Introduction: Is too much Vitamin D toxic, why running is harder than biking, are apple seeds toxic, how can sugar cause accelerated aging, how do foods cause inflammation, how can inflammation be tested, why does the skin itch from pool workouts, good nutrition resources for kids, and Gymstick vs. TRX.
Ben: Hey folks, Ben Greenfield here. Still podcasting to you from Thailand, which is why the audio might sound a little bit different – portable microphone gives a little bit of an echo, but hopefully you can bear with me. I’m doing two races down here. Thanks to you guys, I was one of the top fundraisers to help build a school here in Thailand so thank you, especially to those of you who donated to help raise money for that cause. The race went well and I will be competing in also the 70.3 Asia Pacific World Championships of Triathlon this weekend. Now of course this podcast isn’t just designed for triathlon junkies. It’s designed for anybody who wants to get fit and lose weight and we’ve got a lot of that in today’s podcast. The featured topic is with some guys from a company called RestWise and they’re going to talk about how to really know if you’re recovering from your workouts and what to do about it if you aren’t. And this is going to be good for anybody who exercises a lot to anybody who experiences chronic fatigue and is always tired and will also include people who really want to perform at the highest level possible. So be sure to tune in to that interview. There are some really good thought provoking questions this week as you may have been able to tell from the intro. So let’s jump right in to this week’s Q and A.
Ben: So remember, if you have a question, you can call to 8772099439. You can Skype to username “pacificfit” or you can email [email protected]. If you have the free Ben Greenfield Fitness iPhone app, which you can get at an iTunes store, that’s another great way to ask me a question which you can do so from the app itself. So the first question for this week comes from several listeners. Lee was the first person to ask me this. Several listeners followed up.
Lee (and others) ask: I know you are a big proponent of Vitamin D and its ability to boost the immune system. What do you think of the new report by the Institute of Medicine?
Ben answers: So this new report by the Institute of Medicine basically kind of edged the vitamin D guidelines up just a little bit. So 1997, they were advising 400 international units of vitamin D and they have revised that to – brace yourselves – 600 IU of vitamin D. Now for those of you who listen to this podcast, the interviews that I’ve done on this podcast with very knowledgeable physicians… we have had recommendations from 2000 IU a day all the way up to 10,000 IU a day. And that is obviously far over and above this new 600 IU a day measurement put out by the Institute of Medicine. The reason being, they claim, is that vitamin D toxicity can occur from taking an excessive amount of vitamin D supplements and that this could cause excessive buildup of calcium in your blood. So the question is whether or not this is true. First of all, the whole link here between vitamin D and calcium is that when you take vitamin D, we’re talking about taking a vitamin D capsule or pill – the fat soluble vitamin that you can take – it’s converted into something called calcidiol and calcidiol gets converted into calcitriol which is kind of the biologically active form of vitamin D. And its primary function is to act as a cytokine which means it defends the body against microbial invaders and then bumps up your immune system. And when it’s synthesized in the kidneys, calcitriol also asks as a hormone and it regulates the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream so it can promote mineralization and bone growth and the idea is that too much calcitriol circulating around is going to cause too great a level of calcium in the bloodstream of what’s called hyper calcemia. And that could result in some pretty serious health effects due to overdose of vitamin D. Now the issue with this is that this fear about vitamin D toxicity is pretty unwarranted. There is no evidence or a very large lack of evidence that supports the statements that are being made about the toxicity of moderate doses of vitamin D specifically to about 10,00 IU per day. And like anything, vitamin D can be toxic in excess but animal data show that toxicity occurs in rodents at 20,000 IU. In dogs, the oral dose that it takes to actually kill a dog is over 3 million IU. So basically you’d have to take as a human – if you were just a little over 100 lbs, that’s a pretty small human – you’d have to take about 176 million international units of vitamin D to overdose to the point where it would cause toxicity and have a risk of killing you. So that’s about 440,00 vitamin D capsules in a typical 400 IU vitamin D capsule range that you’re going to get at a health food store. So, this human toxicity occurring at that level – or the risk of human death occurring at this level is something that’s really not something you have to worry about. Toxicity probably begins to occur after daily consumption. That’s not sun exposure but consumption of 40,000 IU of vitamin D a day. To put that in perspective, I personally take about 3000 to 4000 IUs. Most of my clients take in the range of 2000 to 5000 IU per day. And this is from cola calciferol which is the common supplementation form of vitamin D. There’s another form of it, pharmacological form of vitamin D called ergo calciferol. That’s not the type of vitamin D you would find as like vitamin D3 as a capsule in your health food store. Ergo calciferol is not sold over the counter and it can be more toxic in excess. But again, it’s an unfounded fear because you really can’t get your hands on it. So we’re not talking about necessarily toxicity being an issue, but there are people who have hypersensitivity to vitamin D. And for these people, taking many thousand units of vitamin D per day could be an issue. There’s a symptom or a condition called hyper parathyroidism and people with hyper parathyroidism can have a lot of sensitivity to vitamin D intake and could raise their levels of calcium a lot higher than the average person could by taking vitamin D supplements. So those people might need to be careful, but there are some people who have a syndrome that allows the tissue in the body – the normal tissue in the body – to kind of subvert the kidneys’ normal regulation of the production of that hormone I talked about called calciferol. So what can happen then is you can also get excessive conversion of vitamin D in the calcitriol and you can get high blood calcium. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma would be one example of this, having a carcinoma of the lung would be another example where this can occur. But again, we’re talking about anomalies and people who are outside the norm when it comes to vitamin D toxicity. Ultimately like many of the recommendations that are passed down by the Institute of Medicine or the FDA, the USDA – they’re typically playing it as safe as they possibly can. And they have to because there’s liability involved and you kind of have to cover everybody with one blanket statement but ultimately for the majority of people walking around the face of the planet, you can safely take many thousand units of vitamin D per day and not risk toxicity. I am not a doctor. That is not medical advice. I’m simply telling you the way that I see it. So, I would not be throwing your vitamin D capsules down the drain anytime soon or bringing yourself down to that 600 IU of vitamin D. So, next question is from Listener Cynthia.
Cynthia asks: I am training with a heart rate monitor, and when my heart rate is 135 BPM while running on flat terrain, it feels so much easier than when my heart rate is 135 BPM while biking on flat terrain. Am I actually exerting more effort to get my heart rate to 135 BPM while biking versus running, or is it just perceived effort?
Ben answers: Well the short answer to that is that cycling is far more efficient than running. Not only do you use fewer muscles when you bicycle, but the power that you’re putting into the cranks, the work that you’re putting against the cranks on your bicycle into the pedals is getting converted into forward momentum that’s transferred to the front and rear wheels and that momentum is many times more than the actual effort that you put into the pedals. So cycling is incredibly efficient compared to running and you use fewer muscles because you’re not swinging your upper body, you’re not stabilizing your core. There’s not quite a great a contraction in calf musculature. There’s not as great an e-centric contraction as you slow yourself down and you land during the running gait. And for all these reasons, your heart has to pump a lot harder for any given effort while running than while bicycling. So if your heart is beating 135 BPM while you are running, it’s going to actually feel a lot easier than when your heart rate is beating 135 BPM while you’re biking. And the reason for that is if you’re at 135 BPM while you’re biking, then you’re actually working a little bit harder because your heart has more beats to put into fewer muscles and the fewer muscles that you are using are producing more efficient forward momentum. And when you are running and your heart rate is at 135 BPM, each of those beats has to be used for a greater number of muscular contraction, greater amount of blood being distributed to multiple body parts and greater amount of overall work being done for less of a return on that work investment. So, essentially what it comes down to is that this is the reason that if you’re going to set heart rate zones whether they be fat burning heart rate zones or say like threshold heart rate zones like when your lactic threshold is – the threshold for running is always going to be higher than the threshold for cycling. So, for example, I know based on laboratory tests that my maximum sustainable pace for about an hour while I’m running is 171 BPM. However, my maximum sustainable pace that I can hold for an hour while I’m cycling is about 10 beats lower. It’s about 161 BPM. When I used to do a lot of physiology tests on folks, I generally found a rate of 10 to 20 beats in terms of the difference between the cycling and the running heart rates. So what it comes down to is you do need to set up different heart rate training zones for running versus cycling. So, hopefully that helps out and that’s a really good question. Thanks for asking it.
David asks: I saw Jessa in the video at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com put an entire apple in her green smoothie. I found a website says the apple seeds are mildly poisonous, containing a small amount of amygdaline, which is a cyanogenic glycoside. Could you explain this to me?
Ben answers: Well cyagenic glycoside as you could probably guess by the name is a type of cyanide compound. Cherry pits as well as seeds from peaches and plums and pears and apricots and apples all contain this cyagenic glycosides or cyanide compounds and you actually absorb a little bit of those toxic compounds if you eat the seeds. Now, cyanide poisoning is typically going to cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, vomiting. You may have your stomach pumped. You can go into a coma, convulsions and possibly get death from respiratory arrest. So it sounds pretty dang bad when it comes my wife putting an entire apple into a smoothie along with all the seeds. The reason that cyanide can do that is that it’s a poison. It essentially denies the blood the ability to carry oxygen and so you die from asphyxiation and it’s been used in chemical warfare. People weren’t throwing apples at each other but they were using concentrated cyanide poisoning combined with other chemicals and compounds to kill people. The Nazis used hydrogen cyanide in their gas chambers. But I am not equating my wife putting an apple into a smoothie as her being a Nazi. And the reason for that is the amount of this cyanide compound that you would have to consume from apple seeds is very, very large. We’re talking about 100 grams or so of apple seeds having the ability to make you very ill or to kill you. 100 grams of apple seeds is about a half cup of ground seeds. Ground, because if they’re not crushed, they’re not bitten, they’ll pass through your digestive system whole and that chemical won’t be released but if they’re crushed or ground or blended, then what can happen is that 100 grams could make you ill or kill you. That’s about the amount of anywhere, depending on the size, of 50 to 100 apples. So, yes if you were to eat all the seeds from 50 to 100 apples and you were to consume those in one sitting, you could get enough cyanide to asphyxiate yourself. Good luck if you want to try that as an experiment of one. Go for it. Wouldn’t recommend it. But that’s the deal with cyanides and apples. You know it’s interesting because we eat a lot of poisonous foods. Mushrooms for example are poisonous. But we eat them. They technically have compounds in them that should technically be poisonous but we eat lots of mushrooms and what else? Puffer fish. Puffer fish are toxic and they eat a lot of those especially in Asian countries. Elderberry. We eat elderberry and elderberry is technically poisonous. Castor oil which is found in candies and chocolates and foods. That’s got rysine in it and that’s extremely poisonous. As a matter of fact the castor bean is so deadly that it takes just one of those to kill a human or four of them to kill a horse. And despite this, we consume castor oil because they have found a way to actually make it safe. Almonds. Almonds again have high levels of that cyanide just like apples do but we eat a lot of almonds. Cherries I mentioned earlier. Rhubarb is another one that’s technically toxic but we’re able to eat it. Tomatoes technically are also toxic. They have something called a glycoalkaloid in them which can cause extreme nervousness or stomach upset but all of these things in moderation are fine. Potatoes, one of the members of the night shade family – those can also have those glycoalkaloid poisons in them. But again, you got to eat a lot of them. So ultimately what it comes down to is moderation in everything. Don’t rush off and eat 100 apples with all the seeds. Next question is from Mike.
Mike asks: Ben, I really enjoyed the interview with Robb Wolf. Here’s a couple of questions. What did Robb mean when he talked about “glucose sticking to proteins to cause accelerated aging”?
Ben answers: And then Mike has a few follow-up questions about inflammation but let’s address this glucose sticking to proteins causing accelerated aging issue. What Robb was referring to was something called advanced glycation end products. The product for that is AGE or age incidentally which is interesting because they actually can cause an acceleration of the aging process. And the way that they’re formed is outside the body. If sugars and proteins are heated or cooked at high temperatures, you can get the glucose moieties or the sugars sticking to the proteins and AGE or advanced glycation end products can also be formed inside the body through the normal metabolism and aging process. What happens is when these are consumed or absorbed by the body during digestion, they can contribute to age and diabetes related chronic inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis or asthma, arthritis, neuropathies. Basically they cause what’s called oxidative stress on a body. And eventually day after day, week after week, year after year, oxidative stress is how most of us actually die. We get cancer, we get heart disease or we get arthritis or diabetes or we get something that kills us. But this process is accelerated when we dump oxidative compounds into our bodies. And those would be a lot of the modern foods that we eat, specifically sugars and proteins that have been heated and processed and exposed to high temperatures and pressures and Robb, being a proponent of the paleo diet of course was bringing this up as a reason that the paleo diet is good because you aren’t eating a lot of processed and heavily cooked foods. So these advanced glycation end products are also discussed by a lady that I had on this show. When I interviewed Nancy Appleton, the author of Suicide By Sugar – if you go back and listen to that episode, she also explains how advanced glycation end products can also cause damage to the body and how you should be really careful doing lots of cooking with sugar or heating meats to very high temperatures. Boiling and steaming are two of the less oxidated ways that you can prepare food. Of course eating raw food that is not heavily cooked is another really great way to avoid large numbers of these advanced glycogen end products ending up in your system. If you exercise that’s even more important because when you exercise you’re already producing a lot of these through your internal metabolism. And so it’s even more important to eat healthy when you exercise because you don’t want to dump oxidation on top of oxidation. The reason being that oxidation causes these free radicals to form in your body, and most of you have heard of free radicals. But basically they can disrupt metabolism by breaking up the molecules that your body needs to stay alive and make things work. So those of you who have chemistry degrees are slapping yourselves in the forehead right now because of my simplistic explanation of free radicals. I do know what I’m talking about, I’ve taken biochemistry and organic chemistry and regular chemistry and every chemistry I can take. But this podcast isn’t a chemistry course so we’ll leave it that. Advanced glycation end products. Eat your food as naturally as possible and you won’t have to worry about them too much. Now as far as inflammation, Mike has a follow-up question.
Mike asks: Regarding inflammation; we’re all familiar with the pain of inflammation from acute injuries or irritated joints from overuse, but how is inflammation caused by dietary factors manifested? And are the “inflammatory markers” mentioned by Rob something that is detectable and identifiable in a blood test? So the issue with inflammation is that when you sprain your ankle or even when you get a cold, your immune system is going to switch into gear and the infection or the injury is going to cause what’s called an inflammatory cascade. So you get heat, pain, redness, swelling and all the things that are going to help your body call out for white blood cells to come and clear out the infection or help to heal the damaged tissue or close off the site so that it isn’t exposed to the risk of further infections. And so all these anti-inflammatory compounds kind of move into the site and neutralize the threat and begin the healing process. This same type of thing can happen in your gut. The same type of redness and swelling and irritation that happens on the outside of your ankle when you sprain your ankle can also happen in your gut and actually about 60 to 70% of your body’s defenses live in your gastrointestinal tract. And so what happens is when you get inflammation there you’ll feel bloating, you’ll get diarrhea, you’ll get constipation, you get gas, cramps, heart burn, acid reflux. All of those are signs of an inflamed digestive tract that’s basically happening when your immune system has kicked into overdrive when it was designed to eliminate viruses and bacteria but might be being exposed to other things that can cause inflammation in your digestive tract. Things that can do that – sugar, high levels of processed carbs, some of the things we just got done talking about, wheat gluten, dairy, anything you may be allergic to – soy and eggs are two other common allergens for a lot of people as well as a high level of what are called Omega 6 fatty acids, which would be vegetable oil. So sunflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soy oil – all of those have a lot of linoleic acid in them. And linoleic acid is a pro inflammatory fatty acid. So Omega 3 fatty acids which you probably heard of before – those are the anti-inflammatory fatty acids – the Omega 6 are the pro-inflammatory fatty acids. Omega 3s would be the types of things you get from an Omega 3 egg, an Omega 3 fish oil or flax seed oil. Omega 6s would be from those vegetable oils that I just got done mentioning. So, the issue is that any of these common allergens spark this inflammatory cascade and you essentially do get the same type of response in your gut as you would when you sprain your ankle or when you catch a cold. So, the trick is that you would want to cool down inflammation by paying attention to a lot of the recommendations a guy like Robb Wolf made on the show, to the recommendations that I make on the show. One of my fellow podcasters over at the Quick and Dirty Tips network – the Nutrition Diva – she’s written a book called the anti-inflammatory diet, but essentially what it comes down to is there are certain foods that pro-inflammatory and certain foods that are anti-inflammatory and you should be eating a diet high in the anti-inflammatory foods. If you want a test if there’s inflammation going on, there are kind of indirect tests. There’s no definitive test for inflammation. The best you’re going to find conventional medicine can offer you is to measure the blood levels of something called C-reactive protein which is a marker of inflammation and also an amino acid called homocystine so you can go to your doctor and ask for a CRP test. That’s the C-reactive protein test. Or for a homocystine test and that would be one way that you could measure inflammation. There’s a newer test out there that can assess inflammatory risk. One would be the measurement of the ratio of something called alpha lipoprotein B to alpha lipoprotein A1. If that ratio was off, that could also indicate inflammation. But ultimately you can kind of tell if you’ve got this irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain in your abdomen, fatigue, things of that nature. Those are typically symptoms that there could be some digestive inflammation going on. So hopefully that helps clear some things up for you, Mike, and good questions. Quick question from PapaLouie who asks via Twitter… and if you want to ask me a question via Twitter, just go to Twitter.com and follow Ben Greenfield and then fire off a question to me.
PapaLouie asks: Hi Ben, Can you tell me why I get an itching feeling after my indoor pool workouts during the winter months and how to avoid?
Ben answers: Yes. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Of course, the first would be chlorine. Chlorine is a skin irritant. Most swimming pools and hot tubs are going to have it in there. And really the only thing you can do to get rid of a chlorine rash or a chlorine itch aside from talking to your local pool and asking them to maybe put a little less chlorine in the pool is to stay away from chlorinated water or to let your skin recover a long time between swim workouts. They do make some lotions that you could put on the skin prior to swimming. You can put a conditioner in your hair. You can use for example a company called SPR makes a lotion. They also make a chlorine removal shampoo and chlorine removal conditioner. I will put a link to them in the Shownotes but it’s called SPR. That’s what I use. You could put that lotion on before you swim and it can help out with a little chlorine on the skin. And if you put the conditioner on before you swim, it can also help protect the hair as well. But there’s also a bacteria that can be found mostly in more stagnant water, less moving water like hot tubs or spas or whirlpools which have warm water that can cause disinfectants to break down and allow bacteria to grow. So a lot of the infections or swimming pool rash, the itching you can get in those environments is actually due to a bacteria. However that will actually manifest itself as a full on rash. So you’re probably referring to just that chlorine itch. So I’ll put a link to the SPR stuff in the Shownotes and hopefully that helps you out. Ok, next question is from Stuart.
Stuart asks: I’m a science teacher in the UK and although I have a chemistry degree and no formal nutritional training, I have to teach 12-13 year olds about food types and how digestion works. However, the curriculum does not go into much detail — just that starch is made up of sugar, proteins are made up of amino acids and fats are made up of fatty acids and glycerol. We then go into the existence of deficiency diseases and that people need carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, water and fiber to be healthy. We do not mention the different vitamins and what we need them for or the correct proportions of the 7 food types that we need. Do you know of any good lessons about healthy eating and exercise that actually give my students some useful information that they can work with rather than the miniscule amount my government considers adequate?
Ben answers: Stuart wrote in from the UK. Stuart, probably the best resource I would point you to would be a great website that I like quite a bit in terms of giving a really good overview of the vitamin and nutrient profile as well as some more information about carbs, proteins and fats and the breakdown for them in certain foods. It talks about fiber, it talks about water, hydration, etc. That would be the website www.whfoods.com. I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes. But it’s www.whfoods.com. Mostly all free information on that website. It would be a good one to explore with your students and you can print off a lot of the specific diets they have on there. They have diets for diabetes and inflammation and just some really good information. And I agree with about 99.9% of what’s on there. There’s also a book on there called the world’s healthiest foods book and while I have not personally read that book, everything that I’ve seen in terms of feedback from the book and also the chapters in the book look like it could be a pretty solid source for you to maybe get and make available to your class. I think it’s an eBook so you could probably get it and distribute it as a PDF to your class. But that would be my recommendation. Go to www.whfoods.com and check out also the book at whfoods.com that is called The World’s Healthiest Foods, The Essential Guide For the Healthiest Way of Eating. So check that out, and I hope that helps you out a little bit. I do know that the curriculum for kids in nutrition is not all that great across the board. And hopefully that changes as we progress forward. If you’re a listener and you have some more resources for Stuart, please leave them as a comment in the Shownotes and you know you can leave a comment about anything you hear on this podcast in the Shownotes and I’ll personally respond and many other people in the Ben Greenfield Fitness community will also get on there and help you out. Last question here is from eliteon3. Another listener from Twitter.
eliteon3 asks: How do you compare the Gymstick to the TRX? Which is best bang for the buck?
Ben answers: If you want to go back and listen to the TRX… this is episode 122 but episode 121, I talked about my opinion on the TRX and you can also go read the transcription of that. All the podcasts are transcribed so you can read them if you don’t want to go back and listen. Two totally different things. Apples versus oranges. The TRX is two bands that you basically kind of affix to a stationary object and do kind of like gymnastics type of body weight moves – pushups, suspended pull-ups and basically a range of kind of unique moves that you see a gymnast do on rings. The GymStick – and I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes – the GymStick is something that I personally use quite a bit as an alternative to using barbells, dumbbells and elastic bands. It’s kind of like a barbell, a dumbbell and an elastic band all rolled into one. It’s basically got two elastic bands on the end of a flexible aluminum pole and you can do curls, presses, squats, upright rows, seated rows, basically any type of traditional gym movement that you do with dumbbells or barbells or an elastic band, you can do with this one piece of equipment. The GymStick. And that’s why I recommend it. Basically, it’s got this foam hand grip. These latex rubber resistance tubes on either side that you can get in varying levels of resistance. I personally don’t even use the strongest one for myself. There’s one called Super Strong. I use the one called Extra Strong. Super Strong would actually be quite a good workout. But it comes with a workout DVD that walks you through all the motions. You can make up your own workouts. I kind of mix it in with my workouts. Pretty portable. They also sell a telescoping version. If you order from my website, just put in the notes that you want the telescoping version and I can work on getting that for you. But that’s the deal with the GymStick. So totally different from the TRX. Night and day. You could use both. You could do a GymStick workout once a week and a TRX workout once a week. They’re both fairly portable but ultimately it comes down to what do you like – traditional – hold something in your hands and move it around or whether you just want to move your own body around. The first would be the GymStick. The second would be the TRX. So hopefully that helps out. We are going to move on to a special message and then the interview with the guys from RestWise. This is a three way interview with three representatives from RestWise. There are some really great videos that they have and I’m going to put those videos on the Shownotes to this episode. Episode number 122. Not only am I going to put those videos but I’m also going to put links to RestWise and more information on what it is, how it works. I’ll put links in the Shownotes to a previous article that I wrote about RestWise, and again this is not just for elite athletes or serious athletes. This is for anybody who is really wanting to get over chronic fatigue, recover from their workouts more quickly and essentially learn how to make their body function the way that they need it to and want it to. So, listen in, I think you’ll really enjoy the interview and let’s go ahead and move on to that.
Ben: Hey folks, this is Ben Greenfield from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com. We actually have three guests on the call today and all three guests are associated with a new company that’s really redefining how to track the extent to which both athletes and weekend warriors are recovered and engaging in intelligent recovery. From their workouts, from their races, from their training sessions. And you may have read the post that went up at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com a few weeks ago entitled How to Truly Know if You are Recovering From Your Workouts. And in that post, we covered the concept of using elements like body mass, sleep, oxygen saturation, hydration, appetite, muscle soreness and several other parameters to actually track how well your body is recovering from your workouts because as most of you know if you’re not recovering properly than you’re not getting the most out of your training and you could in fact be wasting your time with your training or setting yourself up for injury or illness. Well RestWise, the company RestWise, is who I talked about in that post as being one of the folks who could provide you with a means to actually track your recovery. And three individuals from RestWise are on the call today. Matthew Weatherly White, Jeff Hunt and Vern Neville. Now Matthew and Jeff are two of the co-founders of RestWise and they themselves are athletes who’ve spent tine in endurance sports, coaching endurance sports, participating in endurance sports and they walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to learning this stuff. Vern is – I guess we could define him as the brains behind the project. He’s got his PhD. He’s worked with a lot of elite professional teams on the type of algorithms he’ll talk about today when it comes to recovery. Why they’ve chosen some of the things they have in terms of helping you to recover better and smarter. So with that introduction, gentlemen I’d like to thank you for coming on the call today.
Matthew: Yeah, our pleasure Ben. Thanks for inviting us to the call. I think it’s going to be an interesting discussion.
Ben: Now Matthew, what’s the background behind RestWise and how you guys actually came to be?
Matthew: Yeah Jeff, if you don’t mind, I’ll take this one. So I coach one world champion cyclist Rebecca Rush. And what I realized over the last five years of coaching her is that our conversations revolve less and less frequently around training load and more on more around trying to understand her response to training load and more specifically to identify whether or not she was in a position where she could absorb an increased training load or a hard training session. And as this conversation evolved with her, I kept trying to figure out ways to give her the information so she could describe her state of recovery more clearly to me. So I could manipulate her training plan to optimize her workouts. And sort of in that process I came up with this idea of a recovery score of some sort. And I didn’t really go much beyond that, and I called my friend Jeff who’s a national class age group triathlete and very old friend of mine, and I said hey Jeff, what do you think about doing this a little bit differently and coming up with some kind of really easy objective score that we could create for athletes to see how tired they were and he thought about it for a couple of weeks and he sent back an email basically outlining conceptually the tool as it stands right now. But what we quickly realized was we didn’t have the scientific street cred to go to really sophisticated athletes and say hey we’re just a couple of guys who had a really good idea, what do you think about building a business on that and we were very fortunate that one of Jeff’s good friends in Boston was also a good friend with a guy who knew Vern. And that’s how we got in touch with Vern and we met him in Boston and we said hey Vern, what do you think about this idea, and he looked at us a little skeptically at first and then nodded his head and said yeah I think this could be a really interesting idea. And that was sort of the genesis of what is now RestWise.
Ben: Gotcha. And Jeff, you actually have yourself been in a pretty serious state of not being able to recover from workouts as somebody who’s training at the Olympic training centre, is that right?
Jeff: That’s right. That was several years ago when I was there as part of a cycling program.
Ben: And what was the deal with that? Were you actually having trouble recovering yourself?
Jeff: Well the deal there was the program that was prescribed at the time was very geared towards heavy loads. And it almost was designed to weed out the people who couldn’t keep up with it. And there are some people for whom that’s the right approach but by and large, I think that most people at least I have seen in my time as a competitive athlete benefit from actually doing less. So, I mean yeah, my experience with this goes all the way back to about 20 years ago and has continued to my current time as a triathlete and seeing a lot of the people that I know who are struggling to fit Ironman training in with busy jobs and families and doing more than they need to and in fact in a lot of cases, more than they really should.
Ben: Gotcha. And I’d like to ask you guys a few more questions later on in this interview about the technology that you’re now using the online interface. I’ve used it, I’ve been very impressed with it and I’d like to pick your brains about it a little bit but first I’d like to turn to Vern and Vern there are multiple parameters used in the recovery algorithm behind RestWise and this is a fairly detailed question and Jeff and Matthew, feel free to jump in when necessary but what parameters have you chosen to see how athletes and individuals are recovering properly and why have you chosen those parameters?
Vern: Well Ben, it’s not all new sciences. This is contrary to what the development of the tool is. Recovery and the signs and symptoms of recovery have been around for ages and we all know – we generally as athletes, we all know what they are. And even tools like this, not in such a well formulated version but we’ve been working on it for years and there have been teams all around the world that have very advanced recovery systems in place and it really all probably started about 13 or 14 years ago when AC Milan, which is a soccer team in Italy really came up with the concept of putting together a recovery laboratory and it’s really grown from there. And many teams – I certainly have for about the last 10 years worked on different protocols on putting together a recovery assistance tool and it was really Jeff and Matthew that as Matthew mentioned in the beginning, that came up with this idea of having something that was online. We really consolidated the data and information that was already being collected and done elsewhere into a really usable format. And what we’ve done is we’ve looked at non-invasive markers, signs and symptoms of fatigue and stress.
Ben: And when you say non-invasive, you mean these are not hormone or blood or urine measurements. These are things that people can easily measure on a daily basis without setting up a lab in their kitchen?
Vern: Exactly, so it’s things they can do on their own and they don’t have to send it off and wait for time to get any results back. And there are a number of these signs and symptoms and the whole science behind RestWise is if you test positive for one or two of these known signs of symptoms, then the chances are there may or may not be something happening within the system. If you test positive for four, five or six of these symptoms then the chances are – the likelihood is that there is definitely something going on with your system and the likelihood is that you are suffering from some level of fatigue. So that’s really in a nutshell what the algorithm is all about. So we’ve chosen the signs, symptoms and markers that have the greatest empirical as well as anecdotal evidence behind them that supports the fatigue or stress in athletes. In fact this tool is being used currently not even by athletes but by people recovering from illnesses or injuries in medical rehabilitation and other forms of general life as well.
Ben: Yeah, and in my experience as a trainer and nutritionist, I found that this type of information is very useful for even folks who are struggling with something like resistance to weight loss or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Vern: Absolutely, most definitely.
Ben: So you have multiple parameters and how many different things can be measured or are measured when someone for example goes to www.restwise.com and opens up an account on there and starts to record their daily metrics? How many different things can they record?
Vern: We’ve got 11 main markers. Some of them have got subdivisions in which there’s two with an A mark. We’ve got 11 main markers and these range from your resting heart race which is your heart rate which you’ll put in just after you wake up in the morning, while you’re still lying in bed and RestWise comes with a really handy piece of hardware which is a pulse oxometer and it’s also able to assist your red blood oxygen saturation as well.
Ben: And that’s accomplished without actually taking your blood?
Vern: Absolutely, yes. So it’s a little – for those of you who have been in hospital before and you’ve had this little… it looks like a closed pin that’s put on your finger while you’re in the hospital which regulates your pulse rate and regulates your oxygen saturation. It’s exactly the same as that except it’s a personal one so just a little battery operated – it’s medical grade and you pop it on your finger. It gives you your resting pulse rate so you don’t need a heart rate strap around your chest or you don’t need to put your finger to your pulse. It’s very simple, easy to use. And you plug those details into your little online – whether it’s an iPhone or a Blackberry or any online device. And together with things like markers such as the number of hours you might have slept, the quality of your sleep, your level of hydration according to the color of your first urine in the morning, your appetite level, your energy level, your mood state, suggested markers of yesterday’s training performance and whether you’ve got any illness or injuries as well. So it’s 11 questions that you’re asked and then the algorithm then works out a recovery score which is presented as a percentage. So it may be that you’re 80% recovered that particular morning or maybe you’re only 50% recovered and then there is an interpretation of that percentage so it will give you a score and give you a recommendation – generic recommendation that may assist you and help you in formulizing your training or your phase of your periodization.
Ben: Gotcha. I want to jump back down over to Jeff or Matthew. Whichever of you would like to answer this question. But say somebody hears this and we’ll get into a little bit more detail with Vern here in a second about the details of the parameters. But say somebody hears this interview and they want to start utilizing this tool, what’s the process to where they actually go through and do that. Let’s say that they’re at www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and they click on the link to RestWise, what happens at that point? Do they need to go to the store, like their local pharmacy and buy one of these oxygen saturation tools or do they get those through a website? Is the software something they download to their computer? How does it work at that point from when they end up at RestWise?
Jeff: Ok, well as soon as somebody clicks on the link from your site, they come to a page on our site, the RestWise site where they can sign up immediately for the service and so they go through and fill out their information and can do either an option to take the standard pulse oxemeter or upgrade to another pulse oxemeter that we have that’s sort of a premium, but you can go through and purchase this subscription and the access to the website is immediately available and hardware is then shipped to you right away.
Ben: This is like for an entire year – what is it? Like 175 bucks for a year?
Jeff: There are two options, one is six months for 119 and one is for a full year for 179.
Ben: Ok, gotcha.
Jeff: And we’re currently running a promotion where we’re actually throwing in the oxemeter for free.
Ben: Oh, that’s kind of cool. Ok, so they go here and they sign up and you guys just basically send one of these pulse oxemeters that you put on your finger in the morning in the mail to people?
Ben: Ok. And so once I get that and I’ve got this pulse oxemeter that I put on my finger every morning – how long do I do that? Is that on there for just a few seconds?
Jeff: It’s about 15 seconds. Generally what you do is you leave it on your bedside table and put it on first thing in the morning and it takes about 15 seconds to get a stable reading.
Ben: And it’ll tell me my resting heart rate and something called my oxygen saturation?
Ben: Ok. And then is there a software I download on my computer or is it online or how does it work?
Jeff: So the software is all online, there’s nothing you need to load on your computer. You just go to the website, log in and have there’ll be information there and then the other option for getting information in is through an iPhone. So we have an iPhone application which is free with your website subscription. And our driving principle is we want to make it as easy as possible and as quick as possible to get the information in to the system. So right now we have the iPhone application but we’re also in development for other handheld devices. Again with the goal of just making this as simple as possible.
Matthew: You know, Ben, as a total aside, on the pulse oxemeter – that was actually the genesis of this whole idea because what I kept trying to do was get Rebecca to give me her resting heart rate in the morning and she just didn’t want to do it and I remembered even when I – I was competing internationally – I didn’t take it myself even though I knew it was really important and none of my friends who also knew it was really important to track resting heart rate took it themselves. So the idea was to come up with some type of a device where you could capture your resting heart rate very easily in the morning without having to find your artery and look at your watch and count to 15 and multiply it by four and all that kind of stuff. And so the pulse oxemeter was really the first idea here that when we started doing research around the validity of that marker around, we realized there was so much noise in the data that it became much less useful as a guide to recovery state which is how the conversation evolved to including more markers, which is what led us to Vern.
Ben: Gotcha. Ok, well back to you Vern. If I could just do a rapid fire on some of these 11 parameters to you. First of all, resting heart rate. What’s the deal. Lots of people know that when the resting heart rate starts to go up every morning, that might be an indicator that they’re overtraining or they’re too stressed out. But why is it that happens?
Vern: Well Ben, it’s your body is controlled by your hormones and your endocrine system and as soon as your body is under any form of stress, your body is trying to adapt to overcome that stress and that stress may be psychological stress, it may be physical stress, it may be emotional stress, environmental stress, any form of stress. And one of the reactions to that is the release of cortisol and there are a number of hormones that affect your biological system and your heart rate accounts to cover that. It’s the fright-flight system that we’ve all heard about and so your heart rate speeds up to actually allow your body a greater circulation of oxygen through to your brain and through to your muscles which allows you to cope with more stress or more load on your system. So heart rate is a very good indicator of stress. The difficulty is as Matthew pointed out, there is a measure of variability. It could be that the alarm clock woke you up first thing in the morning, you got a little bit of a fright from deep sleep and all of a sudden there’s a stress on your system because you got the fright so your heart rate goes up. So if you were to wake up in exactly the same way ideally every day, heart rate would be a very good predictor. But unfortunately that doesn’t happen so that’s why there is some slight variability in heart rate. But if you take it over a period of time and you do correlations and comparisons to heart rate, it is a very good predictor.
Ben: Ok, and as far as the variations in that resting heart rate, what happens is your software actually looks for significant variations in resting heart rate, is that how it works?
Vern: Actually. It looks at you individually so it needs a period of time – for heart rate, it’s ideally about three weeks. But over probably five to seven days it looks at your history and it has a buffer in the system which understands a certain percentage deviation of what your normal medium is – will then account for a certain number of points to the algorithm, depending on your deviation from that baseline.
Ben: Gotcha. Ok, so we’ve got resting heart rate as one parameter that helps measure recovery. Body mass is another. Why body mass?
Vern: Your body mass is an interesting one, and in fact it’s one of the only markers that we have that isn’t a compulsory marker and the reason it isn’t a compulsory marker is often athletes are traveling around the world and they may be in hotels or in other places where they may not have access to a calibrated or an accurate scale. So if an athlete doesn’t fill in body weight, the algorithm understands to ignore that value. But the reason we’ve looked at body mass is because fluctuations in body mass are indicative of dehydration and dehydration is a stress within the body. Long term – the algorithm is also smart enough to understand the long term gradual decreases. So if your aim as an athlete is to slowly decrease your body weight for a competition but you’re doing it in a well structured manner over a long period of time, the algorithm will understand that and it won’t account for that decrease. But if there’s a certain acute decrease or an increase in body weight, the algorithm will then adapt to that, understanding that is a stress on the system.
Ben: Ok, I see.
Matthew: Also, hey Ben, one other thing on the body mass – early on we did get some pushback from athletes who said that daily monitoring of body weight was more stressful than not knowing what their body weight was and although we think it’s important that athletes monitor it, we recognize that there are some athletes who don’t want to get into that sort of obsessive compulsive daily monitoring because it would introduce a level of stress and that’s why we created an algorithm so that people could opt out of that marker as well.
Ben: Gotcha, yeah that makes sense. I personally have weighed myself here in probably about four months. So, it does make sense and that is one of the reasons I don’t even like to think about it. Especially during the holidays which is when this is being released. The next parameter that I noticed you guys track is sleep. This one seems pretty straightforward but is there anything that you specifically look for with sleep, Vern?
Vern: Ben, that’s an interesting one. Sleep is probably actually one of the most complex algorithms or parts of this algorithm and in fact sleep is an extremely important – we all know how we feel like when we’ve only had one or two… we’ve had a bad night’s sleep the night before. But the way we’ve looked at sleep is not only have we looked at the volume of sleep or the duration of your sleep but we’ve also looked at a subjective quality of sleep and we’ve got an algorithm – proprietary algorithm – that puts those two together and gives us a unique sleep score. What it also does is we not only look at your sleep from last night but the system looks at your sleep over a period of time. So in other words, if you have one bad night’s sleep which may be your last night’s sleep, it doesn’t necessarily say that your recovery is going to be poor today. But if you have two nights or three nights or more bad night’s sleep in a row, the chances are that your recovery score today – it’s going to affect your recovery score today. So the algorithm is actually very complex because it looks at your history of sleep as well.
Ben: Ok, gotcha. The next thing that you guys measure that we kind of mentioned is oxygen saturation via that pulse oxemeter on the finger. When you’re looking at oxygen saturation, are you looking at a certain percentage and just out of curiosity, how does that actually work if it doesn’t take a drop of blood?
Vern: Yeah, it’s through refrectometry. So it actually measures the amount of oxygen in a red blood cell as it passes through the tip of your finger. It’s a very simple process to measure red blood cell, oxygen saturation. It’s also not a very well researched parameter for recovery in athletes. But what it definitely does do and all athletes know – particularly endurance athletes or any athletes that are training at altitude or training in hypoxy chambers – for example, how fatigued you are when you’re training at altitude and your oxygen saturation drops radically at altitude, so for athletes and particularly athletes that are training in those types of environments, your oxygen saturation definitely does play a large part in your recovery. For an athlete that’s staying pretty close to sea level, most of the time what it may indicate is some form of anemia or some form of illness as well. But generally you’d find that an athlete training or living at sea level or close to sea level – your oxygen saturation will be fairly constant.
Ben: Ok, gotcha. And you want that to be as high as possible basically. Above 95%.
Vern: Absolutely. Yeah.
Ben: Ok. And just out of curiosity, let’s say somebody notices that it’s constantly low – would that mean that they need to take iron or is there any number of different things that that could indicate?
Vern: It could indicate a number of different things but if it is consistently low and it is below – I would say that probably below 90%, you’d have a concern and if it was below 90%, I would say before even taking any iron supplementation, you’d probably want to get medical advice. So you may want to have a full blood screen before just taking iron. There may be some other pathology as well involved. So, it’d definitely be worth investigating further.
Matthew: Anecdotally Ben, we’ve had four women cyclists. Each of whom have been national or world champions. Each of whom experienced decreased performance previous to beginning to use RestWise, and each of whom had done a blood workup and there’d been no problem flagged by the blood workup. But when they started tracking their blood oxygen saturation, they realized they were below 95% which is the normal. And they asked me what to do or asked if the tool could be wrong. I said well we’re pretty early still on the tool but I strongly recommend that you go and get your blood workup done again. Ask them specifically to look at their red blood cell markers and make sure they’re not anemic. And every one of them – four out of four – demonstrated low grade chronic anemia, but it was not so bad that a normal blood workup flagged it. So I think that there was a little bit of value for the tool that was really unexpected for us, that helped these athletes get much more precise about what was causing their lower than expected performance. I’m not going to say this is a medical device. That’s not what we’re really doing here. I think it was coincidental. But it helped them a lot and subsequently, one of them won the world championships this year and the three others – each won a different national championship of a different – mountain biking… so really helpful.
Ben: Yeah, it’s always interesting on that blood work how within range for the general population can mean that’s a range that an athlete would perform very poorly on. I’ve run into that before with athletes and blood work. It’s interesting.
Vern: Another point to Matt’s, is it’s not only – the more we’ve looked at biochemical markers and that goes for steroids, hormones. That goes for salivary proteins, etc. It’s not so much about the range but it’s more about the deviation from an individual’s baseline. So, for the normal population – a healthy population there is a range. But for an athlete, what’s absolutely critical is understanding what that athlete’s baseline is. And every athlete will have a different baseline and it’s your deviation from that baseline. So we’re talking a little bit out of context now for this tool. But for the listeners, it may be of interest to them – if they do get blood tests or any form of protein or hormone test – it’s always good to get a test when you’re probably at your most rested and when you can get a very good baseline, and then judge your deviations from that baseline.
Ben: Gotcha. So the next parameter that you guys measure is hydration and how do you measure that and why?
Vern: Well that comes to – it really backs up the body mass as well and that’s your urine color. And it’s your first urine in the morning, it’s an indication of the color and it’s most of us or most athletes have either used a P chart or have used other forms of measuring urine osmolality or levels of dehydration. But we just have a very simple chart and that is either the color of your urine is a dark yellow, it’s a normal yellow or a very light or pale yellow. So it’s just a very simple indication of the concentration of the osmolality within your urine. Which is an indication of your body’s hydration level.
Ben: Ok, gotcha. And next is appetite. You actually measure appetite as a marker of recovery.
Vern: Yeah, it’s just a simple question. Is your appetite normal this morning or is your appetite less than normal. Very simple. Appetite and sex drive – we’ve left sex drive out of the questionnaire, but we have put in appetite. But they are two very good markers of stress and fatigue within the human system. So your appetite is one of the first things that does decrease as soon as you’re under any form of anxiety, stress or lack of recovery.
Ben: Why is that?
Vern: Again it comes back to the fright and flight system. Your body cuts off all the oxygen and blood through to the non-significant or non-important organs and your blood and oxygen goes through to the organs and muscles which are most important such as your heart, your brain and your muscular system as soon as you’re under any form of stress because those are the organs which really need to be operating at the optimal. So, any drive from any of the organs within the body are basically cut off.
Ben: Ok, gotcha. Now muscle soreness is the next parameter that you measure, and this one seems pretty straightforward but how do you measure muscle soreness using the RestWise software?
Vern: Well again muscle soreness is a subjective measure. The athlete just enters whether they have any delayed onset of muscle soreness, whether they have – we’ve included injuries in there as well. So if an athlete has an injury or is carrying an injury, and it really doesn’t matter the degree at which they do have muscle soreness or whether they wake up in the morning and their quadriceps or their hamstrings are very tight or their lower back is a little bit stiff or really if their whole body is aching, it’s either you test positive or you test negative for that parameter.
Ben: Ok, now energy level is another parameter. What does that mean? Energy levels?
Vern: This is a fascinating one, because we’ve actually done – we’ve published a validity study on a single question questionnaire. Now there may be many athletes that are listening to this that have filled in these long psychological questionnaires be it Palms or Dulders or Rescue, there are many different psychological questionnaires that are used with athletes. But we validated a single question questionnaire and that was how much energy do you have today. And it’s either worse than normal, normal or better than normal. And we did thousands of athletes testing this and also testing salivary proteins against a one question questionnaire and what we found was a significant correlation between understanding what your energy level is and changes in your biochemical or protein markers within your body, which is fascinating. And that’s been published in the Medicine Science Sports and Exercise.
Matthew: I’m going to clarify something. When Vern says “we” that’s not RestWise, that’s Vern as a sports scientist outside of RestWise. So RestWise did not do that validation study or publish it.
Vern: Thank you Matthew. So energy level – the understanding of energy level is a significant contributor or the subjective understanding of your energy levels is a significant contributor or indication of your level of stress or fatigue.
Ben: What type of protein markers, just out of curiosity would you measure that would be associated with energy levels, just for the people who are listening in who are science geeks?
Vern: There are a number of them. One of them in particular where a fair amount of work has been done and an area where I’ve done a fair amount of work is looking at salivary proteins, specifically looking at the IGA proteins within saliva which is a very easy and it’s a fairly non-invasive means of collecting stress proteins which are very sensitive to stress. So they’re an ideal marker to test. There have been some other studies, although we haven’t published them as yet. We don’t have quite the same pool of data as we’ve had for the salivary protein. But salivary hormones such as testosterone, cortisol and the ratio between testosterone and cortisol – these have also been shown anecdotally to correlate with a single question questionnaire on energy level.
Ben: I see. Now mood state is something that you measure. What is the idea behind measuring mood state?
Vern: Well mood is very different to your energy level. Your energy level is obviously – we’ve spoken about that now. Now your mood is you may still wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve got great energy and you could go out and have a workout, but you may feel – your mood state may be very – you may wake up with a very aggressive mood, you may wake up with an extremely happy mood. You may wake up with a sad mood but your mood is you’re either normal. Your baseline as you do every day, or you feel so much better than you do on a normal day or you feel slightly more negative or slightly worse than you do on a normal day. So your mood is very different but your mood plays a very important part on your endocrine system, on your hormonal system within your body.
Ben: Ok, two final parameters that you measure. The first is being well being, and what does well being refer to?
Vern: Well being specifically relates to illness. So it’s where you wake up in the morning and you have got nauseas, you’ve got a headache. You have got an upper respiratory tract infection or you do have a sore throat or a blocked nose. So it’s specifically relating to any form of illness that may be within your system.
Ben: And then previous day’s performance is another parameter.
Vern: Yeah, that’s a really important one. Again, this is not a performance measure so it’s not purely how hard you trained yesterday. In other words, if you had a recovery session, it doesn’t mean that if you had a recovery session it would be a low score and if you had a high interval session, it would be a high score. What it is, is it’s a subjective indication of how well you trained yesterday. So in other words if you were going out for a light half an hour run as a recovery session and you felt good during the run, you felt better than what you normally did even though you’re not pushing yourself to the maximum, you would score that as being better than normal. If you had a high intensity session on that day and you felt that you produced lower than what you would normally do or you felt worse than what you normally would for that type of session, you would score that as being worse than normal. So that’s an indication of your actual training performance on the previous day.
Ben: Ok, so Matt and Jeff, all these parameters that Vern just explained to us are then taken and input into the online software at RestWise and you guys actually create a chart or a score based on these parameters?
Jeff: So there’s a daily score which is generated as Vern said on a 1 to 100 scale as a percentage. And there’s a fairly general description that goes with that and telling you essentially what your state of recovery is but it doesn’t attempt to be prescriptive because you may want different states of recovery in different phases of your training cycle. So that’s the daily result and it’s charted on a color coded chart. So you can see where your score falls within the green down to red color shading.
Ben: And for myself as a coach, when I’m looking at an athlete’s score, I expect like you said – you don’t always want that score to be 100%. For example, when I’m coaching an Ironman triathlete, I expect during that final eight week buildup before a three or four week taper that we’re going to see some athletes getting very close to the edge of over training. So the goal is not necessarily for someone’s recovery to always be at 100% but this is a good way to see that fluctuation and nip it in the bud if that score becomes too low?
Jeff: That’s exactly one way that you could use it, and you might actually use it for the exact opposite reason where if you’ve got somebody who you think you’re loading up really heavily and you’re realizing that he’s absorbing the work more easily than you thought he would, then you may decide that you can actually stress the system even further and design a heavier load.
Ben: Interesting. You guys have a lot of folks using this program, not just triathletes and cyclists but teams as well. What are some examples of people who are using RestWise right now?
Matthew: Firstly, we don’t have authority to share the names of a lot of these teams publicly. The reason being we’re not paying them to use the tool and so we don’t have a marketing contract with them. But I kind of feel…
Ben: I think I saw you guys on ESPN magazine a couple of months ago.
Matthew: Yeah so those teams have said that they’re comfortable with us saying that they’re using the tool and that was – I don’t remember who it was we mentioned in ESPN magazine so I’m don’t want to inadvertently share the wrong name. Jeff, do you remember which ones they were who said we could…
Jeff: Well, I think it’s just fair to say that we’ve got teams from the NBA, NHL, professional soccer, professional rugby.
Ben: Yeah, I was impressed. These aren’t just second tier semi-elite athletes. These are pretty well known professional sports teams using this from like you said the NHL, the NBA, I think I saw the NFL on there. So, yeah. It looks like this is really catching on and I like that it’s easy. I like that it still includes some hardware, this pulse oxemeter that you can wear on your fingertip and for a year’s subscription to be able to use the service – that’s pretty dang affordable too considering how much money folks spend on their training and also on their doctor and on their medical team and their recovery team once they get sick and overtrained.
Matthew: Yeah, prevention is always worth a pound of cure, right?
Matthew: You know one of the things I’ve been musing on Ben as this conversation has evolved is something that Alan Lim shared with me when I met him in Boulder last week and Alan Lim is the chief physiologist for Team Radio Shack and the head of performance for that team – very thoughtful sports scientist. He said that this sounds like the way the FAA analyzes airplane crashes. I said, well what do you mean by that? He said well airplanes don’t drop out of the sky because of a single piece of equipment catastrophically failed. Airplanes drop out of the sky because of a long series of relatively small things go wrong all in a sequence that results in the plane crashing. He said what this sounds like to me is you’ve taken the same concept of a catastrophic failure of an airplane and applied it to an athlete’s body and you said look if we can just monitor all these individual pieces – any one of which might only be a little bit off and not have a huge impact on an athlete’s performance and training recovery – but if you link them all up and you see that four, or five, or six as Vern said earlier are all flagging as danger signs, then you got to be really careful and I think that’s a great way to think about the way that this tool works. I think the other pieces I think is really important in my experience with using it so far with athletes and personally is that it’s not really a revolutionary tool in a strange way. If you’re a reasonably experienced athlete, it’s not going to tell you something you don’t know a lot of times. What it will provide is a totally objective evaluation that you can’t argue with. I think there’s a lot of value in that. The reason I place on such emphasis on observation is we’ve all had those days where we wake up and we just feel like crap and we say well I better get on the bike, and you go out and you ride and 20 minutes later, your legs start to open up and 40 minutes into the ride, suddenly you feel like King Kong, right? So clearly your body is in better shape than some of the markers – than your initial feeling might indicate. Conversely, somebody could get on the bike and you’re like I just feel alright but nothing’s happening. I think what RestWise does is it lets you answer that question when you do feel bad, do I go out and train today? Do I go train hard? Do I go train easy? I think that one question is one that plagues endurance athletes and to the extent that we can answer that question for athletes, then they’re going to be making incrementally better training decisions on a consistent basis. And when you line up those incremental decisions over time, that can be a huge performance difference a year later.
Ben: Yeah, I think it’s a great tool for coaches as well because people can share this data with their coach, right? You can email the chart or the graphs to your coach?
Matthew: Yeah, you can email the graphs on a push basis. You can set it so that your coach will automatically receive it as soon as the chart is generated and we also have a coach’s platform which allows a coach who is coaching multiple athletes to log into one site and see all of their athlete’s data in one place. And as a coach myself, I can tell you that’s a very helpful tool.
Ben: This podcast is actually going to be required listening for all the athletes that I’m coaching. This is a huge tool for me. I just have to get people to actually use it. So for those of you listening in, whether you’re a coach or an athlete or I mean like Vern mentioned, just somebody who’s struggling with your weight or your fatigue or with your energy levels – really good tool to use. Really impressive range of parameters and also really cool software and hardware solution in terms of plugging it all into one place and being able to track your recovery and improve your results, your body, your energy levels and everything else that comes along with proper recovery. I will put a link like we mentioned in the Shownotes to this podcast over to RestWise so you can check it out, try it out and then of course if you have questions, leave them as a comment and we don’t mind if they get technical, I’m sure that I can shoot the question over to Vern and he might be able to log in there and post a comment or point you in the right direction. But either way, if you guys have questions, definitely as usual post them as a comment on the Shownotes to this podcast and Vern, Jeff or Matthew – any final things that you’d like to let the audience know about before we let you go today?
Matthew: I can say for me that was a really good comprehensive and concise overview of the tool. I would encourage anybody to log on to YouTube and view one of the three videos that we’ve posted as well which provide an overview of the data entry process and the overview of the coach’s platform and then a case study on how I used the tool to coach Rebecca Rush leading up to a couple of stage races this spring. That will give you a really clear window into the way the tool actually works and make this pretty abstract conversation that we just had really concrete with a video.
Ben: I’ll also put a link to the previous post that I did on RestWise where I embedded I think a couple of those videos so you can check those out and I’ll try and link to the rest of those as well. So we’ll get it all up for you guys and Matthew, Vern, Jeff – thank you so much for coming on the call today and telling us about RestWise.
Matthew: It’s our pleasure man.
Jeff: Thank you Ben.
Ben: Well cool. This is Ben Greenfield signing out with the team from RestWise from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net