Introduction: In this podcast episode: what you must know about anti-inflammatory drugs, losing fat with mini fasts, walk/run protocols during a marathon, exercise during the HCG diet, is it okay to eat anything you want if you’re staying lean? Omega 3-6-9 blends, triathlon wetsuits, eating dates during exercise, sockless shoes, carb cravings at night and some book recommendations from yours truly.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I’m going to start right off by giving you a very cool tip based off some research that just came out. Now this study was just published in Medical Hypothesis, and the title of the study was “A Mini Fast with Exercise Protocol for Fat Loss.” So if you think you ever might need to shed a few pounds quickly, this is a good one to listen to. Basically they had 27 subjects that participated in the study and during every single day, during every 24 hour period, the subjects were instructed to have a 12 to 14 hour fast. Now remember the time that you’re sleeping can be included in those 12 to 14 hours. Now at some point during that fast, they had to do 45 minutes of aerobic exercise. Whatever, go to bed at 8 pm – sorry, not 8 pm. Most of us don’t do that. Go to bed at 10 pm, get up at 6 am, so you’ve got eight hours under your belt. You do 45 minutes of exercise and then you wait until about 11:30 noon to eat. Now the people who did this protocol for 12 weeks, they saw an amazing 25% reduction in their fat mass. Not just their weight, but their fat mass. And they also saw a 25% reduction in their fasting insulin, and for any of you who care about pre-diabetes, about your insulin levels, about your hormone levels, that’s pretty huge. And so I am not recommending that you go out and every single day start doing this mini fast like the people in the study did. But if you’re listening in and let’s say you’re one of my clients and many of you who are on weight loss protocols – you know that I have you doing this aerobic exercise protocol where you get up after you’ve slept all night without eating anything and you do aerobic exercise for 30 to 60 minutes. Based off the results of this study, it would be okay if you waited a little while to eat after that aerobic exercise session. If you waited – let’s say you finished that session at 8am, that might be a breakfast skipping day. I don’t think that from a long-term adherence standpoint you could do this all the time, but say on a Saturday and a Sunday you do an unfed aerobic session after an overnight fast – great way to shed weight quickly if you’re trying to lean down for a marathon or triathlon, same case. You might want to throw in a couple of these sessions. Now remember it can be hard on the body to constantly be calorie depleted but ultimately if the results that you’re looking for have anything to do with weight loss or insulin stabilization, this looks like a great strategy to throw into the mix. So there you go.
Now in today’s podcast, really good interview with Dr. Roby Mitchell who’s been on the podcast before and today he’s going to talk about a subject I know many of you have asked me questions about before and that’s anti-inflammatories. Specifically things like ibuprofen, aspirin, Advil – are they healthy? Are they unhealthy? Do they really kill thousands of people a year like some Web sites and publications would have you to believe? Are they just sort of unhealthy? Should you take them while you exercise? We’re going to answer all those questions with Dr. Mitchell. We’re also going to talk about natural alternatives to things like ibuprofen if you just don’t want to put that into your body. We’ve also got a bunch of listener questions. Lot of questions today having to do with triathloning and marathoning probably because it’s getting nice outside. It’s spring and people are starting to amp up for those activities. So we’re going to jump straight into today’s content after just a couple of special announcements.
Ben: So last week, you may have – if you listened to podcast number 89 – noticed that the Body Transformation Club best question of the week was not actually announced during the podcast but don’t worry, I have chosen the best question today. And remember if you have the best question of the week, you get a free month of membership to the Body Transformation Club. So the first question for this week comes from listener Tina.
Tina asks: I’m training for my second Ironman. The run holds the most challenge for me with my lack of experience and GI issues. I plan to use the Galloway method. My question is what distance length versus walk time should I use? Presently I’ve been training by running one mile and walking two minutes. Should I always train the same distance versus time on my long runs or should I change it?
Ben answers: For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Galloway method, essentially it’s the idea that marathoners can get good results by incorporating run/walk protocols with the walks allowing you a little bit of a feeding or drinking window or an opportunity for your core to cool down. Now there are various ratios that Galloway actually recommends. I don’t know if you’ve come across these ratios, Tina, but basically for someone who’s running an 8 minute mile, you would run 4 minutes and then walk about 30 seconds. If you’re running a 9 minute mile you would run four minutes and then walk about a minute. If you’re running a 10 minute mile, it’s a 3:1 run/walk ratio. A 12 minute mile is a 2:1 run/walk ratio and as you can guess, the idea is that the slower you are as a runner, the more time you’re going to spend on the walking because it assumes that you’re that much less fit or that much less experienced. Now for some of the Ironman and half Ironman athletes that I work with, I do incorporate this protocol. And what we generally do is about 10% or so of the actual day is spent walking. And it’s very, very fast walking. And basically we do it only during the feeding cycles. So essentially, if you’re running a half Ironman, there might be four cycles during that race where you’re walking quickly for 60 seconds. The core temp comes down a little bit. Those are also your opportunities to drink a little bit of water, eat a gel, do the things that you might kind of choke on or interrupt your breathing pattern if you tried to do them while you were running and then you just go straight back into your running gait. Mentally, you really have to get used to running after you walk because it’s very easy to just keep on walking just a little bit longer and a little bit longer and before you know it, you’re losing a lot of time. So with you running a mile and then walking – I believe you said that you’re walking 2 minutes – let’s say that you’re running an 8 minute mile and then walking 2 minutes, you’ve got a 4:1 run/walk ratio in a case like that and something like that would be just fine. It kind of does fall along the lines of Galloway’s run/walk protocol. I think that the walks are a little bit generous in his protocol for anybody trying to run a faster marathon. And in my experience, most people can get away with walking for just about a minute during a marathon or a half marathon and having that one minute walk be after anywhere from one and a half to two miles of running and spaced where the aid station actually occurs during the event. Regarding the second part of your question, definitely use in your training whatever ratio you plan on using during your race. That’s important, that you see how fast – what pace you’re able to maintain with your current ratio of running to walking. So great question.
Autumn asks: My partner and I are considering doing the HGC diet. We have a naturopath here in Oregon who will work with us, however she does not work with athletes very often and we have a few fitness related questions. We’ll be doing Reach the Beach, a century bike ride on May 15th. We’re both very active, exercise regularly and eat very healthy foods. This will be the third time we’ve done this ride. We’re worried about being able to train for it while doing HGC. I wonder if we should wait until after the ride to start the protocol. How much exercise is okay to do while on the protocol?
Ben answers: That’s a great question, Autumn. The HGC protocol stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin. It’s a hormone you inject or inhale or spray and it basically puts your body to a state where it’s able to burn fat far more efficiently with the idea being that it’s kind of the same thing that mothers make when they’re pregnant to allow the body to mobilize fat to grow an infant or to grow a baby. And the same type of concept applies when you are taking it and you’re depleting your body of calories, your body ends up mobilizing fats very efficiently. I’ve actually recommended that to a few of my clients who have tried many, many things to lose weight and not been successful. We’ve taken out the big guns before and gone with the HGC protocol. It’s a 40 day protocol. You take the HGC almost every day and you combine that with a low calorie diet typically in the range of 500 to 800 calories. Very, very few of your calories coming from fat. You essentially have almost like one serving of a carbohydrate each day, a couple of apples, some fruits and vegetables, a little bit of meat. And most people feel pretty tired when they’re doing that protocol, you can imagine, because of that low number of calories that you’re taking in. The HGC is a natural appetite suppressant so it’s not like you’re craving tons of calories, but you’re definitely unable to exercise to the extent you would normally be able to. As a matter of fact, if you tried to exercise just as much as you would if you weren’t on the HGC and weren’t doing the low calorie diet, you can really risk overtraining and getting your body to the point where it’s highly catabolic and breaking down lean muscle. So you need to be very careful. Limit the amount of exercise that you do and if you’re not able to limit the amount of exercise to 20 to 30 minutes per day of light activity, nothing too difficult – then you’re going to need to modify the actual diet and skew it by anywhere from 300 and possibly even up to almost 1000 calories in terms of allowing your body more of the proteins and even more the carbs. Now one of the things that you can also do is you could use HGC and simply just adjust your diet just slightly, not get quite the weight loss results that the HGC diet promises in 40 days, but still get a little bit of the weight stabilization and the fat loss just because you’re exercising. So ultimately if you try to follow that strict HGC 500 calorie a day diet while you’re training for a bike century, you’re going to have a hard time of it. So just be careful and be willing to be flexible with that diet.
Cory asks: I have a question regarding general nutrition. I’m a male, 36 years old, train for Olympic distance triathlon around 15 hours per week. I don’t eat fast food or heavily processed food and eat meat rarely. Lots of beans and lentils, hardly any vegetables, lots of bread – four plus loaves a week – and cereal. I choose grain bread and a wheat-based cereal with skim milk, protein shake daily, flax seed oil daily, pistachios, fruit. Lots of energy. I sleep well, I have no health issues. I’ve got a very low body fat percentage and my question is should I try and cut down carbohydrate intake and eat more veggies and meat even though I’ve always eaten this way and it doesn’t seem to give me any problems?
Ben answers: So it’s a great question. It’s kind of a paradox. It’s like, well you’re lean, you’re fit, you feel good. Should you really change your diet? Should you really do some of the things that people are doing like eliminating gluten, eating lots of greens, lots of vegetables, skewing the protein intake towards a lot of the lean proteins, a lot of the allergen free proteins? You know, you’ll never know until you do it, is the first thing that I would say. In other words, if you were to say replace your bread with sweet potatoes and yams and some of the non-gluten based carbohydrates like the quinoa and the amaranth and the millet, if you were to cut the skimmed milk out of your diet in favor of a coconut or a rice or an almond milk, if you were to actually start to eat vegetables, get lots of raw spinach and broccoli and cauliflower, maybe do a little bit of juicing or take a green supplement; if you were to start to do all those things and your energy levels were even better than they are now or you felt like you were performing even better than you are now, that answers your question. Another red flag, you’re training 15 hours a week for Olympic distance triathlon. Maybe if you were consuming foods that did not require so much energy to assimilate, foods that were a little bit acidic then you’d find that you had a little bit more energy to burn when it comes to your workouts. And so again that would mean maybe cutting out a little bit of the dairy, some of the grains and just assessing how your body recovers. How much training you need to do to reach the levels that you were at before. So essentially, even if you’re eating well, if you make some changes you can maybe perform even better. And that’s the thing. There are a lot of Ironman triathletes, there are a lot of pro-athletes. There are a lot of good athletes who do pretty well on nutritional protocols that you might consider to be pretty crappy. But I think in a lot of those cases, those people are naturally talented and they’re very good at what they do despite their nutrition protocol, not because of it. It is possible that maybe with respect to the liver or the kidneys or the blood sugar levels, the diabetic risk, those types of things could come back to bite you later on in life. So just be careful and test out some changes in the nutrition protocol and see what happens. You never know unless you try it out.
Amy asks: I’m fairly new to triathlons and I’m looking to make a wetsuit purchase. Do you recommend specific brands? I recently tried an Aquaman Cell-Gold Wetsuit that boasts of the 40 Neoprene throughout the entire suit – or the number 40 Neoprene throughout the entire suit. It’s a higher priced wetsuit and I wanted to know if you felt it would be a good purchase. Being new to the sport I don’t know whether it really matters if I have a top of the line wetsuit and if it would make that much of a difference in my swim time.
Ben answers: Well, when you’re looking at the rubber in the wetsuits Amy, you’re looking at the better rubber having better buoyancy, causing a little less turbulent flow against the water. A lot of times being easy to move in, in terms of your swim stroke. So you do get what you pay for to a certain extent with the wetsuits. A lot of the strategically placed paneling in a triathlon wetsuit is going to again allow you to move more freely in it. That’s one of the reasons I use a wetsuit called the Blue 70. A model called the Helix, because I like the paneling in that. I really feel that I’m able to move freely in it and there are wetsuit companies that use good, high quality rubber and use that paneling method and do have research and development constantly going on and feedback from swimmers to see how people move and how people feel in their wetsuits. Now if you’re a beginner to the sport, you are going to find that the wetsuit will improve your time no matter what wetsuit you get. Just being able to float a little bit better in the water is going to help you to move faster. If you’re planning on doing anything from half Ironman and especially up to Ironman or longer, definitely invest in a wetsuit that you’re going to be comfortable in for a long period of time. Because swimming in a cheap wetsuit for a sprint distance triathlon and being in that wetsuit for whatever 12 minutes or 15 minutes or 20 minutes is a lot different when you compare it to being in your wetsuit for 60 minutes or 90 minutes or even longer than that. So if you’re planning on doing long swims, I would invest in a good wetsuit. We actually did a couple of articles on this recently over at the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, and it does matter. It does matter to a certain extent.
Brett asks: What do you suggest (this is a loaded question) I use to fuel during my Ironman? I’ve been training with power gels, Perpetuem and Shot Blocks. I noticed that in your 2007 Ironman Kona event, you used Perpetuem but then in 2008 you didn’t. What changed?
Ben answers: Well Brett, what changed between 2007 and 2008 is I picked up a sponsorship by GU nutrition and so I had a definite fiduciary incentive to begin using the GU Roctane, and you know what, I really like that product and the one thing that’s different between that and something like Perpetuem is not only are they a gel-based fuel but they don’t have the soy protein in them that Perpetuem does. Some people do fantastically on the soy-based protein. I did fine with Perpetuem and a lot of my clients do great with Perpetuem made by Hammer Nutrition, but a lot of people don’t burn that fuel very cleanly, and it flips their stomach. So using something like a liquid fuel like Perpetuem, you want to practice that in your training for sure. I did fine with that. I also do fine with the mix of using the GU gels and the GU Roctane, but either way you want to experiment with it. Now what I would caution you against is mixing too many different types of sugar in your stomach. That can also cause your stomach to flip. Doing a lot of the long chain type of sugars that are – you’re going to find the Perpetuem… a lot of those maltodextrins and then mixing them with the maltodextrin fructose blend in the power gels. If you’re doing any dextrose or sucrose blends on top of that. What I like to do, the rule that I follow is I’ll check out the actual label of the sugars that I’m using and I try and keep it limited to maltodextrin and fructose while I’m racing in terms of the types of sugars that I take in. A certain amount of sugar blending can help you out during a triathlon in terms of your sugar assimilation. But throwing too many different compounds at your stomach, in my experience, can really cause some GI distress and nowhere have I found that to be more true than when you mix something like Gatorade or Powerade with other types of fuel on an Ironman course. That’s a big no-no, unless you’ve tried it before or you know you can do it. I’ve found that to be a big problem. People start to cramp. They grab a cup of Gatorade. They shoot the whole cup and then their stomach flips and they’re just screwed. So be careful with that. And as far as what I would suggest you use to fuel, either go with that Perpetuem if you know you can handle it and only use that Perpetuem and then just give yourself a little bit of solid food at the end of each hour. Like half a banana. With the Perpetuem, just mix that in a multi-hour bottle. Enough Perpetuem to get you through about three hours or to get you through to your special needs station. And then sip on that in dosages that allow you to take in a little bit of Perpetuem every 10 minutes or so. So based on the amount of time that you plan on completing the bike, you’ll have to mix the amount of Perpetuem that you know you’ll need to actually last you out there on the course. Also be careful with leaving that stuff mixed for more than about five hours. It doesn’t have a lot of preservatives in it which is good, but that also means that it’s going to spoil in the heat. So plan ahead if you plan on being out there on the bike for a while. For your second bottle of Perpetuem that you’d keep in your special needs bag, don’t mix that beforehand. Have that in powder format and then add water at the special needs station that you have in a separate water bottle. And then as far as fueling during the run, you could switch to gels from a flask, either the Hammer gels or the GU gels or even the course power gels if you know you’ll do okay with those. Or you could continue with the Perpetuem, mix them in a little bit thicker solution, again in a flask. Now the other way that you could do things is you could do what I do and that is essentially take in GU Roctane, preferably a mix of the non-caffeinated stuff with the caffeinated stuff because too much caffeine over the course of that race is really going to throw you for a loop. But you use that on the bike. Or that’s what I do. I use that on the bike. Usually about three of those GU gels or GU Roctanes per hour, plus I use the GU Blocks which are essentially kind of like the Shot Blocks you mentioned except they’re called GU Chomps and that’s a solid food that I’ll take in at the end of each hour so I’m getting about 350 to 400 calories per hour on the bike and then when I start running, I will either switch to course aid fuels. For half Ironman I’ll just grab bananas as I go and have the equivalent of about one banana during the run or I will for an Ironman grab the power gels that they have there on course, just because I don’t like to carry my own fuel. I find it to be a little bit annoying so I just run and kind of grab whatever is on the table. It works for me. It doesn’t work for a lot of people who maybe can’t handle the power bar gels or don’t want to use them because they haven’t used them in training. In that case you just grab a couple of flasks and you throw your gel into the flask and take that out there with you and finally, do not ignore the electrolytes. Those power gels or any gels typically don’t have enough sodium in them to get you by for an ultra-endurance event. So you’ll need to supplement those. I’m a big fan of the Athlytes by Millennium Sports as an electrolyte source that has a lactic acid buffer in it as well. Endurolytes by Hammer Gel will also be another option. The Athlytes have about twice as much sodium in it as the Endurolytes do so Athlytes, you’d be anywhere from about two to four an hour. For the Endurolytes, about three to six an hour. So great question.
Casey asks: I just read your article in Triathlete magazine on nutrition. I’ve heard a few times now that Omega 6 oils are a culprit for inflammation. I often take the Udo oil 3-6-9 Blend. I was wondering if the anti-inflammation properties of the Omega 6 are somehow counteracted with the Omega 3s. Would I be better off simply taking a straight up flax oil or the like instead?
Ben answers: The Omega 3-6-9 oil is a pretty decent product from what I understand Casey. My only question is that the Omega 9s are not an essential fatty acid. They’re a non-essential fatty acid. They’re made by your body and so I’m not convinced that compared to the essential fatty acids, they’re something that you need to be taking a huge amount of. I also haven’t seen a lot of research in terms of the ratio of proper Omega 9s in relation to the Omega 3s and Omega 6s, but if your body is already making the Omega 9s, I would be focusing more on the Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratios which you technically want to be close to like a 5:1 or maybe a maximum of 10:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3. Even having a 1:1 or a 4:1 in a lot of nutritionists’ eyes really wouldn’t be a problem and I try to get as many Omega 3s as I can while limiting Omega 6s as much as possible. So to answer your question, your body does need both the Omega 3s and the Omega 6s because both contain the essential elements that you’re going to need for something like creating the inflammatory process and also controlling inflammation because what you get in those fats contributes to both. But I would not necessarily worry about switching off the 3-6-9 blend to start using a straight up flax oil. As a matter of fact there was a really interesting podcast that we did on whether or not flax oil was super effective and I will put a link to that in the Shownotes to this episode – episode 90. But I would recommend Casey, that you listen to podcast number 86 to really get a grasp on the whole Omega 6, Omega 3, fatty acid, flax oil debate.
Deb asks: I know very little about bike power meters except that they’re ridiculously expensive. I’ve also heard of a power meter called an Eye Bike which is supposed to be very accurate and affordable. Because I know so little about power-based training, I’d like your opinion on the subject as well as your thoughts on various products out there including the Eye Bike power meter.
Ben answers: Yeah, power meters obviously… if you haven’t heard about them before and you’re a cyclist, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to hear of them because they’re great for quantifying the amount of work that you do on a bicycle. Whereas your heart rate can fluctuate based on your hydration, based on the temperature, based on any number of physiological variables, power is power and it’s always going to tell you exactly what you’re pushing. The Eye Bike that you ask about, Deb, it is pretty affordable but it also requires an almost annoyingly amount of calibration. And if you don’t calibrate it correctly then it’s not going to give you the accurate power data. So if you’re willing to maybe work with your local bike shop or you’re a very technical person who doesn’t mind calibrating and possible re-calibrating that Eye Bike as you’re working with it, then it’d be a good way to go. A couple of other options – you could get a Power Tap which is a little bit more expensive. It’s not quite as expensive as some of the other models out there. I’m actually in the process of getting one myself, but the Power Tap is something that goes into the hub of your wheel and the only issue with the Power Tap is that if you’re using a different set of bike wheels for say a race versus a training session, then you’d have to get a Power Tap for each wheel or you would simply have to get a wheel that you can use for both training and racing and then put the Power Tap on that. Now there’s another model called the Polar model which uses chain tension and chain speed to calculate your power. Kind of similar to the Eye Bike, it’s going to require a very precise amount of calibration in order for it to be accurate and so there will be a little bit of an opportunity cost there. But if you get it calibrated correctly, again a little bit cheaper in terms of front-end investment. Now the SRM is kind of the gold standard power meter and it uses a strain gauge. It’s basically a crank based strain gauge. Those are very accurate. Not quite as many calibration issues. Obviously a little bit more expensive. You’re going to be forking over a few grand for one of those. But ultimately more convenient in the long run, more dependable. You know, if you can get over the wheel issue I’d go with the Power Tap. If you’re willing to do a lot of calibration then the Eye Bike or the Polar model would be a good brand for you and if you got some money to burn, go for the SRM. So, good question.
Lorenzo asks: I was just talking to a buddy of mine that is an Ironman triathlete and he suggested that I find a shoe that allows me to not wear any socks. What do you think?
Ben answers: Well there are a lot of those these days. Triathlon shoe companies are coming out with these bare fit types of shoes or the sockless technology types of shoes. Zoot was one of the first companies to develop them and the idea is that they use a material in the shoe that’s like an anti-bacterial but also an anti-blister, anti-friction type of material so you can slip your foot in there when you get off your bike ride in a triathlon and maybe save yourself 20 or 30 seconds with putting your shoe on. From the reviews that I’ve read on these shoes, even though I don’t use them myself, the amount to which they can decrease the formation of blisters during a sprint distance or an Olympic distance triathlon is pretty impressive. I actually would be a little bit careful if you take a little while to run. If you’re taking longer than an hour 20, an hour 30 to run your half marathon in a half Ironman or you’re planning on doing an Ironman, I would be careful with not wearing socks at all. You could wear these sockless shoes with socks if you wanted to, but during a longer distance event it’d be nice to have that peace of mind that you aren’t going to have a blister at all, especially if it gets wet out, maybe you get a little bit of sand on your feet in transition or gravel – there are a lot of little issues there. So I would have socks on hand for a half Ironman or an Ironman. But these sockless shoes have actually gotten a pretty good review in most shoe review Web sites and magazines in terms of their effectiveness. So if you want to save yourself a few seconds in transition, you can use those sockless shoes. If you don’t have sockless shoes, you can do a little trick that I do and that’s the elastic shoelaces combined with smearing a little bit of a lubricant like Vaseline or Body Glide in the inside of that shoe so your foot just slips right in there in transition.
Catherine asks: I have a question about dates. During half marathons, I’ve eaten organic dates with tremendous results in energy and endurance. I’m training for my first Ironman and would love to use dates as the main source of food for the race. They seem ideal to me. However my coach is worried about their fiber content leading to gastric issues. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this and if you have any advice on the topic?
Ben answers: Catherine, the dates are a great source of high glycemic index, fast releasing types of sugars. Most of the dates have a glucose fructose mix and like I mentioned earlier, a blend of sugars to a certain extent – as long as you’re not mixing too many fuels actually allows for a little bit better sugar absorption than just a single isolated sugar source like a glucose. Now a Medjool date which is kind of the most popular form of dates that you see at say the grocery store, that’s got about 60 to 70 calories in it per serving and so you’d be eating… for most females for an Ironman bike ride about five of those per hour. The issue is that your coach is correct in that too much fiber intake can draw a lot of water into the lower digestive tract especially in the colon. You get the diarrhea going on, you get the gas. You get the bloating and even if you can handle it on the bike, it might come back to bite you six or seven hours later while you’re out on the run. I would definitely use these training, and you can train your body to assimilate higher fiber foods more efficiently the more that you use them. But I’d be very careful. A date is something that I’d use for example as a little bit of a solid food fix at the end of each hour, like for a six hour bike ride one or two dates at the end of each hour, and going with a lower fiber food during the rest of the time. So yeah, you do want to be careful with that amount of fiber. Figs, dates, bananas, any of that stuff. Great solid food source for a small amount of your intake, but I wouldn’t make it your primary food source during the Ironman. Then you also had a question about the sweet potatoes and do I advise eating sweet potatoes on the bike in some way? I do recommend that you use baby potatoes or sweet potatoes or small yams that you can wrap in aluminum foil. Take those on some long training rides, have them available if you want to use those as one of your sources of carbohydrates. But on race day, it’s logistically going to be a little bit tough to carry and a little bit messy to eat any of those options. So if you’re really going after aerodynamics and speed and convenience of fueling, I wouldn’t rely on those as a primary fuel source. They are a little bit lower in fiber than the dates and so they’d have a little bit fewer of those issues, especially the baby potatoes. Like a salted baby potato wrapped in aluminum fuel. But it depends. If you’re just out there to cross the finish line, have a good day of it and enjoy yourself, yeah absolutely. Take some baby potatoes out there. Put those in your bike jersey. Have a couple of dates at the end of each hour or go with real food. If you’re just trying to go fast, sometimes you do have to go with the engineered stuff though. It’s designed for speed.
Cindy asks: I have been (this is kind of a long question)… I’ve been trying your holistic fueling plan. My problem is that I have extreme evening hunger. (And she goes on and lists everything that she eats during the day. I’m not going to eat this all to you guys because it’s kind of long, but basically she’s eating very well.) Is my body just in carb withdrawal? I feel better, I’ve been sleeping better but I hate this evening hunger. It’s been about two weeks since I cut back on the evening carbs.
Ben answers: Well Cindy, you do go through a phase – typically it’s about five to seven days where you feel kind of blah. Your body is beginning to learn how to utilize fats as a fuel. You’re having to get used to not having your blood sugar levels constantly elevated. You feel a little bit the same way as you’d feel if you hit the wall during a marathon and you were running and you just ran out of sugar and that’s your body burning fat. Fat is not necessarily burned all that quickly as a fuel and so your body doesn’t turn it into energy at quite the level that it does sugar and carbs and you don’t get the same type of feeling. You also don’t get the same amount of dopamine released when you cut out the carbs because you don’t have the same amount of serotonin and dopamine signals going to your brain. So you do feel a little less satiated. I get hungry a lot in the evenings and what I find is that if I have a protein based snack, it helps out tremendously especially if I do that and I hydrate that at the same time or after. So what’s a protein based snack that I use? I’ll take the Mt. Capra Whey Protein, or for those of you who want a vegan alternative, the Living Protein by Living Fuel is also a good blend. And I’ll mix that with a little bit of water and I’ll throw in a few almonds, walnuts, pecans. Sometimes a few cherub chips which are technically a legume but they give you that late night chocolate fix. You mix that with just a little bit of water or possibly a little bit of almond milk, a little bit of rice milk. I usually do water. You stir that up and a couple of tablespoons of that, you’re looking at 100 to 150 calories for a protein based evening meal. It works very well and satiates the appetite. The other old standby is just a tablespoon of almond butter. Still a little bit of an insulin spike, a little bit of a blood sugar spike but nowhere near the levels of throwing down an Eggo waffle or a couple pieces of toast or a bowl of cereal of something of that nature. So, what I would focus on is giving yourself something after dinner – an hour or an hour and a half before bedtime – that’s more that protein based fuel. If you go over to www.pacificfit.net, you can find that Living Protein Fuel at www.pacificfit.net, along with a bar that’s also primarily a fat based bar. Caution with that, it does have some agave nectar in it and so again right before bed, probably not the best thing as far as protein. You could definitely go with a protein powder, that Living Protein protein powder. And Cindy, I’m nominating you – even though I didn’t read your whole question – I’m nominating you as the top question for this week’s podcast and giving you a free month of membership to the Body Transformation Club, just email me and I’ll hook you up with that because based off of your description it sounds like you in terms of some of the nutrition direction that you need, maybe some of the exercise tips are going to benefit the most out of that free membership to the Body Transformation Club. So Cindy, if you’re listening, email me and I’ll hook you up. And then we have a final question from Paul.
Paul asks: Ben, in previous podcasts, you mentioned books that you’ve been reading. What books do you recommend for training or just a day at the beach and how do you choose which books to read?
Ben answers: Well, I got to tell you Paul, we don’t get too many days at the beach out here in the Pacific Northwest, specifically the inland northwest. However I do engage in quite a bit of reading. I listen to a lot of books. I also read physically a lot of books. I typically go through about three or four books a week, and that’s just essentially keeping a book in the bathroom and a book on the nightstand and I just go through them and I happen to be privileged enough to have the free shipping from Amazon.com as well as a library card for a nearby library so between the two I get my books. But I’m going to tell you some of the books that I’ve read recently so you can get an idea of the types of books that I read, the types of books I recommend and some of the books that will help you to become a better person and a better athlete. So in the time since March 1st, these are the books that I’ve read. So the past month in the half, these are the books that I’ve read: Run Faster From 5K To Marathon. This book is great if you are a coach or if you are self-coached and you want to pick up some really great tips from Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. It’s one of the best books I’ve read on running, along with the other running book I’ll talk about in a second. And especially laying out your run training program. Very good book, very solid. Highly recommend. The New Psycho-Cybernetics. If you want to change your lifestyle, if you want to learn how to do things like visualize and motivate yourself if you want to learn how to kind of turn your brain onto overdrive, The New Psycho-Cybernetics is a great book. And by the way you guys, I’ll put a link to all of these in the Shownotes. I’ll put a cool Amazon deal where you can just see all the books right there, and check them out. So The New Psycho-Cybernetics is another one. How To Win Friends And Influence People. I actually read that one last month and it’s good, it’s almost like a good skim book. He tells you in the beginning to read every chapter twice. I ended up skimming through every chapter and reading the last final notes of each chapter very thoroughly. Good book for your relationships though. It really is. Another book: The Runner’s Edge. This book is great if you want to learn how to use technology in your training, whether you’re a triathlete or a runner or a cyclist, good book for using technology in your training. It’s called The Runner’s Edge. An audio book I went through recently by Tony Robbins called Get The Edge. That’s about a seven day series, that’s a fantastic one for your productivity, for your lifestyle. Tony Robbins is one of my favorite speakers. Get The Edge. It’s a CD series. I’ll put a link to that as well. Small book by Seth Godin called Tribes, We Need You To Lead Us. If you’re in business, this is a really good book. Tribes essentially just talks about how we interact with one another in terms of our group thinking philosophies, leading philosophies. Great book. Another book called The Magic Of Thinking Big. If you want to change your lifestyle, I also recommend this book and the next book called The Go Giver, another one I read recently. Good for business. Basically any aspect of business, it’s essential in my opinion. Good book for you or your children’s personal finances called Rich Dad, Poor Dad where the rich teach their kids about money written by one of my favorite authors Robert Kiyasaki. I highly recommend that if you’ve got kids that are growing up and you’re wanting to teach them about finances. Very good book, and then of course the book Getting Things Done. I’d already read that once. I actually read it again last month because it’s got some great tips in there for productivity. I’m also smack dab in the middle of Brendan Brazier’s book called The Thrive Diet which is essentially vegan eating for high performance athletes. How to actually do it and still have energy, and I love that book. It’s wonderful so far. Great recipes in there that I’ll be implementing and sharing with you, and a couple of other books. This is towards the end of February I read these books but Dean Karnazes wrote a book after he did his 50 marathons in 50 days, packed it full of a bunch of practical little tips and it’s called 50-50, Secrets from 50 Marathons in 50 Days. I’ll put a link to that in there for you, as well as the book Chi Running by Danny Dreyer, and he calls that his revolutionary approach to effortless injury running. I picked up that book and read that one in March as I was kind of starting to run a lot again to get ready for triathlon season. And there are some great tips in there as well. So, check out all those books. I’ll put a link to all of them in the Shownotes to this podcast. We’re going to be moving on to our anti-inflammatory interview with Dr. Roby Mitchell. And remember if you do have a question, email me [email protected]. You can Skype Pacific Fit or you can call toll free to 8772099439 and in terms of the upcoming interview you guys really need to listen to it. It’s fantastic. He talks about some natural alternatives as well. I’m going to put a link to some of the things he talks about, particularly one called phenocane which seems like it’s rock solid as an alternative to aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol, Celebrex, etc. I’ll put a link to all that and more in the Shownotes to episode number 90.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I’m back with one of our most popular and distinguished guests that we’ve had on the show a couple of times in the past. Dr. Roby Mitchell, who’s also known as Dr. Fitt. He’s come on before and talked about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. He’s talked about other natural health topics that are very interesting and especially relevant to you if you’re trying to take charge of your health and make educated decisions on the things that you’re putting into your body and the way that you’re taking care of your body. Today, Dr. Mitchell is here to talk to us a little bit about anti-inflammatories, how to manage inflammation and popular medications like ibuprofen or Advil. So Dr. Mitchell, thanks for coming on the call today.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Hello, glad to be back Ben.
Ben: So you know, I just want to start off with your explanation, because you’ve done a really good job in the past kind of explaining things to people of what exactly is the popular form of anti-inflammatory that people typically take. This NSAID, what does that stand for and how do those actually work?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So the acronym stands for Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug and the reason for the non steroidal is that initially when we were using medications to decrease inflammation, these were steroidal medications. Steroidal just meaning that these are molecules made from cholesterol, so not to be confused with the doping steroids, the synthetic steroids that people use to pump up their muscles. So anytime you hear the word “steroids” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s some chemical that bodybuilders use illegally. So, initially we used corticosteroids for these chemicals that are derived from cortisol like prenazone, pregnisilone – those types of drugs when people had inflammation, we’d give them injections or pills with those in them. It would calm down the inflammation. These drugs had some problems, particularly used on a long term like the synthetic ones in that they could cause diabetes and elevated blood sugar, cause cataracts, a whole slew of bad side effects came from these steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. So this new class of drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories were created to address that problem. Now the way that these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work is that they inhibit the production of these chemical messengers such as prostaglandins, leukotriads, some of these other things that your immune system normally produces in an effort to spur healing. Understand that inflammation is a normal part of the body’s healing mechanism. When you have fever, chills from the cold and flu, when you have redness, when you have swelling, when you have soreness – understand that that is your body’s healing process trying to take effect. So you may want to think about sometimes actually the use of these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, particularly if we’re talking about things like for fever when your body is trying to heal itself – think twice about trying to abort that process, because your body is trying to heal itself. Now the problem comes when you interrupt that production of those chemicals in the body, you have to understand that with these biochemical processes in the body, it’s like when Ben Greenfield gets on his bike and he spins that front sprocket, right? That front sprocket is connected to that back sprocket. So imagine the biochemistry in your body as this whole system of interconnected sprockets. That when turns, right, it makes all the others turn. Now Ben Greenfield would be the enzyme that makes one of those sprockets turn and when he turns that one then all the rest turn. Now, if Dr. Roby Mitchell gives Ben Greenfield a medication that slows him down, then that means that that inhibits his ability to turn that front sprocket, and that may be the target that we’re after – slowing down the turning of that front sprocket – but guess what happens to every other sprocket that’s connected to that? It slows down also. So that’s what we have to think about when we give these medications – is that they’re not only affecting the biochemical process that we’re trying to slow down. They affect the whole system. So with these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory products, they affect such a wide range of biochemistry in the body that they can have lots and lots of side effects.
Ben: So when you’re talking about the non-steroidal, if people were to ask which drugs would actually fall into this category, what are some popular drugs that a lot of people take right now that would be considered the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So in media advertising, probably Advil is one of the more popular ones that people would hear about advertised. Ibuprofen is the generic name for Advil, and that will be right next to it on the counter there at your supermarket at a lower price. It’s the exact same drug. It’s sold cheaper as a generic. It is just as effective so no use spending a higher amount for the brand name product. By prescription there was Motrin, actually Motrin now is an over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and it works basically the same way. Celebrex is one of the more popular prescription ones. Dextra is another. There was one that infamously was taken off the market called Vioxx because it caused heart attacks. Interestingly enough, all of these drugs have that same capability. They can cause thromboembolisms or blood clots and they can cause stroke, heart attacks and these other diseases. But probably the most common and the highest mortality side effect that they have is causing gastric or GI bleeding. When I was an emergency room doctor, it was not uncommon at all for me to have patients who had over a long period of time taking one of these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and developed a bleeding ulcer. And we would have to take care of him there in the emergency room to stop the bleeding. Many times it requires surgical intervention. If people are familiar with the story of Alonzo Mourning, a very famous basketball player, he’s developed kidney failure from using these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Another pro-basketball player… I think he actually had to have a kidney transplant for the same reason.
Ben: Interesting. Well you know Dr. Mitchell, my grandma takes three or four Advil before she goes to bed at night. I have dozens of friends who are popping ibuprofen and Advil after workouts to manage sprains and strains and even soreness. People are using this stuff frequently all over the place. Wouldn’t we kind of know about it if it was that big of an issue as you’re saying about these pro-athletes having the kidney failure and the GI bleeding? Why isn’t this stuff mainstream?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: That’s a good question, but so many of the things here that are so toxic in the environment, like say these chemicals which are in plastics that are causing hormonal disruptions and so forth – not really mainstream information but certainly it’s there. It tends to gain momentum at some periods of times or if famous people get hit with it and so forth. But this is certainly just the tip of the iceberg as far as the dangerousness of these types of medications. Used transiently and on an irregular basis, not such a big problem. It’s when you depend on these things long term over a long period of time, is when they tend to cause the problem. So it’s an accumulative, additive effect and there’s also a synergistic effect when they’re combined with alcohol or some other things.
Ben: Now how about combining them with exercise? Because a lot of people will take ibuprofen or Advil prior to going out and doing Ironman or a difficult training session. I have athletes who’ve done this before. They tell me that it helps them manage the pain, that it helps them manage the soreness. Could that be an issue?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: No, so again for transient use and intermittent use, it’s not such a bad idea. It’s the chronic use that becomes the problem. I might take an Advil or an ibuprofen if I go out for a week skiing, I may take one or two after a hard day of skiing, but it’s not something I would take on a regular basis. One of the things that I do prophylactically though when I know I’m going to be punishing my body like when I ride on a regular basis or do any type of other traumatic exercise, is I prophylactically high dose myself with vitamin C. This will prevent much of that trauma from happening that will spur the production of these prostaglandins and these other chemical mediators. So I would recommend prophylaxis rather than trying to catch the cow after he’s already out of the barn.
Ben: Interesting, so what about after an injury? You talked a little bit about the inflammatory process and how you don’t want to shut it down completely but let’s say I sprained my ankle, what role would a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug take in a situation like that?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So when you have injuries, sprains, strains, that type of thing normally what we would do in the emergency room is tell people to use ice and compression. Now for pain, certainly again, transient use of anti-inflammatory drugs can be – they can be a Godsend if you’re having pain from trauma, but you don’t want to use those long term because as I’ve stated in the article that I wrote, they do inhibit the process of healing. Again these things can cause microemboli or micro clots. Small clots. Clots inhibit blood flow. If you don’t have blood flow then you don’t get healing, right? So we want to encourage – whenever there’s an injury we want to encourage blood flow. So it’s better to use some of these things that have dilating, warming effects, shooting warm blood to the injury site effect. Things like Tiger Balm is one of the things that I recommend quite a bit for my patients and of course it goes directly on the area. Bengay is a more – one probably my father would use if he had an injury. But those types of things make a little more sense again for the long term. Again, short term, initial injury – use an ibuprofen or whatever. Use the ibuprofen, that’s cheap. It works just the same. You don’t need to go do the expensive one, going to a doctor and getting a prescription for Zolobax or Bextra or even paying the expense of getting something like Advil. Just get the generic ibuprofen. Now there’s some alternatives even to those that can work as well, but then not have the side effects. Bromolin is one that comes to mind off the top of my head. There’s a product called Wobenzym that you can get at your health food store. It’s an excellent – actually it works by a different process. So you don’t have the process of creating the micro-emboli. So it’s actually pro-healing even though it’s anti-inflammatory.
Ben: That’s a protolytic enzyme right?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Exactly.
Ben: I think we’ve talked about that one before on the show as well as the one called Recoveries, but yeah same thing. That’s that enzyme – one of the enzymes found in pineapple. Is that correct?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Not the Wobenzym. Papain is found in pineapple. Yeah. And there is a product called phenocane, that is a combination of bromelaine and I believe di-alph-alanine and metakinase that works even better. That is just a wonderful natural anti-inflammatory to be used anytime you would use one of these non-steroidals.
Ben: What did you call that one?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: It’s called Phenocane.
Ben: Now you said that has the protolytic enzyme in it and what else did you say that has in it?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: It has nattokinase. Now remember one of the things I said is the problem with healing in these cases of traumatic injury is micro-emboli can form sometimes. The nattokinase keeps those micro-emboli from forming and then the DL-phenylalanine, that’s an amino acid that works very well as a pain reliever.
Ben: And that just works in a different way than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug in terms of the pain relief?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Exactly. So there’s a synergism between all these three ingredients. So you have one that’s an anti-inflammatory, one that’s an anti-thromboembolytic agent, one that is an actual pain-reliever. So this particular amino acid, it works essentially right in the central nervous system to produce some of these natural endorphins and so forth that your body normally uses for pain relief.
Ben: Now, what about like an anti-fungal? I heard you talk about that before as well.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Now anti-fungals – again inflammation is the mechanism that is causing the pain. So the more you can slow down inflammation in general and the production of these prostaglandins, leukotrienes, these other chemical messengers of pain, then the less pain that you have. One of the big stimulators of chronic inflammation in the body overall, even without injury is fungi that overgrow in the body. And of course that comes from this high sugar, high grain diet that most people eat. So if you use an anti-fungal on a regular basis then you can systematically cut down on the amount of the production of these chemical mediators of inflammation.
Ben: Interesting, so something like phenocane, I know that a lot of people are probably wondering this because I know they have relatives or people like myself who has a grandma who’s taking several Advil every night for months and years running, would something like Phenocane be something that someone who is currently taking Advil and ibuprofen chronically – would that be something that they could try as an alternative? As a healthy alternative?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Certainly. That or the Wobenzym, but I would back up even from that. So even with the natural product, you’re still trying to modulate a symptom, right? Let’s take a few steps back and try to find out what’s causing it, right? Instead of trying to keep dragging drowning people out of the water, let’s go upstream and see who’s throwing them in? So, I would ask why is she taking so much Advil so chronically, right? And can we do something to actually get rid of the cause of that symptom.
Ben: Interesting. So in terms of natural anti-inflammatories, is there any other advice that you would have for people as far as controlling inflammation or watching what they put into their body?
Dr. Roby Mitchell: So again, one of the main causes of chronic systematic inflammation is this inflammatory diet that we have with all the high sugar and the high grains. So that would be number one, is change this diet to this Mediterranean – on my Web site, it’ll be called a BALI type diet. But a diet that includes more of these foods that have natural yeast killers in there. I have a list of them there on my Web site, so that would be the first step. Particularly if you’re having problems with chronic pain or depression or any of these things that are underwritten by this inflammatory process – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure – any of those things. This is the diet that you need to move to. You need to move to that one prophylactically. If you expect to not have any of those diseases. Also people that do have to take or decide to take one of these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications on a regular basis, then you’ll want to take something to kind of moderate the effect of it. Now you can take something as simple as baking soda can cut down on the risk of you having these problems with the GI bleeding. People also want to make sure that they’re getting regular checkups with their doctor if they’re being prescribed one of these long-term for some chronic condition. This GI bleeding can be very silent. And you might not see redness in your stool which we usually associate with GI bleeding. You might not see any change in your stool. It can be so minuscule over a long period of time that you don’t notice it until you become so anemic that people start fainting. And that’s what sends people in to the emergency rooms many times. They would have one of these fainting episodes and then I would check their blood count and they’d be dangerously anemic. They have had this bleeding for such a long time but it’s been insidious and they haven’t noticed it.
Ben: Interesting. So it sounds like people have quite a few alternatives when it comes to the traditional method of just masking the pain by popping Advil or ibuprofen.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Yes, certainly. Massage – if you have the ability to make that happen, that’s an excellent thing, particularly after things like these types of rides that you and I do, doing those on a regular basis certainly helps. Even a person just rubbing themselves down with either coconut oil or castor oil. Those act as excellent anti-inflammatory agents also. So doing those on a regular basis after a hard workout can help, but again what I do prophylactically is I load up on about 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C if I’m going to do a really long ride. That works as well as anything. I don’t have the pain at all.
Ben: Well Dr. Mitchell, thank you for coming on the call today and sharing this with people. I want to mention your Web site. It’s www.drfitt.com. And he does have as he mentioned quite a bit of information in there in terms of stuff that you can read and immediately utilize. Things in terms of checklists, diets, things of that nature. So definitely check out www.drfitt.com and I’ll put a link to that in the Shownotes to this episode. So, Dr. Fitt, thanks for coming on the call.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Oh, you’re very welcome. You’ve given me a reminder. I get so focused on pointing at disease sometimes, I forget about the athletes. I’m going to have to start putting some information on there directed at you guys that are out there being pro-active.
Ben: Well, absolutely. And if you’re listening in and ideas of questions or things that you’d like to hear from Dr. Mitchell in terms of natural medicine for athletes and management – everything from injuries to disease to some of the prophylactic measures that he talked about – just leave a comment in the Shownotes to this episode and I’ll make sure that Dr. Fitt sees your comment. So thanks for coming on the call, and I’m sure we’ll be in touch.
Dr. Roby Mitchell: Always a pleasure, Ben.
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