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Cool New Research On Cold Thermogenesis.

If you read “A Day In The Life Of The Ultimate Fat Burning Weapon Inventor“, then you may be familiar with this guy named Eric Grove. One could say that Eric is mildly obsessed with the use of cold exposure to burn massive amounts of calories and in that fat burning weapon article, Eric describes a vest he invented call the “Cool Fat Burner” vest, then goes on to describe in great detail the results of his groundbreaking indirect calorimetry experiment, which shows that high intensity cold stress can boost your metabolism by over 300%.

Since then, Eric has also shown that wearing a Cool Fat Burner vest can boost adiponectin (a protein involved in regulating glucose levels as well as fatty acid breakdown) by 60%, and keep brown fat active for hours after removing the cooling vest. I also reported on the impressive research behind body cooling gear in my own article at T-Nation entitled “Cold Temps For A Hot Body“.

So how does this vest work, exactly?

You simply place the vest (which is filled with cold packs) over your shoulders, where your body carries the majority of your rapid calorie burning brown adipose tissue, and then you just sit there.

So anyways, you may be scratching your head, you may think all this is woo-woo, you may already know about “cold thermogenesis” but you’re not quite sure how practically to do it, you don't like getting wet in cold showers or jumping into frigid lakes, or you may simply want an easy way to nudge any extra holiday calories off your waistline and instead use them to generate pure, clean body heat.

Either way, keep reading, because Eric is today’s guest author, and he’s going to give you a glimpse inside the nefarious, shivering mind of the ultimate fat burning weapon inventor, and a very interesting group experiment he just conducted on the Cool Fat Burner combined with the newest addition to his line-up: the Cool Gut Buster…*

…specifically, you're going to learn about recent randomized group experiment that once again confirms the ability of the cold thermogenesis “gear” to cause a huge boost to metabolism and calorie burning, as well as positively effect hormones related to health and longevity.

*There is special a discount coupon code on any of the Cool Fat Burner products for the 2016 holiday season at the bottom of this article.


A Cold Thermogenesis Refresher

Cold thermogenesis is the practice of intentionally exposing parts of the body to specific levels of cold stress. Years of research now shows this can cause significant increases in metabolism and calorie burning, can increase insulin sensitivity and help control blood glucose levels, reduce systemic inflammation, help with sleep and recovery, and potentially fight certain types of cancer as well as promote overall longevity.

How can cold thermogenesis do all this?  

Think about it this way: human beings are probably not meant to be in environments constantly at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, our average modern temperature in which we live, work, play and exercise.  Constant temperature control is a modern, technological contrivance. Whether it was an asteroid that blocked out the sun and wiped out the dinosaurs, to reports of a flood that left the planet underwater, our ancestors at some point experienced a dark, cold world, some form of an ice age, and a very likely necessity to evolve and even thrive in cold temperatures.  Some researchers have even correlated the increase and control of indoor heating to the rise in obesity (and yes, you must keep in mind, correlations should be taken with a grain of salt)

The point here is that we’re arguably not meant to be at a constant, comfortable temperature, and that true, optimal health requires at least occasional cold thermogenesis practices.


The Problem With Cold Thermogenesis

The problem with cold thermogenesis is that most people will not stick to ice baths as a regular practice, cold showers only last for a few minutes, and simply having a cooler room, office or house has little significant impact on metabolism.

That's why I'm a fan of making long-term, habitual cold thermogenesis quick, easy, and hassle-free, and that's why I've run a series of independent third party experiments showing the following:

Metabolic Boost & Calorie Burning Effect

There was the original groundbreaking indirect calorimetry experiment, where CFB inventor Eric Grove was shown to reach a 300% boost to metabolism, burning 500 calories in two hours, tested at the University of CA, San Diego.  This had never been done before, not in this manner, nor recorded for all to see. Check out the video below.

Activation of Brown Fat

Then there was the unprecedented PET scan experiment – showing “brown adipose tissue” (BAT) activity from the Cool Fat Burner:

  1. BAT still active for hours after removing the vest, in a 70’F room
  2. High BAT levels even at the end of summer; most people otherwise lose their BAT during summer
  3. High intensity cold thermogenesis does not turn off BAT, contrary to what others had claimed

Remember – brown fat or “brown adipose tissue” (BAT) is good.  It’s a metabolically active fat. BAT is found around major vessels so that it can help to heat the blood.  BAT turns on and burns calories when you get cold.  If a person is subjected to cold on a regular basis, they will increase their levels of brown fat.  BAT is also inversely correlated to obesity, meaning the fatter you are, the less BAT you tend to have.  Most mammals have high amounts of BAT to keep them warm. For example, farmers know that cold exposure is a major factor in animals losing weight, so they have to increase their feed over winter to keep their weight up.

BAT doesn’t store calories, it burns them.  Human babies are born with plenty of BAT to help keep them warm, but humans tend to lose our brown fat as we get older.  Seasonal workers have been shown to have increased BAT levels during the winter, but then lose that brown fat as summer rolls around.

Now compare this energy-burning BAT to regular subcutaneous white adipose tissue, which is what most people typically think of as fat (the fat on their stomachs, hips, and legs) that stores calories and is the result of obesity and related to metabolic disorder and all manner of disease.

So brown fat, or BAT, burns calories and is good.  Regular white fat (white adipose tissue, or WAT) that makes up the subcutaneous fat is not completely bad, but can be bad, especially when it grows to the point that one becomes obese. Interestingly, brown fat can burn white fat when we get cold.  Thus it can help with weight loss.

The image of the Cool Fat Burner vest below shows how the vest covers major areas of BAT on the upper body.*

4-cfb-bat-coverage

*Note: researchers have recently identified “beige” fat, which starts out as regular white fat, but that is somewhat converted to have properties of brown fat, meaning that it can burn more calories than regular white fat.  So there is white fat, beige fat, and full brown fat. Beige has properties of both. Why is this important? The hormone irisin, released during high intensity cold thermogenesis, is involved in the browning of white fat.  Merely holding cold packs against the skin above the fat can alter the white fat underneath the packs, causing the white fat to transform into beige fat, and causing your body to burn far more calories than usual.

Increased Insulin Sensitivity

We’d also seen that the Cool Fat Burner could massively increase insulin sensitivity, drastically lowering blood glucose levels in a manner comparable to running, and this is after a single session of wearing the vet.  Keep in mind that chronically elevated blood glucose levels are tied to diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity in general.  Anything that can help lower and control blood glucose levels can probably help combat those disorders.

Spot Reduction of Stomach Fat

While not endorsed for this use, we even showed that the Cool Gut Buster could replicate the conditions necessary to induce fat cell apoptosis, allowing for the spot-reduction of stomach fat, similar to the expensive surgical process of “cool sculpting”. Currently, targeted cold exposure is the only known way to significantly spot reduce fat.

Apoptosis is the intentional, programmed death of a cell.  It happens all the time in the body when a cell is supposed to die and be replaced by another newer cell.  It has been shown that when the skin is held at a specific cold temperature that apoptosis occurs in the fat cells underneath.  But unlike fat loss from exercise (in which fat cells shrink or are replaced), when those fat cells are gone, they are not automatically replaced.  They’re gone for good (admittedly, if a person undergoes a period of over-eating, they could theoretically create new fat cells over time.)

Increased Adiponectin

As you can see in the video below, we have also demonstrated a 60% boost to the hormone adiponectin after a 2 hour CFB & CGB session.

Adiponectin is being studied for its role in insulin sensitivity and diabetes, cardiovascular and heart health, its ability to kill certain types of cancer, and its role in longevity.

 

The Synergistic Effect

Once you put all these biochemical variables that occur as response to cold thermogenesis, you experience the same type of synergistic fat-burning effect I demonstrate in the video below*:

*The full plan I use for this video can be found at www.CoolFatBurnerGuides.com, and is free to all CoolFatBurner vest owners.


A Few Practical Ways To Make Cold Thermogenesis Pleasant

But wait…isn’t cold thermogenesis unpleasant?  

Don't most folks hate teeth-chattering, skin-burning cold?

No, and there are several reasons why.

First, when you do cold thermogenesis properly, only your torso (where all that BAT is) needs to be cold.  You can keep your fingers, toes, ears, and nose warm.  Since these areas have a high percentage of cold-sensors, you can make yourself feel warm by keeping them warm.  Ever get too hot lying in bed, then you stick your feet out from under the covers, and it cools you off?  That’s the same concept, in reverse.

So keeping your fingers, toes, ears, and nose warm makes you feel warm, even as your torso is cooling.

Second, wearing gear that has ice packs in it allows you to move around or engage in other activities while you wear it. Television, typing at the computer, working around the house, whatever.  I’ve had quite a few users report back that they wear their vests in their morning driving commutes to work.

 

Third, there is the obvious phenomenon of “cold adaptation.” As your physiology transforms, you get more efficient at cold thermogenesis.  You’ll be comfortable at temperatures that you used to feel cold in, and be burning far more calories per session than you used to. Cold temps often won't even cause goosebumps in a cold-adapted person.  They’re burning so many calories, they’re like an efficient heat-generating human furnace.


The Randomized University Group Experiment

So up to this point, all Cool Fat Burner experiments have been done on a few individuals.  This newest experiment was to be the first time ever that a cooling vest was tested in this manner on both metabolic calorie burning and also on the hormonal response of cold thermogenesis.

Let's delve into what we planned to study.

There would be 16 subjects, 8 male, 8 female. All subjects were non-smokers with a BMI between 25-35kg/m2 and confirmed to be classified as overweight. None were cold adapted and none had experience with cold exposure. All testing was done in the mornings, in a fasted state, and the subjects would wear the Cool Fat Burner and Cool Gut Buster for 90 minutes total.

The first 30 minutes would be at low intensity cold thermogenesis (CT), meaning not approaching shivering.  The last 60 minutes would be higher intensity CT, approaching or even entering shivering level intensity. Subjects were allowed to drink ice water between the low and higher intensity portions, to help push up the CT intensity.

Blood samples would be taken before putting on the cooling vests, then again at the 30 minute mark (between low and higher intensity cold thermogenesis) and again at the end, after the 60 minutes of high intensity CT, thus yielding 3 total blood samples per subject.  Indirect calorimetry would be used on the subjects to monitor calorie burning and metabolic boost. The blood samples would each be tested in triplicate (3 tests per each blood draw, then take the average), for each of adiponectin and irisin.  This gives 9 total tests per each of the two hormones per the 16 subjects.

1-ucsd-group-experiment

So what happened?

All subjects experienced a small metabolic boost during non-shivering thermogenesis, and around a 200% boost during higher intensity cold thermogenesis.   That level would yield nearly 300 calories burned in a two hours session at their average body composition!

However, this 200% boost is lower than the previous tests we've run, which have shown a 280% and a 300% boost in earlier subjects. So the subjects did not go to as high an intensity as previous trials on the Cool Fat Burner.  There are several possible reasons why this could be:

  1. The subjects simply didn’t try to go as hard with cold thermogenesis because they weren’t as motivated as previous experiments with cold-adapted individuals.
  2. Since subjects were new, unpracticed, and not yet cold-adapted, it’s established that more experience with cold thermogenesis would allow them to reach higher calorie burning numbers
  3. The subjects carried much more white fat than previous subjects and their fat may have acted as “insulation” against the cold.

In this respect, I suppose using cold thermogenesis as a fat loss strategy can be likened to going to the gym. If you’re overweight, out of shape, and are going to the gym or to exercise for the very first time, your workout will not yet be very productive when it comes to actually increasing fitness parameters like lactate threshold or maximum oxygen utilization. But as you put in the time exercising, building muscle, losing fat, increasing conditioning and even simply learning how to properly do the exercises, your workouts can get better and more productive and yield better results over time when it comes to increasing fitness.

Thus a new, overweight and out-of-shape person should not judge exercise based off their first workout, and this concept is exactly the same for cold thermogenesis.

If someone starts out overweight and carrying some fat, it may be tricky to induce the highest intensity levels on the very first cold thermogenesis session. Like all things, cold training takes practice.  One has to learn about their own tolerance levels, slowly increase cold adaptation and build up brown fat, learn how to relax during sessions, and so on.  As they lose fat (and ideally, build muscle) it gets easier to get better results during sessions.

Let's now take a look at what happened not just to calorie burn in these subjects, but also to fatty acid and blood sugar regulating adiponectin levels.

Half the subjects saw around a 10% boost in adiponectin levels from the beginning to the end of the session.  The other half saw minimal changes.  Compare this to a previous study that showed that after 10 weeks of a lycopene-rich diet (tomatoes), women subjects saw a 9% increase.

So the Cool Fat Burner reproduced in 90 minutes what it took those other subjects 9 weeks to do.

It’s been shown over the last few years that adiponectin levels can vary for different demographics and populations.  Not everyone starts at the same levels, nor responds to activities such as diet, exercise, and cold thermogenesis in the same way. For example, a recent published study showed that when testing children, different ethnicities have different adiponectin levels, and those levels can often predict how well they will respond to diabetes treatments (remember, adiponectin is involved in – amongst other things – insulin sensitivity and metabolism).

Also, bear in mind that adiponectin is inversely related to obesity, meaning that the more obese you are, the lower your adiponectin levels tend to be.  So already half of the subjects (all of which were already classified as overweight) saw an increase during the session, and it is reasonable to assume as they lose weight and get in shape, their adiponectin levels will increase across the board for all subjects.

Next there's irisin, which can help with the “browning” of white fat, can help build muscle, can probably kill certain types of cancer, and may promote longevity.  Unfortunately, the irisin results were problematic.  One third of the subjects saw increases, but others did not.  But the problem here is certainly due to the testing method.

During the initial stages of our experiment setup, a controversy arose over the testing accuracy of irisin.  Some critics were saying all testing methods were flawed, and doubted humans could even produce the irisin hormone.  The debate went back and forth, and eventually they used “mass spectrometry” to prove that humans do in fact product irisin.  However, it was then acknowledged that many of the methods used to test irisin may be flawed and inaccurate.

So at the last minute, we changed testing methods, and used one that was supposed to be “up to date” with the new findings.  However the lab reported to us that the first testing kit was not working right, so none of the findings were valid.  They purchased several more kits, and re-tested everything and those were the results we were eventually given.

Then another problem was revealed with the irisin testing. It has been postulated that freezing blood samples can damage the irisin in the sample.  What’s more, the longer it stays frozen, the lower the irisin scores.  All of our samples were frozen, and most were frozen for months and months before testing even began!

So at this point, I’m not real confident about the irisin results.  The reality is that all subjects surely had an increase in irisin, and all were larger than the tests showed.

But we already know high intensity cold exposure can increase irisin.  For example, a mere 15 minutes at high intensity cold thermogenesis (shivering) increases irisin as much as an hour of HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise.  However as mentioned above, in regards to the metabolic boost and calorie burning, there’s a good chance the test subjects simply weren’t motivated to reach a higher level of intensity (evidenced by their huge, but still lower overall metabolic boost).  That may also have contributed to lower irisin levels, which is released during high intensity exercise and cold thermogenesis.


Summary

So that’s it folks!  Despite handicapping ourselves with a few of the tests, we still got great results. Huge calorie burning, an extremely significant hormonal response, and proof that yet again the Cool Fat Burner can work as well (but with more convenience) as jumping into an icy cold lake or taking a very long cold shower.

And please bear in mind that this test was performed on a randomized group of slightly obese subjects in a tightly controlled university exercise lab.  This is just further proof of the benefits of the Cool Fat Burner and cold thermogenesis!

In celebration of these test results, I am giving any Ben Greenfield Fitness reader a 12% Cool Fat Burner discount code on the vest or the gut burner (or you can get both). It's good until New Year's Day 2017, so it's perfect timing for buying a Christmas gift or simply giving yourself the ability to decimate holiday fat fast.

The code is Ben12CFB and you can click here to use it now. As I mentioned earlier, you'll also get full access to my Cool Fat Burner guide download along with your cold thermogenesis gear. Happy holidays, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below.

Do Training Masks Really Work?

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

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

Here's your sneak peek from this week's article,“Do Training Masks Really Work?”.

“You’ve no doubt seen them: those sleek, tight-fitting masks worn by UFC fighters like Diego Sanchez, Tyrone Woodley and Carlos Condit, celebrity actors like Michael Jordan in the recent movie Creed and even extreme workout enthusiasts at your local gym who appear to be the exercising equivalent of the villain Bane from Batman’s “Dark Knight Rises”. Indeed, from the looks of NFL players, Ironman triathletes, BJJ champions, MMA fighters, boxers, Crossfitters and beyond, these masks, which come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, seem to be taking the fitness world by storm.

But do training masks really work? In today’s article, you’ll discover the answer, and find out whether these trendy face-gadgets are waste of your money or a breakthrough device that will give you the lungs of a freak mutant.”

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

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

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

Welcome to my brand new Weekly Roundup!

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

Let's do this!


Podcasts I Recorded This Week:

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

peter-s-landscape

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

360-image

Popular Podcasts I Was On This Week:

I discussed my personal life with Hayden Wilson…

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

Articles I Published This Week:

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

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

This Week's Inner Circle News:

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

Upcoming Events:

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

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

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

This Week's Most Popular Instagram Pic:

Jessa and I got a little romantic in Kauai…

This Week's Most Popular Tweet:

This Week's Most Popular Facebook Post:

A little Throwback Thursday…

This Week's Most Popular Snapchat Story:

I got a little crazy with ketones…

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

This Week's Most Popular Pin from Pinterest:

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

Cool New Products:

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

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

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

Obstacle Dominator 2.0

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

And…This Week's Big Giveaway:

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Ben

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Is IGF-1?

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

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

So what is IGF-1?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's not to love?

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Natural Ways To Increase IGF-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Should You Get IGF-1 Injections?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Does IGF-1 Really Make You Live Longer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, you might be asking…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, let’s cut straight to the chase.

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

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

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

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

Here is exactly what I personally use:

NatureColostrum (4-8 capsules per day)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…I just returned from a three day conference.

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

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

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

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

-Get sick an average of once every 3 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Healthy Alternatives To Pokemon GO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long.

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

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

Here's your sneak peek from this week's article, “8 Ways to Build Fitness All Year Long

“…When you finish a repetition—such as jumping into the air or doing a dumbbell curl—there is a perceptible pause between each repetition. This is called the “stretch-shortening cycle” or SSC, and you can either spend a long time in the SSC or train your ability to be explosive and exhaust the muscle and nervous system slightly more quickly by reducing the period of time spent during this SSC. For example, when you run, you can run at 90 steps per minute instead of 80 steps per minute. When you do a series of jump squats or jump lunges, you can rest as little as possible between each rep, essentially “decreasing ground contact time.” When you do a series of overhead presses, you can reverse the direction of the weight and press it straight overhead as soon as it gets down to your shoulders…”

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

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

7 Big Fat Weight Loss Lies (And My Own Personal Trick For Getting Out Of A Podcast Rut).

I'll keep this quick: I'm a total podcast and audiobook junkie.

But sometimes, when I “run out” of stuff to listen to in my car, on my bike, while running, lifting weights, etc., I find myself instead filling my head with some random audio clip or podcast…

…about the history of France…

…or how electronic currency works…

…or some insipid song that doesn't really grow my brain…

…or the eight gazillionth interview with somebody who just launched their book.

*Yawn*.

So here's my quick tip for you that I do all the time: get access to online “summits” that target your specific problems via a bunch of interviews with experts…

…then download all the summit videos, convert them to audio, and listen while you train, drive, clean the car, hike, etc.

It's like feeding through the firehose of targeted solutions to your problems.

Here's your chance to try it out: my friend Yuri *just* launched aFat Loss Summit you can use this exact technique with. It's not ho-hum fat loss advice like “EAT LESS FRIGGIN' CAKE”.

Instead, he and his guests do a really good job delving into science like:

– How to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling strategies…

– Secret Russian and mixed martial art training principles that speed fat loss…

– How to gamefy your workouts to burn more fat in less time…

– A gut healing plan to go from sugar burner to fat burner…

– How to tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster…

– And much more (including a cold thermogenesis episode from yours truly)…

Anyways, not many of these summits are worth buying because it's usually just a bunch of stuff you could find for free elsewhere.

But this particular Fat Loss Summit is worth checking out, whether you're trying to get from 10% body fat to 4%, or you have 50+ pounds to lose. It's free, too, if you want to watch it live. Or use the trick I just taught you: buy it, download it to your phone, computer or .mp3 player and listen to it.

Below is just a small sampling of the non-run-of-the-mill fat loss advice you'll find for you, or your clients, or your patients. Enjoy.

Fat Loss Summit

Leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and click here to register for free for the Fat Loss Summit now!

A Day In The Life Of The Ultimate Fat Burning Weapon Inventor.

Meet Eric (pictured above as he stares off into some mysterious icy wilderness).

I'll keep this simple for you: Eric is mildly obsessed with the use of cold exposure to burn massive amounts of calories. He invented a vest that I use every week, called a CoolFatBurner. You put the vest over your shoulders, where your body carries the majority of your rapid calorie burning brown adipose tissue, and then you just sit there.

Oh yeah, one other thing: the vest is filled with cold packs.

So anyways, you may be scratching your head, you may think all this is woo-woo, you may already know about “cold thermogenesis” but you're not quite sure how practically to do it, or you may simply want an easy way to nudge any extra holiday calories off your waistline and instead use them to generate pure, clean body heat.

Either way, keep reading, because Eric is today's guest author, and he's going to give you a glimpse inside the nefarious, shivering mind of the ultimate fat burning weapon inventor – himself. Enjoy.

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Howdy and Happy Holidays.

If you've been reading Ben's blog or listening to his podcast for the past year, then you probably already know of the fat-burning benefits of cold thermogenesis, cold showers, keeping your house cool and wearing special gear that keeps you cold.  Along with interviewing guys like iceman Wim Hof and neurosurgeon Jack Kruse, Ben was the first person to reveal the results of my groundbreaking indirect calorimetry experiment, which shows that high intensity cold stress can boost your metabolism by 301% (gotta love burning an extra 600 calories while I play video games).
Since then, I've shown that wearing my Cool Fat Burner vest can boost adiponectin by 60% in two hours, raise resting metabolic rate, and activate brown fat – and keep it active for hours after removing the cooling vest. We later duplicated this experiment last August, just to further show the cold thermogenesis can maintain maximal brown adipose levels even through a hot summer season. Using the weapon of cold, we also showed that you can spot reduce stomach fat via cold-induced fat cell apoptosis.

That's fat cell death. Goodbye muffin tops.

But we now know that the Cool Fat Burner can do a lot more than speed up fat burning. It can also directly encourage muscle growth.  This is arguably just as important as the fat burning benefit.  Why?

As of the time you are reading this, over 2/3 of Americans are overweight, with the modernized world not far behind.

But when many people try to lose weight, they end up losing muscle tissue along with that fat, sometimes losing a lot of valuable muscle that can be very, very hard to get back!  This is obviously not good.  Aside from the fact that you’ll look less healthy, be weaker and have decreased performance at most physical tasks, you may also be at higher risk for the various metabolic and “lifestyle disorders” you tried to avoid by losing weight in the first place.

And now, since you lost muscle, your workout capacity and resting metabolic rate have dropped, which means that what used to be a maintenance level of food that was burned by your own muscle is now a calorie surplus!

So your purpose in become the ultimate fat-burning machine is clear: you want to be able to burn fat, while preserving (or even building new) muscle.

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How To Burn Fat And Build Muscle At The Same Time

Cold thermogenesis can be your secret weapon in this battle that so many others struggling at the gym don’t (yet) realize.

To help maintain muscle while you burn fat, cold thermogenesis can help you:

So cold thermogenesis can not only boost metabolism, burn a massive number of calories, and help keep the fat off, but it can also help preserve and even promote muscle gains. Click on the links for yourself. The research has spoken, and it just makes sense when you think about – in the same way that exercise can be uncomfortable and eating healthy or skipping a few holiday bottles of booze can be uncomfortable, cold exposure can be uncomfortable – but the benefits of even mild cold stress are profound. Discomfort pays off.

So what is the best protocol to optimize cold thermogenesis and make all this happen?

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How To Use Cold Thermogenesis

I've integrated some of the most effective diet plans, workout paradigms, and cold thermogenesis breakthroughs into what I call the “Body Recomp” plan.  This plan is highly individualized and customizable, since it’s really just a set of principles that you pick and choose as you please, combining diet, exercise and cold stress in the absolute best ways to meet the goals of burning fat, building muscle, and improving health, with the speed at which you go dependent on how far you're willing to take the diet and the cold.

Is your goal to eat 18 scoops of ice cream (dairy-free vegan coconut ice cream, of course) and partition those calories away from fat and instead shove them into muscle, all while still walking around with exemplary health markers and clinically low insulin levels?  Well, here you go:

Eventually, I'll have the Body Recomp plan up on the new Cool Fat Burner site with free access.  Until then, I'm going to give you a few general concepts, principles, and practices you can get started with.

To begin, you must understand two simple concepts: mTOR and AMPK – one builds up and one breaks down, respectively. The table below fills you in.

Cool Fat Burner

 

The key in building muscle and burning fat at the same time is to unlock the benefits of both these processes, while avoiding the negatives of both – to build your muscles, without increasing fat storage or abnormal, cancerous cells and to burn fat and clean up bad cells without tearing down muscle.

Cold thermogenesis spans the gap.  It has been shown to accelerate fat loss and kick in AMPK, and yet the effects of both irisin and adiponectin can help preserve muscle tissue and activate mTOR.

And that, in a very basic scientific nutshell, is how you build muscle and burn fat at the same time.

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The Levels of Cold Thermogenesis

Back when the Cool Fat Burner was first created, I defined 3 distinct levels or intensities of cold stress, based on the level of cold stimulus required, the systems they activate, and the results they give you.

Level 1: Beginner / Casual Intensity:

This feels like being lightly cooled off, and would be like hanging out in a 65°F room with minimal clothing. It activates the autonomic nervous system, and causes a small increase in calorie burning (probably around 10%).  This is a low level of cold thermogenesis, and could be done for hours a day, with minimal effort.  You may even experience enhanced glucose uptake at this level.

For example, I received an email from a Cool Fat Burner user who wasn’t ready for the insulin sensitizing effects of cold thermogenesis. He said he wore the cooling vest over a T-shirt, and when he approached the 30 minute mark, he nearly passed out! When I questioned further, it turned out his mother was diabetic, and that he was 100lbs overweight and had a fatty liver.

Simply put, the customer had poor insulin sensitivity, and was pre-diabetic and cold thermogenesis caused a massive burning up of blood glucose, pulling it into brown fat and muscle tissue!

Even though I don't encourage cooling yourself into hypoglycemic shock, this of course proves the power of cold exposure, and demonstrates why brown fat is being researched to help treat or even prevent (T2) diabetes.  It also demonstrates that you need to be careful when engaging in cold thermogenesis, because it actually works!

Level 2: Moderate Intensity

This is a deeper chill, and starts to activate brown fat and skeletal muscle uncoupling.  This will definitely increase glucose uptake and start to allow for nutrient partitioning.  The calorie burn numbers here can depend on how much muscle and brown fat you have (you'll burn more calories when you maintain muscle while losing fat).

Also note – cold thermogenesis can maintain maximal brown adipose tissue levels even through summer, which I found when wearing a cooling vest around 1.5 hrs a day, and verified with PET scans.  So while hot weather will decrease brown fat in everyone else, you can use cold thermogenesis to maintain maximal BAT levels and fat burning even through the summer.

Level 2: Hardcore Intensity

This intensity ventures into the realm of shivering.  But before you go running for the hills, understand that there is a spectrum here – this can be a subtle, barely perceptible pre-shiver that only works in small muscle groups, and progress up to large-scale shivering shaking your entire body.

Even in the indirect calorimetry experiment, doing slight to moderate shivering, interval shivering (so-called “shiver surfing”) I demonstrated a boosted metabolism of over 300%.  This level also produces the highest levels of adiponectin and irisin.

So shivering will burn a massive amount of calories, can help preserve or even build muscle, can radically increase insulin sensitivity, causes the fastest increase in your regular brown fat stores, and cause “browning” of your subcutaneous white fat into “bright” or “beige” fat, as well as a whole host of health and life-extending benefits (some may mistakenly think that hardcore intensity would be an unpleasant experience, but they’d be wrong).

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Two Sample Days Of Cold Thermogenesis

So, using these principles and applying those various intensities of cold thermogenesis, here are two sample days from the Body Recomp plan. Example one is for clean-bulking muscle (e.g. you want to build muscle and you really don't have much fat to lose), and example two is for fat burning without losing muscle.

Example 1 – Anabolic Day (clean-bulk muscle building):

Goals:  turn on mTOR, build muscle without gaining fat.  Enjoy cheat foods.  Increase metabolism.  Have a ‘break’ from dieting.  Enjoy satiety, experience a full stomach.  Overall ‘building up’ of the body. Yep – you guessed it – perfect for the holidays.

Meal 1: Breakfast

Breakfast-5 eggs, 5 strips bacon, assorted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, etc)

-~50gm protein, moderate fats, very low carb  (usually take fish oil and chia seeds and fat-soluble vitamins like Vit D with this meal)

Note: Brazil nuts have a lot of selenium, which can build to toxic levels.  Eat in moderation.

If your workout suffers from having no carbs and you’ve ruled out it’s not just psychological, then throw in some slow-digesting carbs.  Oatmeal would be an excellent choice.

Workout 1: Early afternoon, muscle-building resistance training.

New PictureNOTE:  “resistance training” is a bit ambiguous.  We know that progressive overload is needed to preserve / build muscle.  Yet it’s recently been implied that the differences in rep ranges – the classical 1-5 reps for strength, vs the 7-12 reps for hypertrophy – may not be as clear cut as we once thought.

It appears one should work a muscle at least 2-3 times a week, anywhere from the “power rep range” (typically 1-5 reps) to the “hypertrophy rep range,” (usually 8-12 reps) and still get the same muscle size growth or preservation.  So specific rep ranges may not be too important in terms of muscle size and preservation, and individual goals, can factor in here.

Note:  On a more metabolically intensive variant of the Body Recomp plan, you can cycle in extremely high rep work, complexes, anaerobic work, metabolic work, HIIT (high intensity interval training), and LISS (low intensity steady state cardio).  You can also frequently cycle the type of exercise, as well as add ‘exotic’ methods, such as resistance bands, paused reps and timing schemes, partial movements, conjugate principles, and so on, to prevent plateaus and boredom. To preserve muscle simply means you need to spend adequate time on strength-end of the strength/endurance spectrum.

Meal 2: Post-Workout Meal (carb refeed)

post workout-Chicken thighs, lentils, sour kraut & kimchee, sweet potatoes, greek yogurt, an apple (usually w/ caramel dip), and dark chocolate.

-Lots of protein adequate carbs, as well as fiber and pro/pre-biotic elements.  (if you take probiotic pills, this would be a good time to pop ‘em)

-At least 50-60 gm protein in this meal.

-Alternate post-workout meal:  Junk food / cheat meal version:  use your imagination. Just make sure you get enough protein and make every attempt to keep things Ben approved. A giant gluten-free pizza with a pastured egg and some feta cheese on top? OK. A basket of greasy, inflammatory chicken wings? Probably not.

Note: While it may only take 20 gm protein to increase muscle protein synthesis, it’s still probably a good idea to get more protein per meal, especially if you’re older, andI never get less than 40gm protein in any given meal.  I like to get .8 to 1 gm per pound bodyweight every day, divided into 3-5 meals.  I weigh between 190lbs to 200lbs, depending on current goals, so I never get less than 150gm protein a day.

Note #2: the carb refeed can boost leptin and thyroid, can help reduce muscle protein breakdown, replenish muscle glycogen, and provide a psychological break from the diet.

cold thermogenesisCold thermogenesis / Cool Fat Burner session

After this post-workout meal, I'll go for 1.5-2hrs wearing one or both cooling vests (Cool Gut Buster along with the Cool Fat Burner)

I may not shiver during this session, because I don’t want to burn off too many calories, nor activate AMPK – I want those post-workout meal calories to go into muscle building.

The goal here is for increased nutrient partitioning and pushing the nutrients into the muscles. I’m not really trying to burn too many calories, unless I went overboard with the junk food and fear carb spillover.  Moderate intensity cold thermogenesis is enough.

Meal 3: Night Meal

night meal-Huge 2.57lb taco salad (yes, the scale was tared for the weight of the plate and fork)

-Probably at least 80 gm protein.  High protein, moderate fat, lowish carbs (no wrap or chips here).

So by the end of the day, I probably had nearly 200 gm of protein and I had a decent amount of carbs (almost all in the post workout meal).  The ‘cleaner’ version of the PWO meal had a lot of fiber, prebiotics, and phytonutrients.  The junk food version (not pictured) would be lacking in all that, unless I took fiber supplements and vitamins with it.  Lifting was done somewhere in the 1-5 or 8-12 rep range per set, trying to get a minimum of 30 reps per muscle group for the whole workout.  Cold thermogenesis was used to help catch any extra calories and hopefully push them into muscle and BAT.

So the end results would be increased muscle growth, boosted leptin and thyroid, a psychological break with the cheat meal, a full belly, and muscles that would feel pumped and full with little to no added fat, all followed by a deep, restful sleep.

Example 2 – Fat Burning Day (burning fat without losing muscle):

Goals:  Fasting or “PSMF” (“protein sparing modified fast” to maintain muscle synthesis, since muscle synthesis can continue for up to 48 hrs after a hard workout).  Huge calorie burning and fat loss.  Activation of cellular cleanup and the enhancement of health and longevity via AMPK pathways.

Note:  much of day will be spent in either an air conditioned environment (if it's hot outside) or with heat turned down or off (winter).  Ideally wear minimal clothes.  Keep fingers, toes, ears, and nose warm.

Meal 1: Breakfast

breakfast 2Optional:  fat-based coffee

  • -Coconut oil
  • -Grass-fed butter
  • -Cocoa powder
  • -Cinnamon

Also take fish oil and chia seeds, as well as any fat-soluble vitamins here, such as Vitamin D or Vitamin K.

Note: The coffee will help to shut down appetite stimulation, and the fats will lessen gluconeogenesis of the PSMF protein-only breakfast (e.g. the ability of the proteins to turn into sugars).

protein slurry-Protein slurry.  60-80 grams of casein (and egg?) protein powder, with powdered peanut butter (or – since I know Ben is reading this – raw almond butter) and almond milk or coconut milk.  Bacon on top.

Note: Consider avoiding whey (and maybe egg) protein if you’re trying to maximize AMPK.  Whey contains a lot of the amino acid leucine.  Leucine activates mTOR.  This is good on anabolic days, not so much on fat burning AMPK days.

Remember, AMPK is involved in cellular cleanup, the destruction of harmful junk cells, and longevity. We want to maximize AMPK on this fat burning day.  So at least for the morning hours, consider keeping insulin low, mTOR turned off, and AMPK revved up as high as possible.  That means not eating whey, and possibly not even eating eggs, as they too can be insulinogenic, turn on mTOR, and turn off AMPK.

Meal 2: Late Morning / Early Afternoon Meal

pre-cool fat burner session-Pre- Cool Fat Burner session.  Huge protein smoothie.  (at least 40-50gm protein for me at ~ 195lbs)  Lots of ice, to chill the insides.

-Long, hardcore cold thermogenesis session.  I’ll go at least 1.5 to 2hrs.  At least 1 hour will be spent somewhere around shivering.  (NOTE:  it is not advised to wear a cooling vest longer than 30 minutes without medical consent)

Even after removing the cooling vests, I’ll lounge in the same cold room for at least an hour or so. So this single session alone could run upwards of 4 hours. But I'm still being productive (and yes, also playing video games) during those 4 hours.

Meal 3: Late Afternoon Meal

turkey burgersTurkey burgers on Portobello mushroom ‘buns.’  (salted stems used as ‘fries’)

High protein, low fat, no carb.

Evening cold thermogenesis.

evening cold thermogenesisTake a chill-walk, wearing the CFB (CoolFatBurner vest) if feasible.  The extra walking will serve as low intensity steady state cardio (LISS), and adding cold thermogenesis to the mix adds even more calories burned.  Go for at least an hour.

Note:  Dress lightly if possible and walk slow and casually, so as to not generate too much heat via exercise.

Meal 4: Night Meal

night meal 2-~60 gm of protein.  Cod, broccoli, and zucchini.  High protein, moderate fat (butter and almond flour on zucchini), low carb.

-At least 200 gm of protein for the day, very low fat and carb.  PSMF.  (eat at least 1gm protein per pound bodyweight on fat burning days, to help preserve muscle)

So with an already boosted metabolism, I’m already in a huge caloric deficit from the PSMF.  Add to that many hundreds of calories burned from the CFB and I should easily hit 1/2lb of fat loss this day.

What’s more, by keeping insulin low especially through morning, by depleting glycogen all day, ad by being in constant fat burning mode, I’m maximizing insulin sensitivity, improving health markers, activating AMPK, and doing some serious house-cleaning on the body’s cells.

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Summary

So that's it!

Yeah, I know you probably have questions, so leave them in the comments section below. I'll answer.

These two sample days were obviously opposite in nature and outcome.  Anabolic growth vs. metabolic cleanup.  Building muscle and repairing tissues vs. burning fat and cleaning up cellular junk.

So choose your goal. Then, as a famous shoe company once quipped, just do it. And yes, either strategy is 100% Ben Greenfield approved and endorsed. Have fun.

Cold thermogenesis and the Cool Fat Burner can help with both.  

How To Get Amazing Arms And Legs (And Why Exercise May Be Less Important Than You Think)

That's JJ Virgin pictured above.

I first met JJ at a health conference in New York. I looked at the person seated in the chair to my left, and then I did a double-take as I realized that this woman sitting next to me had some of the most impressively toned arms and legs that I've ever seen in my life.

I was even more shocked when I found out how she exercises.

She's going to spill the beans on how she got such amazing arms and legs in today's podcast, in which you'll also find out why exercise may be less important than you think.

Resources we discuss:

JJ's books, including “The Virgin Diet”

CNN story of JJ's son

6 Weeks to Sleeveless And Sexy book

JJ's Fit Club

Retinol Cream

Purigenex Skin Care line

Thorne Clay SkinCare bar

Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System

Nuskin Ageloc

Nerium Age Defying Cream Kit

Annmarie Gianni Skin Care

Beef Protein Powder

Finally, if you want The Purigenex Intensive Collagen System that JJ talks about in the podcast, it has only been sold to plastic surgeons, doctors and medspas for the past 5 years. But this transdermal collagen mask and serum is being made available exclusively to Ben Greenfield Fitness Subscribers for $300 below the doctor price with FREE overnight shipping! Check it out here. You can also get the Age Reversal Serum she talks about here. 

Do you have question about how to get amazing arms and legs, and anything else JJ and I discuss in this podcast? Leave your comments below!

How To Use Food As Your Body’s Fat Loss Language.

fat cell

Last week, in the post “21 Steps To Optimizing Your Diet And 11 Foods You Need To Stop Eating Now“, you learned about the book “Deep Nutrition” and all about the concept of why your genes need traditional food.

Today, Deep Nutrition author and physician Dr. Cate Shanahan is featured on the podcast to delve into how the way your body interprets the food you eat in a way that you can make you either lean or fat – depending on your food choice.

You're going to discover…

-Why information is more important than energy, and why calories don't count…

-The Deep Nutrition formula for weight loss

-Why you'll never get on Baywatch without body fat

-Why supplements don't work

-The problem with distorted fats

-Where stem cells fit in

-Why starvation diets fail and moderation or small food portions are actually not a good idea

-6 factors that make you build fat

-6 factors that eliminate fat

-How inflammation makes fat like cancer

-Why you need to “feel” your exercise, even if it's aerobic

-3 habits of successful exercisers

-And much more!

If you have questions, comments or feedback about using food as fat loss language, leave your thoughts below, and don't forget to grab Cate's book Deep Nutrition, which I highly recommend!

How To Lose 75 Pounds by Eating Plants – Premium Podcast!


BJ Tucker is a long distance runner, health advocate, father of 5 and has been married for 28 years. His journey started 2 1/2 years ago when he was tired of being overweight, tired and not able to walk up a flight of stairs without losing his breath.

So he started eating plants. And running. And eliminating alcohol and grains. Since then he has lost 75 pounds, and become a successful long distance runner with achievements like back-to-back marathons.

BJ recently featured my “10 Steps To Mastering A Plant Based Diet” post on his website. Why was BJ so interested in that? Because BJ is a self-described “plant-powered athlete”. He eats no meat.

So in today's audio podcast, I ask BJ:

Questions:

-How did you lose 75 pounds over the past 2 years?

-Where did alcohol fit into the picture for you?

-How do you manage to eat a plant-based diet and yet go, as Vinnie Tortorich says, “NSNG”? Aren't grains very common on a plant-based diet?

-It's no secret that plant-based diets often contradict what I personally recommend here at BenGreenfieldFitness – namely a high-fat diet combined with avoidance of long, slow cardio. But you eat a plant-based diet and run long distances. Are you concerned about your blood work, hormones or gut, or do you pay attention to that?

-What's your running protocol look like? Do you have any special strategies you want to share, such as run-walk protocols, pacing methods, etc?

-Do you strength train, and if so, what do you do?

-How do you manage 5 kids, a successful marriage and long distance running? Any tips for our audience?

-Does your family also eat a plant-based diet? If so, do your kids ever ask about eating meat?

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to lose 75 pounds by eating plants? Leave your questions, comments and feedback below and BJ or I will reply!

How a Light Switch And 6 Other Common Household Items Can Help You Lose Weight

I used to have a game I'd give to people who would attend an early morning bootcamp I taught at the park.

It went like this:

-You pair up with a partner and a deck of cards and deal each other a full deck of cards, alternating card by card.

-If you're dealt any card from 2 to 10, you do that number of push-ups.

-If you're dealt an Ace, you do 5 burpees. If you get a Jack, you do 10 jumping jacks. A Queen is 10 mountain climbers, a King 10 squats. And the dreaded joker was a wild card for which your partner got to choose any exercise and have you do 10 of them.

One of my friends – Michael Volkin, a sergeant in the US military, has taken a similar concept and put it on freaking steroids. He has a deck of cards called the “Strength Stack 52”. It goes like this:

Each card in the 52 card deck has a different body weight exercise on it.

Each card is color coded by muscles group: blue: cardio, red: core, pink: back, yellow: legs, orange: arms, green: chest

Each card has an exercise, silhouette of the exercise being performed, a description of how to perform the exercise and a suggested number of repetitions for each exercise.

Each card has a QR code. When scanned with any number of free smartphone apps (i.e. i-nigma), you can see a video of the exercise being performed. A bit.ly shortlink is also on each card so you can watch the exercise video by simply typing in a short address into the URL of any browser.

Pretty cool, huh?

Michael also likes to figure out unique and new ways to boost the metabolism and burn fat faster. Below, he shares with use how a light switch, and other household items, can help you lose weight. Enjoy!

How a Light Switch, and other Household Items, Can Help You Lose Weight

When I was 19, I could eat whatever I wanted and not worry about the intake of calories. Fast-forward a couple decades and those “glory days” are long over.  However, losing weight isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Even common household items you have in your house right now can help you burn calories and lose weight without ever hearing the dreaded word “diet”. Below are a few of my favorite household items that can help you consume less calories.

-Vanilla

Aromas can influence your thought patterns.  That’s not an opinion, it’s a scientific fact. The smell of vanilla can quell the cravings of needless calories from mindless snacking. Try lighting a vanilla-scented candle when you sense a snack craving approaching.  Smelling a bottle of vanilla extract or wearing vanilla-scented lotion will also work to quell your cravings the next time you want to snack on something sweet.

-Your Toothbrush

Peppermint toothpaste is proven to suppress appetites. Brushing your teeth right after dinner sends a signal to your brain that you’re done eating and discourages you from eating that calorie packing bedtime snack.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to floss!

Note from Ben: be sure to use natural, organic toothpaste. I personally use Dental Herb Company Tooth and Gum Paste.

-Your TV Remote

The average person spends five hours a day in front of the television. Imagine how many calories you could burn turning off your TV for just 30 minutes and flipping 10 Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards.  Flip 10 cards for a quick solo workout or play a fitness game with your family or friends in the room.  This burns so many more calories than lying lifeless in front of the TV.

-Eat off Smaller Plates

Countless studies have concluded that the larger your plates and bowls, the more food you serve yourself.  Serve yourself food from a smaller plate and you will feel just as full and satisfied compared to a normal sized plate.

-Your Computer

Log into Facebook and announce you’re going to lose X amount of weight. Now, you’re accountable to others and motivated by the ones who care about you.  Studies have proven that while trying to lose weight, being accountable to someone other than yourself increases your chances dramatically that you will reach your weight loss goals.

-The Light Switch

A Cornell University study concluded the secret to eating less and feeling more satisfied about what you eat could be to simply turn down the lights. Researchers found people who ate a meal under soft lighting consumed 175 fewer calories than those who ate in a brightly lit room. The participants who dined under mood lighting ate 18% less food and also rated their food “more enjoyable” than those eating under bright lights. Scientists theorize that's because the bright fluorescent lights commonly found in fast food restaurants may create a psychological need to rush through meals and eat more.  So do your belly a favor; get romantic and light a candle at dinner.

Even More Fat Loss Tips

If you enjoyed those tips from Michael, you'll probably also like these previous resources from BenGreenfieldFitness:

5 Powerful Calorie Control Tricks To Help You Eat Less Food (article)

5 Ways To Suppress Your Appetite Without Taking Any Special Pills or Capsules (video)

How To Stop Carbohydrate Cravings (audio)

How To Stop Sugar Cravings In Their Tracks (audio)

A Simple Six-Step System for Eliminating Food Cravings (article)

How To Fight Candy Cravings (article)

Questions, comments or feedback about how to use common household items to lose weight? Have your own items to add? Leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out the Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards. 

5 Very Unhealthy Ways To Lose Weight (And How To Lose Weight The Right Way).

You may have already seen the news flash that eating less does not cause weight loss

And if you read that news flash, you know that eating too few calories in your quest to lose weight can cause some nasty issues – such as neuroendocrine disruption (e.g. hormonal imbalances), lean muscle loss, and a lowering of of your metabolic set point (which can happen in as few as three days of calorie restriction).

It turns out that eating less is just one unhealthy way to lose weight (or not lose weight at all!). In addition to eating less, here are 5 more very unhealthy ways to lose weight.

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1. Excessive Fasting

Although fasting can certainly have some life-extending and “cellular cleanup” benefits, you can definitely overdo frequent periods of calorie restriction. Excessive fasting causes sleeplessness, anxiety, and loss of fertility, among a myriad of other hormonal dysregulation symptoms

…especially among women.

Yes, it may seem sexist or unfair, but it seems that men simply do better heading off into the hills to hunt, gather or fight in a state of calorie restriction – while the same scenario sends many women into a complete metabolic tailspin. You can read a very good article that digs into this issue more at “Shattering the Myth of Fasting for Women: A Review of Female-Specific Responses to Fasting in the Literature“. I highly recommend you give it a read if you’re a female and you want to try fasting. I’ve personally found that when it comes to maintaining health and hormonal status for the female clients I train (and many of the very lean guys), a complete 24 hour fast done once or twice per month is far more effective than daily 12-16 hour intermittent fasting (which seems to be all the rage these days).

You can read more about how to fast the right way in the article “How To Customize Your Diet“.

————————————–

2. Carbohydrate Restriction

Sure, there are certainly neurological and metabolic benefits to high fat intake – and a very high fat ketosis diet can be a cool biohack – but excessive carbohydrate restriction can cause some serious issues. For example, carbohydrates are necessary for proper thyroid activity (specifically conversion of T3 to T4), and also because high concentration of free fatty acids can actually inhibit proper thyroid binding to it’s cell receptor, a very high fat diet that excessively restricts carbohydrates lowers metabolism and causes weight gain by inhibiting thyroid activity.

So how few carbohydrates are too few?

In a healthy, active individual, around 50-100g of daily carbs seems to be a “sweet spot” for maintaining good energy levels and weight loss. In a hard-charging athlete such as an Ironman triathlete, marathoner or Crossfitter, 100-200g of carbohydrates can be necessary. I'll admit that on an easy rest day I will sometimes eat just 25-50g of carbohydrates, but that's certainly not a daily practice for me, and if you're engaging in that level of carbohydrate restriction, I'd highly recommend you pay attention to important markers of metabolism such as morning body temperature, dry, cracked skin, and enormous sugar cravings accompanied by very low energy levels.

————————————–

3. Endurance Exercise

In the podcast episode “Why Women Gain Weight When Training For Endurance Sports“, Brock and I have the following discussion – which is highly relevant to both male and female endurance athletes, or anyone else churning away with long hours on a treadmill or bicycle:

Brock:              Lisa says, “I’ve a question about weight gain during marathon training.  I’m a 28 year-old female training for my 4th marathon in June.  I run anywhere from 50-70 miles per week at the height of my training and I often eat very clean Paleo with an occasional cheat.”  She lifts 2-3 times a week.  She’s 5’6’’ and around 130 lbs.  “Whenever I train more intensely for marathons, I end up gaining about 10 lbs (same as Erin).  So, again goes into a lot more detail about her diet.  “I eat low carb high fat for about a month in December when work prevented me from training and I ended up losing 10 lbs in a month then regaining it almost immediately once I resume training.”  Those are the important bits from both of those I think.

Ben:                   Okay. Basically, we’ve got 2 women who are training for marathon and are gaining weight which seems counter intuitive.  You would expect at first glance that you would actually lose weight with marathon training but they’re not finding this to be the case and you have this happen a lot when women start training for endurance sports, they gain weight.

Brock:               Is this woman in particular?

Ben:                   Women more than men tend to have this issue.  And there are a few different reasons for this. The first is something that can be glaringly obvious but a lot of people don’t really think about it and that is the fact that when you start to train for endurance training, your body enhances its ability to store carbohydrate. You can actually train your body to store up to 60% more carbohydrate.  Storage glycogen primarily in your muscles, you really can’t amplify what your liver’s able to store but your muscles are able to store up to 60% more carbohydrate once you start into an endurance training program.

Brock:               So this isn’t something you’re specifically training them to do.  This is sort of a…

Ben:                   This is just what the body does. This is a natural response to endurance training because it’s a survival mechanism.  You’re telling your body that it is going to be in situations where it has to go for a long periods of time and have access to that carbohydrate to break down.

Brock:               Get ready.  This may happen again tomorrow or maybe next week.

Ben:                   Exactly.  So it’s like this camel mechanism but glycogen carries up to 4 times its weight in water and so you can easily balloon up just from that carbohydrate and water gain.  You tend to get a little salt gain with it as well and unfortunately not what a lot of people want to hear but there’s not a ton that you can do about it because even if you say “okay well, I’m not gonna eat carbohydrate.  I’m gonna go low carb, I’m gonna go into ketoses.”  What happens is your body is actually able to take the ketones that deliver starch to churn out when you’re on a low carb diet and you’re not getting your body enough carbohydrates.  There’s what’s called the glycerol backbone on those ketone bodies – betahydroxybutarate, acetoacetate, or 2 primary ketone bodies you get circulating around in your bloodstream.  If your activity levels are high, and you’re in ketosis, what happens is that your liver is still able to make glucose out of those ketone bodies.  And technically, if you got some insulin in your bloodstream that glucose can still be converted into some muscle glycogen.  And you can maintain fairly high levels of storage carbohydrate while you’re in a state of ketosis.  So, yes, going low carb helps a little bit with this scenario, ballooning up when you start endurance sports but you’re still at risk of gaining weight just from this glycogen storage mechanism.

Brock:               When we’re talking about weight like just weight on scale, right?

Ben:                   We’re talking about weight on the scale, not necessarily fat.

Brock:               So your pants aren’t fitting necessarily different.

Ben:                   Right.

Brock:               It’s just your getting on the scale and going “oh man!”

Ben:                   Exactly.  And I think it was either Erin or Lisa who’d mentioned cortisol and of course, that can be an issue even if you’re recovering properly even if you’re getting lots of sleep, what happens is cortisol can cause your body to retain sodium and when you retain sodium, that also is going to cause some fluid retention as well which can also leave you yelling bloated, gaining weight – not necessarily fat but it’s still weight.  There is no way for your body when you’re training for marathon and by the way, both Lisa and Erin are running way more miles than I would ever run if training for marathon.  I don’t see any reason to run more than 30 miles a week unless you’re trying to be professional marathoners or something of that nature.  Your body’s going to churn out cortisol.  It’s simply the catabolic nature of endurance training and that also can cause that fluid retention.  When women (and we did a full podcast about this, I’ll link to it in the show notes about Why Women Gain Weight as They Get Older and What You Can Do About It) get older, and this can be kind of enhanced a little bit by the catabolic stressful nature of endurance sports, they tend to get a little bit of estrogen dominance and when you get that estrogen dominance going on, that also can cause weight gain for the reasons that we go into great detail on on that podcast that we did.  For something like that, you can take care of your liver.  Get on a good liver detox formula basically start to clear up the estrogen pathways in the liver.  The liver has 2 different detox pathways that it relies upon.  One is very reliant upon basically antioxidants – it’s like being on a full spectrum antioxidant. The other one is basically reliant on essentially adding amino acids to the toxins that build up in the liver.  And having adequate amino acids and specific kinds of amino acids and also having antioxidants can both help with detoxification in liver and with clearing estrogen a little bit more quickly.

I’ll put a link to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Recommends page in the show notes but some of the things that you’ll see there under the liver detox area would be like Silymarin which is a component of milk thistle extract. So there is one supplement called CapraCleanse that I really like for that like doing 3-6 CapraCleanse a day – good full spectrum antioxidant mix.  I’m actually writing an article for the website right now on energy drinks and one of the natural potent antioxidant cocktails that I recommend there is called Lifeshotz.  That’s something that I really use, do a pack everyday and that’s got some really good liver support stuff in it too like grape seed extracts and….

Brock:               You interviewed the guy who created those.

Ben:                   Yeah. My personal physician in Coeur D’Alene my naturopathic doctor, he basically was responsible for the formulation on that one.   That’s a really good one.  You’re gonna find some other stuff on that recommendations page that we’ll link to like calcium d-glucaratemethianine.  We’re getting on a good liver detox type of formula can help quite a bit too.  And then a couple of other things we already mentioned – compensatory eating when it comes to exercise.  So many people think that they’re not engaging in compensatory eating but if you write it down, in many many cases, you simply are. You’re eating way more than what you normally would if you work doing all that marathon training and that adds up pretty quickly and you’d be surprised even if you think that you’re eating the same or fewer calories than before you started training for marathon that you actually are not.  And writing it down helps quite a bit or photographing your food also.

Brock:               Even just periodically throwing that in even when you’re not training is always a nice way just to remind yourself what you actually are eating ‘cause there’s been studies, lots of studies have shown that people have bad memories about what they actually eat.

Ben:                   Very bad memories.  Yeah.  Food recalls is horrible.  Alcohol recall is even worse. We actually did have an after party after the triathlon just a few days ago and I think a few of us or so are in recovery mode including myself.  So just a couple of other things in terms of liver detox and estrogen turnover, high amounts of coffee, high amounts of tea, that can basically slow down estrogen turnover and cause some of the estrogen dominance weight gain as well so that’s something to be careful with. And then also cruciferous vegetables have a lot of phytoestrogens in them which are basically compounds that simulate a lot of the effects of estrogens and can actually help out a little bit in this case including stuff like broccoli and onions and kale and things of that nature when it comes to estrogen dominance.  And Brock is distracted…This is one of the issue with us recording live. What are you looking at?

Brock:               (There’s a salamander over …)

Ben:                   (It’s a frog.)  So those are the main things. You’ll see a lot of websites, Shape magazine and Prevention…Women’s Health.  They all say “well of course, it’s muscle weight that you’re gaining.”  Most women don’t gain muscle when they’re marathon training unless you’re starting from complete novice and you’re doing a ton of hill climbing or something like that, may put on some muscle on your thighs but it’s usually not muscle gain.  Typically, you’re talking about fluid retention and cortisol, glycogen retention, some sodium retention, that type of thing.

Brock:               Before I got distracted by the frog, I was going get you to clarify cruciferous vegetables.  Which ones are we talking about here?

Ben:                   Broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflowers, stuff like that.

Brock:               Really?  So these are like what we have normally considered to be like super foods are actually causing some problems.

Ben:                   No, no, no.  They have phytoestrogens in them which can help.  They basically occupy the receptor sites that estrogen would normally occupy so they actually help out a little bit too.  So those are some of the things that I recommend to both Erin and Lisa and that’s why women tend to gain weight when they start training for endurance sports and some of the things you can do about it.  We’ll not only put links to some of these stuff in the show notes for Episode 219 but as usual, we’ll create MyList for it over at facebook.com/BGfitness if you wanna access the MyList.  So, there we go.”

Whew. I know that was a mouthful – but it highlights how endurance exercise can lower your metabolism, shove your body into fat storage mode, and increase cortisol and fluid retention. I also discuss some of these issues in the free podcast episode “Top 5 Reasons Athletes Get Fat & What You Can Do About It“.

So while endurance exercise is a necessity if your goal is to cross the finish line of a triathlon or marathon, race a bike 100 miles, or swim across the English Channel, it's certainly not going to get you the most bang for your weight loss buck.

So what's a better way to exercise? Stay tuned, because I'll tell you in the 5 free resources at the end of this article.

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4. Supplements

One recent and relatively comprehensive weight loss supplement study is titled “Acute Effects of a Thermogenic Nutritional Supplement on Energy Expenditure and Cardiovascular Function at Rest, During Low-Intensity Exercise, and Recovery from Exercise.”, and in this study, researchers examined the effect of a weight loss supplement containing some of the most popular ingredients you’ll find in most weight loss supplements today:

  • caffeine
  • capsaicin (a component of hot peppers)
  • bioperine (an extract of black pepper)
  • big doses of niacin (vitamin B12)

The researchers gave men and women of average fitness this weight loss supplement and then measured their metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, and their carbohydrate and rate of fat burning for 50 minutes. They then measured all of these same variables during an hour of treadmill walking, and then measured them again during 50 minutes of post-exercise recovery.

Compared to a group that only took a placebo, the weight loss supplement group experienced a resting energy expenditure that was 6% higher, and a post-exercise energy expenditure that was 4-8% higher. Their maximum oxygen consumption during the exercise protocol was also slightly higher, with a small but significant increase in lipid metabolism (fat burning) during exercise.

Voila – fat loss supplements boost your metabolism and make you burn fat faster!

 

But that’s not all – heart rate and blood pressure were also significantly higher during and after exercise in the weight loss supplement group.

As a matter of fact, any weight loss supplement that contains ingredients such as ephedra, high doses of caffeine, country mallow, or even orlistat (an ingredient in the weight loss supplement Alli) may put you at cardiovascular risk, damage your liver, stress your adrenals and cause intestinal irritation, gut damage and gastrointestinal upset.

That’s not meant to scare you away from taking any weight loss supplement. For example, green tea extract, chromium, and conjugated linoleic acid are all on the safer side of the spectrum (along with the other fat loss supplements on my “approved” list here). But even these are meant to be the icing on the cake, and not some magical weight loss panacea that allows you to gorge on dark chocolate every night.

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5. Parasites

I recently lost 12 pounds.

In 3 days.

You can find out the nitty-gritty details of this rapid weight loss experience in my “Zen of Managing Poomergencies” article. In my case, a rogue bacteria was to blame.

But you don't have to travel across the world and go swim in nasty stagnant waste water to get the same unhealthy weight loss effect that bacteria or food poisoning can cause. Even in normal “healthy” populations and fully developed countries such as Australia, UK, and the USA, parasites are extremely common and can lead to nutrient deficiencies, food cravings, a weakened immune system, muscle loss, horrible insomnia, and a host of other health problems.

So how do you know if you have a parasite?

The best way is to test for parasites with a poop test like the CDSA 2.0 With Parasitology Profile from DirectLabs. This test also checks digestion, absorption, gut flora (tiny microorganisms that live in the stomach), immune system of the stomach, metabolic and microbiological markers, several bacterial strains, and your colon environment.

But you can also pay attention to common symptoms of parasites, such as carbohydrate cravings (parasites feed on sugar), frequent bouts of unexplained insomnia (especially during full moon periods, when parasites tend to hatch at night – gross, huh?), and of course, weight loss no matter how much you eat (this may seem like a convenient thing, but trust me – it's not worth it).

If you find out you have parasites, I highly recommend you detox your gut and even consider 30 days of a Gut Fix Pack like this to reboot your digestive system.

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Summary

So how do you lose weight the right way?

I'd start with the following five free resources:

1. 3 Pillars of Fat Loss – really comprehensive video lecture that is one of the most recent talks I've given on fat loss.

2. 12 Unconventional Ways To Burn Fat (Part 1) – quick, 10 minute Get-Fit Guy audio podcast & article.

3. 12 Unconventional Ways To Burn Fat (Part 2) – quick, 10 minute Get-Fit Guy audio podcast & article.

4. Which Workout Burns The Most Fat?  – quick, 10 minute Get-Fit Guy audio podcast & article.

5. Any of the Fat Loss sections of the “Ben Recommends” page – page that lists most of my top go-to tools and resources for fat loss.

Questions, comments or feedback about unhealthy ways to lose weight? Leave your thoughts below!