Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/qa-401/
[00:00:38] New San Pellegrino Essenza
[00:02:43] Amazon Affiliate Links
[00:04:08] Itinerary in San Diego
[00:05:24] News Flashes
[00:06:33] Innovative New Process Converts Vegetables into Meat by Feeding Them to Cows
[00:08:47] Article on Rapamycin and Anti-Aging
[00:13:28] How I “Fixed” My Cholesterol Levels with a Low-Carb Diet
[00:27:38] Listener Q&A: Can Genetic Testing Tell You How to Exercise & Eat?
[00:39:32] Tips to Increase Your Power & Speed
[00:51:45] Should You Eat Carbs in The Morning or The Evening?
[01:02:35] Question, Comments, Review and Resources
[01:03:38] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.
Should you eat carbs in the morning or the evening? Tips to increase power and speed. Should you take rapamycin? The latest on genetic testing and much more.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Oh, yeah, baby. You know who that is? Well, Michelob Light. Maybe some icy cold summer Budweiser, or maybe for you, longtime podcast listeners, you have already guessed and you would say one of my favorite flavors, Cream Soda Zevia. You would be wrong, shocker. It's actually something new, one of the things that was introduced to me by my podcast co-host, Dr. Jay T. Wiles. He sent me a text the other day of the photograph. This can called San Pellegrino Essenza, Asienza? I don't know. I don't speak Italian that good.
But anyways, I got a case of this stuff from Costco. I'm drinking the lemon and lemon zest flavor. They also have a really sexy one called Dark Morello Cherry and Pomegranate. It's really good. My Dark Morello Cherry wasn't chilled though, so I'm having to downgrade and drink the lemon and lemon zest. It's just mineral water, like sparkly water. Nothing else in it. Well, I'm sure some of you are going to leave comments about aluminum, and heavy metals, and BPA, and something else in there that would make this the equivalent of like, I don't know, a vaccine in a can. But I don't know. It's made in Italy. It's got to be healthy. In Ruspino, Italy. And it's good, so I got some, and I'm drinking it, and I like it.
I'll put a link to it in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/401. All the shownotes are over there. And you can go get on Amazon. Screw Costco. Screw your local evil national huge corporation. No. Instead, go to the small guy. Go to Amazon to get your San Pellegrino Essenza. Actually, a little insider tip here. I actually profit when you go to the shownotes and you buy stuff on Amazon.
When I was a triathlete, I was traveling all around the world, this was how BenGreenfieldFitness.com started. It was just like a blog where I'd report on my bicycle choice and the kind of shoes I was wearing, my wetsuits, but I put Amazon affiliate links in there. So, you could buy stuff on Amazon and support my little blog. And I thought this is a great way to help me pay for a meal out when I was traveling, or maybe buy a water at the airport. I started doing this. Good tip coming up for you kids out there. This is the snowball effect. This is a business idea for you.
I started doing this and I started to get checks from Amazon. My first check was like $1.37 for the whole month. This was like probably 12, 13 years ago. And I kept doing it, like thousands of podcasts later and hundreds of articles spread out to the four corners of the internet. I now get several thousand dollars a month from Amazon. Isn't that crazy? So, when you go buy San Pellegrino on Amazon, you actually support my wife's ability to be able to purchase Louis Vuitton purses, and for me to be able to eat big fat ribeye steaks. So, yeah, screw Costco. Go to Amazon.
By the way, speaking of Jay T. Wiles, where is that cat? Well, he's not here. There's just me today, just me all alone because at the time that Jay and I usually record on Wednesday mornings, I'm on a plane. I'm going to San Diego for my friend, JJ Virgin's conference down there called Mindshare. So, I'm going to go to Mindshare. But I'm also going to record a podcast when I get down there in the morning, Paul Saladino, who you may know he's been on the podcast before. He's like the carnivore diet doctor.
He and Dr. Mercola and I are going to do a workout. Dr. Mercola has some fancy new workout technology he wants to show us. And Dr. Saladino and I are going to record a follow-up podcast on the carnivore diet. I'm going to go visit my friend, Paul Chek, go up to his heaven house in Encinitas and sit down with him and record a podcast. I'm going to go over to my friend Drew Canole's house and, you guess it, record a podcast. So, I'm going to be recording a lot of content when I'm down there in San Diego. And if you'd like, you can just sit back and wait for all that to come out, and it should be pretty good.
So, anyways, I don't really have anything else to say in the introduction because my trusty podcast sidekick is not here. So, I figure we should just get straight into the newsflashes.
Alright, so this is the part of the show where I talk about all the–well, some of the choice research that have come across of late. I put out a pretty hefty Twitter feed. Like, every day, I tweet two to three research studies. When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do after I stretch and do some yoga, and eat some superfood mushrooms, and put some coffee up my ass, and do a clay mask, and hang upside down from my inversion yoga trapeze, and a little foam rolling, some meditation, some holotropic breathwork, jump up and down on my trampoline, and do some infrared and some near red light therapy. After I do all that, 15 minutes into that, I read research studies and I tweet them. So, I spend some of my morning reading research and tweeting it. So, if you want all that, go to twitter.com/bengreenfield. I robustly tweet. It's about all I do on Twitter.
Anyways though, so I've got some interesting studies for you. The first is about this innovative new process. You may have seen this, this innovative new process that converts vegetables into meat. So, you may have heard of Beyond Meat before, but this takes things to the absolute next level. This is beyond meat on steroids. Here's how it works. You can go read the article. I'll put it in the shownotes. It appeared on babylonbee.com, and it goes into this startup called Meat. And they came upon this process after using hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital dollars to research how to turn vegetable products into something delicious that could be used as, say, a hamburger.
There's a quote from the researcher named Winston Sullivan in his article, and he says, “Vegetables are ugly and horrible, and no one likes them. We tried everything to make them edible, but nothing worked, except maybe covering them in ranch dressing. But then we saw this creature, a cow, was eating the vegetables, because it was so dumb and didn't know any better or something, and somehow afterward, it became filled with tasty meat. It was amazing.”
So, what they figured out–and there are restaurants like Five Guys, for example. They're doing this now. They're actually using patties made from naturally processed vegetables that have been fed to cows, who somehow turned that into meat that you can then eat. It's a parody. It's a tongue-in-cheek. The article's a joke, but it was funny enough to where I thought I'd lead off with that because I'm actually fed up with this whole Beyond Meat and the turning of basically GMO soy in the Beyond Meat patties. I like this idea much better. Feed cows organic vegetables and you've got wonderful meat.
So, there you have it. I should actually tell you something useful. There was another research study that looked into reducing the methanogenesis process that's created by cattle. And one of the best things you can do is source with any animal. You can do it with goats, cows, chickens, you name it. You give them a little seaweed. And the seaweed like kelp or algae or anything like that actually cuts the methane production significantly. Isn't that cool?
Anyways, that first article I'll link to in the shownotes in case you want to share it, but it's a joke. This is not a joke though. Fantastic article put out on Men's Health about rapamycin. Now, rapamycin is kind of like the latest life-extending off-label pharmaceutical that a lot of folks are now popping as a longevity enhancing pill. It was discovered in soil on Easter Island during this 1964 Canadian research expedition. And scientists who were studying diseases there, they noticed that people didn't get tetanus via their feet as folks would expect. They figured the ground held some kind of dark secret. And they harvested the soil, and it sat in complete frozen storage in a lab until the late '60s when a researcher happened upon it and was looking for useful compounds in it and came across a molecule from the soil that was a very powerful immunosuppressant.
And so in 1999, a couple of decades ago, the FDA approved the molecule as the drug that we now know as rapamycin. And in further studies, by the mid-2000s, they found that it could increase the lifespan of worms and yeast. And in a study in 2009, they took the life expectancy of mice up by 28% for males and 38% for females, plus these mice had more energy, and they were burning more calories, and it was somehow upregulating their mitochondrial efficiency. And so the FDA approved this drug for people who'd undergone organ transplants because it is an immune system suppressor.
The article from Men's Health, which is a fantastic read on the emergence of rapamycin goes into how since then it has begun to be used off-label for anti-aging. You may have heard of rapamycin before from others who have talked about it. My friend, Dr. Peter Attia, for example, has done podcasts on it. There's another researcher named David Sabatini, who was analyzing it at Johns Hopkins Medical School and found that the mTOR signaling pathway answers to rapamycin, and it actually acts to downregulate this mTOR pathway.
And so, essentially, what it's doing is it's tricking your body into thinking that it's in a state of calorie deprivation. And when this happens, these senescence cells in your body, they begin to disappear. It almost causes this autophagy mechanism that downregulates the emergence of senescence cells. And then they started studying it on yeast, and worms, and flies, and mice, and dogs, and found younger hearts and reversal of age-related cardiac issues. And then when they started testing it in humans, they also found that it seemed to have some pretty cool effects in humans. Elderly individuals had more energy. It seemed to again upregulate mitochondrial efficiency, improve sexual performance, even downregulate some symptoms of depression/
And so, what has happened is that it has emerged as something that a lot of folks are now using as this anti-aging drug. However, there's a very important point in the article. Dr. Sabatini himself reports that he does not take the drug, and he thinks prescribing it is bordering on unethical because there's so much we don't know about it, and also, because of the immune system suppression that it can produce.
Now, very soon, I will have a TEDx Talk that gets released where I mentioned off-label use of rapamycin. And I also mentioned calorie restriction mimetics that may work very similarly that I think are safer. Not only are there peptides, peptides like MOTS-c, or peptides like Humanin that act as calorie restriction mimetics with fewer side effects. But there are even natural herbs and compounds like berberine, and bitter melon, and Ceylon cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, intermittent fasting, strength training. There's a lot of calorie restriction mimetics out there, or things that act on these similar pathways that I think are safer than rapamycin.
However, if you really want to wrap your head around the whole rapamycin story, I would recommend that you go check out this article. It's for free on the internet, and it's hard to find stuff for free on the internet. I mean, just based on that alone, you should go check it out. So, I'm not on the rapamycin bandwagon yet until I see more long-term human clinical studies on it. But anyways, go check out the article. I'll link to in the shownotes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/401.
There was also a very interesting article about cholesterol. Now, the reason I wanted to bring this one up to you is because I have always endorsed, especially for the athletes who I work with, the active individuals, the exercise enthusiasts who want to upregulate their fat-burning efficiency and decrease something we talked about in last week's episode, their RQ basically increase their ability to be able to burn more fat and less carbohydrates. I've always endorsed eating relatively few carbohydrates the entire day, right?
So, eating a higher fat, higher-protein breakfast. For example, something like eggs with a little bit of avocado and coconut oil, or perhaps, a smoothie made from things like collagen, and coconut milk, and stevia. But not a lot of sweet potatoes and toast, et cetera, until the evening. At which point, I personally eat about 100 to 200 grams of carbohydrates. So, I'm essentially in ketosis based on both breath and blood testing the entire day.
At the very end of the day, I do a little bit of strength training, or a walk, or something that's going to upregulate my glucose transporters. I also will take some of those calorie restriction mimetics I talked about, like I'll take my product, Kion Lean, or I'll take some berberine, take a shot of apple cider vinegar, a little bit of Ceylon cinnamon, anything that's going to increase my insulin sensitivity and upregulate those glucose transporters. And then I'll have about 100 to 200 grams of carbohydrates with dinner, from things like sweet potatoes, and yam, and white rice, a little bit of red wine, dark chocolate, perhaps a couple of slices of my wife's wonderful fermented sourdough bread. And I have found that my body responds much better to that than the days when I would do, for example, strict ketosis with occasional pre-competition refeeds where I would essentially eat almost no carbs most of the day, or all of the day, and much of the week, and then occasionally, on the weekends, break down and go to an Italian restaurant or whatnot.
So, anyways, what this guy Mike Roberto does or did, and you can go read this on his blog at PricePlow, is he went from eating no carbohydrates, strict ketosis, and tracking his LDL, his triglycerides, his hemoglobin A1c, his insulin, even hormones like testosterone, for example. And what he began to do was, something very similar to what I do, was he started to eat 100 net grams of carbs per day. When he began these 100 net grams of carbs per day–although it's unclear at what time of day he was timing these carbohydrates. I do them all in one bolus at the end of the day. I couldn't tell from the articles if he was spreading them out throughout the day or not.
But he found that his triglycerides plummeted. His HDL didn't seem to be affected that dramatically. His LDL went down significantly. His total cholesterol went down significantly. And his insulin dropped. His CRP or his marker of inflammation stayed the same. But perhaps, most interestingly, he saw a surge in both total and free testosterone, his total testosterone went up from 681 to 791, his free from 63 and a half to 66 and a half. And he has a lot of numbers in the actual article that you can go read if you want to dig into all the details and actually see his labs.
But in my opinion, that's a pretty favorable response to dressing up, so to speak, a low carbohydrate diet with enough carbohydrates, especially for an exercise enthusiast or active person to be able to support normal metabolism and endocrine function. And he showed, of course as I've just alluded to, that there really was not a deleterious impact on inflammation, on insulin, on hemoglobin A1c, on glucose, on triglycerides, et cetera. If anything, it was more favorable than not consuming the carbohydrate.
So, later on in this podcast, we'll talk a little bit about timing and where they should have carbs in the morning versus the evening. You may be surprised by the answer to that. But ultimately, it's very interesting to see some of the labs of somebody who adopted something very similar to what I've been doing for years and recommending for years. I probably first got into it, and this guy catches a lot of flak. But when I first discovered John Kiefer and his Carb Nite approach–I forget the name of what he calls it. It's not Carb Nite. It's Carb Backloading, his Carb Backloading approach. That approach is very similar, albeit, he caught some flak for it because it was kind of like an “if it fits your macros” type of scenario where he would have liked cherry turnovers and donuts and whatever else, and just eat carbs ad libitum in the evening without focusing on quality. I actually choose high-quality carbs, but I still use the same scenario.
The other thing I like about that approach of eating more carbohydrates in the evening is that I sleep better because I get a little bit of a serotonin release from that carbohydrate. My blood sugar seems to stay more stable throughout the night. Because I'm usually exercising or consuming some of those compounds that I talked about prior to eating the evening carbohydrates, I'm not experiencing some kind of a hypoglycemic drop. And when I test my ketones in the morning, they've generally returned back to normal values with the exception that if you're using this approach and you're testing blood glucose or you're testing ketones, you may notice a significant spike in blood glucose.
And the drop in ketones in the morning, that's pretty typical. It's a normal cortisolic response to awakening. If you have a cup of coffee, that response will be accelerated even more. But it's relatively a transient short-lived spike in blood glucose that would occur in the morning. And you'll even see this in people who aren't eating carbohydrates in the evening. They just get that spike in the morning. That's why I think it's important to test your blood glucose multiple times during the day if you're trying to track it for a while and see what's going on with it.
But anyways, it was an interesting N=1 experience that looked into what happens when someone on a ketogenic or a low carb diet adds about 100 grams of carbohydrates into their daily routine. And ultimately, it showed pretty favorable results. So, check out BenGreenfieldFitness.com/401 for all the links to all the research that I talked about.
Alright, a few quick special announcements for you before we jump into the Q&A. This podcast is brought to you by my brand-new book, “Boundless,” which is the most comprehensive research-based blueprint that has ever been written. You guys, this thing is over 600 pages long. I've spent the past almost three years working on this book. It covers everything necessary for brain and mind optimization from the best foods, and supplements, and nootropics, and smart drugs, and biohacks for IQ cognition, et cetera, to things like mold, mycotoxin, line management, everything that would go into breaking the brain. It has an additional huge middle section on optimizing your body, looking good naked, the best modern tools, peptides, SARMs, supplements, foods, everything you need to get the body that you want.
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Kathleen: Hi, Ben. This is Kathleen. I wondered if you have heard of the company IDLife. It does genetic testing to determine what you should do for exercise, and what you should eat, and it's relatively new technology, and I wondered how legit it is. Thanks.
Ben: Hi, Kathleen. Well, IDLife is–did they hire you to call on this question? Did IDLife pay you to call on this question for free advertising? Well, I got news for you. They're not the only company that does this. Unless you're living under a rock, you're probably aware of eight billion companies that have somehow worked the–or gene, or DNA, or customizer into their advertised protocol and told you that they are going to tell you everything about your weight predisposition, your dietary need, your food responses, your metabolism, your nutritional requirements, your exercise response, all based on a simple little drop of your saliva.
In the case of IDLife, they're doing what honestly a lot of folks do. I've interviewed, for example, the people from DNAFit before. Since then, I've taken much deeper dives with folks like Dr. Karim Dhanani, or the DNA company. I've got another interview coming up with a guy named Dr. Bob Miller from Tree of Life. And they're testing even more snips than some of these basic companies that give you basic reports. But ultimately, when you step back and look at the big picture, all they're doing is looking at your certain genetic predispositions for vitamin utilization, or inflammatory response to exercise, or carbohydrate sensitivity, or caffeine metabolism, and they're making recommendations for you based on those genetics.
So, do they actually work? Well, here's the deal. There's a new company called Helix. And for 80 bucks, they will take your saliva sample, sequence about 22,000 genes, and then they give you a bunch of reports. And this one has been all over the news lately because they do a lot of stuff, like, they've got their wine explorer. And for $30, they'll suggest bottles of wine that are scientifically selected based on your DNA and your predicted preferences.
They will also do things like look at your circadian rhythm, whether you're predisposed to be like a late bedtime person or an early bedtime person. They, like DNAFit and IDLife and a lot of these other companies, will tell you how to exercise, how to eat, but then they have slumber type, and that promises to unlock how your DNA affects your sleep. They've got muscle builder, which offers to reveal your genetic response to exercise and gives you this 12-week genetically guided training plan. They've got something called embodied DNA, which recommends the best slimming foods based on your genes.
So, it's getting crazy what these companies are promising or offering. And what I thought was pretty interesting was that a journalist last year actually went out and did three different DNA tests from three different companies and got three very different results. So, this journalist named Vanessa Chalmers, who released this article on healthista.com, actually sent in her saliva samples to three different companies. These are UK-based companies; iamYiam, FitnessGenes, and Pure Genetic Lifestyle.
She trolled through her reports and found a huge amount of variation. For example, one company said she was at a great risk of vitamin D deficiency. Another company reported that her vitamin D genes were just fine. Another company told her that she genetically had excellent aerobic capacity. Another one said that she was kind of an even mix of both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. One company told her that she was not genetically intolerant to lactose. Another company told her that dairy would be bad news bears for her because she carried the gene responsible for lactose intolerance or propensity for lactose intolerance.
So, the list went on and on, but the ultimate message from her testing was that because all of these companies are often using different algorithms, testing different SNPs, and using different reporting mechanisms, you have to proceed with great caution. In my opinion, and if you go and listen to my podcast with the DNA company, what they do and what a company like Health Nucleus which has the whole genome analysis will do is they'll look at a whole range of SNPs that affect something like your glutathione production, your vitamin D metabolism, your cardiovascular risk. And then they cluster all these SNPs, and they take them into account altogether. That's a more expensive way to test, but I think that it's going to eliminate a lot of this confusion about which result is actually the accurate result.
Now, the other issue with this is that a lot of these current genetic tests for fitness and performance have very little predictive power. And as a matter of fact, there was a consensus statement that was in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in which 23 different geneticists agreed that the test results hold pretty little value currently because many of them are simply a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, what do I mean by that? Well, at Stanford recently, they actually did an experiment. So, they selected two different genes. One gene called the CREB gene, which is linked to aerobic exercise capacity. Then another gene called the FTO gene, which is linked to hunger cues.
And then what they did was they split the study participants in half, and they evaluated results for one group with this CREB gene for aerobic exercise capacity, and the other group with the FTO gene. And they tested aerobic exercise capacity in the CREB group, of course, and hunger levels in the folks with the FTO gene. Now, what they did was they gave all the participants random results. So, they would say, “Okay. You have the CREB gene that would tell you you're more or less suited to aerobic exercise.” Then they would have them start running on a treadmill, or they would tell one group that they had the FTO gene that would make them more likely to have pangs of hunger and carbohydrate cravings, right? And then they would give them a 480 calories smoothie to drink. And then they actually tested these people.
Now, the folks who were told that they had the CREB one gene linked to superior aerobic exercise capacity, whether or not they actually had that gene, did better on the treadmill test. The people who were told that they had the FTO gene responsible for making them more hungry and having more food cravings reported being less satisfied and more hungry after eating the smoothie, showing that much of this is the placebo or the nocebo effect when it comes to what you learn about your genetics, which makes things even more confusing.
The other issue here is that, like I mentioned, a lot of these companies have different methods for sequencing genes, and so you're going to get different results depending on how you test. I think if you were going to get tested and take into account what your genes were telling you, you should get as many SNPs as possible test. You should go to the DNA company, or you should go to the Health Nucleus or that guy who interviewed Dr. Karim Dhanani, or Dr. Bob Miller of Tree of Life, and get a really complete analysis that's testing for many SNPs. Dr. Rhonda Patrick has some good software as well, but that's one of the keys. And I also think it's key to have a good professional go over the results with you. I also am a fan of Dr. Ben Lynch's StrateGene analysis because he just looks at these so-called clusters of dirty genes, like just the major genes that have good research behind them in terms of your histamine pathways, your glutathione pathways, your methylation pathways, and some of this stuff that has better research behind it.
So, that all being said, there was a study that was done by the folks at DNAFit in which they took a whole bunch of different genetic variants associated with power versus endurance response to exercise. Everything from angiotensin enzymes to inflammatory enzymes like PPAR, to vitamin D receptors, to vascular endothelial growth factor which is responsible for your vascular response, to exercise. They took these clusters and they paired them altogether. So, this was one of those scenarios in which they were taking a bunch of different variants.
And in creating like a large predictive mechanism based on multiple variants, they identified which people had the 15 performance associated gene polymorphisms that would make them more talented at endurance exercise, or predisposed to a better training response to endurance exercise. Then they did the same thing with a group that was predisposed to power exercise. And then what they did, pretty complex study, they actually had folks complete an eight-week exercise program in which they were training according to their genetics. Meaning, the folks who were power responders were doing more high-intensity, low-volume work. The folks who were endurance responders were doing more high-volume, low-intensity work. And what they found was that the people who trained according to these clusters of genetic SNPs actually had a significantly greater fitness response when they trained according to their genetics.
It was a very interesting study. I'll link to a good report on it in the shownotes. But ultimately, what you can take away from this is that if you do test with the company, and DNAFit is not bad, that will take a whole cluster of factors like that, and you're looking at how you should exercise based on all those factors. The fact that they've actually done a study on this gives me a little bit more confidence that you could say, “Okay. Here's what my endurance versus power capacity is, and here's how I should exercise.” Please understand they weren't just looking at slow twitch, fast-twitch muscle fiber capacity, which a lot of these companies do. And they were instead looking at a whole cluster of 15 different genetic polymorphisms, which I think makes this a far more powerful test as far as predictive capacity is concerned.
So, that's the deal. I mean, I still think that we have a long ways to go with DNA testing. But where I stand is, A, get as many SNPs as possible tested and have it done by a good professional. I'll stand by some of those folks who I mentioned, and I'll link to in the shownotes. B, if you're doing this for exercise, go with a company like DNAFit, for example. If you're doing this just for pure health reasons, look into just a basic test like the StrateGene analysis for dirty genes from Dr. Ben Lynch.
But ultimately, when somebody comes to me and they hire me for coaching or consulting, yeah, I get all their DNA results and I take those into account, but I also look at their blood. I look at their urine. I look at their saliva. I look at their stool. I look at their HRV. I look at their sleep patterns. I look at their body composition. So, I'm taking a lot more into account than just the genes, but I think it's part of the picture. So, hopefully, I didn't confuse you too much with that reply, but that's my take on genetic testing for exercise and for eating.
James: Hi, Ben. My name is James. I heard your podcast last week asking for some more fitness questions, so here it goes. I'm a 35y-ear-old basketball player. I play once or twice a week usually, and I'm trying to increase my vertical, and also my lateral quickness. I'd like to hear what you think are some of the best exercises and types of rep ranges or sets in order to do that. Thanks very much.
Ben: James, I've got two words for you. Jump shoes. I've been in the fringe back of health and fitness magazines for years. You know what they are. They're these shoes with the giant platform on the toe. They make you walk in plantar flexion everywhere you go. They build up massive calves that make you look like you have boob implants in the back of your legs. Those things will give you dunking capacity. Actually, I'm not joking, those things actually do work. I mean, they train your calves. They cause some pretty massive calf hypertrophy and plantar flexion capabilities that allow you to jump a little bit higher. You could also walk in your toes all day. It could also strap some plywood to the front of your Jordans and do it that way. They're a little gimmicky, and you look a little funny when you're walking around in them.
So, there are some other things that you could do as well to increase your power, your speed, your vertical, your lateral quickness, et cetera. The idea behind this is kind of based around the Golgi tendon organ. You've probably heard this story about like a small child trapped under a burning car, and in some feat of superhuman strength, the child's mother rushes to the car and lifts the whole vehicle off the child, rescuing their precious baby from certain death. You may have also heard that chimps or gorillas can be 10 times stronger than humans and can bend steel bars and punch through walls or throw giant boulders.
The reason for this is because there's a disinhibition of something called the Golgi tendon organ. So, when your muscle contracts and generates a force, this Golgi tendon organ that's inside every muscle, it fires off nerve impulses to your spinal cord. Your spinal cord responds with an inhibition reflex. That nervous system inhibition signals your muscle fibers to limit their force production when the muscle has increased tension, and that keeps humans from tearing their muscles. It's actually like a gorilla, for example, is far more capable of, let's say deadlifting 1,000 pounds, but tearing its ass muscles to smithereens in the process because it has a higher threshold of the Golgi tendon organ.
The guy who actually holds the world deadlift record, Eddie–I forget his name. Eddie Hall, I think might be his name. He's an English professional strongman. And he actually trained with a sports psychologist and the strength conditioning coach who told him that the 500-kilogram deadlift world record would be impossible to break unless he could somehow overcome these Golgi tendon organs by imagining that something absolutely horrible, something absolutely horrific was going to happen to a loved one or to him if he wasn't able to get this bar off the ground. And so he was able to psychologically overcome that Golgi tendon organ in the same way that a mom would be able to overcome it, like ripping a car off of a baby.
The problem is when you turn off the Golgi tendon organ, you have a higher propensity to tear your caps. That's why, for example, fast sprinters get hamstring tears a lot because they got these snappy powerful hamstrings with a little bit less inhibited Golgi tendon organs, but they're also at a higher risk for injury. However, there is a way that you can train to make your Golgi tendon organ less likely to send signals that would limit power production when the muscle has increased tension. And when that occurs, what happens is you have a faster, what's called stretch-shortening cycle. Stretch shortening cycle is a period of time it takes your muscle to transition from that eccentric lengthening phase when you, say, land from a jump, back into a concentric phase where your muscle is contracting. So, then like a counter movement jump. If you have a fast stretch-shortening cycle, you're going to be able to jump higher, faster, more powerfully.
So, one of the best ways to train that stretch-shortening cycle is via plyometrics. So, plyometrics are basically high power, low rep, low volume exercises like box jumps, depth jumps, bounds, single-leg hops, skips. You could even, for example, for the upper body, include things like medicine ball slams, medicine ball throws, clapping push-ups, done at very low volume, completely fresh with maximum power production. So, we're not talking about like a CrossFit workout where you're doing 50 box jumps, right? We're talking about five by two box jumps at maximum height. Alright. You find those videos on the internet of fringe Korean gymnasts jumping on a box that's twice as high as them. That's an example of plyometrics. So, incorporating plyometric training into your strategy, that's one of the best ways to disinhibit that Golgi tendon organ.
Another thing that I really like that has been studied a little bit in terms of increasing quickness and explosiveness very quickly is this idea of speed-strength sets. So, speed strength sets are very similar to like Olympic lifting, where you are actually doing low-volume work at a very, very fast pace. Ballistic explosive exercises like the snatch, like the clean and jerk, and this would even include things like lunge jumps, and again, med ball throws, med ball slams, chest throws, power cleans, et cetera. You could see a whole range of different power exercises again for free. The internet has a lot of good free stuff.
If you go to ExRx.net, they've got a whole list of different really good plyometric and power exercises for trunk rotation, for leg extension, for lateral movements, for forward pushes. Like their list–just to give you a taste of the ExRx.net list of power exercises, they've got lateral box shuffle, lateral bound, lateral line hop, quadrant jump, slalom jumps, alternating lateral cone hop, lateral barrier jump, lateral box jumps, lateral cone hop, single-leg lateral hop, single leg zigzag hop. I mean, that is a wonderful, wonderful resource, and I'll link to it in the shownotes in response to your question so that you could go check out some of those speed-strength types of exercises that are fantastic for increasing power and explosiveness.
Another really good strategy from a training standpoint would be complex training. So, complex training, all that is is doing a strength exercise, and then following up that strength exercise with a power exercise, which might sound a little bit counterintuitive to my recommendation to do your plyometric training low volume and very fresh before the muscle is fatigued. But they have done studies and showed greater muscle fiber recruitment and faster improvements in power and rate of force development when athletes include some element of complex training into their program.
So, complex training does not refer to you standing on top of a BOSU ball with training mask on and a barbell on your back and electrical muscle stimulation on your abdominals. That's called stupid biohacking. What complex training is, for example, set of barbell squats, set the bar down, set of squat jumps, set of bench press, last rep, after the bench press, stand up, grab a med ball, eight med ball chest throws. Set of overhead press or push press, followed by overhead medicine ball throws. Set of pull-ups followed by medicine ball slams.
Basically, for every strength exercise that you do, you actually progress straight into a power exercise, then you rest for two to three minutes, then you do it again. The only rest time in between the strength exercise and the power exercise is just enough for a little bit of a replenishment of creatine phosphate, which takes about 10 to 30 seconds. Alright, so that's called complex training. I actually have a whole bunch of examples of that in my book, “Beyond Training.” If you want to read Beyond Training, I have some pretty good complex training sets and workouts in there.
Now, there are also certain things you should look at from a nutritional standpoint, and this is something I think a lot of strength conditioning coaches don't really think about is, for example, to synthesize and circulate neurotransmitters that you actually need to carry messages to muscles via the nervous system. You need to have adequate intake of B complex vitamins, right? So, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate are particularly important in nerve metabolism. So, getting those vitamins from food sources or from multivitamin sources, that would be one thing that's important.
Another thing would be, for neurotransmitters, some kind of amino acid precursors or adequate protein in the diet to actually feed the nervous system. That's why I'm a big fan of things like essential amino acids, and just a full protein profile by the end of the day. That's why I think it's very difficult for a plant-based athlete to build full adequate power unless they're getting their complete suite of amino acids by the end of the day.
Another thing that's really important is the omega-3 fatty acids and oleic acids that make up the myelin sheaths that surround your nerves that allow for adequate nerve communication. So, this would be things like Mediterranean-based fats rich in oleic acid like olive oil and olives, along with something that comprises a great deal of those myelin sheaths DHA, which you're going to get from omega-3 fatty acids; salmon sardines, grass-fed beef, halibut shrimp. Even some things like collard greens and winter squash have omega-3 fatty acids in them. If you look at this from a pure supplementation standpoint, best supplements, in my opinion, for power, aside from creatine, is omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil, essential amino acids, and a good multivitamin complex that has vitamin B in it. So, I would definitely include those in the diet.
The only other things that I think have a little bit of research behind them when it comes to nervous system support for power would be choline, which you'll find in many smart drugs now, and that can increase muscle contractibility as well. And L-tyrosine, that's a precursor to the neurotransmitter adrenaline. So, it can increase levels of adrenaline pre-workout, but it also protects neurons from free radical based oxidation. It embeds itself in the cell membrane and acts as kind of an antioxidant. If you're already taking a good amino acid supplement, you'll have to add L-tyrosine into that. But if you're just going to take one and be on a budget, I would just use L-tyrosine. So, L-tyrosine and choline, creatine, fish oil, vitamin B complex, and amino acids from a supplementation standpoint.
And then just surround yourself with the right gear to train for power. I think anyone trying to increase lateral quickness should own an agility ladder and know how to use an agility ladder. Just go to a website like power-systems.com and grab an agility ladder and check out their agility ladder drills that are right there where you buy the agility ladder. Good power rack for Olympic lifting and some of those complex sets, a good range of adjustable plyometric boxes, some kind of a power sled, and then really good elastic bands or elastic cables that allow you to produce a high amount of force in a short period of time.
Those are good for resisted sprints, explosive upper-body work, et cetera. And then good medicine ball. Those are some of the gear that I think would be really good. I also have an article that I wrote about how to increase power and speed, and I will link to that one in the shownotes as well. So, that all being said, you could just cut out all the crap I just told you and go buy yourself some jump shoes from the back of Men's Fitness magazine and just cut straight to the chase, dude.
Charlie: Hey, Ben. This is Charlie from Ohio. I'm a competitive distance runner and I generally train in a fasted state first thing in the morning. I consume a post-workout meal usually within 30 minutes of finishing my run, which is in line with what you've recommended in the past. But I think I may depart a bit from your advice and including a good deal of carbohydrate in this meal. I've experimented with putting off carb consumption until the evening, and my energy level has been rather poor throughout the day when I've done this. While my main focus is performance, I was hoping to hear your thoughts on what tradeoffs from a health and longevity standpoint I might be facing by introducing carbohydrates early in the day, and if you have any thoughts on how to modify my routine. Thanks for taking my question and thank you very, very much for the show.
Ben: Alright, Charlie, great question. I think this can get confusing for some people because if they work out in the morning, especially if they're doing voluminous workout in the morning, it intuitively makes sense that you should eat your carbohydrates in the morning. But the fact is you really cannot store that carbohydrate as muscle glycogen or liver glycogen within the period of time between, say, like a breakfast that contains carbohydrates or an early morning feeding that contains carbohydrates, and the workout itself.
What you're actually using to fuel that workout in the morning are the carbohydrates that you consumed the day prior, which of course influences my decision to eat the majority of my carbohydrates in the evening, not only to enhance sleep, but also to keep myself in kind of a fat-burning state most of the day, but still be able to have my cake and eat it too because I have my carbohydrates, but then I'm also able to restrict carbohydrates, burn fat, and still have enough carbohydrates on board for the next day's work out.
So, you do not have to eat carbs prior to a morning workout, especially if you have been limiting your glycemic variability, and paying attention to blood glucose levels, and giving yourself some element of fat-burning efficiency, which usually takes about 6 to 12 months of being careful with sugar starches, lots of blood glucose fluctuations. You get to a place where if you've trained low for long enough, meaning, low carbohydrate, you get very efficient at burning fats, all the more if you're training with aerobic exercise. The only exception to that would be, for example, a two a day or a three a day workout athlete who, in that case, actually needs to consume carbohydrates and protein post-workout to replenish the carbohydrates that they've just burned, right?
So, if you're a pro-athlete or let's say like a triathlete who's doing a swim in the morning and a bike in the afternoon or a run in the evening, you actually would want to prioritize post-workout carbohydrate consumption. If you are working out, the actual number is about eight hours, or within eight hours after that first workout. But otherwise, just by eating ad libitum or by having those carbohydrates with the evening meal, you will completely replenish your carbohydrate levels within a day easily.
That being said, they've also done some amount of research on nutrient timing, and whether you should eat carbs in the morning, or if you should eat carbs in the evening. So, it tends to vary quite a bit, as a matter of fact. So, when we look at studies that have actually been done on folks who eat carbohydrates early in the day versus folks who eat carbohydrates later in the day, one of the most notable studies was published in the journal obesity where researchers had a test group put most of their carbohydrates at dinner, and then they had a control group actually just have carbohydrates all throughout the day.
They found that the folks who waited until the night to eat their carbohydrates showed greater losses in total body weight, in body fat and in waist circumference, and also had higher leptin levels, which is a sign of a faster metabolism, better appetite control, and better fat burning. I think that if they would have had those participants engaging in something like a pre-carb feeding exercise session, they would have seen even better results.
In a study in the Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases Journal, they actually assessed how macronutrient distribution during the day would impact the secretion of hunger controlling hormones like ghrelin, and leptin and something called adiponectin. And when they compared eating carbohydrates at night versus earlier in the day, they found that eating carbohydrates at night could prevent midday hunger the next day, better support weight loss, and improve metabolic outcomes over not paying attention to when carbohydrates were timed.
There was another relatively recent study on the health impact of nighttime eating, and what they found in that study, which was a pretty large study, and they also included looking at diabetics in that study, they found that nighttime consumption of carbohydrates did not appear to be harmful from a metabolic or cardiometabolic standpoint, and could, in fact, be potentially beneficial for muscle protein synthesis, which is, of course, going to be very significant for people who need to–like athletes, and you recover at night, and cardiometabolic health. So, even though the studies go back and forth, it seems, all the time on carbohydrates in the morning versus carbohydrates in the evening, for most of the studies that I've been able to find, eating carbohydrates at night, especially in active individuals, seems to be the superior way to go.
That being said, and this kind of returns back to some of that genetic talk, they've also looked at comparing big breakfasts versus big dinners. And there was a journal of nutrition that compared eating 70% of your calories at night versus eating 70% of your calories at breakfast. Now, this wasn't a study on carbohydrates per se, but it was a study on calories. And what they found was over a six-month study, weight loss and waist circumference and body fat loss were all greater when the majority of the day's carbohydrate and calorie intake was at night, rather than spread evenly throughout the day, like that other study that I referred to. And they also found that the more carbs at night protocol was better improving glucose control, and markers of inflammation, and blood lipids, and appetite. However, follow-up studies since then have found that larger breakfasts seem to increase satiety during the day and may even increase fat oxidation during the day. And again, this didn't look at the carbohydrate content of the breakfast, just large breakfast versus regular breakfast versus skipping breakfast.
So, it seems to go back and forth quite a bit. And here's what's important. I think it comes down to activity, and also lifestyle. What I mean by that is if your job or your lifestyle dictates that you really aren't able to be active in the afternoon or in the evening and that the lion's share of your physical activity is going to take place in the early morning hours, I think a case could be made because we know exercise will improve insulin sensitivity and upregulate glucose transporters for you in that scenario to actually have more of the day's calories and carbohydrates earlier in the day.
However, from the research that I've seen, if you have flexibility and freedom to be able to design your schedule the way that you want it, I think it's far superior to time your life, so to speak, so that you're doing something active. Not to say you can't be active in the morning. I'm active every morning and doing a walk or a sauna session. When I travel, I'll even do something hard in the morning because I usually don't have time later on in the day. But in an ideal scenario, you're doing something later on in the day that is active. And preferably also, as I mentioned earlier in this podcast, following that up with something that would increase your insulin sensitivity and upregulate glucose transporters, like some kind of herb or spice or pre-meal digestif, and then eating the majority of the day's carbohydrates at the end of the day, which even if you're working out the next morning and you're a two a day type of person is going to fuel the next morning's workout.
And then regarding that eight-hour rule, if you're doing a workout at 7:00 a.m. in the morning and you're one of those people who also likes to hit it at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. in the evening, well, you've got that eight-hour window easily covered. And just by eating ad libitum during the day, having all your carbohydrates in the evening, you're fine and you're not going to run out of energy during the day. And this is pretty much how I live my life; easy workout in the morning, no carbohydrates with breakfast, salad at lunch with some sardines or some nuts, afternoon or early evening exercise session that's usually a little bit harder, dinner, 100 and 200 grams of carbohydrates, rinse, wash and repeat, and that works out pretty well.
So, kind of like my response to your genetic question, it does seem to depend on quite a bit. But ultimately, I think the lion's share of the evidence points to eating carbohydrates in the evening, and that's the way that I'm personally going to keep doing things. Hopefully, that helps you out a little bit. Again, I don't want people to get orthorexic either. If you feel good and you have better splits, you run faster, you do better, when you have carbohydrates in the morning prior to, or even immediately after that morning exercise session, then do it, especially if it's not producing any type of metabolic risk factors, which if you're that active in the morning, it probably isn't, and have that be your main carbohydrate feeding for the day. I think from an overall health and longevity standpoint, it does make sense to not have every meal be a higher carbohydrate meal, but I think it is okay to have carbs in the morning.
I just see more success in terms of the ultimate mashup of performance and body composition in folks who save most of the carbohydrates for the evening. And then don't just eat like a piddly amount of carbohydrates like two sweet potato fries, but I mean, have a whole yam with some raw honey, and some sea salt, and a glass of red wine, and a bar of dark chocolate, especially if you're an active person. That's the way that I would go about doing things. So, there you have it.
So, I hope that's helpful, Charlie. And if you have questions–a lot of people ask me how to call in questions, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. There's a little button right there where you can ask a question, or better yet, go to the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/401 and you will find the question asking button right there in the shownotes. And you can also leave your comments, your question, your feedback right over there. You can get your San Pellegrino right over there, so my wife can buy expensive purses. And you can access all the research, all the resources that I talked about on today's show.
Hopefully, next week, my podcast co-host Jay T. Wiles will be back, so I don't have to talk by myself at you. I don't have any goodies to give away this week. But if you do want to go leave a review, I'll put your name in the hat to win something in the next podcast. So, leave a review, spread the love, and leave me your comments, your questions, your feedback over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/401. Thanks for listening in. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Q&A Episode 401
- New San Pellegrino Essenza
- Innovative New Process Converts Vegetables Into Meat By Feeding Them To Cows
- This Obscure, Potentially Dangerous Drug Could Stop Aging (but in my opinion, there are safer ways to mimic calorie restriction with fewer side effects)
- Great N=1 experiment on the beneficial effects of adding some amount (about 100g) of carbs into a ketogenic diet for athletes or active individuals
Here's where I'm speaking and traveling around the world coming soon:
– September 12 – 15, 2019: RUNGA Immersion, Napa Valley, California. I attend this total mind-body reboot retreat each year with my wife, Jessa, to connect with a handful of friends and YOU can one of them! I would love if you could join me at this retreat. Click here for details on this incredible event!
– September 27 – 29, 2019: Spartan World Championships, Squaw Valley, California. Right beside Lake Tahoe, this epic venue was once host to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. Join me there for the greatest obstacle course race in North Tahoe Lake, Olympic Village, CA. Sign up here!
This podcast is brought to you by:
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– Kion: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code: BGF10.
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Can Genetic Testing Tell You How To Exercise & Eat?…27:40
Kathleen asks: Have you heard of a company called ID Life? It does genetic testing to determine how you should exercise and what you should eat. It's relatively new technology so I want to know whether or not it's legit.
In my response, I recommend:
- My podcast with Dr. Mansoor Mohammed of The DNA Company
- My podcast with Karim Dhanani
- The DNAFit study I mention
Tips To Increase Your Power & Speed…39:30
James asks: I'm a 35-year-old basketball player. I play once or twice a week and I'm trying to increase my vertical jump and lateral quickness. I'm interested in what type of exercises or rep ranges you'd recommend in order to do that.
In my response, I recommend:
Should You Eat Carbs In The Morning Or The Evening?…51:45
Charlie asks: I'm a competitive distance runner and I typically train in a fasted state first thing in the morning. I consume a post-workout meal usually within 30 minutes of finishing my run, which is in line with what you've recommended in the past. But I think I may depart from your advice just a bit by including carbs in my morning meal. I've experimented with putting off carb consumption until the evening, and my energy levels throughout the day haven't been to my satisfaction. While my main focus is performance, I was hoping to hear your thoughts on what tradeoffs from a health and longevity standpoint I might be facing by introducing carbs early in the day. Do you have any thoughts on how I might modify my routine?
In my response, I recommend: