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The Zen Of Rich Roll: Veganism, Yoga, Meditation, Travel, Kids & More.

WALL RUN MID RES

Plant-powered ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll is no stranger to the show.

Previous episodes with Rich have included:

-Ben Greenfield interviews Rich Roll on “How To Be Extremely Active And Eat A Plant-Based Diet Without Destroying Your Body”

-Ben Greenfield interviews Rich Roll on “Some Of The Craziest Superfoods You’ve Never Heard Of”

-Rich Roll Podcast #11 with Ben Greenfield: “Exercise Nutrition Geekfest“…

-Rich Roll Podcast #59 with Ben Greenfield: “Nutrition, Fitness, Online Entrepeneurism, Homeschooling And High Fat Diets“…

-Ben Greenfield, Rich Roll & Vinnie Tortorich Diet Debate Video

In this episode, Rich Roll returns, along with his new book entitled “The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family“, and in this episode, you’ll discover:

-The unique process of creating a photo rich, cookbook style manual instead of a print based book…

-The one food Rich would take with him to a desert island…

-Rich’s exact morning routine (and his biggest barriers when it comes to squeezing in that routine)…

-How Rich meditates…

-The crazy story of how Rich’s wife healed a golf-ball sized cyst with Ayurvedic medicine…

-How Rich gets his kids to eat things like adzuki bean edamame fettuccine or hash browns made with portobello mushrooms…

-How Rich and his wife manage homeschooling their kids…

-Rich’s take on kids and ultra-endurance…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

-Headspace App

-The Artist’s Way

-The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family

-Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide

-Ayurveda: A Life of Balance: The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types with Recipes

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Rich or I about this episode? Then leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out Rich’s new book “The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family“.

The Future Of Wearable Sensors.

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In today’s premium podcast episode, I interview Pierre-Jean, the co-founder of Echo Labs. Echo Labs has developed a wearable sensor that can measure what’s in your blood using spectrometry (which means that this wearable can measure actual molecules in your bloodstream), along with heart rate, blood pressure, hydration, heart rate variability, sleep and more. 

You’ll find out:

-New technology that allows you to get an accurate heart rate and heart rate variability score without using a chest strap…

-How the molecules in your blood can tell you whether you are burning fats vs. carbohydrates…

-How a wearable can detect your level of hydration…

-Which markers are most important to detect if you want to measure your rest and recovery…

-How an accurate heart rate variability could potentially be calculated without a heart rate monitor…

-How a wearable can measure aerobic performance…

-And much more!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the future of wearable sensors? Leave your thoughts below, and click here to go Premium and listen in!

Chewing On Sourdough, Deadlifting Kids & Shiver Yoga: The Top 10 Instagram Photos of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Instagram Channel.

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A year ago, I didn’t know what Instagram was.

And then I discovered what Instagram’s creators describe as:

“…a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever.”

So for the past several months, I have indeed been using shots of my life to share fitness, nutrition and human performance tips via photos (and 15 second videos) on Instagram. You’re about to discover the top 10 Instagram photos of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Instagram page, along with a takeaway tip from each. Enjoy, and big thanks to Jessica from TeamRenon for all her help with my Instagram-age.

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1. New Tire Toyz

Why not start with a video? In my podcast with strength coach Zach Even-Esh “Underground Strength Training Secrets: How To Get Strong And Stay Strong Using Training Secrets Of The Athletic Elite.”, we talked about research that proves Strongman style training, during which you flip tires, carry kegs, hoist rocks, drag sleds and do other macho deeds, has been shown to be just as effective for maintaining strength as traditional weight lifting, and may even be better at boosting testosterone and growth hormone. Finding free tires to flip and drag is as easy as visiting your local tire store and asking if they have any old tires that you can haul away.

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2. The Tempting Sourdough Loaf

I generally avoid wheat, but if there’s one type of bread that I’ll eat, it’s a traditional fermented sourdough loaf made from a local organic Palouse red wheat. Want to try your hand at making your own? A pretty close approximation to the recipe we use can be found in the article “Could This Baker Solve the Gluten Mystery?“, and we also discuss why sourdough is better in the podcast “How To Make Bread Healthy“.

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3. The Box Breathing Boys

Box breathing is not only a big part of my own morning routine, but is also something I do with my 7 year old twin boys. Before each of our father-son weight training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, and while driving to tennis on Wednesday and Saturday, we do 5 minutes of box breathing as a 4 count in, 4 count hold, 4 count out, 4 count hold, using the “Pranayama app” to guide us.

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4. A Big Ass Salad

Sometimes you just need a Big Ass Salad, and I have one for lunch every day of the week, just about 365 days a year. What’s in this one, you may ask?

-Spinach
-Parsely
-Tomato
-Celery
-Purple Carrot
-Stuffed Olive
-Garlic
-Hemp Seeds
-Pecorino Cheese
-Olive Oil
-Balsamic
-Tahini
-Homemade Sourdough Croutons
-Avocado
-Sea Salt
-Black Pepper
-Turmeric

BOOM. Big Ass Salad.

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5. Football Field WOD

I often post a WOD (Workout Of The Day) to Instagram, and when I discovered that a brand new football field had been built across the street from Grandma’s house in Ft. Lauderdale, I brought the boys over for a blistering hot afternoon body weight WOD:

Step 1: Find football or soccer field.
Step 2: Complete the follow AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) for 45-60 minutes.
      -1 lap around field at tempo pace
     -10 inverted pulls on uprights
     -100yd sprint across field at max pace
     -30 leg levers -15 burpees
     -Bear crawl back

Then simply sit back and wait for the rhabdo to set in.

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6. River Deadlifting

As I mentioned earlier, my kids lift. To reduce any potential for growth plate compression, they don’t lift heavy weights, but simply lift lighter weights with a focus on excellent form. In this shot taken from my son River’s deadlifting set, the workout was like many of the weight lifting sessions I oversee for them: simple and straightforward.

-5 minutes box breathing

-Mobility: 20 deep squats and 20 walking lunges

-5×5 deadlift

Usually, I’ll include a “finisher”, such as racing and down the stairs 3 times, doing 20 burpees, or a partner carry.

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7. Beet Juice & Protein Concoction

Ever been looking for some kind of pre or post-workout concoction and realize the cupboards are just about stripped bare of coconut milk, nut butter, raw almonds, yogurt, or just about anything else you mix together for a healthy smoothie? In this case, using about a half can of Beet Performer (a sponsor for my triathlon team) and a giant scoop of EXOS Vegan Chocolate Protein, I discovered a new recipe for a beet-chocolate pre-workout recipe that actually tasted surprisingly good.

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8. A Bacon Bloody Mary

After the Southern California Spartan Race, my wife and I visited Blackbird Tavern in Temecula and dined on roasted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower-three way, pork rinds, and this amazing Bloody Mary spiked with a bit of extra protein. I believe it goes something like this:

1. Add Worcestershire, soy (or coconut aminos if you’d like), black pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and horseradish to bottom of cocktail shaker.

2. Fill shaker with ice and add vodka, fresh tomato juice, and juice of one lemon wedge.

3. Shake well.

4. Taste for seasoning and heat, and adjust as necessary.

5. Serve with giant wedge of bacon.

Of course, eat breakfast afterwards.

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9. Shiver Yoga

Long before “snowga” took the world by storm, I was wandering out on my back patio in the early Spring, Fall and Winter with a pair of socks or sandals, shorts or boxers, and showing as much skin as possible to get a doubly whammy effect of yoga practice and cold thermogenesis. I still do it 2-3 times per week, usually fasted in the morning with a bit of caffeine in my system to maximize the fat oxidizing effect. This also works quite well when combined with Iceman Wim Hof’s inner fire breathing techniques.

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10. The Dip

Dancing does the heart good.

So does love.

Why not combine the two? I’m serious. If you’re not dancing regularly with your loved one, you should be – even if it’s in the comfort of your own home wearing a silly cowboy hat.

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What do you think? Do you use Instagram or have favorite Instagram accounts you follow for health, nutrition or fitness advice? Feel free to share your links, comments and questions below!

How To Use Unconventional Fitness Gear Like Kettlebells, Battleropes, Maces, Clubs And More!

johnwolfclub

Let’s face it: while all you need to get hella strong is a heavy barbell, it can sometimes be nice to beat the boredom, to challenge your brain and body in new ways and to be able to branch out and diversify your training with unconventional and slightly weird fitness gear.

So in today’s show, I interview John Wolf, the Director of Fitness Education for the Onnit Academy, and a guy who trains people with kettlebells, clubs, maces, sandbags, suspension training tools or with no equipment at all. In this podcast, we fill you in on everything you need to know about how to use unconventional fitness gear:

-Why the Onnit kettlebells have monkey and zombie faces on them…

-How to use a battlerope for both cardio and strength building exercises…

-The origin of the mace as a conditioning tool, and how you can use a mace…

-Why something called a steelbell may work better for you than a sandbag…

-How you can use clubs to increase shoulder mobility, strength and cognitive performance…

-The craziest full body workout you can do with unconventional equipment, including the Viking Warrior Mace Flow

If you want to get any of this weird fitness gear for yourself, then click here to visit Onnit and use code ‘bengreenfield10′ for a 10% discount on any order of gear, food or supplements – and leave any comments, thoughts and questions below!

This show was brought to you by JackThreads. You get a 15% off by visiting jackthreads.com/ben and using Promo code “bgf”. JackThreads was started because the founders were sick and tired of wading through an endless ocean of crap to find the stuff that they’d actually be proud to own. They believe that looking great and feeling better shouldn’t be a chore, and that a standout suit for your 9-5 shouldn’t force you to get a second job from 5-9. So everyday they feature a broad range of products that they can really stand behind. Daily drops of new curated collections from the brands you love, a seemingly never-ending feed of limited-run collaborations from mega brands and up-and-coming designers alike, and a growing stable of private label product Jackthreads is building from the ground up that you can’t find anywhere else.

The Effect Of Weed On Exercise: Is Marijuana A Performance-Enhancing Drug?

someecards runners high

As marijuana becomes more mainstream, with seven states preparing for legalization (hot on the heels of my home state of Washington, and also Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C.), an increasing number of athletes, including triathlete Clifford Drusinsky (a future podcast guest) and what seems to be nearly the entirety of the UFC, are now turning to a marijuana as a training aid for their running, swimming, cycling, lifting, fighting and more.

Since pot has long been known to alleviate pain, decrease nausea, and improve mood, it’s no surprise to see marijuana legalization seemingly accompanied by a surge of use among both recreational and hardcore athletes who are facing multi-hour, grueling training regimens, and who are turning to versions of weed that don’t harm the lungs, such as vaporizing, edibles and pot-based energy bars (recipe coming later in this article), and oils (if you want to try 100% legal and highly absorbable CBD Oil Extract, use 10% discount code BEN10 at BioCBD+).

Some athletes swear by using marijuana or its isolated active ingredients, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) as performance-enhancing drugs, saying these substances ease anxiety and increase pain threshold so that they can push themselves during workouts. Others say that smoking pot disintegrates their motivation to work out, and instead they find themselves munching Doritos while watching cartoons (a great way to decrease cortisol, but not an incredibly effective way to make big fitness gains).

Though marijuana (cannabis sativa) is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the NCAA, its increasing legality has many wondering whether using marijuana will help or hinder our quests for optimum athletic performance and fat loss.

Do THC, CBD, or other ingredients in marijuana enhance athletic performance on a molecular level? In this article, Ben Greenfield and GreenfieldFitnessSystems author Alyssa Siefert (a PhD in Biomedical Engineering) attempt to answer this question.

A few notes before we dive into the science – because only a few double-blind placebo-controlled human studies exist (the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 Drug by the DEA inhibits academic research), many of the purported effects of marijuana are extrapolated from rodent studies. So because there are significant differences between the endocannabinoid systems of rodents and humans (science geek-speak for “mice are not men”), certain findings from science are tough to extrapolate to actual people; you’ll notice, as you read, that in many cases the science you read about elsewhere simply does not apply to humans.

Also, as you read, it is important to remember that cannabis exerts different effects depending on dose, gender, acute versus chronic use, and route of administration (smoking vs edibles vs. ingesting).

OK, caveats and clarifications aside, let’s jump right in.

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What Happens To Your Body When You Consume Marijuana.

Here in the USA, legislation defines marijuana as all parts of the cannabis sativa plant, which contains over 700 chemical compounds. The primary active ingredients are cannabinoids, including THC, which is responsible for psychoactive effects and is the most studied.

Peak blood concentrations of cannabinoids occur in 3-8 minutes after you inhale, as opposed to 60-90 minutes after you eat a weed- or oil-containing edible, with neural effects beginning after 20 minutes and maximizing within a range of 2-4 hours. Cannabinoids bind cannabinoid receptors (easy to remember, eh?) on neurons and peripheral cells, receptors which are normally engaged by natural endogenous substances (called endocannabinoids) that your body already makes, but that also can be bound by substances from exogenous (outside) sources.

THC binds cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), mainly localized in the brain, while cannabinol (CBN) binds CB2, which exists mainly on immune cells. CBD binds neither receptor, but still affects numerous metabolic processes including appetite, pain sensation, immune function, stress reactivity, hormonal secretions, and muscle and fat tissue signaling.

The image below does a pretty good job visualizing this for you, and explaining the lock and key mechanism of receptors and substances that bind to those receptors.

human-endocannabinoid-system

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Dosing: Real Life vs. Lab Studies

The effects of marijuana differ enormously depending on strain, as each type contains varying amounts of cannabinoids. A good resource to examine specific strains is Leafly, which is the Yelp of marijuana and extensively reviews cannabis components and makes recommendations based on mood and activities. Generally, because the majority of folks seem most interested in the psychoactive THC properties of weed, most marijuana strains have been developed over time to contain increasing amounts of psychoactive THC (up to 25% THC as shown on lab certificates and reported values of up to 35% THC) and lower amounts of other cannabinoids like CBD.

The “sweet spot” for mild psychoactivity is about 2-3 mg THC (with users reporting feelings similar to 1-2 alcoholic drinks), with significant and strong psychoactivity reported at 5 and 10 mg, respectively. As such, Colorado dispensaries have set THC units at 10 mg for edibles. So how does this translate for recreational users?

Some of our fellow PhD’s calculated that the average joint contains slightly less than half a gram of marijuana (0.018 ounces), and 50-60% of cannabinoids like THC are absorbed into the bloodstream and bind receptors when smoking, with the rest lost to combustion and sidestream smoke. So depending on the strain, the total THC absorbed per hit could range from 1 mg to 15 mg. Eating marijuana in edibles or consuming it in oils actually decreases the amount of cannabinoids absorbed (10-20%), but the liver converts THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, which has more significant psychedelic effects and lasts about twice as long in the body.

Keep the above doses in mind as we review more marijuana studies below.

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How Does Marijuana Affect Athletic Performance?

It is generally accepted that smoking or ingesting marijuana decreases reaction time, disrupts hand-eye coordination and perception, and divides attention, and these effects can last up to 36 hours after usage.

A double-blind flight simulation study assessing motor performance in licensed pilots “flying” through pre-specified (and practiced) holding patterns showed that smoking marijuana significantly increased major and minor errors, and led to larger average deviations from the assigned flight sequence, compared to those who smoked placebo cigarettes. Performance was adversely affected for at least two hours after smoking, returning to control levels six hours later. The dose used was 0.09 mg THC per kg, translating to 7-8 mg THC for an average American male, equivalent to 1-4 joint hits, depending on strain.

Just in case you were entertaining the adorable thought of mouse pilots, the study cited above was indeed a human study.

pilot_captain_mouse_by_the_house_of_mouse-d56xi4s

This cognitive impairment may be explained by differential blood flow in the brain. In one study, brains were imaged by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to measure the acute effects of smoking marijuana. In the study, subjects performed auditory attention tasks before and after smoking pot.

After smoking, there was a substantial reduction of blood flow to the temporal lobe, an area important for focused tasks, and this reduced blood flow correlated with impaired performance. Interestingly, smoking marijuana increased blood flow in other brain regions, such as the frontal lobes and lateral cerebellum, regions associated with decision making, sensory perception, sexual behavior, and emotion. So it seems that the brain engages in significant blood flow shifting to specific areas under the influence of substances in marijuana.

Given these studies, one could conclude that smoking weed before a complex game, a task that requires very fast decision-making or reflexes, or a workout that incorporates new exercises could be a poor decision for peak performance. However, many studies supporting this logic use unrealistic doses (such as 100 mg THC), and behavioral studies suggest that only complicated tasks are impaired by marijuana, as a similar study with tasks of variable difficulty level showed that people are still able to perform simple tasks.

Therefore, an endurance athlete may benefit from the pain-numbing and bronchodilatory effects of marijuana to get through a tough training session, and a UFC fighter who is using THC in moderated doses could actually be able to experience a combination of pain-killing, creativity and focus. But including marijuana in high amounts – and especially meeting or exceeding doses of 100 mg THC – into a routine requiring complicated movements, an element of danger and teamwork, such as a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, could be a recipe for disaster.

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How Does Marijuana Affect Muscle Growth?

So let’s say you decide to use marijuana before a boring or standard lifting session in which you know the movements like the back of your hand. Will weed inhibit muscle building? Despite a number of adamant bloggers insisting it will diminish your power output or amplify your gains, the answer actually remains unclear.

For example, because long-term use of marijuana downregulates the expression and responsiveness of the CB1 receptor, in a manner similar to frequent blood sugar swings leading to insulin resistance, some say that THC may impair muscle building by interrupting the mTOR signaling pathway, which is important for protein synthesis. Furthermore, an oft-referenced human study shows that marijuana inhibited secretion of Growth Hormone, which does indeed suggest inhibited muscle building. However, this study used a very high dose of 210 mg THC per day for 2 weeks (that’s a boatload of weed), and while mTOR disruption by THC has been elegantly shown in the brains of rats, it has not been studied in human muscles; thus these deleterious effects on muscle synthesis are purely speculative.

Notably, the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, CBD, has been shown to regulate mTOR in a different way than THC, and CBD has been repeatedly shown to induce several health-promoting effects such as killing breast cancer cells, ameliorating epilepsy, and increasing cognitive performance in mice. Perhaps CBD counteracts the potentially detrimental effects of THC on muscle building. This would simply mean that the different components of marijuana could be helpful and harmful for muscle synthesis, and in practice, consumption of THC-rich strains would need to be accompanied by absorbable CBD oil to counteract any loss in muscle gain potential. Ultimately more focused muscle-building studies are needed on human athletes to make conclusions.

Ben, always the relentless self-experimenter (as we know from photos like the one below from his UConn study), has actually been experimenting extensively with CBD oil extracts in his training (combined both with and without THC-rich edibles) and will be reporting on the effects in detail soon. As a matter of fact, if you listen to podcast #314, you can hear Ben’s thoughts on 10, 15, 20 oil-based THC doses and even a rather humorous 250mg (yes, 250) edible THC doses.

Snipping out my thigh muscles.

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What Weed Does To Your Hormones

Because hormones are critically important for overall health and performance, it is important to understand how marijuana affects these systems. Numerous forums insist that marijuana induces unfavorable hormonal changes. For instance, marijuana has been shown to suppress the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) in rodents, but human studies suggest variable effects on the HPA axis. In both males and females, a realistic dose of THC (cigarettes containing 2.8% THC) immediately lowered Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and raised the dangerous stress-associated hormone cortisol, which may underly the paranoia some users experience. A recent study, one of the few with sufficient sample sizes, showed that the cortisol response to physiologically-relevant amounts of THC was blunted in chronic cannabis users; while plasma cortisol levels increased in a dose-dependent manner in both non-users and frequent users, frequent users showed less of a cortisol surge.

Many people believe that HPA suppression decreases the production of testosterone in men. Yet, the vast majority of testosterone in human males is produced by Leydig cells in the testes, with about 5% produced under the control of the HPA axis, so HPA suppression is unlikely to significantly alter the total amount of testosterone in humans. The hormonal effects of marijuana on women are complicated by natural hormonal fluctuations depending on menstrual cycle. A popular report posited that THC competes with estradiol to bind estrogen receptors and thus THC acts like estrogen; however, this was a rat study that may not translate to human biophysical interactions. Overall, surveying the literature found no definitive evidence that marijuana depresses sex hormones long-term.

Furthermore, chronic marijuana use may induce tolerance and reset HPA set-points such that any suppression of hormones returns to normal levels. Supporting this logic, the largest human study to date found no significant long-term hormonal changes in chronic marijuana users, and suggested that earlier studies involved insufficient sample sizes. Furthermore, a meta-analysis and human simulation study showed that male testosterone levels, while depressed immediately after marijuana use, returned to previous levels after 24 hours. Overall, based on the current evidence, it’s very tough to believe that marijuana induces permanent, damaging hormonal changes in most people.

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Does Weed Make You Fat?

As stoners seem to come in all shapes and sizes, it is unclear from mere observation whether weed leads to weight loss or gain. Perhaps counterintuitively, a 2013 adjusted epidemiological study showed that obesity rates are significantly lower for all groups of cannabis users (inclusive of gender and age) compared to those who had not used cannabis in the last 12 months. Although these findings have been replicated, the cross-sectional nature of this study precludes establishing causality; we cannot conclude that marijuana causes weight loss.

The lower Body Mass Index (BMI) of pot-smokers may be explained by an adaptive down-regulation of brain endocannabinoid signaling. While acute THC stimulates appetite, the repeated stimulation of CB1 receptors by THC decreases receptor expression and sensitivity, and long-term stimulation may result in antagonistic rather than agonistic triggering of CB1 receptors, which would dampen hunger signals.

Furthermore, CBD and another component of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), may reduce body weight, as animal models of obesity have shown THCV to increase metabolism of fat cells. But before you get excited that marijuana may burn fat, please realize that very few strains on the market have significant levels of THCV, so do your research (such as these four strains of skinny-pot that won’t bring out the munchies). Another study found that regular cannabis consumers have fasting insulin levels 16% lower than non-consumers as well as 17% lower insulin resistance levels.

Therefore, research shows that marijuana does not directly contribute to fat gain, and properly harnessing its dose-dependent stimulation or suppression of appetite may enable muscle gains or fat loss. For example, biohacking bodybuilders (or others desiring a post-workout anabolic state) can increase post-workout protein intake for mass and muscle building by consuming THC (in a higher-than-usual dose) before big workouts, whole those pursuing fat loss and appetite control may actually suppress nighttime cravings by using smaller doses of THC on a more frequent basis.

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A Personal Experience

After reading the article “How to Make Pot-Infused Energy Bars at Home“, in preparation for a self-report in this article, Ben actually made pot-infused energy bars (100% legal in his state), following this exact recipe for “No-Bake Toasted Coconut Energy Bars”. Be extremely careful to know how much you are consuming if you use a recipe like this. You may find this article helpful to make sure you do not overdose on THC like Ben did.

Ingredients are as follows:

-Ground weed (a little goes a long way – make sure you use a digital kitchen scale and know exactly what a “gram” of ground weed is if you don’t want to repeat Ben’s mistakes!)
-At least 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
-¼ cup butter or coconut butter
-2 cups of unsalted cashews
-1 cup of pitted dates
-Ground cinnamon
-Sea salt
-2/3 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
-A brownie pan
-Parchment paper
-A food processor

With full credit to this article in Men’s Journal, the instructions are as follows:

Step One
First, extract your THC. Grind a tablespoon of pot, whichever strain you want — sativas will keep you from wanting to stay on the couch (Ben found approximately 1.5g to be a sweet spot for him, close to 15mg THC) , but indicas will be better for relieving pain, if you’re aiming to go for a longer distance, so it’s up to you and what you’re used to (Ben noted that hybrid stains with a blend of indica and sativa are good for any kind of workout – particularly a strain called Lemon Haze). Then, in a crock-pot or a double boiler (or a regular sauce pan), on very low heat, cook 1 cup of oil with the ground herb. Stirring occasionally, every half hour or so, you should heat the oil and the pot together for at least 2 hours, if not 3. You can modify these measurements according to what you want to make, of course; do the math.

Step Two
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spread 2/3 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut onto a baking sheet, and cook it for 5-6 minutes, until the coconut is golden.

Step Three
Put the coconut aside, and spread 2 cups of unsalted cashews onto the baking sheet. Cook those for another 5-6 minutes, until fragrant.

Step Four
In a food processor, mix the coconut, the cashews, 1 cup of pitted dates, a healthy amount of cinnamon, and a tiny amount of sea salt. Pulse until the mixture is crumb-like.

Step Five

Add ¼ cup of unsalted butter (you can also use coconut butter, if you’re lucky enough to find it) and 2 tablespoons of your THC-infused coconut oil. Pulse until the mixture starts to clump. If it looks too dry, go ahead and add a little more butter. (Or more coconut oil, if you’re feeling optimistic.)

Step Six
In a brownie pan (8 by 8 inches should do the trick), dab some oil and lay down a sheet of parchment paper. Make sure the paper sticks to the sides. Then pour out your mixture into the pan, smooth it out, and stick the whole thing in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Step Seven
Slice them up and eat one (Ben found about 45-60 minutes prior to a workout is a sweet-spot). Or put one in your gym bag for later. Makes 8-16 bars, depending on your tolerance.

Seems like a lot of work to go through for experimenting with whether weed works for your workout? If so, you can use a small portable vaporizer, an oil-based vaporizer, or you can get more targeted microdoses of THC in oils or lozenges, which generally have about 10 mg THC per serving, but can be microdosed, split into smaller pieces, etc, for doses as low as 1-5 mg THC, or even consumed in their non psycho-active (and legal in all 50 states) CBD capsule or oil version.

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Summary

So now that we’ve thrown a bunch of science at you, are you thinking that marijuana is an asset or an obstacle to burning fat, building muscle, and performing at your best? Like any other tea, herb, powder, oil, capsule or supplement, its utility depends on your unique physiology and how you use it. If you read the article above carefully, you’ll notice many practical tips from Ben about what has seemed to work for him with the moderated doses of both THC and CBD he has been experimenting with.

While marijuana often has anxiolytic effect that can aid sleep and thus enhance recovery, some people (often those hard-charging overachievers with high cortisol) find it antithetical to their goal of finding inner peace. So once again, it is crucial to find the dose that complements your hormonal baselines to promote feelings of well-being, rather than paranoia, and combining smaller amounts of THC with ample amounts of CBD can be a good way to achieve this sleep and recovery goal.

Ultimately, it appears from science that most of the beneficial effects of weed are derived from CBD and THCV, and as Ben discussed in this controversial podcast on The Science Of Weed, CBD has been shown to have therapeutic activity in a number of inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, even in children. Unfortunately, if you live in a state or area where weed is not legal, most of the marijuana you get from the guy across town contains high levels of THC and little or no CBD, and the data is fairly conclusive that THC impairs cognitive and motor performance.

So when it comes to exercise and physical activity, we wouldn’t recommend smoking up before a complicated event requiring fine motor skills or people depending on you, such as a team Tough Mudder, a doubles tennis match, a basketball game, ballroom dancing, or lifting ungodly amounts of weight over your head, but you probably don’t need to worry too much about taking a pre-lift or pre-run toke or edible if you have normal cortisol levels and you find your motivation and performance remains intact or improves.

If you’re interested and within the bounds of legality, we’d advise performing an n=1 experiment to determine if marijuana increases or decreases your levels of stress, motivation, and appetite, and then rationally use it to aid your training and recovery plans accordingly. Let us know how it goes, and leave your questions, comments and feedback below!

If you want to try 100% legal and highly absorbable CBD Oil Extract, use 10% discount code BEN10 at BioCBD+.

Meat 101: Everything You Need To Know About Choosing Healthy Meat, Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed, DIY Meat Curing & More!

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Have you ever wandered into the meat section of the grocery store, a butcher shop or even a fancy charcuterie-style restaurant and been just slightly perplexed about which cuts to get, how to know if the meat is safe and healthy, the difference between words like natural, grass-fed, grain-fed, hormone-free, feedlot/CAFO free, or humanely raised?

In this podcast, we delve into the mystery of meat with Jacob Dickson of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. Dickson’s is a”candy shop for carnivores”, one of the most sought after purveyors of fine quality meats in the city of New York, and offers things like artisanal meats and house-made charcuterie made from animals raised without added hormones, prophylactic antibiotics, or animal by-products – whatever those are.

-How Jacob came into the food industry originally from corporate marketing…

-Which animal is the most efficient animal to eat from nose-to-tail…

-What you should you look for when you walk into the meat section (or a butcher’s shop) to know that the meat you’re getting is actually healthy…

-Why some grass-fed meat is not actually healthy grass-fed meat…

-What it really means for an animal to be humanely-raised and how you can know it’s really true…

-Why the word “natural” on a label means pretty much nothing…

-A big misconception about antibiotics, and why they’re actually used…

-Whether the mold and fungus that forms on meat in the curing process is really bad for you..

-How you can cure your own meat at home…

-The ultimate way to cook the tastiest steak…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

-Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

-Joel Salatin’s book

-Beyond Bacon book

-Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing 

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about choosing healthy meat, grass fed vs. grain fed, DIY meat curing or other meat-related topics? Leave your thoughts below!

5 Biohacks To Beat Insomia, Sleep Better On Airplanes, And Shut Down Stress.

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I remember the very first night I couldn’t fall asleep.

It was a Tuesday night six years ago, and I had a big flight on Wednesday morning to travel to Kona for Ironman Hawaii. I knew I needed a solid night of sleep to feel good during the next day of travel, and to arrive at the Big Island ready to race. But ironically, the knowledge of my ensuing flight, my ever-approaching alarm clock sound, and the worries racing through my head about whether I’d remembered to pack everything kept me tossing, turning, staring at the ceiling, trying different combinations of pillows, adjusting the room temperature, putting earplugs in, taking earplugs out, and trying every basic resting strategy I knew of so that I could squeeze in a few precious hours of shut-eye. If I’d have known then what I know now, I could have easily beaten the insomnia within just a few minutes, but at that point in my life, my biggest biohack didn’t go much further than flipping to the cold side of the pillow.

Of course, since that night, I’ve taken many a deep dive into hacking a good night’s sleep. I’ve written an entire book on training, nutrition and biohacking, along with articles like How To Hack Your Sleep, Beat Insomnia & Get Into A Deep Sleep Phase As Fast As Possible, creepy melatonin vaporizing videos like this, and plenty of podcasts like this that discuss just about every sleep-enhancing nutrient and tactic known to man.

But maybe you want to skip the drugs. Let’s just say you’re tired of powders, oils, capsules, liquids, teas, herbal formulations or chemical cocktails to manage your sleep, and you’re simply wanting to pop fewer pills.

Or perhaps you’re perfectly happy with the “better living through science” that supplementation can give you and you’re already trying the latest and the greatest, but you’re interested in sleep strategies that go beyond encapsulated formulas.

Or maybe you’re already experimenting with not only supplements, but also phone apps, lights, sound and more, and you’re just one of those people who is on a constant quest to gain even more tidbits of knowledge that give you a sleeping edge or just a bit more time in your deep sleep phase.

Either way, keep reading, because in this article, I’m going to reveal 5 biohacks to beat insomnia, sleep better on airplanes and shut down stress.

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1. The Sleepstream App

sleepstream appSleepstream is an app that contains over 8 hours of downloadable audio based around the concept of binaural beats, but also including calming sounds such as rain, wind, waves, etc. that have been handpicked and crafted to remove irritating frequencies and volume inconsistencies, along with guided voice meditations for sleep, relaxation and energy.

There are over 140 options for “Binaural & Isochronic Brainwave Programs” within the app, and these are split into 15 separate brainwave categories that include sleep, relaxation, energy, focus, meditation, hypnosis, learning, mood, motivation, creativity, lucid dreaming and more. To me, this initially seemed like a dizzying and confusing array of options, but after about 20 minutes of playing with different sound, music and binaural beat combinations (and annoying my wife with combinations of piano music, lucid dreaming binaural beats, and crackling fire sounds) I settled upon 1) the pre-programmed 8 hour sleep phase download available within the app (this cost me an extra 99 cents), which begins with light sleep phase beats and gradually lulls you into deeper phases and 2) the pre-programmed “Power Nap” setting. Both of these work like a charm for their intended purpose.

Now here is something important to understand about binaural beats in apps like Sleepstream: they work best with headphones, as opposed to simply pumping out the beats via an audio player next to your bed. Since I’m not a fan of using wireless bluetooth radiation technology next to your head all night while you sleep, I personally use a wired solution, and the best I’ve found so far are called “SleepPhones“, which allow me to sleep on my side without an earbud or a bulky noise-isolating headphone getting in my way or digging annoyingly into my ear.

My single biggest complaint about SleepPhones is that they don’t do a good job blocking out external noise. While this typically isn’t a problem in the bedroom, it can be a problem in airplanes and other public places where you may want to catch some zzz’s or do any other form of meditation, and so for that I recommend the non-bluetooth, ear-covering, noise-canceling headphones.

Finally, if you’re scratching your head about binaural beats and have no clue what I’m referring to, then please reference the article “How You Can Use Sound And Music To Change Your Brain Waves With Laser Accuracy And Achieve Huge Focus And Performance Gains“, and/or read up about them on this binaural beats wiki page. When you first hear them, they sound like a gentle, quiet, oscillating hum that hypnotically wanders back and forth between each of your ears.

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2. The Pzizz Sleep App

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At first glance, Pzizz and Sleepstream seem similar. Both are sleep apps, both have options for music, voices, and binaural beats, and both are adjustable for everything from a 10 minute power nap to 12 hours of steady sleep.

But there is one major difference: compared to the hundreds of noise combinations in Sleepstream, Pzizz is relatively simple. It simply has one Power Nap module and one Sleep module. That’s it. About the only other thing to fiddle around with on the Pzizz app is that you can choose to have the deep, soothing, mildly hypnotic male voice turned on or off (or just have the voice at the beginning, after which it gradually disappears – which is what I do).

Like Sleepstream, Pzizz is a relatively bulky download to your phone. This is because it’s not streaming the sounds from an internet source as it plays. You should actually be happy about this, because it means you can play Pzizz sounds as you nap or sleep with your phone in airplane mode, which is important if you want to avoid constant exposure to WiFi and Bluetooth.

Now here is where Pzizz comes in quite handy: when I’m traveling, at conferences, speaking, or have an extremely busy or stressful day, I’ll often try to nap but simply can’t fall asleep. And it can be frustrating when you’re just laying there in bed with you’re eyes closed knowing that your brain isn’t experiencing any semblance of relaxing delta or theta waves, and is in fact distracted by thoughts about where you need to be when actually do finish attempting your nap, or frustrated about the fact that you can’t fall asleep.

But when you turn on Pzizz on anywhere from a 5 minute to a 60 minute power nap mode, it lulls you into the same brain wave patterns as you’d normally be experiencing during sleep, even if you can’t fall asleep. And when the app finishes it’s power nap module, it gradually plays sounds that amp you back up into alpha brain wave production. So you can lay there on your back in bed, completely relaxed, experience a similar sensation to sleep, and wake up feeling just as refreshed and awake as if you had taken a nap. Interestingly, I’ve increasingly found that since using Pzizz I fall asleep during power nap mode anyways, even during a busy, stressful day. From what I understand, this is due to brainwave entrainment, which is the process via which my brain has actually been trained to go into a deeper state of relaxation when I turn Pzizz on.

Here’s the thing I didn’t understand about Pzizz until recently: it generally plays a 2-5 minute relaxing soundtrack, then shifts into a different soundtrack. There are in fact so many soundtracks within the random algorithm in the app that it creates a different soundtrack every time you use it, and can technically playover over 100 billion combinations. But I always thought this was somewhat strange, compared to just looping the same soundtrack (e.g. a track I “favorited”) repeatedly.  So I wrote to the good folks at Pzizz and asked them why the soundtracks are so randomized and if there was a way I could just loop the same soundtrack over and over again, and this was their reply:

“Thanks for emailing support. You can save favorite settings, but the track will still randomize. This is why Pzizz works – it gives you a unique track every time so that your subconscious never starts to anticipate what’s coming next. There are a few areas in each track that are the same to provide a “hook” of familiarity, but the randomness is really what makes Pzizz work so well. So, the short answer, I guess, is that no, there is no way to have it stay on exactly the same track.”

So there you have it. The brain can be fooled by randomness. Anyways, aside from an unfortunate name that sounds like a descriptive term for urination, Pzizz is a very useful app, and until I discovered SleepStream, was actually my favorite. For my own purposes, I now rank SleepStream slightly higher, but if you’re one of those people with a very busy mind who fall asleep faster when your subconscious is distracted and unable to grab onto that hook of familiarity, Pzizz may be a better pick for you. As with most of these biohacks, experiment with both and see which works best for you.

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3. The EarthPulse

Earth-Pulse-Sleep-On-Command

The EarthPulse is not a phone app, but is rather a completely inaudible (and admittedly expensive) magnet which emits a Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency (PEMF). You place the magnet under your mattress with the North pole side of the magnet facing up, and then select your desired mode from the small controller attached to the magnet. The mode is dependent upon which sleep (or wake) cycle you prefer, and each mode will emit a slightly different frequency that both vibrates your cells (good for recovery, removal of inflammation, bone and soft tissue healing, and cellular metabolism) and also elicits either alpha, delta, or theta brain wave production (many of the modes below walk you through each in a stepwise fashion).

Problem is, this thing can get pretty dang complex. The modes you can select are as follows:

RECOVER-MODE – Up to 12 hours 9.6 Hz with wake up phase and 1 extra hour alert at 14.1 Hz buffer, whether set for 8 hour or 12 hours. Also perfect for power naps. 

SLEEPEASY – 9.6 Hz for 10 Minutes (when set for 8 hours) then stepping down to 3 Hz in 60 seconds then stepping down further to to 1 Hz over course of during following 15 Hz – back up to 3 Hz for total of 4 cycles then wake up phase and 1 hour 14.1 Hz buffer.

SLEEP-MODE 1 – 9.6 Hz stepping down to 1 Hz over 45 minutes (when set for 8 hours) then back to 5 Hz stepping down to 1 Hz – back to 5 Hz for total of 4 cycles then wake up phase and 1 hour 14.1 Hz buffer to nag user to wake.

SLEEP-MODE 2 – 9.6 Hz stepping down to 1 Hz over course of 45 minutes (when set for 8 hours) then stepping back up to 3 Hz / down to 1 Hz / back to 3 Hz for total of 4 cycles then wake up phase and 1 hour 14.1 Hz buffer.

SLEEP-MODE 3 – 3 Hz stepping down to 1 Hz back to 3 Hz for total of 4 cycles then wake up phase and 1 hour 14.1 Hz buffer.

SLEEP-MODE 4 – 1 Hz start to finish; plus 1 hour 14.1 Hz wake up phase.

ALERT-MODE – 12 Hz to 14.1 Hz back down to 12 Hz for up to 12 hours (our choice as an interuptive field for EMF protection during waking hours).

MANUAL-FREQUENCY-MODE – Set for 1/2 hz – 14.1 Hz for up to 12 hours w/additional 1 hour 14.1 Hz buffer to help you wake when used for sleep.

ENTRAINMENT-UP – 9.6 Hz to 1/2 Hz back up to 14.1 Hz in 30 minutes or 1 hour then shuts off.

ENTRAINMENT-DOWN – 9.6 hz to 1/2 Hz and shutting down. 1 hour setting only.

Holy hell. That’s a fair bit of complexity if all you want to do is settle down for a good snooze. So while you can certainly knock yourself out with the manual and the dizzying amount of information on the EarthPulse website, I can give you a few simple tips based on works well for me and my clients who have used the EarthPulse:

-Don’t use it every night that you sleep. I only use mine for the first 2 nights when I’ve returned from domestic airline travel and the first week after I’ve returned from international airline travel. I also take it on international trips and use it every night under my mattress when traveling internationally.

-Use Recovery mode for naps (this mode is OK to use every day). Use SleepEasy or Sleep Mode 4 for sleep. I still don’t quite understand the reasons why, but almost everybody I talk to feels best with these two modes, whereas I’ve found that some people wake up in the middle of the night when using the other modes.

-If you’re a true biohacker, get a double whammy by purchasing a cheap headphone splitter like this and then order an extra magnet with your EarthPulse so that you can plug two magnets in and have one under your mattress near your head and one under your mattress near your legs. 

And of course, the other cool thing about the EarthPulse is that A) it’s totally silent, but if you want PEMF under you and binaural beats in your ears, it can be combined with Pzizz, SleepStream or Omharmonics; B) if you ever break a bone or get a stress fracture, PEMF is a research-proven therapy to help an injury like that heal faster.

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 4. Omharmonics

omharmonicsOK, we’re back to sound-based biohacks. OmHarmonics is described as “next-generation binaural beats meditation audio technology” that “unlike other existing meditation audios, is augmented with heartbeat synchronization and ambient sound technology that’s so advanced, it belongs 50 years in the future with flying cars and robotic butlers”.

Whatever. I have no clue if it’s that proprietary, and frankly, at the time that I’m writing this, I’ve only been experimenting with OmHarmonics for two weeks. But it is based on the idea that guided sounds can help to teach you how to meditate properly if that’s something you want to learn how to do, and it is comprised of the following combination:

1. Binaural beats;

2. Adjusting the beats that it plays based on the brainwaves you’re producing;

3. Engineered audio tunes that lull you into either alpha brain wave production and focused meditation, relaxation, creativity, or a deep sleep state, depending on the audio you choose.

But at it’s core, the purpose of the OmHarmonics app is to teach you to meditate, and that’s why I got it. See, I’m personally perfectly happy using Pzizz and Sleepstream to sleep (occasionally combined with an EarthPulse if I’ve been traveling or I want a biohacked power nap) but none of these options actually do a very good job walking me through a guided meditation process. So OmHarmonics kinda gives you the full package, and includes a guided meditation for:

-The start of the day, when you want to wake up;

-Times when you need to focus, such as before you dive into a complex book or start into a game of tennis or golf;

-Times when you want a spark of creativity, like before a business meeting or when you’re staring at a blank page of an essay;

-The end of the day, when you need to relax;

-Sleep.

You may be wondering why I’m using OmHarmonics if I’ve got my morning routine dialed in, and the other options above are working just fine for me for sleep?

Simply because I want to learn how to meditate, I want the confidence that I am meditating properly, I want to be guided through meditation by the closest thing I can get to an actual meditation teacher, and I want to see if this whole “learn to meditate like a monk who has spent their entire life practicing meditation in just 1/1000 of the time that poor robed man on the mountaintop took to do it” thing actually works.

I do have one beef with OmHarmonics: I don’t see any way that it is (as it claims) actually recognizing and adjusting to my brainwave production…because last I checked, you need to have electrodes strapped to your head in order to do that. But nonetheless, it seems to be working so far, and it’s the longest I’ve sat in a long time for more than 30 minutes without a good movie or a gripping book.

Anyways, you can order the OmHarmonics package as five sets of audios that come as a digital download, 6 CD’s shipped to your door (does anyone use CD’s anymore?), or both an instant download along with the set of CD’s, for the same price as a digital download – along with a full refund if it doesn’t do the trick for your needs, whether those be wakefulness, sleep, relaxation, creativity, or meditation (*cough*, sales and marketing 101, *cough*).

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5. Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental-MeditationIn podcast 312, I described a study that I recently discovered entitled “meditation acutely improves psychomotor vigilance, and may decrease sleep need“. The study, which relied upon transcendental meditation (furthermore abbreviated TM for the sake of my sanity), found that individuals who engaged in a TM practice were able to function fine on less sleep than their non-TM’ing counterparts – particularly by performing just as high on tasks of cognitive performance, despite being sleep deprived.

This certainly grabbed my attention, because there are many days in my life during which I simply don’t have as much time as I’d like to sleep, but know that if I don’t sleep, I’m going to be an absolutely cognitive mess the next day, no matter how much caffeine and how many smart drugs I shove into my gaping maw. Of course, there are other reports of meditation as a replacement for or an adjunct to sleep, such as:

-Sleep quality could be improved with mindfulness meditation
-Meditation and Its Regulatory Role on Sleep
-Experienced Mindfulness Meditators Exhibit Higher Parietal-Occipital EEG Gamma Activity during NREM Sleep

So what is TM?

Best as I can understand, it is a specific form of meditation which involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one’s eyes closed. Apparently, you should only select specific suitable mantras such as “eng”, “em”, “ema”, “shama”, etc. I think the closest I’ve come to this is during some yoga classes in which we’ve simply sat for long periods of time saying “ommmmm….”.

The TM technique is supposedly quite simple: you close your eyes – wait about half a minute, then start thinking the mantra over and over again. At the end of meditation, you stop thinking the mantra and wait about 2 minutes before opening the eyes. You don’t try to control your thoughts, and if a thought comes, you do not try to push it out. You simply become aware that you are not thinking the mantra, then you quietly come back to the mantra.

From my own personal research, there doesn’t appear to be a good app or book to learn TM by yourself, but TM instructors and courses exist (and yes, they are likely cringing at my extremely rough description of TM). So this December, I’ll be taking a TM course, and launching into an N=1 experiment on whether a daily 20-30 minute mantra meditation practice can actually replace a bad night’s sleep or chronic sleep deprivation. If so, TM could come in quite handy as a productivity and sleep biohack, and if not, I’ll at least have learned a great deal of patience, a little bit more about my own mind and body, and discovered yet one more technique I can tell you about.

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Summary

This is one of the more enjoyable parts about what I do: I experiment with stuff that affects your performance, recovery, fat loss, digestion, brain, sleep and hormones, and then fill you in from the trenches about what actually works, and what doesn’t.

At this point I can say, in summary, that if you want some weapons against insomnia and some good power-napping tools in your arsenal, I’d absolutely download Sleepstream and Pzizz. Then, if you have the extra money, add in an EarthPulse and get the OmHarmonics audios. And finally, although I have yet to speak from personal experience, it may be worth your time to invest in a TM course if you want to learn a form of meditation that seems to have some good sleep-based research behind it.

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Do you have questions, comments or feedback about these 5 biohacks to beat insomnia, sleep better on airplanes and shut down stress? Do you have your own tips to add? Leave your thoughts below!

Behind The Scenes Of How A Supplement Is Made: An Insider Interview.

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A few weeks ago, I hopped in my car and drove for an hour over to Dover, Idaho, where the Thorne Research facilities are located. While there, I embarked on a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of a supplements factory, getting to witness first hand how a capsule is made – from the raw ingredients analysis to the mixing and the blending to the encapsulation process and much more.

My guide on that tour was Dr. Alan Miller, who is the executive director of medical education at Thorne, assist with the creation of EXOS supplements, and is a wealth of knowledge on exactly how supplements are made. In this podcast, I interview Alan about the entire supplement manufacturing process from start to finish, and you’ll discover:

-What a special machine that costs over a hundred thousand dollars actually does to a supplement…

-Why employees at a supplements factory have to wear special moon-suits so their skin doesn’t get eaten away…

-Clear warning signs that your supplement may be tainted or have the wrong stuff in it…

-Why some fish oil tastes horrible, and what you can do about it..

-The difference between arginine, L-carnitine and the other “ines”…

-Why some probiotics don’t even make it into your digestive tract at all…

-What you can do about iron making you constipated…

-How to absorb curcumin better…

-And much more!

Resources and links from this episode:

-My original quest to discover the ultimate multi-vitamin

-The new EXOS fuel supplement line

-The LabDoor website for researching supplements

-FDA.gov adverse event reporting system (FAERS)

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how a supplement is made, or the line of EXOS supplements? Leave your thoughts below!

The Crucial Do’s And Don’ts Of Heavy Metal Testing And Metal Detoxification.

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Heavy metals are no joke (and despite popular belief, they’re not invisible, woo-woo compounds that only biohackers worry about). In a recent Molecular, Clinical and Environmental Toxicology journal article Heavy Metals Toxicity and the Environment, the authors report that:

“Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements that have a high atomic weight and a density at least 5 times greater than that of water. Their multiple industrial, domestic, agricultural, medical and technological applications have led to their wide distribution in the environment; raising concerns over their potential effects on human health and the environment. Their toxicity depends on several factors including the dose, route of exposure, and chemical species, as well as the age, gender, genetics, and nutritional status of exposed individuals. Because of their high degree of toxicity, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury rank among the priority metals that are of public health significance. These metallic elements are considered systemic toxicants that are known to induce multiple organ damage, even at lower levels of exposure. They are also classified as human carcinogens (known or probable) according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This review provides an analysis of their environmental occurrence, production and use, potential for human exposure, and molecular mechanisms of toxicity, genotoxicity, and carcinogenicity.”

Since it’s been a little while since we’ve visited the topic of heavy metals, and since I’ve personally found everything from high levels of bacterial iron to manganese in my own well water, I figured I’d bring on an expert doc when it comes to the topic of heavy metal testing and chelation.

My guest, Dr. Greg Mongeon is a wellness physician who has been providing healthcare services for more than a decade. He’s an Ironman triathlete, team doc for CompetitiveCyclist, and incredibly proficient at diagnosing the hidden root cause of numerous health challenges by utilizing cutting-edge diagnostic approaches with research-based laboratory analysis.

During our discussion, Dr. Greg and I talk about…

-The urine heavy metal test kit Dr. Greg sent me, and how I’m supposed to be using it..

-How you test for heavy metals, and the important difference between provoked and non-provoked testing…

-What chelation is and what products are used to chelate, including the warnings about DMSA…

-Who should be concerned about heavy metal toxicity…

-Why heavy metal testing is NOT for everyone…

-How long it takes to properly chelate heavy metals…

-Why IV Chelation can be dangerous…

-If it’s safe to chelate if you have silver fillings in your mouth…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss in this episode:

-If you want Dr. Greg to walk you through your own heavy metal testing, then visit DrMongeon.com. An initial evaluation is normally $395, but if you enter code “Ben100″, you will receive $100 off your evaluation.

-The heavy metal chelation spray called MetalFree.

-iaomt.org for biological dentistry.

-The NatureBeat heart rate variability (HRV) app.

-Here’s what a sample urine toxic metals report looks like:

Sample Report UT

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about heavy metal testing and heavy metal detoxification? Leave your thoughts below and Dr. Greg or I will reply!

An Easy Three Step, 42 Cent Way To Naturally Fix Constipation.

How To Naturally Fix Constipation

Constipation sucks.

Not only can walking around all day with fecal matter stuck up inside you put a scowl on your face from gas, bloating and that constant time-sucking nag to find a bathroom and “try to go” again, but long term constipation can create more serious complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction. Google any of those if you are curious. Not fun.

And you can get constipated for a variety of reasons.

For example, you can get constipated because you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

You can get constipated because you don’t produce enough digestive enzymes.

You can get constipated because you have yeast, fungus, or Candida overgrowth.

You can get constipated because you use sleeping pills, because those can decrease gastric motility.

You can get constipated because you ate too much fiber, or because you ate too little fiber.

You can get constipated simply because you didn’t drink enough water the day before.

You can get constipated from an improper pooping position.

You can get even get constipated because you have a parasite (more common than you’d think).

Other causes of constipation can include hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, heavy metal toxicity, or overanxiety. The tests and health detective work necessary to determine the reason for constipation go beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that constipation is the most common digestive complaint in both men and women, so I figured it would be useful to give you a cheap and easy fix to help you go when you need to go.

Although treatments for constipation include drastic dietary changes such as eliminating fermentable foods like FODMAPs, laxatives, enemas (even the infamous coffee enema), biofeedback, and in some serious situations surgery, I’d recommend you try this three-step 42 cent morning routine if you’re reading this and you want to get stuff moving ASAP.

Enjoy, and leave your questions and comments below the post.

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Step 1: Baking Soda + Lemon Juice

Step 1 is relatively simple. When you first awake, get yourself a giant glass, and put a heaping teaspoon-ish* of baking soda and the juice of half a lemon (or 5-6 drops of lemon essential oil) into about 16 ounces of water, then drink it down. It will taste like salty, non-sweet lemon juice. 

Regarding the amount of baking soda, please understand that results may vary. For some, a heaping teaspoon may induce liquid toilet explosions, while for others, a teaspoon may not be quite enough. But a teaspoon-ish amount is a good place to begin.

Why baking soda and lemon juice?

Baking soda, which I discussed in detail in podcast #311, has a variety of useful first aid and medical purposes. It can absorb and neutralize acids in the stomach and relieve intermittent and occasional heartburn and indigestion. It can be an effective odor reducer and natural deodorant because of its ability to neutralize acids and soak up moisture. And because it is a salt, it can also draw fluids into your digestive tract and increase intestinal peristalsis, tiny contractions of your gastrointestinal muscles that assist with movement of food higher up your intestinal tract and poo in the lower regions of your intestinal tract.

Lemon juice is well-known as a digestive aid and as a way to jumpstart digestive enzyme and hydrochloric acid consumption. Incidentally, the polyphenols in lemon can also increase fatty acid oxidation and a dose of lemon is also great for increasing alkalinity, a concept also discussed in podcast #311. Lemon essential oil is a bit different than lemon juice, and is a much more concentrated extract of lemon. It has an incredibly fragrant and aromatic scent, but it’s uses go far beyond a nose pleasing aroma, and it is widely considered in alternative medicine as one of the best essential oils for constipation. The bile production that lemon induces can also increase intestinal peristalsis.

And let’s face it: it’s pretty easy to find baking soda and lemon juice just about anywhere you go.

So where did I come up with 42 cents as a daily cost for the baking soda and lemon juice?

Look at it this way: a big bag of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda weighs in at about 8 cents per ounce on Amazon. Since there’s 0.2 ounces in a heaping teaspoon of baking soda, you’re looking at about 1/5 of that 8 cents per serving, which comes out to roughly 1.6 cents. Just in case you decide to get crazy with your soda serving, let’s round that up to 2 cents.

Next are the lemons. One dozen fresh organic lemons from Amazon come out to around $1.67 per lemon, and if you’re using half the juice of that lemon each morning, you’d be spending 83 cents each morning on your lemon habit. And let’s face it, I’d wager you could probably get a better deal on lemons at your local grocery store.

If you decide to go the fancy pants route and use essential oils rather than the lemon itself (which comes in handy when you’re traveling and can’t get your hands on a fresh lemon), you can get the Young Living lemon oil that I use and put 5-6 drops of that in with the baking soda. Lemon essential oil is about 12 bucks for a month’s supply, which is approximately 40 cents a day (amazingly, less than using actual lemons!).

So ultimately, unless you factor in the cost of the giant 16 ounce glass of water you’re going to put the lemon and baking soda into, you’re looking at about 42 cents a day (or if you opt to use fresh lemons, slightly more than that). Everything else you’re about to read in this article is…free.

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Step 2: Do These Seven Yoga Poses

OK, so you’ve had your giant glass of water with baking soda and lemon juice or lemon essential oil. The next step is to complete the following set of yoga poses, which are fantastic for relieving constipation and for improving digestion. Hold each pose for 3-5 deep, relaxed inhales and exhales. Do not rush through these and do not do shallow chest breathing.

knee to chestKnee-To-Chest: Lie down on your back on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your arms relaxed by your side. Bend your right knee and bring it up to your chest with both hands. Both of your hands should be placed just below your knee and on top of one another. Now pull your shin towards your stomach so that your shin pushes against your abdomen, allowing your shin to massage your stomach as you breathe. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths before slowly lowering the right leg and repeating on the other side.

garland poseDeep Squat: This is also known as “The Garland Pose”, but I like to call it the “dump-in-the-woods” pose.  Squat down with your feet about 1-2 feet apart, and slightly duck-footed (pointing outwards). Your heels should be on the floor and you can place a folded towel under your heels if you can’t get your heels down. Now separate your thighs so that they are slightly wider than your body, and then lean forward between your thighs. Next, put your elbows on the inside of your knees with your palms together (in a “prayer” position) and gently push against your knees. You’ll feel a stretch in your crotch and you’ll feel your low back elongate. The same time length, breathing and relaxation rules apply to this one.

cat cowCat Cow: Get on your hands and knees on the floor in a crawl position. Inhale, making sure your back is flat and your abs engaged. Exhale, drop your head and round up your spine so you look like a cat arching it’s back. On the inhale, arch your back, lifting your head and butt and looking forward for cow pose. Switch back and forth between the two poses, connecting your inhale with cow pose and exhale with the cat pose. Slowly repeat 5 times.

standing forward bendStanding Forward Bend:  Stand with your legs slightly apart, and bend forward from the waist. Keeping your back straight, place your hands on the floor or get them as close as you can to the floor. Every time you exhale, try to get your hands just a little but further towards your feet or the floor.

 

open triangle

Open Triangle: Stand and take a big step back with your right foot, turning it out to about a 45 degree angle. Spread out your arms. Keep your spine long as you hinge forward at the hip. Float your left hand down to the floor. Raise your right arm, keeping your arms spread out. Look up to your right hand. Take your 3-5 deep breaths. Then repeat on the other side.

spinal twistSpinal Twist: Lie down, hug your knees and inhale. As you exhale, drop your knees to the left, using your left hand to push them down gently. Then, turn your head and stretch your arm out to the right. Stay for 3-5 breaths. Inhale, and return your hands and knees to center. Then repeat on the other side.

inverted poseInverted Pose: Place two folded blankets about three inches from the wall and sit on them so your right hip and side touch the wall. Swivel your body around and raise your legs onto the wall. Keep your buttocks close to or against the wall. Lie down so your lower back and ribs remain on your support, your tailbone descends toward the floor, and your neck and shoulders rest on the floor. Settle deeper into the pose by allowing the arms to rest above the head, with elbows comfortably bent and open to the side, and open your chest. Rest in the pose with your eyes closed for 3 to 5 minutes.

Why do these poses work so well? Yoga has a strong ayurvedic medicine component and one state that your body can be in is referred to in ayurvedic medicine as “vata”. Ayurvedic medicine classifies constipation as a vatic disorder, because vata governs movement and elimination, and excess vata can cause spasms, especially in your colon and pelvis. Interestingly, very narrow stools or stools shaped like small pellets or balls signal the presence of a spasm in the smooth muscles that make up the wall of the colon.

If you suffer from chronic constipation, you need to learn to relax deeply enough so those muscles will let go, and these poses are a perfect way to do that. Every time you perform this yoga routine, your constipation can get just a little bit better. This is because habitual muscle tightness in the pelvic often stems from long-term chronic anxiety, stress, or trauma that takes regular practice to resolve, so this yoga routine both relaxes the muscles that tend to get tight, and helps you relax mentally too – relieving the anxiety that can often make morning bowel movements difficult.

The inverted pose above is especially useful if your constipation is due to anxiety, stress and tightness in the hips and pelvic muscles because vata excess disrupts the the downward energy that supports elimination, so when vata is out of balance, things go up instead of down. The solution is to turn yourself upside down, and an inverted pose (or if you want to bring out the big guns, an inversion table) can help settle the organs in your pelvis that may have been out of place or “stuck.”

Incidentally, I simply complete each of the yoga poses described above while my cup of coffee is brewing.

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Step 3: Move

This last step is simple. Once you finish your yoga, move for 1-2 minutes. Vibration, bouncing, or any type of impact-based movement work quite well.

Some people stand on a vibration platform. That’s an expensive option, in my opinion.

Other people bounce on a mini-trampoline.

Me? I just do jumping jacks. About 50-100 will suffice. If you want to be a true pooping ninja, do warrior breathing while you do the jumping jacks. That really gets stuff moving.

After a bit of hopping around, grab a cup of coffee and proceed to the toilet to take a squat, hit the john, listen to the call of nature, grow a tail, prairie dog it…you get the idea.

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Summary

Do I do this routine every day?

No.

But it comes in quite handy when I’m traveling (traveler’s constipation is quite common) or when I have a busy morning, I need to get my bathroom business over with quickly, and I’m willing to substitute the constipation yoga routine described above as a replacement for my normal morning yoga routine.

So that’s it! Leave your questions, comments, thoughts, or your own personal constipation fixes below.

Next, remember: even though the routine that you’ve just discovered will indeed get you a good poop ASAP, it would still be wise to figure out why you’re constipated in the first place. I’d be happy to help you via a personal, one-on-one consult, or to point you in the direction of the right blood test or poop test if you comment below.

Finally if you dig stuff like this, you’ll probably really like to read about my entire step-by-step morning routine (in teeth-grittingly specific detail).

Concussions: A Must-Listen Podcast If You Or A Loved One Have Ever Had A Head Injury.

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One of the worst injuries of my life was a mountain bike crash when I was 13 years old. One moment I was bombing down the driveway with a big smile on my face (but no helmet on my head) and three hours later I woke up at the hospital.

I’ve always wondered if I was tested the right way when I was at the hospital, and if everything was done that should have been done when it came to optimizing the healing of my head damage and shutting down brain inflammation as quickly as possible.

I’ve also always wondered whether kids who get concussions might be getting missed diagnoses, improper treatments or lasting cognitive damage, and if there are ways to keep kids and sporting adults from getting concussions in the first place…

So in today’s episode, I get Concussion Health Certified Provider, Certified Sports Chiropractic, ART Certified Provider
and ImPACT Certified Provider Dr. Kelly Ryder on the show, and we discuss:

-What a concussion really is…

-The different types of concussions, cerebral vs. vestibular cochlear concussions, and the kind of concussion that is often missed and not diagnosed…

-What the ImPACT test is…

-Why improper exams and the wrong imaging techniques are so often used in concussions…

-The one test you must ensure is done on you or your kids if you want to make sure you’re being treated properly…

-Which alternative treatments really work for concussion healing, from hyperbaric therapy to neurofeedback to balance therapy and eye therapy…

-How a diet should be set up to reduce brain inflammation…

-How to decrease your risk of getting a concussion in the first place…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

-Dr. Kelly Ryder’s website

-The Muse app for training the brain

-Amen Clinics for SPECT scans

-Glutathione for brain inflammation

-Fish oil for brain inflammation

-Jack Kruse’s article on concussion and inflammation

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to heal from a concussion, and natural remedies for concussions? Leave your thoughts below!

Forest Bathing, Sleep Hacking, Cell Phones & Water: The Underground Guide To Lowering Cortisol When Nothing Else Seems To Be Working.

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The nefarious, notorious hormone cortisol is a molecule that is near and dear to my heart. Both myself and many of the athletes I’ve worked with have struggled with high blood and salivary cortisol levels no matter what we do to try and control it or lower it.

So in today’s podcast, myself and my guest Evan Brand – a Nutritional Therapist at Greenfield Fitness Systems – take a deep dive into underground, little-known methods to lower cortisol levels, including methods I’ve never talked about before on the podcast or in my books and articles.

In this discussion, you’ll learn about:

-The enormous cortisol bomb that exploded inside Evan’s body when he moved to Austin, Texas…

-The ratio of cortisol-to-DHEA that would be ideal…

-Why I rarely bring my kids on airplanes anymore…

-How you can use Shinrin-yoku, A.K.A. “forest bathing” to decrease stress and cortisol…

-The concept of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to lower cortisol…

-Evan’s crazy story of phenibut, and whether you should actually use phenibut…

-Where marijuana fits in…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss during this episode:

-Evan’s coaching page at GreenfieldFitnessSystems.com

-Onnit supplements

-The book “Dirty Electricity” by Sam Millham

-GreenWave Dirty Electricity Filters

-Digital Outlet Timer

-Evan’s REM Rehab sleep product

-Evan’s Stress Solution book

-Study: effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function

-The NASA Clean Air Plants project

-The Tapping Solution Book for EFT

-Skullcap

-California Poppy Tincture

-VaporBoost Sweet Dreams

-Upgraded Self GABAWave

-The Nutritional Therapy Association

-CBD Oil Documentary “The Science of Weed”

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about lowering cortisol or controlling stress? Leave your thoughts below.

The Underground Guide To Planning Your Exercise Around Your Menstruation Cycle.

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Last week, in the podcast episode “#310: The Menstrual Cycle And Athletic Performance, How To Get Kids To Grow Taller, Fueling For Soccer Matches & More!”, I answered many questions about the mysteries of the menstrual cycle and athletic performance.

But just in case you need more, or you want to read up on the nitty-gritty details of how exercise is affected by hormones (and vice versa), in today’s guest post, Austin Whisler – a coach in training at SuperhumanCoach.com – is going to dive in and enlighten you on every complexity you need for planning your exercise around your menstrual cycle.

Whether you’re a personal trainer or coach who works with female athletes, or you’re a woman who likes to exercise, consider this a crucial article to read if you want to plan your physical activity around your menstruation cycle…and leave any of your questions, comments or feedback below!

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Introduction

With adult women making up such a large percentage of people at the gym and out pounding the pavement, coaches and trainers (regardless of their sport) must educate themselves on the complexities of the menstrual cycle.

Ever heard of the pregnenolone steal?

That the luteal phase of menstruation lowers your insulin sensitivity while at the same time giving you an increase in metabolism?

Progesterone depletion?

You may not be familiar with all these terms, or how to use knowledge of them to your advantage or your clients’ advantage for exercise, so continue reading to figure out how you can help educate yourself or your clients on factors to track during menstruation.

And trust me, don’t stop reading if you’re a guy! Us men will benefit greatly from knowing how our partners, spouses, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and clients can plan their exercise more intelligently. But before learning ways to plan training during menstruation, let’s dive into the basics of the menstrual cycle.

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The Start Of Menstruation

The menstruation cycle starts at Day 1 after the unfertilized egg causes the uterus lining to break down.  A menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days but can vary depending on many factors.  For simplicity, in this article I will use a 28 day cycle as the example to cover the phase variances. Body-wide fluctuations occur during this time, but we’ll pay extra attention to levels of estrogen, progesterone, and insulin sensitivity.

BG Fitness

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Follicular Phase

The follicular phase comes first (lasting roughly from Day 1 to Day 14) and occurs when the ovary releases an egg. At this point, estrogen increases, while progesterone and body temperature stays the same (See diagram below).  This first phase is a time where the female body is primed to hit intense workouts that are of an anaerobic nature.  Increased insulin sensitivity, along with an increase in pain tolerance, can explain this capability.

An article from The Globe and Mail by Alex Hutchinson stated that carbohydrate loading the day before an endurance competition is more important during this phase.  Later in the article, Hutchinson interviewed a scientist that stated that the metabolic effects during each phase can be negated with purposeful nutrition.  For example, if competition falls on this phase, carb loading during this phase is more important than other periods of the menstruation cycle. Hutchinson also found that performance during menstruation is highly variable. Supposedly, this whole carbohydrate need is due to the body’s ability to better dip into intense glycolytic efforts during the follicular phase, although it would be interesting to see if women who follow a high-fat diet have quite as high a need for carbohydrates during this phase. Regardless, you may want to try to adjust carb intake slightly up during your follicular phase, while at the same time planning your more intense, glycolytic workouts during this phase.

Some women perform unaffected, and others have phases that hinder performance if left unattended.  During training in the follicular phase, coupling intense workouts with refeed meals should be utilized, preferably including carbohydrate sources such as sweet potatoes, yams, rice, or starchy vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and beets.

The American Journal of Nutrition stated that basal metabolic rate decreases at the beginning of menstruation and reaches the lowest point a week before ovulation.  Doing more intense workouts and including metabolism-boosting post-workout meals in the follicular phase will help counteract this slower metabolism, says Shannon Clark in this T-nation article.

BG Article

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Ovulation

Ovulation occurs around Day 14.  Estrogen has peaked and begins a decline, while progesterone surges.  It is normal during ovulation for a woman to feel warmer for the remainder of the cycle. Clark stated in her T-nation article cited earlier that metabolism will start to climb, while insulin sensitivity will begin to decline.

As progesterone surges, a slight decrease in serotonin can happen, and since carbs can boost serotonin, food cravings can often occur at this time. You can use some of these tips to avoid giving into the serotonin boosting carbohydrate gluttony. During ovulation, estrogen and overall strength is peaked, so heavier weight training can be appropriate during this phase (rather than the more difficult cardiovascular anaerobic efforts of the follicular phase) – however, the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that due to joint laxity and estrogen-induced changes in collagen structure, ACL tears are four to eight times more likely to happen during this phase.

Consider supplementing with a tablespoon of collagen in your morning smoothie, place more emphasis on your warm-up, include recovery sessions, and be aware of fatigue and proper form.  More applicable recommendations that you can use for yourself or female clients will be listed below, but let’s finish the details of the menstruation cycle, shall we?

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Luteal Phase

Next is the luteal phase, which begins on ovulation day, for which we will say is happening on approximately Day 14.  During this phase, your body is not primed to workout at very high intensities, the body will prefer fat as its primary fuel source instead of glycogen, and you might retain more water at this time due to PMS symptoms. This might cause discomfort during short burst exercise – plan for lack of motivation here, and stick to aerobic activities as your primary exercise.

Fat burning workouts should be emphasized during the luteal phase.  If you are doing a workout that is strength or glycolytic, note that the luteal phase is not ideal for these domains and you may not perform to your usual capabilities. This is the time of the phase to plan things like aerobic trail runs, flat bike rides, easy swims and other aerobic activities that are at a slightly conversational pace.

After the luteal phase, the transition back to he menstrual phase, will bring metabolism, insulin sensitivity, body temperature, and water retention back to a slightly more “normal” feeling.  For a graphic representation, you can reference the first picture posted under “The Start of Menstruation” above to better understand phases.

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Eight Recommendations For Planning Exercise Around Your Menstrual Cycle

So now that you have your head wrapped around the menstrual cycles, let’s jump into even more practical advice. What considerations should you take for programming for females? Here are some of my top tips.

1) Achieve Nervous System Balance.

Every week must include a slow, long distance workout of around an one hour of conversational paced work.  This will help women have smoother cycles because their body won’t feel as much stress in the sympathetic nervous system.  Not only will this help increase your heart stroke volume, stimulate parasympathetic nervous system growth, but it will also provide a nice active recovery for your body allowing your body to flush out lactic acid from muscle tissue. Going for an unplugged trek can be therapeutic and help build a more robust cardiovascular system.  Mothers and wives – this is also a good chance to bring your family along!

2) Know Where You’re At.

Begin tracking performance during each phase for your entire menstruation cycle.  Take notes on sleep, macronutrient consumption, and exercise intensity.  Communicate these notes with your coach. Try the “Flow” app to make tracking your cycle easier.

3) Moderate Stimulants.

Another important stressor to monitor includes avoiding dependence on caffeine as a stimulant. Allow your sensitization to caffeine to recover after drinking caffeinated coffee by following Ben Greenfield’s habit of alternating three weeks of caffeine with at least one week of decaf, including a variety of nourishing teas, guayausa, chinese adaptogenic herbs, etc.

4) Eliminate Soy.

Along with regulating caffeine intake, eliminating commercial soy sources such as tofu and soy milk can help some women avoid estrogen dominance, which can lead to menstrual cycle irregularities.

5) Use Supplements.

To reverse the effects of estrogen dominance, Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield asks you to consider drinking 2-3 cups of organic green tea powder, consuming more fiber, supplementing with a Vitamin B/antioxidant complex, and many more found in Chapter 14 of his book.

6) Keep Moving No Matter What.

Movement (not necessarily a daily Crossfit WOD!) will help relieve cramping and headaches.  The release of endorphins will help reduce crankiness.  Movement can also help put you to sleep and resist cravings, as long as macronutrient needs are met depending on exercise intensity and the given phase of menstruation. But if you have cramps, excessive flow, or have a poor reading on your HRV that morning, take that day off from structured exercise or hard workouts.  Now, this is not an excuse to sit on the couch all day, so don’t get too excited!  Instead, try techniques like ‘greasing the groove’*, using a standing desk, reading a book, working on your mobility (especially your lower body mobility), spending some time on a rumble roller, and ensure you have proper foods prepared for the next couple days.

*Popular movements to ‘grease the groove’ include: jumping jacks, band pull-aparts, strict pull-ups, bodyweight squats, lunges, or something as simple as going up and down the stairs a few times, refilling your water bottle, and holding a few stretches.  Movement throughout the day is very important for overall health because GLUT-4 will shuttle more glucose into the body and lipoprotein lipase will be produced by muscle tissue when leg muscles are being flexed.  A lack of lipoprotein lipase is associated with many heart problems, including heart disease, so please get an adjustable standing desk.

7) Know Your Fat Burning Zone.

Know your fat burning zone for that luteal phase! Superhuman-approved example fat burning workouts, most especially for the luteal phase of a cycle, are a great way to shred fat at a time where your body is primed to do just that.  For example, you can perform 8 sets of 5 minutes at 60-70% of your VO2 max of running, biking, swimming, rowing, hiking, brisk walking or elliptical, with 3 minutes of easy movement between each bout (as opposed to a follicular phase workout, which might be something like 20 sets of 1 minute bursts at the same pace with 30 seconds of recovery in between, or an ovulatory phase workout, which might be a 5×5 style weight training routine).

How do you find your fat burning zone? Many tests exist to approximate your VO2 max, but the one Superhuman Network coaches use is a 20-30 minute run at a maximum sustainable pace while wearing a heart rate monitor and taking the average heart rate that you had, then subtracting 20 beats for your fat burning zone (more details here). Even though these are easy, fat-burnign workouts, you should not perform these or any workouts without following up with proper post workout nutrition if you have a history of missing your period.

8) Go Beyond Training.

A few more lifestyle basic tips from Ben’s book would include: do not skip meals, consume a high protein breakfast on your harder workout days, eat a diet high in ancestral meats such as liver and bone broth, consume a high amount of healthy fats, get proper quantity and quality of sleep, and track your HRV. These are all small ways to enhance your performance and can also lead to a more consistent menstrual cycle, along with better exercise sessions and better recovery. Maintaining low energy movements throughout the day, eating enough carbohydrate to fuel workouts as well as support menstruation (e.g. timing your carbohydrates to happen in conjunction with your workouts – here are some good post workout nutrition ideas for endurance and strength athletes.),  consuming fat from healthy nut butters or MCT oil, and performing no more than three very intense workouts (like Crossfit wods, Tabata sets, longer track sessions, etc.) per week can also be helpful, especially if you tend to miss periods.

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Summary

If you’re reading this and you’re an exercising female, it’s possible that you simply are not regular. Your periods are on and off. You’re amenorrheic.

Spencer Nadolski from Precision Nutrition cites in Fitness & Menstrual Health: How to Stay Lean, Healthy, and Fit without Losing your Period states that women need to avoid excessively restricting calories, daily intense exercise causing an overstress on the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system, losing too much body fat, and other factors that lead women to miss a menstruation cycle called hypothalamic amenorrhea.  In short, your body responds to this state of deprivation and physiological stress by deeming your period as unnecessary and not vital for its own survival. Fertility goes out the window. As I’ve heard Ben Greenfield say in many a podcast, our ancestors didn’t run from a lion every day – and neither should we.

If you’ve dug yourself into this type of hole, research clearly has shown the fix: eat more and exercise less. It really is that simple. This is tough for many women to hear, but it simply works. This is also important for hormone balance and aesthetics. Women need to avoid excessive training and overall stress from everyday life. The hormone precursor, pregnenolone, can be shuttled into cortisol production instead of progesterone production.  This causes disruption of your body’s naturally-occurring anabolism and fat utilization for energy production. Excessive cortisol, pregnenolone steal and estrogen dominance are factors that coaches, personal trainers, and women need to understand not only due to their effect on performance, but also because they can indeed make women gain body fat.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that planning exercise around a 28 day menstrual cycle is still meticulously being researched, and exercising around and during your period is very individualized depending on your sport, symptoms, stress, and nutrition.  Micronutrient deficiencies, thyroid problems, and the mystery of how important carbohydrates are still being researched but the recommendations above and the insight gained from this article will be a great start for you.

If you want even more reading on this topic, one of the more comprehensive books out there is “Running For Women” by Jason Karp, the article “What Really Causes Irregular Menstrual Cycles In Female Athletes” and Ben’s recent podcast on the topic. Leave your questions, comments or feedback below!

4 Things Your Saliva Can Tell You About Your Hormones.

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If you want to know if you have a hormonal imbalance, test your hormones, or fix your hormones, you’ll definitely want to tune into this episode!

Let’s start here: I get tons of questions from listeners down under (that’s Australia for those of you who flunked geography) about where to get things like blood, gut and hormone testing done. So after a bunch of searching and talking to a some of my trusted Australian friends, I discovered Dr. Michael Smith from PlanetNaturopath.com.

Dr. Smith is a Naturopath and Kalish Method Functional Medicine Practitioner who specializes in hormonal disorders, adrenal, thyroid and digestive function. He works with clients from the chronically ill to athletes wanting to improve performance and does consultations face-to-face in Australia, and also via Skype or phone.

During our discussion, you’ll find out:

-What exactly a Kalish practitioner…

-The 4 different hormone imbalances in seemingly healthy people…

-Why having normal progesterone could not be enough if your cortisol is also high…

-Why you don’t have to be the stereotypical “fat” woman to have estrogen excess…

-How low estrogen can be just as big a problem as high estrogen, and what type of soy products you should be eating for low estrogen…

-Why you can have normal hormone levels for most hormones, but low DHEA…

-When high testosterone can be an problem…

Resources Michael and I discuss in this episode:

-KalishInstitute.com

-Michael’s website PlanetNaturopath.com – mention this podcast episode and you get $50 off a “Hormone Package”, which includes a one hour consult, an adrenal test and saliva sex hormone test.

-Progesterone drops for increasing progesterone.

-Mountain Rose Herbs – (look for Vitex or Chastetree for increasing progesterone).

-Calcium d-glucarate for estrogen excess.

-Curcumin, transdermal magnesium and adaptogenic herbs like TianChi.

-Peony, licorice and inositol for high testosterone.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about salivary hormone testing or the 4 hormonal balances that we discussed? Leave your thoughts below!

The Hidden Truth Behind Toxins, Detoxification & Detox Diets.

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Dr. Tim Jackson – a medical ninja when it comes to nutritional biochemistry, digestive health, methylation and genetic testing and functional endocrinology – is no stranger to BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

He penned the article that first appeared here entitled “Blame the Bugs: How Stealth Pathogens Are Making You Fat, Tired, and Brain Dead.“, and also “Broken Gut to Big Butt: How A Busted Digestive System Can Make You Hormonally Fat.

And now Dr. Tim is back with a vengeance. Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about detoxification and detox diets, Tim began dropping knowledge bombs like xenobiotics, depuration, miasm, emunctory, and even drainage (yuk!). I had to get him on the podcast to open your eyes about what’s really happening inside your body when you detox…or when you don’t.

So when it comes to detox, what you’re about to hear is like no other podcast I’ve ever done on the topic, so strap on your earphones and prepare to learn:

-Why the pH of your blood is just ONE part of proper acid/alkaline balance…

-Why detoxification can destroy you if you don’t do a few other important things first…

-The three different ways to truly test your body and see if you even need to detox…

-Which organs detox your body (it’s not just your liver and kidney!)…

-Where homeopathic medicine fits in…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Dr. Tim’s Website

-Dr. Tim’s Professional Facebook Page

-ZytoScan

-Asyra Testing

-EAV Screening

-Autonomic Response Testing

-Seroyal’s “UNDA” homeopathic remedies and supplements

-Seroyal’s Dr. Dixon Thom

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Tim or me? Leave your thoughts below.

What Happens To Your Body & Blood When You Race Back-To-Back Spartan Races?

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Two years ago I did back-to-back triathlons at one of the most difficult triathlons in the world, and tested my blood before and after to see what happened. You can see the results at “What Kind Of Damage Happens To Your Body After You Do A Hard Workout, Triathlon or Marathon?

And now, the crazy blood-testing experiment is back, this time to see what happens inside your body when you do back-to-back Spartan races. Watch the video below to see what happens to everything from cholesterols to testosterone to Vitamin D and more, and leave your questions in the comments section.

Resources I discuss in video:

-Click here to download my WellnessFX lab results for yourself!

-Click here to check out the Estrogen Control supplement I talk about in the video.

-My recommended Vitamin D supplement.

-My recommended liver detox blend.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the back-to-back Spartan bloodwork, or about WellnessFX? Just leave your thoughts below, and click here to get a 15% discount on your own before/after lab testing to see what your own crazy adventures are doing to do your internal biology. 

8 Natural Sweetener Alternatives That Won’t Take You Out Of Fat Burning Mode (And 4 That Will!)

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When it comes to not packing on extra pounds this Valentine’s Day, what are some sweet hacks that will tickle you or your Valentine’s sweet tooth, yet not take you out of that fat burning mode (or ketosis) sweet spot?

Which sweeteners can be used to sweeten life without throwing you into a blood sugar level roller coaster ride?

Which sweeteners will spice up your sex life?

Which sweeteners can be used to minimize muscle cramps?

And since we’re not shy when it comes to talking about poop, which sweet fruit can relieve constipation naturally?

You’re about to find out all that and more in this guest post from Danielle Brooks, nutritional therapist, clinical herbalist, author of the new book “Good Decisions Most of the Time: Because life is too short not to eat chocolate“, and owner of Good Decisions Inc.!

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The 6 Sweet Spices That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar

Discovering all the health benefits your spice cabinet may hold is quite fun and, in times of upset tummy, gas, or other uncomfortable health conditions, you can often find relief as close as your spice cabinet. Spicing up a dish with sweet spices adds distinct flavors and lessens your temptation to add sugar. These spices also have many health-giving properties as well.

1. Allspice

Allspice has a taste similar to a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. You can use allspice when preparing ham, Swedish meatballs, baked goods, and desserts to add a nice touch of spicy sweetness. Medicinally, allspice has been used throughout history in the treatment of toothaches, muscle aches, and for its blood sugar-regulating effects.

So if you feel like reaching for a sweet fruit or special treat, and want to decrease the impact on your blood sugar levels, sprinkle it with cloves! Like many spices, allspice is a digestive aid, and consuming allspice with meals can result in stronger digestion, reduced gas and bloating, and decreased nausea. Not a bad spice to have in your back pocket for emergencies.

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has a wonderful sweet flavor and can be used as a ground powder or dried stick. This spice can be used in just about anything. From sweet dishes to stews and curries, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that a small amount of cinnamon goes a long way. Two teaspoons of cinnamon can change a tart, tongue-puckering apple pie to a sweet one. It can replace brown sugar in any dish or be sprinkled on fruit to liven up a simple dessert.

One of cinnamon’s best attributes is its ability to lessen the impact of sugar on your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon also slows the rate at which your stomach empties after meals, which also reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating. This little spice packs a powerful punch and can be added to any dish or beverage as a substitute for, or in addition to sugar, to lessen sugar’s impact.

3. Cloves

Cloves have a sweet or bittersweet taste and can be used when ground or dried. Cloves are great when used to sweeten dishes or in curries and stews. And who can’t visualize a glorious clove-studded ham? Cloves go well with chicken, can spice up an otherwise plain piece of fruit. Clove oil can even be applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, to relieve a toothache, making this spice very valuable if you can’t get in to see your dentist right away.

4. Mace and Nutmeg

Mace and nutmeg are two slightly different flavored spices, both originating from the fruit of the nutmeg tree. This “nutmeg apple” looks similar to an apricot. When the mature fruit splits open, the nutmeg (a seed surrounded by a red, slightly fleshy covering, or aril) is exposed. The dried aril alone is called mace. The nut is removed and dried to produce nutmeg. Both have a warm, sweet, spicy flavor and are best when freshly ground.

Studies have found that nutmeg may be useful in enhancing libido. But use caution since nutmeg can also be added to milk as a sleep aid, and the last thing you want when trying to enhance libido is to fall asleep!

5. Cardamom

Cardamom is used in Scandinavian bakeries, German and Russian pastries, and in the Middle East and India. This spice can be used instead of sugar when making baked goods and with creams to make cardamom-flavored ice cream, which is mouthwateringly delicious.

You can steep the seeds in milk, water, or almond milk for use as a digestive aid to relieve gas and bloating. “Really?” you say. If you feel gassy and bloated—absolutely!

6. Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans are more of a fruit than a spice; one inch of vanilla bean is roughly equal to one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Sweet and fragrant, vanilla is best when used from whole or dried beans. Vanilla is a great sugar substitute and can be added to breakfast grains, coffee, and desserts such as ice cream, pudding, and cake.

The active compound in vanilla is vanillin. Vanillin is a polyphenol with strong antioxidant activity. Some neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are associated with formation of a chemical called peroxynitrite, which causes damage to brain cells. Because vanillin has such strong antioxidant activity, it may offset some of this oxidative damage, keeping brain cells healthy and preventing the devastating effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

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The 2 Sweet Herbs That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar 

You can also use the following sweet herbs to sweeten and add flavor to a dish.

Vegetables are especially good with these herbs added. If you’re trying to make vegetables taste better, you can reach for an herb or spice to take your mind off the fact that you’re eating vegetables.

1. Anise Seed

Anise seed smells like black licorice and can be used whole or ground. These delicious seeds are often used as a flavoring in some cookies, candies, pastries, and even in poultry dishes. Chewing on a teaspoon of anise seeds after a meal can relieve uncomfortable gas and bloating within minutes. Also, one teaspoon of the seeds can be steeped in one cup of boiling water as a delicious sweet tea for similar results.

2. Sweet Basil

This herb is somewhat pungent and sweet. It’s a bit odd to think of this herb for use as a sweetener, but you’ll be hooked after you try it. Use fresh basil to get the best results.

Add it to dishes at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. You can use sweet basil with eggplant, tomato dishes, pesto, Vietnamese and Thai dishes, and salads, as well as when cooking vegetables to make them more interesting. Corn, tomato, peppers, and eggplant are divine when served with a dusting of fresh basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties and potential for use in treating cancer.

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4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Healthier Than Sugar

If all this talk of sweet herbs and spices is leaving you longing for something sweeter that will stimulate your dopamine center, roll your eyes into the back of your head, and cause an euphoric moan of delight to escapes your lips, you are now in the right category. Please note that these natural sweeteners will take you out of fat burning mode or ketosis, but at least they’re more nutrient dense than sugar or high fructose corn syrup!

Natural unrefined sweeteners give food certain qualities, tangible qualities that ooze deliciousness, as if the food you are eating contains life within it that will enhance your own life. And it does. There’s nothing like enjoying a honey-roasted pear with a touch of cinnamon. It doesn’t just feed your craving for something sweet; it feeds the body as well as your senses.

1. Raw Unfiltered Honey

Honey is made when the nectar from a flower mixes with the saliva of a bee. (Sounds delicious, no?) Depending on the quality of honey, it contains anti-microbial, and antioxidant compounds, as well as probiotic bacteria. It also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. So, while you are moaning with delight, you can think of the nourishing properties of this sweetener as well.

Honey is usually sold over the counter in most grocery stores, and it is usually pasteurized, clarified, or filtered so it’s important to read the label and know what to look for. I recommend raw honey. This is honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining without adding heat (caution: some honey that has been “minimally processed” is often labeled as “raw honey”). Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax.

2. Grade B Maple Syrup

Maple syrup, made from the sap of black or red maple trees, is a good source of manganese and zinc and, to a lesser degree, potassium and calcium. I recommend Grade B maple syrup because it contains more nutrients than Grade A and has a thicker, richer flavor.

Manganese, known for its ability to maintain blood sugar levels, is the highlight of this sweetener. Manganese is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in muscle energy production and antioxidant defenses.

Maple syrup is low on the glycemic index and can be used to sweeten salad dressing, replace honey for a different taste, or be used instead of table sugar in some baking. Maple syrup contains zinc and potassium, with calcium, magnesium, and sodium chloride electrolytes occurring in their natural ratios, making this sweetener more valuable than any GU in your back pocket.

3. Dried Dates

Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree. They are raw and unprocessed (but read the ingredient list just to make sure), and they have lots of nutrients such as potassium, iron, and vitamin A. It’s easy to use dates to sweeten smoothies, baked goods, sauces, and more by making a paste with the dates. To make a paste, simply use dried dates and soak them in warm water overnight. Then blend the dates with some of the water used to soak them to a consistency similar to honey. (When I make my own almond milk, I add some dried dates to sweeten the batch.)

I was playing around with dates and developed the following recipe from which the featured image for this blog post was dervied. I had no idea it would turn out to be the snickers bar for the health conscious. A warning really should come with this recipe as it has the perfect combination of sweet, salt and fat, which can be a deliciously addictive combination.

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Coconut Pecan Stuffed Chocolate Covered Dates, Oh My!

Makes: 30 dates

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the Stuffed Dates:

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus extra for topping)

¼ cup toasted pecans

¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

30 large Medjool dates

For the Dipping Chocolate

2 (4oz) bars Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate

Directions

  1. Place the shredded coconut, pecans, salt, vanilla and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until mixtures begins to clump together, set aside.
  2.  Cut the dates in half lengthwise on one side and remove the pit. Stuff a small amount of coconut pecan mixture into each date and press to close. Place dates in the refrigerator.
  3.  In a small double boiler melt chocolate. Remove dates from the fridge and using two spoons, dip the cold dates in the chocolate. Roll each to cover completely and then lift out letting the excess chocolate drip off before placing on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of each date. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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4. Fruit

If you need to sweeten a dish, fruit is another healthy option. Fruits, such as crushed pineapple, applesauce, strawberries, cherries, or blueberries can naturally sweeten almost any dish. You can even customize your diet by reaching for a fruit to provide your body with certain nutrients. For Instance:

  • If constipation is an issue, reach for the sweet apple. It contains sorbitol, a substance that attracts water. Apples also contain fiber and pectins, which increase the volume and viscosity of the stool. These substances make for one of the most enjoyable bowel movements ever!
  •  If you are looking for an antioxidant rich, heart healthy hit of sweet goodness reach for some sweet berries.
  • If younger skin is something you would like to nurture, cantaloupes can deliver some skin supporting nutrients and tickle your sweet fancy at the same time.

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Life Is Too Short

When we make what I call “Good Decisions” most of the time, our bodies are well equipped to handle the occasional indulgence and sweet treat. Life is too short not to have chocolate, but life is also too short to feel sick and tired all the time. Reaching for natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar, artificial sugar, or high fructose corn syrup will not only please the palate, but provide the body with nutrients as well, and are definitely very good decisions.

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Need even more blood sugar controlling solutions? Click here to check out the brand new Diabetes Summit. And leave your questions, comments or feedback for Danielle below!

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