Podcast episode#104 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2010/07/episode-104-plant-based-diets-how-they-actually-work/
Introduction: In this episode: how to eat a plant-based diet, what causes weight gain after workouts, total immersion singing style, how to cook for more than one, muscle adhesions, what to do about motion sickness while swimming, lead in your supplements, what to look for in a personal trainer, is a vitamin D test worth it? Getting a broken bone to heal faster, do you need to gain muscle to lose fat? What is starvation mode? A supplement called Sport Legs, waist to height rations, does sugar or fat make you fatter? A bracelet called C-Prime, a bar called PR, what to pack on a picnic and training to run downhill.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I am podcasting on the road this week which is why the audio might sound a little differently. If it’s any clue to you, we do have a ton of questions in today’s podcast as well as an interview with vegan athlete Brendan Brazier. Whether you are a pro-athlete, whether you are a weekend warrior, whether you’re just interested in how to incorporate a vegan or a vegetarian diet – some of the things that Brendan is doing is very cutting edge when it comes to eating a plant-based diet. So listen in to Brendan’s interview which is going to come after the Q and A and special announcements, and we are going to have a fantastic, jam-packed podcast today. So enjoy.
Alright folks, first of all thanks to those of you who have donated to the podcast to keep this podcast going. You can do that by scrolling down to any of the episode Shownotes and at the very bottom there under the comments section, there’s a little spot where you can donate. You can donate a buck, you can donate 20 bucks. But anybody who does over 15, I automatically send a bengreenfieldfitness.com T-shirt. Thanks also to the people who have left a ranking and a comment at iTunes. That really helps the show out, and I also put a link in the episode Shownotes to where you can leave a ranking for the show in iTunes. This is podcast number 104 if you’re looking for the Shownotes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. A few quick special announcements. First of all, as you may have heard in previous podcasts, I do have a couple of triathlon adventures that I’m offering people. One is going to be this November and December over in Thailand. If you’re interested in a triathlon in Thailand, let me know. Shoot me an email [email protected]. I will be taking a group over there to race. I know that race is full, but I do have a couple of waitlisted slots available. The other triathlon announcement is that I am teaching a triathlon camp in Austin in January. Actually at the end of January. January 31st through February 7, 2011. You’ll want to get in early if you’d like to be part of that camp. It’s an all inclusive triathlon training camp for Half-Ironman and Ironman triathletes. So go to the episode Shownotes to click, find out more details on that and to register for it.
Then finally, I have a brand new book out and I know the special announcements are a bit triathlon heavy, but the book is called How To Qualify for Kona. It’s based on the fact that it can be pretty tough to get to the Ironman World Championships. But this book has everything from qualification criteria to a list of qualifying races, tips from coaches and experts on qualifying, qualifying times per age group broken down so you can see what to expect, how fast you’ll have to swim, bike and run; tips on racing in Kona once you get there. What to expect on race day, what to expect on the race course, race course pacing strategies, fueling strategies, tons of stuff to help you get to race at the Ironman World Championships. The book just came out. It’s only available right now at benfitnessgreenfield.com and over at the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, but you can get it by clicking or by going to the episode Shownotes, once again for episode 104. So we’re going to move on to a special announcement and then this week’s Listener Q and A.
Lots of questions this week. Remember if you have a question you can email [email protected]. You can call toll free and leave a voice mail question to 8772099439 and I’ll put that number in the episode Shownotes. Or you can Skype using free conferencing software at skype.com to Skype me and my user name is Pacific Fit. The first question from this week is from listener Brad.
Brad says: Twenty-four to 72 hours after a hard full body workout, accompanying my muscle soreness and stiffness and the swollen feeling is a two to six pound weight gain. When my soreness subsides, my weight returns back to normal. What is the cause of this weight gain? Is it normal or healthy?
Ben answers: Well Brad first of all, weight gain is normal. The harder you work out, the more the weight gain is going to occur. When I’m talking about weight gain, I’m not talking about fat-based weight gain. I’m talking about inflammatory based weight gain. Because what happens is – as you may have heard before – when you lift a load, the stress on a muscle causes little tears in the muscle fibers. What happens is that in order to repair those muscle fibers, your body has to create an inflammatory condition. Specifically, it sends a bunch of white blood cells into your muscle and the white blood cells help to clear up a lot of that debris that sits around in your muscles from the muscle damage that’s occurred. The other thing that happens is prostaglandins get produced. Prostaglandins are like hormones and they cause pain. They cause swelling. But they’re naturally going to be in any area where white blood cells are filling to help repair muscle tissue. So you get a lot of other fluids, because you got to replace your glycogen stores. You got to replace a lot of the nutrients and the enzymes that you burn through when you’re working out. So you get a lot of fluids carrying those rushing into your muscles to help your muscles rebuild. So along with those fluids and white blood cells and prostaglandins, you’ve got swelling. With that is weight gain. Because in order for your body to produce all that inflammation, it needs to retain some fluid volume. Most of the physiological processes in your body rely on water. So you’re going to retain volume in order for that inflammation and swelling to occur. Now it’s entirely natural. What happens is it starts about two hours after you finish working out. It takes about that long for it to kick in. Then it peaks anywhere from two to four days after. Soreness peaks usually about two days after. Swelling peaks anywhere from two to four days after. After a really, really hard workout, believe it or not especially with body builders, it can take seven to 11 days for swelling to subside. That’s even more true when you’re doing what are called negatives or e-centric type of exercises where you’re lowering a load or you’re trying to slow down a load. It causes a lot more damage to the muscle fibers when you’re having to work against gravity. So obviously since it’s normal, you don’t want to completely shut down the inflammatory process. You don’t want to pop a bunch of ibuprofen after a workout. Something that I tell people is you’re actually shutting down your ability to respond to the workout if you take off inflammation after a workout. The trick is to manage post-exercise swelling and to keep those fluids that are going in and out of your muscles moving as quickly as possible. So you can do things like compression tights and compression socks for your lower limbs. If you want, you can go with a full body compression suit. Some people do that. A lot of professional athletes will use compression on all their limbs. The thing you can do is an ice bath which helps to flush out a lot of the swelling. Icy, hot treatments. For example cold, hot contrasts of 30 to 60 seconds in the shower can help out quite a bit. Making sure that you rehydrate after a workout. That you take in your proteins and your carbs after a workout can help with soreness. It’s not necessarily going to help too much with swelling. But it will help with blood flow into the areas. The blood delivers all those nutrients to the tissue. Massage helps. Self-massage with a foam roller or a stick can help as well. A good cool down, light stretching are also paramount to help your muscles really milk a lot of that swelling after them and keep the fluids moving in and out of the muscle tissue for repair and recovery. There is a condition called rabdomyalisis, which is basically excessive muscle damage. A lot of inflammatory markers occur and it can lead to any death, but quite a bit of muscle damage. That is a case that would indicate you are working out way too hard. I doubt that’s the case with you. You’ve got some normal swelling going on that’s going to occur after a hard workout. So it is normal. Just make sure you manage it.
So we have a question from listener Michael.
Michael asks: I was wondering why I don’t see or hear about serious athletes using the total immersion style of swimming. Do you know why most athletes just use a standard freestyle stroke and not total immersion? Do they not know about it? Or do they just feel freestyle is good enough?
Ben answers: Well Michael, it’s possible that your question is slightly misinformed. Because total immersion is a style of swimming that is a freestyle style of swimming. It’s just basically a technique that’s used with freestyle swimming and specifically, it’s focused on balancing in the water, on streamlining your body or swimming long so that you reduce drag as much as possible and shifting your work forward or swimming downhill a little bit so your feet stay closer to the surface of the water. And basically getting a good glide or holding your place in the water by keeping one arm extended out in front of your body as a ballast. So you get a nice long glide. Now total immersion is a great swimming style. It’s a wonderful way to learn the basic components of freestyle and believe it or not, a lot of athletes train this way and even serious and professional athletes started out with total immersion and made a few modifications to make themselves better. One modification specifically, what I find is that people who learn total immersion – when they swim, they tend to hold their glide a little bit too long and they tend to not have a high enough swim stroke. Especially for open water style swimming. If you’re trying to do a triathlon or something of that nature, you have to have a little bit higher turnover, a little bit more forceful, almost messy style of swimming compared to the total immersion swimming. But the balance that you learn in total immersion and the streamlining, the ability to move your body through the water while reducing turbulent flow of the water around your body is very useful. I would actually encourage you if you’re a beginning swimmer, look into a technique like total immersion to form the basis of your swim stroke and then modify it with a little bit of speed and power as you go to help you out a little bit. But that’s a great question. And total immersion swimming is used among professional athletes and serious athletes. It’s just modified a little bit to make it more powerful.
So a question over Twitter from Andrea Heaps. Andrew asks via Twitter… just so you guys know, if you ask me a question via Twitter, I’m sending a free bengreenfieldfitness.com T-shirt to the best question asked via Twitter. There were a few of them this week, and I will be sending out a free T-shirt to the best question asked via Twitter. You can do that by going to www.twitter.com/bengreenfield. You follow me on Twitter by clicking the follow button after you create your free Twitter account. Then you ask me a question.
Andrew Heaps asks: Hey Ben, any tips for good recipes if cooking for more than just one?
Ben answers: Absolutely, Andrew. It’s a good question. I know that a lot of the meal plans that you’ll see me write and talk about seem like they’re made for just one person. But the fact is that you can definitely modify them and eat healthy for more than just one especially if you have a family. A few things that we do as a family is we’ll do things that are like tacos. We do a lot of wraps. We do do tacos sometimes. We do falafel – a Greek Euro type of wrap where we’ll use whole wheat pita and some hummus and some chickpeas. We use a little bit of feta cheese, some tomatoes, some lettuce. Any type of meal where you’re stuffing either gluten free wraps or pitas or bok choy or Swiss chard or kale or big leaves of Romaine lettuce. That works really well because you just put all that stuff out on the table and people dig in and if you’re trying to eat healthy, you can pick and choose. If you want to use the cheese and sour cream or if you’re watching your calories and you don’t want to use the cheese and sour cream. If you’re trying to eat gluten free, maybe you wrap ingredients inside Romaine lettuce rather than a whole wheat wrap but you have whole wheat wraps there on the table for people that want to use them. Those work really well. Batch prepping with dishes like Quinoa based dishes work really well. Amaranth and millet are another couple of very good, pseudo grains that are a little bit higher in protein that work well for larger dishes. A lot of times what we’ll do is we’ll just take a bunch of fresh ingredients. Fresh produce or fresh garden ingredients like tomatoes and basil, cilantro, we’ll do some flax seed, some almonds or pumpkin seeds, a little bit of olive oil, some type of vinegar or vinaigrette and we’ll just combine all that stuff together in a salad. A grain based salad over Quinoa or amaranth or millet. You can put a little feta cheese or goat cheese in a recipe like that. But that’s very easy to do. A couple of other things that we’ll do is we’ll do – we do pizza. We do both a gluten free pizza which you can buy at any grocery store or gluten free pizza dough. Very easy to prepare. You put your fresh ingredients on top of pizza. We tend to keep pizzas very simple. Fresh tomatoes that you can slice and put on the pizza after you’ve cooked it for a little while with just a little bit of cheese and there’s a variety of different pizza sauces out there. I would recommend that you make your own. There are lots of good, healthy, homemade pizza sauce recipes out there and for me to go on and on about cooking for more than just one, obviously there’s tons of recipes. But the things you want to stay away from are cream-based recipes, casserole-based recipes. Typically anything where you’re combining a ton of ingredients and heating them up or cooking them or baking them or slow cooking them – usually more often than not, the ingredients involve lots of salt, lots of butter, lots of cream, lots of high calorie, low nutrient dense types of foods. So try and keep it fresh and light when you’re cooking for more than just one and think about it more as preparing than cooking. Now I’d really direct you towards Chef Todd. He’s one of my friends who teaches online Web cooking classes. If you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for Chef Todd, you’ll find him. Fabulous resource for cooking. He’s got some really good stuff and it’s well worth it. He’s got an online cooking membership Web site. He’s actually worth looking into. You’ll learn a lot from him. He himself is becoming more and more healthy with his cooking style, which is awesome.
Allison asks: I am a sports tissue and myofascial release practitioner. I wanted to ask you two questions. Number one, I have a client who is a diabetic training for her first marathon. She struggles with a lot of myofascial adhesions despite using the foam roller religiously and having a session with me every two to three weeks. Do you have any suggestions on how to help her body?
Ben answers: Well, first of all for those of you listening in, myofascial adhesions are pretty common causes of muscle pain or musculoskeletal pain. If you feel your neck get real, real tight sometimes; maybe up in your traps, carry a lot of tension in your shoulders… it can happen in the hamstrings as well quite a bit. It can happen in your adductors and your quads. Any muscle that you tend to use quite a bit. They tend to get adhesions. The specific area that gets adhesed is an area underneath the skin called the fascia. There’s a few different layers of this fascia but essentially you get capillaries and blood vessels moving this fascia. You get nerves moving through it and it connects muscles and fat and bone and all the tissues that move throughout your body. It kind of keeps them together. You can think of it almost like a spider web. A real, real thick network of spider webs that hold your body together. When you injure a body part, scar tissue forms. What are called adhesions form. Those are all made of fascia. If that fascia is not really forming in a way that’s parallel or that follows the route the normal fascia would, it tends to create these knots and adhesions and feelings of tightness and what are called cross-linking, haphazard cross-linking where your collagen and your fiber really isn’t arranged in the way they’re supposed to. There are some practitioners, probably similar to Allison who specialize in just helping people keep their fascia aligned. It’s especially important if you’ve ever been injured before to keep that area of injury very mobile and keep the vessels and the nerves feeding that area very mobile. But it’s important too for injury prevention to work your fascia with a foam roller or have a massage therapist work on your fascia to keep all those fibers lined up the right way. It’s one of the reasons that things like massage therapy actually works. Now with the diabetes issue, I’m not a physician but I can tell you and most of you know this that with diabetics and neuropathy… diabetic neuropathy is something that is very common, and that’s numbness and tingling and pain, weakness in the extremities. It stems from nerve damage as a result of diabetes. While we don’t necessarily need to get into the cause of how diabetes actually causes nerve damage, I’m not really familiar with fascia and muscle damage being a symptom of diabetes but because nerves move through and weave through the fascia and the muscle, I would consider looking after some of the same treatments that you’d use for something like a neuropathy with this patient or some suggestions for management of neuropathy. Obviously, they’d want to talk to their physician about specific pharmaceuticals and things of that nature that they could use to treat neuropathy. If you listen to this show for some period of time, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of and favor natural treatments as much as possible. A couple of things that can be used or have traditionally been used is nutrients to manage or to help with pain related to neuropathy include alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid is a supplement that you can find at your local health food store. A lot of grocery stores have it now. Acetyl L- carnitene is another supplement that has been used in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. B vitamin dosing is another thing. Ginko biloba – interestingly, we’ll talk about ginko biloba a little bit later on in the podcast – but for both circulation as well as management of pain related to diabetic neuropathy, it’s something that has been studied and used as a natural treatment. So I would look into some of the natural treatments for neuropathy. I would also consider some of the things that we’re going to be talking about next week with Dr. David Minkoff. But he talks about managing adhesions and muscle pain with cold laser, with some vibration based treatments. I believe he mentions acupuncture in that interview as well. Again, that’ll be in podcast number 105 which will be coming up. But there are some other things in addition to just physical manipulation of the fascia that could help with some of those adhesions and pain. So I would look after natural treatments of diabetic neuropathy. I would also look into some things that you’re not doing like the cold laser, like acupuncture, like vibration based therapy and some of those treatments. But myofascial pain is definitely something that can be frustrating especially for people who are physically active and often requires more than one approach when it comes to treatment.
The second part of your question.
Allison asks: I am thinking of trying a tri. However each time I go to the pool to try and swim pools, I suffer from nausea and vertigo. I have horrible motion sickness on dry land anyways and often get sick on boats and long car rides. Can you think of anything I can do to help? Ginger doesn’t work.
Ben answers: That was one of the things I was going to suggest.
Allison asks: And it’s impossible to work out on Dramamine patches.
Ben answers: I would agree with that. It’s tough to exercise when you’re on Dramamine. There are some other things you can try. I actually had some clients that I trained who have real trouble. They get dizzy on everything from a treadmill to the water. Some of the things that we’ve tried include acupuncture and acupressure. You can actually get wrist bands with special acupressure tabs that target the area of your wrists and your hands associated with motion sickness. So you can look at a wrist band with acupressure tabs on them. You can also work on some breathing techniques. Some deep breathing, some relaxation techniques. I have a hunch you’ve already experimented with ginger and Dramamine. You’ve probably tried some breathing techniques but the other thing you can do is actually train your body to handle the type of issues that it’s not dealing well with as you begin to get into those wavy conditions in the water. There’s actually a drill that you can do. The way that you do this drill is you want to get an 8 and ½ by 11 sheet of paper and you want to draw a bunch of black and white squares on there in a checkered pattern. In the middle of that checkered pattern, you want to put an X. What you do is you shake your head back and forth while you’re trying to focus on that X in the center of that paper. You want to be able to work yourself up to the point where you can shake your head up and down and back and forth and still focus on that X that’s in the middle of that checker board pattern. After a while, you’ll find that you can actually begin to focus on that X without feeling dizzy as you shake your head. That can help out quite a bit. It’s a drill that physical therapists use when treating motion sickness. The other thing you want to do is use the lane lines in the pool. Make sure you look at the lane lines and only at the lane lines. Trust the lane lines. Obviously, it doesn’t help in the open water, but looking at non-moving objects as much as possible is the other thing that will help out quite a bit. But don’t feel like you’re stuck with the motion sickness. You can try and train your brain to deal a little better with it. So best of luck Allison and great questions.
We’re going to move on to a question from listener Kai. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this recently, about the fact that consumer reports recently published findings of high levels of lead and other metals in protein drinks and other supplements including green drinks.
Kai asks: What is your take on this? Are there any certifications we should look for on supplement labels that provide guidance as to the quality of the ingredients? And what is your take on consumerlab.com.
Ben answers: We’ll start with that last question. www.consumerlab.com, I don’t have a big issue with. They’re out there to protect consumers and I appreciate some of the things that they’re brought to us, specifically this study in which they took some very popular protein drinks some of you may have heard of: the ESS Myoplex Shake, the Muscle Milk Chocolate powder, and another nutritional shake – a chocolate flavored nutritional shake. What they found was that these shakes and powders not only contain lead and lead that was over and above what would be considered to be toxic levels, but they also contained cadmium, arsenic and mercury. Now these are of course all toxic heavy metals and exposure to them can cause neurotoxic damage. It can cause nausea, it can cause vomiting. Long term exposure to heavy metals has been linked to cancer. Cadmium is a known human carcinogen and these things can accumulate in your body over time especially if you’re that person who’s having a protein shake every day after your workout or for breakfast every morning. This is stuff that you should definitely be concerned about. So here are my thoughts and my take on this.
The supplement companies that they studied are considered very big, run of the mill – I don’t want to do any name calling here – but let’s say GNC. You walk into GNC and those are the type of things that you would see. GNC being a popular supplement store here in America, versus the smaller organic companies that tend to not mass produce as much. Maybe not go after Chinese-based products quite as much which tend to be higher in lead. We all know what happened with the toy fiasco last year and I do know that a lot of the bigger supplement companies that outsource a lot of their ingredients overseas. Now you contrast that with organic based proteins and organic ingredients which has not been exposed to fertilizers. They haven’t been exposed to a lot of the modern industrialization and commercialization practices and so the soil and the area they’re grown in is not contaminated with heavy metals. That would be a better way to go. Specifically I’m talking about organic whey protein because whey is specifically one of the culprits here. Organic whey protein, or choosing proteins that are not based on whey at all. That are based on a hemp-base or a pea-base or a rice-base. But essentially, what we’re talking about doing is choosing smaller companies that don’t mass produce their ingredients. They’re not getting their ingredients necessarily from overseas sources that are focused on quality and organic in terms of their sources. I have mentioned on this show a couple of times the organic goat-raised whey that is cold-pressed, which means that it’s a lot gentler way of extracting that protein and contains whey protein concentrate that’s naturally sweetened. It doesn’t have artificial sweeteners in it. It doesn’t have chemicals added. There’s no preservatives added, and that’s the Mt. Capra Double Bonded Whey Protein. Now let’s say that you’re a vegan or you’re a vegetarian and you’re not into whey protein. Well you’ve got other options. Brendan Brazier who we’re interviewing today – his entire nutrition company is based around ingredients that are high quality, that are organic and that are not animal-based. So he’s got vegan-based protein compounds like hemp and pea and rice. There’s another protein supplement you’ll find over at pacificfit.net. The Living Fuel Living Protein. I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes. Another way to get protein without having to worry about some of these modern farming techniques that could be exposing the protein to heavy metals or outsourcing the ingredients that they’re getting from Chinese-based facilities. So those are some of the things that I’d think about when you’re looking at some of the certification levels like WADA – the World Anti-Doping Association. When you’re looking at the Certified Good Manufacturing Practices, which is the CGMP certification. Unfortunately, these same supplement companies they found the heavy metals in all have those certifications or those recognitions and they still had the heavy metals in them. So, the CGMP and the WADA are more focused on the types of things that would be considered illegal performance enhancing supplements in your supplements, not heavy metals. But this is definitely something that concerns me and makes me even more wary of the supplements that I’m buying and making sure that I’m going after high quality supplements. I have also talked with the Living Fuel – the company that makes the Living Protein and with Mt. Capra – and I’m waiting back for a statement with them for their take on this matter and I’ll get that out on the podcast as soon as I hear back from them as well. If you have more information. You’re listening in and you want to leave a comment, as usual leave the comment right on the episode Shownotes for this podcast number 104.
Now listener Doug Lloyd asks a Twitter question. Another Twitter question.
Doug Lloyd asks: I’m feeling unmotivated to restart my lifting and running program. A trainer might help. What should I look for in a personal trainer?
Ben answers: That is a question I wish more people asked. You guys, I have been a trainer – I’ve been a personal trainer for over a decade and I’ve been asked less than a dozen times where I was educated, how I was certified, what my experience is. That type of approach would be similar to going into a health practitioner’s office and not asking if they are a doctor, okay? Personal training certifications are available for people to get via an open book, weekend certification from their home. You pay a company and they’ll send you a test. You fill up that test using whatever books or Google or Wikipedia or anything else you want. You send it back in. You pay them $150 or $200. They send you a certificate that says “Congratulations John Doe, you’re a personal trainer.” Then that might be the personal trainer that you’re walking into your gym and hiring at X dollars an hour to take care of your body. Wouldn’t do that if they were a brain surgeon operating on your brain. Why would you do that with someone if they are taking care of and giving you advice about your body or your nutrition? That’s why this is a great question. So, here is what to look for Doug.
The good certifications out there that you need to be asking your personal trainer if they have, making sure that they can actually provide proof of certification, of updated certification because the certifications do expire and I do know some personal trainers who do not renew them and still tell people they are certified. The certifications would be the NSCA, National Strength Conditioning Association. The only internationally recognized certifying body for personal trainers. The NSCA is considered to be more of a performance strength and conditioning… very good for athletes, very good for the general population, but that’s the type of certification that is. ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine, another very good certification. Often used for people working in a clinical environment such as a heart attack recovery center in a hospital. Very good for people who are doing cardiac rehab. If you’re having heart issues or you’re rehabilitating from something like a cardiac-based issue, ACSM would be the personal trainer that I would choose. NASM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I’m not sure if I’m saying that right. The National Academy of Sports Medicine, NASM. The NASM is very good also for rehabilitation or muscle work. It has a strong focus on anatomy and physiology. That’s a great certification as well. One that’s kind of on the edge for me is called ACE. The ACE personal training certification. ACE does have a very good certification program. It’s just some people just go through the ACE Group Fitness Instructor certification. They’re not the same as a person who has gone through the ACE Personal Training Certification System. So you need to make sure that you know that ACE has varying degrees of certification, as does the NSCA. As a matter of fact, most of the certification bodies. But ACE is the only one that I’m aware of where you may find out that the person who is trying to teach you how to weight lift is really only certified to teach group Pilates and yoga and that’s really something you need to be careful with. So look into the certification. Look into the experience. How many clients have they worked with? How long have they worked with them? In the same way that you would want someone who is going to operate on your knee to have done hundreds of knee surgeries. I’m not saying that rookie personal trainers don’t have a place to start out but if it were me, I’d be looking for a personal trainer who has worked with lots of people and seen lots of cases and worked with lots of different body types and unique needs. If I were choosing a personal trainer, I would also choose one that is well-versed in nutrition or has access to a nutritionist or registered dietician or some type of mentor to help them help you with their nutrition needs. So make sure that you take into consideration the dietary knowledge of your personal trainer because there are some personal trainers that will just tell you to eat before and after a workout and make sure you eat three times a day or six times a day. That’s all the advice you’re ever going to get from them. Make sure that they actually know something about nutrition or they’re willing to bring someone onto their team who is able to help you out with nutrition, or they’re able to refer you out to a nutritionist. If they themselves are not a nutritionist, make sure that they are willing to work with one and to help you out by referring you to one.
Finally, make sure that you are choosing a trainer that suits your personality. There are some trainers that simply are not going to be the type of person that motivates you, that you get along with. Some trainers are very soft-spoken. That’s good for some people, that’s not motivating for some people. Some trainers are very brash, and that’s also not necessarily good or agreeable for some types of clients. So make sure that you get a chance to sit down with your personal trainer. Any personal trainer should at least be doing a 30 minute consultation with you and preferably closer to a 50 or 60 minute consultation with you to really get to know you and for you to get to know them. If you’re going to be hiring them to reinvent your body, especially for a long term basis. So I will personally vouch for any of the trainers that work for me around the nation that you can fine at Pacific Elite Fitness. That is pacificfit.net. You can find me there. You can find any of the personal trainers that work for me there and I have handpicked many of them to be safe and well-certified and well-versed to help you lose weight or do a triathlon or whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish. Great question Doug. As a matter of fact, you win a free T-shirt for asking the best question of the week via Twitter. So send me your address Doug, whether via Twitter or via email and I will get a T-shirt in the mail for you ASAP. A bengreenfieldfitness.com T-shirt.
We’re going to move on to a question from listener Gabe.
Gabe asks: I recently have had interest in the Bioletics tests and protocols that you talk about. I have a limited budget, so I’d like to start with just the vitamin D test. Do you think the vitamin D test is the best place to start with Bioletics? How do I download previous podcast episodes with Dr. Cohen from Bioletics? I don’t see how to download those episodes from iTunes.
Ben answers: Alright. Great question. So, first let’s address the second part of your question Gabe about downloading previous podcasts. If you’re trying to access those from an iPhone or a mobile phone and you go to iTunes and you’re not seeing the previous podcast in there, go to the link that I’m going to put in the Shownotes for this episode. Now bengreenfieldfitness.com is accessible via mobile phone. I do have a piece of software that basically reconverts the code on my Web site to allow you to comfortably view it on your phone. Go to the episode Shownotes for this episode. Episode 104. Underneath your question, I put a link that shows all the podcasts I’ve ever done. If you click on that link, you’ll be able to download any of those.
Now to the first part of your question on the vitamin D test and whether I would say that that would be the best place to start… if it were me, I wouldn’t. Because so many people are deficient in vitamin D. You’re almost guaranteed that if you start taking vitamin D, it’s going to benefit you. You’re also almost guaranteed that you’re probably deficient in vitamin D. So I don’t know if I would prioritize that as the top test to do. If I were in your shoes, I would look after something that’s a little more diet specific and body type specific. I would look into the essential amino acids test which was very eye opening for me and has been one of the life changing things for me in terms of my performance and my health. I got tested for the amino acids and I found out that I need to be eating a high protein diet and I also need to be supplementing with essential amino acids. For me I thought I was getting enough protein. I wasn’t. The other one that I would really look into is the essential fatty acids. In my case again, I thought I was eating lots of healthy fats. It turns out I was, but I was eating too many of the Omega 6 type of fats and I had to readjust my diet to take in more of the Omega 3s. So I would really recommend with Bioletics, even though all their tests are obviously highly beneficial, look into the essential fatty acids or the essential amino acids and we’ll see if we can get Dr. Cohen to come on and comment on the episode Shownotes for his take on this. But if it were me and I were in your shoes, I would look after the essential fatty acids or the essential amino acids test. You can read about all those tests over at bioletics.com. They send test kits to your home to allow you to test things like your magnesium levels, your vitamin D levels, your fatty acids, your amino acids, your metabolic type, etc. Make sure you let them know that I sent you over there because that’s important they know where you came from and that I am giving them business. I really believe in that company and what they do and I would highly recommend that you look into them.
So we have a question from listener Jason next.
Jason asks: I am a cyclist. Last week I was in a crash during a race resulting in a broken collar bone. My doc says it will be about four to six weeks until this has healed. I’m wondering if my nutrition over the next several weeks can help or hinder bone healing. Are there certain foods or supplements I should be including in my diet? What would you do for a broken bone?
Ben answers: First of all, listen to your doc. A broken collar bone… listen to your doc in terms of healing. Make sure that your doc is a cyclist. I’m serious. Because there’s no reason that you can’t rig up an indoor bicycle, suspend your arms so you’re not putting a lot of stress on your collar bone. Ride with that for the first couple of weeks and then modify your handlebars. You can take an old handlebar, tape it on top of your existing handlebar to bring your handlebars up closer to your body and continue to ride that way as well. These are the types of things that a doctor who is a cyclist will tell you. A doctor who doesn’t really care that much about endurance sports or the fact that you’re going to want to stay fit and on your bike during your collarbone fracture or break is not going to tell you that stuff. So make sure that your doctor really is familiar with cyclists who need to keep riding with broken collarbones. Because guys finish the Tour de France with broken collarbones. Totally possible to do.
As far as speeding up healing, I’m going to put a link to a couple of resources for you Jason, in the episode Shownotes. One is podcast number 49, which was an interview with a gentleman about a supplement called Lactoferrin or a compound called lactoferrin, which has some really promising research behind it in terms of its ability to speed up osteoblast activity. Osteoblasts are the parts of your bone that actually allow new bone cell to get laid down and lactoferrin is the supplement I’d look into and you can hear the podcast about that in podcast number 49. I’d also look into my free resource, How to Recover Like Wolverine from X-Men. You can get that for free by clicking on the link that I’ll also put on the Shownotes episodes. A couple of things that are specifically in that book that I’d look into: one would be glucosamine chondroitin. It’s necessary for proper joint lubrication and cartilage regeneration. Your body makes it but by giving yourself a little bit extra, you’re not going to hurt yourself. It’s made from ground up goat cartilage and the stuff that I recommend – as a matter of fact, the same company I recommended earlier – Mt. Capra, they make that organic goat-based whey protein, but they also use ground up chicken cartilage and they make this glucosamine chondroitin. I’d definitely check that stuff out. It’s called Capra Flex. It’s something that I would look into. I’d also look into vitamin C which helps in the production of what’s called fiber blasts and chondrosites, which are also responsible for connective tissue fiber and cartilage formation. So a vitamin C dosing would be very easy to do as well, and that’s something that I’d look into. In terms of bone healing and circulatory movement, iron is a key component of hemoglobin which carries oxygen to your muscles and carries oxygen to other tissues – and making sure that you have adequate iron in your food is important. They have done studies where people recovered faster from surgery and injuries when they supplemented with iron. Iron isn’t necessarily a vital component of bone density formation but it’s definitely something that I always suggest to people who are injured to help with inflammation and oxygen delivery.
A couple of other things I would look into is making sure that you’re not leaching calcium from your bones by consuming an acidic diet. An acidic diet would be something high in grains, sugars, processed sugars. A diet high in chemicals, toxins, artificial sweeteners – things of that nature. So try to avoid cereals, try to avoid grains. I’d avoid a lot of pasta, a lot of bread. Make sure you eat a lot of alkalotic foods. Dark skinned fruits, dark vegetables, greens, supplements, cold water fish is good. Green tea is good. Nuts like walnuts and almonds, pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds are also good. So I’d look into taking some of those. I’d also look into a couple of mineral – well one large mineral and then some mineral co-factors. I would look into magnesium to take a long with the calcium. You can take oral magnesium up to the point where you get loose stool. 500 to 1000 milligrams in that range is typically what would be about the upper range, what you could take in terms of a magnesium supplement to help with that calcium absorption. I’d also look into trace mineral supplementation. Trace minerals are just small micro minerals. I actually interviewed – I did an interview on trace minerals some time back with a lady. You can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com. Do a search for minerals. This lady was from a company called Ambia. Ambia Gold. And she was talking about trace minerals and the role they play in the body. But if you can get your hands on a good trace mineral supplement, that would also be something I can recommend. So few things you can do there. But definitely look into the glucosamine chondroitin, the vitamin C, iron. Look into trace minerals, look into magnesium. Continue to of course make sure you get adequate calcium. That should go without saying. And also look into an alkalinic diet, a non-acidic diet and some things you can do to help keep you riding even though you have a fracture. So good question Gabe, or Jason rather.
Zach asks: I am a 35 year old marathoner that has decided to become serious about bike racing. I realize I need to drop some weight to realize my full potential, I have a theory that I need to gain some muscle in order to lean out and then I can worry about cannibalizing some of that muscle when it comes time to get into racing shape. How would you go about this?
Ben answers: It’s an interesting theory. The whole idea is you build muscle so you bump up your metabolism and then you use the higher metabolism to burn through fat. The only issue is that because muscle takes about 2500 extra calories of consumption, it’s tough to gain muscle without at the same time gaining a little bit of fat. You don’t have to eat hamburgers and big, fatty steaks and do the whole body building approach of just putting on a ton of mass and then shedding fat. You can still put on protein mass without getting a ton of fat, but be warned that if you go about eating as much as you’re going to have to eat to gain muscle mass, you’re probably going to gain some fat in the process because ultimately what it comes down to is that for even a pound of extra muscle weight, you’re going to have to eat at least 2500 extra calories per week.
A better way to go would be to focus on fat loss but just make sure that you include weightlifting or resistance training in your cycling program so that you are sustaining a healthy metabolism. You are getting some of the hormonal response that occurs to weightlifting and that can have a very positive effect on your ability to lose fat. But you’re not doing the mass gain type of protocol which can be stressful. It can cause you to gain extra fat weight and it really isn’t conducive to getting into good, functional cycling shape.
So if I were you and I were trying to shed some fat to become a better cyclist but also make sure that I get some muscle in my body, the way I would do it is rather than thinking of bulking up muscle and then shedding fat, I would go for more of a moderate muscle building approach and fat burning approach. So you’re eating a healthy diet using the fat loss techniques I talked about on the show in the past. You’re getting up. You’re exercising on an empty stomach. Nice and easy, to jumpstart that fat burning. You’re doing some weight lifting and some interval training later on in the afternoon. You’re eating at a caloric deficit of no more than 1000 calories a day but in that 500 to 1000 calorie a day caloric deficit range and believe it or not, studies have shown that even people who are at a caloric deficit can still maintain or build a slight amount of lean muscle while weightlifting. It’s not going to be like bulk gain mode, but you can gain a little bit of lean muscle even when you’re at a caloric deficit as long as you’re weightlifting. So I do the caloric deficit, the fat burning and then moderate weightlifting for a moderate muscle gain. When I say moderate muscle gain, we’re talking about probably in the range of .2 to .4 pounds per week. So good question.
Listener Todd asks kind of a related question.
Todd asks: I was wondering if 1500 calories a day is a good goal for me. I don’t want it to be too little and slow down my metabolism too much. I do cardio at least five times a week and if the machines are accurate, I’m averaging about 700 calories burned per day. I have a worry in the back of my mind that my calorie intake will put my body into starvation mode especially with the huge calories that I used to consume daily.
Ben answers: Todd, the only way to know is to know your metabolic rate. So there’s lots of ways to find out your metabolic rate. You can go to a laboratory. You can test your resting metabolic rate using what’s called an RMR test. Do a Google search for your area. Type in “resting metabolic rate test” and see what comes up. There might be a practitioner in your area who offers that service. You could also look into the local exercise physiology lab at your university to see if they’re able to offer you a resting metabolic rate test. You could use an equation. There’s an equation out there that’s pretty decent called the Harris Benedict equation. That equation allows you to approximate based off your height and your weight and your age and your sex, your approximate number of calories that your body needs per day in order to sustain your metabolism. Now, once you find out what your resting metabolic rate is, my recommendation is that males not undercut that by more than 1000 calories and that females not undercut that by more than 500 calories. So for example, my personal resting metabolic rate – and I know this from a laboratory test is about 2900 calories per day. That’s what I burn sitting around doing nothing. So I never eat fewer than 1900 calories per day because I want my body to have enough calories so that my metabolism doesn’t slow down as my body goes into starvation mode. Now, that’s starvation mode. Starvation mode is not when you skip a meal. Your body doesn’t go to starvation mode if you eat three meals a day. Your body goes into starvation mode when you have day after day after day of undercutting your metabolic rate far below your resting metabolic rate, or undercutting your intake far below your resting metabolic rate. That’s starvation mode. Don’t let anybody tell you that starvation mode is going to happen if you eat three times a day or you skip breakfast. That’s not starvation mode. Starvation is literally starving your body. That’s when your metabolism begins to slow. So for you, you say you’re 45 years old, 245 pounds. It’s possible that your resting metabolic rate is over 2500 calories. In which case 1500 calories a day would be really low for you. Getting close to being too low for you. Now, if you happen ot have a slower metabolism, let’s say it’s 2000 calories a day, you’re going to be fine on 1500 calories a day. But it’s really tough to say without knowing for sure your resting metabolic rate. A cookie cutter approach is really tough in this type of situation. For a while, one of the things that i’ve done with a lot of my clients is that resting metabolic rate test to make sure that we’re finding out the exact resting metabolic rate, if any type of severe caloric deficit is necessary so we don’t undercut the calories by too many. So great question.
A question from… I believe this was a Twitter question again.
Anonymous asks: Have you ever used SportLegs. If so, what are your thoughts about it?
Ben answers: Okay. SportLegs. You know, I did use SportsLegs. I got a few samples. I think they sent me some samples. I tried them out. I got interested in them for a little while. Interesting philosophy – SportLegs, they contain trace amounts of magnesium and vitamin D. So low that those components probably aren’t doing much for you. But the main active component in SportLegs that I’m really interested in is that it’s basically lactate. A lot of people call it lactic acid. But basically it’s lactate and the idea is that if you preload your body prior to exercising with a bunch of lactate, you cause the enzymes responsible for buffering lactic acid and turning it back into fuel and shuttling all the acid out of your bones to work more quickly. So when you finally do begin exercising, you don’t burn quite as much and you’re able to achieve a higher intensity faster and get less lactic acid accumulation in your muscle tissues. Then furthermore, by having that extra lactate into your body, the idea is that hydrogen ions which are responsible for the acidic state in your muscles get buffered or taken up by that extra lactate so you recover more quickly.
On paper it all looks pretty nice. It’s a really cool philosophy. Studies have shown that by eating, preloading with that lactate, you actually can – you can increase the buffering capacity of your body and increase your ability to convert that lactic acid into glucose. However, I have yet to see a single study using SportLegs that shows a direct performance increase based on that fact. So the question is, is your body good enough already at buffering lactic acid and converting lactic acid into energy that you really don’t need extra lactate dumped down the hatch to make it happen? It could be. So until I see a definitive study that shows an improvement in performance, I’m not totally convinced that SportLegs would be the best bang for your buck. I don’t think they’re going to hurt you. I took them a bunch. I took them before on sprint races, some Olympic races. I felt great when I took them. I’m not certain that I felt a huge difference between when I did and didn’t take them. Really tough for me to say. But that’s the idea behind SportsLegs. They’re not going to hurt you. I wouldn’t be worried about the trace amounts of lactate that those are putting into your body compared to what your body is endogenously producing when you begin exercising. But the idea is I’m not totally convinced they’re going to help you recover or help you perform either. But they’re a very interesting and compelling supplement.
So, the next question is from listener Brad.
Brad asks: Several months ago, I watched a Dr. Oz interview where he told Jimmy Kimmel that the maximum healthy waist size should be half the height. Is that true?
Ben answers: Waist-height ratio is basically what that’s called. Many of you might be familiar with the BMI or body mass index. That’s a ratio of weight to height and it’s been used for a really long time to predict your mortality or your cardiovascular risk. The problem with that test being that it will predict some people who are actually very fit and who may be heavy because they have large amounts of lean muscle… it will predict them to still be unhealthy or have a high cardiovascular risk which of course is unfortunate if your BMI is being taken into consideration for something like your health insurance or your life insurance policy. So, the BMI has some flaws. Especially for thin people with lots of lean muscle who are in good shape or thick people who are built like linebackers who are in relatively good shape but just happen to be heavier. Not from fat mass but from muscle mass. So that’s where the waist-height ratio comes in, that no matter how big or how small you are, if you have a thin waist compared to your height, you really have a reduced cardiovascular risk. It’s pretty intuitive really. The thicker your waist your is, the more likely it is that that thickness is coming from added adipose tissue and fat and storage tissue around your waist and compared to your height, it can give a very clear picture of whether or not your ratio is in a healthy range. If you just Google “waist to height ratios”, you can find the ratios published on the Web. They have a ratio for men and a ratio for women. You specifically asked me Brad, you said “I’m 74 inches tall and my waist is 35 inches.” So what you would do is you would take the number 35. You would divide it by 74 and in your case, it’s going to come out to about 47%. So if you look at a chart, you would see where 47% lies. A ratio of 47% for men is considered healthy, normal weight with the caveat that there are still categories under that. You have a ratio of 43 to 46 being healthy; ratio of 45 to 43 being extremely slim; and a ratio of less than 35 being abnormally slim to underweight. So, if you have a desire to be a male model you may want to shed about 12 percentage points off that waist-height ratio. Otherwise just make sure you don’t gain too much weight because that would get you closer to 53% which gets into that overweight, unhealthy category. But definitely a better measurement than the BMI.
Bernice asks: I’m curious to know, what is more likely to make you fatter? Consuming excess fat or excess sugar?
Ben answers: Well the answer to that Bernice is neither. Consuming excess calories is what’s going to make you fatter. Now, to take that to a more personal level, what I feel personally – I find that people who tend to consume excess fats tend to be the type of people who are consuming steaks, burgers, higher protein diets. They’re consuming generally not a ton of corn or wheat-based products. They’re not consuming as much processed sugar. They’re generally more of the caveman type eaters. You compare that with people who are the high sugar eaters who tend to eat lots of packaged and processed foods, lots of things from the Starbucks bakery case, lots of Twizzlers and candies and cookies and baked goodies, and they tend to consume more – shall we say processed foods. So, if you were to take somebody who was eating 1500 calories per day and 70% of those were coming from processed sugars and you were to take somebody who was eating 1500 calories a day and they were eating a diet that was coming from steak and burgers and things of that nature – whatever – coconut, avocados, maybe some Trail Mix. Higher fat in terms of their diet, and high fat would be really anything above 30%. Let’s say they’re getting 40 to 50% of their diet from fat. Even though I would consider both of those diets to be less than ideal, I would consider the higher carbohydrate, higher sugar diet to be more damaging, more acidic for the body. More preservatives, more chemicals and of course any of those excess carbohydrates are not only doing damage from an overall health standpoint, but they’re also getting converted into trigylcerides and stored as fat, just like fat would be. Whereas the person who’s eating the steak, the nuts, the hamburgers – a lot of the fats that they’re getting in are A, they could be healthy fats. They could be some of the healthier, saturated fats, some of the Omega 3 fats, some of the Omega 6 fats. Granted, they’re also getting some transfat and some vegetable oils and some more acidic and inflammatory fats in that diet but for the most part, a higher fat diet tends to be lower in terms of its ability to produce acidic, inflammatory conditions in the body compared to a higher carbohydrate diet. So, it is likely that if you are asking me this question that you are not even at that stage where you’re thinking, “How could I eat a high fat diet and have it be an alkalotic, non-inflammatory diet based on avocadoes and olives and Mediterranean food and that type of jive. I’m guessing that you’re probably more at the stage where you’re just trying to lose weight. In which case I would be focused on the more general recommendation of limiting the number of calories that you take in, consuming somewhere in the range of 20 to 30% protein, 20 to 30% fat, 40 to 60% carbohydrates all from real food that you recognize and that you can easily identify that’s not coming out of boxes, not coming out of drive-through windows, packages or containers. If you begin to follow those general recommendation, I’m thinking that the question of whether to consume excess fat or excess sugar is going to fall by the wayside. Now that being said, if you had to choose between a spoonful of peanut butter or a piece of chocolate cake for your cheat meal, I’m leaning towards the peanut butter. So, hopefully that helps you out a little bit. I’m going to put a link to a previous podcast called “How lowfat diets make you fat.” It’s called “How lowfat diets make you fat.” I’m going to put a link to that in the episode Shownotes for episode 104.
Karen asks: I would love to hear your opinion about the C-Prime bracelet. I’m seeing more and more of these and hearing so many claims that this bracelet has made the biggest difference in running, biking, swimming and golf. Sounds too good to be true. What is your opinion?
Ben answers: Well, the C-Prime bracelet is a magnetic bracelet. Lots of companies are making magnetic bracelets based on the whole idea behind magnets being able to improve circulation and help to realign the natural energy fields in your body to improve performance and improve health. Now, there’s been several studies on magnets and some have found decent results in terms of comparison to placebo magnets or non-active magnets or things that look like magnets and weren’t magnets in terms of the ability to reduce the person’s perception of pain and in terms of the ability to improve performance or specifically reduce the rating of perceived exertion. Some of the studies were not super elegant in the way they were designed. Specifically, there was one done at New York Medical College that was kind of grasping at straws because even though they noted statistical improvements, they had the groups divided into so many different groups that it was really, really tough to see a real good statistical improvement when using the magnets. Then the other group had twice as many women as men in the group that showed the improvement and sex is definitely something to take into consideration when you’re talking about a placebo versus a non-placebo effect. So there’s been a few issues with some of the studies that have been done. But ultimately what it comes down to… you’re asking me this question. You’re writing in and asking me and here are my thoughts on this. I’ve used magnets before on sprains, strains. I have friends who use magnets and I personally feel less pain when I wear them. I have not yet noticed any improvement in performance but I notice that my injuries tend to feel a little bit better, and I’m also a big believer in the fact that we have energy fields in our human body; energy meridians in our human body that can be affected by magnets. Now, I’m not saying that a C-Prime bracelet is going to turn you from a 30 minute 5k runner to a 20 minute 5k runner. But let’s just say that even the placebo effect is at play there, if it helps you run a couple minutes faster or helps you recover a little bit faster from an ankle sprain; I’m all for the placebo effect and I’m all for even trying something that may not have yet been proven by science but if it helps you, it helps you. So that’s the issue, you know? And case in point, Dara Torres who had a fantastic Olympics a few years ago was a 40 plus years old phenom swimmer. She wore the magnetic bracelet. I have a picture. If you do a Google search at bengreenfieldfitness.com for Dara Torres, you’ll see that I have a picture of her there wearing a bracelet and in that same episode, I interviewed a gentleman about magnets and exercise and magnetic therapy and it’s an interesting interview. So I’m personally not totally sold on them but they’re not going to hurt you. As long as you’re not paying big bucks for your magnets, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
Rick asks: I have seen advertisements for a bar called the PR Bar in Competitor magazine. I called and the president of the company answered and told me how his nutrition program would get my body burning fat for energy. Have you heard of this bar? I could not find any nutritional information on it.
Ben answers: Well, here’s what I did. I headed over to the PR Bar Web site and the PR Bar definitely has a lot of height behind it as being the cat’s meow when it comes to supplying your body with all the fast fat burning nutrition that it needs. It did take a little bit of digging for me to actually find the ingredient label but I found it. And here it is. The ingredients are the PR blend. What is in the PR blend, you ask? Soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, soy crisp – which is rice flour, malt extract, calcium carbonate and soy protein isolate, fructose, peanuts, sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, vegetable oil. That was my injection. Cocoa powder, whey powder, nonfat milk powder, soy lethosane, corn syrup, peanut flour, maltodextrin – that’s sugar, natural flavor, vitamin, mineral blend and everything else from there on out is vitamins, vitamins, vitamins and salt. Nothing groundbreaking here. This is basically a meal replacement bar or a protein bar that actually has more vegetable oil and more corn syrup and more sugar in it than any of the bars I have personally recommended. It’s also got potential allergin triggers in it like milk powder and peanut powder and peanuts. It’s basically – I guess the defining characteristic of it is they put some vitamins in it. Nothing special here. Good advertising. Definitely good advertising. I’ll give them an A for advertising but the fast burning nutrition technologically is probably going to do you more harm than good in the long run. As usual, I would continue to suggest that if you’re going to use a meal replacement bar, you go with something that is gluten free, that is 100% organic, that does not contain things like peanuts, that does not contain corn syrup or fructose and that preferably is more of a vegan, vegetarian type of meal replacement bar or is made from entirely holistic, healthy ingredients. Two examples – CocoChia Bar made by that company Living Fuel that I talked about. Go to pacificfit.net, click on supplements. You’ll see the CocoChia bar there. Bumble Bar from www.bumblebar.com. I love Bumble Bar. Their factory is three blocks from my house. They use good ingredients. It’s a gluten free bar. Listen to the interview with Brendan Brazier. Check out his company. He’s got an interview on the show today. He’s got a company called Thrive also dedicated to holistic, real ingredients not shoving a bunch of protein and high fructose corn syrup down the hatch and then telling you that you’re going to lose weight while doing that. That is not the answer. To me, it’s the same as a Nutrisystem or a packaged meal. Sure, you might lose a little weight in the short term, but it’s not really healthy long term. It’s not real food.
So a question from Ecuador and the reason I say Ecuador is because of the way the question is phrased. It’s in Ecuadorian from Fernanda. Not that it’s Ecuadorian, I just wanted to give that clarification.
Fernanda asks: I wanted to ask you if you could give some tips as to what to bring to a picnic for a maximum of four people. Just food that gives you energy to run around all over the place. Also, I’m not sure if bringing much fruit will help because it’s easily digested and then we’ll be in the query for a near bathroom. And one last thing, any other tips on activities like Hit the Ball? Please don’t say hunting or fishing.
Ben answers: I love that question. Picnic for four people. You know, picnic foods when you see them in the cartoons traditionally you’ve got the cake and the beer and the sandwiches on the red and white checkered picnic blanket. That’s not necessarily the healthiest way to go. I can tell you what we do in my family when we prepare for a picnic. Usually we’ll do crackers. There’s actually a great recipe that my wife makes for flax seed crackers. There’s other recipes for crackers. Again in Brendan Brazier’s book, and we’ll be interviewing Brendan pretty soon here, but crackers are very good. Especially a non-wheat based, gluten free, seed and nut-based cracker is very good and you can do that along with some type of a meat. You can do that with a cheese or you can do that with a spread. One of the things that we’ll do a lot of the time is we’ll get some nice, plump, organic tomatoes and we’ll slice those tomatoes. We’ll grind up some chick peas and garlic and tahini in a blender and make some hummus. We’ll throw some vegetables in there like some crunchy carrots and cucumbers. Some jicama strips, and we’ll put all that into a picnic basket. We’ll get some water. Generally some type of fresh fruit because you have to eat a lot of fruit to get diarrhea. We’ll get some watermelon, we’ll get some sliced up apples, maybe some blueberries. We’ll put all that in a basket, and you can take the tomatoes and the hummus and eat those with the crackers. If you do cheese and meats, you can use the cheese and meats as well and then you can have the watermelon and the fruit. Then I personally like to do just a little bit of dark chocolate as a dessert. For me that’s a great picnic, especially if you throw in some sparkling water, some Perrier or some Pelligrino. Much better than a ham and cheese sandwich with a piece of cake. So that’s my recommendation on the picnic foods. Brendan Brazier’s book really does have some good on-the-go recipes. It would be great for a picnic. As far as activities, there are so many things you can do. You can do frisbee, you can bring your tennis rackets and the tennis balls and hit those around. But what I would recommend is you look into this new activity called Bocce Ball. Bocce Ball is kind of like lawn bowling. What you do is you take a small bowl and you throw it somewhere out in the distance. One person throws it, then the other competitors throw their ball and whoever gets closest to that ball that was thrown gets a point. There’s variations on the point-keeping system, but then the ball is thrown again and everyone throws their ball to try and get closer to that ball that’s in the business. I actually played about an hour and a half long game of Bocce Ball on the beach the other night. It was a blast. So look into this new game. I don’t even know if it’s new. It’s just new to me. It’s called Bocce Ball. Check that out, and no hunting or fishing required. Just Bocce Ball. Try that out. So, great question. And for those of you down in Sacramento or El Dorado Hills area, if you’re listening to this podcast when it first comes out, this Friday and Saturday we’ll be down there teaching at a special event focused on helping kids to get healthy and get outdoors. We’ll be doing a bunch of games and fun types of picnic-based activities out there down in California. So if you’re listening to this, shoot me an email and I’ll tell you where to go.
Two more questions. A question from listener Brian.
Brian asks: I will be doing Syracuse Ironman 70.3 in September and have a question on long distance, downhill running after a heavy uphill bike course. The Syracuse bike course contains a lot of climbing and changes in elevation. Then after what I’m sure will be a tough ride, the run course is all downhill for 13 miles. Can you offer tips on form, position or training for either the bike or the run that will allow the quads and glutes to survive this back to back test?
Ben answers: Absolutely. Let’s start with the bike. Don’t stand on the bike. You’re going to use a lot of your hamstrings and glutes if you stand on the bike. That’s going to leave those muscles less able to help you on the run. Stay in a seated position on the steep hills, get into the arrow position on the shallow hills and that will help you to spin at your high cadence and reduce the potential for you to easily fatigue your leg muscles for the run. As you’re preparing for that bike, make sure that you’re of course doing lots of hill repeats. That should go without saying. Ride hills if you’re going to race hills. Now for the run, you’re definitely going to want to build up some of your leg muscles which are going to be responsible for absorbing some of that joint impact and helping you to stabilize as you engage in your downhill running. Try single leg lunges and single leg squats. Definitely those single leg support activities are going to help quite a bit because you’re going to be braking as that heel strikes the downhill surface and you’ll be glad for the strong, single leg support muscles that you build up with those activities. Make sure that you train your core especially with plank based activities. Make sure that you train your hamstrings and your glutes and this is going to go for the next question as well. Things like step-ups, lunges, hip hikes, fire hydrants. There’s tons of single leg type activities you can do. Go to my Web site. Pacificfit.net. I have a huge free database of exercise photos and videos over there. Go check out some of the single leg stuff. Just scroll down to the letter S or the letter O for everything that starts with “one leg” or “single leg”. Check out some of the exercises that I demonstrate there and begin to implement those. Do a workout at least once a week that involves weight lifting or resistance training for the single leg. As you actually get into your downhill running technique, you’re going to find that you’ll tighten up in your upper body quite a bit as you focus on running downhill and focus on watching where you’re going because you’re generally travelling at higher speeds. Drop the shoulders, relax the shoulders, drop the arms. Whereas on steep, rolling courses I advise athletes to really let it fly on the downhills and go fast and let gravity take them down and then work really controlled on the uphills. On a gradual downhill with lots of elevation loss and longer downhill strips that going with gravity can actually beat up your body after a while. So I would go with a slightly shorter cadence. Not slightly shorter cadence, but a higher cadence and slightly shorter stride length. Don’t stride out so much that you’re doing a ton of feel striking. Lean forward because that’s going to help push you down. Do not lean back. So relax your shoulders. Let them drop forward just slightly. Don’t rotate your core too much. So keep your elbows beside your body and bent at 90 degrees and practice running so that your foot runs just underneath your hips with that slight forward lean. That will help you out quite a bit. So don’t let it fly and don’t get too out of control going downhill or you’ll end up really beating your body up and running downhill very inefficiently. As I said relax the upper body, lean slightly forward, high cadence, slightly shorter stride length, keep your feet under your hips and then just make sure you don’t overutilize those muscles on the bike and have those muscles ready for the run by doing some single-leg weight lifting type of activities leading up to the run. Then we have a call-in question.
Tonya asks: Hey Ben, this is Tonya from Gainesville, Florida. I just discovered your podcast and I’m loving it. I’m going back and listening to a bunch of the past ones. A couple of questions for you. I drive about 1200 miles a week. I’m a sales rep for a pretty large territory. I am planning on taking my first vacation in quite a while and going to Telluride, Colorado and doing some extensive hiking. So a couple of things, I was wondering if you had any effective exercises for preparation. I’m in pretty good shape. Anything beneficial to my hip would probably be good because that’s one area that takes a toll with all the driving. The other thing I was going to ask you was I would love it if you had any suggestions, because there’s quite a bit of altitude difference between Gainesville, Florida and Telluride, Colorado. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on supplements. I saw some anecdotal information on cortaseps and ginko biloba. Just wondering if you had any input on that? Thank you very much Ben. Keep up the great work. Excellent, very educational. Thank you.
Ben answers: Well Tonya, first of all I hope you heard my response to the gentleman who asked a question about the downhill running becuase you’re going to need strong butt muscles for hiking. Any of you who have done steep uphill hiking know that your butt gets very sore afterwards. So specifically focus on high knee step ups, focus on side to side preferably deep lunges that use the side to side butt stabilizing muscles because you’ll be goat trailing a lot as you hike uphill, going side to side and pushing off the side of your legs quite a bit. Then focus on fire hydrants and hip hikes which I mentioned earlier and check those out over at www.pacificfit.net at the exercises page over there or just Google those exercises. Hip hikes and fire hydrants. Now, as far as supplements, I would definitely recommend that cortaseps supplement. It’s been used for thousands of years by Sherpas who guide people on Mt. Everest. I’m not saying that just because something has been used for thousands of years that it works, but there have been some promising studies done on cortaseps and its ability to enhance the adrenal activation of your lung tissue. The other thing I would look into is ginko biloba. Ginko biloba which I did mention earlier is something that has been studied. As a matter of fact they’ve done a couple of Himalayan studies on it and found that it inhibits your – not inhibits but decreases your propensity toward altitude sickness with a likely mechanism being that when you get altitude sickness, a lot of times that’s due to some swellling in the brain or some brain edema. A nitric oxide is something that can cause that blood brain barrier to leak a little bit. The idea behind ginko biloba is that it has an ingredient in it that could actually inhibit nitric oxide synthase or the actual enzyme responsible for the production or conversion of nitric oxide and ginko could also inhibit something called the platelet activator factor. So ginko is a little bit of a blood thinner as well. Now that being said, there are certain things that you shouldn’t take with ginko, because there’s a blood thing. That would be something like an anti-coagulant, vitamin E, you shouldn’t take a lot of aspirin. You shouldn’t take a lot of ibuprofen with ginko biloba. Anything that thins your blood is going to enhance the activity of something it’s taken along with. In some cases that can be dangerous. But interestingly, ginko is also very good for circulation in your hands and your feet. So it can help wit cold conditions when you’re hiking as well. But I’d definitely look into a ginko biloba supplementation. The amount that was taken in the studies that showed promise was 120 milligrams twice a day. Somewhere in that range of 80 to 120 milligrams twice a day is considered to be the physiological dose that’s necessary to actually get that good response for ginko biloba. So great questions. Great questions from everyone. Remember, if you have a question, you can just email [email protected]. You can call to 8772099439 or you can Skype Pacific Fit and we do have a special announcement and then we’re going to move on to this week’s interview with Brendan Brazier.
You should know that prior to this interview, I found out that I was going to need to be recording in a coffee shop so I apologize for some of the background noise. But it’s a great interview with Brendan. Listen in.
Hey podcast listeners. This is Ben Greenfield and I am here today with Brendan Brazier and Brendan is not only a fantastic athlete. He’s raced as a pro triathlete. He’s raced as an ultra-endurance athlete. But he also has a very special type of nutrition program that he both writes about and also implements himself. I’m going to let him tell you exactly what he does. But before we even get into what type of nutrition plan you personally implement Brendan, tell me a little bit about your training protocol. On a daily or weekly basis, what type of things are you putting your body through?
Brendan Brazier: Well, right now I’m mostly just kind of training more for fun. I’m only training probably 90 minutes to two hours a day. But when I was doing it fulltime, I did it professionaly for seven years and usually I’d get up pretty early and swim for about 4 ½ K, then some weights after that. Usually have a nap and then ride four to five hours and then run 75 minutes from there. Just trying to get some good volume training in and just enlarge the engine I guess. The aerobic engine. Yeah, just putting on the miles for Ironman.
Ben: So for those of us who are mere mortals, 90 minutes to two hours a day itself is pretty intimidating in terms of workload and workout protocol, but were you doing things like weight lifting, running? Things that would tear your muscles up?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, in the beginning I started off with lots of aerobic training. I found as my career went on that I could actually make better gains by also including some strength training. So I was always afraid of building up bulk and obviously having my strength-weight ratio drop, but I found if you implement a properly put together strength training program, you could increase strength without increasing bulk. So therefore increasing efficiency which of course is what the endurance athlete wants. So yeah, I started including some more weight training as my career went on and I found out that really helped.
Ben: So tell me about how you came to implement the way that you’re eating right now, which we haven’t really told people much about. But I’d like to hear the journey of where you started and where you are right now in terms of your nutrition.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, sure. I started off when I was about 15 years old. I just got really into running and track in high school and thought it’d be great if I could make a career out of being an athlete. So I started looking at what some of the top runners were doing and then I realized I also like swimming and cycling so I thought well, okay if I can do triathlon and have a bit of a professional career with that, that would be ideal. So I looked at the top athletes’ training programs to find out what they were doing and it really surprised me. They didn’t really train differently from the average athlete. It’s pretty much the same thing. So I figured if the top guys in the world are getting different results from the same training program than the average athlete, what’s that factor that separates them? I found that it has to do with rate of recovery. The rate at which you get your body to regenerate or renew itself. So that’s where my focus went because obviously if you recover faster, you can train more in a shorter amount of time. Of course that means you’re going to improve quicker. So my focus went on recovery. So therefore my focus went on nutrition because I found around 80% of recovery could be attributed to good nutrition. So that’s what got me into nutrition in the first place. I tried all different ways of eating. I tried high carb, low carb, high protein, low protein and nothing really worked amazingly well. And then I tried completely plant-based, and at first it didn’t work well. I was always hungry and tired, not recovering well.
Ben: You just said completely plant-based, right?
Brendan Brazier: Right. So yeah, a completely vegan diet. Didn’t work well at first. Like I said I got hungry and tired. It wasn’t working well. Then I found how to do it properly and the things I was lacking initially which was complete protein, vitamin B12, iron, salts, Omega 3 fatty acids, and then I started taking a blender drink with all those nutrients from plant-based sources. That eventually evolved into what is now called Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer which is something that’s available in stores that I had partnered with someone else in 2004 and we brought it out. It started off just me making it myself.
Ben: So you actually launched an entire nutrition company based on this concept of eating.
Brendan Brazier: Right, yeah. And it’s really a good, simple, plant-based whole food nutrition which helps speed recovery which like I say doesn’t make you a better athlete, but allows you to train harder and to train more efficiently that will make you a better athlete.
Ben: So can you walk me through a sample day of what that type of plant-based eating would look like?
Brendan Brazier: Sure. It varies, but usually I get up. When I get up I’ll have an energy bar or half energy bar. There’s recipes in my book. It’s called Thrive. And you can make recipes from that or a bag of bars. Same thing. You don’t need to to buy them. You can make the recipe. So really a bar, it’s uncooked. So it’s raw. It’s made with (beets) and agave nectar and blueberries and buckwheat and hemp seeds and a bunch of good things that digest very easily. So I would have that, go out for a workout. Usually run. And then I would get back and have a smoothie that’s got protein, essential fats, fibre, greens, enzymes, probiotics, all that stuff from plant-based sources. I’d make that. That helps speed recovery. Then I would pretty much graze throughout the rest of the day. So lots of fruits, a few vegetables, a few nuts and seeds. A big salad every night that has lots of different types of lettuce and spinach and kale and usually avocado and carrots and beets and cucumbers, things like that. That’s usually what I finish off the day with.
Ben: Interesting. So obviously this style of eating is a lot different than what you were doing before. But are you finding that you’re able to maintain energy levels? Do you find that the people that you’ve helped with this type of nutrition plan are able to maintain their energy levels and repair their muscle? Are you finding they need things to fill in the holes?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, and I found that you really don’t need as many calories as you may think. This is a trap I fell into in the beginning. I thought because calories are a measure of food energy, the more calories you eat, the more energy you’ll have. It seems to make sense. But I found that there was a divide there. A calorie wasn’t necessarily a calorie. If you need to spend a lot of energy to digest and assimilate some highly processed food, it’s hard to assimilate, you have less energy. So there’s a section in my book – I talk about gaining energy through conservation as opposed to consumption. What I mean by that is eating foods that use less energy to digest and assimilate but give you more nutrients in terms of micro nutrients like phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, all that stuff in return. So I shifted my focus from calories – you eat tons of peanut butter and bread and fill up on calories – I shifted to eating more fruits for one thing. So I was getting most of my carbs from fruits as opposed to starchy refined carbs like pasta or rice or bread. I would eat whole grains too. Things like amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice. So those digested more easily and gave more nutrients in return. Things like that made a big difference. My calorie intake dropped 20 to 30% but I have far more energy because I wasn’t expending so much to digest and assimilate it and I was better nourished therefore I wasn’t hungry. And my weight dropped a little bit therefore my strength-weight ratio went up. It really works well. So I eat far fewer calories than what a conventional sports nutrition book would suggest based on my weight and activity but it’s the quality that counts.
Ben: That’s interesting. So the reason behind that is that you’re actually using less calories to require your body to handle the food you are putting into it, just because it burns cleaner?
Brendan Brazier: Right, yeah. And digestion takes a lot of energy. If you’re eating highly processed foods, your body has to (unintelligible) enzymes and break it down and like I said, that’s work. So if you eat those more natural raw alkaline forming foods, they will digest more easily and use less energy to do it, and therefore if you don’t spend it, you’ll still have it. It’s like with anything. Like with money, if you don’t spend money, you’ll have more of it. Unless you make a good investment and you can get a return on that investment. So I started looking at food as a way of investing. So I would invest in as little energy as possible and get the most micro nutrients in return. So, high net gain is what I call that.
Ben: Interesting. Now, in terms of the type of diet that you’re utilizing as this clean eating plant-based diet, is it any different than say a traditional vegetarian diet that someone would stumble across if they Googled “how to be a vegetarian” and they found a diet. What would be different between that and what you’re doing?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, a lot of the vegetarian diets I found are very high in starchy foods. So a lot of refined carbs, like I was saying before – the pasta, bread, rice. They’re often based on those. Mine’s based on greens really. Leafy greens and then fruit for carbs as opposed to starch for carbs. So that’s one of the big differences. Also, a lot of meat analog type foods would be in the typical vegetarian diets. So a lot of tofu hotdogs, tofu hamburgers, that type of thing. Soy milk and soy ice cream. I actually don’t have any soy in my diet. It’s all soy free and wheat free, gluten free. Obviously dairy free. So I eat other things like hemp and flax and stuff like that.
Ben: Interesting. Like pizza and hamburgers are in your book. But in a very non-traditional sense. How do those fit in to the plant-based diet?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, the pizza recipes in my book. They’re probably the most popular ones in the book I think. They’re really simple. There are several of them. But it’s basically made up of just a few ingredients like lentils and wild rice for example, and then some herbs would be the pizza crust. So you actually have the protein in the crust as opposed to the toppings. So you just put the string beans in the food processor, process it, bring it out, put it on a bake tray and then put on a marinara sauce or a pasta sauce. There are recipes in the book. And then vegetables on the top and then bake it. So it’s really simple. (Unintelligible) basically any supermarket. It’s gluten free. Obviously it’s yeast free, wheat free, flour free. So it’s high in protein and easy to digest and just a really good, clean source of fuel and it tastes really good too. They’re pretty good. There’s one also you can make with beets. You actually make the crust out of beets and sunflower seeds. So, definitely different to a traditional pizza.
Ben: Interesting, and all these recipes are in your book?
Brendan Brazier: Right.
Ben: I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes for people. The name of the book is Thrive, but I’ll make sure that I get it in there. Now, can you still use this diet and just basically shop at any old grocery store? Do people have to have access to one of those super-expensive organic grocery stores that sell fringe ingredients or can people pull this off at an Albertson’s or Safeway or Rosauers?
Brendan Brazier: Oh yeah, for sure. A good 90, 95% of the ingredients could be found in any supermarket. There are a few other ones that I call max-level ingredients that are not essential but they do help with things if you do have access to them. So, you can get them at a place like Whole Foods. There are things like maca which is a root vegetable powder from Peru. It’s very high in trace minerals. Something called chorela which is an algae. Very high in protein and B vitamins. Great for cellular recovery and for cleansing as well. So really good after a workout. So things like that are a little harder to come by. But like I say, they’re just kind of additions to the diet as opposed to the base of the diet.
Ben: Interesting. So those are the types of things that people would add in. For example… you talk about maca in your book for people who are stressed out or need to stabilize cortisol levels. But those are kind of little extras that people can add in to a plant-based diet?
Brendan Brazier: Right. Maca is great for that free-building the adrenals. So if your adrenals get fatigued due to training or any other kind of stress; it’s pretty common for people to take that. And high levels of cortisol means that you don’t sleep as deeply and when you don’t sleep as deep, obviously then you need to sleep more and also you’re more likely to create coffee and sugar because it’s higher because you haven’t slept deeply. So all these things that transpire when your adrenals get burned out. So eating the high net gain foods that I talked about before is really going to help with adrenal function too. But if you need a little extra boost with that, maca works very well. Maca is not a stimulant, it’s actually the opposite. It helps rebuild whereas caffeine will give you energy but it’s through stimulation which is short-term and it’s treating the symptom. It’s not treating the cause. Whereas maca helps rebuild the adrenals which will then improve sleep quality which is going to make you less tired because you’ll be better rested because you’ll have slept better.
Ben: Now, for people listening in, when you say maca, how are you spelling that?
Brendan Brazier: M-A-C-A.
Ben: Okay. So are there other resources that you would point people toward, Brendan, if they want to learn more about this? Ways that you would suggest that people just get started in terms of implementing a plant-based diet if they want to try one or warnings that you would give people?
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, there are a few sites. There’s my own site. There are a bunch of articles in there and some video and stuff and that’s www.brendanbrazier.com. And also there’s a Web series that I put together about a year ago called Thrive in 30. So the Web site is www.thrivein30.com. That’s like I said a video series that you get in your email. You get three emails a week for four weeks and each one is made of video segments that’s basically just stuff I film myself. Really basic, really simple, talking about ideas in the book and how you can apply them to perform better whether for athletic performance or just general life performance. So that’s a resource that’s free and available to anyone as well.
Ben: Well folks, we’ll put a link to all this in the Shownotes but we’re talking to Brendan Brazier right now who was a pro triathlete, has done ultra-endurance, still trains 90 minutes to two hours a day. I know that a lot of you are concerned whether your body can actually get by on a plant-based diet, and Brendan has a lot of good information. I would highly recommend that you check his book out. I’m going to put a link to that in the Shownotes. Brendan, thank you for coming on the call today and sharing that with us. Thanks for your time.
Brendan Brazier: Yeah, no problem Ben. Thanks for having me on.
Ben: Alright, folks. This is Ben Greenfield and Brendan Brazier signing out.
I will put a link to Brendan’s book in the Shownotes as well as a link to everything else that I talked about in this episode. This is episode 104. What do I ask from you? Just leave us a ranking on iTunes. If you want to donate to the podcast, go to the Shownotes and scroll down to the bottom. There you can not only donate, but also leave a comment. Let me know if you have questions or comments on the topics that we discussed today. Are you a vegan, a vegetarian? Do you eat a plant-based diet? Do you not agree that a plant-based diet is the way to go? Whatever it is that you have to say, I’d love to hear it. So go to www.bengreenfieldfitness.com and leave your thoughts. Until next week, this is Ben Greenfield signing out from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
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