  But when people apply this principle, especially people who are natural, who rely upon that muscle building signal to come from working out and really nothing else, when they apply more frequent smaller workouts, or trigger sessions instead of breaking the body up into body parts, training the full body three days a week instead, the results blow them away.

Ben:  Well, yeah.  But let’s say you have three hard full-body sessions per week, but on the off days in between those sessions, what would a trigger session look like?

Sal:  So let’s say today’s my off day.  In the morning, I would wake up and I would do five or six band or bodyweight exercises, low-intensity.  All I’m doing is trying to feel the muscle, get a little bit of a squeeze, maybe a little bit of a pump, a little bit of a burn.  Not anything high-intensity ’cause I don’t want to cause damage.  I just want to send a signal for a grand total of 10 minutes.  I’ll do that again at lunch, and then I’ll do it again before bed.  And so I’m sending this signal throughout the day.

Adam:  And mind you, those numbers that he’s even using right now are not, it’s not like it’s 10 minutes, this magical number or whatever…

Sal:  You just don’t want to do it for a long time.  That’s really sure.

Adam:  The greasing the groove, I think, is probably the best example of something else that’s similar to that concept.  I feel like…

Ben:  I dig that concept too ’cause you don’t have to get sweaty and go to the gym.

Adam:  No.  It’s…

Sal:  It facilitates recovery, which is trippy too.  You’ll find that your body will recover faster and faster from your hard and heavy workouts.  Things like sore joints start to feel better.  It’s one of the most…

Adam:  It’s shattered all of our paradigms.  I remember…

Sal:  It’s a game changer.

Music Plays…

Ben:  I am interrupting today’s show to tell you about this magical oil.  So the idea behind oil is that usually doesn’t dissolve very well in things like teas and coffees, and that’s why if you are one of those people who, say, puts a stick of butter and a bunch of MCT oil in your coffee, you get like this nasty oily lining on the top of the coffee.

Well, there’s this company that has figured out how to emulsify MCT oil.  So you just stir the oil into your coffee and go.  And not only that, but they’ve taken their MCT oils and they’ve given them amazing flavors.  My favorite, by the way, that I’ve been using this fall is pumpkin spice.  Yes, you can get pumpkin spice MCT oil, so you can not only get all the advantages of shoving your body into ketosis and staving off appetite cravings, but you can also make delicious, tasty pumpkin spice teas and pumpkin spice coffees.

They’ve also got a coconut flavor, a vanilla flavor, a strawberry flavor.  You can find all this and much more goodness, functional food goodness, over at  Here’s how you get a discount: go to  That gets you a 10% discount on anything. and add that pumpkin spice MCT oil to your order.  You won’t be sorry.  Unless you use too much of it, in which case you will get diarrhea.  But don’t do that.  Don’t exceed like whatever they say on the label, tablespoon, two tablespoons.  Act wisely and with responsibility with your MCT oil.

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Music Plays again…

Ben:  There’s that concept that they’ve shown in research when it comes to some elements that influence mortality, that no matter how hard you work out at the beginning or the end of the day, if you are seated for eight consecutive hours, and in some cases for even just two consecutive hours, you have a really increased risk for mortality.  And something like that, this whole like greasing the groove, or micro-workouts, or trigger sessions almost like forces you to use that Pomodoro Technique in a slightly more structured format.

Sal:  And you want to talk about an energy boost.  Nothing, I swear to god, midday when you’re tired or whatever, maybe you didn’t get good sleep the night before, you get up and do an eight minute trigger session, and you feel energized.

Adam:  Well, wouldn’t you say the closest thing, and this reminds me of the takeaway I had from we hung out with Ben last time was he got me into do in the freezing cold showers, that same surge of energy is very, very similar.  The same feeling I feel when I do like a little trigger pump.  That’s…

Ben:  When I wake up at night and can’t get back to sleep, I do a trigger session.

Adam:  Hey, that would count.

Ben:  8, 10 minute trigger session.

Adam:  That would count, actually.

Sal:  That’s like three times.

Ben:  Ian’s wondering, in his question, if you can just use those micro-workouts as a replacement for a full workout or if you still need to do the full workouts.

Sal:  No…

Adam:  No and yes.

Sal:  So here’s the thing…

Adam:  Yes, you could.  But is it as effective?  Absolutely not.

Sal:  No.  Because you get benefits, you get specific benefits from the heavy hard workouts that you’re not going to get from the trigger session-type sessions.  And the trigger sessions complement the full, hard workouts quite well.  You’ve got to do both.  I mean, it’s like you’re sending the loud muscle building signal with the hard, heavy workouts, and then you’re just kind of keeping that signal up and keeping that volume on high with the trigger sessions without causing too much damage.  So they really do work great together.  But if you’re pressed for time, or you’re traveling and you can’t make it to a gym or whatever, yeah, I do three trigger sessions a day.  You won’t lose muscle, you’ll maintain your strength, you might even get a little stronger cause it’s different, doing it on every day basis.  I mean I could definitely see there being a benefit with that as well.

Ben:  Yeah.  Nice.  They’re like the perfect partners, like Larry, Curly, and Moe.  Actually, you know what?  I’ll switch to The Three Amigos.  (Crosstalk) the Three Stooges.

Adam:  I like that.

Justin:  I like the three…

Ben:  Can you guys sing My Little Buttercup? Yeah!

Ben, Justin, Adam, Sal:  Singing…

Ben:  Do you have any beer?

Justin:  It’s a sweater!

Ben:  We could probably fill up the rest of this show with quotes.

Adam:  I think the biggest mistake that people make with micro-workouts or trigger sessions is mirroring the full workouts or still intensifying them.  I think…

Sal:  That’s why I hate calling ’em workouts.  It’s a trigger session.

Adam:  Yeah.  And I think that’s the thing to make sure that people understand that the idea behind it is you’re not trying to create damage, which is tough for people to understand that…

Justin:  Once you get into to it, it’s like, agh, you wanna keep going.  You can’t stop yourself.

Ben:  Katy Bowman who wrote a really good book called “Move Your DNA”, she’s a biomechanist.  I think she calls them “movement bites” you do throughout the day.  Yeah.  It’s a cool concept.

So, we do have a couple other questions though.  I want to make sure we get a chance to delve into.  So Sal wants to know what you guys think about melatonin as a supplement.  And I’m actually really curious about this too because I have my own thoughts on melatonin, but I’d love to hear, not just your guys’ thoughts on melatonin as a supplement, but I know for example, when we were at dinner last night, you were talking about how you’ve used binaural beats and specific formats of binaural beats to get very, very effective naps, or to enhance sleep, or creativity.  You guys seem like you’re kind of into this concept of things that could help one with napping, or sleeping, or sleep cycles.

Sal:  Absolutely.

Ben:  So do you each have, and Justin, I’m curious, since you’ve been a little bit quiet over there, give you a chance to pipe in.  Do you do anything special for sleep?  Melatonin or beyond?

Justin:  Well, really, this is experimental for me.  So with these beats and what he’s talking about with the, which we just got introduced to.

Sal:  Which, by the way, is not binaural beats. is very different.

Adam:  It’s not…

Ben:  That’s a website, it’s

Sal:  Yeah.


Sal:  It’s different…

Adam:  And trust me…

Justin:  They’ve actually created songs.

Adam:  The scientists and the CEO will get mad when you…

Justin:  I know.

Adam:  I already offended him a couple of times when I was like, “Our buddy, Ben.  He talks about binary beats.  Is that the same thing?”  And he’ll go like, “No.  It’s not that.  It’s totally different.”

Sal:  Yeah.  There’s a little bit of a stigma…

Ben:  I actually thought it was binaural beats.

Adam:  I thought it was too, based off of what you had shared with us with your experience.  And then when they were explaining, they sound similar, but supposedly, they’re further along with the science…

Sal:  It’s music too.

Adam:  Yeah.  It’s music, but…

Justin:  My takeaway with it is that like just using it, and I’ve used it for naps and for sleep.  I mean they even have like specific types of beats for focus and to stimulate that.  For a lot of it, for me, is like my brain doesn’t shut down very easily at the end of the day.  And so just putting these on, it’s almost like you just get immersed in this sound, and it moves and it travels, and so it almost distracts your mind a bit to let it relax and just really kind of take in the environment.

Ben:  It’s like white noise.  I’m looking at their website.  They call it artificial intelligence.  And if I recalled properly, or if I recall correctly, when I went to their website, I like had to answer a bunch questions about what I wanted the session to actually do, and then you play sounds.

Sal:  I don’t think it’s like that anymore.  This is when you did it a year ago?

Ben:  Yeah.

Adam:  Yeah, you were…

Justin:  We’re on the mobile version.

Sal:  No.  It’s not like that anymore.

Justin:  It’s very straightforward.  They have like specific sections where you pick like, “Okay, I want to do a 30 minute nap,” and that’s actually what I did today.  You just…

Sal:  You fall asleep!

Justin:  It’s hard to describe it.  Yeah.  You fall asleep, and you wake up, you feel refreshed.  And you’re like, “Did I even sleep?”  It felt like it was 5 minutes.

Adam:  Well, I like that Ben took it to that direction because I actually would compare it to a very similar feeling that I get when I take melatonin.  So, I actually do use melatonin occasionally.  And the reason why I only use it occasionally is I see how quick my body gets used to it and I have to keep upping the dose to get that same…

Ben:  Really?  That’s what you find?

Adam:  Yeah.  I feel like after I’ve done it, like I remember…

Ben:  At how much?

Adam:  What’s the typical milligram?  Is it 5 or 10?

Ben:  Usually it’ll be like 3 to 5.

Adam:  I think 5 milligrams is what mine are, that I have.  I literally have them right next to my bed.  I took ’em last night because we were just, all of us entrepreneurs in the same room…

Ben:  Feed a bunch of entrepreneur’s oysters and garlic bread.

Adam:  Yeah, dude.  We were buzzing all night long with all that energy.  So it took me a lot to come down.  And that’s kind of how I’ll use melatonin when I need that, and I actually use the  So I took my two melatonin, put the in, and finally went to sleep.  And it did take some time.  I feel like they’re the same, but I try and not use the melatonin if I don’t have to.  Just because I feel, anytime I have to take a pill that I notice my body adapts to really quick and I have to keep upping the dose to get the same effect.  And if I can find something like a type of tool that’s a more natural way of doing…

Ben:  Except for coffee.  Coffee, just keep on drinking more.  You get to the point you’re 50 years old and you need a 60 ouncer.  The big gulp.

Adam:  Well, let’s be honest.  Something like coffee, which I’m actually interested to hear you and Sal probably geek out a little bit on the melatonin because I don’t know how adverse it can be when you start getting up into higher dosages of it, and if it is something that can be bad for us.  ‘Cause caffeine, more and more we keep learning caffeine.  I mean you could have quite a bit of it…

Sal:  If you have a high tolerance…

Adam:  Depending on your…

Ben:  Sixty cups a day.  That was the philosopher Voltaire.  I want to hear your thoughts on melatonin too, Sal.  But really quickly, I went to the website.  They call it neuronal, or oscillatory brainwave entrainment, where apparently the oscillations that you hear in the sound entrains your brain into specific brainwave frequencies like alpha or theta.  They have a really interesting scientific white paper on their site.

And up until this point, I have used something called SleepStream, which is almost like a DJ with a bunch of binaural beats, and piano tunes, and white noise, and stuff like that that you can use.  But it seems that what they’re saying on the website, maybe I’ll have to get them on the podcast at some point for a little more detail, but they say it’s not binaural beats, it says it’s completely unrelated to binaural beats.  It is, instead, auditory beat stimulation.  I don’t know.  It all sounds the same.

Adam:  I would love to hear that you grill them.  You would be a great, we had them on the show, and they were great, and we did ask some…

Sal:  They’re great guys too.

Adam:  They are.  Yeah.  And I love what they’re doing and where they’re going, but I would love to hear you pick on them and kind of dive into, especially since you’ve been using, is it binarial or binary?  How do you say it?  What’s the proper way of saying that?

Ben:  Binaural.

Adam:  Binaural.

Sal:  Bisexual.  Oh, sorry.

Adam:  Is it?

Sal:  No.

Adam:  Oh.

Ben:  Bi-L-V-O-lar.  Biareal.

Justin:  It’s entering my ears.  I’m a little worried.

Ben:  Bivulvar.

Adam:  I would love to hear you interview them.  I think that would be great, actually, to dive into that stuff.

Ben:  Yeah.  Well, one of their lead scientists or whatever was at dinner with us last night.

Adam:  Yeah.

Ben:  I just need to get his contact information.  We’ll talk to him.  So, Sal, melatonin?  What’s your take?

Sal:  So melatonin is interesting.  It is classified as a hormone.  Up until recently, it was theorized that it was coming from the pituitary.  Now I think we’ve pretty much established that the pituitary gland, or releases melatonin.  Here’s the interesting thing about melatonin, we know having low levels of it is very bad for health, we know melatonin has got antioxidant properties, it’s neuroprotective.  As you get older, the production of melatonin tends to decline.  In fact, melatonin is being studied as a potential cancer treatment, and now they’re testing it on animals right now ’cause it’s got some anti-cancer properties.

Here’s the problem.  Melatonin, initially, was set up as a medication at a particular dosage.  And when you sell it over that dosage, they can sell it through some loophole as a supplement.  So when you buy melatonin at the store, even one milligram, which we think is a low dose, is a high dose of melatonin.  When you talk to the melatonin experts and scientists, they think that you should take something like .1 to .3 grams of melatonin max per night.

Ben:  Actually, by the way, just a complete aside.  I take .3 every night.

Sal:  They say between .1 to .3 because when you take the big doses, like Adam did, which 5 grams doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a big dose of melatonin, you may, in fact, suppress your body’s own melatonin production.  Like most hormones, there’s probably a negative feedback loop where if I’m taking melatonin and then my body senses this massive amount, it’s probably going to reduce its own production, maybe reduce, or downregulate some of the receptors that it attaches to.  So when it comes to supplement…

Ben:  I think in the absence of microdosing that that’s true.

Sal:  Yeah.  Maybe.

Ben:  However, the other is that I’ve found, for jetlag, like when you cross multiple time zones, like when I came back from Finland, yeah, I do like the hot-cold, and the sauna, and everything, but I do a lot of melatonin the first couple of nights.  I mean 50 to 60 milligrams of melatonin.  And this is about the amount that, for example, I have a naturopathic physician, he’ll give this to cancer patients for pain at night, that dosage of melatonin.  But if you’re jetlagged the first couple times that you get back, I mean you can hit the reboot button on your body with exercise, and cold, and bright light in the morning, and absence of light at night, and all these other techniques, but huge dose of melatonin can help a ton.

Sal:  Yeah.  And that’s more of an acute, like okay here’s this, I’m jetlag, I’m going to use it for this particular purpose.  But I think a lot of people are by melatonin and using it on a nightly basis and they’re taking 5 grams every single night, or 10 grams every single night.

Adam:  Well, that’s what I was…

Sal:  And they’re finding that, yeah, they get less and less results from it.

Adam:  Yeah.  I noticed that.  That was me.  I’ve definitely noticed that.  Man, the first time I did, I definitely got great sleep, and I got great sleep again, then I found myself, every night, doing it where now it’s more intermittently.  Like last night was a very rare case where I felt like we were just zinging.  I could not, typically if I take two or three hits off of a joint, that normally is going to put me right to sleep.  No problem.  And that’s all…

Sal:  Didn’t work last night?

Ben:  A melatonin joint?  For all the kids listening…

Justin:  Stick to melatonin.

Ben:  For all the kids listening in who want melatonin joints…

Adam:  Yeah.  Normally, I’m utilizing CBD to help me sleep at night.  So that’s…

Ben:  That’s what I do.  I use melatonin.  The microdosing I get is from, actually, a guy who I’m going to be with this weekend ’cause I’m heading down to San Diego, Dr. Kirk Parsley, who’s a Navy SEAL who makes this stuff called Sleep Cocktail, and it’s gamma-Aminobutyric acid in a very small form that crosses the blood-brain barrier, microdoses of melatonin, and there’s like some little things in there that have been shown in research to help with sleep, like vitamin D, and fatty acids, and a couple different amino acids like…

Sal:  Moose’s Magnesium.

Ben:  Some HTP and some magnesium in there.  But it’s in very, very small amounts.  So it’s…

Sal:  Well, that’s the thing.  Like 5-HTP, I remember when 5-HTP came in the market and it was like, “Oh, take this.  It’ll help you relax and sleep.”  And I did, and I could not sleep when I took it.  Same thing with melatonin, if I take a big dose of melatonin, I will fall asleep and then I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, and I’ll have crazy dreams.

Ben: Well, if you don’t take enough, you wake up like clockwork, at like 2 or 3 AM.

Sal:  Exactly.

Ben:  And you can’t get back to sleep.

Sal:  Or if you don’t get like the extended release.  I remember listening to a scientist who, I can’t remember his name.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the names like you do, but he, again, he was an expert on melatonin and how to use it, and he said, like you said, .1 to .3 grams, extended release is what he recommended.

Ben:  Yeah.  But none of you guys wear the blue light blocking glasses.

Sal:  I actually have some at home.

Adam:  We got to get into that.

Sal:  I actually have some at home.

Justin:  Yeah.  Sal’s doing that.  I got to get into that.

Adam:  I changed my…

Ben:  It acts like birth control for your face.

Adam:  I started, I changed all my phone, computer, all that stuff to do the, what’chama call it…

Ben:  Like Flux.  Actually, there’s a better one now.  It’s called Iris.  I interviewed this Romanian computer programmer who developed this one called Iris that goes, like it reduces like flicker, and temperature, and all these things.  Like Flux reduces just blue light, but there’s still flicker on your screen, and there’s still what’s called increased temperature that they measure in Kelvin.  So Iris lets you basically just like hack your entire monitor.  It’s really interesting.  Yeah.  You should listen to the podcast I do with him.  Anyways though, so you don’t wear a blue light…

Adam:  No, I don’t but it’s something that I know that I do want to experiment with because I notice a difference just like literally cutting out the TV, and the computer screens, and the phone.  If I do that a couple hours before I’m trying to settle down, my ability to get into sleep is so much easier than it is if I’m looking at my phone right before I go.  So I do want to play with the blue blockers and walk around with them at the…  But I feel like, don’t you feel like in the order of operation, that would probably be more important is to cut out the small screen in your face?

Ben:  No.  If I could pick one thing at night, I’d use blue light.  Because when you’re at a mall, or an airport, or driving down the road with the bright fluorescent lights from the car shining in your face, or looking on your phone, or your iPad, or your computer, the blue light blockers pretty much cover ’em all.  Like they cover any scenario in which you want to avoid modern artificial lighting at night, so that you naturally produce your own melatonin later on in the evening.  And so you could have no special piece of software, and no special expensive bulbs in your house, and just at least have something like blue light blockers on.

Adam:  So, yeah…

Justin:  I’m sold…

Adam:  See how you just sold [0:48:25] ______ they’re like, “Okay, now you…”

Justin:  Are you sure that wasn’t the infomercial right there?

Ben:  This podcast is brought to you by the blue light blockers I just invented.

Adam:  Yeah.  No, I absolutely will.  ‘Cause I felt like that, to me, I felt like I’d be an idiot.  I’m wearing these, but them I’m still doing the TV and the computer screen like ’til midnight, like that, for me, I felt like a difference in…

Ben:  But the weird thing is you get, like I had them on at the restaurant last night, and I was getting sleepy at about 8 because if you have them on, your body starts to get sleepy at about the time when you would be camping in the wilderness.  So it’s really interesting how it can work in reverse where you become like a social isolate around the time the sun goes down when you’re wearing ’em.

Adam:  Dude, Moscow mule?

Ben:  Which is why biohackers never get laid.

Adam:  Moscow mule?  Was that what we had?

Ben:  We did have a Moscow mule.

Adam:  That was the first time I ever had that.  It was amazing.

Sal:  That’s a very good drink.

Justin:  You were talking about the copper, something about the mug with the copper…

Sal:  Yeah.  Why do they serve it in a copper mug?  Do you know this?

Ben:  It’s some special tradition.  But there’s also pretty serious issue with like copper toxicity in people who drink and use copper, eat out of copper like that, almost like plastic and cast-iron.  Like cast-iron, that’s a non-absorbable form of iron that can cause like hemochromatosis from, I mean like having an occasional Moscow mule or cast-iron skillet steak, I don’t is a big deal.  You may want to test your…

Sal:  Like hold on.  Pass me that alcohol, but make sure it’s in a glass.

Adam:  I really enjoyed that, and I’m not a drinker at all.  So to have that, I was like, “Man, that was…”

Sal:  It was delicious.

Adam:  Nah.  It was awesome!

Ben:  That’s amazing.  Ginger beer.  It’s anti-inflammatory.  So it must be good for you.

Justin:  I see.

Ben:  It’s like putting vodka in kombucha.  That’s the drink that I tell people it (censored) your liver and heals it at the same time ’cause kombucha has glucaronic acid and gluconic acid in it, which great for liver cleansing, and then you throw a little vodka in there to put some fire or put some fuel in the fire…

Sal:  So you end up in the middle.

Adam:  Counters it all.

Ben:  Baseline.

Sal:  Baseline.

Ben:  Baseline psoriasis.  We have a question that, you guys had a lot of questions come in about low back, and I personally used to struggle with low back pain all the time, especially when I would race triathlon and spend a lot of time in the saddle.  I’ve learned a lot about the low back over years of training, and also not sitting, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, like a normal person.  But I’m curious to hear your guys’ take on back.

Bryce is curious because he has a ruptured/herniated/slip disc issues.  He wants to train his butt, and his glute, and his hips, and get mobility in his hips, and get his hip extensor strong, which frankly, those are two very important things for decreasing low back pain versus just getting the hands of serenity massage in your erector spinae.  But what do you guys think?  How do you train the back without reinjuring the back?

Sal:  Okay, so…

Adam:  Probably this is the most common thing that I think we deal with, right?  I think…

Sal:  Low back and the knee is probably second.  Knee and shoulders, second, third close.  Here’s the thing with, if you picture the spine, if you take the spine out of the body, obviously it can’t support itself.  It goes in whichever direction it wants to.  So it follows the direction of the muscles that pull it, or that are tight, or maybe loose…

Ben:  Do you actually take spines out people’s body?

Sal:  Like the predator.

Ben:  Freaky.

Sal:  So besides the ruptured, herniated, or slip disc, there’s not much you can do with the disc, but what you can do is create and environment around the spine that keeps it stable so that when you move in different ranges of motion, you’re not relying on ligaments to support you, you’re not moving in ends of range of motion.  Like if I’m bending over, I want my spine to be able to move, but if I have issues with my disc, I want to avoid getting to ends of ranges of motion, and what supports that is muscle.  So it all goes around correcting muscle imbalances, producing recruitment patterns that are favorable.  You want to look at muscles that are tight and improve extensibility in them, but you also want to look at muscles that are loose and weak, and strengthen those as well.  You want to get…

Ben:  But how do you functionally, like what kind of exercises, what kind of movements do you actually do?

Adam:  Let’s get into that and let’s talk like, okay, so…

Sal:  Well, okay.  Here’s a common…

Adam:  Ben brought up sitting down, right.  And it’s very intelligent of him to stand while he podcasts, even though I would never do that.  But it’s smart because one of the worst things that we do is sit down.  People don’t realize that you’re in this contracted position and we’re creating this recruitment pattern that is totally unfavorable for the low back.  And most people, it forces them into this anterior pelvic tilt, and that’s what puts all that stress in the low back.  So learning to correct that and get those favorable recruitment patterns, like Sal said.  So…

Ben:  Have you read the book “Deskbound”, by the way?  By Kelly Starrett.

Sal:  No.

Ben:  Aw, dude.  Because a lot of people, they stand in the wrong position too.  They hear “stand up, get rid of your chair so that your low back gets fixed”, and you stand the wrong way and create the same thing, like lumbar lordosis and a hunched over back ’cause you don’t have your desk, height’s improper…

Justin:  Lumbar lordosis or hot chick stance?

Adam:  This is what I have.  This is the problem that I have with a lot of people that run is they have these poor recruitment patterns, and then they think that running’s going to get you in shape, which it can, you can burn a bunch of calories and lose body fat, but they have a lot of stuff going on that they’re not fixing, and they’re really just kind of cementing it…

Sal:  They’re just training that bad recruitment pattern over and over again.

Adam:  Which is the same thing as the people that are standing, that you’re saying right now, that are still having the issues ’cause standing just doesn’t do it.  It’s like standing in a favorable position and understanding what a neutral pelvis looks like.  So talking about things where I would take someone like this, and we actually just did a video on our MindPump TV.

So we have a YouTube channel where this is what it’s kind of geared around is we take little things like this that we feel like a majority of our clients we’ve dealt with or had to help them with an issue like this, and I think each one of us went around and gave like a tip, like as far as an exercise or movement, and mine was a basic floor bridge.  But I was very detailed about how you do a floor bridge because a lot of people see a floor bridge and go, “Oh, yeah.  My physical therapist or someone told me I need to do these floor bridges, but then they still are not getting the pelvis neutral before they go into that movement.  And it’s really a movement to help teach you to hip hinge properly and teaching someone how to do that.  So we got…

Ben:  But you could do that when you’re low back is hurt, to get to Bryce’s question.  Like obviously deadlifts are great for protecting the back, and building a strong back, and stabilizing the core.  But if your back is already hurt, what your saying is you hit bridge instead of deadlift as example of an exercise, or you stand instead of sit.

Adam:  I want to regress you all the way to there first before, ’cause ultimately, our goal would be to get back to deadlifting because nothing is going to strengthen than whole area out more than doing a movement like that.  But a lot of clients are like this, they’re in this position because, whatever, either an accident has happened or over time.  So I would regress someone all the way to something as simple as a floor bridge and get them to perform that correctly, teaching them how to fire the glutes.  And so, the YouTube video that I did on this was just really breaking down the floor bridge and getting people to understand what they’re trying to do on a neurological level, how they’re trying to connect to the glutes and get them to fire.

Sal:  So that’s the key.  That’s the key right there.  The key really is before you get into these exercises where you’re trying to strengthen things, you have to correct and create recruitment patterns that are favorable.  Because if I focus on strength, even if I do the right exercises, even if I do all the right exercises, all I’m going to do is strengthen the wrong recruitment patterns if I don’t change them and correct them to begin with.

Adam:  Well the body is always going to choose the easiest path, right.

Sal:  Just the way you move.  A real common one that leads to low back pain is hip flexor dominance.  If I have a hip flexor dominance…

Ben:  He said as he sat in the couch.  That’s off the table.

Sal:  Exactly.  If I had hip flexor dominance…

Ben:  Hip flexor shortage.

Sal:  Here’s the thing though.  Sitting down a long time without training other recruitment patterns will cause that, but if I understand these things and I train my body to move the way I want, then sitting on a couch or sitting on a chair isn’t going to cause as much problem, maybe ‘cause no problem at all.  With a hip flexor dominance, I can train somebody to change the way they recruit their core so that the core stabilizes more than their hip flexors do, and then boom, we don’t have a problem anymore.  But if I don’t do that and I have them do a bunch of core exercises without teaching them how to change that recruitment pattern, all I’m going to do is make their hip flexors even more dominant and cause more problems.  And this is why you get people who say, “How come my below back hurts every time I work out my abs or my core?”  It shouldn’t.  It shouldn’t hurt.  But the problem is they’re doing mostly exercise…

Adam:  You’re not getting proper connectivity.

Ben:  So In terms of exercises, just to give Bryce a few takeaways here, hip bridging and then standing instead of sitting were a couple of things that you brought up.

Justin:  What were the ones you guys…

Ben:  What were the other exercises that he could do?  If he can’t deadlift, he can’t squat, what are a couple others?

Justin:  Just get-ups off of the bench.

Sal:  Yeah.

Adam:  Even if it’s with a single leg, or just getting proper…

Ben:  What do you mean you get-up off of the bench?

Justin:  So what I mean is like just sitting up and down without using momentum to get out of it, basically.  Like you’re emulating a squat, but you’re really just focusing on connectivity in your posterior chain.  So I’m trying to make sure that like I’m properly recruiting by utilizing force more through my heel and getting my hamstrings and my glutes to fire when I come up and down.

Ben:  That doesn’t involve expensive equipment.

Justin:  Nothing.  Yeah.

Ben:  There’s no way that works.

Justin:  Yeah.  Yeah, exactly.

Ben:  Where’s the tool I buy?

Sal:  One of mine is, especially if it’s in the low back, that seems to be a more common one, is to teach someone to deactivate their hip flexors through a process called reciprocal inhibition, and then working, and strengthening, and bracing their core.  And that’s a very effective way to do what I talked about earlier, which was change the recruitment pattern.  Easy way to do that you, lay on the floor on your back, you can place your legs, knees bent, heels up on something, so a chair or a table, you want to press down with your heels so that you elevate your hips off the floor just a little bit, just maybe an inch off the floor, and what you’re doing by doing that is you’re activating the glutes and the hamstrings.

And by activating the glutes and hamstrings, they inhibit the opposing muscle, which happens to be the hip flexors.  It’s called reciprocal inhibition.  So hip flexors are relaxed now because I’m keeping my hips slightly elevated, squeezing my glutes, and then I go into my slow controlled crunches to work my core.  That helps teach that recruitment pattern, the proper recruitment pattern that you want.  Then we can progress from there to the heavier, more complex exercises, but now you’re not so hip flexor dominant.

Adam:  I think it’s important to note though, I mean Ben, even you know made a jab about it a little bit, because it’s true though.  People want the sexy exercise, or the tool, or like just give me what I’m supposed to do, and what you’re supposed to do is I need you to connect, and it’s on a more of a mental level than it is actual physical level, and people want the tangible thing.  Just give me this thing that I need to do, or just tell me to do that, when it’s like…

Justin:  “Give me the machine that’s going to provide this for me.”

Adam:  And I think…

Ben:  That’s right.  Not any of the vibrating foam rollers in the world are going to replace being able to sit down on the bench using your butt properly.

Sal:  Absolutely true.

Ben:  Yeah.

Adam:  Sometimes, it’s the simplest…

Justin:  Painfully easy.

Adam:  It’s some of these simple movements, and I did this YouTube video, I remember what…

Sal:  It was about the glutes.  We did it specifically about building butt, I think…

Adam:  Yeah.  And why we went into it, I remember, I just saw a trainer, I was in the gym and I saw a trainer teaching the floor bridge, which is a great basic exercise and it’s one that I have regressed many clients to to just get them to teach the hip hinge movement properly, and I’m watching him do it with her, and she’s just kind of thrusting away with no rhyme or reason, and I’m like, “The whole purpose of that movement is to really get people to understand how to connect to those glutes and to have control of their hips.”

Just going up and down, I mean she’s burning some calories, she’s working some muscles, but you’re really not working on the root cause of her issue.  And I think getting people to understand that, like when they have issues like this that, hey, nothing would be better than doing a deadlift.  That would be awesome ’cause that’s what we want to work to, but we got to lay the foundation first and you got to do those boring movements, you got to do something like getting up off of a bench.  I know it sounds lame, but doing that correctly is, it’s tough for some people.

Ben:  The two most potent methods that I’ve personally ever discovered for reducing low back pain, and joint pain in general, and turning on the glutes, one is a program by Dr. Eric Goodman.  There’s a book that he wrote called “True To Form”, and his style of training is called Core Foundation Training, and it’s all a combination of stabilized breath, elongating the spine, and contracting the glutes.  There’s like 10 different moves in the program.  I do all 10 every morning.  It takes me 10 minutes to go through, I’ll have ’em all memorized while the coffee water is boiling.  I do each of those exercises, it completely eliminated my back pain after cycling.  And what I’ve tacked on to that since then is something I made podcast about soon called Eldoa Training.  E-L-D-O-A.  It’s a form of myofascial stretching…

Justin:  We have a class…

Ben:  It’s self-traction to hydrate tissue, to reduce pressure on discs.  You literally feel like two feet taller after you finish doing it.  And I’m all about the 80/20, taking the best moves from these programs ’cause I don’t have the freakin’ time to do the full program.  So I just took three of the exercise I learned in eight hours of training with this Eldoa guy, and I do those three at least once a day, especially if I’ve been sitting.

Adam:  Can we just elaborate on what he just said because I think that’s such great advice.  It is the 80/20 approach with when you’re finding these new things.  ‘Cause one of the biggest pet peeves, and I talk about this on our show a lot, that I have with gurus…

Sal:  It becomes dogmatic.

Adam:  Yes.  It becomes very dogmatic.  Somebody says like all this, and they feel great, they have back relief, and then now it becomes their everything.  That’s all they do.  They immerse themselves in that, and then it becomes a camp, and then it’s all about this way of working out, it’s superior than, no.  Take what you’ve found that works really well, and that you’ve noticed from there, and then continue on in your journey of finally piecing this together.  I think that’s great advice.

Ben:  Right.  It’s like any of those resources like, whatever, Kelly Starrett’s “Becoming A Supple Leopard” book.  Great book, great manual for deep tissue work, but you’d go crazy and wouldn’t have any hours left in the day if every day you decided you were going to get better knees, like going through the 40 pages of the knee exercises and doing every single one.  No, you grab the one.  You know, for me?  It’s smashing a lacrosse ball right on the inside of the vastus medialis, holding it there and twisting a few times.  And that’s it.  That’s the one thing I took away from that chapter that I know gives me the most bang for my buck.  So, yeah.  There is no rule that when these books come out and these diets come out that you have to drink every smoothie in the diet book, or you have to do every exercise, or work out in your 40 of the best high intensity interval workouts book.  You got to cut through the clutter.  Simplify.

Sal:  Did you have a back injury?  Or was it all overall dysfunction from the…

Ben:  It was exactly what you went into, Sal.  It was overactive hip flexors, a turned off glute, some sacroiliac joint dysfunction from the fact that when you’re doing thousands and thousands of repetitions a day on a bicycle, or running.  If you have just a normal anatomical abnormality, like a difference in the length of your femur bone, or a difference in the rotation of your hips from one side to the other, you pile thousands and thousands of repetitions on top of that…

Sal:  It’s a problem.

Ben:  Then it becomes a problem.  So, yeah.  It was certainly something that took me a while to fix after I got out of chronic repetitive motion activity.

Sal:  And that’s the thing people need to understand when they do that type of activity, or sports, or these endurance-based sports, that they are constantly, for long periods of time, days during the week, they are training a particular pattern over and over again.  You literally practicing to move a certain way so much that your body becomes very good at moving that way, and it prefers to move that way, which can cause a lot of problems.  And that’s why changing it can be so hard.  Like we’ll get clients, we did a “build your butt”, we call it a “build your butt bundle” with this modification, teaching people how to turn on their glutes because we had seen so many people, especially women, who wanted to build their butts with their squats and deadlifts and they just weren’t.  And they were doing the right exercises, you know what I mean.  They were doing the lunges, and the squats, and deadlifts, but they weren’t getting any…

Adam:  They were so hip flexor and quad dominant, which is what we come across this with hundreds, probably thousands of clients that we’ve trained, and they come in, and they’re like, “Man, I just want to build…”

Sal:  “I do all the squats, I do all the deadlifts, but my butt’s not growing.”  And then you watch their form, it’s like…

Adam:  You watch their mechanics and they’re all dominating…

Ben:  That’s why you should’ve your podcast “The Butt Growers”.  This is also why there’s very few Instagram accounts with bootylicious triathletes.  You just don’t really see that.

Adam:  They run their butts off.

Ben:  They have nice quads, but the booty kind of disappears.

Sal:  After very short range of motion.

Ben:  Well, if you guys send me those exercise videos, I’m going to put it in the show notes so folks can see some of these moves you’re talking about.  So Not only that, I’m going to link to the previous episode that we did with Sal, and Adam, and Justin up at my place in Spokane, and some other things that we talked about in today’s episode, except melatonin.  I don’t want anybody going out there and buying 60 milligrams of melatonin.  Do as we say, not as we do.  Guys, thanks for coming on the show and thank you for letting me invade your podcast studio.

Sal:  Yeah.  Any time, man.  You’re always welcome.

Justin:  You’re welcome, man.

Adam:  Always a pleasure, man.

Ben:  Next time I show up, I want to see those little like horsie saddle chairs in here.

Adam:  And blue blockers.

Sal:  We’ll hook you up.  Don’t worry.

Adam:  We got you.

Ben:  Alright.

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



Remember the guys from the MindPump Podcast: Sal, Justin and Adam?

If not, perhaps you didn’t hear my podcast episode entitled “The Mysterious Kuwait Muscle-Building Phenomenon, The Too-Much-Protein Myth, Anabolic Triggering Sessions & More With The MindPump Podcast Crew.”

It’s a definite must listen.

As a matter of fact, that episode turned out to be such a must-listen that a few weeks ago, I hopped on a plane and flew to San Jose, California to hang out with and record with these guys once again, and to delve into their extreme knowledge of all things fitness, nutrition, muscle building, fat loss, biomechanics, exercise physiology, psychedelics and beyond.

During the discussion that ensued, you’ll discover:

-Why Justin is creating a special stick that can measure your central nervous system integrity…[16:35]

-The crazy form of electrostimulation that can simulate a 600 lb squat…[21:40]

-How you can recover with lightning speed by using a strategy called “trigger sessions”…[24:15]

-The special phone app that Adam uses to induce an instant “power nap”…[37:05]

-The shocking dose of melatonin Ben uses for jet lag, and why Sal think melatonin isn’t such a good idea…[42:15]

-The best way to block blue light from screens, phones, street lights and oncoming cars…[46:35]

-Three proven ways to turn on your butt, deactivate your hip flexors and eliminate low back pain…[51:00]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The Mindpump trigger sessions and MAPS programs

Ben’s brand of blue light blocking glasses

Iristech software for blocking blue light on screens

Dr. Kirk Parsley’s Sleep Remedy

My podcast with Jay Schroeder

Hip flexor deactivation MindPump video

Why your butt won’t turn on MindPump video

-Core Foundation Training: How To Turn On Your Butt, Activate Deep Breathing & Decompress Your Spine (And Why I’ve Completely Changed My Morning Routine).

ELDOA Method

Deskbound by Kelly Starrett

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman