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High Protein Breakfast Myths, Genetic Testing For Exercise, Demystifying Brain Waves & More!

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A few weeks ago, I got an email from a podcast listener who said I had to get a guy named “Matt Riemann” on the show. I had never heard of Matt.

So as I often do, I had a brief Skype video conversation to “vet” Matt and see if he would be an informative guest for the show, or, as so often happens when some random person solicits a guest to me, a charlatan.

Turns out, Matt is the former.

Within the first 5 minutes of our Skype conversation, he could tell by my manner of speech and my facial expressions what my cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves were (don’t worry, we delve into what that means in today’s show).

He also told me a high protein breakfast is really not the right thing for many people, and what he really thinks about genetic testing to determine the best exercise or nutrition.

We also address these topics on today’s show.

So who is Matt?

Matt describes himself as “a social entrepreneur” in the fields of personalized health and future medicine. He is specifically focused on changing the entire health trajectory of the human race. Seems like small beans, hey?

Matt has a masters degree in applied human sciences, is a lecturer and clinical educator at several universities in Australia, and has been recognized for his passion and excellence in educating doctors, health professionals and fitness experts globally over the past 10 years. In 2013, Matt founded the Ultimate Human Foundation, a non­profit with a mission to transform world health and assist in eliminating chronic pain and disease from the planet. Matt has founded 7 businesses in health and medicine over the past 10 years, most recently launching p​h360.me,​ a smart health app based on personalized epigenetics and gene expression.

In our podcast, you’ll discover:

-How you can use the field of anthropometry and body typing to determine your cognitive dominance and dominant frequency brain waves…

-The real reason why some people do very well on a vegan diet while some people do not…

-How to choose the correct diet based on whether you’re an overmethylator or undermethylator…

-How to plan vacations according to your body profile and circadian rhythm, including the time and place to go for rapid rejuvenation…

-How to use genetic testing to determine the best exercise or nutrition plan without actually getting a salivary test for genetics…

-How your genes influence the social interactions that will energize you, and those that will drain you…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss during this episode:

The ph360.me website

Matt’s TedX talk “Epigenetics & Personal Health: Can We Control Our Own Future?”

Get Fit Guy’s Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body Type book

The previous podcast I did with the folks from DNAFit

Professor John Burn, who oversees genetic analysis for the royal family

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about personalized health and epigenetics? Leave your thoughts below and either myself or Matt will reply! You can also click here to check out the ph360.me site that Matt and I discuss.

How To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck From Recovery, Supplements, Nutrition, Mental Training & Race Prep.

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On any given morning, after I’ve finished my quintessential morning routine, I preview a good 40-50 health, fitness and nutrition articles and studies (I like to use a service called “Feedly” for this), and read the nitty-gritty details on at least 10 of them.

One of the authors and blogs I follow is Alex Hutchinson at RunnersWorld.com. I’ll admit that Alex and I have never met, but I like his level-headed approach to fitness and our mutual background in the geeky realm of endurance performance.

So when I saw that Alex had written an article entitled “Advice To A Young Athlete”, I gave it a thorough read. In the article, Alex delves into supplements, recovery, nutrition, mental training, and race prep for a young elite cyclist who had written to him asking for performance advice. And while you may not be young, elite or a cyclist, there are still some very helpful gems in the article. In this article, I’ve give you my thoughts and commentary on a few such gems.

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Supplements

When it comes to supplements, Alex highlights the proven performance enhancing effects of caffeine, the lactic acid buffering and muscle-burn reducing effect of baking soda (or beta-alanine) and the endurance enhancing effects of beet juice.

I agree with Alex about the effects of each of these supplements, but with a few caveats.

For example, when it comes to caffeine, many athletes who are overtrained tend to use coffee and energy drinks to mask fatigue, and often dig themselves into an adrenal fatigue, injury or illness hole that can be very difficult to climb out of. So I recommend that when using caffeine for it’s performance enhancing effects, you use the minimum recommended dosage, which is close to 3mg/kg (for an 80kg person, that’s 240mg of caffeine, or about 2 pretty big cups of coffee). Even 3mg/kg can be a hefty dose of caffeine, so this wouldn’t be prudent to use before a daily workout, but only in times when you need significant performance enhancing effects, such as a high priority race like a marathon or triathlon.

I also recommend “deloading” from caffeine every few weeks to ensure you don’t build tolerance to caffeine and so that you don’t build so many receptors (called “adenosine receptors”) for caffeine to bind to that you wind up disrupting  your sleep. This can be accomplished by switching every four weeks from caffeinated coffee to a good, tasty decaffeinated coffee (I use organic Swiss water process decaf) for one week.

One of the most proven performance enhancing supplements on the face of the planet is creatine, and I personally use 5g of this creatine per day. Creatine was left out of Alex’s article, but in fairness, his article was targeted to an endurance athlete who will probably benefit less from creatine compared to a strength or power athlete. Nonetheless, creatine has been shown to have performance enhancing effects for endurance, and also has a cognitive boosting effect.

Finally, we live in an era in which an athlete can affordably undergo blood, saliva and stool testing to identify specific hormone, neurotransmitter, micronutrient, bacterial and enzyme excess or deficiencies. Because of this, it is possible to create a customized exercise supplementation protocol based on your specific needs. For example, common deficiencies among athletes include red blood cell magnesium, Vitamin D, ferritin, thyroid hormone and testosterone. Once you identify deficiences like this, you can then use supplementation (along with lifestyle, exercise and diet modifications) to fill in the gaps – vs. a “shotgun” approach of using  something just because a competitor or someone else on your team or in your gym is using it.

Of course, speaking of filling in the gaps, here’s what I think is the most important consideration for supplements: I was recently speaking on a “supplement panel” at PaleoFX, and highlighted the fact that you can’t out-supplement poor lifestyle, exercise and diet choices, and that for everything from muscle gain to performance to fat loss, supplementation might give you the extra edge of 1% to a maximum of perhaps 10% (that’s why it’s called a “supplement”, not a “staple”). Just remember that before you decide to cut your workout short so that you can have time to go prepare your giant creatine, beta-alanine, perfectly formulated maltodextrin and whey protein infused smoothie.

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Recovery

For recovery, Alex highlights the importance on not spending too much time on recovery methods such as ice baths, since you don’t want to attenuate the body’s adaptations to training. This is probably prudent if you’re the type of exerciser who is observed in studies that show things like ice baths don’t work: an exerciser who exercising 20-60 minutes 5-7 days per week and is not necessarily doing a Crossfit WOD every day, throwing down 2-3 hour runs on the weekends and working out 60-90 minutes on multiple days per week. It’s probably also worth mentioning that there are “biohacks” such as compression gear that can making ice baths more effective.

However, many of the exercise enthusiasts I know definitely fall into the camp of folks who probably need more recovery, not less, and who are probably building up such a high amount of free radical and oxidation damage to the body from exercise that they need higher doses of recovery than what might be recommended to the average lab rat or person doing “minimal” exercise doses in a study.

Anyways, in his article Alex highlights the potential recovery enhancing benefits of ice baths, compression socks, massage, and sleep. But I’d throw in a few others that I’ve found to be practically effective, including:

1. Hot-Cold Contrast

This can include sitting in a warm sauna for 20-45 minutes on a recovery day, then finishing up with a cold shower, or alternating an ice bath dip followed by a hot tub soak or dry sauna several times through, or even simply switching the shower from warm water to cold water for a few cycles. Just before writing this article, I did 5 minute hot tub soaking and breath-hold practice to 5 minutes cold pool kettlebell swings. So obviously, the sky’s the limit for your creativity on this one.

2. Electrostimulation

Using an electrostimulation (EMS) unit to drive blood flow and to contract muscles when you’re unable to move (such as a long airplane or car ride) or when a joint is injured. EMS units are now relatively affordable, and don’t necessarily require you to visit a physical therapist’s office and shell out a co-pay every time you want access to recovery technology. I discuss EMS’s efficacy in more detail in this podcast.

3. Inversion

Just like compression, inversion can help move blood out of areas of the body where blood has pooled or where inflammatory fluids from metabolism and exercise have accumulated. From yoga inversion poses to inversion tables to hanging from ropes or pull-up bars, getting your recovering appendages higher than your heart can be easy and effective, and has the added advantage of “traction” – the pulling-apart of joints that can increase synovial fluid and lubrication moving in and out of joints such as knees, hips and shoulders.

That recovery list is my no means exhaustive, but includes just a few of my favorites. You can read more about my thoughts on a variety of recovery tools in my article “26 Ways To Recover With Lightning Speed“.

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Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition, the first piece of advice given by Alex is to increase whatever amount of vegetable and fruit you’re currently eating, with as much quantity and variety as possible. While I’m certainly fan of eating plants, I do have an issue with the “lumping” of fruits and vegetables into the same category.

In fact, fruits and vegetables are two entirely different food groups. Fruit is “nature’s dessert”, and while a great source of nutrients and fiber, is also relatively high in fructose sugar and calories compared to vegetables. For example, I personally eat what probably comes close to 20-25 servings of vegetables each day (yes, each day!), but only about one serving of fruit, max.

In addition, a diet of around 50 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent fat and 30 percent protein is recommended in the article. While this is indeed a macronutrient ratio that falls in line with conventional sports nutrition guidelines, it’s important to realize that conventional sports nutrition guidelines don’t necessarily take into account the fact that athletes and individuals who have been eating a slightly higher amount of healthy fats and lower amount of carbohydrates may actually have developed glycogen (storage carbohydrate) conservation and fat burning mechanisms that allow for lower carbohydrate intake, a concept which I delve into in great detail in my article about a high-fat diet and exercise study called “FASTER”, which I personally participated in.

Alex also recommends an advanced nutritional technique called “train low”, in which overall carb intake remains high, but certain workouts are performed with low carbohydrate stores, either by training before breakfast or by depleting carb stores with periods of low carb intake. This is actually a nutrition technique that I endorse and that I actually use nearly every day, and it’s very easy to implement: I simply save all my day’s carbohydrate intake for the very end of the day.

Up until that point eat almost zero carbohydrate, and instead opt for a high amount of healthy fat and a moderate amount of protein. Then, within 2-3 hours after my afternoon workout, I eat anywhere from 100-200g of carbohydrates from sources such as red wine, dark chocolate, sweet potato, yam, rice, etc. This is actually a technique known as carb backloading,  popularized by my friend John Kiefer, and you can read more about this approach here.

Finally, Alex cites some evidence that dehydration is a trigger that induces increases in plasma volume, which in turn boosts endurance performance, and that you may be able to take advantage of this by doing some of your training sessions in a slightly dehydrated state. While this may be a useful “biohack”, I’ve personally found that when doing a workout with a dry mouth or when feeling dehydrated, I’ve definitely experienced a dip in motivation and ability to reach a high rating of exertion, so this would be a strategy I’d reserve primarily for easier aerobic workouts, and not tough training sessions, since I suspect the cons outweigh the pros.

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Mental Training

Alex give two pieces of advice in his section on mental training – 1) see a sports psychologist and 2) avoid mental fatigue before competitions. If you’re a serious competitor or athlete with a paycheck on the line, I’d definitely agree with the former.

When it comes to the latter, it is certainly true that replying to a boatload of emails or engaging in highly cognitively demanding work can detract from subsequent physical performance – but this is mostly something to worry about prior to a key “big” workout or race, and not necessarily an issue before a typical day at the gym.

There are a few other tricks you may want to bear in mind when it comes to mental training and motivation – specifically 1) affirmation; 2) visualization; and 3) box breathing.

1. Affirmation.

What you dwell on each morning helps to shape you as a person and drives your personality, motivation level and priorities the rest of day. You can use this to your advantage by forming your own daily mantra, which can chance from day to day, or be the same all year long. For example, one of my daily affirmations of late (which I actually write down using a handy tool called a “5 Minute Journal”) is…

…“Every little win counts.

This reminds me that no matter how stressed I am or how much there is to do, that every little thing I do counts just a little bit towards my productivity or towards making me better – including replying to just one email, writing just one page of a book, or squeezing in just 5 minutes of a workout.

To understand the power of having some kind of daily purpose or affirmation like this, just look at this statement from Buster Douglas, who upset fighter Mike Tyson back when Tyson was a feared world champion:

“My sole purpose in life these last six months was to beat Tyson. That’s all I thought about. He was the first thing on my mind when I would wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I went to bed. When I’d fall asleep, I would dream about beating him. If there was anything else going on in the world the last six months I didn’t know about it, because my mind had just one thing on it… beating Tyson.”

That’s powerful stuff.

So just stop for a moment and ask yourself: what is your personal “Tyson”? Is it those extra 20 pounds? That triathlon you signed up for? Your blood pressure? Begin to dwell on it and use affirmations in the process, such as “Every day, I’m getting just a little lighter…” or “I love to swim, to bike and to run….” or, “I am calm in the face of stress…”

2. Visualization.

When she was 16 years old, gymnast Mary Lou Retton won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. But just six weeks before, she had suffered a major knee injury that required surgery. The surgery was minimally invasive, and allowed her to walk immediately and begin training again a week later, and by the time she was to go off to the Olympics, Mary had fully recovered, was stronger than ever, and attributed much of her success to her ability to visualize her gold medal

“In the weeks before the Olympics, Mary Lou often lay in her bed with her eyes closed and let her imagination romp. She would visualize herself on each piece of equipment, performing her best routines and hitting every move perfectly…Retton even went as far as to imagine receiving the gold medal, while hearing the “Star Spangle Banner” booming in the background. Her creative visualization would prove to be prophetic.”

Michael Phelps is another perfect example of visualization.

“…each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would imagine the wake behind his body, the water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface, what it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. He would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart. During practices, when Bowman ordered Phelps to swim at race speed, he would shout, “Put in the videotape!” and Phelps would push himself, as hard as he could. He had done this so many times in his head that, by now, it felt rote. But it worked. He got faster and faster…”

How about you? Can you see yourself at the gym conquering that weight you’ve always struggled underneath during a barbell squat? Can you see yourself hitting the perfect tennis serve during a clutch point in the match, or running on the trail and feeling as though you’re flying through the air with feet as light as a feather? Can you see each individual drop of sweat coming off your nose? If so, then you’ve tapped into the power of visualization.

3. Box Breathing.

Box breathing, which I first mentioned in my series on SEALFit training, something I sit down and do for 3-5 minutes before intimidating workouts that I know are going to crush me, before stressful tennis matches, and even with my 7 year old twin boys when they’re nervous about something like a soccer game or they simply need a few minutes to calm down.

The breathing pattern is simply a “box” of four different section of a breath. You inhale to a count of 2 (or all the way up to 8 for a more advanced method), hold for a count of 2-8, exhale to the same count and hold again for the same count.  You can start at 2 if you find 4, 6 or 8 to be difficult, or you can take it up a notch if 2 is too easy.  How do you know how long to make each section of the box? You should be uncomfortable on the exhale hold, and be forced to fill the entirely of your lung capacity on the inhale hold.

The benefits of box breathing include reduction of performance anxiety, control of the arousal response, increased brain elasticity (through enhanced blood flow and reduced stressful mental stimulation), enhanced learning and skill development, and increased capacity for focused attention and long term concentration. That’s worth a try, huh?

There are even a variety of apps that you can use to help guide you through box breathing, including the Pranayama app (this is the one I personally use) and the Box Breathing app (that’s about as generic a name as it gets).

Want even more powerful “jedi mind-tricks” you can use for workouts, races or life in general? Some of my favorite resources include the books Psychocybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Psych by Dr. Judd Biasiatoo, and Unbeatable Mind by Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine.

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Race Prep

Alex gives a wealth of advice in the section on race prep – and whether you’re prepping for a 5K or an Ironman triathlon, these are tips that really do work, including a taper, warm-up and heat training:

1. Taper.

The article recommends to gradually drop your exercise volume starting two weeks before your big event, with about 50 percent of normal volume in the last week, while maintaining intensity. I certainly agree with this concept, but with the caveat that I’ll often taper for just 4-5 days before many races, and only do an elongated multi-week taper before a very important event, like world championships. This is because multiple multi-week tapers spread out the year before multiple events can significantly detract from your fitness (this is why making every race a “high-priority” race that you perfectly taper for isn’t a great idea).

2. Warm-Up.

A hard effort prior to a short, intense race or competition increase your VO2 max during the event, and Alex recommends, for example, a moderately hard six-minute effort finishing 10 minutes before starting a cycling race, or two 60-second efforts a little quicker than tempo pace prior to starting a running race. I’m completely on board with this recommendation, and would also emphasize that for a warm-up, I’ve also found a great deal of benefit from both visualization and Wim Hof-style yperoxygenation “fire-breathing”.

3. Heat Training.

Alex recommends heat acclimation training (such as dry sauna) to boost performance, even in cool conditions. This can certainly be a good way to increase heat tolerance and also blood plasma volume, and I get into the science of heat acclimation in my interview with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. But in addition to heat training, I’d also emphasize the importance of cold training and cold thermogenesis for increasing cardiovascular efficiency and stress resilience, and for any given week, I typically do at least a couple 10-30 minute cold water immersion sessions and 30-45 minute dry sauna sessions (the latter of which, incidentally, is most effective post-workout to boost EPO levels).

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Summary

While there are plenty  more performance enhancing tips and tricks I could delve into, the takeaway message is this: by including just a few of the simple pieces of advice you’ve discovered in this article, you can experience a bigger boost in performance than you’d get by just “training hard”. And a big thanks to Alex Hutchinson and Runner’s World for the original article that inspired me to write this.

If you have questions, comments or feedback, simply leave your thoughts below.

A Hidden Sleep Killer That Flies Under The Radar (And What You Can Do About It).

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A few weeks ago, I received an interesting email from a podcast listener, who cryptically stated…

…”you could improve sleep also by a simple screening of oximetry to rule out OSA in your adrenal fatigue clients. 30% of OSA patients have OSA unrelated to obesity. Me included and I am 9% body fat. Just something to consider since you are doing a lot of cool but out of the box sleep recommendations. This coming from a fan and a board certified sleep specialist.

I have to admit that I did not, off the top of my head, even recall what OSA was, and that it had been some time since I’d personally used a little finger pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen saturation. I was also intrigued about the fact that many people who don’t sleep well, are constantly tired, or experience adrenal fatigue don’t seem to know about this issue, so I asked him what he meant.

He wrote back and clarified:

“Relating to OSA, I was referring to Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome. I like a more accurate description “sleep suffocation”. The issue is totally ignored by Primary Care Physicians, let alone the guys that should be investigating it which should be the cardiologists. 30 percent of OSA patients have no obesity contributing to the problem but have craniofacial development deficiencies. The other 70 percent or so end up developing “sleep suffocation” as obesity sets in. Nearly 80 percent of moderate and severe OSA cases are undiagnosed. This is the lion’s share of what the sleep specialists deal with every day. The insomnia cases, ASPS, DSPS, jet lag, RLS, PLMD, narcolepsy and the other sleep disorders take a back seat to this OSA issue. You can’t address sleep issues thoroughly without thoughtful discussion regarding OSA.”

Wow. Now that’s something that needed some further digging, so I decided to get this guy on the podcast. His name is Dr. Joseph Zelk and he is the Medical Director of the Sleep Medicine Group, which you’ll learn more about in this show. In this episode, you’ll also discover:

-Why many sleep monitoring devices and wearables simply aren’t accurate, and how you should really be measuring your sleep…

-What a sleep cycle should really look like when it comes to deep sleep vs. light sleep…

-Why you should use a pulse oximeter upon waking, and what can it tell you…

-How you get OSA, especially if you’re a lean active person who eats healthy…

-Why more people don’t know about OSA, especially physicians…

-What you can do to fix OSA…

-Are there ways/technologies to measure pulse oximetry all night while you’re sleeping?

-Which nutrient deficiencies can cause this issue…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss in this episode:

The Sleep Medicine Group

The MyBasis watch

Pulse oximeters that can measure oximetry while you’re asleep

Superhuman Encoder bracelet

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about this hidden sleep killer that flies under the radar? Leave your thoughts below!

Finally, for customized, cutting-edge sleep tracking and testing, a one-on-one sleep consultation via Skype, screening for obstructive sleep apnea or any other your other sleep enhancement or insomnia fixing needs, visit www.sleepmedicinegroup.com. Mention “Ben Greenfield” on your e-mail intake form or when you speak to a representative, and get a $25-100 discount on any sleep testing or sleep consulting services.

How to Biohack Your Pasta.

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It’s no secret that most pasta slowly destroys your gut, your brain and your body.

I dive deep into the nitty-gritty of why pasta is such bad news in this podcast interview with Dr. William Davis, who also wrote a very good book that addresses this topic in detail (“Wheat Belly“), which along with David Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain” is a must-read if you’re still struggling to control your cravings when you saunter past an Italian restaurant or find yourself dreaming of spaghetti with marinara, but need just a bit more biological convincing.

But perhaps you’ve already “biohacked your pasta” and switched to zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash, two ever-popular non-grain alternatives to modern, commercial wheat and gluten-laden pasta, and you’re simply looking for a new way to experience pastas and stir-fries.

There is indeed another way that ancient, traditional societies biohacked their noodles – or at least, figured out a way to have tasty soups and noodle dishes without relying upon grains, soy or other allergenic triggers. For example, in Japan (one of my favorite countries, and a place I’ve visited many times to race triathlons) the indigenous population for centuries have used noodles made of shirataki and kanten. You’re about to discover exactly what these these noodle alternative are, and how you can use them to biohack your pasta.

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The first style of noodles in Japan is known as shirataki, and for centuries, Japanese monks have subsisted on these ultra low-calorie, low-carb noodles that are made out of vegetable fiber from a plant that’s very similar to a wild yam. The second style of noodles is a particular favorite of mine and one that I’ve been putting on my lunchtime salads every day. It’s called kanten, and is derived from a type of seaweed vegetable known as tengusa.

You’re probably familiar with the Okinawa region of Japan, made famous for (besides a U.S. Marines base) its extraordinarily high number of centenarians, people who live healthy, robust lives to 100 and beyond. Areas such as this are commonly called “blue zones”, and there’s actually a new book that is on my reading list called “Blue Zone Solutions” that delves into this topic.

Interestingly, researchers who have studied these Japanese centenarians believe that the health of these elderly Okinawan people partially stems from their inclusion of sea vegetables such as kanten in their diet. But when it comes to kanten noodles, you actually wouldn’t believe the complex process that it takes to transform agar-agar, the gelatin-like substance of the tengusa seaweed into a functional noodle that takes only 30 seconds of stirring in hot water to prepare for soups, stir-fries and pastas.

In order to get the texture of noodles from the agar, the seaweed needs to be put on the side of the mountain in the winter, where it freezes during the night and thaws during the day in the sunshine. Through careful maintenance by an artisan who constantly monitors meteorological conditions, especially temperature, a kanten product can be created that actually has noodle-like consistency (as opposed to being nasty, seaweed mush). This entire, painstaking process takes 3-4 weeks for just one batch, but kanten has been prepared in this traditional way for several generations.

Below is a photograph of my friend Dr. Jonathan Carp, an MD who has visited Japan dozens of times to study the Okinawans and their special pasta-producing techniques. He is actually standing with one of these amazing artisans who lives at high altitudes in the mountains of Japan and works as part of a small, family-run kanten noodle production facility.

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Jonathan recently sent me a few sample packs of these kanten noodles (he calls them “Miracle Noodles”) straight from his source in Japan, along with links to several medical studies that have proven agar-agar’s value as a health food. For example, one study published in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism concluded that the agar diet resulted in marked weight loss due to the maintenance of reduced calorie intake and to an improvement in metabolic parameters. This is probably because the stuff has zero calories. Yes, zero.

In another study, cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and fasting blood glucose levels were significantly improved with regular consumption of agar (the terms ‘agar-agar’, ‘kanten,’ and ‘agar’ are synonymous). The 6 grams of fiber in one serving of kanten helps with meal satiety, and as agar-agar fills your gastrointestinal tract, it actually makes you stop eating earlier than usual. I’ve found that both my lunchtime salads as well as any stir fries or pastas I’ve made with the kanten noodles that Jonathan sent me (worry not, recipes are coming below!) have been incredibly filling, and kept me from craving carbohydrates or foods like red wine or dark chocolate after I’ve finished eating.

Finally in Japan, agar is also used as a gelatin substitute to help ease upset stomachs, in the same way that we would use bone broth here in the United States. To get these same stomach-soothing benefits, I’ve actually been not only eating the kanten noodles, but also drinking the water that I use to do the quick 30 second soak of the noodles.

OK, at this point, you’re probably ready to try these yourself in some recipes, and although kanten noodles can be used a substitute for any spaghetti or noodle based dish, I’m going to dive into two of my favorite recipes for you.

As you read these two recipes – one more complex, and one a bit easier – please remember that you should not add boiling water to the kanten noodles. They will become a gooey mess if you do. Instead, just add the kanten noodles to warm/hot water (about the temperature of tea that you could sip) and stir for 30 seconds until noodles are soft. You should also know that my twin 7 year old boys have gone absolutely nuts over the noodles, not only because they’re easy for the kids to help prepare, but also because they’re fun to twirl around a fork or eat with chopsticks.

If you click here to go the Miracle Noodle website, and choose kanten noodles, you’ll automatically get a 15% discount. You can also experiment with the shirataki noodles from that same website, but I have yet to use those myself, so can’t really comment on the taste or texture of the shirataki…yet.

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Miracle Noodle Crock Pot Chicken Stew

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

This is a more complex recipe, but is perfect for “batching” meals, entertaining a large group, or cooking for a family.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped, steamed, and drained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 yellow onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups baby kale, chopped
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 2 bags kanten pasta

Instructions

  1. Place sliced onions, garlic, and chicken broth into a crock pot. Set it to low or to desired cook time.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet until shimmery. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add chicken thighs to skillet in batches of 4 and brown on both sides. (Can skip this step if short on time).
  3. Place chicken thighs in crock pot.
  4. Add remaining oil into skillet. Quickly saute and brown the cauliflower. Add to crock pot with skillet bits and the oil. Add cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir gently to coat chicken and vegetables.
  5. Allow to simmer for a few hours.
  6. An hour before serving, add cilantro, spinach, kale, and green chilies to crock pot. Stir gently.
  7. 10 minutes before serving, add kanten pasta. Stir.

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Big-Ass Kanten Noodle Salad (the easier recipe)

Every day for lunch I have what I call a “big-ass salad”. The ingredients often vary, but I’ll include one of my favorite examples below. Prior to discovering the kanten noodles, I used to simply wrap my salad in seaweed nori wraps and eat my salad like a burrito, but now I put noodles on top of my salad, and eat my salad through the noodles, so it’s a bit like eating a fresh vegetable stir-fry. This sounds weird, but it actually turns out quite well for helping my lunchtime salads to leave me incredibly full, for hours and hours.

The salad tends to vary quite a bit from day to day, but here’s the specs on one that I recently posted to my Instagram account.

Ingredients

  • Spinach
  • Parsely
  • Tomato
  • Celery
  • Purple Heirloom Carrot
  • Garlic Stuffed Olive
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Pecorino Cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Tahini Sesame Paste
  • Homemade Sourdough Croutons
  • Avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Turmeric

Instructions

Easy. Pile everything into a bowl, top with the kanten noodles (see noodle prep instructions in other recipe above), top off noodles with a little extra oil, salt and pepper if you’d like, then munch away – and never crave spaghetti or pasta again.

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So what do you think? Do you plan on trying kanten pasta yourself? Do you have your own recipes to add? Leave your comments below, and either myself or Dr. Jonathan Carp will reply. Finally if you click here to go the Miracle Noodle website, choose kanten noodles, and enter coupon code ben15, you’ll automatically get a 15% discount.

The Terrifying Condition Of Sleep And Why You’ll Die Earlier If You Don’t Experience It.

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I once heard a sleep researcher amusingly describing sleep as a “condition” that a physician describes to parents of a newborn child.

The story goes like this:

A pediatrician presents a brand new baby girl to her parents and reports to them that the child is healthy, but to please beware as new parents that…

…”frequently your baby will go unconscious and unresponsive to normal stimulation. The frequency of these attacks will gradually decrease to just one-a-day by the time she goes to school, but that will last throughout her life. Periodically once unconscious she will be paralyzed except for spastic muscle twitches, her eyes will dart back-and-forth, and her heart rate and breathing rate will get irregular. As she gets older she will have hallucinations during these episodes. She will hear voices and see things that aren’t there. Some of these things will be very strange and maybe even terrifying causing her to sit up and other times scream out in freight. But not a problem, because this condition is also characterized by total amnesia, so she won’t remember any of these terrifying experiences, including the loss of consciousness, paralysis, spastic muscle contractions, cardiorespiratory arrhythmia, or hallucinations.”

And then the physician reveals the exact “terrifying” condition he is describing. Did you guess it?

That’s right: it’s sleep.

The parents were of course relieved to learn that their baby’s condition was merely that of sleep. But hearing this description of sleep hopefully gives you insight into the fact that physicians and medical researchers actually know very little about why we actually sleep, and have little understanding of what really happens to us during sleep.

The phenomena of sleep is both loved and hated by the modern American. Look at many of the common catch phrases that have been indelibly etched in the modern psyche, including…

“Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.”

“I can sleep when I am dead.”

“Sleep is a luxury I can’t afford.”

The CDC reports that 30 percent of adults admit to less than 6 hours of sleep a night. The myth of getting by with less sleep to get ahead has been around only a short time though, since the early 1900s. The graveyard shift was invented to ramp up manufacturing during World War II. Thomas Edison, a notorious short sleeper, famously described his optimal day as working for 18 hours a day and getting by with 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night. In comparison, in his era, the average American slept just over 8.5 hours a night.

It is amazing how quickly our priority for sleep has eroded. Some medical researchers have found a connection with increase in autoimmune disorders, in part due to the lack of opportunity to restore one’s health through sufficient sleep. But like autoimmune disorders, insufficient sleep is not considered a disease, but rather the body somehow “short-circuiting”, and some kind of a self-inflicted problem. The definition of insufficient sleep is succinct: a neurologic disorder in which individuals persistently fail to obtain enough sleep to support normal wakefulness, and perhaps one day it may include in the definition, fail to obtain enough sleep to optimally support the immune system as well.

Epidemiologists have graphically demonstrated the stark decline in average nightly sleep duration for Americans over the last few generations, in 1950 – 8.5 hours, in 1970 – 7.5 hours – in 2000 – 6.25 hours, and so on.

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So what does this mean to someone who wants to stay at their peak performance? What has research shown is the detriment of not getting enough sleep? How much does a healthy person, let alone an athlete need to be at their peak? Sure, the average adult may need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, but the answer is not that simple, and in an ideal world, you’d be able to quantify what is needed to function at your best.

So in this article, you’re going to discover what happens to your body when insufficient sleep occurs and new objective ways to quantify if that you’re truly getting enough sleep.

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Sleep Deprivation and Immunity

Animal studies have demonstrated a sleep-promoting factor contained in the cerebrospinal fluid. This factor is called adenosine. So I always ask my patients…

…what is the most commonly used medication in the world?

I preface by telling them it is neither over-the-counter nor a prescription. The medication is a blocker of adenosine and that medication is caffeine, often in a morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and perhaps mid-afternoon or evening cup of coffee.

But like any medication, caffeine has a toxic dose, and one big reason for this is because it can block adenosine. This is because adenosine is essentially the exhaust fuel of the brain’s metabolism.

Here’s how it works: when the glial cells of the brain are running low on ATP (adenosine is the “A” in this adenosine triphosphate) to breakdown from stored glycogen (glucose storage) that 2 ADP (adenosine diphosphate) can be used to make an extra ATP and a leftover adenosine molecule. So excess caffeine intake can actually strip the brain of necessary fuel, especially when glial cell ATP is already low from lack of sleep.

Let’s use the case of coffee, ATP depletion and lack of sleep to see how this has a profound effect on your immune system, the development of immunological memory and other inflammatory homeostatic functions.

The immune cascade in response to infection involves the activation of neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages (white blood cells are the soldiers of the immune system). These are the cells that produce inflammatory cytokines (proteins that serve as messengers between cells) such as IL-beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha, which stimulate hepatic production of C-reactive protein (hsCRP is an inflammatory marker used by doctors to predict the risk of heart disease or general inflammation). These cytokines are elevated the morning after as little as a single night of four hours of sleep restriction. Inflammatory mediators participate in the CNS (central nervous system) regulation of sleep. I am hopeful that with time there will be biohacks that may help mitigate the inflammation related to sleep deprivation. But for now the best medicine is simply choosing to avoid the inflammation in the first place.

During experimental sleep deprivation of healthy volunteers, blood pressure and other indicators of sympathetic output have been found to increase. This increase in sympathetic (the fight or flight nervous system) output results in increased pro-coagulatory (blood clotting factors) markers produced by stimulating vascular endothelium (the lining of the arterial wall which normally is extremely slippery when healthy). This alteration can increase shear stresses associated with increased blood pressure, and this can activate inflammatory mediators.

Other data supports a connection with increased pain perception and sleep loss. Inflammatory markers, including prostaglandins and pro-inflammatory cytokines, have been shown to sensitize nociceptors (pain receptors), contributing to the development of spontaneous pain and hyperalgesia (increased pain).

In addition, animal trials have noted reduced bone density in sleep deprived rats. Dr. Everson’s sleep research found rat hematopeotic stem cells are half as effective after 10 days of sleep deprivation. This decreased cell activity was related to impaired migration capability of the bone stem cells.

Human trials have demonstrated with vaccination experiments to assess antibody creation in response to flu vaccine a reduced immunity in sleep deprived subjects. These subjects had ½ the antibody response to vaccine after volunteers were sleep deprived to 4 hours a night for 6 days. This impairment persisted for a full month after recovery sleep was allowed. Natural killer cells attack viruses and tumor cells. Research has found that healthy volunteers subjected to a 4 hours of sleep loss were found to have a 73 percent reduction in natural killer cells.

So from stripped brain fuel, to increased pain perception, to lower bone density, to a reduction in natural killer cells, to an increase in blood pressure and an increase in inflammation, we now know that a lack of sleep has profound effects on your immune system – even if you’re able to be awake and function.

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Sleep Deprivation and Glucose Metabolism

Current data point to three pathways that link sleep restriction with diabetes risk and obesity:

1. alterations in glucose metabolism;

2. upregulation of appetite;

3. decreased energy expenditure.

The role of sleep in glucose regulation has been recognized for over a decade. Initial studies on sleep curtailment were experimentally testing short periods of total sleep restriction. These studies found that despite significant negative metabolic derangements in hormone and glucose utilization that given the opportunity to have recovery sleep, these derangements were quickly reversed. The human physiology tolerates one night of total sleep restriction well…given the opportunity to catch up. But the more relevant experiments are the ones that test the effect of partial sleep restriction over several days or longer.

The mechanisms affecting glucose metabolism following recurrent partial sleep restriction are believed to be multifactorial. The acute reduction in insulin release could be due to increased sympathetic nervous activity at the level of the pancreatic beta-cell. Cardiac sympatho-vagal (this is the balance between the rest/digest and the fight/or flight autonomic nervous system) balance is affected, as evidenced by reduced heart rate variability when sleep is restricted. Secretion of counter-regulatory hormones, Growth Hormone and cortisol, may contribute to the alterations in glucose regulation noted during sleep loss. Subjects tested during the peak of sleep loss were found to take 40 percent longer than normal to regulate blood glucose levels, and the ability to secrete insulin decreased by approximately 30 percent.

The imbalance of catabolic (biochemical reactions that break down molecules in metabolism) and anabolic  (biochemical reactions that stimulate protein synthesis and muscle growth, and insulin) hormones leads to a dysregulation of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus where there is opposing sets of neurons, appetite stimulating and appetite inhibiting.

Epidemiological data show an association between short sleep and irregular eating habits, snacking between meals, excessive food seasoning and reduced consumption of vegetables. The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found evidence that sleep loss may alter the ability of leptin and ghrelin to accurately signal caloric need. This imbalance produces an internal perception of insufficient energy availability despite an increase in caloric intake. Dr. Carol Everson found in rats that were subjected to sleep restriction for 10 days a persistent 20 percent increase in food intake, despite the opportunity for recovery sleep.

The Nurse’s Health Study followed 80,000 women observed an association between sleep duration and Body Mass Index (BMI) where the lowest mean BMI was observed among those nurses reporting sleep in 7-8 hours a night. Recent research was performed on healthy controls that comprised 12 months of 30 minutes of sleep restriction per night. This cumulative sleep debt resulted in increased adipose tissue and insulin resistance. The study results extrapolated that this mild sleep debt increased the risk of obesity by 72% [15].

It’s important to emphasize here that cumulative lack of sleep is the issue, and it’s a serious issue when it comes to blood sugar control, appetite and fat loss.

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Sleep Deprivation and Hormones

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There is little research on the effect of sleep loss on female sex hormones, but for male sex hormones there is some strong support. Recently, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded a sleep deprivation trial. This trial was performed on 24 year old males. When deprived of sleep their testosterone levels dropped by 10-15 %. The reason for this drop has been postulated to be related to changes in LH (luteinizing hormone – a hormone produced in the anterior pituitary gland). In light of this new information, one might plan on adding more sleep time to their health regimen and reassess testosterone levels a month later.

Don’t forget the power of melatonin (circadian – 24 hour cycle – sleep hormone) on overall health. Research on the effect of exogenous (supplement form of melatonin) may not have near the same effect as simply adding more sleep to one’s nightly habit. The natural secretion of this hormone initiates a cascade of biological processes. The general public is familiar with melatonin as a sleep related hormone, but many may not be aware of its impact on brain glutathione (a major endogenous antioxidant produced by the cells) and its powerful antioxidant effects. It is considered more powerful than vitamin C, E, A and the carotenoids.

Unfortunately, melatonin is a terminal antioxidant, meaning it does not undergo redox cycling, which is the repeated reduction and oxidation to regain its antioxidant properties. Thus, sleep is required to regenerate this master antioxidant. If sleep is a health promoting process in our 24 hour cycle, then it is logical that a major player in sleep promotion would be a powerful antioxidant.

Here is how it works: when melatonin is produced, it can work as an antioxidant to free up glutathione. Why is this important? When we are low in antioxidant in general or low in any one specific cofactors then glutathione takes on the role of eliminating free radicals. Once this happens, supplies of glutathione become depleted and slows down all the other roles that glutathione plays in the body, including detoxification, DNA repair, antioxidant recycling, mitochondrial energy support and immune system regulation.

The best way to promote sleep physiology relating to melatonin secretion is likely by avoiding light pollution experienced by most people in the evening hours. Avoiding bright light sources, especially blue wave length can support natural production of melatonin in the brain.

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Sleep Duration, Genetics and All-Cause Mortality

Finally, meta-analyses of population-based studies looking at the relationship between sleep duration and all-cause mortality reported a 10 and 12 percent increased all-cause-mortality in individuals with habitual short sleep duration.

But does everyone respond the same to sleep curtailment?

Recent twin studies have uncovered some genetic variations that may protect some people from sleep deprivation. The mutations that occur to the p.Tyr362His BHLHE41 gene appear to allow some to tolerate shorter sleep durations and maintain normal alertness and limited signs of inflammation.

Unfortunately, right now the average person is trying to function like Thomas Edison…which won’t end well for most of genetically. My feeling is that Edison is probably one of those folks who may have had the p.Tyr362His BHLHE41 mutation (only an educated guess).

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Sleep Tips From A Sleep Doctor

Believe it or not, the most powerful non-medication intervention for insomnia is using the naturally occurring soporific neurotransmitters and getting in tune with one’s natural sleep rhythms. The body is made to be awake for approximately 16 hours of the day. This rhythm is entrained to ebb and flow with the natural increase and decrease in hormones throughout the day. If the schedule is interrupted, then the natural cycle of hormones will be disrupted as well, so you ust maintain as normal of a wake time as possible. The reason for this is that if you go to sleep later and have an anchor of wake time, you will likely have more sleep pressure developing throughout the day, but you won’t disrupt the overall sleep/wake rhythm.

By using this strategy, the average sleeper will increase the sleep promoting neurotransmitter adenosine in the cerebrospinal fluid to allow for natural sleep onset. This will reduce the need to add in amino acid precursors for GABA neurotransmitter or add in exogenous melatonin.

You should also bock high lux of light (intensity of light source) to below 80 lux after 6pm on a normal schedule. This is harder than it sounds, since most internal lights are well over 100 lux. Many electronics have high lux and blue wave length of light, which suppresses melatonin production. Adding a blue wave length blocking screen protector, software application or glasses may improve natural melatonin production.

Avoid electromagnetic frequencies that will disrupt slow wave sleep (SWS) generation and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Don’t work up to the last minute. Integrate some form of relaxation to the hour before bed; less light, sleep induction mat with acupressure, heart rate variability training (NatureBeat), brain wave entrainment (Muse Headset), deep slow breathing and don’t go to bed until sleepy.

The worst thing someone with insomnia can do is to go to bed early and then lie there wide awake. One too many nights of this behavior and the unconscious brain will start associating the bed with being awake. The scary truth is that the brain will generate neurologic pathways that reflect our average sleep habits, and so 5, 10 or 20 years of ignoring our sleep needs may possibly hard wire us when we are older to be poor sleepers. This is not helpful for the average 50 year old or older person, since we tend to have less solid sleep and less deep (SWS) as we age, compounding the challenges we face with the aging brain.

The data is becoming overwhelming regarding the importance of adequate sleep time. Savvy minded folks who are looking to improve performance or simply stay at their optimal health just can’t afford to ignore sleep health. Most people need a minimum of 7 hours to 8 hours of sleep a night (not time in bed).

As you can see, the rising tide of inflammation, immune system problems, weight gain, high blood pressure and hormonal imbalances the general public is attempting to address may be avoided by tapping into our natural healing resource – sleep.

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How To Quantify Your Sleep

So how do you know you are getting adequate sleep?

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The simplest answer is to monitor your vigilance during the day. If waking in the morning to an alarm clock is compulsory, or if you are falling asleep in the afternoon or during meetings or falling asleep in the evening in front of the television, you are not adequately rested. More quantified assessments of adequate sleep may include morning heart rate variability (HRV – the beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate) assessment. Blood testing showing elevated CRP may represent sleep curtailment as well. This measure would likely need to be assessed after a full week of recovery sleep, noting the long duration that CRP persists in the blood stream.

This guest post was written by Dr. Joseph Zelk, the Medical Director of the Sleep Medicine Group. In just 2 weeks, I’m releasing a podcast interview with Dr. Zelk. The interview is about a hidden sleep killer that flies under the radar, and what you can do about it. If you or a loved one struggle with sleep, you’ll want to stay tuned for that audio (click here to subscribe to the free podcast in iTunes), and in the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback for Dr. Zelk or myself below. 

Finally, for customized, cutting-edge sleep tracking and testing, a one-on-one sleep consultation via Skype, screening for obstructive sleep apnea or any other your other sleep enhancement or insomnia fixing needs, visit www.sleepmedicinegroup.com. Mention “Ben Greenfield” on your e-mail intake form or when you speak to a representative, and get a $25-100 discount on any sleep testing or sleep consulting services.

Wild Dieting, Fat Fasting, Scary Rice, The Worst Thing To Do When You Get Sick & How To Drop 25 Pounds In A Month.

Wild-Diet-Cover

Abel James, AKA “The Fat Burning Man”, joins me today to share some juicy gems from his new book “The Wild Diet: Get Back to Your Roots, Burn Fat, and Drop Up to 20 Pounds in 40 Days“.

Abel is a speaker, entertainer, and consultant, and he has presented keynotes for the Federal Government, lectured at Ivy League universities, and advised Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, Danaher, and Lockheed Martin. Also a musician and songwriter, Abel studied at the Royal College of Music and has toured internationally, jammed with country superstars, and won several awards for vocal performance.

As you can probably guess by the title, we go all over the place on this one, and you’ll discover:

-How “fat-fasting” works…

-The best piece of fitness advice Abel has ever gotten…

-Most people think rice is a pretty safe starch, but Abel disagrees and explains why…

-What you can learn from Pottenger’s cats…

-One trick to drop 25lbs in a month…

-How the wild diet for pets work (and the shocking ingredients in “healthy” pet food)…

-The absolute worst thing to do when you get sick…

-The mysterious contents of Abel’s Adventure Pack…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Eat That Frog book

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about The Wild Diet and the variety of topics we chat about on today’s show? Leave your thoughts below!

How To Find A Doctor Wherever You Are.

doctor

Although for the past decade I’ve used a health savings account (HSA) combined with managing my own high deductible health insurance, the passage of Obamacare Affordable Health Care Act ironically tripled my private health insurance costs and left me forced to find a new plan. So this year, I went through the process of applying for health insurance through Washington Health Plan Finder. After dozens of hours of website crashes, tech support nightmares and nerve-wracking lapses in my health insurance coverage, I finally secured coverage.

So health insurance is something fresh on my mind.

And how about finding a physician? In the past, I’ve interviewed my own physicians here in the local Spokane, Washington area, including Dr. Todd Schlapfer and Dr. Toby Hallowitz, and I used the same two-step process to find these doctors as I typically recommend to most folks:

1) Ask around in your local community of like-minded folks about which doctor they recommend;

2) Use these directories that can help you find a good functional medicine or naturopathic practitioner in your area:

HealthProfs.com
FunctionalMedicine.org
Naturopathic.org
PrimalDocs.com
PaleoPhysiciansNetwork.com

But now, it appears that there is a new website and app for finding a doctor wherever you are. It’s called “BetterDoctor“, and in today’s interview, I speak with Ari Tulla, creator of BetterDoctor, about what BetterDoctor actually is, and how it may help you find a medical practitioner appropriate for your needs, find health insurance or find a specific procedure.

Click here to go premium and listen now. You’ll discover:

-Which specific algorithms go into how a doctor is rated…

-How to know which cities where big pharma pays doctors the most… 

-How you can differentiate between alternative medical practitioners such as naturopathic vs. Western allopathic medicine…

-How to locate a list of doctors who has done the highest number of the specific medical procedures that you need…

-How to know which health insurance plan is going to allow you access to the best doctors in your area….

-How to know whether you or your insurance are getting overcharged for specific medical procedures…

Do you have questions about where to find a doctor wherever you are? Your own doctor directory that you recommend? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Are You Fit, Not Healthy? The Shocking Story Of What Happens When You Exercise Too Much, And What You Can Do About It.

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Exercise is supposed to be good for you. But for some people, exercise can become a deadly obsession.

My guest in this podcast episode is Vanessa Alford, author of the new book “Fit, Not Healthy“, which is a warning to all high achievers driven to extremes to excel.

As a young girl growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Alford loved sports: she began gymnastics at age six, netball at seven, and tennis at age ten. She was, in her words, “born to compete”, and both her gymnastics and netball teams won the state championships in her age group. During her early years of sports, she ran to train and to keep fit, but describes it as an obligation, not a pleasure.

After graduating college, Alford began to run regularly: she would set the alarm for 6am, jog for 8k (around an hour) along the beach and be home by 7am, which gave her time to eat breakfast before cycling 15k to work. But soon, her 8k runs became 10k runs, and 12k runs on the weekends.

Soon, both the runs and the ride became mandatory morning rituals, “just like a shot of coffee or booze”, that left her euphoric, floating for the rest of the day on dopamine and adrenaline. “This feeling of elation would sweep over me,” she says, “I just couldn’t get enough of it.”

Within months, she had dropped over 10 pounds and a dress size, and then she started running marathons. Nike and PowerBar sponsored her. Her runs became longer and more grueling, and were soon accompanied by a strict dietary protocol in which she counted every calorie, and monitored every morsel that entered her mouth.

Soon she was running up to 160k a week while surviving on a diet low in fat and low in carbohydrates too. Her body began wasting away, slowly cannibalizing itself, and shutting down non-essential physiological systems. She was exercising herself to death. People warned her, they told her to stop, and her boyfriend told her she had lost her mind. But she couldn’t stop.

Then finally, Vanessa’s body stopped for her, as she collapsed in the middle of a race after losing sensation in her legs.

In today’s podcast interview, you’re going to find out exactly what happened, how exercise addiction occurs, how you can recover from adrenal fatigue, how you can test your body to see if you’re exercising too much, and much more, including:

-The difference between exercise addiction and a runner’s high…

-What’s going on psychologically that makes some people feel like they need to go do things like triathlons, marathons or adventure races…

-Why you often need more and more exercise to achieve the same “high”… 

-What happens chemically that is making you feel so down, so lazy, or so depressed if you stop exercising at the same volume or frequency that you were at before…

-Why will rats run until they drop dead on an exercise wheel…

-And much more!

This episode is brought to you by EXOProtein, where you can use code “ben” for a 10% discount! Today, 80% of the world still eats over 1,600 species of insects, and insects are one of the solutions to humanity’s protein dilemma. Insects are actually as natural to eat as fruits and vegetables and are a more complete form of protein than many livestock alternatives. And even though they have just as much protein as other forms of meat, crickets are 20x more efficient to raise for protein than cattle, and produce 100x less greenhouse gases! Crickets are high in protein, contain all essential amino acids, over twice the iron of spinach, and plenty of B-vitamins, and the Exo bars made from cricket protein are all natural, dairy free, gluten free, grain free, soy-free and paleo friendly. Exo bars are crafted by Kyle Connaughton, formerly the Head of R&D at The Fat Duck, the former #1 restaurant in the world. They’re absolutely delicious, and include flavors like Cacao Nut, Blueberry Vanilla, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Apple Cinnamon. Click here to try EXOProtein Cricket bars today, and use code “ben” for a 10% discount.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Vanessa’s story, or being “fit not healthy”? Leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out Vanessa’s book “Fit Not Healthy“.

Do Muscle Building Supplements Really Cause Cancer?

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A recent study investigating muscle-building supplements and testicular cancer has been trending online and in the media because the authors reported that using muscle-building supplements was associated with a 65% increased risk for testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC). Moreover, they claim that the study results suggest taking multiple supplements for a longer period of time increases the risk even more.

Dang.

This sounds pretty alarming, especially to me, since on any given day I’m typically eating about 20-40g of some kind of protein powder like goat whey or a vegan protein, downing about 5g of creatine, and depending on the time of year (and my plans for the night, heh), using colostrum for my immune system or a testosterone boosting herbal blend for libido. But just like anything, it’s also important to break down the methods used in the study to determine how the researchers arrived at this conclusion.

I relied heavily upon my friends over at Examine Research Digest to dig into the details of many of the studies and information you’ll find below. So let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?

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The Study

The authors of the study recruited male hospital residents that had been diagnosed with TGCC (remember, that’s the cancer I mentioned earlier) and gave them a questionnaire investigating their supplementation habits. The researchers recruited a control group from the same hospitals, using the same demographic criteria, except that the control group participants had not been diagnosed with TGCC.

Seems simple enough.

And the results of this study were deduced from the answers participants gave in the questionnaire.

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The Ambiguity

However, there were a few glaring issues with this study, including one major ambiguity: researchers did not disclose how they selected the supplements that qualify as muscle-building supplements. Instead, they reported that there were 30 total supplements asked about on the questionnaire. They only specifically named creatine, whey protein powder, and androstenedione (which in my opinion, is a pretty powerful steroidal precursor far different than something like creatine or whey, and also something I personally stay far away from for those reasons).

Since the researchers did not disclose all of the supplements they investigated, it is completely impossible to know how many of the supplements contained androgens, how many have been shown to be safe, and how many were just plain old protein powder. It’s also of course completely impossible to know whether participants were using NSF-certified supplements vs. some supplement they purchased from an overseas pharmacy, a bottle of pills they grabbed out of the bargain bin at their local drugstore, or something their buddy at the gym handed them in the locker room.

Despite the ambiguity and big differences in the investigated supplements, the researchers applied their conclusion to muscle-building supplements as a whole. This doesn’t make sense when you consider just how different creatine, whey protein powder, and androstenedione are, not to mention the 27 other “mystery” supplements.

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Previous Research On Cancer and Muscle-Building Supplements

Though the above study is flawed, it is still important because there is not very much existing research investigating the link between ergogenic supplements and cancer. There is no amount of research that can conclusively “prove” a supplement is not linked to cancer, but there is a lot of existing evidence for the effects of the three supplements investigated in this study. Let’s check out that evidence, shall we?

Creatine

I personally use 5g of creatine daily for its nootropic and strength/power building effects. Creatine has never been conclusively linked to cancer. Early studies suggested a metabolite of creatine (formaldehyde) indicated that formaldehyde could contribute to cancer growth, but follow-up studies showed that the amount was too small to have an effect. Some studies actually suggest creatine can protect against DNA damage caused by oxidative stress when it is supplemented in conjunction with exercise, which provides further evidence that creatine does not cause cancer.

Protein powder

Protein has often been associated with cancer risk in the media, due to a number of studies, including the infamous flawed “China Study” (my fellow blogger Denise Minger has pretty thoroughly ripped that study to shred) which was also the title of a follow-up book filled with hyperbole. Since then, multiple studies have investigated the link between protein powder and cancer, but there is zero evidence to suggest a relationship exists. The only exception is heavy metal contamination, which is rare, but results in a lot of media attention when it occurs, leading people to believe it is a common problem. That’s really only the case if you’re using cheap protein powders full of other fillers, artificial sweeteners and nasty additives.

Androstenedione

Androgens in general are associated with health risks, since they are testosterone boosters that actually work, which can increase the risk of androgen-responsive cancers, including testicular and prostate cancer. Just because a supplement is sold over the counter doesn’t mean it’s safe, particularly in the United States, where supplement regulation is more likely to be reactive than proactive. This is the one thing mentioned in the study that I’d be particularly concerned about, and I think it would have been interesting to isolate this particular muscle-building supplements effect on cancer, rather than lumping it in with all the rest.

Other supplements

Other popular pre-workout supplements, like l-carnitine, beta-alanine, and caffeine have been researched for decades and zero cancer risk has been identified in actual research that doesn’t rely upon some mysterious questionnaires from a group of male nurses.

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More Research Is Needed

Though the methods used in this study are flawed, the results do provide useful evidence because they have revealed a potential relationship between cancer and muscle-building supplements. However, that doesn’t mean muscle-building supplements cause cancer or increase the risk of it. Obviously this article only scratches the surface of the issue, but ultimately:

A) much more thorough, high-quality research is needed to confirm any relationship between muscle-building supplements and cancer and;

B) as I’ve said before on podcasts, shoving oodles of protein powder into your gaping maw and including a host of other anabolic supplements (including pure and simple caloric excess) with no cycling, off-days, or less anabolic periods of time could certainly lead to undifferentiated cell growth (AKA cancer). However, moderation in pro-growth dietary supplements, moderation in calories, intermittent fasting, and a smart cycle of growth, repair and recovery is the most intelligent and safe strategy.

Furthermore, studies could continue investigating the broad category of muscle-building supplements to break them down into specific groups. That would make it much easier to determine which muscle-building supplements are harmful and which are not.

Follow-up studies could also delve much deeper into the actual ingredients included in these supplements. Though the authors mention in their conclusion that muscle-building supplements sometimes contain steroids that are not listed on the label, they also disclose that they did not do any compound analysis during the study whatsoever. That means that if the label claimed a supplement contained certain ingredients, it was taken at face value. And we know from many other studies that this simply isn’t true.

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Summary

Ultimately, the results of this study cannot be used to prove a relationship between muscle-building supplements and cancer, and the methods the researchers used leave a lot to be desired. I don’t plan on throwing away my supplements just yet. But I also don’t plan on sucking down three protein smoothies a day, oodles of creatine, and some steroids thrown in for good measure anytime soon, even if my biceps may suffer slightly.

After all, it’s all about finding the ideal balance between health, performance, longevity – even if your goal is to get swole, have killer guns, and be 70’s big, right?

For more information about muscle-building supplements and testicular cancer, and an even more detailed breakdown of this latest study, stay tuned for the next issue of the Examine Research Digest, which is one of my go-to sources for the latest research and findings in exercise science and supplementation, and in the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback below.

Cracking The Code On Nature’s Best Kept Secret: Medicinal Mushrooms.

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Before I recorded today’s podcast, I skipped my usual morning dark, black cup of aero-pressed coffee, and instead opted for something called “mushroom coffee”, which is a powdered blend of arabica coffee, chaga mushroom and cordyceps extract. 

So could drinking a tea made out of a specific mushroom lower your stress levels? Or even choosing to top your risotto with champions help prevent you from cancer? Out of the 150,000 known species of fungi about 300 have shown a wide variety of medicinal properties. Some “‘shrooms” have a hormonal balancing effect and some enhance the immune system, just to give a few examples.

So today, with Tero Isokauppila, the Co-Founder and President of Four Sigma Foods, we take a deep dive into these type of medicinal mushroom extracts, and you’ll discover…

-The story behind Four Sigma Foods and how Tero got so interested in mushrooms…

-The important difference between a medicinal mushroom and a regular mushroom…

-How big pharmaceutical companies use mushrooms (and the mistake they make)…

-The best mushroom extract to use for stress…

-The best mushroom extract to use for immune system…

-The best mushroom extract to use for balancing blood sugar…

-The best mushroom extract to use for liver detox…

-The crazy story of where cordyceps mushroom extract actually comes from…

-Why most mushroom products are ineffective because they are grown on grain or rice and are simply full of starch rather than the beneficial bioactive compounds…

-Whether you should take mushroom extracts on an empty stomach or take with a meal…

-If adaptogens and mushrooms are safe for kids…

-The process via which a mushroom is harvested and then turned into something like a powdered extract or a tea…

-Whether you need to heat mushroom extract, or if you can simply add it to cold water…

Tero Isokauppila is the Co-Founder and President of Four Sigma Foods. Four Sigma Foods is a startup dedicated to democratizing the healing powers of mushrooms by making them accessible to everyone. The company currently sells superfood teas, mushroom-infused coffees and mushroom chocolates, and you can use discount code “ben-greenfield” to get 15% off anything from Four Sigma Foods.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about medicinal mushrooms, Four Sigma Foods extract, or any of the other topics that Tero and I discuss? Leave your thoughts below!

Performance Nutrition, Sweat Sodium And The Secret Hydration Formula Of The World’s Top Endurance Athletes.

Allen Lim Ben Greenfield

In my article The Real Truth About What To Eat Before, During And After Your Workouts & Races, I mentioned a guy named Dr. Allen Lim, and I specifically gave a shout-out to the recipes he invented when Lim was director of sport science for Garmin and RadioShack cycling teams. 

In that article, I talked about recipes like Chocolate & Sea Salt Sticky Bites, Blueberry & Chocolate Coconut Rice Cakes and Crispy Rice Omelets. You can’t argue that those don’t sound tasty (and yes, when you eat them with coconut oil you can still be in ketosis, you high-fat zealot, you).

Anyways, the photo above was taken a few weeks ago at my Team Timex triathlon camp, during which Lim conducted a cutting-edge sweat sodium analysis on me (which we discuss along with many other nerdy nutrition topics in this podcast episode).

Lim is a sports physiologist, cycling coach, and a founder of Skratch Labs, a manufacturer of performance hydration mixes and the world’s first active nourishment company. Beginning his coaching career with Jonathan Vaughters’ TIAA-CREF cycling development team, Lim developed a method of testing for biological markers of performance enhancing drugs that ultimately led to cycling’s Biological Passport.

Lim was director of sport science for Garmin and RadioShack cycling teams and is the only American scientist to have worked and cooked for teams at the Tour de France. He has not only worked with dozens of top American cyclists to improve their performance and nutrition, but has also worked with guys like Lance Armstrong and George Bush .

Along with Chef Biju Thomas, Lim is also the author of The Feed Zone Cookbook and Feed Zone Portables.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

-Why popular sports drinks are mixed in the wrong concentrations, and how this leads to something called “gut rot”…

-Why you may need to add sushi rice to your race day or long workout protocol…

-The physiological reason why “cane sugar” is absorbed so well during exercise…

-Why Allen isn’t a fan of stevia…

-How MCT oil and coconut oil could actually speed up gastric emptying (and why that may not be good!)…

-Allen’s thoughts on Jeff Volek’s research on fat utilization during exercise and the apparent need for fewer carbs in fat-adapted athletes…

-Allen’s thoughts on Tim Noakes’ idea that based on our electrolyte stores and the fact that sodium loss drives sodium extortion that electrolyte intake is useless during exercise…

-How to create a customized sodium and hydration replacement scenario based on your unique sweat sodium loss…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

The infamous “egg-hydration” video

The Feed Zone Cookbook

Feed Zone Portables

Skratch Labs

Stryd power meter for running

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Allen Lim, Skratch labs, sweat sodium, sports nutrition or anything else we talk about in this episode? Leave your thoughts below!

A Tiny Miracle Berry That Transforms Sour And Bitter Foods Into Sweet Explosions Of Taste.

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I recently spoke at an event hosted by my friend Neil Strauss, an actor, producer, and relatively famous author known for his books such as “The Game” and “Emergency“.

Then, just last week, I received a nice little thank-you note from Neil’s team. Along with the note were the following items:

1) An article entitled “A Party To Remember“…

2) A small packet of “Miracle Fruit Tablets” that looked like this:

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Now I’d occasionally heard of substances that somehow change the flavor of foods, as well as herbs and compounds that drastically affect your taste sensations, such as Gymnema sylvestre (which my guest Nora Gedgaudas mentioned in the podcast episode “How To Stop Carbohydrate Cravings In Their Tracks“). I’ve also seen anecdotes about how those foods could be used for goals such as appetite control, carbohydrate or sugar cravings, or adherence to a diet, but had never actually tried anything like this before.

So I figured: what the heck? Why not throw one of these famed “Miracle Berry Parties“?

That night, my wife and twin boys arranged a random assortment of bitter, sour and relatively non-sweet foods on our kitchen table, including some very old and heavily fermented kombucha, lemons, limes, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, a grapefruit, goat cheese, and some plain yogurt. Because this was a kid-friendly party, we eliminated a few of Neil’s other suggestions, such as tequila, Corona, and Guinness beer.

Of course, normally this would be a meal that a poor bachelor might assemble from leftovers in the refrigerator, or a range of foods that a dieter would use when trying to avoid blood sugar spikes or excessive calorie intake…

…but for us, it was a Miracle Berry party.

Step 1 was to consume our miracle berries, which were in this case “mBerry Miracle Fruit Tablets“. We rolled them around on our tongues, trying to cover every possible piece of taste bud real estate, and as this Instagram post reflects, it did indeed appear as though we were dropping acid.

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Next, we began the party.

In just a moment, via a quick video, you’ll get to witness the shocking taste sensations that ensued, but first, for you science-minded out there – what exactly is a miracle berry?

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Synsepalum dulcificum, also known as the miracle fruit or miracle berry is a plant originally from West Africa that contains a berry which when eaten, causes sour foods to taste sweet. This effect is due to a glycoprotein molecule, with some carbohydrate chains attached to it, called “miraculin”, and miraculin is actually used commercially in some foods as a sugar substitute. Other names for the miracle fruit or miracle berry include miraculous berry, sweet berry, agbayun,taami, asaa, and ledidi.

The berry was first popularized when European explorer Chevalier des Marchais, who was searching West Africa for new fruits in a 1725 excursion, noticed that local people picked the berry from shrubs and chewed it before meals.

When you eat the fleshy part of the fruit, miraculin binds to your tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. At neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors, but at low pH (the pH normally found in sour foods such as lemon, radishes, pickles, hot sauce, beer, etc.) miraculin binds protons and activates the sweet receptors, resulting in the perception of sweet taste. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (depending on how much saliva you produce, this can be from 20 minutes up to 2 hours).

In the 1970s in the USA, an attempt was made to commercialize the fruit for its ability to turn unsweet foods into sweet foods without a caloric penalty, but ended in failure when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified the berry as a food additive. There is actually a conspiracy theory that the project was sabotaged by the sugar industry to prevent loss of business caused by a drop in demand for sugar (incidentally theories similar to this exist to explain the FDA’s labeling of stevia as a “dietary supplement” instead of a “sweetener”).

OK, enough of the history. Let’s take a look at the Greenfield’s Miracle Berry Party, complete with my wife’s embarrassment about having just gotten out of the shower, my children’s thoughts on which of our food choices failed with the Miracle Berry and a final discovery about how to make calorie-free key lime pie in your mouth.

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So that’s how the Greenfield Miracle Berry Party went down!

Ultimately, having a packet of Miracle Fruit Tablets seems like it would be a pretty handy idea if you, say, wanted to transition from a nightly bowl of ice cream to a half of a grapefruit or a glass of Kombucha instead. Or if you wanted to make that boring platter of vegetables, olives and pickles at a party taste good enough to where you actually decide to skip the chicken wings and nacho dip.

Finally, perhaps you want to go au natural and delve straight into the source of the mBerry Miracle Fruit Tablets: a miracle fruit plant or miracle fruit seeds. You should know that you can indeed order a miracle fruit plant or seeds on Amazon (or possibly elsewhere) – and this is probably a safer choice than the tomato plants that are now being genetically modified to produce miraculin compounds.

I actually did just that, but received the following message the next day, so be forewarned if you live in a cold climate:

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I suppose I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that our little plant will show up someday, at which time I’m guessing my consumption of lemons, limes, balsamic vinaigrette and old kombucha is going to skyrocket.

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Well, what do you think? Do you plan on throwing your own Miracle Berry Party? Do you have questions about this amazing little fruit? Leave your thoughts below!

7 Essential Kitchen Items You’ve Never Heard Of But Need To Have.

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Meet Flavia Del Monte (pictured above).

She kinda has the perfect name for a book about flavorful cooking, eh?

I didn’t just randomly decide to interview Flavia. Nearly a decade ago, I actually met Flavia’s husband Vince Del Monte. Vince is well known in the fitness world as a go-to expert for skinny guys to build muscle (I believe when I met him he was going by the name “Skinny Guy’s Savior”), and he’s a guy who taught me a lot about how to do things like start a fitness website and write e-books.

So when I saw that his wife Flavia had written a cookbook, I figured I’d check it out, and it’s actually not your stereotypical cut-the-calories, fat-phobic, mumbo-jumbo. Instead, it’s actually jam-packed with some really delicious recipes and outside-the-box thinking. So in this episode, I interview Flavia about her book – which is entitled Flavalicious Cooking – and you’ll discover…

-How Flavia broke out of the stereotypical fitness model diet of salt and peppered tilapia, steamed broccoli and raw nuts…

-The versatility and benefits of coconut sugar as an alternative to regular sugar and artificial sweeteners…

-The difference between coconut butter and coconut oil…

-How you can use coconut aminos as an alternative to soy sauce…

-How you can make sauces and soups thicker without using corn starch…

-How to use a microplane and why you should use one…

-How you can use your freezer to preserve your herbs…

-Flavia’s 3-3-3-3 recipe to cook a perfect steak…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Coconut sugar

Coconut butter (AKA coconut manna)

Coconut aminos

Bob’s Red Mill potato starch

Microplane

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about these essential kitchen items, Flavia’s book Flavalicious Cooking, or anything else we talk about in this episode? Leave your thoughts below!

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.

echolabs

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!

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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.