10 Things Your Pee Can Tell You About Your Body: Taking A Deep Dive Into Urinalysis, Dehydration, Ketosis, pH & More!

Things Your Pee Can Tell You About Your Body

My wife is not happy with me.

See, for the past several days, I’ve been randomly grabbing drinking glasses from the shelf in the kitchen…

…and peeing into them.

And yes, I realize that now you will likely never want to join me at my home for a dinner party.

So why the heck am I urinating into our family’s kitchenware? It’s all about better living through science and figuring out ways to live longer and feel better (at least that’s what I tell my wife to appease her). It’s also about my sheer curiosity and desire to delve into an N=1 experiment in self-quantification with urinalysis. It’s also because I’ve been too lazy to order one of those special  urinalysis specimen cups with the cute plastic lid.

And let’s face it: with my relatively frequent use of a three day gut testing panel, my wife is already somewhat accustomed to giant Fed-Ex bags full of poop tubes sitting in the fridge, so urine can’t be all that bad, right?

Anyways, in this article, you’re going to learn exactly why I think it’s a good idea to occasionally study one’s own urine, and you’ll also discover 10 very interesting things your pee can tell you about your body. Enjoy, and as usual, leave your questions, thoughts, feedback, and stories of your own adventures in urinalysis below this post.


The History Of My Interest In Urinalysis

Two years ago, I first became interested in urinalysis when I discovered a new start-up called “uChek”.

The premise of uChek was quite simple.

People with diabetes who want to check the amount of glucose in their urine would simply be able to download uChek to their iPhone or iPad. Then, after a “mid-stream collection,” (yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like and, in my experience, despite my Private Gym training, can be quite difficult to pull off) a urine test strip, also called a “dipstick”, is dipped into the pee sample.

After a few moments, colors appear on the test strip that reflect the presence of specific compounds in the urine, such as glucose, ketones, hydration status, pH, etc. The user would then photograph the test strip with the phone or pad camera and the app would then compare the colors and allow you to email the results, store them or chart them over time.

Although I’m not diabetic, the concept of being able to us an app like uChek to conveniently self-quantify was, to me, quite intriguing.

So I headed on over to the uChek IndieGoGo page, invested my eighty-four hard-earned dollars into the crowdfunding campaign, then sat back with baited breath and a bladder full or urine for my fancy uChek iPhone attachement to arrive in the mail.

Hooray! I was about to get a “medical lab in my iPhone”, and here’s the e-mail to prove it:


Trouble is, apparently the FDA caught wind of the uChek app.

And the US government, bless their hearts, in an effort to protect us all from peeing on our phones, claimed that using an app like uChek to read a urine analysis strip changes the phone’s components into a medical testing system subject to FDA approval. Plus, there’s the issue with potential for electronic storage and transmission violating HIPPA regulations, which is the same reason the Quantified Toilet generated such controversy.

In a letter to Biosense Technologies (the makers of uChek) the FDA said…

…“since your app allows a mobile phone to analyze the dipsticks, the phone and device as a whole functions as an automated strip reader.” 

And then, as you can read in “Why the FDA Took the Piss Out of uChek, a Urine Analysis App“, the FDA shut uChek down. Here’s the e-mail I subsequently received:


That was a sad day.

Since then, there’s been no word from uChek, and after spending several weeks mildly depressed that I could not urinate onto my phone as promised, I got over it and moved on.


Using Urine Data To Drive Optimal Hydration Levels

But recently, my interest in urinalysis has been freshly renewed.

As you know if you read my recent infrared sauna article, Shattering The Myths Of Detox Therapy, Infrared Saunas, Health Scams & More, I’ve been spending copious amounts of time sweating in a sauna.

And if you read my coffee enema article, The Bulletproof Coffee Enema: Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Coffee Enemas (But Were Afraid To Ask), then you also know that I’m no foreigner to shoving tubes up my backside that could potentially cause my colon to drain my body of fluid and electrolytes.

Finally, of course, I lose plenty of minerals and water via my unnaturally high amounts of exercise to prepare for everything the masochistic endurance events in which I compete, most notably of late the Spartan World Championships and the World’s Toughest Mudder.

Sure, I could simply use the color of my urine (e.g. yellow vs. clear) to determine whether these activities are leaving my body a touch dehydrated. But as Dr. Stacy Sims, a previous podcast guest alludes to in her article “How Much Do I Need To Drink” as TJ Murphy mentions in the recent LAVA article “How Can You Use Data Drive An Optimal Hydration Level“, a measurement called urine specific gravity can give you an even more quantified, precise way to determine your hydration levels.

Urine specific gravity is relatively straightforward. Using urine reagent test strips, which you’ll learn more about momentarily, you can look at a marker called Specific Gravity (SG).

-A normal hydrated status is an SG of 1.005 to 1.015.

-An SG of 1.020 indicates you’re approximately 1% dehydrated of total body water volume.

-An SG of 1.025 means you’re probably approaching a point where physical and mental performance could be inhibited.

That’s it. Easy eh? Using this data, you can then do things like identify certain activities that dehydrate you, or choose when or when not to consume extra water and minerals.

But the magic of staring at your own pee doesn’t stop there. Here are some other cool things your pee can tell you about your body.


How Urinalysis Works

Urinalysis test strips consist of a ribbon made of plastic or paper of about 5 millimeters wide, just like you may use test hot tub or pool water (except hopefully there is no pee in your pool). You can get Urinalysis strips on Amazon for about 7-20 dollars for 100 strips. I got the Cybow brand, and it doesn’t appear there’s a huge difference among brands.

The plastic strips have pads infused with chemicals that react with the compounds present in your urine to produce a specific color. On paper strips, the reactants are absorbed directly onto the paper. Paper strips are often specific to a single reaction (e.g. pH measurement, pregnancy, ketones etc.), while the strips with pads, the more common ones you’ll probably be using, allow you to look at the concentration of several urine parameters all at once.

Once you’ve dipped the strip into your urine for about five seconds, you then remove the strip and either compare the pad color with a color scale on the outside of the strip bottle, or an app like  the Siemens Urinalysis Guide App or the Urinalysis Made Simple App by Quantmetrix. Values are usually reported as trace, 1+, 2+, 3+ and 4+ or as milligrams per decilitre. The time taken for the full appearance of the test results on the strip can vary from a few minutes after the test to 30 minutes after immersion of the strip in the urine (depending on the brand of product being used).

The color comparison chart on the back of most bottles or on a phone app will look something like this:


One other thing: proper technique can definitely come in quite handy.

For example, leukocytes and erythrocytes precipitate at the bottom of the container you pee in, and may not be detected if you don’t properly mix the sample. So give your urine cup a little stir or shake. Hell, use a latte frother for all I care, but just don’t make the same mistake as me and let your spouse see you defiling kitchenware.

If an excess of urine remains on the strip after it has been removed from the test sample, this can cause the reagents to leak from the pads onto adjacent pads, resulting in mixing and distortion of the colors. To remedy this, I recommend briefly tapping the edge of the strip over the mouth of the container to remove excess urine. Needless to say, and speaking once again from personal experience, this is an activity best relegated to the bathroom, not the kitchen counter.


10 Things Your Pee Can Tell You About Your Body

OK, now here’s the fun part. Let’s jump into what exactly you can learn from the average urinalysis strip.

In a nutshell, you get glucose, bilirubin, ketone, specific gravity, blood, pH, protein, urobilinogen, nitrite, and leukocytes, and this data provides information regarding the status of everything from carbohydrate metabolism to kidney and liver function to acid-base balance to bacterial infection.

Let’s take a closer look at what these ten variables mean for fitness enthusiasts, and which ones athletes, self-quantification nerds and biohackers alike should pay close attention to.

1. Specific Gravity

The specific gravity of urine is simply a measure of the density of the substances dissolved in your urine, and it depends on both the number of dissolved particles and their mass. Molecules with the greatest mass contribute more to the measure of specific gravity than smaller molecules. The more dehydrated you are, the less water in your urine and the greater the concentration of the particles in your urine. The colours vary from dark blue with a reading of 1.000 to yellow for a reading of 1.030.

Elevated protein concentrations produce slightly elevated specific gravity results as a consequence of the indicator’s protein error. This means that if you have a lot of muscle damage from, say, a hard run or weight training session, your urine strip may indicated a slightly greater state of dehydration than you’re actually in. Also, urine samples with a pH above 6.5 give lower readings of specific gravity, so the manufacturers of urinalysis strips recommend that you add 5 units to the specific gravity reading when the pH is greater than 6.5.

2. Leukocytes

On a urine strip, the leukocytes test looks for the presence of leukocyte esterase, which is present in white blood cells like monocytes and granulocytes (of the neutrophilic, eosinophilic and basophilic varieties). High numbers of leukocytes can indicate a urinary infection or the upcoming onset of an illness such as a viral or bacterial infection. Kidney inflammation, STD’s and yeast infection can also jack up leukocytes. One day after hard training, any positive leukocyte results could indicate inadequate recovery, and the need to sleep, hydrate, and engage in as many recovery protocols as possible so you bounce back.

False negative results for leukocytes are associated with elevated concentrations of protein (greater than 500 mg/dL), glucose greater than 3 g/dL, or high levels of oxalic acid or ascorbic acid. Urine with a high specific gravity can also cause leukocyte crenation, which can impede the liberation of the esterases and also give a false negative result, meaning your leukocytes are high but the strip isn’t showing it.

3. Urobilinogen

Your intestinal bacteria convert the bilirubin that is excreted by the bile duct into your intestine into urobilinogen and stercobilinogen. Part of the urobilinogen is reabsorbed in the intestine then circulated in the blood to the liver where it is excreted. But some of this recirculated urobilinogen is filtered out by the kidneys and appears in your urine.

Any deterioration in liver function reduces your ability to process the recirculated urobilinogen, and the excess that remains in the blood is filtered out by the kidneys and appears in your urine. So high urobilinogen can indicate a beat-up liver. Thus far in my N=1 experimentations with urinalysis, I haven’t tested following a heavy bout of drinking, but it could be interested to see how much liver function is impaired. Feel free to raise your hand in the comments section if you’d like to volunteer for that experiment. BYOB.

4. Ketones

The term ketones or ketone bodies actually refers to three different products involved in the metabolism of fatty acids: acetone, acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid. Elevated concentrations of ketones are not usually found in your urine, since most ketones are completely metabolized to produce ATP, carbon dioxide and water. However, very low carbohydrate metabolism or burning a very high amount of fat can lead to a high appearance of ketones as a by-product of the metabolism of fat.

An increase in fat metabolism can be the result of starvation or malabsorption, the inability to metabolize carbohydrates (such as might occur in diabetes) or due to nutrient losses from illness, vomiting or just not eating enough food.

Now here’s something very important for you to know: urine strips only show excess ketone bodies exerted via urine. In most cases, in the average, healthy active person, these excess ketones are, in fact, wasted calories that you didn’t metabolize.

If you’re in ketosis, eating a high-fat diet, or have been restricting carbohydrates for a long period of time, you’re probably keto-adapted (AKA a “fat burning machine“), and this means that even if you are in ketosis, urine strips aren’t going to tell you that. This can happen in as few as two weeks into a low-carb, high-fat or ketosis diet, and it’s why I recommend breath testing using a device like this rather than urine testing for “true” ketosis in fat-adapted folks. For more details on the nitty-gritty science behind this, read this post at

Basically, if you are keto-adapted, you will exert less ketone bodies via urine. This means that you may show high blood or breath ketones and low or zero urine ketones. Although I’m generally in ketosis much of the day, I rarely saw elevated ketones in my urine, including after a 16 hour fast and after a 16 mile unfed run.

Finally, changes in hydration can affect the concentration of urinary ketones. A high water intake may dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine.

5. Glucose

Under normal conditions nearly all the glucose removed in the glomerulus is reabsorbed in the proximal convoluted tubule of your kidneys. But if your blood glucose level increases dramatically or you have diabetes mellitus, the capacity of the tubule to reabsorb glucose is exceeded (a condition known as renal reabsorption threshold). For glucose, this threshold is between 160-180 mg/dl, which is pretty dang high blood glucose values, but values that can cause glucose to appear in urine.

The most representative results of glucose concentration in urine come from samples obtained at least two hours after food is eaten, and please allow me to be clear: you’d have to eat a crapola of glucose to get your levels up to 160-180 mg/dl. So only when glucose gets extremely elevated, such as in uncontrolled diabetes, does the high glucose present in the blood enters the urine.

Exceptions exist, however. Nondiabetic glycosuria, also known as renal glycosuria, is a condition in which glucose appears in the urine despite normal blood levels. There are no symptoms associated with this condition, and it occurs in as many as 50% of pregnancies, especially in the third and fourth months. So unless you’re diabetic or pregnant, you probably won’t be paying much attention to this value.

6. pH

Your lungs and kidneys are the main regulators of your acid and alkaline balance, which is maintained through the excretion of acidic hydrogens in the form of ammonia ions, phosphate, organic acids and  the reabsorption of bicarbonate through filtration in the kidneys. The pH of urine normally varies between 4.5 and 8, with the first urine produced in the morning generally being more acidic and the urine produced after meals generally more alkaline.7.0 is a neutral pH. The higher the number, the more basic it is. The lower the number, the more acidic your urine is. The average urine sample tests at about 6.0, although it’s tough to find normalized reference values for urine pH, as the variation is very wide.

Diets very high in animal proteins tend to produce acidic urine, while diets mainly comprised of vegetables tend to produce alkali urine. If your urine pH is very low, this could indicate an acidic environment for kidney stones or any of the following conditions:

-diabetic ketoacidosis

Meanwhile, a higher-than-normal urine pH could indicate:

-low stomach acids
-kidney failure
-pyloric (stomach sphinchter) obstruction
-respiratory alkalosis (breathing off too much carbon dioxide)
-urinary tract infection

7. Bilirubin

Bilirubin is a by-product of haemoglobin degradation. The haemoglobin that is released after your liver and spleen withdraw old red blood cells from circulation is degraded into iron, protoporphyrin and protein. The protoporphyrin is converted into bilirubin that passes through the circulatory system bound to protein. The kidney is unable to filter out this bilirubin that  is bound to protein, but, the bilirubin is conjugated with glucuronic acid in the liver to form water-soluble conjugated bilirubin. This conjugated bilirubin should not normally appear in the urine, and should be excreted directly from the intestine in bile. Intestinal bacteria reduce the bilirubin to urobilinogen, which is later excreted in your feces as sturcobilin or in the urine as urobilin.

However, bilirubin can appear in your urine when this normal  cycle is altered due to the obstruction of the biliary ducts (e.g. liver or gallbladder dysfunction) or when the kidney’s functional integrity is damaged. This allows the escape of  bilirubin into the circulation, and you’d see this in conditions like hepatitis or liver cirrhosis.

So urinary bilirubin is an early indication that your liver is freaking beat up.

8. Protein

Something called “proteinuria” (protein in your urine) is often associated with early kidney disease, but it can also indicated excessive muscle damage, dehydration or inadequate recovery. Normally, urine contains very little protein, and typically less than 10 g/L or 100 g per 24 hours is excreted.

A normal protein color should show a yellow reagent. Green coloring on the yellow indicates a positive marker for protein presence. A ton of green probably indicates the dreaded condition of rhabdomyolysis. While it is completely normal to have a bit of green in the few hours after exercise, if protein is still positive in the morning after an exercise session, you still have some pretty serious muscle damage and inadequate recovery happening.

9. Nitrites

The test for nitrites is a screening method for possible asymptomatic infections caused by nitrate-reducing bacteria. For example, some bacteria that most commonly cause urinary tract infections, such as Escherichia coli, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Proteus, have enzymes that reduce the nitrate present in urine to nitrite.

So basically, if your urinalysis shows nitrites, you probably have a urinary tract infection (UTI) and you should probably listen to this podcast. 

10. Blood

Blood can be present in your urine either in the form of intact red blood cells (hematuria) or as the product of red blood cell destruction, hemoglobin (hemoglobinuria). Blood present in large quantities can be detected visually. Hematuria produces cloudy red urine, and hemoglobinuria appears as a clear red specimen. The presence of intact red blood cells in your urine typically signifies some kind of blood loss in the lower part of the urinary tract, like the urethra, bladder or ureters, and high hemoglobinuria or hematuria can also indicate kidney inflammation..


The Results Of My N=1 Experiment With Urinalysis

OK, so now that you’re a urinalysis analysis ninja, let’s take a peak at my results in full iPhone photo glory, shall we?

Day 1, morning waking. Note that Specific Gravity seems to indicate mild dehydration. Also a very “alkaline” pH, and a very small amount of ketones. Nothing earth-shattering here, aside from the fact that I must lose more water than I thought during my overnight sleep, and despite most people having acidic morning urine, mine appears to be alkalinic.


Day 1, morning 30 minutes after eating big-ass smoothie. No significant rise in blood glucose, probably because my smoothie is mostly fats and vegetables, with only about 20g of protein (recipe here). Specific Gravity still shows some dehydration, and my urine has become slightly more acidic.


Day 1, afternoon pre-workout. Well, I’m alkaline again, but still slightly dehydrated. Crap. If I’m learning anything here, it’s that I need to drink more water, which surprises me since I already consume about a 16 ounce glass of water every hour or so. Perhaps the combination of sauna, enemas and exercise dehydrates me more than I suspected.


Day 1, early evening post-workout. Note the proteins from muscle damage in my urine. Cool. All those pull-ups must have done something.


Day 2, morning, 60 minutes post-coffee enema. Definitely still a bit dehydrated, possibly more than usual. By the way, you may have noticed that the urinalysis strips I’m using show an eleventh parameter: ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is a water-soluble vitamin important in our diet, and excess amounts of vitamin C can be excreted via the urine if the body has enough. Considering the huge amount of plant matter I consume, it’s no surprise I have vitamin C in my urine.


Day 2, morning 30 minutes after eating big-ass smoothie. A-OK, except for Specific Gravity. Must. Drink. More. Water.


Day 2, afternoon pre-workout. Note my beautiful pH of 7. Nice.


Day 2, early evening post-workout. Yep – proteins in the urine again. But interestingly, a workout doesn’t seem to make my pH more acidic.


Day 3, morning waking. Still some proteins in the urine. Uh-oh: this indicates inadequate recovery. Probably because I finished my workout then immediately went hunting for nearly two hours…


Day 3, after 16 hour fast, skipping breakfast. Note lack of urinary ketones, despite fast. Scroll back up and read what I wrote about ketones to understand why I’m burning them so they’re not showing up in my urine.


Day 3, after a 16 mile run. Definitely dehydrated. No protein in urine, however. It seems a weight training session seems to jack up muscle damage levels even more than a very long run. Interesting.


Day 3, 30 minutes after a big dinner that included 100 grams of rice-based carbohydrates. Even that didn’t seem to make a dent in urine glucose levels.


Day 4, morning, post-30 minutes infrared sauna. Specific Gravity pretty dang high. Not to kick a horse to death here, but it’s looking like many of my daily practices dehydrate me. If there’s one big thing I’ve learned here, it’s that I need to drink more water even though I’m already drinking quite a bit. I’ve always been under the impression that the high Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) I’ve seen on my blood test results were due to muscle damage, but it’s likely they may also be due to me not drinking enough water. And again, I must emphasize that up until this point, I have been at nearly 16oz of water hour most of the day!


I’m obviously only a few days into this experiment, which is why you see just four days of urinalysis results and yes, I could have quantified this with a fancy spreadsheet, and perhaps I still will, but for now these photos suffice to give you a very good idea of the kind of things you can do with a urinalysis. Stay tuned, as I will reveal even more results (likely on the Facebook/BGFitness page) as I drink more water and see what it does to Specific Gravity.



As you read this, I’m on a plane traveling back from the Biohacker Summit in Finland (so of course it seemed perfectly fitting to do a write-up on self-quantifying a bodily fluid).

But when I land, I’ll check the comments section to see what kind of questions you have about urinalysis, and hopefully to hear about some of your own results. In the meantime, I think that for just a few bucks and a hundred urinalysis strips, this form of self-quantification is well worth the bargain cost, and can give you some interesting insight into a cool grab-bag of parameters.

Enjoy your pee, and for heaven’s sake, clean the drinking glass afterward.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about urinalysis, what your pee can tell you about your body, dehydration, ketosis,your own results from your urinalysis or anything else I discuss in this article? Leave your thoughts below.

The Physician Who Personally Advises The World’s Leading Health Authorities, And His Tiny Invention That Pro Athletes Swear By.

dr. anthony beck

I have several friends who I would consider to be VIP’s, bigwigs, and leading authorities in the field of health and biohacking.

Although I will respectfully keep those friends anonymous, I’ve noted that a relatively large majority of them have one specific man who serves as their personal physician, and he’s the same guy who advises some of the world’s top Spartans, strongmen competitors and obstacle racers, including April Dee, Hector Mendoza and Orla Walsh, Frank Franco and Joey Patrolia.

That man is Dr. Anthony Beck, and he’s my guest on today’s podcast.

Dr. Beck is an author, speaker, and leader in the medical world with over 20 years experience in the areas of Functional Medicine, Chinese Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, Orthomolecular Medicine, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology. He maintains four national medical board certifications, is the Medical Director for Task Force Dagger Foundation (which provides benevolent health care for U.S. military special forces operators and their families), is the founder and chief medical officer for Balance Protocol Institute, is the founder and CEO of Helion Nutraceuticals and is also the CEO of Hydration Solutions Inc.

So not only is Dr. Beck a wealth of knowledge on advanced health tactics, medical testing, and the combination of biohacking and exercise performance, but he’s also the mastermind behind a hydration tactic I’ve personally been experimenting with: a tiny invention called Oral I.V.

In this interview, we delve into all of Dr. Beck’s health secrets, and you’ll discover:

-Why so many really smart people in the health industry and top pro athletes look to Dr. Beck as their personal physician…

-The exact food allergy panel that Dr. Beck recommends, and why he doesn’t like the Cyrex panel…

-The eight different components that Dr. Beck tests as part of what he calls his “Balance” protocol…

-The exact science behind maximizing water delivery into cells…

-How water can carry an electrical charge, and how it creates something called an exclusion zone (also known as EZ water)…

-How much “less” water could you theoretically drink by using Oral IV…

-Why Dr. Beck believes that you do not need to take salt or electrolyte pills during exercise…

-The exact water restructuring and filtration system that Dr. Beck uses in his own home…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

My podcast episode on the science of water with Dr. Gerald Pollack “What The Bleep Do We Actually Know About Water”

Book: “The 4th Phase of Water” by Dr. Gerald Pollack

GreenfieldNaturals Water Structuring Units (you can use code BEN15 for 15% discount)

Dr. Anthony Beck’s website

Oral I.V. (you can use 20% discount code BEN20)

ELISA ACT food allergy testing

Nutrival Plasma Test by Genova

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis by ARL

GI Effects Comprehensive Stool Test

23AndMe Genetic Testing

The Quick Coherence Technique by HeartMath

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Anthony Beck or me? Leave your thoughts below and one of use will reply! If you want to try Oral I.V. for yourself you can click here and use 20% discount code BEN20.

5 Hidden Causes Of Fatigue That Most Doctors Don’t Know About And Won’t Test For.

Hidden Causes of Fatigue

Mysterious, frustrating fatigue is one of the most common issues in the athletes, clients, soccer-moms and CEO’s who I consult with. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly 40% of U.S. employees experienced significant fatigue in the previous two week period, and about one million Americans and a quarter of a million people in the UK have some kind of chronic fatigue.

We all know about well-known causes of fatigue, such as a poor diet, food allergies, bad sleep, stress, etc. But what about when you’re “doing everything right”, but you’re still tired, have brain fog, subpar workouts, or chronically low energy? What about those of us who eat right, get enough sleep, manage our stress, but still feel tired much of the time?

Today, my friend Dr. Isaac Jones joins the podcast to look into 5 lesser-known causes of fatigue that fly under the radar, but should definitely be ruled out if you’re doing everything right but still feel tired.

So who exactly is Dr. Jones?

Known as “the doctor of the future”, he is the world’s leading expert in high-performance concierge healthcare. As a successful entrepreneur and owner of 3 different companies, he is a trusted advisor and high-performance consultant to CEO’s and leading entrepreneurs around the world. He graduated from the most prestigious health and wellness doctorate program in America and has invested over $250,000 on advanced lab tests, health retreats, educational seminars and cutting-edge health certifications to help his clients gain an unfair competitive advantage.

His company Designer Health Centers has received a certification from the United Nations for its “Excellence in Healthcare” for the work Dr. Jones did for the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia. He participates in a private “future of healthcare” mastermind with a small group of global thought leaders such as Sanjay Gupta MD and Jeff Arnold CEO of who sold WebMD for $7.6 billion.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Isaac’s amazing story of how using functional medicine to heal his ADD, dyslexia and skin problems helped propel him to becoming one of the top 800m runners in North America…

-The underground method used in Russia and Europe to stop chronic infections in their tracks…

-Hidden sources of biotoxins in your environment, and how to test for and eliminate biotoxins…

-Why most Lyme tests don’t really work, and what you should really be looking for when it comes to Lyme disease…

-The 3 different ways that mitochondrial dysfunction can occur, and exactly how to fix them…

-Five simple steps you can take to heal cells and mitochondria…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Isaac’s DesignerHealthCenter website

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker’s Surviving Mold website

Mold Warriors book by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker

Phage therapy

ispotlyme test from Neurorelief

Urinary test for methylation

Cardiolipins for mitochondria

3 day stool testing for gut inflammation and health

Dr. Dan Pompa’s 5 R’s of Cellular Healing

book: Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Isaac Jones or I about these hidden causes of fatigue? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

How To Look Good Naked And Live A Long Time.

Ben Greenfield Look Good Naked

Suppose you want to live as long as possible. Suppose you also want to look as good as possible doing it.

Suppose you want to maximize your hormone balance, your libido, your fertility, your strength, your power and your cardiovascular capacity.

Suppose you want to step back, investigate every shred of exercise science research, and inject only the most highly effective and proven strategies into your life – even if it’s not for the primary sake of preparing for masochistic sufferfests like triathlons, marathons, obstacle races or other feats of physical endurance – but rather simply because you want to maximize longevity and look good naked.

Whether it’s total food intake, exercise, sunlight, protein, or work habits, we often think we need to do way much more than we actually need to do to get the results we want. But why crank out those extra reps or put in those extra few hours if you don’t actually need to? After all, failing to heed the minimum effective dose can often cost you money, time, and mental real estate.

Sure: if you want to do an Ironman triathlon or a multi-hour obstacle race or be competitive at the Crossfit games you certainly need to put in some extra hours and do some more athletic, sport-specific training, but as I’ve written about before, all that extra volume isn’t necessarily good for you, and it certainly isn’t necessary for being as fit as humanly possible while simultaneously maximizing your lifespan.

So what would an exercise program look like if you do just want to look good naked and live longer? What would things look like if you decided that being the first person to the finish line of a triathlon wasn’t as important to you as looking and feeling like a million bucks for as long as possible? While I touched on this in a recent podcast entitled “The Best Workout To Look Good Naked“, I decided it would be a good idea to pen a strategy for you. So let’s take a look. And get ready to take some serious notes.


What Is The Minimum Effective Dose Of Exercise For Longevity?

I’m on a constant quest to figure out the sweet spot of exercise for you, especially when it comes to discovering the ultimate balance between health, performance, and longevity.

I’ve written many articles on this topic before, including:

What’s the Minimum Amount of Exercise You Can Do?

Is Exercise Bad For Your Heart?

Can You Exercise Too Much?

Is It Possible To Exercise Too Much?

Can Kids Exercise Too Much?

How Much Should Kids Exercise?

Earlier this year, The New York Times published an article entitled “The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life.” The article discusses the results of two new studies that investigated how much exercise you need to actually get longevity benefits. Before jumping into the results of these studies, it’s important to note that rather than being controlled or randomized studies, this research relied on people’s memory recall of their exercise habits. What this means is that similar to diet studies that rely upon memory recall of meals, this data can be prone to human error, but can still give us important clues.

In the first study, it was found that people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. Those who exercised a little (not meeting the current American Heart Association guidelines of 150 minutes per week but at least doing something), lowered their risk of premature death by 20%. Those who met the current exercise guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31% less risk of dying compared with those who never exercised.

But the greatest amount of exercise benefits came for those who tripled the recommended level of exercise and exercised moderately (mostly by walking) for 450 minutes per week (a little more than an hour per day). These people were 39% less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

What’s even more interesting is that after 450 minutes per week, the longevity benefits of exercise plateaued, but they never significantly declined. Even people engaging in 10 times or more the recommended exercise dose gained about the same reduction in mortality risk as people who simply met the 150 minute per week guidelines. They didn’t get any healthier, but also (contrary to what many believe) they also did not increase their risk of dying young.

The other new study reported in the Times reached a similar conclusion, but this study focused more on exercise intensity, and stands in stark contrast to other studies that have suggested frequent, strenuous exercise might contribute to early mortality. In this study, it was found that meeting the exercise guidelines significantly reduced the risk of early death, even if that exercise was moderate in intensity (such as walking). No surprises there.

But for those who engaged in occasional vigorous and high intensity exercise, there was actually a significant additional reduction in mortality. Those who spent up to 30% of their weekly exercise time in vigorous, intense activities were 9% less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but only moderately. People who spent more than 30% of their exercise time doing strenuous workouts actually gained an extra 13% reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke through the same intensity barrier. Even among the few people in the study who were found to be completing the largest amounts of intense exercise, there was no increase in risk of death.

At this point, you may be wondering what qualifies as moderate and what qualifies as vigorous.

Moderate intensity aerobic exercise is when you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break into a sweat. Think of it this way: you’re working at a moderate intensity if you’re able to talk but unable to sing the words to a song during the activity.

Vigorous intensity aerobic exercise is when you’re breathing hard and fast, your muscles are burning, and your heart rate has increased significantly. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

So what’s the ultimate takeaway message from these two studies?

Researcher Klaus Gebel, who led the second study, put it like this:

“…try to reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity…”

Gebel also notes that a larger dose of exercise, for those who are so inclined, does not seem to be unsafe.


How To Look Good Naked

OK, so it’s clear from the data above that you need at least about 21 minutes per day of structured exercise if you want to live a long time, and that is of course with the understanding that you’re not spending the rest of the day sedentary or sitting (a subject I tackle in detail in my “Biohacking The Hazards of Sitting” infographic here).

But it’s one thing to live a long time, and it’s entirely another thing to actually look as good as possible doing it. In other words, let’s say you want to look like this the male or female equivalent of this guy when you’re 70:


…or this guy when you’re 80:


…or perhaps you just want to be able to fit into spandex when you’re 90:


Frankly, no matter what looking good naked means to you, you’re going to need a bit more structured advice than a blanket recommendation to “…try to reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity…”, right?

When it comes to having a body with adequately low body fat to be cut and ripped but adequately high body fat to optimize hormones and fertility, high enough muscle mass to be strong and look good, but low enough muscle mass to where you’re not a short-lived, cancer-prone bodybuilder, and enough cardiovascular fitness to be venous and vibrant, but not so much cardiovascular fitness that you’re overtrained from excessive volume, you need the minimum effective dose of…

cardiovascular fitness, muscle endurance, strength, mitochondrial density, metabolic efficiency and stamina.

That’s it.

You check those boxes, and you’re going to hit every basic component of fitness and look really damn good doing it.


Ben Greenfield’s “Look-Good-Naked & Longevity” Program

So, now let’s delve into exactly what a structured exercise program would look like if your goal is to check all of those boxes to achieve the ideal combination of fitness, longevity, and a nice body.

I first began to think about how such a program would look when I read an article on my friend Mark Sisson’s website about “5 Ways To Get The Most Bang For Your Workout Buck“. In the article, Mark describes the minimum effective doses of exercise necessary for maintaining cardiovascular fitness, improving muscular endurance and aerobic capacity, improving overall physical fitness, increasing metabolic health, and controlling blood sugar. My only beef with the article is that not much attention is given to strength and maintenance of muscle mass, two critical components of longevity. But nonetheless, the research cited in the article is quite solid, and definitely influences the recommendations I’m about to give you.

Ultimately, to be fit, live a long time, and look good naked, you need:

1: Maintenance of cardiovascular fitness.

Definition: Cardiovascular fitness is simply defined as the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize, also known as your VO2 max.

How to do it: based on the results of the research study “High-intensity interval training every second week maintains VO2max in soccer players during off-season.“, the minimum effective dose for cardiovascular fitness maintenance is five 4-minute high intensity rounds at 87-97% of your maximum heart rate, with approximately 4 minutes (full recovery) after each round to allow you to recover sufficiently.

Summary: For the minimum effective dose of cardiovascular fitness perform five 4 minute hard efforts with full recoveries once every two weeks. Got it? OK, let’s move on.

2: Maximum muscle endurance and aerobic capacity.

Definition: The amount of work your muscles can endure and the amount of time you can “go to battle” keeping your force output high.

How to do it: For improving muscle endurance while simultaneously increased aerobic capacity, nothing beats Tabata sets. In this study, four times a week for four weeks, participants performed one single four-minute Tabata protocol (that’s 20 seconds all-out exercise, followed by 10 seconds full rest) with a single exercise. In this case, exercise choices included burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or squat thrusts, but for Tabatas, you could also use things such as running, treadmill, indoor or outdoor cycling, rowing, kettlebell swings, etc. Compared to four steady-state 30 minute treadmill exercise protocols per week in the control group, the Tabata group (which, if you do the math, was performing just 16 total minutes of exercise per week)  saw massive gains in both aerobic capacity and muscle endurance, and there’s plenty more Tabata research to go around.

Summary: In most studies, 2-4 Tabata sessions per week are used. My recommendation is to target two Tabata sessions per week, especially if you’re doing everything else included in this article.

3: Maintenance of ideal ratios of strength and muscle mass.

Definition: The maximum amount of strength you can muster in one tightly-packed group of muscle fibers – in other words: hard, wiry strength. Paul Jaminet at the Perfect Health Diet recently wrote an excellent article outlining why this is a better approach compared to purely trying to pack on as much muscle fiber as possible.

How to do it: Sure, you can get strong and muscular doing Crossfit-esque workouts that require maximum deadlifts in two minutes or ungodly amounts of snatch reps or bodybuilding workouts that have you doing bicep curls until you’re bleeding out the eyeballs, but none of that is sustainable when it comes to maximizing longevity. Remember, you want to be able to do maintain strength and muscle when you’re 20, 40, 60 and 80 years old. For this, I recommend simply two workouts per week:

1) a super-slow lifting protocol exactly as described by Doug McGuff  in his book “Body By Science” – specifically 12-20 minutes of just a few choice multi-joint exercises with extremely slow, controlled lifting (30-60 seconds per rep) and relatively high weights;

  1. Super slow upper body push (e.g. overhead press)
  2. Super slow upper body pull (e.g. pull-up)
  3. Super slow lower body push (e.g. squat)
  4. Super slow lower body pull (e.g. deadlift)

2) a high intensity body weight circuit program exactly as described in this study, in which a pair of researchers designed a 7 minute workout to maintain strength and muscle in as little time as possible. Each exercise below is simply to be performed for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between exercises.

  1. Jumping jack
  2. Wall sits
  3. Pushups
  4. Crunches
  5. Step-ups
  6. Squats
  7. Dips
  8. Planks
  9. Running in place with high knees
  10. Lunges
  11. Pushups with rotation
  12. Side planks

Summary: do two strength workouts per week – one with slow controlled heavy lifting and one with high intensity, light, body weight-esque movements.

4. Maximum mitochondrial density.

Definition: Mitochondria are the power plants of your cells, mitochondrial biogenesis is the creation of new mitochondria, and mitochondrial density is simply having as many mitochondria packed into your muscles as possible so that you can utilize more fat and more glucose.

How to do it: In this study, a workout consisting of four 30-second all-out cycling sprints significantly activated mitochondrial biogenesis in the skeletal muscle of human subjects. In another study, three sets of five 4-second treadmill sprints with 20 seconds of rest in between each sprint, performed three times per week did the same thing. One other study showed four to six 30 second bouts of all-out sprint cycling with four minutes of rest done three times a week also improved important components of mitochondrial health. As you can see, when it comes to maximizing mitochondrial density, it all comes down to short, intense sprints.

Summary: The Tabata sets I already mentioned will likely cover most of your mitochondrial bases, but if you have just a bit more time to spare, then either after your strength workouts or your stamina workouts, perform a few brief sets of very intense sprints (e.g. five 4-30 second sprints). Yes, you read that right: these sprints can be as short as 4 seconds. Consider this to be the icing on the cake, and squeeze it in where it’s convenient. Alternatively, you could just mark one spot on your calendar once every week or two to perform four to six 30 second bouts of all-out sprint cycling with four minutes of rest between each bout.

5. Optimized fat burning, metabolic efficiency and blood sugar control.

Definition: maximizing the body’s ability to generate ketones and burn fatty acids as a primary source of fuel, while avoiding frequent fluctuations in blood sugar.

How to do it: I have a very comprehensive podcast on simple steps to turning yourself into a fat burning machine, and it basically comes down to this: 1) do one short, aerobic workout as many mornings as possible a week, preferably in an overnight fasted state; 2) avoid frequent snacking; 3) save all your carb intake for the end of the day and up until that point eat high amounts of healthy fats with moderate amounts of proteins; 4) stay mildly physically active all day long (e.g. standing workstation, jumping jack breaks, etc.). and 5) stay anti-fragile by exposing your body to frequent fluctuations in cold and hot temperatures.

Summary: As you can see, this step is more lifestyle based. Start off each day, before eating, with 10-30 minutes of very light activity (yoga, walking the dog, doing yard chores, etc.), take at least one cold shower each day, visit the sauna at least once per week, avoid non-nutrient dense carbohydrates, and be as active as possible all day long. One research study shows that you can even get excellent blood glucose controlling results with something as simple as a 15 minute walk after your main meal of the day.

6. Stamina (optional, but highly recommended).

Definition: the ability to move at low-to-moderate intensities for 90+ minutes (it’s at about the 90 minute mark when your glycogen levels become depleted and you must significantly begin to rely upon fat as a fuel).

How to do it: Stamina isn’t really entirely necessary for looking good naked or living a long a time, but I personally like to know that if necessary I could hunt down an animal, ride my bicycle nearby city, hike over a mountain range, or survive for a significant amount of time in a zombie apocalypse. Contrary to popular belief held among marathoners and triathletes, this does not require a 2-3 hour death march every weekend. The human body, as I talk about in by book “Beyond Training“, is actually quite good at going for long periods of time, and only requires brief dips and forays into stamina. So I recommend that one to two times per month, you go do something long, like a backpack hike, a big bike ride, a Bikram yoga session, or anything else that combines low-to-moderate physical activity intensities, endurance, and mental focus.

Summary: Again, unless you’re signed up for something like an obstacle race, a bicycling century, a triathlon or a marathon, this last step isn’t really necessary, but should you want to add the stamina feather to your cap, just get out and do something that takes 90+ minutes at least once per month. If you really want to challenge yourself, you could even make that session something like “The Hardest Workout In The World“, a Spartan race, or any other crazy fitness adventure from rafting to rock climbing. The rest of your innate physical endurance will easily be built by simply ensuring you keep your butt out a chair all day long.


Summary & A Done-For-You Approach

So that’s it. Once you put it all together, it’s actually not too daunting:

  • To maintain your cardiovascular fitness and VO2 max, do five 4-minute intense intervals once every two weeks.
  • To improve your aerobic capacity and muscle endurance, do 2-3 Tabat sets a week.
  • To maintain the ultimate combination of strength and muscle mass, do one 12-20 minute super-slow strength session per week and one 7-14 minute high intensity body weight workout per week.
  • To maximize mitochondrial density, do a short series of sprint bursts one to three times per week (e.g. five 4-second all-out sprints with 20 seconds of rest).
  • To increase fat burning and metabolic efficiency, include fasting, avoid snacking, avoid sitting, and figure out ways to engage in low-level physical activity all day long.
  • To increase stamina, do something 90+ minutes at low-to-moderate intensity one to two times per month.

That’s it.

When you do the math, you’re really not spending any more than 30-60 minutes per day on getting fit, looking good naked and living a long time. And in my opinion, that’s definitely do-able.

Like I mentioned, what I’ve described above is not designed to turn you into a super-athlete. It’s designed to give you an amazing body and a long lifespan.

A couple more things…

First, I personally designed a “Look-Good-Naked Longevity Plan” on TrainingPeaks, in which all of this is laid out for you on a weekly calendar that you can print and that syncs to your computer, your phone, etc. In this 8 week program, I give you daily, step-by-step instructions for the exact muscle training, fat burning, cardiovascular and mobility protocols that have been proven by research to maximize every second you spend exercising. Pretty much everything you’ve just read, all conveniently spelled out for each week. Whether you want to look good naked, get massive gains in fitness (or of course, both!) you can rinse, wash, and repeat this 8 week cycle throughout the entire year. It’s 47 bucks and you get to keep it and access it forever. Enjoy.

Next, if you’re a complete geek and you want to quantitatively track this stuff, then you may want to check out the Greenfield Longevity Panels. Working closely with WellnessFX, America’s top laboratory for concierge blood testing and online access to all your blood testing results, I developed the most complete blood testing package that money can buy. There is one package specifically designed for men, and one for women. This is by far the most comprehensive blood testing package that exists, and I created it for the health enthusiast, biohacker and anti-aging individual who wants access to the same type of executive health panel and screening that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars at a longevity institute. Virtually all hormones and all biomarkers are covered in this panel. Yeah, it’s still spendy, but if you want to test everything you can test, then this one is worth doing at least once in your lifetime, and I personally do it once per year.

In the meantime, you’re now equipped with everything you need to know to look good naked and live longer. I suggest you either use my pre-written program or sit down with your own calendar and map each of these sessions into your weekly routine.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to live longer, how to look good naked, the minimal effective dose of exercise, or anything else I’ve discussed in this article? Leave your thoughts below.

Women’s Weightlifting 101, How To Avoid Getting Too Bulky, Hormone Imbalances In Fit Females & More.


Ladies (and any of you gentleman who have a lady in your life) today’s podcast is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what kind of weight training program a woman should be doing to get a sexy body…

…how women can avoid bulking up…

…common hormone imbalances in fit females…

…why so many Crossfitting ladies have such funky-looking abs…

…and the crucial elements of women’s weightlifting 101…

…then you’ll love my guest Stephani Gaudreau.

Steph has a formal education in biology and human physiology, 12 years of science teaching experience, holistic nutrition training, and an unabashed love of tasty Paleo food, which she writes about on her blog, Stupid Easy Paleo. She has competed in everything from endurance mountain biking to CrossFit to weightlifting. She coaches weightlifting at CrossFit Fortius in San Diego and has coached CrossFit in gyms reaching from Scotland to SoCal.

Steph wrote the best-seller The Paleo Athlete: A Beginner’s Guide to Real Food for Performance in 2014, and recently published the award-winning book, The Performance Paleo Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Better, Getting Stronger & Gaining the Competitive Edge.

Steph’s also recently taken to the airwaves with her chart-topping podcast, Harder to Kill Radio, where she interviews experts in fitness, nutrition and mindset about how to build unbreakable humans.

During our episode, you’ll discover:

-Even though it’s counterintuitive, why Crossfitting women tend to be bulkier than “high-weight, low-rep” weightlifting women…

-Why women don’t necessarily need to do cardio exercise to lose weight, stay lean or stay toned

-How much fat women should actually “gain” as they age…

-Stephanie’s #1 recommendation for achieving a daily meditation practice, and why she does it…

-Four real “healthy” foods you may be overeating…

-What it means to truly be harder to kill…

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

Performance Paleo Cookbook

The Paleo Athlete

the Headspace app for meditation

Harder to Kill Radio

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about women’s weightlifting, how to avoid getting to bulky, common hormone imbalances in fit females or more? Leave your thoughts below!

How To Eat Algae (The Ultimate Guide To Fueling With Spirulina And Chlorella).

how to eat algae

Every morning I put about 30 tiny chorella tablets on top of my morning smoothie.

Then, later in the day, I often swallow another 30-50 tiny spirulina tablets pre-workout.

Regardless of whether you think that us land-dwelling creatures at some point evolved from ocean-dwelling life (a belief espoused by my previous podcast guest Jack Kruse to encourage people spend time in the cold and to eat more seafood), it can’t be denied that fish, turtles, and millions of other large and small inhabitants of water rely on one extremely dense nutrition source for sustenance of life…

…algae – particularly from spirulina and chlorella sources.

Algae Tab

One tab of algae about the size of the one pictured above gives you the same nutrition as eating salads all day long.

Those fish are pretty darn smart, huh?

But algae isn’t just something that our ocean dwelling neighbors can eat and thrive upon.

Algae has been used by tens of millions of people in Asia for over 50 years, and even Olympic athletes and NASA astronauts have relied on algae for decades as a way to pack a lot of nutrients into a very small volume of food, probably since algae contains 1,000 times more nutrition than anything else in the world (or if you’d like to think about it this way, one gram of algae – about the equivalent in a tiny tablet – contains the nutritional equivalent of 1,000 grams of fruits and vegetables).

Yet, for some strange reason, although it meets all FDA requirements and has been sold in the USA for four decades, algae remains virtually unknown to mainstream America.

Seriously – ask yourself – when was the last time you thought of extremely nutrient dense foods like steak, nut butter, blueberries, kale and then pictured algae along in there with those other oft-mentioned foods?

Fact is, you’re missing out on a big nutritional hack if you’re not eating some form of algae. So today, I’m going to tell you exactly how to find and use algae in your diet, and no, it does not involve sticking your head into fish tank and gulping down slimy green plants.

OK here we go…


What Is Algae And Why Is It Good For Me?

There are two basic forms of algae that you can easily get your hands on at health food stores, on the internet, or in supplements: chlorella and spirulina.

Chlorella is a single-celled freshwater micro-algae that contains the highest known quality of chlorophyll found in a nature. Chlorophyll has a chemical structure very similar to hemoglobin, and because of these properties, it can carry oxygen around in the blood and increase your red blood cell count. There is even recent research that shows that a combination of chlorophyll in your bloodstream and exposure to sunlight can allow you to produce ATP without actually eating any calories.

Compared to other commercial sources of chlorophyll like wheat grass, barley, and alfalfa (all popular ingredients in “greens” supplements), chlorella has five times more chlorophyll than wheat grass, twelve times more than barley and nearly ten times more than alfalfa. Because of it’s extreme photosynthetic efficiency from the high levels of chlorophyll, chlorella is a very attractive potential food and energy source (it is also high in protein and other essential nutrients, and when dried, is about 45% protein, 20%fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fiber, and 10% minerals and vitamins).

Interestingly, chlorella also seems to be programmed for ultimate survival and replication, with a very unique ability to nearly quadruple in quantity every 20 hours, which is something that no other plant or substance on earth can do. This unique ability exists because chlorella is 3% RNA and 0.3% DNA by weight (which means that it contains some of the highest RNA/DNA nucleic acid components of any other food on the planet).

What this means for you is that in your own body, these nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) are responsible for cellular renewal, growth and repair – and these same nucleic acids significantly decline with age – which means that not having enough nucleic acid on board leads to aging, a weakened immune system and an inability to recovery quickly.

Chlorella, by virtue of its superior RNA and DNA content, could assist in slowing this aging process and preventing the onset of many chronic, degenerative illnesses associated with getting older (and these same hyperspeed repair mechanisms help you to recovery from workouts with lightning speed).

But that’s not the whole story on chlorella.

The indigestible cellulose of chlorella’s cell wall can attract and bind with heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and help to remove them from your body. These natural detoxification properties mean that chlorella is a good way to reverse the damage from environmental pollutants and toxins found in many foods. In addition to leaching metals, chlorella can assist with the removal of hydrocarbon pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, and can also have protective effect on the liver, your body’s valuable toxin filter.

Now let’s look at chlorella’s close cousin: spirulina.

Spirulina is also a microalgae, but it’s actually higher than chlorella in protein content, at about 60% protein, with all the essential amino acids. Although spirulina’s slightly reduced amounts of methionine, cysteine and lysine make it (or chlorella) not quite as complete a protein source as meat, eggs or milk, algae is still highly superior to any other plant protein, like legumes or grains.

Spirulina is also about 7% lipid, and high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), along with other essential fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). For a vegan or vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish, or has a hard time getting enough fats or proteins, this is really good news – an ocean chock full of what you need to keep your brain and nervous system from deteriorating.

And spirulina is a rich source of vitamins, including vitamin B (but not B12, so you’ll still need another source of that), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and minerals like like potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.

Compared to any other plant, spirulina also has the highest concentration of antioxidants in the world, the highest concentration of beta carotene in the world, is a great source of fuel for the good bacteria in your gut, and has the second highest concentration of omega 3 fatty acids (second only to mother’s milk). On top of that, it has over 40 vitamins and minerals despite having only one calorie per serving.

A small amount of spirulina not only increases physical energy and mental focus, but the nutrient density can replace the need for taking large amounts of other supplements, and both spirulina and chlorella algae sources are safe for children. Spirulina’s high concentration of antioxidants and essential fatty acids contribute to heart and brain health, normalize blood pressure, correct anemia, normalize healthy cholesterol levels, and even reduce cancer risk. Most importantly, spirulina can do this without caffeine, sugar, chemicals or a prescription.

Spirulina contains over forty vitamins and minerals and has over 60% protein, the highest concentration of protein by weight in the world and over three times that of steak. Spirulina is also hailed as the answer to world hunger by The United Nations, and endorsed by NASA, who says that spirulina has approximately one thousand times more nutrition than other fruit or vegetable.

The protein in spirulina contains eighteen of the twenty amino acids, including all eight essential amino acids your body can’t produce, making it a complete protein. The aminos are unstructured, which means they are quickly and easily absorbed. Spirulina also boasts more beta carotene than carrots, more iron than spinach; more antioxidants than blueberries, more chlorophyll than liquid chlorophyll and has a nutritional profile that is almost identical to breastmilk, nature’s other perfect food.

So even though chlorella is high in protein, spirulina is even higher in protein, and also an excellent dietary source for muscle recovery and repair, amino acids and fatty acids (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan and don’t eat meats or have a hard time getting enough fats – which is why I think it’s crazy that algae isn’t discussed in articles like this: Can A Vegan Diet Fuel A High Performance Athlete?). 


A History Of Algae

Despite it’s enormous nutrient density, algae is no overnight success. Although it was among the first plant life on earth, algae didn’t really attract much attention until 1890, when Dutch microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck began to study chlorella algae and grow it in his lab.

A few years later, German scientists discovered that algae has an extremely high concentration of edible protein, a discovery that later led to Otto Heinrich Warburg winning the Nobel Prize for his work on photosynthesis in chlorella. The German discovery also ultimately proved to be somewhat lifesaving, when World War I left them without food or livestock and the German Government used chlorella algae to feed their starving nation.

After the war, algae seemed to be forgotten as a food source, and interest in it didn’t resurface again until World War II, when the Hiroshima bomb destroyed Japan’s food supply and the US Government sent chlorella algae along with other food supplies to help them avoid starvation. The chlorella was a desperately needed source of protein, and to everyone’s surprise, it also seemed to alleviate some of the effects of radiation poisoning. The US Government took note of this, and in the late 1940’s began extensive research on algae. Algae’s ability to assist with remediation of radiation poisoning has since been confirmed and used at other radiation disasters including Chernobyl.

By the early 1950’s, algae’s nutritional profile began to draw significant attention in the USA. Even NASA threw their support behind algae and announced their intention to grow it in space. Algae’s nutritional pedigree was further solidified when The Carnegie Institute declared it was the answer to America’s growing nutrition crisis and recommended algae be put into production immediately for mass consumption. The only problem was that algae had never been produced for mass consumption, so The Carnegie Institute funded the world’s first pilot plant to do it. However, the algae proved too complicated to grow and the pilot plant was shut down after just one year.

But the algae story doesn’t end there. The Rockefeller Foundation stepped in and offered financial support to the Japanese so they could learn how to grow algae for mass consumption. The Japanese accepted the challenge and, although it took them ten years, by the early 1960’s algae production in Japan was a vibrant industry and well on its way to becoming a multi-billion dollar industry.

Spirulina and chlorella algae are now firmly entrenched in Japan’s food supply. Algae’s nutritional profile and agricultural efficiency, on an acre-per-acre basis, provides two hundred times more protein than cattle while using one tenth of the water, making it an eco-friendly and sustainable food crop.

Algae is still relatively unheard of in the USA, but over the last fifty years, it has grown into a substantial industry in Asia, where tens of millions of folks take algae every day instead of vitamins. Asian athletes use it to improve their performance, and entire Asian countries use it as a source of protein and to increase their energy, focus, vitality, remove toxins, speed recovery and prevent hangovers.

Algae is not only an important crop in Asia, but it has now quickly become one of the most studied food sources in the world. There are over 100,000 scientific reports documenting algae’s hundreds of benefits and nutritional properties.



So What Algae Is Best?

Now wait a minute.

Even if you’re drooling over the benefits of algae, you can’t just go rushing to your local bargain supplements outlet or bulk foods website to grab just any old algae source.

When it comes to algae, if you’re serious about what you put into your body, the source matters.

So here are 8 very important considerations for you if you don’t want to waste money on a bunch of completely ineffective algae – you should read and follow these 8 tips if you don’t want to do more harm than good to your body in the process of introducing algae into your diet.

1. Get certified, organic non-genetically modified (non GMO) algae. Purity is important with this stuff, and you don’t want to be eating genetic mutants that have been dosed repeatedly in herbicides and pesticides. There is a wide variance in the quality of spirulina and chlorella algae. Not all algae is grown using the same level of quality control.

2. Don’t get algae from spirulina and chlorella companies that put “fillers” in their algae. This means you would need 10-20 times the algae necessary to actually get a positive effect – and that amount with completely flip your stomach. Just get 100% pure spirulina and chlorella. Similarly, do not get chlorella or spirulina in any kind of gel cap, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan, since most of those gel caps are made from fish oil. In most cases, you have no idea what other fillers are in those gelatin capsules.

3. Just like beef, there are different grades of spirulina and chlorella. The lower quality grades have fewer nutrients, lower concentration of protein and less potency, and once again, you would need 10-20 times the normal amount of an inferior grade of algae to get any good effect.

4. The country of origin where spirulina and chlorella are grown is very important. For example, many suppliers of spirulina in China have been found to falsify their paper work and claims about being organic (in fact, there are a lot of products that come out of China that are falsely certified). Yet a company that just wants to make sales will usually go with the cheapest suppliers – and often that means they are buying the algae from China. This is very dangerous because you really don’t know what you are getting, and you could be harming your health more than helping your health if you buy cheaper spirulina or chlorella that was grown in China – and may in fact contain not only a high concentration of contaminants, but also a lower grade of algae.

5. Similarly, due to the ongoing radiation problems from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, be careful with any spirulina or chlorella that was grown in Japan. Spirulina and chlorella are grown hydroponically (in water), so any radiation could potentially be in the Japanese water in small amounts.

6. Be careful with your source, because extraction techniques vary when it comes to algae. One technique that can be used to “crack” the exterior shell of chlorella (so that the nutrients can be absorbed by your body) is via passing the chlorella through a sound chamber and using sound wave vibrations for extraction. This is a relatively new technique and preserves all the nutrition in the chlorella. This is in contrast to all the Japanese and most other growers of chlorella in Asia, who use a 50 year old technique in which they tumble the chlorella with glass beads to crack it. This method is dangerous – primarily because the chlorella can be contaminated by the lead in the glass and also because the process produces high amounts of heat, which damages the nutritional quality of the chlorella.

7. Do not use spirulina or chlorella that has been exposed to heat drying. This is very important because heat damages the active enzymes in the algae, and prevents it from being a truly “raw” food. A process called air drying involves shooting the algae into the air and allowing it to fall into piles of powder, which are then packed into the small “pellets” or “bits”, and this process is considered low heat and much safer.

8. Pay attention to the algae preservation methods. For example, algae can easily and safely be stored in vacuum packed, non-transparent bags or containers, which have a stable shelf life of over two years. These type of containers can also be specially coated to protect the algae from UV rays. This is important because algae has the highest concentration of chlorophyll on the planet (which is what makes it green) but chlorophyll is very light sensitive. As soon as light starts to hit the algae, the nutrients in the chlorophyll start to lose their potency. So if your spirulina or chlorella is coming in a transparent container or bag, that is not a good thing.



How To Use Algae During Exercise

So now we get to the million dollar question: can you actually get any benefits by eatiing algae during exercise, such as marathons, triathlons, obstacle races, tennis matches, hunting, or any other form of physical activity?

I asked Catharine Arnston, the Founder and CEO of ENERGYbits, about the feedback she’s gotten from athletes who have experimented with using algae during competition. She supplied me with the following fun facts.

1) Algae is a slow-release form of energy. Algae sources such as spirulina provide steady energy compared to fructose or maltodextrin-based carbohydrate gels, which can provide a short burst of energy followed by a crash. Research shows endurance athletes can perform just fine using fuel sources that provide steady energy, and I also wrote about this topic in my article on fat-based energy gels.

2) Algae does not create stomach distress. Sugar and caffeine can tend to irritate the stomach when an athlete uses them during a race or workout. This is because the blood flow normally used for digestion is supplying oxygen and nutrients to the athlete’s muscles. High calorie compounds low in nutrient density can enter the gastrointestinal tract undigested where bacteria can ferment the undigested matter and where blood flow must be diverted for digestion. This can lead to fermentation, gas, cramps and an urge to empty the bowels. Algae does not contain ingredients that irritate the stomach and all the nutrients in spirulina are quickly absorbed, so algae does not contribute to indigestion or GI distress during exercise.

3) Algae has an extremely high concentration of protein (64%). Most other energy products designed for exercise (such as gels) either contain no protein or less protein (see chart below). In contrast, protein from algae is exclusively in the form of unstructured amino acids. It contains eighteen of the twenty amino acids, including the eight essential aminos your body cannot produce, making it a complete protein. Since spirulina does not have a cellulose wall, these amino acids are absorbed quickly and enter the bloodstream instantly. The high concentration of B vitamins in spirulina also help convert the amino acids to glucose, along with assisting in muscle repair and recovery post-workout.

energy bits comparison

4) Algae contains all nine B Vitamins. A lack of B Vitamins can potentially to poor athletic performance and a decreased ability to build or repair muscle. If other energy products contain B Vitamins, they tend to be in lower amounts and are usually artificially produced and not easily absorbed.

5) Algae contains the highest concentration of iron in the world – up to 48 times more iron than raw spinach and 28 times more iron than beef liver. Insufficient amounts of iron reduce oxygen uptake and can lead to anemia-like symptoms and less oxygen, which can lower athletic performance. Most other energy products such as gels or sports drinks do not contain iron.

6) Algae provide naturally occurring nitric oxide, a vasodilator that opens blood vessels and facilitates blood flow to improve athletic performance. As the blood flow increases, more oxygen is delivered to the athlete’s muscles and brain, fatigue is reduced and focus is enhanced. Other energy products such as gels and sports drinks do not contain this type of natural nitric oxide.

7) Algae can increase mental focus and decrease cognitive fatigue due to many factors, including nitric oxide as well as a high concentration of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) such as Omega-3. Fish has long been referred to as a helpful brain food due to its high concentration of Omega-3, but a little known fact is that fish don’t create Omega-3: they get it from eating algae. The brain in particular is almost 60% fat and requires EFA’s to perform optimally.. Virtually no other energy gels or sports drinks contain such high amount of EFA’s.

8) Algae is alkaline, and an alkaline diet can improve an athlete’s performance. When athletes perform, they release high amounts of free radicals and hydrogen ions from lactic acid, which can cause a net acidic effect. The acidity strips the negative charge from the outside of the hemoglobin, causing it the hemoglobin to clump. This clumping not only reduces the hemoglobin’s ability to carry iron or oxygen, but also prevents the hemoglobin from fitting into the body’s 19 billion+ microscopic capillaries. The net result is an athlete’s muscles and brain are deprived of vital oxygen, so performance potentially decreases and muscle fatigue increases. Alkaline compounds can help restore the pH balance to an athlete’s blood so that this clumping does not occur. The high concentration of iron in spirulina can further improve performance by increasing the amount of oxygen in the hemoglobin.

9) Algae has the highest known concentration of antioxidants and an ORAC value 100 times higher than cherries. Antioxidants are necessary to fight free radicals, which can cause long term damage to cells and DNA, both of which contribute to decreased energy and rapid aging. Although antioxidants have not conclusively been found to drastically improve a professional athlete’s performance, many weekend warriors have seen some benefits. Algae contains a higher concentration of antioxidants than most other energy products, all in a form that is naturally occurring, such as beta carotene.

10) Algae is an eco-friendly, sustainable crop. Algae releases oxygen and removes carbon dioxide from the air as it is growing, and requires very little land or water to grow, making it one of the most eco-friendly, efficient crops in the world. It produces two hundred times more protein per acre than beef while using only one tenth of the water. And since it is a crop that is grown in fresh water tanks, algae is a more sustainable, eco-friendly source of Omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil. It preserves ocean wildlife and doesn’t damage the delicate ocean eco-system in the same way as overfishing, making it an ethical sports nutrition compound too.

In my discussion with her, Catharine also noted that athletes add in too many bars, gels, sports drinks or chews, primarily because they don’t believe that algae can provide them with enough energy (because most athletes still believe that calories are the only substance that can provide energy). But most athletes find they are able to rely on 1/2 to 1/4 of their normal calorie intake when consuming a small handful of spirulina each hour, primarily due to factors such as fatty acids, nitric oxide, B-vitamins, amino acids and chlorophyll – rather than simply sugar.

She recommends you swallow spirulina algae bits with water because most people do not like the green taste or the chewy consistency (the chewiness is due to the high concentration of protein and Essential Fatty Acids). On the other hand, chlorella algae bits (more of a recovery algae) are not chewy and many athletes like to eat them by the handful like nuts. Some people also like to grind them up and add them to a smoothie, or toss them into a salad, yogurt or spoonful of peanut butter.

For basic algae usage during exercise, Catharine recommends taking 30-50 algae bits (preferably ENERGYbits, which are the spirulina form) 15-30 minutes before any workout, run or race and then 15- 30 more ENERGYbits every hour, or whenever you feel fatigued. You can also take 30-50 RECOVERYbits (the chlorella form) before a race or big workout if you want the chlorella to start buffering lactic acid while you are racing, although most athletes take RECOVERYbits post race. 30-50 tablets may sound like a huge amount, but remember that each tablet is very tiny, and a handful is actually quite easy to swallow (here are a few videos that show you how).



Finally, I’ve been asked before if any of this stuff can be toxic.

Fact is, toxicological studies of the effects of algae (primarily spirulina) consumption on humans and animals, including feeding as much as 800mg/kg, and replacing up to 60% of protein intake with algae sources, have shown no toxic effects, and in contrast, algae intake has actually been found to prevent damage caused by toxins that affect the heart, liver, kidneys, neurons, eyes, ovaries, DNA, and testicles. Dozens of human clinical studies have shown no harmful effects of algae supplementation.

But a word of warning: no matter which source of algae you choose, if you get chewable spirulina or chlorella tablets, they will turn your mouth temporarily green. But you can easily rinse with water if you want to get your adorable, kissable face back.

It’s pretty amazing what a tiny handful of little green tablets can do (and remember, these algae tablets are just one calorie per serving).

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to use algae? Leave your thoughts below. You can also click here and use code BEN to save 10% on any of the algae products I personally use, including spirulina ENERGYbits and chlorella RECOVERYbits.

Tai Lopez On Morning Routines, Laziness, Unschooling, Investing, Owning Nice Things & More.


Tai Lopez is an investor, partner, or advisor to over 20 multi-million dollar businesses. Through his book club and podcasts, Tai shares advice on how to achieve health, wealth, love, and happiness with 1.4 million people in 40 countries.

At age 16, Tai realized that life was too complex to figure out on his own.

So Tai wrote a letter to the wisest person he knew, his grandfather – a scientist – and asked for the answers to life’s hard questions.

Tai was disappointed with his grandfather’s reply. There was no “secret formula.” The letter simply said,

“Tai, the modern world is too complicated. You’ll never find all the answers from just one person. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a handful of people throughout your life who will point the way.”

But one week later his grandfather sent a package containing an old, dusty set of eleven books with a note,

“Start by reading these.”

That began Tai’s habit of reading on his search for what he calls the “Good Life”: the balance of the four major pillars of life – health, wealth, love, and happiness.

Over the years, Tai sought out the secrets to that “Good Life” by setting up his life as a series of experiments. He began by first reading thousands of books from the most impactful figures in history Freud, Aristotle, Gandhi, Charlie Munger, Sam Walton, Descartes, Darwin, Confucius, and countless others.

He spent two-and-a-half years living with the Amish, spent time working at a leper colony in India, and helped Joel Salatin pioneer grass-fed, sustainable agriculture on Polyface Farms.

He then joined the long list of entrepreneur college dropouts and ended up completely broke (sleeping on his mom’s couch) until he talked five, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs into mentoring him.

Tai went on to become a Certified Financial Planner and worked in the world of finance before becoming a founder, investor, advisor, or mentor to more than 20 multi-million dollar businesses while settling in the Hollywood Hills.

He appeared on various TV and radio shows, spoke at top global universities like The London Business School and the University of Southern California, and created one of the top downloaded podcasts and YouTube channels, called “The Grand Theory of Everything.”

In order to get feedback from an even larger audience, Tai started what is now one of the world’s largest book clubs that reaches 1.4 million people in 40 countries with his “Book-Of-The-Day” free email newsletter.

Tai recently summarized all he has learned from his mentors and compiled them into a series of ‘mentor shortcuts’ he calls, “The 67 Steps.

He also created an alternative to the traditional business school. This “Millionaire Mentor program” program combines the best of self-learning with the best of a University degree without all the downsides of burdensome costs and inefficient methods.

In this podcast episode with Tai, you’ll discover:

-Tai’s take on morning routines, and the concept of “chunking your day”…
-Which time of day is best to be lazy and take a break…
-If Tai could invest in anything right now that would make people healthier or live longer, what he would invest in…
-What kind of education Tai would give his kids if he had kids…
-And much more!

Want more of Tai?

You can listen to Part 1 of this series here, in which Tai and I talk about multi-tasking, reprogramming your genetics and checking your e-mail less.

You can listen to Part 2 here, in which Tai and I talk about how to know when you’re actually making enough money, and when you can stop focusing on income, start focusing more on life, love and happiness, and how to strike the ideal balance between being overambitious and underambitious.

You can listen to Part 3 here, in which Tai and I discuss personal finances – particularly in the wake Tony Robbins is leaving with his new book “Money”, and how Tai feels we should protect and grow our wealth, and exactly what Tai’s personal investment philosophy is.

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Tai’s retreats and public seminars in Hollywood, London and New York

-Tai’s Millionaire Mentor program

-Tai’s online video series: 67 Steps to Getting Anything You Want Out of Life Health, Wealth, Love, & Happiness

The Mindful Athlete book

Do you have question, comments or feedback about what to do with your money? Leave your thoughts below.

Ben & Jessa Greenfield’s “What’s Working Now” Show: A Sneak Peek Inside The BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle.

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I am currently hunting elk deep in the Colorado mountains, completely off-the-grid.

Hence, there is no official Q&A podcast this week.

Instead, I am bringing  you a sneak peek inside the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle – specifically, the show that my wife Jessa and I release each month to our members. In each of these live, interactive shows, we talk about the latest workouts, fitness gear, nutrition, supplements, recipes, anti-aging strategies, biohacks, healthy kid tips, and more.

You can click here to listen to the audio, or you can watch the video below. Some of the things you’ll get in this episode include:

-The true size of the Greenfield wine glasses…

-Ben’s fancy new foam roller routine, and all the mobility toys he uses for it…

-How to use an incline treadmill…

-How in-ear light phototherapy works…

-How Ben uses cannabidiol for plane flights, and which smart drugs he combines CBD with…

-A peppermint oil and soda water hack…

-The #1 cause of migraines…

-The research and fitness journals Ben personally subscribes to…

-Why Jessa chose to step back from stressful workouts

-How the Greenfield’s deal with arguments and breakdowns…

-And much more…

If you want all the handy-dandy shownotes and links that accompany this particular episode, just click here to get a full trial of the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle for $1, and leave your questions, comments or feedback below!

5 Little-Known Ways To Biohack Your Workouts, Enhance Your Exercise Productivity & Maximize Your Fitness.


Yep, I’m that guy who maximizes my time spent sitting in traffic by training my lungs with a resisted breath trainer while performing hand sets on a grip strengthening device and listening to audiobooks on an .mp3 player.

I also walk on a treadmill while doing phone consults, stand on a balance-building mat while doing podcasts, sport a weighted vest while doing yard chores, and wear ice-packed vests and special cold thermogenesis clothing to burn fat while working on my books.

So why go through all that “trouble” rather than simply taking the traditional route of hopping on an exercise bike or hoisting a barbell?

In the article “Does Biohacking Your Body Really Work”, I tackle this often uncomfortable and awkward topic of why you may want to consider maximizing your exercise time by occasionally forsaking your usual gym workout and bypassing your standard fitness routines to delve instead into the world of techniques such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, electrostimulation, cold thermogenesis, whole body vibration and more. In that article, I discuss how one of the more appealing aspects of this type of fitness “biohacking” is the ability to get maximum effects with a minimal effective dose of effort, or to achieve more than one fitness result at the same time with as much efficiency as possible.

There are actually five workouts that fall into this exercise biohacking category – worouts that I regularly perform as a part of my fitness routine. Each combines three different elements of training that synergistically work together to provide you with enhanced exercise productivity and as much bang for the buck as possible in the minimum amount of time.

Let’s jump in, shall we? Prepare for strange looks from your family, neighbors and fellow gym-goers…


Biohacked Workout #1: Cold Water Swimming + Hypoxia + Weights

Pro surfer and fitness icon Laird Hamilton first popularized the concept of carrying rocks, kettlebells and dumbbells underwater (here’s a video example), and author Neil Strauss (the same guy who taught me about these crazy little miracle berries) introduced me to these type of water workouts several months ago during a longevity conference in Los Angeles.

The basic workout consists of holding your breath underwater in a pool, river or lake, and treading water, running, walking, doing explosive squats and sprints or simply swimming underwater with a weight held to your chest, your side or between your legs.

Even in the absence of long breath-holds or cold water, these type of workouts build strength, stress-resilience, mental focus and lung capacity all at the same time. But when combined with the calorie-burning and positive cardiovascular effects of cold water exposure, and the growth hormone and enhanced oxygen utilization benefits of breath-holding, these underwater workouts become all the more potent.

Here’s a sample routine:

-Get in a body of water, preferably a cold, outdoor pool, lake or river with a 10 pound dumbbell.

-Hold the dumbbell to your chest and attempt to swim underwater about 25 meters, or to the other end of the pool.

-Come back to where you started, but this time on your back in a seated position with your feet above the surface of the water, treading water with your hands, holding your head above water, and clutching the dumbbell between your thighs.

-Repeat for 3-5 rounds.

What to expect: better breath-holding capacity, increased fat burning due to cold temperatures, improved tolerance to lactic acid/lactic acid buffering capacity and muscular training with low joint impact.


Biohacked Workout #2: Sauna + Resisted Breath Training + Yoga or Body Weight Exercises

I’ve lately been using a hot, insulated, infrared sauna for heat acclimation training and detox, an N=1 experiment you can read about in more detail here. But rather than simply sitting cross-legged in the sauna and staring at the wall, I’ve instead been working on my mobility, isometric strength and inspiratory and expiratory muscle capacity by also including yoga and resisted breathing during my 30 minutes forays into one very sweaty “pain cave”.

First, I pre-heat the sauna while I warm up my body with a 20-30 minute run, bike ride, or weight training routine. As I outline in the sauna article referenced above, I also use high dose niacin to enhance fat cell lipolysis during the subsequent sauna routine. Then I go into the sauna, put on a resisted breath training mask (like an Elevation Training Mask) and perform a routine similar to this:

-5 repetitions of yoga “chatarunga” motion

-1 round of yoga sun salutations

-Repeat chatarunga to sun salutations three times

-10 body weight squats

-1 repetition of chatarunga

-60 second isometric lunge hold on right leg

-1 repetition of chatarunga

-60 second isometric lunge hold on left leg

-Repeat squats, chatarunga, and lunge holds three times

-Finish with 5 minutes of box breathing while still wearing mask

What to expect: increased inspiratory, expiratory and diaphragmatic muscular endurance, increased production of heat shock proteins, cooling capabilities and stress tolerance, detoxification, increased production of nitric oxide and improved mobility.


Biohacked Workout #3: Foam Rolling + Resisted Breath Training + Calisthenics

As I’ve written about many times before, I’m a big, big fan of frequent use of a foam roller to keep injuries at bay and to keep the body mobile. Problem is, the 20-45 minutes it takes to perform a full body foam rolling routine are 20-45 minutes that I’m not able to spend “getting fit”. So when I do my foam rolling routine, (which I perform two times per week), I put on a podcast or an audiobook, wear a resisted breath training mask and inject calisthenic exercises into my rolling so that I am able to achieve injury prevention, breath training, and cardiovascular exercise all at once. Here’s how I do it:

Perform 20-30 “passes” with the foam roller on each muscle group outlined below. One “pass” means would mean rolling up the muscle group and back down the muscle group one time. Complete each station below once, progressing from one station to the next with minimal rest.

Station 1: 10 burpees. Foam roll achilles and calf R side.

Station 2: 10 burpees. Foam roll achilles and calf L side.

Station 3: Foam roll hamstring R side. 20 high leg swings R leg forward to backwards.

Station 4: Foam roll hamstring L side. 20 high leg swings L leg forward to backwards.

Station 5: 10 burpees. Foam roll R outside of hip.

Station 6: 10 burpees. Foam roll L outside of hip.

Station 7: Foam roll IT band R side. 20 side-to-side leg swings R leg.

Station 8: Foam roll IT band L side. 20 side-to-side leg swings L leg.

Station 9: 10 burpees. Foam roll R adductors/inside of thighs.

Station 10: 10 burpees. Foam roll L adductors/inside of thighs.

Station 11: 50 jumping jacks. Foam roll back bottom-to-top.

Station 12: 50 jumping jacks. Foam roll entire R shoulder complex.

Station 13: 50 jumping jacks. Foam roll entire L shoulder complex.

Station 14: 10 burpees. Foam roll neck (back, L side, R side)

Station 15: 10 burpees. Foam roll entire front of quads.

Because I’ve worked all the knots and fascial adhesions of of my tissues with this routine, I usually do 5 minutes of inversion table as a finisher. And yes, I get very funny looks when the UPS driver rolls up to the house and I’m there hanging in my underwear, dripping with sweat, and wearing a breath training mask. But he’ll survive.

In the meantime, if you need videos or demonstrations of any of the foam roller exercises above, then you can click here for a series of videos from yours truly. By the way, you get extra fitness bonus points if you do this routine in a dry or infrared sauna.

What to expect: improved cardiovascular fitness, fewer injuries, more mobility, increased inspiratory, expiratory and diaphragmatic muscular endurance, and a big dump of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin from all the fascial work on the foam roller.


Biohacked Workout #4: Hiking + Weighted Vest + Resisted Breath Training

I love to get out in nature and hike, especially with my kids, but frankly, for anyone who’s gotten into pretty good shape, hiking is not an extremely strenuous activity. However, once you add extra weight in the form of a weighted vest or weighted backpack and add resisted breath training with a mask, hiking becomes a much more challenging cardiovascular and strength building routine.

I’m certainly not saying that every hike you do needs to be a masochistic sufferfest, but if you’re pressed for time, it can be convenient to have the option to turn a family foray into the park into a more challenging workout for you.

The concept is pretty simple: put on weight (usually about 1/3 to 1/4 of your body weight is a good amount of weight to achieve a significant training effect), put on a mask (optional, but certainly good for introducing even more difficulty), and then start hiking. If the going gets so steep that you find you need extra air, you can always remove the mask, then put it back on for the downhills. The extra weight? Well, you’re stuck with it. Enjoy.

What to expect: a big strength-building challenge for your glutes and hamstrings, cardiovascular training effects, increased inspiratory, expiratory and diaphragmatic muscular endurance, time spent in nature, and the thrill of knowing that at any moment you may get tackled by a park ranger who thinks you are a terrorist.


Biohacked Workout #5: Walking + Electrostimulation + Sprinting

In my home office, I have a manual treadmill in front of my standing desk. Although I typically use the treadmill for easy walking during phone calls or consults, I also have an upper body strength training and lower body aerobic routine that I occasionally perform on the same treadmill. For this workout, you’ll need an electrostimulation (EMS) device, which you can learn more about here. You can also play around with variations on this workout, such as using a stationary bicycle instead of a treadmill, or using the EMS on your lower body instead of your upper body and doing the workout on rowing machine.

Prepare for a lung-busting, muscle-burning experience. Here’s how this routine works.

-Attach electrodes to your biceps and triceps, to your chest and shoulders, to your abs, or to any upper body muscle series that you want to target. Your choice.

-Set the EMS device in strength training mode or power training mode so that it’s “grabbing” as many muscle fibers as possibly, which it will typically do for 10-30 seconds before giving you about 10-30 seconds of recovery, which most programs can be set to do for anywhere from 20-30 repetitions.

-While the EMS device is doing the stimulation of your upper body, walk on the treadmill.

-While the EMS device is giving you your recovery periods, run or sprint on the treadmill.

-Repeat for the entire EMS session, which will typically last 20-30 minutes.

Warning: for this routine, you’ll probably need to reinforce the electrodes with ace bandages or some other kind of wrap to ensure they don’t fall off while you run. If you think like me, you’ve probably already realized you could put on an elevation training mask for this routine if you want an even bigger challenge.

What to expect: upper body muscular strength and power building, often accompanied by some soreness afterwards if you’re not accustomed to EMS, an increase in cardiovascular and running performance, and a big increase in pain tolerance. You’ll see what I mean.



I’ve certainly heard the argument that by using these and many other biohacking tricks that you may somehow “miss the journey” of getting fit, whether you’re trying to lose 20 pounds or train for an Ironman triathlon.

Depending on your perspective, this could be true. For example, if I decide to visit my Grandma in Florida, I could hop in the car and take a roadtrip across the country, taking in the sights and scenery of the USA, rather than forking over my hard earned cash for an afternoon airplane flight.

I could also set aside time in my weekly schedule to go navigate the grocery store aisle or the farmer’s market and then spend plenty of time in the kitchen cooking my own food, rather than, say, shopping for groceries online, having an assistant pick up food for me, or outsourcing my food preparation to a meal delivery service.

Ultimately, this all depends on which parts of the journey you personally enjoy. As far as the cross country road trip vs. the direct flight to Grandma’s house is concerned, I’d probably “biohack” my travel experience, skip the “journey” and instead choose the option that allows me spend more time with Grandma.

When it comes to shopping for groceries and cooking, I’d rather spend a little time each week visiting at a farmer’s market or preparing a tasty meal in the kitchen, but if my schedule is jam-packed, I may indeed “biohack” my meal and have my wife pick up some sushi or Thai food, or opt for a blender and a protein smoothie instead.

And when it comes to exercise, I do indeed enjoy riding my bicycle, but if I can skip a long 5 hour weekend ride and instead be competitive in, say, an Ironman triathlon, by riding my bicycle inside a sauna for two hours while wearing an elevation training mask, I’ll likely choose the latter, since it would leave me three extra hours to hang out with my kids or to get some work done and pay the bills.

When it comes to this stuff, I don’t follow any hard and fast rules. Sometimes I completely unplug, strap on some running shoes, and hit the trail. And sometimes I’ve got just 20 minutes to do an extremely high quality workout, so I instead get on a treadmill with an electrostimulation unit and a resistance training mask. It all depends on what the moment requires. Would the former be easier and less logistically challenging? Sure. But sometimes you get results that correspond to the effort you put in, and in this example, my results will be far superior with the latter, even if it seems inconvenient or it hurts a little bit.

Either way, I can definitely guarantee that by including the five workouts described above as staples sprinkled through my monthly training routine, I’m able to kill many birds with one stone, and have much more time left over for other activities, even though I’ll be the first to admit that it can sometimes be a bit of a pain in the neck to do a yoga session inside an infrared sauna while wearing a mask, rather than doing my sun salutations in the backyard garden.

But that’s just me.

How about you? What do you think? Do you plan on trying any of these workouts? If you have more questions or comments about these five biohacked workouts, then leave your thoughts and join the conversation below.

Plant-Based Medicine 101: How To Use Wild Plants For Cognitive Enhancement, Physical Performance, Immunity And More!

plant-based medicine

Wild plants growing right in your own backyard can be used to enhance digestion, increase cognitive performance and improve endurance.

You just have to know how to use them.

And in today’s podcast with Guido Masé, you’re going to learn exactly how.

Guido is author of the book “The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing With Aromatic, Bitter And Tonic Plants“, a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism. A described his plant-based medicine approach as “eclectic” and “drawing upon many influences”. He spent his childhood in Italy, in the central Alps and in a Renaissance town called Ferrara. Then, after traveling the United States, he settled into Vermont where he has been living since 1996.

He is a founding co-director of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, an herbal medicine clinic and school. He serves as chief herbalist for the Urban Moonshine Natural Products Company, where he oversees research for an all-organic whole-plant tincture line and participates in product education and quality control.

Guido is also a trail runner and marathoner, and in this episode, you’ll discover:

-How Guido became a “wild plant” expert…

-What is it that has changed in domesticated plants that make them so much more inferior than wild plants…

-The important differences between aromatic, bitter and tonic plants…

-How many plants you actually need to produce a tincture…

-Why alcohol is such a great medium to mix wild plant extracts into…

-How you can use “bitters” to enhance your digestive process (and how they’re far different than digestive enzymes)…

-Why you should include plants like endives, radicchio, frisee, dandelion and mustard greens on your salad or with your meals…

-How to use wild plant extracts to support long bike rides, run or feats of endurance performance…

-How to use pine, mint, lavender and lemon balm to enhance cognitive performance…

-How you can easily make your own tonics and tinctures from common wild plants growing right in your own backyard…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Guido’s book: The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing With Aromatic, Bitter And Tonic Plants

-Guido’s blog:

-The Urban Moonshine products

TianChi Chinese Adaptogenic Herb

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Guido or me about plant-based medicine, how to find and use wild plants, “Urban Moonshine” or anything else we discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below!

Polyphasic Sleep, Water Fasts, Marijuana, Smart Drugs, Electrical Stimulation & More With Jesse Lawler of SmartDrugSmarts.

jesse lawler

Meet Jesse Lawler (pictured above), my guest in today’s podcast.

Jesse is a software developer, a self-experimentalist, and a health nut; he tweaks his diet, exercise habits, and medicine cabinet on an ongoing basis, always seeking the optimal balance for performance and cognition.

He has flirted with everything from paleontology and genetic engineering to screenwriting, green-tech, software engineering, photography, and neuroscience.

Jesse is also the host of Smart Drug Smarts, a podcast about “practical neuroscience,” where he speaks each week with the world’s leading minds in neurology, brain-tech, and the social issues related to cognitive enhancement.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How Jesse rode his bicycle across the entire country with no training…

-Why Jesse went from 100% vegan to 100% Paleo…

-The details of Jesse’s week long water fast, what he discovered along the way, and the crazy mistake he made after…

-When a “polyphasic sleep schedule” is an appropriate strategy to manage fatigue or lack of sleep…

-Why Jessa drinks zero amounts of alcohol…

-The details of Jesse’s recent Ritalin experiment…

-Whether marijuana damages your brain and memory or makes you stupid, and the concept of micro-dosing with compounds such as THC or CBD…

-Jesse’s favorite smart drug and nootropic stacks…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

HammerNutrition Seat Saver (use 15% discount code 80244)

The SmartDrugSmarts podcast

Nicotine patch + Nuvigil


Axon Labs – Nexus & Mitogen

Headspace app


Do you have questions, comments or feedback about smart drugs, nootropics, cognitive performance, water fasts, ketosis, water fasts, or anything else Jesse and I discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and either Jesse or I will reply.

Pink Makes You Docile, Orange Makes You Buy Stuff, Red Makes You Mad: How To Use Color Light Therapy For Mood, Cognition, Healing & More.


A couple weeks ago, in my article “Three Ways To Biohack A Sauna For More Heat, A Better Detox & Enhanced Fitness“, I used the slightly woo-woo sounding term “chromotherapy”.

Upon deeper digging, it turns out that chromotherapy, also known as color light therapy, is something we all encounter every day, such as when we walk outside and experience optimism induced by a blue sky or orange sun, or experience quite the opposite effect from a grey day.

Light therapy is also used to relieve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), regulate your internal biological clock (circadian rhythms), and affect mood. Companies such as GE and Philips have even created phototherapeutic products such as the home lighting “Hue” system to improve and regulate mood. The therapeutic applications of light and color are also being investigated in many hospitals and
research centers worldwide. Results so far indicate that full-spectrum, ultraviolet, colored, and laser
light can have therapeutic value for a range of conditions from chronic pain and depression to
immune disorders.

Although I didn’t know what it was called at the time, the concepts behind chromotherapy were something I first encountered a couple years ago when I read the book “Drunk Tank Pink“, a rather fascinating read which describes how the isolation tanks in many prisons are painted a specific color of pink that is known to pacify feelings of anger and rage. The book also describes how we tend to trust people who wear blue shirts, we are more likely to donate when the donation button is pink on a website, we are more likely to buy when a button is orange, and much more.

I’ve also written about how I wear a special set of purple tinted lenses to enhance my reading speed and visual perception, have red light bulbs in my room for relaxation, blue light bulbs in my office and bedroom for alertness, and even bright yellow LED lights for inner ear phototherapy.

It turns out that color, specifically when combined with light, can actually affect both emotions and energy systems. So now, as I perform my daily sauna session in which I sit, stand, sweat, swing kettlebells and do yoga while using my magical chromotherapy wand (the sauna remote control) to vary colors from red to blue to green and beyond, I’ve delved a bit more into playing around with chromotherapy. In this article you’re going to learn exactly how you can use color to do things like change your mood, your cognition, your performance and more.

Although it’s slightly pseudoscientific, I find this stuff fascinating, and I think you’ll find a few gems in this relatively short article. Enjoy (and I’ll include a link to a longer, scientific article at the end).


How Color Affects Your Health & Physiology

So here’s the basic and very brief science of color…

…color is simply light that has been split into different wavelengths that vibrate at different speeds and at different frequencies. Objects that absorb all wavelengths and do not reflect any back are black. Objects that reflect all wavelengths and do reflect are white. Everything between black and white is color. Colors are wavelengths of energy that, to you and me, appear as color because of the potential and capabilities of any given object to either absorb or reflect the energy.

There. Every physicist on the face of the planet is probably snickering, but that, my friend, is how I personally define color.

Now, let’s look at which colors do what for your emotions, your health and your physiology.

Much of the information below is derived from both Ayurvedic, Egyptian, Chinese and Greek medicine. For example, in India, Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine practiced for thousands of years, is based on the idea that every individual contains five elements of the universe which are present in specific proportions unique to each individual, including their personality type and constitution. When these elements are out of balance, Ayurvedic medicine implements color therapy to restore this balance.

For example, in Eastern medicine, you’ll often encounter the concept of chakras. The body has seven major energy centers at the sites of each of the major endocrine glands, and these are known as chakras. Each chakra is responsive to a different color, each chakra energizes and sustains certain organs and each chakra corresponds to specific states of consciousness, personality types and endocrine secretions.

Check out the image at the top of this post. See how those colors line up to specific areas on the body?

For example:

Red – Root chakra
Orange – Sacral chakra
Green – Heart chakra
Blue – Throat chakra
Indigo – Brow chakra
Violet – Crown chakra

In ancient Egypt, the art of healing with color was founded in the Hermetic tradition, and both the ancient Egyptians and Greeks used colored minerals, stones, crystals, salves, and dyes as remedies, as well as painted treatment sanctuaries in various shades of color. In China, traditional Chinese medicine associates specific colors with specific organs and energy systems.

Now I’ll be among the first to admit that many Eastern healing traditions aren’t necessarily rooted in hardcore, Western, clinical, white lab-coat research, but I certainly know that when using chromotherapy light with colors you’re about to read about below, I’ve experienced several of the effects listed, and I’ve tried to include as many resources and references as I could hunt down below this list of colors.


Red and Pink

In chromotherapy, red and pink are called “The Great Energizers.” They are said to help loosen and release muscle stiffness and constrictions. Red and pink promote cellular growth and the circulatory system, and therapy with these colors are indicated for colds, sluggish or dormant conditions, such as pneumonia, arthritis, anemia, as a liver stimulant, an energy builder, and for increasing circulation. Red stimulates the base of the spine, causing the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. Red can also cause hemoglobin to multiply, increasing energy, raising body temperature conditions and stimulating sensory nerves such as hearing, taste, smell, and metabolism. It is supposedly excellent for anemia or blood-related conditions. Pink helps activate and eliminate impurities from the blood stream. It also acts as a cleanser, strengthening the veins and arteries.

Practical Suggestion: place a red light or red heat lamp next to your bedstand for use in the evenings.


Yellow helps awaken mental inspiration by arousing higher mental function and self-control and has a very enriching effect upon the intellect. It is an excellent color for nervous or nerve-related conditions or ailments, stimulating the solar plexus. Yellow can be used for conditions of the stomach, liver, and
intestines, and can help the pores of the skin by repairing scar tissue. Yellow rays supposedly also have an alkalizing affect that strengthens the nerves. Typical diseases treated by yellow are constipation, gas, liver troubles, diabetes, eczema and nervous exhaustion. Providing clarity of thought, increasing awareness, stimulating interest and curiosity, the color yellow is related to the ability to perceive or understand. So basically, yellow energy connects us to our mental self.

Practical Suggestion: venture outside into the sunlight when you need a burst of creativity.


Green is considered to be the universal healing color. Green is midway in the color spectrum, and because of this, it is said to contain both a physical nature and a spiritual nature. So green can be used for just about any condition in need of healing. When in doubt, green is always a good choice and will help relax muscles, nerves and thoughts. It is neither relaxing nor astringent in its impact. In a more practical sense, green affects blood pressure and all conditions of the heart, and is said to be able to help heal many illnesses of this nature, specifically including heart troubles, decreasing and stabilizing blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, nervous disorders and influenza, and acts as a general tonic.

Practical Suggestion: place a good variety green plants in your home, your office and your bedroom (NASA has a list of some of the best ones here).


Blue is at the opposite end of the visible spectrum, and can be used for any type of ailments associated with speech, communication, or the throat. It is a mentally relaxing color. Blue has a pacifying effect on the nervous system, which encourages relaxation and makes it ideal for sleep problems. Relaxing, soothing blue rays (not to be confused with the harsh, blue light used in things like light-boxing devices and computer screens) can bring calm and peace to the mind that is worried, excited, or in a constant nervous state. It is a very positive color, indicating truth, loyalty and reliability, as expressed in the sentiment of being “true blue.”

Practical Suggestion: occasionally take a break, lay on your back and gaze up at a blue sky.


Orange has a freeing action upon the mind, relieving repression (which is apparently why its such a good color for the buy button on a website). Because orange is a blend of red and yellow, it supposedly combines physical energy with mental wisdom, inducing a combination of a physical reaction and mental response. Orange is warm, cheering, and non-constricting, and is considered to be the best emotional stimulant, helping to remove inhibitions and pave independent social behavior. So perhaps orange-tinted glasses would be the ones to wear to a party, or on a rainy day. Physiologically, orange aids in repairing inflammation of the kidneys, gallstones, menstrual cramps, epilepsy, wet cough and all sinus conditions.

Practical Suggestion: wear bright orange colors when you want to go out and do something daring, like an obstacle race.


Violet is the last color you can see before light passes on to ultra-violet. This color is supposed to be an excellent remedy for neurosis, diseases of the scalp, sciatica, tumors, rheumatism, cerebral-spinal meningitis, concussion, cramps and epilepsy. Wow. Some color experts believe that it also provides nourishment to the cells in the upper brain, which purifies thoughts and feelings, and gives inspiration. Violet is also able to enhance artistic talent and creativity, and Leonardo da Vinci proclaimed that you can increase the power of meditation ten fold by meditating under the gentle rays of violet, as found in church windows.

Practical Suggestion: get some violent tinted glasses for times when you need creativity or artistic inspiration.



I’m not saying color and light is going to heal disease in any significant way. But I do think that it affects your energy systems and organs, and I know for a fact that it affects your cognition, your moods and your emotions.

If your nerdy self is interested in the proposed scientific mechanisms of why exposure to these specific frequencies of colors has this type of effect, then you should know that it basically it all comes down to the ability of a light wave to vibrate molecules at a specific frequency.

The paper “A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution” describes it like this,

“The quantum mechanical dipole moment as a result of the absorption of different colors, we conjecture, produces charge quantization phenomena. This review illustrates that the development of science in the field of electromagnetic radiation/energy can be very helpful in discovering new dimensions of this old theory…

…these visual colors with their unique wavelength and oscillations, when combined with a light source and selectively applied to impaired organs or life systems, provide the necessary healing energy required by the body. “

Anyways, go read the paper if you really want to delve into the nitty-gritty science. In the meantime, I’d recommend that, if this stuff fascinates you and you want to dive right into the practical application and experimentation, you start with any or all of the following:

-Install lights from Lighting Science or the Phillips Hue system in your house, then experiment with the colors above to see what kind of feelings and moods you experience.

Read the book “Drunk Tank Pink” by Adam Alder, which is an excellent treatise on color for everything from mood to marketing.

-Play around with a “chromotherapy torch”. I found one on this website. It’s basically very similar to a flashlight, but with colored discs.

Check out my sauna article, especially the parts about the chromotherapy sauna I use. If you get the sauna, mess around with the colors while you’re in there. It’s amazing what you can do to your mood, and how you can choose different colors based on how you are feeling (e.g. red for arousal, green for happiness, yellow for creativity, etc.)

-Play around with visualizing color. My tennis coach used to have us do this in college so that we could close our eyes before a point and visualize a specific color that relaxed us (my color was blue). When he initially taught us this method, we would first  get extremely relaxed using something called “progressive neuromuscular relaxation“, and then once in that state of relaxation, we would imagine our color. This way, during a match, we could instantly replicate that same state of relaxation by imagining our color in the heat of the moment. If you can visualize the color you need, you can access the color and its associated benefits anytime and pretty much anywhere. Just close your eyes, relax your head, neck shoulders, and concentrate on your breathing. Then visualize the desired color  and, still focusing on your breathing, imagine “absorbing” that color and having your body be filled with that color each time you breath in. You can do this for just a few seconds, or for several minutes, just like a meditation session. 

Have you personally experimented with chromotherapy? If so, which color “feels” best for you? Do you have questions, comments or your own practical suggestions about how to use color? Leave your thoughts below and I’ll reply.


More Resources

1. This is a very comprehensive article on Chromotherapy with a lot of science behind it:A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution

2. Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of
complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics, including color therapy.

3. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).


1. Deppe A. Ocular light therapy: a case study. Aust J Holist Nurs 2000;7(1):41.

2. Geldschlager S. Osteopathic versus orthopedic treatments for chronic epicondylopathia humeri radialis: a randomized controlled trial. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd
2004;Apr, 11(2):93-97.

3. Maher CG. Effective physical treatment of chronic low back pain. Orthop Clin North Am
2004;Jan, 35(1):57-64.

4. Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Chief Editors: Ulbricht C, Basch E, Natural
Standard Herb and Supplement Reference: Evidence-Based Clinical Reviews, USA. Elsevier/Mosby, 2005.

5. Ohara M, Kawashima Y, Kitajima s, et al. Inhibition Of lung metastasis of B16 melanoma
cells exposed to blue light in mice. Int J Molecular Medicine 2002;10(6):701-705.

6. Wileman SM, Eagles JM, Andrew JE, et al. Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder
in primary care: randomized controlled trial. Br J Psych 2001;178:311-316.

7. Wohlfarth H, Schultz A. The effect of colour psychodynamic environment modification on sound levels in elementary schools. Int J Biosocial Res 2002;(5):12-19.

8. Zifkin BG, Inoue Y. Visual reflex seizures induced by complex stimuliEpilepsia 2004;45(Suppl 1):27-29.

The Ultimate Guide To Biohacking Exercise With Oxygen Therapy, Hypoxia, Elevation & Altitude Training.


Two weeks ago, in the audio podcast with Alex Tarris “Shattering The Myths Of Detox Therapy, Infrared Saunas, Health Scams & More”, we discussed both hypoxia (low oxygen availability) and hyperoxia (high oxygen availability) and the therapeutic and performance-enhancing benefits of both of these strategies. 

After I released that particular episode, I had an interesting conversation with my friend Dr. Johnathan Edwards, who is an endurance athlete, private practice anesthesiologist, physiologist and sports medicine physician based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since Dr. Edwards consults with many professional athletes in many different disciplines in North America and Europe, including cyclists in the Tour de France, AMA motocross athletes and UFC fighters, I was specifically curious to hear his opinion on “how much oxygen is too much” and “how little oxygen is too little”.

In other words, if you use something like a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber or some other form of concentrated oxygen, can you do to much of it to the point where it becomes damaging to your brain or body?

And the same goes for hypoxia: if you overdo something like elevation training, an altitude tent, or a hypoxic air generator, could you also hurt your health or your performance gains?

So in today’s article, written by Dr. Edwards with some editing and additions by yours truly, you’re going to discover the truth about oxygen therapy, altitude training, hypoxia, biohacking elevation, how much oxygen is too much and how much oxygen is too little. Enjoy.


Supplemental Oxygen Therapy: What You Need To Know

You often see NFL players on the sidelines breathing oxygen, and you may wonder whether breathing that high concentration of oxygen through a special mask is actually helping them to recover faster, or perhaps it’s just a placebo.Though a colorless, odorless gas that is poorly understood by most doctors and sports practitioners, oxygen is essential to life, it is in 21% of every breath you take, and, believe it or not, supplemental oxygen is actually regulated as a prescription drug in the U.S. by the FDA.

In people with lung disease, supplemental oxygen clearly has many beneficial effects that have been proven in clinical studies. Even in the absence of disease, supplemental oxygen, such as is found in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber or some of the other oxygen delivery tools you’ll learn about later in this article, can also help regular non-diseased people (and athletes) with wound healing, tissue repair, recovery, fighting inflammation, mental acuity, increased exercise capacity, and much more.

But due to complicated and erroneous things taught in medical school, along with some cloudy ideas about sick people and supplemental oxygen somehow inducing “free radical formation”, many physicians and laypeople have a mistrust of oxygen. And it’s true: there are some very important things to consider when administering oxygen, since it is possible to give too much oxygen as well as too little.

Many scientists don’t believe it’s possible to increase the oxygen in your blood by breathing supplemental oxygen or by using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

But they’re wrong, and here’s why.

Oxygen is contained in the blood in two forms:

(1) dissolved in plasma, which is about 2% oxygen;

(2) bound to hemoglobin in red blood cells, which is about 98% oxygen.

Breathing supplemental oxygen saturates the hemoglobin and increases the concentration of dissolved oxygen in plasma. As an example, one of the really neat procedures I do as an anesthesiologist is to perform something called pre-oxygenation (also known as de-nitrogenation) on patients before they undergo general anesthesia.

Using a mask system, I administer 100% oxygen for 3 to 5 minutes, and then induce general anesthesia. Assuming the patient is relatively healthy, the patient’s oxygen saturation will stay at 100% without a single breath for up to 5 minutes, and without harming the patient or causing excessive free radical formation. This is possible is because the concentration of oxygen in the plasma is maximized. In many cases, very high concentrations of oxygen can be given throughout the entire operation.

When it comes to athletic performance, studies are mixed about whether supplemental oxygen actually helps. For example, I work with many professional cyclists and UFC fighters who use supplemental oxygen, particularly when they are training at higher altitudes.Whether or not you believe that oxygen is beneficial, many of these athletes “feel” that it works for them.  Oxygen has indeed been shown in studies to positively affect power, but apparently not VO2 max (your maximal consumption of oxygen) )(1, 2, 3).

At high altitude, we do know that supplemental oxygen increases work capacity, and may also reduce perceived exertion (1,2, 4, 5). At sea level, the effect of supplemental oxygen is less clear, although I have athletes report that it helps reduce their rating of perceived exertion while performing high-intensity intervals. It’s apparent that it is not all about getting more oxygen to the tissues, and that other things are happening when you use supplemental oxygen. The leading theories include effects on pulmonary, cardiac, and acid-base physiology (3, 6, 7).

It is theoretically possible get too much oxygen, but rest assured that it is nearly impossible to do while on land. Problems from oxygen toxicity occur most often in hospitalized patients with lung disease and in scuba diving. In the case of patients in the hospital, they are receiving very high concentrations of oxygen for more than 12 hours via a closed system (endotracheal tube), and lung injury results from a combination of free radical oxygen formation and dry air. In the case of scuba diving, the partial pressure of oxygen increases as a diver descends deeper and this increases oxygen in the blood. When the oxygen concentration surpasses 160% of normal, seizures can occur.

But these are not the type of scenarios you’d experience when using supplemental oxygen therapy or a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.


Altitude Training & Hypoxia

Exposure to hypoxia does several things in the body. For example, increasing red blood cell mass to increase oxygen transport capabilities is the one you probably already know about. However, there are many other hypoxic and altitude training adaptations that take place, such as structural and functional changes to hemoglobin. A protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) is increased with exposure to hypoxia (8). HIF-1 actually tells the kidneys and liver to make erythropoietin (EPO), which in turn tells the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells (interestingly, this same adaptation takes place with sauna training). There are also several genetic adaptations that take place, including higher mRNA levels to hemoglobin. Many enzymes involved in mitochondrial energy processes are both up and down regulated. With prolonged exposure to hypoxia, your white blood cells may decrease, affecting your immune system (8).

Altitude training or simulation of altitude training is accomplished, as you’d probably guess, by living in less oxygen, giving less oxygen, or somehow inducing hypoxia (low oxygen availability). Hypoxic training, or the practice of limiting oxygen availability while training, has been used for decades to improve performance. The United States Olympic Training Center and many other training facilities use hypoxic training to significantly increase the speed of gains in performance (6, 7). A period of altitude training can be helpful to athletes, but it can be a real art to know how long to stay at altitude or a hypoxic environment and when to get out. When using altitude to increase performance, I usually advise athletes to set their altitude tents or altitude training devices at between 12% and 18% oxygen, which corresponds to about 6,000 to 14,000 feet. Most of my athletes will train at altitude or use altitude simulated training blocks for 2-8 weeks at a time.

However, it is very important to monitor your fatigue and ideally other variables such as adrenal stress index and heart rate variability. This is because if you “over-do” altitude, you risk peaking well after the event or even worse, you wind up so fatigued that you can’t even function properly.

How could altitude or too much oxygen deprivation cause these issues?

Hypoxia is defined as any condition in which a human breathes less than 21% oxygen, and over a prolonged period of time, this reduced oxygen content of air or a body of water can be detrimental to aerobic respiration. Severe hypoxia can be a devastating complication during a surgery or a heart attack, causing brain injury or death. Fortunately, this type of injury from hypoxia is rare.

Altitude sickness also results from hypoxia and is manageable with proper treatment and prevention. But severe altitude sickness can lead to more serious issues, such as swelling in your lungs and brain and pulmonary hypertension. The take home message is that if you feel sick or weak or fatigued and are not generating an adaptive response to a hypoxic environment, then you need to get back to a lower altitude.


How To Use Hyperoxygenation & Hypoxia

OK, now we get to the fun stuff: the practical applications of using an oxygen concentrator and a hypoxic generator while training.

First, let’s clear up what these things really are.

An oxygen concentrator is a machine that pressurizes room air and separates the nitrogen from the oxygen, delivering a high concentration of oxygen and exhausting a high concentration of nitrogen. A hypoxic generator machine works identically the same as an oxygen concentrator, except that the machine has been professionally modified so that the exhaust (the high nitrogen gas), is directed to the person via a tube. Hypoxic generators and oxygen concentrators can be expensive, costing as high as thousands of dollars.

I coach my athletes to train with oxygen concentrators (also known as Exercise with Oxygen, or EWOT) and also hypoxic generators. Sometimes I advise hyperoxia and sometimes hypoxia, depending on the goals. Using a nasal cannula or mask delivery system, athletes can perform exercise intervals in the presence of high oxygen or low oxygen. Usually, these type of intervals are done on an indoor trainer or treadmill.

Exercise with oxygen therapy can increase exercise capacity and lead to performance gains, and this effect is most pronounced at high altitudes (5, 6, personal data). On the flip side, an athlete can use a hypoxic generator to simulate a certain altitude and prepare for elevation competition. As you learned earlier, training in a hypoxic environment boosts the production of red blood cells and causes the other adaptations discussed above.

I also utilize portable oxygen delivery systems. For example, athletes competing in high altitude events can use a special oxygen concentrator that is small enough to fit into a backpack. This means that after the stage or event, they can achieve better recovery, especially if the competition is occuring at high altitude. While training at high altitude and not in a controlled environment such as on a treadmill or indoor bicycle, runners and cyclists can use oxygen via a very small oxygen canisters that fit into a backpack. Athletes who stress about training indoors love this option.

You would use a face mask or a nasal cannula to deliver this oxygen. Some scientists theorize that this could be harmful, but it’s important to remember that it’s nearly impossible to cause oxygen toxicity or severe hypoxemia, especially when training close to sea level. The reason for this is that oxygen delivery via a mask or nasal cannula always involves some entrainment of room air. When receiving 100 percent oxygen via a nasal cannula, the highest concentration of oxygen that can be delivered is 40%. Using a mask without a re-breather bag, the highest concentration of oxygen that can be delivered is 60%, and with a mask rebreather bag system, the highest concentration of oxygen that can be delivered is 80%.

So delivery of oxygen from an oxygen concentrator is never going to be 100%. Once you throw in the imperfections of a mask, it’s readily apparent that no one is going to get hurt by breathing pure oxygen while training. Sure, drying of the airway might be a concern if you are using oxygen for hours at a time, and this is particularly only a problem if training in a dry environment like Las Vegas, Nevada or Boulder, Colorado.

Then there’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). HBOT use is increasing each year by medical professionals, sports practitioners, and health spas. Anyone can purchase a HBOT machine for home use. HBOT was first developed for deep sea divers suffering from decompression illness (the bends), and off-lable, HBOT is now being used to treat autism, multiple sclerosis, stroke and brain injury. The dangers of HBOT are rare but real, and include seizures, collapsed lung and combustion.

The main effect of HBOT is hyperoxia (high oxygen availability). The physiological effects of HBOT include enhanced oxygen delivery, reduction of edema, increased immune system and decreased inflammation. New blood vessel formation, bone growth, as well as collagen production are also known long term effects (9). This can be especially beneficial for wound healing and recovery from radiation injury, and may allow for faster recovery from hard, damaging workouts. Paradoxically, HBOT causes vasoconstriction (shrinking of blood vessels), but the resulting elevated carrying capacity of oxygen in the arterial blood results in augmented oxygen delivery to tissues (9).

HBOT seems to be promising in the recovery of injuries or recovery from hard workouts, but larger randomized controlled studies are needed to confirm that it is a safe and effective therapy for these type of situations. One of the downsides is that since you must be lying down or standing up in a small chamber, exercise cannot be easily combined with HBOT. But at the end of the day, HBOT does indeed increase the oxygen delivery to the tissues and blood, and multitudes of athletes swear by it (even athletes who are not sponsored by any HBOT companies).


Product List – Tricks Of The Trade

OK, so what do you need to get started with either hyperoxia or hypoxia training? Here’s a list of my favorite tricks of the trade.

Altitude Training Tent or Altitude Chamber

I would recommend you purchase a tent from a company like Hypoxico, who can also outfit any room in your house to be an altitude chamber. However, I do have athletes who construct their own tents using PVC pipe and a thick grade plastic and tape. In this video, Jonathan Hornbeck, currently a professional cyclist for Team Hincapie demonstrates how to make your own tent.

Oxygen Saturation Monitor

Although any oxygen saturation monitor would work for seeing a rise or drop in your blood oxygenation levels, I really like the Masimo Mighty Sat, which is the highest tech oxygen saturation monitor that I have found, and is available to the public. Dotsie Bausch, a silver medalist in the 2012 Olympics, uses Masimo products.  The main difference is that the Masimo pulse oximeter is always accurate, and it measures the Plethysmosography Variablility Index (PVI) which measure the changes in your blood perfusion during the respiratory cycle. Simply, PVI is another tool to measure fluid status after large shifts in blood volume, such as would occur with heavy exercise. Finally, a pulse oximeter is another verification that I am indeed training in a hypoxic state while performing hypoxic intervals or resting in a tent. Just about any pulse oximeter will get the job done.

Oxygen Analyzers

I use an oxygen analzyer to monitor the oxygen concentration in my altitude tent or exercise circuit –  I use the Pro O2 Oxygen analyzer from Nuvair. It’s dependable and they provide a good warranty. Nuvair specializes in scuba equipment, and for the money, it does the job and rivals more expensive versions. In fact, one of my riders, Romain Bardet, who rides for the Ag2r pro cycling team, uses this exact model for his altitude tent.

Oxygen Concentrators

You can buy an oxygen concentrator new online, but I suggest looking up an oxygen concentrator repair shop in your area and inquire about buying a new or refurbished oxygen concentrator. Get one that puts out at least 5 liters per minute. Andy Champagne from O2CRS, a local shop in Las Vegas, is very knowledgeable and reasonably priced.  I use an oxygen concentrator mainly for my high intensity intervals. But I also use it when the air quality gets really bad or I have inhaled a bunch of smoke. Firefighters use oxygen concentrators regularly to detox the levels of carbon monoxide in their bodies after fighting a fire.

Hypoxic Generators

Companies like Hypoxico make a great machine for altitude training that you can roll around in your basement, garage, or gym. Alternatively, you can have a professional modify an existing oxygen concentrator machine into a hypoxic generator. Again, the guys at do a great job.

Oxygen Reservoir

Companies like liveO2 make a portable, easy to use oxygen reservoir that works really well for exercising with supplemental oxygen. Alternatively, it is possible to make one yourself by using a small trash can, then sealing the top and creating an inlet and outlet. Here is a video of the liveO2 oxygen reservoir system.

Altitude Training Masks

A double one-way valve mask is required for oxygen or hypoxia exercise circuits. Hypoxico sells a mask that is specially made for hypoxic interval training. Sometimes you will find these masks on Amazon and Alibaba commerce websites. Please note that an elevation training mask is not the same thing, and Ben explains why here.

Oxygen Tanks

Pure oxygen requires a prescription from a doctor. However, welding grade oxygen is still 94% pure, and still does the job. In fact, oxygen bars use welding grade oxygen. So align yourself with a welding shop or oxygen company and have them fill your oxygen tanks for you and you should be good!  

Some of my athletes who train at very high altitudes will actually use an oxygen tank along with a nasal cannula, both of which are small enough to fit into a backpack. Just before they are about to start their intervals, they will turn the oxygen dial to hi-flow and perform their intervals. This allows them to increase their exercise capacity at higher altitudes.



Let’s finish with an example of a supplement oxygen interval training session that I personally perform using an oxygen concentrator and a universal mask circuit. It’s quite simple and consists of one minute long all-out intervals. First, I warm up, and then exercise at an easy, aerobic pace for 5 minutes, followed by 1 minute all-out, followed by a 4 minute recovery, then 1 minute all-out, and so on until I get to 1 minute all-out and 1 minute rest, at which time I repeat the intervals 1 to 3 times.

So to clarify – you would do the following wearing a mask and nasal cannula that is connected to supplemental oxygen :

5 easy, 1 hard.

4 easy, 1 hard.

3 easy, 1 hard.

2 easy, 1 hard.

1 easy, 1 hard.

Repeat 1-3x.

Ben has been experimenting with a Hypoxico Everest II altitude simulator for hypoxia, using an Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT) protocol very similar to that outlined in these instructions (5 minutes exercise with hypoxia, followed by 5 minutes without hypoxia, for 30-60 minutes at an aerobic pace).

It appears that when it comes to hypoxic training, you can also benefit from short, repeated 10-30 second high-intensity bursts followed by longer recovery periods, a strategy which appears to be just as beneficial as longer efforts and is outlined in detail in this study, and also in this section of the Wikipedia page on altitude training.

So that’s it! Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Ben or Dr. Edwards, your own oxygen biohacks to add, or anything else you’d like to share? Leave your thoughts below and either Dr. Edwards or I will reply.



  1. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jul;37(7):1175-9.

Effects of hyperoxic training on performance and cardiorespiratory response to exercise.

  1. J Sports Sci. 2012 May;30(9):851-8.

Effects of hyperoxia during recovery from 5×30-s bouts of maximal-intensity exercise.

  1. J Exp Biol. 2001 Sep;204(Pt 18):3225-34.

Evidence that a central governor regulates exercise performance during acute hypoxia and hyperoxia.


  1. The Effect Of Training While Breathing Oxygen-Enriched Air On Time-To-Exhauston And Aerobic Capacity
  1. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Nov;36(11):1888-94.

Effect of FIO2 on oxidative stress during interval training at moderate altitude.

  1. Altitude, hypoxic and hyperoxic Training: research evidence vs. practical applications

  1. J Exp Biol. 2001 Sep;204(Pt 18):3195-9.

Human aerobic performance: too much ado about limits to V(O(2)).

  1. J Exp Biol. 2001 Sep;204(Pt 18):3133-9.

Muscle tissue adaptations to hypoxia.

  1. Hyperbaric effects on sports injuries PDF

The Iceman Returns: Wim Hof On Climbing Frigid Mountains In Underwear, Eating Only Once A Day, Activating Hormones With Breathing & More.

wim hof

The Iceman is back.

Wim Hof is a Dutch world record holder, adventurer and daredevil, nicknamed “the Iceman” for his ability to withstand extreme cold.

He holds twenty world records – including a world record for longest ice bath, and has stayed immersed in ice for as long as 1 hour and 52 minutes and 42 seconds.

In 2007, Wim attempted, but failed (due to a foot injury), to climb Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts.

Then, in 2009, he reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts within two days.

In 2009, Wim also completed a full marathon above the polar circle in Finland, in temperatures close to −20 °C (−4 °F) – dressed in nothing but shorts. He finished the marathon in 5 hours and 25 minutes.

In  2011, Hof also ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water. 

And in this most recent Vice video, Wim demonstrates how he can consciously alter his immune system activity using a combination of breathing and cold.

So how does the Iceman do it?

In my previous episode with Wim, “Conquer The Cold And Get Quantum Leaps In Performance In This Exclusive Interview With The Amazing Iceman Wim Hof“, you discovered many of his secrets, including:

-How Wim uses the science of breathing to control his body temperature and resistance to the cold…

-Wim’s breathing technique fully explained

-a recent study of the influence of concentration/meditation on autonomic nervous system activity and the innate immune response

-Wim’s book: “Becoming The Iceman“…

-Wim’s meditation technique…

-How Wi ran full marathon in the desert with no water…

-Whether cold thermogenesis give some kind of adaptation to perform better in heat…

-Why cold doesn’t really make you sick, and the true effects on the immune system…

-Why Wim took a group of thrombosis patients into the icy Sweden wilderness…

-How you can learn Wim’s secret techniques from the Iceman himself…

-And much more.

Now, in today’s audio episode, Wim and I delve into even more of his tips, tricks and biohacks to conquer the cold and get quantum leaps in performance, and you’ll discover even more, including:

-How Wim got started with cold exposure…

-How Wim’s breathing techniques can be used to withstand not just extremes of cold, but also extremes of heat and other forms of stress…

-Whether Wim gets cold skin burns…

-The details of Wim’s groundbreaking new study “Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans“…

-What Wim thinks about popular cold thermogenesis gear, like ice vests and cooling pants…

-What kind of workouts Wim does, including extreme isometrics and cold yoga…

-Why Wim only eats once per day…

Resources from this episode:

Wim’s complete training program “Wim Hof Method 10-week online course” to teach you his techniques.

-Study: Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans.

-Wim’s “Inner Fire” App.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about this episode with Iceman Wim Hof? Leave your thoughts below!

Three Ways To Biohack A Sauna For More Heat, A Better Detox & Enhanced Fitness.


New feature! Push the play button above or click here to subscribe for free in iTunes to get the audio version of this post. Let me know in the comments section if you find this feature oh-so-handy-dandy. 

I will be the first to admit that I spent most of my life not really understanding the difference between a “regular” sauna and an infrared sauna.

While I’ve certainly covered wet saunas vs. dry saunas on a heat acclimation webinar for USA Triathlon, and I’ve thoroughly discussed the myriad of benefits from heat exposure (from dry saunas to steam rooms to those dorky sauna suits) in a very popular interview with Dr. Rhonda Patrick

…until the recent show “Shattering The Myths Of Detox Therapy, Infrared Saunas, Health Scams & More” I’d never really delved into the concept of infrared saunas on the podcast either.

But now that I’m spending at least two and, based on the results of this Finnish longevity study, as many as five days per week in an infrared sauna, I figured it was high time I filled you in on what I’m doing with infrared, why, and three ways to biohack your sauna for more heat, more sweat, and bigger benefits.


Why You Should Use A Far Infrared Sauna

First, you should know that this article isn’t really going to delve into the nitty-gritty of why heat therapy and saunas are beneficial, because I’ve covered that in great detail before.

But before learning how to biohack your sauna experience, it is important for you to have a basic idea of what an infrared sauna is, and how it differs from dry saunas or steam rooms, especially if you haven’t jumped on the sauna bandwagon yet.

Basically, an infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses light to create heat. These saunas are sometimes also called far-infrared saunas, and the “far” simply describes where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum.

A traditional “dry sauna” uses heat from rocks or other heating elements to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. So a dry sauna must rely only on indirect means of heat: first, convection (air currents) and then, conduction (direct contact of hot air with the skin) to produce its heating effect.

But because an infrared sauna instead relies upon light, it can heat your body directly without significantly warming the air around you, and the light waves from the infrared sauna penetrate deep (2-6 inches) into your body for a heating effect that allows more activation of your sweat glands compared to dry sauna. So an infrared sauna doesn’t feel as hot as a dry sauna, but you sweat as much or more.

In the book Beyond Antibiotics, Dr. Michael A. Schmidt explains the benefits of the slightly lower temperature of an infrared sauna like this:

“Saunas are being used by some doctors to stimulate the release of toxins from the bodies of their patients. They have found that a lower temperature (105º-130ºF) sauna taken for a longer duration is most beneficial. These low temperatures stimulate a fat sweat, which eliminates toxins stored in fat, as opposed to the high temperature sauna, which encourages a water sweat.”

Interestingly, the far infrared rays you get in an infrared sauna consist of similar wavelengths that are emitted naturally by the human body (yes, your body emits it’s own light radiation). This is one potential explanation of why many people feel so energetically rejuvenated and balanced from contact with far infrared waves in an infrared sauna compared to feeling “drained and dehydrated” after a dry sauna experience. Tests have shown that the energy output in an infrared sauna is tuned so closely to your body’s own infrared radiation that you absorb as much as 93% of the far infrared waves that reach your skin.


So how does a far infrared sauna actually generate heat and invisible light?

Far infrared saunas typically use either a carbon or ceramic heater, which do not turn red hot like the heating elements inside a conventional dry sauna, but instead produce invisible, far infrared heat. This is the same type of heat as produced by the sun, but without any of the effects of solar radiation. For years, many folks in the alternative health community have sworn by using infrared heat lamps as a source of far infrared heat, but these lamps can be cumbersome, they can get extremely hot to the touch and they  can be difficult to maintain at a constant temperature compared to an infrared sauna.

So basically, an infrared sauna is like having a tiny little temperature-controlled sunshine inside an enclosed room, without the UV radiation.

In an infrared sauna, only 20 percent of the energy from the light is used to heat the air, leaving the rest of the energy to heat the body. The temperature inside a typical infrared sauna is adjustable and averages about 100°F to 140°F, depending on how long you warm the sauna up before getting in, and what you put the temperature setting at. Many people actually find the lower levels of heat in an infrared to be more comfortable than a dry sauna. But although the temperature is slightly lower, you still sweat a ton in an infrared sauna, which is why they’re so popular for detoxification. However, a typical infrared sauna is still not quite hot enough for me, because I’m not just in there to detoxify, but also to produce a crap-ton of heat shock proteins, stress resilience and cardiovascular blood flow, so you’ll find out what I do about the need for more heat shortly.

So do the things actually work?

As the Mayo Clinic has reported here, several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis, and these studies have indeed found some evidence of benefit. For athletes using a sauna post-exercise, those benefits can extend to being as powerful as illegal performance enhancing drugs.

No adverse effects have ever been reported with infrared saunas, and until I recently began using an infrared sauna, I’d already been using infrared therapy with a heating mat called a “Biomat” for the past two years. But even though a Biomat offers you a relaxing, warm surface to curl-up on for something like a soothing afternoon nap, it doesn’t hold a candle to the biohacked sauna experience you’re about to discover.


The Problem With Infrared Saunas

Unfortunately, for most people, it’s not the slightly lower levels of heat that tend to be the problem with an infrared sauna. Instead, it’s the fact that most infrared saunas are concentrated hothouses chock full of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), basically turning what is supposed to be a detoxification and longevity-enhancing experience into the equivalent of hanging out in a a microwave or perched inside a giant WiFi router, leaving you with cell damage, brain fog and inflammation after your sauna session.

You’ve probably heard of EMF before, but here’s a quick reminder: EMF are energy waves with frequencies below 300 hertz or cycles per second. Unless you live on a pristine Himalayan mountaintop, the electromagnetic fields you probably encounter daily are from things such as power lines, radar and microwave towers, television and computer screens, motors, fluorescent lights, microwave ovens, cell phones, electric blankets, house wiring and hundreds of other common electrical devices. For more detail on common environmental EMF’s lurking in your home and office, and also practical instructions on how to mitigate them, I’d recommend you check out my book “How To Biohack The Ultimate Healthy Home”.

Anyways, deleterious health effects associated with EMF include:

  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Loss of Energy
  • Irritability
  • Inability To Concentrate
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Headaches

In case you want to investigate this more for yourself, the following are links to more information about the effects of EMF:

1) US Center for Disease Control Fact Sheet about EMF
2) World Health Organization – International EMF Project
3) Waveguide
4) Good Mercola article on EMF
5) General EMF Info
6) EMF Journal Action Alert regarding EMF levels and Cell Phone use

Also, here’s an excerpt from Peter Asmus’s book “Introduction to Energy in California”:

“Remember when people who spoke of cigarettes causing cancer were derided as being alarmist nuts? (If you do remember that, you are at least 55 years old!) Today people who assert that there could be, let alone that there is, a risk associated with cell phone use are viewed as a bit wacky. Well, the Marlboro man died of lung cancer and it appears there is a growing body of information to suggest that the Nokia man might be saddled with dementia or Alzheimers (among others) for the privilege!

Consider the following findings:
• 3% of the population may have severe reactions to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) thought by some to shorten life expectancy.
• Young people who start using cell phones before the age of 20 have a five-fold increase in brain cancer risk.
• Up to one-third of the population may suffer from electrical hypersensitivity from EMF exposure.”

And finally, for the ultimate guide to EMF, I’d recommend the book “Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution“.

Anyways, it can be touch to generate infrared light without also generating EMF. As I’ve mentioned before on a podcast, this is the reason the infrared Biomat that I use comes with a built-in EMF blocker between the wall outlet and the controller device. And I’d settle for nothing less on an infrared sauna.

So for my own personal infrared sauna, I chose a model that has a type of heater called a “True Wave II”, which contains a carbon based infrared heater with virtually no EMF. It’s made by a company called “Clearlight”, using a manufacturing process that allows them to cancel out EMF to levels that are nearly undetectable.

Using ultra-sensitive EMF testing equipment, all of the True Wave heaters inside a Clearlight sauna are tested to ensure low and safe levels of EMF. EMF is measured in milligauss (mG), and when measuring with a gauss meter (a simple technique I describe here), your exposure to EMF should not exceed 3 milligauss. This level is based on recommendations from both the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and also the Swedish standards for EMF.

Now I’m not really comfortable even getting very close to 3mG, so I was pretty pleased to find out that the EMF levels measured inside my Clearlight Infrared Sauna all around my seated position are at nearly 0mG. If I use a Tri-Field EMF meter and measure directly on top of the heaters (and I’m definitely not sitting on top of the heaters!), the heaters have an average EMF output of about 2.5mG. That’s compared to over 100mg for other carbon based heaters in standard infrared saunas.

You can see the testing below performed by EMF testing lab “VitaTech Electromagnetics”. It’s pretty shocking how high the levels of EMF are in some saunas. You can download the full test report .pdf fromVitaTech by clicking here. The EMF readings below are measured directly on the heater, and again, it’s important to understand that where you are seated in the sauna, the levels are virtually zero, since you do not sit on top of the heater.

emf reading

Since I like to move around, exercise, do Bikram yoga, and even occasionally drag an exercise bike or a kettlebell into my sauna, the Clearlight model I chose is the “Sanctuary Y model” which is is the only combination personal hot yoga room and infrared sauna available on the market. You can leave in the two 35″ benches and you have a state-of-the-art full spectrum infrared sauna for lounging and reading, or you can remove the benches and have your own private hot yoga room with built-in heated yoga mat floor. Even though the EMF levels are rock bottom, the True Wave Full Spectrum heater system in the Clearlight delivers over 20 times the power of any other infrared sauna, but that’s still not enough for me, so I’ll fill you in on my hacks in just a moment.

Anyways, before we move on, here’s how to get a fat discount at the same place I bought my Clearlight sauna:

1. Go to This is the same site my guest Alex Tarris and I discussed in the recent podcast “Shattering The Myths Of Detox Therapy, Infrared Saunas, Health Scams & More”. Good deals on health equipment.

2. Once you’re there or in contact with them, mention my name, or when you order, use code “bengreen15”. 

3. That code, which you can use anytime, as much as you want will actually give you 15% off anything on the site (like portable saunas, lay-down saunas, home detox equipment, etc.), but in terms of EMF, yoga capabilities, heat, etc. I can’t personally vouch for any sauna except the Clearlight. A few exclusions apply.

If that seems like too much trouble to go through, or you want to get your sauna direct from the manufacturer, you can also click here to get a sauna directly from Clearlight.

OK, let’s summarize what we know so far.

1) Infrared saunas are a great way to heat your body “from the inside out”, which gives you not just heat and sweat benefits, but also detox benefits.

2) Most infrared saunas are concentrated sources of EMF, so I use the low-EMF “Clearlight” brand.

3) My sauna still isn’t hot enough for my personal preferences.

Now it’s time to move on to the fun stuff: three ways to biohack your sauna experience. This is where things get really interesting.


Sauna Biohack #1. Hack Your Sauna Hotter

Even though far infared saunas do a dang good job heating you “from the inside out” and producing the subsequent detoxification effect, there is one problem: even you sweat more quickly in an infrared sauna than you will in a dry sauna, and you will keep on sweating for a longer period of time, infrared saunas simply don’t get as hot inside as a traditional dry sauna.

Most of the heat escapes the sauna by rising and escaping out the ceiling. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to miss out on many of the positive physiological responses to uncomfortable heat, such as the production of heat shock proteins and stress resilience, the production of nitric oxide and enhanced blood flow, the increase in cardiovascular performance, the increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor and all the other cool (or hot?) things I discuss in my podcast episode with Dr. Rhonda Patrick “Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Heat Exposure To Enhance Performance, Burn Fat, Gain Muscle And Think Better.”

So you’re about to learn how you can get an extra 10 degrees out of your sauna, and save a lot of electricity as a bonus.

It’s important to understand that most of the heat escapes an infrared sauna by rising and escaping out of the ceiling. The most important first step you can take when biohacking your infrared sauna is to insulate the ceiling. My friend Brett, a fellow biohacker who first put this idea in my head, charted his infrared sauna temperature and his sweat volume during a typical sauna session and found that after insulating it with the technique you’re about to learn, he got ten extra fahrenheit degrees of heat and nearly 30% more sweat volume!

Instructions for insulating your sauna ceiling:

Step 1: Remove plywood from the top of your sauna. Measure distance from the top of sauna to bottom of where the plywood was. This will determine the maximum amount of insulation board you can use to replace the plywood. Some people insulate it even thicker and leave the plywood completely off, but this can detract from the aesthetic pleasantness of a nice plywood ceiling, so it’s completely our call how thick you want to go with the insulation.

Step 2: Once you determine your desired insulation depth, go to your local hardware or building supply store and get a sheet of the highest R value foam board that you can find for that thickness. If you do one layer, a 4 by 8 sheet will easily have enough volume to insulate any sauna. You might find that two layers of thin board fits better or gives you better R value. Also get a good roll of quality duct type tape. You will need a sharp long and stiff kitchen knife and a straight edge with which to cut and mark the foam board. Some small metal staples can also be handy for holding wires in place, but are not necessary. A roll of tape and screws or nails might prove helpful as well.

Step 3: Measure the largest exposed sections of the sauna roof and cut the foam boards to fit the largest spaces. To cut foam board, simply mark it with a straight edge and a pen and then cut the marked area with your kitchen knife. Of course, it’s better to make your foam board a little bit too big than too small, since you can always cut off a little more later if you need to. Be sure to note where the vents are on the sauna roof and make sure that you plan to keep these clear when you put your foam board up, or drill or cut holes in the foam board to match the location of the vents. Also move any and all wires to the edges of the sauna top, and then staple or tape the wires in place if necessary.

Step 4: Make holes in your foam board for thermostat, vents, speakers and lights (if your infrared sauna has these). Here’s an easy way to do this: make a loop of tape, adhesive side out, and place the tape on the spots of the ceiling you need have uncovered, such as over a vent. Then place the foam board in position on the ceiling, and the tape will stick on the board. Then remove the board, and you now know the location on the board to cut out! If you have a sounds system in your sauna, the tape won’t stick too well to the speakers, so for the speakers you can place screws on the perimeter of the magnet facing up. Then press the board down over those areas and the screws will stick in foam board. You then simply cut a circle in the foam board and chisel out the approximate amount of depth. I wouldn’t cut all the way through as this could allow air flow and heat loss. You just want it thin enough to where the speaker sound can come through. For the lights, you will want to check to see if they are LED or incandescent. If they are LED, then you can cut out a small cavity and it will work fine. If the lights are incandescent or fluorescent you will want to allow an adequate hole for cooling of the lights. Make sure not to insulate on top of the control mechanism, which is usually a stainless steel box on the top of the sauna.

Step 5: After placing the large pieces of foam board, follow the same process and fill in the smaller areas on the ceiling with small pieces of foam board. Duct tape all of the seams, replace the plywood top, verify that all vent holes are vacant, then duct tape the perimeter and seams of the plywood top.

Boom. Now you have a super efficient sauna that heats up quickly and allows you to create lots more heat and sweat. Here are a few photos of my heat biohacked sauna:

The roof…using some basic 10lb weight plates to hold insulation down…


Another view of the roof…



A close up of the roof and how the insulation is slightly cut to fit siding…


The cork placed in the inside hole next to the speaker to hold heat in…


How the sauna sits in my home gym…



Sauna Biohack #2. Add Extra Heaters

OK, so now you’ve got your sauna ceiling insulated. This is going to significantly jack up the heat levels. I must emphasize that the Clearlight saunas have excellent low-EMF heaters and get pretty hot, but I also realize that some of my readers are really masochistic heat-hacking ninjas, and may want to get a really, really intense sweat on.

But I found that I wanted my sauna to get even warmer. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to heat because to all my racing in the extreme heat of places like Hawaii and Thailand, or perhaps my body just has a lot of heat shock proteins and good cardiovascular cooling mechanisms, but I like my sauna really, really hot.

Again, I could just use an extremely hot dry sauna, but I’d still be missing out on all the benefits of infrared, and I want the best of both worlds.

So here’s the next step I took to get my sauna even hotter: I added two 2000 watt heaters to my sauna.

Now, before you rush out to Google the best price on space heaters, you should now that just like most infrared saunas, most space heaters are notoriously annoying sources of EMF. My friend Brett, the guy I mentioned earlier who first put the idea in my head of insulating my sauna, actually purchased several different space heaters and tested them all for EMF. He found the Delonghi HVY1030 space heater to be both affordable and have very low EMF. But the problem is that a space heater shuts off at around 120 degrees, so it is only useful for pre-heating your sauna (helping it to heat up faster if you want to accelerate the pre-heating process).

There is no space heater that Brett or I have found that doesn’t have this annoying high temperature shut off feature. It’s probably some stupid fire code regulation or something.

But you can think outside the box…

…and this is where a portable stove burner comes in. Yes, a stove burner is normally used for cooking food, but portable stove burners also don’t have high temp shut offs, and they put out plenty of heat. Before choosing a portable stove burner, I’d recommend you first check your breaker to see how strong a stove burner you can get. If you have a 15 amp breaker, then your stove burner can be 1500 watts, and if you have a 20 amp breaker, then you can go step up 2000 watts. To check your breaker amps (if your breaker isn’t labeled), you can simply call your local neighborhood electrician, or you can overload the circuit with a couple of space heaters or hair dryers and see which breaker trips. Or you can use this slightly more precise technique to measure the amps of your circuit breakers.

So, what did I find to be the best portable stove burner heaters?

For a nice, cast-iron 1500 watt, I recommend the Broil King PCR-1B. The fact that this burner is cast-iron means that it is very heavy, which gives you a bit of built in safety, since it won’t easily tip over. And if you want to step up to 2000 watts, then you will need two of the MaxiMatic ESB-301F Elite Cuisine Single Cast Burner 1000-Watt Hot Plate.

For added safety and to avoid the heaters moving or tipping, you should create a sturdy base for your stove burner. To do this, you can mount the burner(s) to a thick, heavy piece of wood such as a short 2×12 or a piece of plywood. I’d recommend you also create a protective barrier over the top of your stove burners. You can do this by surrounding the burner with some thick wire like chicken-wire over the top of the burner and a couple inches around the sides. You can then attach the wire screen to the wood base. And for Pete’s sake: if you have young children running around, know where those stove burners and kids are at all times unless you want some free hot branding tattoos for your young ones.

Will these stove burners put out a little EMF?

Ultimately, yes. But the important thing to know about EMF’s is that they follow the inverse square law, which, simply put, means the amount of EMF reduces very quickly as distance from the EMF increases. This is why overhead high voltage power lines will give you far less EMF exposure than a very low voltage electric blanket, since the blanket is very close, but the power lines are far away.

For example, when I tested my portable stove burner, I had to be 12 inches away to get below 2 milligauss, a completely safe acceptable level of EMF. So if you put portable stove burners or space heaters in your sauna, just make sure you hang out about a foot or more away from them, which is easy enough to do.


Sauna Biohack #3. Detox With Niacin

Detoxification is a topic I’ve covered many times before in other articles, and probably the best resources for you in this regard for you are the Get-Fit Guy episodes “Is Detoxing A Myth?” and “How To Detox Your Liver & Kidneys”. My friend Brett (the same guy I’ve mentioned twice already who figured out how to hack his sauna and introducted me to the strategies above) has also spent the past 20 years experimenting with detox strategies from herbal tea, to colonics, to enemas, and runs a sauna detox with niacin group on Facebook.

I’d never heard of this particular niacin+sauna strategy, but a few weeks ago, Brett sent me this very interesting anecdote:

“About 8 years ago I discovered a book called Clear Body, Clear Mind by L. Ron Hubbard. The book was written many decades ago and the purpose of the book was to teach the reader how to clear toxins from drug use by using a sauna for long periods of time, combined with niacin and other special supplements. What was different about this book is that it had the actual research and data to prove its claims, along with numerous accounts of high levels of toxins in the blood being dramatically reduced by this protocol, and continuing to reduce for weeks after the protocol was completed.

Then I learned that most detox experts, from Dr. Yu to David Root, say that Hubbard’s protocol is the most effective detoxification protocol there is. Period. It is so effective that the government recently funded a study for vets doing this protocol.

The basic idea behind the protocol is this: high dose niacin causes lipolysis, or rupturing, of the fat cells (the same thing happens with extreme, rapid weight loss). This rupturing is what releases the toxins from fat cells (you can read exactly about how that whole process works in my article “Does Fat Loss Cause A Toxin Release?”). The running/exercise part of the protocol (which you’ll learn about in a second) increases circulation, especially in the lymphatic system where fat cells are carried. Then the sweating in the sauna releases these toxins through your body’s primary and largest detoxification organ: your skin. Later, even more of the toxins are eliminated through the stool. Supplements that you take during the protocol are primarily designed to replace lost minerals, electrolytes and fats, and to help to absorb the mobilized toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.

I will give a summarized version of the protocol in the subsequent paragraphs, but first, a big warning: do not do this protocol without a full and comprehensive understanding of it. If you mobilize high amounts of toxins and do not completely include all the other aspects of the protocol you will suffer from hypertoxemia. So to get a full understanding of the protocol, you need to read the book Clear Body, Clear Mind by L. Ron Hubbard. You must get the 2002 or 1990 copyright date of the book, and will help you get a used copy very affordably (the new editions of the book have been oversimplified and lack crucial valuable information).

The protocol lasts about 30 days, but can be customized to fit your schedule. The sauna duration is directly correlated to your toxicity. If you’ve been living healthy for a long time (e.g. a decade or more), then reduced sauna time is needed. If you have been exposed to chemicals and eaten a standard American diet and taken drugs of any kind legal or illegal then you will need to increase the sauna duration.”

Brett then went on to explain this basic protocol:

“First, heat up your sauna long before you go for your run. You want it roasting hot. I have the best far infared sauna made (Clearlight) and I still have insulated the ceiling and I put a space heater in it to keep it even hotter. In addition, I blocked the hole where the thermostats is with a cork so that the heaters stay on the entire time. Because of this, I purchased a separate thermometer to monitor temperatures. These steps increased my sweat volume dramatically.

Next, take high dose niacin right before your run. A dosing chart is in the book. Follow it. Then, go for a run for 20-30 minutes. If you can’t run, ride a bike, use an elliptical trainer, jump on a mini-trampoline, etc. The primary goal is to raise body heat and to increase lymph and blood flow. I also turn the sauna timer back on to make sure it is still warming up when I run. For the exercise, I recommend dressing as warm as you can tolerate to raise your core temperature. When I did this, I sweated much more while I was in the sauna.

Next, get in the sauna and stay in the sauna for as long as you can tolerate. Around an hour works for most people depending on toxicity – the more toxic, the more time, the less toxic, the less time.

Finally, cool yourself with a lukewarm or cold shower, then take appropriate doses of mineral, electrolytes and fats and oils as described in the book.

Repeat daily for 30 days.

When you finish, you will have eliminated years of toxins and you will benefit tremendously in numerous ways from this protocol. This protocol is usually administered by professionals. If you decide to do this without supervision, then you need to have complete knowledge of the protocol and access to others for support and questions and answers. I have a support group for this at Facebook called “sauna detox with niacin”.”

It turns out that Dr. Joseph Mercola recently learned about this protocol. This guy has heard about every detox method there is, and he was shocked and amazed. Check out his reaction in the video below. It is only 3 minutes long but it will give you an idea of the validity of the program from one of the most trusted natural health experts on the internet.

The idea behind combining the niacin, the exercise and the heat is that the niacin and the heat causes a “Rebound Lipolysis“, meaning that the niacin first tries to prevent lipolysis and then after one to two hours, it rebounds and leads to massive fat cell release of triglycerides and at the same time release of toxic chemicals such as BPA, PCB’s, pharmaceutical byproducts, etc. Clearlight has a very helpful .pdf that you can download here which outlines more of the science behind detoxification and their own Clearlight Sauna Session Protocol.

Now here’s the deal: I don’t live a very toxic lifestyle. And I haven’t for over a decade. So I didn’t do the exact protocol above per se, but instead simplified into the following steps:

1. I modified my sauna using both the insulation and stove burner hacks you learned earlier in the article. I must emphasize that the stove burners aren’t completely necessary because the sauna does get pretty hot by itself, and you may want to forego the stove burners altogether if you have kids around.

2. I read the book Clear Body, Clear Mind and for 30 days, I followed the niacin dosing chart prior to my pre-sauna exercise. I used this form of niacin and for me it came out to 500mg week 1, 1000mg week 2, 2000mg week 3, 3000mg week 4. I chose the Thorne Niasafe because it’s in a safer form of niacin called “Inositol Hexaniacinate”. This is important because the side effects of high amounts of niacin range from flushing and itching to liver toxicity and impaired glucose tolerance. I didn’t take any of other supplements in the book, because I already get plenty of healthy fats and oils and take a chelated mineral/multivitamin complex.

3. During the entire protocol, I used the following simple sauna + exercise strategy: after my hardest workout of each day, I sat, read, stretched, did yoga, and foam rolled in the sauna for 30-45 minutes, depending on my available amount of time. This may seem like a big chunk of time, but to maximize productivity I simply saved all my reading and stretching and foam rolling and yoga for my sauna time. 

Although I did not measure sweat volume, the amount of sweat pouring from my skin dwarfed any “normal” dry sauna session I’ve ever done. I already eat plenty of fats and oils, but I included plenty of electrolyte powder in the water I consumed after each session, along with hefty amounts of water and generous portions of sea salt with dinner.

Although my eyeballs literally feel as though they’re going to pop out of my head during these sessions, once I get my post-session cold shower in, I feel absolutely amazing. Again, I’m not sure how many toxins I dumped during my initial 30 day niacin phase, since I’m not very “toxic” in the first place, but for the rest of the day after my sauna session, I noticed marked improvements in skin tone, clarity of thought, calm and focus.

And even though now that I’m done with the 30 day protocol and I’m no longer doing the daily niacin sauna protocol, I’m still using my sauna nearly every day. You could probably say that I am now officially addicted to heat therapy. And yes, I am aware of L. Ron Hubbard’s affiliations and I am not a member of the Church of Scientology. I just like to get high on niacin and do kettlebell swings in my sauna.




So that’s it! What do you think?

Do you plan on using any of these sauna biohacks? Leave your comments, thoughts and feedback below.

If you want a Clearlight sauna – the same I am using and same Alex Tarris and I discussed in the episode “Shattering The Myths Of Detox Therapy, Infrared Saunas, Health Scams & More”, you can simply go to and when you call or write them, mention my name, or use code bengreen15, and you’ll get 15% off anything on the site (a few exclusions apply). You can use that code anytime, as much as you want. Or you can click here to get a sauna directly from Clearlight.

Oh, and below are some fancy exterior and interior photos, along with exact specs and features, for the Clearlight Sanctuary Y model that I personally use. You’ll notice that the specs show that the ceiling includes something called “color therapy”, also known as “chromotherapy”. I didn’t even tap into that concept in this article but am working on an article about that chromotherapy feature for you too. It’s a very slick and helpful feature for fixing and aligning your sleep cycles, biohacking circadian rhythms, etc..

Enjoy, and leave any questions or thoughts in the comments section.

Clearlight Sanctuary 2 FS Spec Sheet

Clearlight Sanctuary C FS Spec Sheet Clearlight Sanctuary One Sheet Spec Sheet Clearlight Sanctuary Y FS Spec Sheet


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How A Steady Diet Of Standard Education Is Choking The Creativity, Health & Fitness Out Of Our Kids And What You Can Do About It.


I was homeschooled my entire life, K-12. So I was intrigued by a recent article in Outside Online that begins like this:

“In early September, in a clapboard house situated on 43 acres just outside a small town in northern Vermont, two boys awaken. They are brothers; the older is 12, the younger 9, and they rise to a day that has barely emerged from the clutches of dark. It is not yet autumn, but already the air has begun to change, the soft nights of late summer lengthening and chilling into the season to come. Outside the boys’ bedroom window, the leaves on the maples are just starting to turn.

School is back in session and has been for two weeks or more, but the boys are unhurried. They dress slowly, quietly. Faded and frayed thrift-store camo pants. Flannel shirts. Rubber barn boots. Around their waists, leather belts with knife sheaths. In each sheath, a fixed-blade knife.

By 6:30, with the first rays of sun burning through the ground-level fog, the boys are outside. At some point in the next hour, a yellow school bus will rumble past the end of the driveway that connects the farm to the town road. The bus will be full of children the boys’ age, their foreheads pressed against the glass, gazing at the unfurling landscape, the fields and hills and forests of the small working-class community they call home.

The boys will pay the bus no heed. This could be because they will be seated at the kitchen table, eating breakfast with their parents. Or it might be because they are already deep in the woods below the house, where a prolific brook trout stream sluices through a stand of balsam fir; there is an old stone bridge abutment at the stream’s edge, and the boys enjoy standing atop it, dangling fresh-dug worms into the water. Perhaps they won’t notice the bus because they are already immersed in some other project: tillering a longbow of black locust, or starting a fire over which to cook the quartet of brookies they’ve caught. They heat a flat rock at the fire’s edge, and the hot stone turns the fishes’ flesh milky white and flaky.

Or maybe the boys will pay the bus no heed because its passing is meaningless to them. Maybe they have never ridden in a school bus, and maybe this is because they’ve never been to school. Perhaps they have not passed even a single day of their short childhoods inside the four walls of a classroom, their gazes shifting between window and clock, window and clock, counting the restless hours and interminable minutes until release.

Maybe the boys are actually my sons, and maybe their names are Fin and Rye, and maybe, if my wife, Penny, and I get our way, they will never go to school.

Hey, a father can dream, can’t he?”

Today, I have that dreaming father on the podcast, and you’re going to learn everything you need to know about unschooling, alternative education models, sustainable homestead living, and much more. Even if you don’t live “in the sticks”, you’re going to pick up plenty of advice about how to raise your own children or help those around you raise their children to become independent, free-thinking resilient kids who know how to thrive in unpredictable situations.

My guest is Ben Hewitt, author of Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World, and in this interview, you’ll discover:

-How Ben and his family live like royalty on a thrifty budget, and how you can too…

-How to find mentors and internships for your children…

-How Ben’s children learned how to read with no “formal” education…

-The difference between unschooling and homeschooling…

-How to unschool even if you don’t live on a farm or a homestead, especially if you’re in an urban environment…

-How to ensure that your children don’t become isolated loners or socially awkward…

-Potential alternatives to unschooling for people who aren’t confident doing it or don’t have the time…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book: Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World

-Book: The Nourishing Homestead: One Back-to-the-Land Family’s Plan for Cultivating Soil, Skills, and Spirit

-Book: Deschooling Society

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about unschooling? Leave your thoughts below and either Ben or I will reply!

Shattering The Myths Of Detox Therapy, Infrared Saunas, Health Scams & More.

oxygen therapy

In today’s podcast, you get to meet my friend Alex Tarris. 

Alex’s job is to test and review health technology – stuff like saunas, biohacking gear, cold lasers, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and oxygen concentrators, steam generators, whole body vibration, rebounders, infrared mats –  you get the idea. He has a masters degrees in nutrition, and over a decade of experience working as a consultant for the sports, health and spa industries.
Sounds like an interesting job, especially in an industry fraught with cheap Chinese knock-offs, product scams, overpriced equipment and a severe lack of proven, credible research findings.
In this jam-packed podcast episode, I interview Alex about detoxing, saunas, popular wellness-enhancing gear, health scams and much more. Alex’s website is, where you can use code bengreen15 for a 15% discount on anything there (a few exclusions apply). Alex also has specifically mentioned you can also leave any comments or questions you have about our conversation below, and he’ll personally answer.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-The biggest benefits and the biggest risks of infrared saunas, and what you must be cautious with when you’re sitting in one…
-Why the woods from most companies that produce saunas are extremely unhealthy…
-What an oxygen concentrator is and how you can use it for something called “Exercise With Oxygen Therapy” (EWOT)…
-Why certain versions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are actually illegal to buy in the USA…
-How the average steam room at a gym can fill your lungs with chlorine and fluoride, and how to easily make your own steam room in your own shower… 
-What Alex thinks about mini-trampolines, rebounders, and whole body vibration, and whether it is silly “fake” exercise…
-Why cheap, knock-off products such as elliptical trainers or whole body vibration can mess you up biomechanically…
-The difference between patented truly innovative functional features backed by engineering and research vs. features that are simply trademarked terms that a company is using for the marketing appeal of their content to entice you into an increased perceived value of their brand…
-What Alex would put in the “ultimate man cave” if he were going to build some kind of chamber that contained all the best personal health, detox, exercise equipment he could have in it.
-Why your elliptical machine could be destroying your hips and knees…
-And much more!
Again, for a 15% sitewide discount on anything Alex and I discuss in this episode, just visit, and use promo code bengreen15. Just put that promo code in the section that says Promocode in the Contact/Support page response form. That’ll give you 15% off anything on his site and you can use that code anytime, as much as you want (the specific sauna I use that Alex and I discuss in this episode is the “Clearlight Series Y Infrared Sauna – the code works on that sauna, but a few exclusions apply for other things on Alex’s site).
Resources we discuss during this episode:
Leave your questions, comments and feedback below and either Alex or I will respond!