[7:00] Remedies Found in Nature
[8:20] Enhancing Your Workout with a Tabata Set
[9:30] Hacking Your Environment to Mimic our Ancestors
[17:00] How Much Exercise is Too Much Exercise
[24:00] Ben’s Favorite Health Hack
[29:00] How to Get the Best Night Sleep Possible
[36:16] Gluten Guardian/Health IQ
[47:45] Hacking Ben’s Biological Age
[59:30] How to Look Good Buff
[1:07:32] End of Podcast
Ben: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“In my opinion, the biggest culprit that I see over and over again as a staple in people’s diet – a lot of people think it’s sugar, but it’s not.” “The number one thing that you can do to then convert these fat cells into other tissue or to kill them, this is a trick that goes that kind of flies under the radar, but it’s one of my secrets to staying lean year round. Grandma said you’d get sick if you didn’t put your coat on exactly.”
Yo, it’s Ben Greenfield. Today’s kind of a weird podcast episode because it is actually a full one-on-one interview that I conducted with my friend Vishen Lakhiani when I was in Estonia. This was recorded at Mindvalley University. But, if you want to see the video version of this, or check out a little bit more of the interview, just go to MindValley.com which is the website for Mindvalley, believe it or not, and do a search for Ben Greenfield. You should be able to find any articles written over there and also the video version of the interview that you are about to hear where he put me in the hot seat along with audience Q&A for a full hour. I think you’re going to dig this one.
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Vishen: So, please give a big round of applause to Ben Greenfield.
Ben: Thank you, brother. That was a fun business meeting.
Vishen: I know.
Ben: It was quite the business meeting.
Vishen: Have a seat, Ben. So, normally when I do interviews, I sit on that side and the guest sits on this side…
Ben: Do I have to sit?
Vishen: This is my prettier face, but Ben insisted on sitting on that end because this is where his tattoos are.
Ben: Ah, yes.
Vishen: It gives him instant credibility.
Ben: Instant credibility.
Vishen: When you want to learn fitness, you gotta trust the guy with the tattoo.
Ben: My nose piercing is on this side, my tramp stamp is on the back side with the butterflies and the barbed wire. So, we could’ve just perched backwards.
Vishen: And it’s so good that the kids are actually in a separate room.
Ben: Some of them. There are some children. We can clean. Those were organic herbs that we were vaporizing in the sauna, children.
Vishen: So, one of the things that’s really interesting about Ben and you guys are going to have the chance to ask Ben questions. In fact, some of you already posted questions last night on Facebook when I mentioned this interview was going to be happening, right. But one of the most interesting things about Ben is, he’s not just going to talk about biohacking, but this guy is weird. Last night, we were at the fourth of July part, we had our hotdogs, we had our beer, we had our burgers, and by the way, Ben isn’t one of those guys who will question every waiter “does this contain gluten?” See, he will have fun in the right occasion.
Ben: I know how to eat sweet potato fries soaked in mayonnaise.
Vishen: And you know how to enjoy a burger. But then Ben would look down at the grass and go, “Vishen, you gotta try that plant.” And then he’d jump over the fence. He would pick up a leaf and stick it into my mouth. I felt like a goat, but it was actually delicious.
Ben: It is true that wilderness grows up from the cracks of the sidewalks in the city and people do things like mow their lawn and pick the dandelions out when in fact that is one of the most powerful liver tonics that you can make a smoothie from. Or, last night, what I gave you was wild nettle. Stinging nettle. It’s one of the most protein-rich, nutrient-dense plants that you can get your hands on and not only that, what I gave you was the seed from the top of the nettle. You walk into a supplement store and they’ll charge you 60 bucks for a bottle of that to enhance your testosterone, guys. And, you can find this stuff sitting around in nature if you educate yourself. There’s a variety of different plant foraging books and plant foraging apps. And, my boys and I, my boys are sitting over there, we use one called FlowerChecker where you can just take a picture of any plant. And within 24-hours, a team of live botanists on the other end identify the plant for you and tell you what you can eat and what’s good and you can build your own online herbarium. And when it comes to living a long time, you talk about living an extra three to five years by listening to my podcast, assuming you’re not doing so smoking a cigarette and driving around in your car with your butt planted in a chair eight hours a day.
One of the things I talk about is wild plant intake, legume intake. These are two of the five characteristics that you see prevalent amongst all blue zones which are these areas where there are a higher than normal level of people who live a very long time. You also see the absence of smoking. You see a large amount of time spent with family and love and in social relationships. You don’t see people exercising much. You actually see very litter exercise in a box, stepping into a CrossFit WOD, beating yourself up with the barbell. Instead, people engage in low-level physical activity, usually in nature, all-day long. So, it’s very interesting what we can learn from a lot of these populations. But yes, something as simple as learning how to identify wild plants that grow in nature around you and rather than picking them up and mowing them to pieces, you eat them. Put them in smoothies.
Vishen: That’s fascinating. So, in the Blue Zone study… So, the Blue Zone is a concept that identifies areas in the world where people live an unusually long amount of time. For example, in Sardinia, you get 1ox the number of people living to be 100 as you do in the United States. So, scientists study this, they label these areas as blue zones. And, Ben…
Ben: It’s also where you find a lot of Smurfs, these blue zones. It’s crazy.
Vishen: And, Ben, you’re saying that it has little to do with exercise, but more to do with moderate activity such as walking and with eating healthy?
Ben: Exactly. When you look at the way that society is built, whether it’s the doctor’s office, whether it’s, ironically as it can seem, even a conference room full of chairs, cars commuting, etcetera, we spend a lot of time sitting. And, when you look at a lot of hunter-gatherer populations, when you look at what our ancestors did, when you look at a lot of these blue zones, people are working with their hands. They’re gardening, they’re hunting, they’re gathering. And, I understand if you’re a blogger or you’re a podcaster or you work in IT or you’re a computer engineer, you’re relegating in a very similar way as I am to being in front of a computer, in front of a screen much of the day, but you can hack your environment to simulate that of our ancestors or hunter-gatherer, the people you’d find in the blue zones, everything from standing work stations to special pads that you can stand on.
I, in my own office, have a little balance board that I stand on, a standing desk that I can crank up and down, I’ve got a walking treadmill. And when I travel, you’ve got to walk into my hotel room, I’ll take a chair and stack it on top of the coffee table and put a couple of books on top of that and then I’ll stand when I’m working. I stop about every 25-minutes to do some form of exercise like 10 burpees or 100 jumping jacks or something that puts just a little bit of blood flow and also releases a very powerful molecule that’s Viagra for your whole body. It’s called nitric oxide. And by doing those little things all throughout the day, my goal is this, by the end of the day, exercise to stay fit or to improve the way your body looks, or anything like that should be an option not a necessity because you’ve hacked your way into being physically active all day long and even when I’m in a conference like this and I won’t take it as disrespect if any of you want to do this, I’ll stand up, I’ll walk to the back, I’ll stretch, I’ll move, I’ll stand, I’ll shake. But the idea is that they’ve even shown that if you exercise at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day and you have a good exercise habit, you go to the gym, if you have your butt planted in a chair for 8-hours a day in between those exercise sessions, you still have a high risk for cardiovascular disease and a host of other chronic diseases. So, the trick is not to exercise per se in a structured, traditional exercise format, it’s to engage in low-level physical activity all day long.
Vishen: Wow, that’s an intriguing idea and I remember some studies done, there was a BBC documentary on this, and they installed an exercise bike in an office and they found that people who would get on that exercise bike and engage in around a minute to four minutes of simple Tabata would show the same increase in their health, and I don’t remember exactly how they were tracking their health, as people who were doing aerobics in the morning for half an hour or so.
Ben: Exactly. Does anybody know what a Tabata is? Yeah, this was developed by a Japanese researcher who found that a four minute exercise session of 20-minutes… or 20-seconds, rather, 20-seconds. Pretty hard. Smoke coming out of your ears pretty hard, like you’re running from a lion or you’re in a sword fight at medieval days. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for four minutes. That’s a total of eight rounds simulated 30 minutes of steady-state exercise on a treadmill or on a bicycle or doing any other form of chronic cardio. It’s called a Tabata set, but what’s even more compelling that that is there are two things that are the most important things to pay attention to if you want to live a long time and have the absence of disease and a high quality of health during that time. Number one is controlling what’s called glycemic variability. Glycemic variability is how often your blood glucose goes up and down during the day. The other is to control your inflammation. Inflammation is something that builds up in the body when you eat a lot of vegetable oils, when you eat a lot of sugars, and even when you get exposed to high amounts of WiFi, dirty electricity, poor air, unclean water, etcetera. The idea is, if you can control glycemic variability and inflammation, you’ve taken care of the lowest hanging fruits when it comes to your longevity.
Now, this idea of the Tabata set that enhances your fitness in a very short period of time during a work day can be brought to the next level when we look at research on what it takes to actually control blood glucose prior to eating. Now, if you exercise before you eat, you’ll actually enhance your body’s ability to be able to maintain a normal blood glucose response after you eat. But, do you know how long you would need to exercise? How long you’d need to do that explosive Tabata-type exercise in order to enhance your blood glucose response? I was shocked when I saw this study. 30 seconds!
Ben: I mean, you can drop and do 20 burpees and do that prior to a meal and you’ll vastly improve your glucose response to the meal. Furthermore, this is another research study in Japan, if you walk for about 15 minutes after a meal, you also do a fantastic job of supporting your glycemic variability. So the idea is, for me, when I know I’m going to be eating a large meal or eating a lot of carbohydrates or having dinner or really having any meal at all, I’ll just go out of my way to drop and do some push-ups, I have a rule when I’m at a restaurant, I’ll slip into the bathroom and do… I call them air squats. My friend Jeff, when he first saw me do this, began to call them piss squats because I’d say I was going to go to the bathroom to take a pee and I’d come back kind of red-faced because I had done my 40 squats. But the idea is you do something that just gets the heart rate up a little bit before you go eat a big meal, then you go on a quick walk afterwards. It’s a very, very good way to control glycemic variability as are those Tabata sets that you talked about that you can do.
Vishen: And you’re saying these air squats take 30-seconds in a bathroom before you start your meal?
Ben: I have rules in my life, little rules to keep me active. Like I mentioned, I’ll stop every 25-minutes during a work day and step away to swing a little kettlebell I keep under my desk or hang from a pull up bar near my office or do something that keeps me active. But a couple of other rules are (a) I’ll do the 40 squats when I’m at a restaurant. So, if any of you are at a restaurant this week and you see me disappear into the bathroom frequently, it’s not because I have a small bladder, it’s because I’m off doing my squats. In an airplane, I actually do 20 squats when I’m in an airplane. Anytime I stand up to go and use the restroom, I close the door and I do 20 squats. My rule is to the butt has to kind of touch the back of the toilet seat when I’m doing squats. And, these little rules that you kind of sprinkle throughout your life coming full circle of trying to simulate what the Blue Zones do or what our ancestral hunter-gathers did, you’re basically tricking your body into staying physically active all-day long. And, it comes down to habits, rituals, routines, and rules that you implement in your life to keep you active.
Vishen: And so, in summary, it’s not about doing 30 minutes of doing aerobic activity in the mornings, right. It’s about spaced out activity for 30 seconds to a couple of minutes throughout the day.
Ben: Exactly. And I’m not saying if your own personal Mt. Everest is to go to an Ironman triathlon or to go to a marathon or to go to one of these Spartan Races, I respect that. If that’s something that you’ve set up for yourself as a goal and if you have set that up as a goal, yeah you’ve got to go out on, less frequently than most people would have us to believe, the human body is actually innately very, very good at endurance. We can outrun, given food and water, any animal on the face of the planet. So you actually have to train for endurance far less than you think. We have a very large amount of stamina, but the idea is if you are an athlete or if you’ve signed up for something that’s going to push your body, you’ve got to do a little more than a Tabata set at the office and some piss squats on the airplane, right. But, unless that’s your goal and unless you’re getting paid to be a professional athlete, there’s not a need to go out and do these long exercise sessions that beat you up. And, in fact, they’ve done research on how much exercise is too much, right? What would be the amount of exercise that would give you a law of diminishing return and increase what is called your risk for mortality, your risk of dying at an earlier age.
Now, for aerobic exercise, for this long steady state cardio, to avoid things like arterial stiffness and cardiovascular disease that can result from excessive exercise, if you do anything more than 90 minutes, which for a lot of people that is a lot of exercise, you’d be surprise at the number of people who are actually out doing a lunch time run and an evening bike ride and getting out in the morning, or if you exceed 60 minutes of intense exercise on a daily basis, you actually see a law of diminishing returns and it’s a parabolic curve with an increased risk of mortality if you exercise too much. So it’s very, very surprising what it comes down to when you’re looking at physical activity. It’s low-level physical activity spread throughout the day, it’s brief prints here and there, and it’s lifting heavy stuff every once in a while.
Vishen: That’s really interesting. Now, Vox, the online magazine, recently carried an article suggesting that there’s this grand myth in our society that we need to exercise to lose weight, but what they said is that science now shows that 90% of our body shape has to do with what we eat and not the amount of exercise. What are your views on this?
Ben: It has a great deal to do with that because that second component I talked about, inflammation, right… If you have low-level chronic inflammation all day long, and again, this can come down to the water that you drink, so it’s more than just the food, the water that you drink, the amount of artificial light that you’re exposed to, the number of times you’re bombarding your body with WiFi signals, the quality of the air that you breathe. I don’t want to scare you into thinking that you’re doomed by living in a post-industrial era to an early death. There are things you can do: you can have portable Hep-A air filters that you carry with you if you live a nomadic lifestyle or a good air filter in your office. You can drink good, clean water or buy glass-bottled water when you travel. You can put your phone in airplane mode and hardwire into the router or into the wall and hotel room when you’re traveling.
There are things that you can do to control this, but when it comes to food, the idea is that low level inflammation can, not only restrict the body’s ability to kill fat cells or to convert fat cells into other tissue, but it can also down regulate a lot of the nerves in the abdomen and the stomach and a lot of these things that help us carry this tall, upright posture that allows us to look good. We see actual damage to those nerves when we’re in a chronically inflamed state or when we’re eating foods that leave us in a state of gut inflammation. So, when it comes to inflammation, in my opinion, the biggest culprit that I see over and over again as a staple in people’s diet, a lot of people think it’s sugar. But, it’s not. And, the reason for this is that as we were just alluding to, you can metabolize sugar, right. I can do 30 burpees before a meal and go for a walk after a meal and have a big batch of something sugary, like sweet potato fries or a few slices of bread or some dark chocolate or some red wine with a meal, and it’s burnt off. That’s glucose, if it’s actually not in excess, and if you’re moving, is really not as big of an issue as the oils in the meal that you’re eating because your body can burn some of those oils, but it will also take the oils and the fats in the foods that you’re eating and it will use those to make your cell membranes. You are literally made up of not only what you eat, but what you eat ate… what that big bear that you’re going to eat at Medieval Days whether that bear was fed on corn and grain and trash or whether that bear ate blueberries and wild fish. That’s going to influence what your cell membranes are comprised of.
And, when I traveled here to Tallinn for example, I’ll often stop at the little news stand at the airport and stroll through and look for some health snacks to buy. And even when you go to the health food section at the airport stand or Whole Foods or any of these other fancy so-called organic stores and you look at the ingredient label, more often than not, you’re going to see, in addition to organic agave syrup and cane sugar and again, I’m not as much of being not a fan of those as I am of this next ingredient, you’ll see canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil. Any number of different vegetable oils that are used to coat healthy foods that basically bastardize the healthy food and turn it into something that damages your cell membranes. So, any time I’m evaluating whether or not a food is going to cause that type of inflammation that’s referred to in the Vox article as being something that would disrupt my physiology and disrupt my body’s ability to be able to burn fat or kill fat cells, the first thing I look at is the oils. You want an oil that is table, that is unprocessed, and that hasn’t been heated to high temperatures or exposed to high pressures.
If you walk into my house and you come sit with me in the sauna and do the infrared light and roll around in the snow and then walk into the pantry, you’ll find that we have macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and a little bit of grass-fed butter, sometimes some ghee. These are all oils that are stable at high temperatures or that carry with them some antioxidants, like extra virgin olive oil. Good green, I love being in Europe because the olive oil is real, right. A lot of the olive oil in the State, even at five star Napa Valley restaurants is cut half and half with canola oil to save money, right. Extra virgin olive oil that’s green and spicy and flaky… my kids and I do olive oil tastings at home because we’re a member of an olive oil club that sends us olive oil from different areas of the world. But this type of oil is great for you. The trick is not to avoid fats, it’s to avoid the type of fats that cause inflammation. And if you guys want, if you’re actually doing a good job controlling your vegetable oil intake, looking at your food labels, even asking at a restaurant “hey can you cook this in butter? Could you cook this in extra virgin olive oil instead of canola oil?” which you’d be surprised that the number of restaurants that will very easily do that for you back in the kitchen, they’ll take those Brussel sprouts that you love to get, that they bring out nice and crispy to the table, but that are often cooked in canola oil. They’ve got extra virgin olive oil and butter back there and you just tell them, “hey, can you make those Brussel sprouts with a good healthy fat like a butter and olive oil instead?” If you’re making these type of changes to your diet, I’ll tell you, if you guys want, the number one thing you can do to then convert these fat cells into other tissue or to kill them. This is a trick that goes… that kind of flies under the radar, but it’s one of my secrets to staying lean year round.
Vishen: So, what is that? Because I got a couple of questions here and Amrit Sandu… Amrit, are you in the house? Amrit is somewhere in the house. There he is. Amrit said “what’s your favorite health hack?”
Ben: We can probably lump this into that category, Amrit, as a really, really good health hack. So, I’ll tell you the hack and then I’ll tell you how you can up level it, upgrade it and take it to the next level. So the hack is this, and you’ve already been given a big, big clue in the first minute when Vishen was showing you that video: it’s cold. Cold exposure and the absence of inflammation is one of the best ways to take fat cells and convert them into metabolically active tissue, or to kill them. There’s this myth going around that you can’t kill fat cells, that you’re stuck with whatever you have for the rest of your life and they’re just waiting there like greedy little cells ready to soak up calories and get bigger. That’s not true. You can kill them and you can convert them into other cells if inflammation is absent and then if you get cold exposure on a frequent basis. Heat works pretty well also, which is why I like to do the hot and the cold. What you saw Vishen and I doing at my house, I do that on a frequent basis. My kids do it too. We’ll go and sit in the sauna and then we go jump in the cold pool, then we’ll go in the hot tub, if it’s snowy outside we’ll go roll around in the snow. Exposure to temperature fluctuations is fantastic for pushing these fat cells into a different state.
Vishen: You said he just said exposure to temperature fluctuations is fantastic. Thank you, Ben. You guys cannot blame me now for the Estonian weather.
Ben: There you go!
Vishen: Minus 13 on one day, 27 on the next. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Ben: I swear. Yes. The Tallinn gods are bipolar, I swear. It’s light at 3 AM. Anyways though, so cold exposure. How do you do that especially if you live in a hot environment? Well of course, cold showers are the glaringly obvious solution if you live in an area like this where there’s great cold water coming from the tap. You can simply stand in the cold water for two minutes at the beginning of the day and two minutes at the end of the day, which, by the way, at the end of the day is fantastic for sleep because your body will not enter a state of deep sleep unless your body temperature is low. One of the best ways to get your body temperature low at the end of the day, aside from keeping your room temperature low and not sleeping with too many blankets, is to take a cold shower at some point towards the end of the day. Now, I will typically about once a week take that to the next level and sit in a cold bath or go jump in a cold river or a lake or the sea or something else that gets me to the state of shivering – the state of being even more cold. If you live in a hot environment, there are biohacks that you can use. There are for example, companies that will sell gear that you can place on areas where you tend to have a lot of metabolically active fat tissue. There’s a company called Cool Fat Burner and they make these vests and waist belts that you can wear that you can actually pack ice into and keep your body cold while you’re working. If you have a lot of fat to burn it’s actually a very, very good solution.
Another thing you can do was talked to me by a guy named Ray Cronise. He was first featured in Wired Magazine, runs a metabolic laboratory, he’s a former NASA materials engineer, and he developed what he calls The Shiver System. He came and spoke at an event I did at Spokane, Washington and shared some of the stats on stage and my mind was blown. He was burning 20 to 30 pounds of fat per month off of the clients he was working with, with good healthy food, absence of inflammation, not exercise but this low-level of physical activity throughout the day, and then at the beginning and the end of the day, they would take a five minute shower and that five minute shower was 20 seconds of cold with 10 seconds of hot 10 times through, right, for five minutes. That’s it. Cold-hot-cold-hot 10 times through. If you get bored, you can go to, for example, Amazon and grab yourself, I do this, a little underwater MP3 player so you can listen to audiobooks or podcasts or whatever kind of gets you motivated as you’re hanging out in the shower. Pet Shop Boys or whatever you like to listen to.
Anyways though, the idea is you do this at the beginning and end of the day, you’re getting temperature fluctuation, you’re getting your nitric oxide release, you’re shutting down inflammation, you’re enhancing blood flow, you feel fantastic, it’s great for your cognition as well, and then finally, the heat part of things that you saw us doing in the sauna, you develop heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins are a special type of protein that you can build in your body with cold and hot exposure and these make you more resilient to stress, not just physical stress, but also mental stress. If you do something that is, for example, a common practice here in Estonia and also in Finland, something like a sauna a few times a week where you’re getting yourself nice and hot, you develop these heat shock proteins and so if you use the cold in addition to the heat, you’re kind of getting the best of both worlds.
Vishen: So, Ben, another aspect of health that you talk about in great detail, you wrote an incredible blog post on this, and check this out. Ben Greenfield on Sleep. Google it and you’ll find his blog post- by far the most detailed post I’ve seen on the science of sleep for wellbeing. Let’s talk about sleep.
Ben: That article will put you to sleep pretty quickly, by the way. It’s long. That’s the trick is you read the article and then you go to sleep.
Vishen: Speaking of cold, you’ve even recommended to me certain temperatures to go to bed.
Ben: Right. So sleep hacking is something I find fascinating. I protect my sleep quite a bit. I track my sleep, I shoot for about 10% of my night spent in deep sleep. Deep sleep is a lot of where your memory formation occurs, a lot of neuronal repair and recovery occurs. It’s not the only type of sleep you want. In the lighter stages of sleep, for example, you get more muscle healing, you get more of a tending to your muscular, skeletal system and some of your other body’s systems, but when it comes to you neural system, your brain, your neural-muscular system, staying cold, sleeping in a cool room and maintaining a lower core temperature increases the percentage of deep sleep that you get dramatically. So in addition to, for example, taking a cold shower at some point towards the end of the day, that’s something not right before bed, as a matter of fact right before bed, you get a little bit of a cortisol dump that can keep you up a little while. I’m not a fan of doing the cold shower right before bed, but you can keep your room, the ideal temperature for sleep… does anybody know this? For deep sleep.
Audience member: 16 degrees Celsius.
Ben: About you’re going to make me do the Celsius-Fahrenheit conversion, dang it. It’s 64 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. So you can do the conversion. Get your app out.
Vishen: Just repeat that again.
Ben: 64 to 66 degrees. First thing when I walk into a hotel room, the first thing I’ll do… Would be around 19? Yeah, about 19. So, I’ll adjust the temperature to 64 to 66 degrees. So, exercise…
Vishen: That’s roughly 18 degrees Celsius, 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ben: Yup. Exercise or physical activity, if you’re doing it, let’s say you’re doing the 10x program for example, you want to do it at some point during the day because it will enhance your deep sleep to move during the day. Again, it doesn’t have to be a traditional gym session, it can just be burpees and pull-ups and walking kind of spread throughout the day, but you want to finish any exercise session thst you do preferably at least three hours prior to when you want to go to bed. And the reason for that is because that gives your neural endocrine system a chance to shutdown some of the cortisol. It also gives your body temperature a chance to go back to normal. There are also…
Vishen: So sorry, Ben.
Ben: Go ahead.
Vishen: You’re saying the optimal time to exercise is three hours before you go to bed?
Ben: Well, the optimal time to exercise varies and I’ll fill you in on that in just a second. But whatever you’re doing for exercise, aside from that easy postprandial dinner time walk, that easy walk that you do after dinner would be just making sure that you finish up any hard exercise at least 3 hours prior to when you’re going to go to bed. So if you are going to go to the gym, you’d ideally like to be done at the gym if you’re going to go to bed at, let’s say, 11 PM, you’re going to want to be done with you gym session by 8 PM and no later than that. Now, when it comes to exercise. If you are going to exercise, and then I’ll return to how to keep your body cool during sleep because there’s a few other strategies which you can use, timing of exercise though.
The ideal scenario is, if you are going to exercise, your body has this natural rise in cortisol when you wake up when the light hits your eyes in the morning and you get out of bed. Your body releases some hormones that naturally wake you up. One of those hormones is not coffee, by the way, you don’t naturally have coffee floating through your bloodstream. As a matter of fact, I’ve done continuous blood glucose monitoring and the single biggest variable that shoves my blood glucose up very high in the morning is, believe it or not, is coffee because coffee causes this big release of cortisol that then causes your liver to dump a bunch of sugar into your system. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, I’m all about better living through science and using some of these wonderful herbs and plants that we have all around us in nature to enhance our life, and I would classify coffee as one of those. But, if you do have adrenal issues, it’s profound how much extra cortisol coffee dumps into your system. But, the idea is that because you have so much natural cortisol released into your system when you wake, the best type of exercise to do in the morning is something that I call “easing into your day.” Somethig restoring, something relaxing, something that might even pair well with a meditative prayer practice at the beginning of the day. For me, that’s usually something like a nice walk in the sunshine or sometimes I’ll go down and do some yoga moves in the sauna and then finish those up with a cold shower. Yoga in and of itself is great. An easy swim, maybe a simple bike ride through the park, something that’s just very simple and relaxing and restorative, maybe allows you to focus on your day, allows you to think about what you want to accomplish that day, make your affirmations, engage in deep breathing. These are the type of things that the body is very receptive to in the morning that can enhance your deep sleep later on in the evening.
Now, between about 4 and 7 PM, your body temperature peaks, your reaction time peaks, your grip strength peaks, your ability to build new muscle after workout peaks. So if you’re going to do a hard exercise session, again, it’s not necessary to get a nice body, it’s not necessary to live a long time, but I understand that sometimes it feels good, sometimes you’re competing in an event, and sometimes, maybe, you want a little bit of extra muscle because you like the way you look with that extra muscle, you like the way your jeans fit, you like the way you fit into a t-shirt, etcetera. There’s a lot of reasons to build a little bit of extra muscle or to do that hard exercise session, but if you do it between 4 and 7 PM is the ideal time to do that hard exercise session with the cool thing being when it comes to that is you’re getting that hard thing in before dinner. So, if dinner for you is a very social event, if you, like me, have big family dinners where you have red wine and dark chocolate and sourdough bread and sweet potato fries and lot more of the rich-carbohydrate dense foods, your body is very primed to be able to deal with that blood glucose. So I know, kind of a little bit of a rabbit hole when we talk about the cold for sleep, but as far as the timing of the exercise, that’s the scenario that I use for myself and for most of the clients that I work with is we do the easy thing in the morning to ease ourselves into the day and then as long as the schedule permits, the harder thing towards the end of the day.
One other thing for sleep that is quite fascinating, I’d be remised not to throw some of these biohacks in there, would be I have a ChiliPad on my bed. Has anybody ever used a ChiliPad? It circulates cold water underneath your sheet while you sleep and you can actually set it to whatever temperature that you would like and you and your partner could actually set your own sleep temperature. So I set it at 55 degrees, meaning that the ambient air around me is about 64 to 66 while I’m sleeping, but I’ve got this 55 degree cold water going underneath my body while I sleep and that vastly enhances my deep sleep percentage as well. It all comes down to…
Vishen: I’m trying to do a translation. That’s 13 degrees Celsius for the rest of the world.
Ben: This is like when I speak in Japan, I say something and I have to stop so they can translate this into Japanese. Celsius to Fahrenheit is very similar.
Hey, I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you that there’s no secret that I’m not strictly gluten-free. Now, before you gasp in horror, I should note that in those rare instances where I do eat gluten, it’s usually sourdough bread that my lovely wife makes which involves fermenting heirloom wheat. This massively reduces any inflammation and gut irritation that could normally come from gluten consumption, but that said, there’s research at Harvard that says that all gluten is inflammatory and triggers an autoimmune response, not just in Celiacs, that’s all people! And, unless it’s predigested perfectly through something like sourdough fermentation, the human body is pretty much incapable of digesting gluten, not if the human body is fermented, if the gluten is fermented it’s okay. But otherwise, it’s not a good idea.
So most restaurants and facilities are not gluten-free, so you get a lot of cross-contamination. Ultimately, the best way to get around all of this is this stuff called dipeptidyl peptidase. I know it’s a big word. That’s a protease – it breaks down the exterior coating of gluten protein. And there’s this supplement called Gluten Guardian and it’s the only supplement out there, I’m aware of, that has this dipeptidyl peptidase enzyme in it in such high amounts that it allows you to, say, pound an entire pizza. Pop some enzymes and still feel like a million bucks after. No, you’re probably still going to feel pretty crappy if you pound an entire pizza, but let’s say somebody brings this fantastic bread to your table at the restaurant and you want a little bit of help, you pop this stuff, you’re good to go. It’s called Gluten Guardian. Gluten Guardian. So, I’ll tell you how you can get a 10% discount. Go to GlutenGuardian.com/Greenfield. That’s GlutenGuardian.com/Greenfield code GREENFIELD saves you instant 10%. So, if your vice is partaking in rare glutinous delicacies, this is right up your alley: GlutenGuardian.com/Greenfield.
This podcast is also brought to you by a fantastic company that uses science and data to get your low rates on life insurance. So if you run or bike or strength training to work your butt off, what the heck, you should be saving money on your life insurance. And this company goes to bat for you and gets you savings that are exclusive to what you get by working with them. They’re called Health IQ. 56% of Health IQ customers save between four and 33 whopping percentage points on their life insurance. So, just like saving money on your car insurance for being a good driver, Health IQ saves you money on your life insurance for living a health conscious lifestyle. Lucky you. Pat you on the head. Give you some extra cash for your wallet. Boom. Done. It’s easy. You’ll learn more and you get a free quote over at HealthIQ.com/Ben. That’s HealthIQ.com/Ben.
Anyways though, the idea behind sleep hygiene though, is you have cold and you’re already a little bit more informed about cold, and then a few other necessary components of sleep hygiene that of course, how many here are travelling to be here and having to deal with the 3 AM sunrise and the jet lag and the light and the crazy fluctuations in temperature and everything else that can affect your sleep? Well, maintaining a cool temperature is one thing, another is absence of artificial light. Absence of blue light at night. And in that sleep article that Vishen referred to that you could find if you just search for the last one I wrote, it might still be on the front page of my website, it was about 4 weeks ago I wrote a really comprehensive sleep article, I talk about things you can install on your computer to lower the amount of blue light that they produce. I even give a little hack for your phone where you can set it up so it only produces red light or gray scale light at night. You can also, of course, wear birth control for your head which would be these blue light blocking glasses. They’re very unattractive, slightly creepy blue light blocking glasses you see a lot of biohackers wearing. They actually do work, they do a great job of making you sleep. As a matter of fact, if I tried to watch a TV or documentary or a movie at night and I have these one, I get sleepy because it blocks so much of the blue light from coming off the screen. But absence of artificial light in the evening is another necessary component of sleep along with presence of lots of natural light during the day – being outdoors, taking a morning walk in the sunshine, etcetera.
So, we have light, we have a cool sleep environment, and then we have silence or something to cover up the noise. Has anybody in here ever used binaural beats or white noise? These actually work really, really well. Especially when you’re in travel scenarios, like I’m staying in an apartment over in Rotermann City and it’s close to the road and so what I do is I have a little app called SleepStream. And even though my phone is on airplane mode, it’s beside my bed and it’s playing this white noise called SleepStream and I’ll often even pair that with something called Sleep Phones which are soft headphone that allow you, if you’re a side sleeper, to kind of play this in your ear and cover up noise. And this app that I used called SleepStream is like a DJ for sleep, I’m not financially affiliated with them or FlowerChecker or any of these other apps I’m talking about, I just like them. But this SleepStream plays white noise and then also plays binaural beats so you can kind of do both at the same time while you’re trying to lull yourself to sleep. So anyways, those are the big three would be cold, the absence of artificial light, and then also trying to use noise or sound to also eliminate noises and sounds from around you while you’re sleeping.
Vishen: So, we’ve spoken about food, we’ve spoken about exercise, we’ve spoken about sleep, now Sarah Capache… Sarah are you in the room? Sarah is right there. Stand up Sarah. So, Sarah has a question for you. Sarah asked, “what are your thoughts on nutrigenomics which is eating according to one’s genetics?”
Ben: Ooh, can of worms! Nutrigenomics. So, the idea is that, and there’s actually a great book about this called “The Jungle Effect”. The “Jungle Effect” by Dr. Daphne Miller and the idea is that Dr. Miller, for example, will take her Hispanic patients in California and put them on a more traditional, Mexican diet comprised of legumes and non-GMO corn and maize and beans and a lot of these natural foods that they would have been exposed to for hundreds of years or that their ancestors would have eaten rather than traditional TexMex GMO corn, refried beans, canola oil, that type of thing and see profound healing in her patients. And she’ll rinse, wash, and repeat and put Northern European patients on, for example, a slightly higher salt diet with fermented foods and cured meats and natural wild caught fish and, again, see profound changes in health.
And the idea is that it is actually, and it makes sense logically, you look at what your ancestors would have eaten which you can elucidate by talking to your grandparents or going off and doing a salivary genetic test such as 23andme genetic test. You can look at and investigate what your ancestors would have eaten and try to simulate something close to that. Now, I understand that we live in an era in which we’ve got a lot of mutts, like, me. I’m a little bit of Spanish, a little bit of Italian, a little bit of Australian. I’m all over the map and so for me, rather than necessarily getting really confused about whether I should eat the Spanish diet or the Mediterranean diet or a Northern European diet or whatever, I take a little bit of a deeper dive and I look at my genetic factors that allow me to do certain things. Like for example, I’ve tested my genetics and it’s shown that my body produces a lower level of what are called endogenous antioxidants than the average person. So I go out of my way to supplement with glutathione and eat a lot of wild plants and flavonol and polyphenol-rich dark fruits and vegetables and give my body a little step up in the antioxidant department.
I also know that my body unfortunately metabolizes alcohol very poorly. So when I consume alcohol, I actually will do things like take activated charcoal to soak up some of the acetaldehyde. I’ll use supplements like Sam E and molybdenum and a few other supplements that allow me to be able to process alcohol a little bit better. I know that I carry the gene that does not allow me to digest lactose quite as well. So if I’m going to have dairy, I’ll consume fermented dairy where the lactose sugars are predigested yoghurts and kefirs and things like that, rather than things like milk, or pasteurized or homogenized yoghurt or any other type of dairy in which the bacteria have been killed because the bacteria help to digest the lactose in the dairy.
Now the way that I did that, the way that I figured all of that out was I took my 23andme results, and these are very simple to get via salivary tests, and I exported those to a website that gave me a host of information about where I’m at genetically and the way that I personally not only should be eating, but fascinating enough, also exercising, right? Whether I should be doing fast, intense exercise as my staple or whether I should be doing more endurance-based exercise as a staple. And there are two websites that I found that were really good for this. One is called 23andyou.com and the other is called StrataGene. StrataGene is a website run by somebody I consider to be one of the world’s leading people to follow if you really want to look at how to treat your body based on its genetics. His name is Dr. Ben Lynch. He wrote a really good book called “Dirty Genes”. “Dirty Genes” And it walks you through via questionnaires and quizzes how to identify what type of supplements you should be including, what kind of foods you should be avoiding, what kind of foods you should be including. And if you want to take that to the next level and go past his book and kind of a subjective qualitative questionnaires, you can go to his website. You can upload your genetic data, your raw genetic data, and get this big printout of all the different cycles that you’re strong in, that you’re weak in, and you can really customize it with laser precision.
Vishen: And what website is that again?
Ben: That website is StrateGene S-T-R-A-T-A gene. StrataGene. So, we live in an era where dietary customization is fascinating.
Vishen: So, you have to go to 23andme, sign up for that DNA kit to be sent to you, and by the way, they will ship to Estonia, and then you spit in that vile that they give you, you send it back to them, then all your genetic data will now be available to you on 23andme. But now, you download that and you upload it to StrataGene.
Ben: And, if you have difficulty dripping your saliva into a tube, here’s the trick that I found that works amazingly – sniff peanut butter. I sniff peanut butter and I start salivating. I’m like Pavlov’s dog with peanut butter. So get out the peanut butter; you sniff the peanut butter; I personally just start to drool when I sniff peanut butter. So, there you go.
Vishen: You have a hack for everything. Speaking of hacks, one of the people watching the live stream, so were actually Facebook Live-ing this on the Mindvalley fan page. So, all of you watching, this is a big shout out to you. So, one of you posted this question and this person’s name is Magda and she said “Ben, tell me how to stay young and strong forever?”
Ben: How to stay young? Wow. I would be a billionaire if I could answer that question.
Vishen: Let’s keep it to staying young. What are your best tips for slowing down aging?
Ben: Exactly. We talked about the Blue Zones, absence of smoking, wild plant intake, we see legume intake, and that doesn’t mean you have to go out and have beans with every meal, that could get a little bit annoying to your housemates or to your family if that were the case, especially if you’re me. But, the idea is that the reason that legumes work so well, it alludes to something that I referred to earlier. Does anybody know why legumes are correlated with longevity or with these Blue Zones? Glycemic variability, which I talked about earlier. They’re a very slow-digesting carbohydrate that doesn’t… Seeds and nuts can act similarly as can being careful with the times that you eat carbohydrates etcetera, but the overall picture is you reduce your glycemic variability. Time spent outdoors, social life, etcetera… But one of the things I’ve found through telomere testing took 17-years off of my biological age, when you can test the rate at which your telomeres shorten. And, when I first began testing I was 34 and my biological age, as I was finishing up a career in Ironman Triathlon and still hadn’t gotten fully onto the caring-for-my-stem-cells bandwagon and some of the other things I’ll tell you about, I was 37 biologically, 34 chronologically. The next time I tested, I was 35 chronologically and I was 36 biologically. On this last test that I did, I was 37 chronologically and 20 biologically and the one change that I made was I began to focus with very intense precision on caring for my stem cells.
Now, I personally did, and Vishen’s done something like this too, I did stem cell injections where I actually had my fat cells extracted from my back via… Honestly, it’s like liposuction, they take a big needle and they stick it in and out of your back, they suck out the fat cells, and then they grow them and they extract your stem cells from those. I didn’t the same thing with my bone at a place called Forever Labs in Berkley where they went in through the bone, they took out a bone, they concentrated the stem cells from that, and I actually have the 34-year-old me stored so I can reinject that into my body, into my joints, at any given time.
But, that’s an expensive procedure and I realize that not everybody is going to go out and get foot-long needles shoved into their back and anvils shoved into their hips to extract stem cells. You can actually enhance your own endogenous stem cell health and stem cell production and this returns to Magda’s question on longevity by engaging in certain dietary and lifestyle practices that increase your own stem cell production. There are foods that have been proven to allow your body to create more stem cells and there are foods that you’re probably aware of as healthy foods: blueberries are one, aloe vera is another, chlorella is one, colostrum is one, coffee-berry fruit extract is one. There’s a host about, I think it’s about four/five months ago, somebody asked a question about eating to increase their own stem cell production on my podcast and I gave a full list of things that you could eat to increase your stem cell production.
Another thing, and this kind of returns to the concept that sometimes in life, the things that give you the most bang for your buck are slightly hard and slightly uncomfortable because there’s this concept of what is called hormesis and hormesis is the idea that things that are bad for you in large amounts are actually good for you in small amounts, right. So we could take a cold shower for two to five minutes and feel fantastic; we could take a cold shower for an hour and walk out of there just cold and shriveled and stressed out,and if you’re staying in cold for too long, obviously you’ll die of hypothermia. We could stay in the sauna for 30 minutes and get this big increase in red blood cell production and heat shock protein and nitric oxide or we can stay in there for 90 minutes and get a cardiovascular incident from loss of mineral production and basically the body getting to the point where it’s so dehydrated the heart doesn’t work anymore, right.
You can go out in the sunlight and get all this fantastic vitamin D and near infrared light and far infrared light and collaged production for your skin and testosterone production and everything that sunlight gives you and then you could stay out there for two hours, burn yourself to a crisp and increase your risk of skin cancer, right. They’ve even shown that the low levels of radiation that we now find around areas, like Chernobyl, are actually helping some of the rodents there in that area live a longer period of time. Do not say that Ben Greenfield told you to go move next to a nuclear disaster waste site, but yeah, you get the idea. So you subject your body to hormesis and by subjecting yourself to small amounts of cold, small amounts of heat, small amounts of exercise which as you learn can kill you in large amounts, but it’s good for you in small amounts, by exposing your body to wild plants which are actually stressful to your body, they actually build up these natural defense mechanisms that resist digestion, that cause your body to churn out its own antioxidants, but insane amounts, not two pounds of kale a day, but a little bit of kale in your morning smoothie for example, you actually are subjecting yourself to hormesis. Now, one of the most powerful forms of hormesis that will increase your own endogenous stem cell production and help you to live a longer time, does anybody know what it is? It’s slightly uncomfortable, but it’s one of the best things you can do and an enormous number and a growing body have research has shown this to be one of the best things you can do for your longevity and health, fasting. Fasting, yes. Exactly.
So yes, you said five days, the researcher Valter Longo has shown that two to four times per year, an extended five day fast moves the dial the best. I know that’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. I’m personally a foodies; it’s complete torture for me to go five days without food. Ease yourself into it. Don’t think that you need to go five days without food. The magic number of hours at which things like cellular turnover, what’s called cellular autophagy, a programmed cell death, stem cell production etcetera kicks in – it’s at about the 16-hour mark. 16-hour mark. So this idea of giving yourself a 12 to 16-hour window each day in which you’re fasting is a very smart move. Now, what I do, and I’ve found this to be very sustainable for myself and the people that I work with, 12 to 16 hours I go without eating. So, this means if I finish dinner at 9 PM, I’ll go until at least 9 AM without eating and if I have the capability to do so and I’m not… if I’m travelling in an area and I’m at a fantastic hotel with a wonderful buffet, I’m not going to bite my finger and walk passed it, I’ll go enjoy life and go eat food, but I’ll wait at least 12 hours before doing so. In many situations, especially if I want to improve my cognitive performance or if dinner has been especially large like that small-baby sized piece of pork leg that I had at Old Hansa’s the first night I was here at this medieval restaurants, I’ll wait 16-hours to eat, right. So, if I’ll finish dinner at 9 PM, I won’t eat again until 1 or 2PM for lunch. In addition to that, a single 24-hour fast once every one to two weeks can really help to move the dial as well and that’s typically a dinner to dinner fast, meaning you finish dinner on, let’s say, a Saturday night and then you just don’t eat again until Sunday dinner. Here’s the biggest mistake people make…
Vishen: And Ben, just to go deeper…
Ben: Go ahead.
Vishen: When you say you just don’t eat again, I know there are certain things which are okay. Water is okay, coffee is okay, what is okay in that 24 hours fast?
Ben: Anything, this is a mind blowing concept, this is going to absolutely blow you away… anything that doesn’t have calories. Anything that doesn’t have calories. Some people are like “can I have my coffee with a stick of butter in it” or “can I have my fish oil supplement” or “can I have bone broth?” Well, all of those things technically have calories. Your body has to tap into those and reset the cycle and everything before it gets back into a fasting mode. Now, those things won’t spike blood glucose. They’re not going to result in completely ripping you out of a ketogenic state or some of the other favorable states that occur when you’re fasting, but they strip away your body’s ability to be able to get some of those stem cell and longevity benefits of fasting. So, water is okay, some sea salt and minerals are okay, supplements that don’t have a lot of calories in them like a multivitamin complex, things like that, those are all okay; but what you’d want to stay away from is anything that has actual calories in it.
Vishen: So just to give a practical example, I went for dinner with Ben and we finished out meal at 9PM and because it was a heavy meal, it was at the restaurant here. Now, we ate like beasts.
Ben: We ate a lot of food.
Vishen: We finished our meal at 9PM.
Ben: This guy could put it away, by the way.
Vishen: And then, I simply, at Ben’s advice, I simply skipped breakfast and my next meal, my next calorie intake, was at 1PM. That’s a 16-hour fast. Now, when I did that I thought, “Oh my god, I’m going to be going on stage, I’m going to feel hungry.” I get hangry – hungry and angry when I’m hungry. I’m going to start yelling at people, but what I actually found was pretty interesting. Firstly, I forgot I skipped breakfast. I was slightly hungry towards lunch, but I had the same amount of energy, the same amount of coffee to function, throughout that day.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. And what you’ll find, even if you do this 24-hour fast is about 2Pm you get hangry. You’ll want to bite somebody’s head off if they bug you and you start dreaming about roasted chickens running around your head when you close your eyes and then what happens is your body begins to shift into what’s called ketosis. You start to produce these ketone bodies and your body taps into its own fat and the more frequently you fast the more you fast and painless this transition becomes and when you make it through that window, all of a sudden you’re not hungry. And, the other things that I’ll do on my 24-hour fasting day, I’ll choose activities that keep my mind occupied, right, because a lot of times food is equated with boredom. So, I won’t go out to lunch with people. I’ll make sure I’ve got an article to work on and I’ve got some other things to do and I have a hike to go on and I have all sorts of other things to do to keep my mind off of food.
Now, one thing, and this winds up hurting a lot of people, especially lean people or people who are very physically active- do not think that intermittent fasting or 24-hours calorie restriction is synonymous with eating fewer calories. Now, if you’re trying to lose weight, the whole calories in-calories out equation dictates that at a certain point, you’ve just got to stop stuffing more calories in your mouth so you tap into your own fat as a fuel. But, the benefits of fasting don’t come with caloric restriction, they come with a long period of time spent between eating. So, this means if you decide “hey, I’m going to take Ben’s advice and every week I’m going to do a 24-hour fast from Saturday dinner until Sunday dinner,” plan a big, fantastic family feast on Sunday night or go to your favorite restaurant and eat a bunch of amazing, wonderful food on Sunday night. Sometimes I’ll fast for 24-hours, Saturday dinner to Sunday dinner, and eat 2,500 calories for dinner on Sunday night. So, the idea is not calorie restriction, again, unless weight loss is your primary goal. But, if it’s longevity that’s your goal, it’s the idea that you simple engage in periods of calorie restriction without necessarily lowering the number of calories that you eat for that 24-hour cycle.
Vishen: So, Ben, in the last seven minutes that we have, you wrote a white paper called “Look Good Naked” and you have a quest coming up with Mindvalley which is, essentially, on having a great body, looking good, and living longer. What would be your best tips for staying lean especially for men, for having a healthy body fat percentage, and for having good musculature?
Vishen: Bulimia. No, I’m just kidding. Just kidding. Sorry, that was insensitive. So anyway, the idea is I tapped into this strategy when I was preparing for Ironman triathlon. I used to be a 215 pound bodybuilder. So, for me, it wasn’t fat, it was muscle that I stripped off my body. I stripped off 40-pounds of muscle, but then I maintained very, very lean physiology without necessarily doing as much exercise as a lot of my peers were doing, and I still maintained this habit to this day, nearly 365-days a year, you are already all educated pretty much as to why this strategy works. So, you wake up in the morning in an intermittent fasted state. So your body is a little bit deprived of its storage carbohydrate and it’s ready to burn its own fat as a fuel. You fasted for 12 to 16 hours when you wake up. At that point, you put a little bit of caffeine into your system, like I mentioned, coffee is great at dumping some cortisol, but it also amps up your fatty acid burning. Green tea also works. Anything that’s caffeine based gives you a slight edge when it comes to your metabolic rate. Now, if caffeine isn’t your thing, there are some other herbs and supplements that can help. Two, for example, would be a cayenne pepper-based herb or bittermelon extract – either of these can achieve a similar effect in terms of shifting your body into a little bit more fatty acid utilization.
So, you’ve woken up 12 to 16-hour intermittent fast, you put some kind of supplement into your system that’s going to shove you into a little bit of extra fat burning and then you do that simple 20 to 30 minutes of very easy aerobic physical activity in a simple conversational aerobic zone. You’re not stressing your body out when you do it, you’re not finishing it up and feeling as though you’ve got to go eat a couple of waffles with almond butter for breakfast and pat yourself on the back because you did this hard CrossFit WOD in the morning and you’re stressed out anyway so you want to eat. You also don’t put yourself into a situation where, and this is very common based on human psychology, I worked out really hard this morning so I’m going to sit for four hours at work, right. Instead, it’s a very easy session. So, you’re still motivated to stay active while you’re at work; you’re not super stressed out, but you’re tapping into your own fats as a fuel. So, you’re fasted, you’ve got something in your system to increase the amount of fats that you burn, you move for 20 to 30 minutes, and then you finish that up with two to five minutes of cold exposure. A two to five minute cold shower or maybe jumping into the river that’s beside the walking path that you walk on or anything else that exposes your body to cold, and then you finish up and you go along and you start your day, and depending on the scenario that you’re in based on what we were just talking about with fasting, maybe you’re having breakfast afterwards, maybe you’re not, doesn’t matter because you didn’t do a super hard work out anyway. And, I swear, that routine, when you perform it regularly and you make that a part of your habit, a part of your ritual, and that’s the way that I stay pretty lean year round. That works fantastically.
Vishen: That’s phenomenal. And where does food come in?
Ben: So, when it comes to food, the basic idea is pretty much what I’ve harped on already. Reduce glycemic variability by ensuring that when you eat carbohydrates, your body is very responsive to them from a glucose standpoint, you’ve exercised before, you’re walking afterwards, you’re being careful with how high of a glycemic index those carbohydrates have. So you limit the amount of times your blood glucose goes up and down during the day and you limit inflammation. You do those two things and you’re going to equip your fat cells to be able to be converted into muscle tissue and also to die a horrible, painful early death.
Vishen: And so, one of my last questions, this is from Vereena [1:03:21] ______. Vereena are you in the room? Vereena, nice to see you.
Ben: Front row, baby.
Vishen: So, Vereena asks, what do you think, we’ve learned a ton today, what do you think is the best way to keep yourself motivated to continue along this path.
Ben: There’s the idea of extrinsic motivation and public embarrassment for not achieving your goals which I’m actually a fan of that versus intrinsic motivation – I’m just going to try really hard and make this happen. There’s a fantastic new book by author Benjamin Hardy called “Willpower Doesn’t Work” and that book is probably one of the better ones that I’ve read in terms of altering your personal environment to keep you more motivated – meaning if you walk into my office, there are kettlebells littered across the floor, there’s a pull-up bar there in the door of the office, there’s special, fun things I can stand on that make me want to stand during the day, there’s even a walking treadmill. I’ve hacked my environment to provide me with some of that intrinsic motivation for staying fit throughout the day. So to radically change your habits, you need to radically change your environment and that’s also a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated. Just change your environment and that can of course extend to your pantry, your refrigerator, etcetera.
Now, the second part of that is the extrinsic motivation piece and I’ve found that I and anybody I speak with who is heavily motivated to move, to stay physically active, to eat healthy, etcetera, they’re signed up for something. Sometimes it can simply be something as simple as a Quest in which you’re held accountable to a community and held accountable to a daily schedule that you’re adhering to because it’s written down and human psychology is we want to check things off. We want to achieve them. But, I also like to encourage people to sign up for events, right. I always have something on the schedule. I always know 12-months from now, I’ve got to travel to Iceland to do a Spartan Race or 4-weeks from now, I’m signed up for my local community 5K that I already registered and paid my $30 for. I always have something on the schedule that I can look forward to that provides me with, in addition to my intrinsic motivation, the environment I’ve created for myself, extrinsic motivation, fear of public embarrassment knowing that all my friends I told on Facebook that I was going to do this 5K or this marathon or pick your poison, I’ve held myself to it because I told the world “hey look, I’ve committed myself to this.” So, that’s what I do.
Vishen: Fantastic. So, in our final closing minute, any words to wrap up or brilliant words of wisdom or advice?
Ben: Go eat bear at Old Hansa’s tonight, make sure to ask them to cook it in butter and extra virgin olive oil, do some burpees beforehand, slip off into the bathroom and do some piss squats as you’re eating, go for a nice walk afterwards through old town, maybe engage in a jousting match beforehand to get the heart rate up a little bit. Yes.
Vishen: And then come watch Armin Van Buuren at the concert.
Ben: And then go dance you’re a** off to Armin Van Buuren.
Guest audience: How can we protect how our immunity because hot and cold every time, you know…
Vishen: So, that’s a good question. We are over the clock but I do want to answer that because in many cultures around the world there’s this belief that if we go out in the cold, we’re going to get sick.
Ben: Grandma said you’d get sick if you didn’t put your coat on, exactly. Not true, but I’ll give you one final little tip. This wasn’t what I wasn’t going to end on, but I’ll end on this anyways to give you a tip because I did it this morning and I do it any time I’m going to be around a lot of people, any time I’m on airplanes, any time I’m on buses, any time my kids have been exposed to cold or immune issues at school, it is one of the most potent methods that I use and that I travel with to keep my immune system strong. It’s a very powerful antiviral, antibacterial, it makes you smell like a giant pizza when you take it in every morning, it gives you great breath: oil of oregano. Oil of oregano is actually one of my secret weapons for immunity. So, try that one out and I guess we’re ending on oregano and bears. So, there you have it.
Vishen: Fantastic, guys. Please give a big round of applause to biohacker Ben Greenfield. Thanks, Ben.
Ben: Thanks, Vishen.
I recently spent an entire month in Tallinn, Estonia. It’s a small country near the border of Finland and was the site of the 2018 Mindvalley University, a month-long transformational event that is designed to create a university-style education model for all ages. I was fortunate to be invited as a Key Teacher, and I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, former podcast guest on this episode, and my good friend, Vishen Lakhiani.
On top of founding Mindvalley, Vishen also started Dealmates, a Malaysian-based e-commerce site, Blinklist, a social bookmarking service and A-Fest, an invite-only conference that offers training in conscious entrepreneurship and mindfulness.
Vishen is also the author of New York Times Bestseller, “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind”, a blueprint of laws to break us free from the shackles of an ordinary life. It makes a case that everything we know about the world is shaped by conditioning and habit. And thus, most people live their lives based on limiting rules and outdated beliefs about pretty much everything—love, work, money, parenting, sex, health, and more—which they inherit and pass on from generation to generation.
In this live fireside session, Vishen and I get down to the wild truths about health, biohacking, and longevity. Vishen had a few questions for me, and I was also able to answer a few questions from the audience.
You can watch the whole interview and check out Mindvalley U here.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How the remedies to many common maladies are right in front of us in nature if we just know how and where to look… 7:00
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–What a Tabata set is and how it enhances your fitness in a fraction of the time of a typical workout… 8:20
–How you can “hack” your environment to mimic that of our ancestors, even if you’re relegated to sitting in front of a computer screen all day… 9:30
–The biggest culprit to when it comes to inflammation contributors…16:20
–The research that shows how much exercise is “too much” for your own situation… 17:00
–What is my favorite “health hack?”… 24:00
–Everything you need to know to get the best night of sleep possible… 29:00
–What are my thoughts on “nutrigenomics”?… 42:15
–The one change I made that took 17 years off my biological age… 47:45
–My best advice on how to look good in the buff… 59:30
–And much more!
–Omax. Try a box on the house using my special link!
–Gluten Guardian Get 10% off your order using promo code “greenfield”.
–Health IQ Save between 4-33% on your health insurance policy for living a healthy lifestyle.
Resources from this episode: