[00:01:22] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:41] Guest and Topic Introduction
[00:08:45] Beware: Instant Fitness Experts in The Age of Instagram
[00:16:24] Ben's Criteria for Promoting Products
[00:23:21] How Important Is Nutrition to Reach One's Fitness Goals
[00:32:17] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:46] Plants, Herbs, Spices Are Very Prominent in Healthy Diets
[00:41:35] Where Ben Stands on The Macros Vs. Calories Debate
[00:47:07] The Ideal Ratio of Calorie Deficits Vs. Refers
[00:52:28] What should protein levels be when dieting and normal consumption
[00:53:59] Fitness Trends and Biohacks Ben Is Excited About Right Now
[00:58:57] Ben's Thoughts on Tech-Driven Fitness
[01:04:27] What to Expect from The Boundless Program on The Ladder App
[01:13:50] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Alright, welcome to part two. If you missed part one of this really great series with Tom Digan, you can go back and listen to it. And, honestly, I recommend that you listen to part one before you listen to this. So, rewind, go back. It's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast for part one of this two-part series. And then, for everything you're going to hear today, it's going to be BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast2, like “LadderPodcast,” the number “2.”
Alright, folks. This is exciting, I have changed my mind about essential amino acids. That's right. You heard it correctly. Forget everything I've ever told you about these so-called EAAs. Maybe, I'm being a little bit dramatic, but now that I have your attention, there's actually some exciting new information in the realm of essential amino acids I'm pretty darn stoked to share with you. You see, my company, Kion, recently embarked on a huge undertaking. We worked with a third-party independent research firm. We connected a huge meta-analysis of all the most recent solid amino acids research out there. And, lo and behold, we learned quite a bit about how to make our incredibly popular aminos formula even better.
Now, I just released a banger of an article about all this research. And, you can go read that now at my website at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. It is right there on the front page of the website. But, I'm going to summarize some of the main points for you here.
First, an overwhelming body of research pointed to one amino acid in particular for the incredible effect it has on muscle protein synthesis, muscle repair, muscle recovery, and a whole heck of a lot more. And, that amino acid is leucine. So, that's the first thing we did. We bumped up the leucine content to the dose recommended in the literature, just 2,000 milligrams.
Then, we added histidine. And, I know that's always been a hot-button topic in the amino acid community with the longstanding belief that your body could create histidine on its own in the presence of other essential amino acids. But, it turns out that was based on an outdated method of testing. And, we looked at newer research. We used what's called the tracer method, which observes amino acids directly inside muscle. And, we now know that the manufacture of histidine inside the body isn't as efficient as we once thought. So, we've got histidine in there now.
And, finally, we absolutely knocked the ball out of the park with the new flavor. The original Kion Aminos, we got a ton of comments about how delicious they were compared to other amino acid substances. But, our new Cool Lime flavor and Mixed Berry Powders taste just absolutely addictively good. And then, the difficult to swallow tablets we've been producing, we decided to replace those with the Kion Aminos capsules, which are easy to swallow and made of 100% natural plant ingredients.
That was a lot. Hopefully, I didn't lose you. But, if you go to GetKion.com/BenGreenfield, you can try these bad boys out for yourself. I guarantee you're going to love this new formula, what it'll do for your performance, for your recovery, for fat loss, for gut nourishment, for working out in a fasted state, you name it. And, again, they taste amazing. So, check out the all-new Kion Aminos, nothing like it on the market. GetKion.com/BenGreenfield.
By the way, my new cookbook is available. It's selling like hotcakes on Amazon, even though there are no hotcake recipes inside the cookbook. It does have things like my wild plant pesto and reverse seared pork chop and my sons' baked donuts recipe and my wife's fermented sourdough bread recipe, all sorts of crazy rubs and biohacked cocktails, you name it. Anyways, it's all over on Amazon and also at BoundlessCookbook.com. So, grab that cookbook. And, if you already have it, do me a huge favor, please. Leave a review, because that's what helps get the word out and that's what might get me around to writing a second cookbook. Don't tell.
Alright, folks. Well, my guest this morning, I should probably hate him because he's got me up at the butt-crack of dawn to record today's episode, which is part two. We had such a great chat in our last conversation that we wound up not even getting around to half of the things that we want to cover for you. So, we're recording a part two.
If you missed part one, this podcast is with Tom Digan. I just like to pronounce his name in every way possible. Tom is one of my friends from Austin. If you listened to the previous episode that we did, which came out a few days ago, and you can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast, we went over the biggest fitness mistakes and the perfect exercise combinations for getting the ultimate 1-2 lineup of health span and lifespan, we talked about how I program my own workouts, we talked about fitness apps and fitness technology. And, Tom, if for some reason you're listening to this episode and you haven't–shame you–listened to part one, Tom is involved with this company called Ladder. And, Ladder is an app and a very, very cool fitness app that I have now filmed a ton of exercise videos in and have an entire program in called Boundless. And, Tom's the mastermind behind that and the reason that I now officially have a fitness app–yay–for me.
So, it's called Boundless. And, it's on an app called Ladder, which you can find in the App Store. Just look for my team, Team Boundless. You can join it. Get all your workout. You get your first work. We could workout for free from me. But, I've got everything laid out every single day exactly what to do. And, as Tom and I riffed on in part one, it's not one of those fitness apps that you got to be in a front plank position over a mat to stare at your phone to do. It follows you around, cues you. You could go through a full-on athletic training program in the gym and have me in your ears walking you through everything, even though my program isn't about athletics as much as it is about longevity, feeling good, looking good.
And, speaking of feeling good and looking good, Tom, I know that we decided to record early today. It's 8:00-something. It's crazy. And, I'm just curious for you. Are you a breakfast-skipper or are you grabbing a little breakey before you head off to the airport after our podcast here?
Tom: I had some breakfast this morning because I worked out, did some [00:07:06]_____ this morning. So, I try to eat a meal if I'm working out in the morning.
Ben: What's your post-workout flavor?
Tom: Usually, a protein shake, try to eat some fruit, a banana, today a peach, just try to refuel and just make sure there's plenty of protein in there.
Ben: We're going to talk about nutrition. But, one thing I should fill you in on is you live in Austin. My friend, Khalil, who's also been on the podcast before, he has a coffee shop down there and a smoothie bowl and juice bar place called SunLife Organics. If you go in there and ask for their–they call it their billion-dollar bowl. It's everything, like colostrum and rice bran and cacao nibs and all these different superfoods and mushroom extracts. But, I haven't made a keto version of that for me where they, instead of using acai or strawberry or blueberry or anything, they just substitute all of that with coconut meat and nut butter. And, it's absolutely stellar.
Tom: Khalil is awesome. I've got to share some workouts with him over the last few weeks. I will definitely get in there. I love SunLife Organics. Great addition to Austin.
Ben: I'll be back there in October, teaching at an event called Runga. So, for those of you listening in, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Runga. Check that out. We're renting a giant mansion and just holding people away and doing ice baths and kettlebells for a few days down there. But, I will definitely get over to SunLife. Shoutout to SunLife and the billion-dollar bowl.
So, Tom, we covered so much in the last episode. And, again, folks, if you want Tom's whole backstory and everything we talked about in that episode, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. The show notes for this episode are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast, the number “2.”
But, Tom, you had me in the hot seat, and you were asking me a bunch of questions. And, we had gotten around to talking about, really, the fitness industry, we're starting to talk about. And, I don't know if you want to jump in there.
Tom: Yeah, let's do it. Let's jump right in. I think where we left off, we were going to talk a little bit about social media. Obviously, social media is bigger than ever, particularly, in the fitness space post-COVID. As a result, it often feels like one's credentials or experience are less important. And, sometimes, it feels like it's more about how many followers they have, which is too bad. So, I wanted to get your thoughts on fake or under-qualified personal trainers and just —
Ben: Oh, geez.
Tom: –all of the misinformation that is out there these days.
Ben: You opened up a can of worms. I talked about this. Now, there was a whole study, dude. The National Strength–or what's called the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, because I subscribe to a lot of journals. I spent a lot of my morning just speaking of trying to stay on top of the science, just reading research and articles and these journals that I subscribe to, both print pubs and online pubs. And, a couple of months ago, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research released a paper or a study about perceptions of personal trainers' competence or knowledge.
And, what they found was that, when you look at everything, like whether they're an ectomorph or a mesomorph or an endomorph body-type or their muscularity, like muscular versus non-muscular, their actual competence, their knowledge, their certifications, their sex, everything, you could probably guess this, but you know what the number one variable that dictated whether or not someone trusted and wanted to work with a personal trainer was?
Tom: What the trainer looks like?
Ben: Yeah, their physique. So, basically, it's like, if this person looks like XYZ, then they must know what they're talking about. They could get their body to look like that, then they must know how to get my body or my health or whatever is I'm looking for to that same level. And, of course, the problem with that–and I don't want to insult people's intelligence by telling them something they probably already suspect–is that, A, that person is different than you; B, many of these online trainers are living in the gym, literally living in the gym, and then putting out these programs that say, “Well, work out for 30 minutes or 60 minutes a day and you can look just like me.” And, I know some of these folks. They literally go to the gym in the morning, come back, have a post-workout meal, crank out some Instagram photos, go back to the gym, take a nap, get up in the afternoon, go on a walk or go to the gym, shoot some more Instagram, and then work out again, and then go out to dinner with their friends, spending all the money that they're getting from their Instagram ads.
And, the problem is, A, lot of people don't have the time to train and the focus to train and the access to the type of training materials that, say, an Instagram influencer does. And then, B, a lot of these folks, they are on pretty hefty amounts of gear. And, don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against natural hormone replacement therapy, the use of testosterone in men or progesterone in women in sane controlled amounts under the controlled advice of a physician. But, when we're talking about, whatever, let's say stacking SARMs and peptides and steroids and hormones and spending two to three hours a day in the gym, and then turning around and telling people, “Hey, just follow my program and you'll look like me,” it's doing a lot of people a disservice.
And, furthermore, Tom–And, I'm going to get up on my soapbox here, as I've been doing when you've been asking me questions.
Tom: Please, dude.
Ben: I started personal training when I was 15 years old. I got my first personal training certification when I was 16. I trained all through college. So, I took 30-plus credits a semester in organic chemistry, biochem, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, a whole course-load for exercise science, which is what I got my master's degree in biomechanics. But then, I was also studying for the MCAT. I was pre-med. So, I was deeply immersed in science. And, I was working at the same time as a personal trainer at three different gyms in town. So, I would basically get up at 4:00 a.m., train people for three hours, go to classes all day, get off classes, train people for another three to four hours, go to bed, get up, rinse, wash, and repeat for four years.
When I graduated with my master's degree, which in that fifth year, at that point, I was managing the entire wellness club at University of Idaho or the wellness facility of University of Idaho and designing all their programs, training all their trainers, this was when I was 20 at that point. So, I graduated with my master's. And then, after a short stint in hip and knee surgical sales, I partnered up with a local physician in the Spokane community. We launched this one-stop-shop for sports medicine. And, I spent the next six years doing exercise physiology, indirect calorimetry, high-speed video cameras, blood analysis, nutrition counseling, personal training for literally 10 to 12 hours a day. That was almost seven years.
Eventually, I started a podcast. Eventually, I started a Facebook page and an Instagram channel. But, I had literally countless hours, thousands of hours working with real people in the gym, watching real people move, understanding the science, getting actual degrees in this stuff to actually understand what's going on a cellular standpoint. And so, when I see, whatever, XYZ buff 18-year-old or bikini-clad 20-year-old turning around and dishing out advice on Instagram, it does piss me off because people don't understand that just because someone looks good, that doesn't mean they're knowledgeable.
Tom: No, absolutely. We won't catch you doing a barbell squat on a BOSU ball or something like that to get some reactions on TikTok.
Ben: Yeah. It depends, maybe. Honestly, I'm rehabbing a knee issue right now. I totally get the fitness industry. I wanted to do an arm workout the other day. Because I'm weird because I like that. So, I wanted to do a–It was a superset triceps and a superset biceps workout. Even though, as we discussed in the last podcast, most of my workouts are full body. I'm fighting a knee issue. And, I was just like, “Hey, I want to blast my arms today. I had a podcast I want to listen to, and let me go to the gym and have some fun.” And, I was doing arm curls, dumbbell arm curls, on a BOSU ball to challenge my balance and help with my knee rehab. But, yeah, that's pretty few and far between you'll find me doing stuff like that, doing it on camera for anything.
I get flack. I know I take my shirt off on Instagram and I do the crazy stuff that I realize is specifically designed to get views and clicks. But, what I don't do is position myself as being an expert in something I'm not an expert in and then pretend that just fancy cool images will allow people to get results, when in fact, it takes a lot more than that. I'm reading research articles, books, for, usually, it's two to three hours a day that I'm steeped in learning this shit so I can turn around and tell other people about it, whether it's nutrition or fitness or biohacking or any other form of scientific immersion.
So, I think that's what's important. Yeah, if somebody has a nice body on social media or a nice image on social media, then, maybe, they do know what they're talking about. But, don't assume that just because they look good means they know how to get you looking that same way.
Tom: That gets to my next question which you partially just answered there. Everyone sending you their products. You're testing all the latest gadgets. So, just how do you personally avoid promoting non-sense or witchcraft?
Ben: I do get–So, every day, it's like Christmas at my house. I realized this sounds like it's just amazing. But, it's honestly a little bit time-consuming and confusing. And, I have a gal who lives at my house. Her name is Nessa and she helps out with my son's education and driving them around and everything. But then, her secondary job is to just open packages and get the mail and stuff, because I get 20 boxes a day of everything from biohacking equipment to protein powder to CBD oil to strange concoctions you rub into your hair to somebody's house-made red wine that they've infused with THC and, whatever, psilocybin. I get everything shipped to my house. And, there's a lot that goes into the garbage can that I'm just like, “Yeah.”
Tom: What's the most outrageous product that you've ever been sent?
Ben: Oh, geez. Back when I was doing a lot of those Men's Health articles on men's sexual health, I got every form of penis pump and penis bag and penis enlargement pills, bans, tubes, you name it. And, I don't even know how to–I still have a section of my office back behind me where it's just all penis gear. And, that's all of this. If any guys out there want some penis gear, leave a comment in the show notes. I could probably hook you up.
So, anyways, though. So, I get stuff all the time. And, it's like, “How do I vet this? How do I know if it works?” There's a certain amount of testing on myself, like hat anecdotal N equals 1, whatever. I got this new–I do a podcast on the other day, the Hapbee device where you wear it around your neck and it simulates the feel-good effects of chocolate or the relaxing effects of THC and CBD or the nighttime effects of adenosine or melatonin. I wear it. It sounds the science, if you listen to my podcast with a guy who designed it, kooky, this underground silo where they infuse this device with the magnetic frequency of specific substances. And, there's not really any, that I'm aware of, human clinical double-blinded research on whether or not this thing works. But, dude, it freaking is amazing. And, it works for me. It's called the Hapbee. I'm not turning this into a commercial, but that's an example where, if something works for me, I'll tell the world about it. It might not work for everybody, but I'll at least say, “Hey, this is a cool thing that's working for me. It's worth a try, at least.”
I don't stop there, though. I self-tests and self-experiment, but I will go to PubMed. I'll go to Sci-Hub, which, unfortunately, they've shut down a lot of Sci-Hub. But, it allows you to get a lot of scientific papers without actually subscribing to the overpriced journals. I do a lot of research digest. I subscribe to the Examine Research Digest. The Examine website is fantastic for vetted advice on, primarily, supplementations and nutrition, but also, exercise. I subscribe to Alan Aragon's research review, which is also fantastic. I have an entire network. There's probably 100 people in my Rolodex who I now–and a lot of this is just based on doing podcasts with really smart people and then staying in touch with them. But, physicians, functional medicine docs, scientists, physiologists, authors, people who I just can bounce stuff off and ask about who may know something that I don't.
And, I'm not steeped in scientism, Tom. I don't believe that, if science hasn't proven something works, that thing doesn't work, that that is not going to provide some benefit. But, I always start with self-testing, with looking at the actual data and the research. And then, if something is woo, I typically come right out and tell people. I'm like, “I can't say exactly how structured water works and survives the acidic nature of the gut, yadda-yadda. But, I can tell you that I stay more hydrated when I use a urine stick. My specific gravity is better. Somehow, it hydrates me. I can't explain exactly why the difference in the H2O bonding does that. And, I haven't really seen a good explanation or a good study on it. But, it works.”
So, I have a whole home water structuring unit. And, I travel with little portable thing that structures my water. And, a lot of people think that structured water is just total bunk, but it works for me. And, it also makes my coffee tastes better. And, I structure my wine. I pour it through this water vortice or device. And, people love it when they come over because I'll pour them a glass of wine, then pour them another glass through this vortice or device. And, it works.
I could probably, and I'm sure my long-time listeners can agree, name 100 things that, at first glance, appear pretty woo but seemed to work out well for me. And then, there's a lot of other stuff I talk about that actually has good scientific research behind it. And, this podcast started off with me just going through all the journals that I subscribe to as a fledgling personal trainer. I've been podcasting now for, gosh, I think 17 years. And, all I was doing was sitting in front of my computer. Ben, in his little personal training studio, wearing his dumb little logoed T-shirt, talking to people, like, “There's some research that I found before I really found my radio voice.” And, that was it. I was just sharing science with people because, honestly, I've always loved this idea of finding cool shit, looking at the science behind it, or the lack of science behind it, telling people about it, experimenting with it. And, that's part of my stick.
So, there are things I've promoted in the past that might be considered non-sense or witchcraft, but I can promise my listeners this. I'm never going to tell you about something because somebody paid me to do it. I'm never going to tell you about something because it's lining my wallet. Now, yeah, a lot of times, I have somebody who advertises on the podcast. But, if you ask the person who runs my advertising, I have to try everything. And, they pass 20 opportunities by me before one ad. I'm, “Yes, I like that product. It worked for me. I like what they're doing. The ingredient profile is good. They're good people. They have science behind this. They're giving my audience a good deal. So, yes, I'm willing to have this person advertise on my show.”
But, you would be surprised at how many people will approach me and they'll be, “Hey, we'll write you a 10 to $20,000-check to be on your podcast and talk about our product that, by the way, you've never used and we're just basically paying you off.” That happens all the time in the podcast industry. Happens all the time in the personal training industry. So, for me, it's got to be something that I or my family would use in good conscience regularly, that actually works for us, before I'll talk about anything.
Tom: Yeah. Well, that's why it converts. And, that's what makes you a good partner. I think that comes through.
Can we talk fitness now? I got [00:23:24]_____ last time we tried to transition to fitness. But, I feel like this is a meaty one here.
Ben: Do you mean nutrition?
Tom: Yes, nutrition.
Ben: Nutrition. I was going to say we've been talking about fitness a lot, bro. Yeah, I'm game.
Tom: Well, the reason I want talk about nutrition, people come to Ladder Teams for fitness. I'm sure many of your clients come to you with fitness as a primary motivation. But, for a lot of people's goals for them to actually get there, nutrition is a big part of it, right? So, how does nutrition fit in? How important is it? Would love you to just riff on nutrition. And then, we can peel back the onion and go deeper from there on it.
Ben: Yeah. What's the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen?” I taught anatomy and physiology lab for a couple of years at Idaho. And, all the cadavers that we get in from the University of Washington Medical School to dissect all had six-pack abs, because once you strip away the fat layer, everybody's got a six-pack. And so, it is true that abs are made in the kitchen, to a certain extent.
And, nutrition does play a pretty big role. There was a study that came out a couple of weeks ago showing that, when you're looking for a drop in visceral fat, which is the more problematic type of fat associated with chronic disease, what works better, dieting to reduce calories to get rid of that fat? Exercising to reduce calories to get rid of that fat? Or, exercising plus dieting to get rid of that fat?
And, it turns out that, when you're looking at just the caloric deficit that gets rid of visceral fat, exercise beats out dieting and exercise beats out exercise plus dieting. Meaning, if you want to be–Let's say you want to be at a 500-calorie deficit every single day and you want to be at that deficit to get rid of visceral fat, you can achieve that 500-calorie deficit by cutting calories, by cutting calories plus exercising, or by just exercising that total 500 calories. And, exercising is the most potent.
However, at the same time, there's a lot to be said for nutrition that goes beyond just dieting or cutting calories. There's everything from the photonic energy of food, which there's a lot of research being done on right now, what actually happens to the energy of food and its ability to be able to, for example, nourish the body, increase the production of ATP in the electron transport chain and allow for better mitochondrial health, when it's been, and to get back to witchcraft, kissed by photons of sunlight in freshly harvested versus in packages and containers and sitting dead on a shelf for months before you consume it. There's something to be said about the actual energy of food. And, for me, personally, as a guy who eats animals, even how that animal is treated, how it was sacrificed, how it was harvested, and then how it was processed, and how it was marinated, how it was cooked, and how it was love, there's a lot of stuff that goes into food that goes way beyond that typical if it fits your macros type of approach.
Now, as far as diet goes, my book, “Boundless,” which we named the Boundless program in the Ladder app after, there's one chapter in there where I lay out the–It's about a dozen different diets that I rotate through when I'm selecting a diet for a particular client that I'll then modify and adjust calorically, etc. But, what that section of the book lays out is, well, here's your blood test, here's your genetic test, here's your saliva data, your urinary data, everything that you've tested about your body, which frankly we have the ability to test nowadays, and then, here's why this diet would be appropriate for you based on what you're seeing.
And so, I might have somebody who comes to me for coaching and I have them starting off with a two-week liver cleanse because they have a high heavy metal load, really high liver enzymes, they're showing a need for a nutritional cleanup or nutritional detox. So, I'll put him on, let's say, an ayurvedic cleanse for a couple of weeks or even a more modern version of a cleanse, like Quicksilver Scientific, one of the companies that I like. Dr. Chris Shade over there, he has a program called the Qube, which is this full-on detox program that you do.
And so, I'll sometimes start people off with two weeks of just cleaning up and nuking the body. And then, we'll shift into something that's super clean that allows the gut to completely heal, like a paleo-autoimmune diet or a carnivore diet or a diet that would be considered a more restrictive elimination diet. And then, we'll move forward into a more all-inclusive diet, like a properly comprised Mediterranean diet or a Weston A. Price diet or something like that.
And so, I'm very, very picky about diet and dietary customization. Yet, at the same time, when you look at areas where there's a disproportionately high number of centenarians, these so-called Blue Zones, for example, or you look at me and my wife's diet, which is largely different but still comprised of real whole recognizable food, you see prevailing characteristics that overlap no matter whether these people are low-carb, high-fat, high-carb, low-fat, mixed and in-between, you name it, and the main things that you see. And, this is something I just weave into all nutrition I think is the most important thing for people to understand, is you see stable glycemic variability. Meaning, even if they're eating higher carbohydrates, those carbohydrates are, a lot of times, from what are called cellular carbohydrate sources, rather than processed acellular carbohydrate sources. So, we're talking about purple potatoes in Okinawa or sweet potatoes in Loma Linda or quinoa or lentils or amaranth or millet or any of these super grains or grasses. I personally do a ton of underground storage roots, they're called. That's my fancy name for tubers.
So, I personally do sweet potato yam, parsnip, carrot, beet. I have a baby food company that I literally order baby food from that's just a bunch of different root-based vegetables mixed with things like olive oil and fish oil and some grass-fed, grass-finished meat or wild-caught salmon. And, I do a whole packet of actual baby food, which is just a bunch of mashed-up tubers. My lunch, nearly every day, I go through cans and cans of organic pumpkin puree that I order from Amazon. I realize there's a little bit of a carbon cost there, but I offset a lot of my carbon.
And so, I do a ton of these underground storage roots as my primary form of super-digestible carbohydrate. But, the more important thing, and a lot of people who are into continuous blood glucose monitoring wearing these patches now know this, is that what you see upon the consumption of a lot of these carbohydrates that are, say, closer to nature is that you see low glycemic variability, low amounts of blood glucose fluctuating throughout the day. So, that's one thing. And, I time my carbohydrates to be mostly around workouts or saved until the very end of the day. Meaning, they can support sleep, will offer better serotonin and melatonin production, etc. So, low glycemic variability and near absence of inflammatory oils, particularly, vegetable oils, I tell people to ruthlessly eliminate all vegetable oils from their diet, one of the best nutrition decisions you can make.
You see some element of fasting. We hear people talk about the Mediterranean diet. And, a lot of folks think that that's olive garden, unlimited breadsticks, and salad. But, really, the Mediterranean diet, there are certain days of the week where they don't consume any olive oil, there are certain days of the week where there's no meat, there's a limited red meat consumption, there are elements of religious fasting worked in. Much of the Mediterranean Diet is woven into the practices of the Orthodox Church. My father is Eastern Orthodox. He'll go from Thanksgiving to Christmas on a protein-restricted diet, and then have certain other elements of fasting woven in throughout the year, actual religious fasting.
And, you see some element of intermittent fasting, quarterly fasting, religious fasting, anything from Ramadan to Lent, for example, woven into a lot of these healthy diets. And, of course, part of that, also, is you see a religious belief or a belief in a higher power as part of the religion or the spiritual practice of a lot of these folks, too. But, part of that often brings fasting into the scenario. So, you see some element of time-restricted feeding or intermittent fasting.
Alright. So, Levels Health is how I track my blood glucose. It's a continuous blood glucose monitor app that pairs to the blood glucose monitor that you wear in your arm or your abs. They are currently running a closed beta program with waitlist of 100,000-plus people. But, they're letting you skip that line and join Levels today if you go to Levels.Link/Ben.
Why is it cool? Why is it different than other continuous glucose monitoring apps? Because, in addition to providing with the sensors, and I've got one of my arm right now, one of these so-called CGM sensors, the Levels app interpret your data, it scores your meals, it allows you to run experiments across everything, from diet, exercise, new fasting protocols, you name it. They're backed by a world-class team, Stanford-trained MD, top engineers from SpaceX and Google, a research team that includes legends in the space, including Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, Dr. David Perlmutter.
I've been using a CGM for a couple of years now. It makes a huge difference in the way I track glucose data, the way I eat, the way I work out. And, again, they have a waitlist of 100,000-plus people, but there's a few select podcasters they're letting open up their waitlists to their audience. And, I'm one of those lucky fellows, which makes you lucky, too.
So, you go to Levels.Link/Ben to become a member of their private new beta. Levels.Link/Ben and find out what everything, from cold showers to green beans to wine do to your blood glucose in a really cool way. So, I think you're really going to dig this app. Check it out, Levels.Link/Ben.
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You also see a huge variety of plants and herbs and spices, hundreds of different plants and herbs and spices. I think, in America, it's shockingly low. It's 12 to 20 different foods in terms of vegetables that we eat throughout the year, like our tomatoes and our lettuce and our cucumbers, and whatever you get the big fluffy produce from the grocery store. But, we see a huge variety of plants and herbs and spices in a lot of these healthy diets.
And, a big part of that I get kicked back on sometimes, just people are like, what about the carnivore diet? What about built-in plant defense mechanisms? What about the ability of saponins in quinoa to affect the gut or the lectins in a fresh tomato? And, the fact is that, in people with a compromised gut who have been eating an unhealthy, say, standard American diet for a long time, sometimes, you have to eliminate a lot of those plant defense mechanisms and do a paleo-autoimmune diet, like I was talking about, or a carnivore diet or something like that to clean up and allow the gut to heal. But, that doesn't mean that's a diet you follow for life, then you begin to weave in your ginger and your moringa and your turmeric and your black peppers and your different forms of salts in your hot sauces and all these different plants and herbs and spices.
So, they're not just for medicine. They're also for food. And, that's something that you also see as a prevailing characteristic of a lot of healthy diets. You see eating in a parasympathetic state. You come over to my house for dinner. Ask anybody who comes to my house for a dinner party, we're doing a minute or two of breathwork as we gather before we eat. Then, we're singing a song. And, we're praying. And, we're eating with people. And, we're smiling. And, we're laughing. There's not a whole lot of stuffing your face with your superfood smoothie while you're driving 60 miles an hour down the highway.
If I know I'm stressed, I do not eat unless I realize fully that my stress is due to low blood glucose and I'm hangry. I don't eat if I'm in a stress state, period, because the lack of digestive enzyme production, the gut stress, the inability to absorb nutrients, the potential for digestive malabsorption and the development of leaky gut syndrome and gastric inflammation, all of that becomes a much bigger issue if you're eating in a stress state. So, I stand a lot. I walk a lot. I work out a lot. But, whenever I eat, I just settle my whole body down. I'll sit down.
And, I'll give you an extreme example. I'm one of those guys who, in the middle of the day, if I'm just stressed out and I've come up from six hours of hardcore work and podcasting and research and writing, sometimes, before I sit down to lunch, I'll take some CBD or some reishi extracts or even take a tiny hit on a vape pen or something that just totally settles my body down. And then, I will let my body receive food in that totally relaxed state after prayer and breathwork and gratitude. I'll eat. I'll chew my food 25 to 40 times to allow my body to really receive and acknowledge and be grateful for that nourishment.
And, that's actually a practice that you see prioritized amongst a lot of these areas where people are living a long time. They actually recognize the sacredness of eating food in a parasympathetic state, often with people enjoying and sharing that meal with people.
And then, probably, a couple of other quick things would be there's a glaring lack of packages or processed food in a lot of these healthy diets. We often, especially, in America, tend to migrate towards Trader Joe's and Costco and Whole Foods and anything that's at those places we assume is healthy, like the dark chocolate covered in almonds and the bags of healthy “granola mix” from Costco and our giant canisters of kombucha from Whole Foods. But, honestly, anytime you're eating out of packages, you always have more preservatives. You always have more highly palatable food that lends itself well to caloric overconsumption. You always have less preparation that distances you from really understanding what's in your food or even the ability to be able to prepare that food and develop a relationship with it.
So, if you open my refrigerator or you walk into my pantry, there's a lot of glass mason jars of raw grains and seeds and nuts and beans. There is a lot of fermented foods that have been prepared and soaked and sprouted and packaged by us in our own glass containers. There's a lot of stuff that will go bad within four to seven days if it's not consumed. But, there's not many. Honestly, most of the packaged food I get returns back to that stuff that people just send me to try, like the protein bars people want me to try or some new healthy cereal or whatever. But, that's a very, very small part of my diet. So, there's a glaring lack of packaged food versus real whole recognizable food.
And then, I'd say the last thing is, and this, I guess, is less stoic, is there are periods of hedonism or what many people would call cheating. And, by cheating, I don't mean Pizza Hut and cherry turnovers and donuts. What I mean is certain periods of time where there's a feast, where there's refilling the body, sending the body a message that it doesn't need to be in starvation mode or downregulate thyroid or fertility hormones due to the body being in a time of famine. You see certain elements where they're celebratory feasting thrown in. For us, that's our big Sunday night dinners or when I want to take my wife out on a Wednesday night date and I'm just like, “Okay, this is a meal I'm just going to go to town and eat more of the good stuff, the ribeye steak, the dark chocolate, the sweet potato fries, the organic red wine.” And so, allowing yourself also to be able to indulge, but indulge in more of the good stuff and having that go hand-in-hand, the Stoicism and Epicureanism, so to speak.
And, by the way, in the last podcast, Tom, you did use that word, “metabolization,” I think.
Ben: And, you sent me a text afterwards from the dictionary showing me it actually is a real word. So, good on you.
Tom: Thank you for setting the record straight.
Ben: “Metabolization” actually is a word. Tom, actually, is pretty smart. But, Epicureanism, I'll make that one up, maybe, Stoicism. But, having a good balance between those two.
Tom: I was going to call you on that one. You make them sound legit, though. I listen to your podcast all the time. I feel like you're making up words, but I reuse them.
Ben: Well, we know based on the study that I just cited, by the way, Tom, that, as long as my body looks okay, I can make up words and people will trust me.
Tom: That's right. All this talking about food is making me hungry.
I would love to hear where you come out on the macros versus calories debate. I feel like this is usually controversial. Would love to hear your view and, maybe, some of the failures of it, if it fits your macros, but just where you come out on this debate, in general.
Ben: Like I mentioned earlier, the IIFYM, if it fits your macros. I was talking with my sons about this in the car the other day, briefly for people, this idea that, at the end of the day, all that really matters is, have you nailed your carb-protein-fat percentages, whatever it is, 40-30-30, or some kind of keto 90-10 diet, or whatever the case may be. And, that the actual content or quality of the food is not important as long as it fits your macros.
This is a pain point for me. And, it shocks me that so many people still do not acknowledge the fact that the carbohydrates derived from, let's say, six Oreos is going to be processed by the body differently, have a different hormonal impact, have a different digestive enzyme impact, have a different microbiome impact, than that same number of carbohydrates that you get through, let's say, an apple and a piece of dark chocolate and, maybe, a nice plate of sweet potato with a little bit of raw honey on it. There's a real, real difference in terms of the nutrient density, in terms of the spike in blood glucose, in terms of the hormonal impact.
And, you simply cannot deny that there's more to food than calories. There was a study that I just looked at. This was six days ago. And, it showed that starchy foods can have an impact on metabolism, as we know, but the structural properties of that starchy food affects what they called in that study the digestibility and what's called the postprandial metabolic response, meaning, what happens hormonally into blood glucose and the insulin after the meal.
And, it turns out that very, very complex factors, like the amylose to amylopectin ratio and the starch gelatinization process and the starch protein interaction and the cell and tissue structure of that carbohydrate, massively affects postprandial glycemic response and insulin response in healthy people. And so, that's a perfect example, that, yeah, your slice of one–I like to make myself this in the fall, I'll make a nice slice of pumpkin that I'll roast in the oven with a little bit of raw honey and cinnamon and sea salt. That is going to be processed differently by my body than the carbohydrates from, let's say, Ben and Jerry's ice cream or an energy bar.
Part of it is the chemical makeup of the food and how it's digested. And then, part of it is the sacredness of food. Where does it came from? It's like, yeah, I'm going to get the same amount of protein from a grain-finished cow that's been electrocuted to death, like you see in Food, Inc., and lived its whole life just sitting in its own shit, where there's a chicken or a cow at a CAFO food operation. I'm going to get the same protein from that as I am from a grass-fed, grass-finished cow raised regeneratively and loved its entire life and sacrificed humanely. But, the actual sacredness, the energy of that is different.
And, this gets more into the woo. Tom, this gets more into what you called the witchcraft. But, it actually is true that there's something to be said about how your body responds to caring for the planet and caring for animals and acknowledging the spirit of the animals and acknowledging, sometimes, their sacrifice for their death with gratitude and honor than there is with just going through life mowing through whatever calories you want as long as it fits your macros, bro.
So, a pop tart is going to be different than a bowl of sprouted wheat with fresh blueberries, or a microwaved burrito is going to be different than an authentic Mexican meal with cilantro and gazpacho and some house-made sour cream and a wonderful organic bit of ground beef that you eat with your family, or a few scoops of the bland whey protein powder that's been sitting in your pantry for two months, that's going to be different than the protein that you get from, let's say, a piece of wild-caught steelhead that just came out of the river two days ago that your friend gave to you.
And, anybody who eats holistically knows this. They can feel it intuitively. I can't necessarily cite a scientific study that actually looks into the microwaved burrito versus the home-made burrito with all the healthy holistic Mexican ingredients, but I'm always, always aware of the sacredness of food, the energy of food, the source of food, the impact of food on the planet. And, if all you're doing is just blindly fitting your macros with carbs, proteins, and fat, I think you're denying. But, I recently interviewed Charles Eisenstein about his book, “Sacred Economics,” and the same way that money can strip a lot of the sacredness out of relationships and transactions. Not acknowledging the sacredness of food and our sacred connection with our planet can strip a lot of the meaning and, even I would argue, the health out of food. So, I'm not a fan for getting the impression of the IIFYM approach. I just think there's way more to food, and food is way more sacred than that to just strip it down to individual calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Tom: Well, do you have your clients track their food still, though? I feel like there's been some studies showing that whether it's the macros or whatever it is they're tracking, just the active tracking food has been linked to weight loss, you have people record what they're eating, or is that just to get you up to speed so you know what you're working with?
Ben: I have people record because many studies have shown that, when you record, that which is what is measured it is managed or however the saying goes. I'm very careful because most of my clients are busy execs. They're actors. They are people who are just go, go, go all day long. I don't want somebody to have to spend 10 minutes of their entire meal logging what they ate. But, we do everything from quick photo of your food and upload it to just follow what I wrote and let me know if you stray from that, to jot down something on a napkin or piece of paper and shoot it over to me via text.
So, it varies, but, yeah, everybody that I coach basically at least keeps me up-to-date and themselves up to date on what they're eating. And then, I personally spent two years as a bodybuilder logging everything analy every last thing, that slice of banana. And I had software system, very similar to the one that I like now, called Cronometer, C-R-O-N-O-M-E-T-R. And, I'll still feed my food into that every two or three months, just to double-check and see how I'm doing micronutrient-wise and macronutrient-wise. And, you look at my vitamins and minerals and nutrients, etc.
But, I spent two years as a bodybuilder doing that every single day. And, the payoff from that now is I can just look at a banana, look at a watermelon, look at a cookie, look at a plate of food, and I can pretty much approximate, with pretty close precision, how many calories are in it and what the carb-fat-protein percentages are, and almost intuitively know where I'm at. And, that's where I think a lot of the value arises, too. Same reason I wear a continuous blood glucose monitor every couple months. I'll slap one on for 7 to 14 days and just check-in, how's my body responding to my lifestyle, my exercise, my food, etc.? But, I try to strike a balance between knowing and measuring and also just relaxing and enjoying, if that makes sense.
Tom: And then, just even for my own knowledge. I'm in the middle of 100-day fitness challenge that one of our investors wrote me into. Just curious, any cheat codes? I guess my question would be, if I'm burning, I'll call it 2,500 to 3,000 calories particularly on the days where I'm obviously working out hard, what type of caloric deficit are you looking for? Is 500 on a 2,500 out, is that what you're looking for to lean out? Or, it should be more or less?
Ben: If you would have asked me this question six years ago, I would have said, for men, I typically see most success arise with about a 500 to, maximum, 1,000 calorie a day deficit with a refeed that occurs at least once every four weeks, meaning, some type of more flexible dieting for one to seven days every four weeks to ensure that there's not that thyroid and endocrine system downregulation.
Now, it looks like a better approach is cycling throughout the week, like five days of cutting your calories by, again, men, 500 to 1,000, women, I typically see 250 to 500 as being more successful. But then, let's say you're going to be at a caloric deficit Monday, Tuesday, and then Wednesday, you eat too caloric balance or slight caloric excess and then you're back into caloric deprivation or caloric deficiency Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday, you would eat ad libitum or eat a few more calories than what you're burning. And, that seems to be a really successful long-term strategy.
Tom: Yeah, that seems way more sustainable, too.
Ben: Then, there was another study I was looking at yesterday. And, it was just basically that idea of rigid versus flexible dieting in long-term. Short-term rigid dieting works really well. Short-term, it just strips fat off the body, and long-term caloric deficits or short-term caloric deficits, you don't go in four weeks, eight weeks, etc. But, if you want to be in it and see the weight gradually come off for, sometimes, full year in a row, you do more of the flexible approach where it's like, five days, I might be at a caloric deficiency, two days, I might be eating as much as my body actually needs.
And then, a lot of times–I'm working with an actor right now who I'm having lean up for a movie that he's in, and his producers wanted to go straight on to, literally, close to fasting for two weeks to strip him down for this role. And, instead, I have him eating enough calories to support his metabolism on five days of the week. But, I have that married to a lot of really good exercise on those days. So, he's toning his body. He's getting muscle. He's going to look good as he strips the fat off. And then, there's two days where we're just doing sauna, cold, walking in the sunshine, yoga. And, on those days, he's basically on bone broth, ketones, aminos, and a pretty, what you would consider to be, really, 500 calories or so. But, in between those days, he's ruling allowing his body to catch up. So, I'll use strategies like that quite a bit.
Tom: Well, last question, how about protein? Now, if you're doing a 500 to 1,000 deficit on a couple of days, do you still want to hit your gram of protein per body weight or, no, you're going to be lower on the protein?
Ben: On those, you're going to be low across the board carbs, fat, and protein.
Tom: Of course, yeah.
Ben: But, no, on those days–So, what I typically shoot for on a normal day in most people, depending on how much muscle they're trying to gain and what the actual aesthetic goals are, usually, it's 0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound of protein – higher end for putting on more muscle, lower-end if we're just trying to clean up the body and lose some weight. But, that's the range I always play with. I haven't seen a lot of data, except in extreme bodybuilders and in very high-volume weightlifters that exceeding 0.8 grams per pound of protein is that beneficial. And, there's a lot of trade-offs in terms of ammonia buildup and too positive of a nitrogen balance.
And, the only caveat I'd throw in there is, in many people who are on more of a calorie-restricted diet and trying to lose weight, I'll hit those protein gram ratios by using strategies like essential amino acids or collagen or a lot of these broken-down protein sources that allow for protein intake without the accompanying high-calorie intake.
Tom: So, there's not a part three because I'm very happy that you were excited to finish these questions. So, we got a part two. So, for that sake, we'll move on here.
Would love to hear just–I think this will be a fun one. Just what are some actual useful fitness trends or biohacks that you're excited about these days? So, obviously, you have the best visibility into what's cutting edge and what's out there. Curious what has you excited, either things you're testing now or things that are coming down the pike?
Ben: You know what? We covered some of this in the last show. I really dig blood flow restriction training. I use some form of blood flow restriction training every week. At home, that's usually this super fancy really expensive workout tool I have out in my gym called the Vasper. It's this full-body exercise machine that combines cold thermogenesis with blood flow restriction with grounding and earthing with high-intensity interval training that's a 21-minute workout. So, I typically do two to three of those a week when I'm on the home front. And, that involves blood flow restriction training, which allows for muscle maintenance or muscle building with less muscle damage.
And then, when I travel, because a lot of times I'm just throwing down a workout on my–And, I have some workouts this in the Boundless program in the Ladder app, I'll just throw on some blood flow restriction bands or some of these, they call them KAATSU bands, and do a series of pushups and squats and lunges. And, I have a little TRX style suspension trainer that I hang from the door, throwing some pullups or some suspended pushups or single-leg lunges from that. And, typically, when I travel, almost all I do is a blood flow restriction training session in the morning early when I get up. And then, everything else is just walking. And then, at home, I'll throw in a couple of those Vasper sessions.
So, blood flow restriction training, huge fan of that. I use that a lot. It just works for me, and it allows me to get really good results even when I don't have a lot of weight or I don't want to load my joints or damage my muscles too much but still get some of that muscle growth response.
Cold and heat, huge for me. Every single week, all my clients cold and heat, we replace a lot of the exercise sessions people would normally do that they don't need to do because they're overtrained or under-recovered with sauna sessions or sauna blankets and some type of cold tub or cold shower cold soak. So, that's, every single week, you will see me doing some form of cold training, some form of heat training, some form of blood flow restriction band training.
Tons of light exposure–infrared light panels, infrared saunas, sunlight exposure–just because of the ability of light to keep the mitochondria healthy. And, those photons of light are basically crucial to the shuttling of electrons through the electron transport chain through the health of the skin, the mitochondria, etc. And so, light is another huge one that you'll see me incorporating pretty much every day.
And then, I think another one that's super interesting. I recently did a podcast on this idea of electrostimulation, bypassing the central governor of the brain and using a suit or patches or electrodes to actually cause muscles to fire in ways that they might not have been fired in before to wake up weak muscles, to rehab muscles, to even just get a full-body workout that is more demanding than you might do yourself without the computer or, in the case of one that I'm using quite a bit now called the Katalyst, which is a full-body electrical muscle stimulation suit. You tie an iPad to it. And, the trainer brings you through the workout.
And, doing those type of things, it flies in the face of my general tendency to want to be natural outdoors, lifting logs and rocks, swinging from trees. That's always my favorite workout, but I do like to marry some of these technologies, like that Vasper I was talking about or electrical muscle stimulation. So, typically, once a week now, I'm doing a 30 to 40-minute electrical muscle stimulation workout to grab a bunch of muscles that I might not normally recruit. And, I like that Katalyst device, for example, for something like that.
But, in the Boundless program in Ladder, I do work in a lot of cold, a lot of heat, a lot of BFR, a lot of walking, a lot of light exposure, and many of those things, even grounding and earthing, being outside barefoot, which isn't really a biohack unless you count the fact that you can now buy–Like I'm standing on a mat right now made by a company called Ultimate Longevity, that's a grounding or an earthing mat. So, I weave in a lot of those things throughout the week.
And, the cool thing is, a lot of people think that the only way to get the body or brain better is through exercise. But, heat, cold, light exposure, electro stim, grounding and earthing. There's a lot of ways to improve your body without necessarily a trip to the gym or a health club. And, that's one thing I really wanted to focus on in my program, was how much can we do without actually it being just, whatever, bicep curls and triceps pushdowns and bench pressing.
Tom: That's awesome. I think it would be fun, and it's just, I feel like, a good transition here to talk about. It would be remiss if we didn't talk about tech-driven fitness in general. Just curious, I've never seen you on Peloton or a Tonal. There's obviously a ton of apps out there. These software companies are getting bigger and bigger, with COVID accelerated, this behavior change amongst consumers. Just curious where you come out on tech-driven fitness in general, whatever thoughts that you want to share.
Ben: What I mean is it's huge. I'm just now joining an access fund on AngelList that's run by one of my friends who actually lives here in Spokane now. And, all he does is he hunts down deals. And, a lot of his deals are based on combination of software fitness, biohacking. And, especially, in COVID or post-COVID era where a lot of people are working out more from home and relying more on these subscription-based apps and at-home workout tools, a ton of those investments are just blowing up.
And, there's everything from FightCamp, which is the indoor gym-based or bag-based boxing workout where you have a boxer on a screen who's telling you which combos to throw. So, your mind's working really hard. But, the gloves have Bluetooth built-in to them. So, it's tracking your punch rate and the accuracy of your punches to the Tonal, which I thought was super cheesy at first. But, once I got a chance to work out on it, it's a wall-mounted cable apparatus with a surprising amount of ability to be able to pull back against you, so you get this huge eccentric load, which is honestly incredibly efficient for fitness.
Then, we have the Peloton. And, they just blew up, obviously, with everything from cycling to treadmills to–There's another company. I think it's called the Gada. It's doing the same thing for rowing. There's a mirror thing. You can stand in front of a mirror on the wall and have the trainer walk through workout as they stand in front of a mirror.
And, I think a lot of this tech-driven fitness, especially, tied to subscription-based apps and trainers who are right there walking you through what you need to do, is incredibly efficacious for people who normally wouldn't work out because they aren't able to get to a health club or a gym. But, now, they've got that same experience in their own home. They're still missing out on some of the stuff I talked about in this podcast I recently did on loneliness, being around people, smelling people, the electromagnetic signals of people, looking in other people's eyes, etc.
But, it can be incredibly motivating to use these tools. The only thing that I don't like about them is, again, you're missing out on being outdoors, grounding, and earthing. It's hard to throw down a real super functional athletic workout that might involve sprints and jumps and hops and plyometrics if you're just to have your ass planted right in front of a 5-foot by 5-foot square screen mounted on your wall. So, you want to mix this stuff up with other forms of outdoors athleticism and sports.
But, I originally was disillusioned with tech-driven fitness because I thought it was just gimmicky and yet another reason to be tied down to technology and staring at a screen. But, I see a great deal of efficacy. They're getting better and better. And, one of my main metrics as to whether or not I'll use one of these devices is, can it be used with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off? Can I download the workouts and not just be bombarded by more non-native electricity the whole time I'm working out or by notifications coming from my phone or my iPad or the screen or whatever? So, if something can be placed in Wi-Fi, the workouts can be downloaded, the Bluetooth can be disabled, and then I can just jam, in most cases, I'll use it or be okay with using it. And, probably, I say the Bluetooth turned off, but even if you're doing, whatever, a 40-minute workout with an electrical muscle stimulation machine and it relies upon Bluetooth for the app to adjust the intensity, that's less of an issue than Wi-Fi and notifications and a lot of the other issues. So, I'm just a little bit wary about how much non-native electricity I expose my body to. But, I think a lot of these tech-driven fitness tools are super handy, and they've just developed the heck out of them to where they work really well, I think.
Tom: I agree. And, you mentioned that they are particularly useful for folks getting folks off the couch or maybe people who weren't as likely to workout. That's what the conclusion that we came to as we were thinking about the opportunity with Ladder, too. It just felt like a lot of the products out there is skewed a little bit more to casual fitness. Certainly, for cardio, it was about variety and entertainment because that sells, having that on-demand. It was a little bit more of a follow this workout versus programming.
And so, that's why, as we talked about on the last podcast, we believe the customer that we were solving a pain point for with someone who is certainly more serious about fitness, someone who valued programming, and someone who wants to take their kettlebell outside and be able to do a workout at a gym or be able to do it out on vacation in the mountains or something like you were talking about. But, I agree with your sentiments there.
Alright, Ben. So, we're about to launch Boundless on Ladder. I think, when this airs, it'll certainly be live on September 20th, is when the program drops. What can your listeners expect from Boundless on Ladder?
Ben: Well, it's basically me in an app. I go in there and reprogram all the workouts. So, there's fresh workouts that are delivered every six weeks or so, motivational videos from me that 700-ish exercises I all filmed down there in Austin, the ability to be able to engage with me in Q&A, the accountability of the entire group working out along with you, like we talked about last time, like the TV show, “Strong” or “Biggest Loser.” It's like you're on my team. I'm your personal trainer. You're not trying to beat all the other teams, but it's more a deal of you being on the same team as a whole bunch of other people who are following the same program and doing so using, as we talked about in the last podcast, what is actually an app that people who actually work out at a gym designed, who know you won't be able to do your whole workout without having to look at your phone every 10 seconds or not be able to do exercises that are complex because your phone is not allowing you to know sets, reps, count time everything.
So, it's basically all of my fitness philosophy, my program, my biohacking, everything that we've talked about in these past couple of episodes, but basically, all compressed into an app. And, again, I'm not a fan of fitness apps. I get, literally, a dozen inquiries a week on Instagram, messages from people who are like, “Join my app. Be part of my app.” I vetted your guys' app. I tried using it myself. I looked at a lot of the other trainers that were on there. I was impressed with the platform, with the exercise library, how easy it is to access workouts, even for a Luddite like me, your team, and the fact that I've seen you actually care, you're not a bunch of Silicon Valley execs making a fast buck off an app. It's instead actually designed by people who would like to workout, would like fitness.
And, I know it works for me and it work for a lot of other people, but what I wanted to do is take the same type of programming that, again, my execs and my athletes and my actors and these people I work with are paying a lot of money for and replicate that to as scalable and extent as possible for people who, maybe, just want to pay 50, 60 bucks a month to have me in their back pocket and be using my actual programs and have those programs changed and have some amount of fluctuation in the program.
And, again, like you and I talked about in the last podcast, we didn't sit down and say how can we make informed and sculpt the perfect athlete? Or, should this just be for bikini bodies or whatever? What we really decided was to do something that was supportive of longevity, supportive of minimal effective dose of exercise, married the optimum combination of exercise with health span and lifespan. And so, it's pretty much the way I work out and the way I work with a lot of my clients, all just compressed into an app that you put in your back pocket. So, it's five days that you work out. There's one active recovery day with mobility. There's a special day where you're more focused on biohacking and a lot of my cool, not necessarily super-advanced and expensive stuff, but things that you can actually use, technology-wise, that don't involve just hitting the gym but that still allow you to make your body or your brain better.
And then, it's all guided movement videos from me. It's got coaching cues from me. You get to master your movement. It keeps you motivated. And, again, this is not a workout that beats you up and spits you out. It weaves in everything that we've been discussing in these past couple of episodes.
So, I think, even at the time that this episode comes out, it's launching. And, I think, what, two weeks, something like that?
Tom: Yeah, September 20th. When this comes out, it'll be rocking and rolling. That was awesome. You answered a lot of my questions there. I got a sneak peek, actually, of week one. And, I believe–I think that it looks like this is a workout that's going to come back to and be one of your staples. But, we'd love to hear about super slow strength because it seems like that is something that comes back. It might have been every Tuesday. But, I was looking a bit ahead.
Ben: And, this might be the last thing we have much time to talk about. But, we'll throw it in there as a little teaser for folks. Super slow training is something that I first discovered in a book called “Body by Science” by a physician named Dr. Doug McGuff, who is using this form of very, very slow training to rehab and allow his cardiovascular patients, people who had a heart attack, to be able to train without undue stress on the heart and still be able to build muscle with low impact that didn't damage the joints too much.
And then, I started running into a lot of trainers who were incorporating this to their clients and getting really good results, like muscle building and muscle maintenance, with 12 to 18-minute workouts that were single set-to-failure. So, like chess press, 30 seconds up, 30 seconds down, five to eight reps, boom, done, move on to shoulder press, then pull down, then row, then, say, leg press or squat. And then, that's it. And, you're done. And, it's hard, and it takes focus. And, you're moving the muscle to a really full range of motion over a long period of time. So, there's a ton of time under tension, which, compared to sets and reps and weight, the most important thing is the amount of time under tension that the muscle has.
And then, I have the option to finish each set with some more bouncing explosive reps that stimulate more of the athletic fast-twitch muscle fibers. And, I started doing it when I would travel and I'd be in just a crappy hotel gym that still had a few workout machines on it, where I could just do one single set and still make it to a conference room an hour later or be able to squeeze something in at the end of the day before a group dinner or something. I found it to be such a good time hack and so, so good for, again, building or maintaining muscle with low risk of injury and low joint impact, that I began to weave it into my programs. And, you can do it with free weights, with machines, with bands. But, this idea of super slow training, as far as a way to maintain muscle for life with a low risk of injury, like VFR training, it's one of those staples in my program. And, it just works really well. It fits into this whole minimum effective dose of exercise methodology.
So, people who join the Boundless program on the Ladder app and try this out, you'll see exactly what I mean. And, you only need to do it one or two times a week. It's amazing. So, I'm a huge fan of the super slow, man.
Tom: Love it. Excited to check it out myself.
Ben: I guess we have covered a ton. I know you got to go to the airport soon, and I got to go. I don't know. Actually, what I have to do is go get ready for heading out to hunt deer here later on. Hunting season officially opens tomorrow, and I go get on my gear sorted, speaking of harvesting the sacred proteins from the environment.
But, ultimately, I think it's pretty straightforward. People who want to use the app, go to the App Store and download Ladder and find Team Boundless, which is my program. Or, you can go to the show notes for part one of this series, which is at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast, or part two, which is at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast2, the number “2.” And, I've got all the show notes there, all the studies that I talked about, everything you need to know to rock and roll on it.
So, I'm stoked, Tom. How about you?
Tom: I'm pumped, too. And, everyone's got a seven-day free trial to check it out. It's not going to ask for their credit card or anything. We're just making a bet on how much value they're going to see on it quickly. So, I definitely encourage people to check it out, if you're a fan of Ben's podcasts. I think you'll enjoy it.
Ben: I agree. And, Tom, I'm grateful to you for making this and for reaching out to me and for bringing me down to Austin to do all the filming for it and developing this whole thing. You, guys, have a fantastic team. It's been wonderful to work with you, guys. And, I guess, for everybody listening in, if you run into any difficulties, if you have questions, if you want to dig into anything Tom and I have discussed on part one of this podcast or this one you're listening to you now, part two, go leave comments, go leave feedback, go leave thoughts. Tom and I will jump in and help you out. And, basically, our goal is to make this easy for you without breaking the bank.
So, Tom, thanks for putting me in the hot seat on my own podcast, man.
Tom: Anytime, man. Thank you for having me. That was a lot of fun.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast, the number “2,” LadderPodcast2, for the show notes for this one. Part one is BenGreenfieldFitness.com/LadderPodcast. I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Tom Digan, signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the show notes, 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 hormones, 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. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the show notes, to use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
In Part 1 of my two-part discussion with Tom Digan, I got put in the hot seat just a bit as Tom picked my brain about how to assemble the very best workouts and exercises to achieve the ideal combination of fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle tactics for both lifespan and healthspan.
I also got a chance to delve into Tom's unique body of knowledge regarding the surge in home fitness trends and fitness apps.
Today, during Part 2 of my podcast with Tom, we talk more about in-home fitness, nutrition, and fitness trends and cautions.
There are plenty of workout and fitness apps out there, but there's a reason that I recently partnered with Tom's company “Ladder” for the launch of my new training program Boundless, which is unlike any training experience I’ve ever created. Boundless on the Ladder app is a fully structured training program delivered to you fresh each and every week, utilizing my Minimum Dose Methodology, which maximizes cardiovascular endurance, strength, and stamina in the minimum amount of time, to help you burn fat, gain muscle, and get in the best shape of your life. Each week you’ll have 5 workout days, one active recovery and mobility day, and on Sundays, you’ll even get a special biohacking tip from me, all inside of the Ladder app. Every workout has guided movement videos and coaching queues as well, so you can master each movement and stay motivated.
You can download Ladder now in the iOS App Store. When you get it, you are not only are you getting an amazing workout program delivered conveniently to your phone, you’re also getting the benefit of real accountability and community. The Ladder app makes it super easy to not only chat with the other members of Team Boundless, but also send me one-on-one messages to ask me training questions, get nutrition tips, and keep me updated on your progress. This type of personalized fitness consultation and coaching with me usually costs thousands of dollars, but you can get full access to me and my training programs for only $60 a month by subscribing to Ladder.
So you’re tired of planning your workouts, want to finally achieve an incredible physique or you need the accountability of a community to get in shape, Team Boundless on the Ladder app is for you. Download Ladder in the iOS App Store now, join Team Boundless, and try your first week of workouts for free by clicking here.
So who is Tom?
Tom Digan is the Co-Founder & President of Ladder, a fitness technology company based in Austin, TX. Prior to joining Ladder full-time Tom spent over a decade working in the hedge fund industry as a Partner at a $1B+ AUM investment firm located in New York. Tom holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and was a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree. Ladder Teams is a social fitness experience for people who are passionate about fitness and need help planning and maintaining a progressive training program. With Ladder Teams, avid fitness-seekers can access a complete strength training program on their phone, learn from an expert coach, and engage with a community who share a passion for fitness.
During Part 2 of my discussion with Tom Digan, you'll discover:
-Why you should beware of the influx of instant fitness experts in the age of Instagram…07:40
- Study from Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research on perceptions of personal trainer's competence
- Gym rats peddling a 30-minute per day program to look as they look
- Ben got his first personal training certification at the age of 16
- Spent thousands of hours as a personal trainer before launching the podcast, any type of social media
-Ben's criteria for promoting products…15:04
- If it actually works, Ben will give it a shoutout
- Self-testing, self-experimentation
- Research on PubMed and Sci-Hub
- Examine Research Digest
- Alan Aragon's Research Review
- Network of physicians, functional medicine doctors, scientists, authors who may know something about somethings
- Structured water
- Handheld water vortexer
- Won't pitch something primarily because of monetary gain
-How important is nutrition to reach one's fitness goals…22:15
- “Abs are made in the kitchen”
- Drop in visceral fat is best achieved through exercise
- Boundless by Ben Greenfield
- Qube program by Quicksilver Scientific
- Pumpkin puree from Amazon
- Baby food from Serenity Kids (15% off with code BEN)
- Eliminate all vegetable oils from the diet
- Mediterranean Diet (Olive Garden doesn't make the cut)
- Benefits of fasting: intermittent, quarterly, yearly, etc.
- Plants, herbs, spices are very prominent in healthy diets
- Paleo autoimmune or Carnivore diet for a short time to detox, but not necessarily forever
- Eat in a parasympathetic state: breathing, laughter, relaxed state
- Avoid processed foods (don't assume it's healthy because it's at Whole Foods)
- Indulge in the “good stuff”
-Where Ben stands on the macros vs. calories debate…39:50
- Carbs derived from processed foods will be processed by the body than natural foods
- Study on starchy foods on postprandial glycemic response and appetite
- Sacredness of food: where did it come from, how was the animal treated?
- The Most Important Book About Money I’ve Ever Read – Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition With Charles Eisenstein.
- Blindly fitting the macros without considering where they came from
-The ideal ratio of calorie deficits vs. refers…48:00
- Cronometer app
- Cycle cutting calories and refeeding throughout the week
- Study on rigid vs. flexible dieting
-What should protein levels be when dieting and normal consumption…50:45
- Normal day for most people depending on how much muscle they are trying to gain is 0.55 g-0.8 g of protein/ lb. of body weight
-Fitness trends and biohacks Ben is excited about right now…52:18
- BFR training
- TRX suspension trainer
- Cold and heat training
- Light therapy
- Grounding and earthing
-Ben's thoughts on tech-driven fitness…57:15
- Carol bike
- Rowing machine
- Tech is good for people who don't ordinarily workout
- FightCamp at-home boxing
- Loneliness, Community-Building, Introversion, Church, Monogamy & More With Chris Kelly Of Nourish Balance Thrive, with Chris Kelly.
- Mix it up with outdoors activities
- Disable Bluetooth on devices as much as possible
-What to expect from the Boundless program on the Ladder app…1:02:45
- Supportive of minimal effective dose of exercise
- Ben has vetted hundreds of apps, Ladder is the one that meets his approval
- Keep things as grounded to nature and ancestral living as possible
- Body by Science by Doug McGuff
-And much more!…
Resources from this episode:
– Tom Digan:
- Ladder app
– Podcasts And Articles:
- Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast
- Secrets Of The Billion Dollar Meal, Peptides For Tanning & Erections, Holotropic Breathwork, MDMA, Ketamine, Addiction Recovery & More With Khalil Rafati.
- Carnivore Diet Myths Debunked, Hard Questions About Meat Vs. Plants, Are Broccoli Sprouts Really Bad For You & Much More With Dr. Paul Saladino.
- The Most Important Book About Money I’ve Ever Read – Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition With Charles Eisenstein.
- Fire & Ice: Tips, Tricks & Biohacks To Maximize The Benefits Of Sauna, Hyperthermia, Cryotherapy & Cold Thermogenesis.
- Is This The World’s Most Efficient, Biohacked Workout? The New Full-Body Electro Muscle Stimulation Science by Katalyst (& How To Build Muscle In 20 Minutes) With Bjoern Woltermann.
- Loneliness, Community-Building, Introversion, Church, Monogamy & More With Chris Kelly Of Nourish Balance Thrive, with Chris Kelly.
- The Complete Guide To Interval Training
- Sunlight Makes You Skinny & Blue Light Makes You Fat: 11 Ways To Biohack Light To Optimize Your Body & Brain.
- What Is The Perfect Human Diet? Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Meal Plans From Ben Greenfield That Tell You Exactly How To Eat For Your Unique Body.
- The Latest Research On Fasting: What 9 New Studies Say About Fasting’s Effects On Fat Loss, Satiety, Insulin Resistance, & More.
- BFR bands (use code BEN to save 10%)
- Kaatsu Bands (use code BEN to save 5%)
- Clearlight Sauna
- Morozko Forge
- TRX Suspension Trainer
- Carol bike
- Rowing machine
- Structured Water Filter
- Handheld Water Vortexer
– Other Resources:
- Examine Research Digest
- Alan Aragon's Research Review
- Qube by Quicksilver Scientific
- Pumpkin Puree
- Baby food from Serenity Kids (15% off with code BEN)
- Cronometer App
- Ultimate Longevity Earthing Mat
- Is What You See What You Get? Perceptions Of Personal Trainers' Competence, Knowledge, And Preferred Sex Of Personal Trainer Relative To Physique
- Visceral Fat
- The Impact Of Starchy Food Structure On Postprandial Glycemic Response And Appetite: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis Of Randomized Crossover Trials
- Flexible VS. Rigid Dieting In Resistance-Trained Individuals Seeking To Optimize Their Physiques: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Join me and my wife Jessa at Runga for The Gathering. Click here to grab one of the very limited spots we have open to the public for The Gathering at Runga (October 7-9, 2021).
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar
–Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more.
Ladder App: Introducing Boundless, Ben Greenfield’s exclusive workout program available only on the Ladder app.
–Organifi Green Juice: Now you can get all your healthy superfoods in one glass…with No Shopping, No Blending, No Juicing, and No Cleanup. Get a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code: BENG20
–Lucy Nicotine Gum: If you are looking for a cleaner and tastier alternative to other nicotine products, then this product is for you. The gum comes in three flavors – Wintergreen, Cinnamon, and Pomegranate – and the lozenges in cherry ice. To save 20% on any order, just use discount code BEN 20.
–The Boundless Cookbook: Optimize your physical and mental performance with nutritious and delicious Greenfield family recipes.