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

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

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

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

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Supplements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Recovery

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

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

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

1. Hot-Cold Contrast

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

2. Electrostimulation

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

3. Inversion

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

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

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Nutrition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mental Training

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

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

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

1. Affirmation.

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

…“Every little win counts.

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

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

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

That’s powerful stuff.

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

2. Visualization.

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

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

Michael Phelps is another perfect example of visualization.

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

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

3. Box Breathing.

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

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

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

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

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

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Race Prep

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

1. Taper.

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

2. Warm-Up.

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

3. Heat Training.

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

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Summary

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

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

How to Biohack Your Pasta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kanten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Miracle Noodle Crock Pot Chicken Stew

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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Big-Ass Kanten Noodle Salad (the easier recipe)

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

Do Muscle Building Supplements Really Cause Cancer?

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

Dang.

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

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

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The Study

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

Seems simple enough.

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

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The Ambiguity

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

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

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

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Previous Research On Cancer and Muscle-Building Supplements

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

Creatine

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

Protein powder

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

Androstenedione

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

Other supplements

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

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More Research Is Needed

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

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

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

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

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

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Summary

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

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

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

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

Allen Lim Ben Greenfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this episode, you’ll discover:

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

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

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

-Why Allen isn’t a fan of stevia…

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

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

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

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

Resources we discuss in this episode:

The infamous “egg-hydration” video

The Feed Zone Cookbook

Feed Zone Portables

Skratch Labs

Stryd power meter for running

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Next, we began the party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meet Flavia Del Monte (pictured above).

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

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

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

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

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

-The difference between coconut butter and coconut oil…

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

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

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

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

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

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Coconut sugar

Coconut butter (AKA coconut manna)

Coconut aminos

Bob’s Red Mill potato starch

Microplane

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

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

WALL RUN MID RES

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

Previous episodes with Rich have included:

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

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

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

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

Ben Greenfield, Rich Roll & Vinnie Tortorich Diet Debate Video

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

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

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

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

-How Rich meditates…

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

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

-How Rich and his wife manage homeschooling their kids…

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

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Headspace App

The Artist’s Way

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

Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1. New Tire Toyz

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

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2. The Tempting Sourdough Loaf

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

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3. The Box Breathing Boys

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

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4. A Big Ass Salad

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

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

BOOM. Big Ass Salad.

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5. Football Field WOD

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

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

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

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6. River Deadlifting

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

-5 minutes box breathing

-Mobility: 20 deep squats and 20 walking lunges

-5×5 deadlift

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

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7. Beet Juice & Protein Concoction

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

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8. A Bacon Bloody Mary

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

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

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

3. Shake well.

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

5. Serve with giant wedge of bacon.

Of course, eat breakfast afterwards.

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9. Shiver Yoga

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

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10. The Dip

Dancing does the heart good.

So does love.

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

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

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

someecards runners high

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Happens To Your Body When You Consume Marijuana.

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

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

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

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

human-endocannabinoid-system

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Dosing: Real Life vs. Lab Studies

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

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

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

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

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How Does Marijuana Affect Athletic Performance?

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

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

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

pilot_captain_mouse_by_the_house_of_mouse-d56xi4s

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

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

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

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

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How Does Marijuana Affect Muscle Growth?

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

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

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

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

Snipping out my thigh muscles.

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What Weed Does To Your Hormones

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

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

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

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Does Weed Make You Fat?

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

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

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

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

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A Personal Experience

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

Ingredients are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step Five

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

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

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

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

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

steak-castiron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-How you can cure your own meat at home…

-The ultimate way to cook the tastiest steak…

Resources we discuss in this episode:

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Joel Salatin’s book

Beyond Bacon book

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-What you can do about iron making you constipated…

-How to absorb curcumin better…

-And much more!

Resources and links from this episode:

My original quest to discover the ultimate multi-vitamin

-The new EXOS fuel supplement line

The LabDoor website for researching supplements

FDA.gov adverse event reporting system (FAERS)

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

The Hidden Truth Behind Toxins, Detoxification & Detox Diets.

detox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Where homeopathic medicine fits in…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dr. Tim’s Website

-Dr. Tim’s Professional Facebook Page

ZytoScan

Asyra Testing

EAV Screening

Autonomic Response Testing

Seroyal’s “UNDA” homeopathic remedies and supplements

Seroyal’s Dr. Dixon Thom

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

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

8 Sweet Alternatives

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

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

Which sweeteners will spice up your sex life?

Which sweeteners can be used to minimize muscle cramps?

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

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

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

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

1. Allspice

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

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

2. Cinnamon

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

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

3. Cloves

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

4. Mace and Nutmeg

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

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

5. Cardamom

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

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

6. Vanilla Beans

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

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

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

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

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

1. Anise Seed

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

2. Sweet Basil

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

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

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4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Healthier Than Sugar

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

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

1. Raw Unfiltered Honey

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

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

2. Grade B Maple Syrup

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

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

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

3. Dried Dates

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

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

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Coconut Pecan Stuffed Chocolate Covered Dates, Oh My!

Makes: 30 dates

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the Stuffed Dates:

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus extra for topping)

¼ cup toasted pecans

¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

30 large Medjool dates

For the Dipping Chocolate

2 (4oz) bars Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate

Directions

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

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4. Fruit

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

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

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Life Is Too Short

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

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

DiabetesSummit_BlogBanner_600x150_Attend

The Top 10 Mistakes Low-Carb Athletes Make And 5 Keto Recipes For Active People.

Keto book for athletes

OK, here’s the deal – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: an extremely high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet is not for everyone.

But since ketones are a preferred fuel for the heart and the diaphragm, and because a state of ketosis can give you extreme focus and cognitive performance during difficult mental tasks, a ketogenic diet can be extremely useful for endurance athletes like triathletes, distance swimmers, cyclists, marathoners, ultra-runners, etc.

Problem is, there aren’t a ton of resources out there about how highly active people can actually get into a state of ketosis without…

A) chugging coconut oil and MCT oil all day long, which (trust me, I’ve tried) gets boring really, really fast; or

B) experiencing some pretty extreme nutrient deficiencies from a ketogenic diet gone wrong – nutrient deficiencies that really get magnified when you combine them with crazy high levels of physical activity.

So in this article, author, triathlete, and ketogenic expert extraordinaire Patricia Daly is going to fill you in on how to do things the right way. Patricia just finished writing an amazing book called “Practical Keto Meal Plans For Endurance Athletes: Tips, Tricks And How To’s For Optimizing Performance Using A High Fat, Low Carb Meal Plan“, and she’s a wealth of information on this topic.

Take it away, Patricia.

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Maybe the title of this article scares you a little bit…

…after all, if there’s so much that can “go wrong” with the ketogenic and low carb lifestyle, is it worth all the effort? Or do you think you will never “get there” and achieve nutritional ketosis because there seem to so many stumbling blocks in your way, like talk about thyroid damage, lack of energy or extreme dietary restriction?

Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, and if you do a ketogenic diet the right way, you can avoid the potential health risks. It’s just important to have a basic understanding of nutrition and metabolism before embarking on this specific dietary approach, and a good way to do that is to see the kind of mistakes that people commonly make on a ketogenic diet, and also to get a few tasty keto recipes to get your creative wheels churning.

So in this article, you’re going to get the top 10 mistakes low-carb athletes make, and 5 keto recipes for active people. Enjoy, leave your questions and comments below the post, and be sure to check out the brand new book just published by Greenfield Fitness Systems, entitled “Practical Keto Meal Plans For Endurance Athletes: Tips, Tricks And How To’s For Optimizing Performance Using A High Fat, Low Carb Meal Plan.”

Mistake #1. Being Scared of Fat

The ketogenic diet is very different to the standard American or British- or any Western- diet. The main goal of a ketogenic lifestyle is to teach the body to use ketone bodies derived from fatty acids rather than glucose as the main source of energy. This is why the amount of fat you consume on a ketogenic is about 75-85+% of total daily calorie intake.

In other words, if you work out quite a bit you probably eat about 2,900 calories a day, of which about 2,300 will come from fat if you follow a ketogenic diet. Fat has 9 calories per gram, and therefore you will consume 256g of fat every day- depending on how much you train of course. To simplify this further: One tablespoon of olive oil, for instance, weighs about 14g, so all in all your daily fat intake will be about 18 tablespoons. Wow!

Although I was totally aware that I needed to focus mainly on fat when I started the ketogenic diet, I still had this mental block about it. I had been brain washed by the food industry for so long that fat is evil that it was really hard to convince myself of the opposite. And I was so used to eating carbs non-stop, doing carb loading before competitions and avoiding fat that it took me a while to get my head (and body) around this new way of eating. But it’s key to ketogenic success!
Avocado Smoothie

Mistake #2. Eating Too Much Protein

Another mistake beginners make is to replace most of the carbohydrates they used to eat with protein instead of fat. I see this happen all the time. The problem is that excess protein intake can lead to gluconeogenesis, which is the conversion of amino acids to glucose. This is not what we want on a ketogenic diet- on the contrary, we need to keep glucose levels low and encourage the production of ketone bodies from fatty acids.

Many people are surprised when they start weighing their food according to my meal plans and realize how little protein they actually need to eat on a ketogenic diet! But fat is protein sparing, which means that your need for protein decreases with a high fat intake.

Mistake #3: Carbs Creeping In

This seems very obvious! But it actually isn’t as simple as you think because carbohydrates can very quickly add up, especially if you’re keen to get your veggies, herbs and spices in. They’re also in products you’d never think contain carbs.

Good examples are any processed foods (we’ll talk about them later), shop bought salad dressings, milk substitutes (many coconut and almond milks have added sugar), tomato sauce, some meats like duck confit, starchy vegetables and even herbal tea, to name just a few. Eating out can be a challenge because many restaurants like to use sauces, dressings and dips that have added honey or other sources of sugar. It tastes nice but is not keto-friendly!

Having solid, reliable information is key to carbohydrate restriction, especially in the initial stages when metabolic changes happen.

Mistake #4: Giving Up Too Early

The quicker you go into nutritional ketosis, the more side effects you might suffer from initially. The metabolic changes can be dramatic because every single cell in the body needs to do the switch from glucose to fat metabolism. Insulin is impacted: Levels go down because of reduced consumption of carbohydrates, which has an effect on the kidneys. Insulin tells the kidneys to hold on to sodium. If insulin is at a consistently lower level, the body starts getting rid of excess sodium and also water.

This is why it’s so important to ensure you add sufficient sodium to your diet and keep well hydrated, especially in the first few days of starting to reduce carbohydrates. This will make sure you don’t suffer from any of the symptoms of the dreaded “keto flu”: shivers, foggy brain, headaches or nausea are some of the possible symptoms. It’s probably more appropriate to call them “carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms” because of the effects on hormonal and electrolyte balance.

Things that help to get over these initial obstacles are strong bone broth with good quality salt, lots of rest, no intense exercise and plenty of mineral-rich water, e.g. San Pellegrino. However, the best advice I can give is to take things slowly and not to give up when you’re feeling a bit off in the initial stages- provided you’ve done all the suggested blood tests to exclude any underlying health issues prior to starting a ketogenic diet.

Bone Broth

Mistake #5. Being Scared Of New Foods And Eating The Same Meals Over and Over Again

Many people feel overwhelmed in the initial stages of implementing a low carb and ketogenic diet. And because they have very little experience with certain new foods, they keep eating the same “safe” low-carb stuff. For instance bacon and eggs for breakfast and nuts for snacks!

Of course this means that you are eating low carb but as a nutritionist guiding athletes through the diet, my first priority is always to improve their health. And this is only possible with a nutritious, varied and individualized approach. Eating the same things over again isn’t only boring, it may also set you up for having nutrient deficiencies and developing food intolerances. This happens quite often especially if you’re a little stressed, your gut function isn’t optimal or if you’re on medication.

Food intolerances can have an impact not only on your gut health by causing bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation or other symptoms, but also on your immune system. My best advice is to keep experimenting with new foods, even if they seem utterly strange to you, like (for instance) chicken liver, which is way easier to find and prepare than you’d think. There’s a nice recipe for every single food (and in just a moment, you’re going to get 5 good ones to get your creative wheels churning).

Mistake #6. Eating Processed Foods

This is especially common for people who have read about the Atkins diet and seen the products that are sold online and in stores. Yes, they keep you within the carbohydrate limits that you choose and may make life a lot easier but they are also full of artificial flavours, colouring, polydextrose, sucralose and other artificial sweeteners that can mess with your mental and physical health.

My rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t be able to bake or cook a meal based on the ingredients list (because you don’t recognize half of them or wouldn’t know where to buy them), you should stay away from it. Hopefully, with an increasing amount of research to confirm the benefits of low carb and ketogenic diets for various health conditions, there will be plenty of incentives for companies to produce snacks based on real foods.

Mistake #7. Lack Of Planning (And Obsessing Too Much).

Both lack of planning and obsessing too much can be stumbling stones. If you don’t plan you’re much more likely to “fail” and give up on your lifestyle changes. You see, the problem is that when you realize you haven’t got all of the ingredients you need for a low carb recipe, you might not find them in your corner shop.

Some of the products that are staples on a low carb or ketogenic diet like coconut oil, olives, oily fish or ghee can only be bought in health shops or online. More and more supermarkets start to stock them but this really depends where you live. If you plan a bit ahead and know that you need certain things to follow the meal plans in my eBook, for instance, you won’t get stressed because you already have them in your cupboard. Planning also makes it easier to cook in bulk and therefore save time and money.

On the other hand, I often work with clients who start obsessing too much and plan every single bite they eat during the day. Obviously, it’s a slightly different story for somebody following a ketogenic diet for medical reasons, for instance in the case of epilepsy, where they diet has to be well calculated and no mistakes can be made without a serious consequence. But sometimes people tell me they’re so stressed out about dietary changes that they wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. They worry what their next meal would look like, how they could further increase ketones or what to eat on a holiday! In this case, it’s time to take a (big) step back, relax, try some recipes without weighing and counting and maybe give it another go after a few weeks with lots of support and preparation. Stressing about food can cancel out all the positive effects of good nutrition!

Mistake #8. Ignoring Your Body’s Warning Signs

Athletes who obsess over dietary changes can get caught up in measuring blood glucose and ketones, weighing their food all the time, creating exact meal plans and they can get really scared of eating out where things are out of their control. In my experience, they are also likely candidates to ignore their body’s warning signs.

I used to be an “expert” in this: even though I sometimes didn’t feel like doing another high intensity training, I went ahead and did it because it was on my training plan. And there were foods I couldn’t stand because they tended to bloat me but I still ate them because I read somewhere that they’re really good for triathletes!

Please don’t forget that you know your body best and that no meal or training plan can beat your innate knowledge and intuition. Take warning signs seriously and don’t override them because you have it in your head to stick to a particular regime.

Low carb and ketogenic diets aren’t for everyone and if you feel worse than before- even after getting over the initial symptoms I talked about earlier- then it’s probably time to stop and reconsider.

Mistake #9. Social Pressure

This is a big one and can’t be underestimated! The amount of times I’m at a party and have to listen to “Oh come on, surely one piece of cake won’t hurt you, don’t be so extreme!”… and the last thing I want to do is going into a scientific monologue and talk about metabolism at a party. Even 3 years into following a ketogenic diet I still get comments from family and even close friends- although they all know how miraculous the diet has been for my health.

But ketogenic diets are still very poorly understood even by the medical profession. People don’t understand that you can’t follow the famous 80/20 rule where some treats are allowed in moderate amounts. You’re either in ketosis or you’re not. It’s pretty black or white, actually!

And, trust me, once you’ve been keto adapted for a while and you eat a piece of cake, you will feel pretty shoddy and not remotely in party mood afterwards…

Mistake #10. Poor Timing

And finally, let me talk about when to start lowering your carbs or attempting to go into ketosis. Please don’t do it a week before your most important competition of the season or during a time when you’re super busy at work.

In my experience, the best time of the year to make major changes to diet and lifestyle is when you’re “off season”. During my competitive years, I always took a good break in November from intensive training or competitions and focused on relaxation and restoration. Another good time is to start is before some preparatory competitions to build towards your most important race. That’s when you see how your body responds to higher intensity and if the diet doesn’t suit you, you still have plenty of time to make changes.

And, if you’re still not convinced that low carb food can actually taste absolutely delicious, try some of the recipes below (I’m sure this will change your mind)!

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Keto Meal 1: Breakfast Buns

Breakfast Buns

These buns are amazing and really good for anybody who misses bread, burger buns or something to scoop up sauces! They are delicious with some butter or ghee on each half, topped with 2 slices of Parma ham.

Ingredients Quantity
1.5 cups Macadamia nuts, unsalted 196.5
3 Eggs, organic 150
1 tsp Cider Vinegar 3.8
1/4 cup coconut milk (Tetra Pak) 63
60g + 12 tbsp Butter (1 tbsp for each half) 237.6
1/3 cup Almond flour 33
1/3 cup Coconut flour 40
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) 4
1 tsp Rock Salt pink 5

Cooking Instructions

Makes 6 buns

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.
  2. Grind the macadamia nuts to a coarse flour in a strong food processor.
  3. Add eggs, vinegar, milk and butter. Process until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir well. Add wet to dry and mix until you have a wet dough.
  5. Form 6 buns and bake for 25 minutes. Spread 1 tbsp of butter onto each half. Eat on the same day or freeze.

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Keto Meal 2: Almond Coconut Pancakes

Almond Coconut Pancakes

Ingredients In grams
1 tsp ground Cinnamon 2.3
1/2 cup desiccated Coconut 42.5
1 1/2 cup ground blanched Almonds 150
1/2 tsp Baking soda/ Bicarbonate of soda 2
1/4 tsp Sea Salt 2
1 cup Coconut milk canned 250
3 large Eggs organic or free range 171
2 tbsp (solid) Coconut oil 45

Cooking Instructions

Serves 4

  1. Sift dry ingredients and mix together.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk coconut milk and eggs together.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a pan, pour in batter and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

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Keto Meal 3: Rainbow Salad

Ingredients Quantity
2 cups chopped Butterhead Lettuce 104
1 small young Carrot, grated 60
4 sticks Celery, sliced 240
8 tbsp grated Celeriac, raw 64
2 tbsp Shelled Hemp Seeds 18
4 tsp Pumpkin Seeds 16
12 tbsp raw Alfalfa sprouts 36
240g Smoked or Grilled Trout 240
1/2 cup Avocado oil 112
2 tsp Cider Vinegar 15.2
2 tsp Mustard Dijon smooth 16
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
80g Cheese, e.g. Gruyere 80

Cooking Instructions

Serves 4

  1. Toss the vegetables, hemp/pumpkin seeds, sprouts and trout into a bowl and mix with the butterhead leaves.
  2. Mix the avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard and seasoning and pour over the salad. Grate some fresh Gruyère over it. This one really pops with color!

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Keto Meal 4: Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Ingredients Quantity
3 tbsp Coconut oil 81
5 Bacon rashers, diced 100
1 clove Garlic, crushed 3
500g Brussels sprouts, shredded 500
1 Leek, thinly sliced 130
Salt and Black Pepper 4
3/4 cup Chicken Stock, homemade 188

Cooking Instructions

Serves 8

  1. Cook the bacon in coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until crisp.
  2. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts, leek and garlic to the pan and sauté in the remaining oil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover and steam for 5-10 minutes. Mix in the bacon.

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Keto Meal 5: Liver Mousse

Liver Mousse

One of my missions is to get my clients to incorporate more fat-vitamin-rich, hormone-nourishing organ meat into their diet! I know…it’s not an easy goal. This recipe is inspired by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley.

Ingredients Quantity
200g organic Chicken liver, raw 81
1/2 Apple 100
100g Butter, at room temperature 3
2 organic Eggs 500
1/2 Small Onion 130
1/2 tsp ground Allspice 4
1 tsp Rock Salt and 1/2 tsp Black Pepper 188

Cooking Instructions

Serves 4

  1. Preheat the oven to 130C/250F.
  2. Put all ingredients into a strong blender and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Fill into a muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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So there you have it. Pancakes and liver mousse. Knock yourself out.

Ketogenic diets can be complex, but if you do them the right way – and more importantly, if you pay attention to people like Patricia who have actually spent the time in the trenches combining high levels of activity with ketosis – there can be some significant endurance enhancing benefits.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about ketogenic diets for active people? Leave your thoughts below and either Patricia or I will reply! Also, be sure to grab Patricia’s brand new book “Practical Keto Meal Plans For Endurance Athletes: Tips, Tricks And How To’s For Optimizing Performance Using A High Fat, Low Carb Meal Plan.

Everything You Need To Know About Hair Mineral Analysis.

Hair Mineral Analysis

I’m all about testing and quantifying what’s going on inside my body, so when Certified Holistic Health Coach Wendy Myers approached me at a biohacking conference and asked me if I wanted to have my hair tested with a hair mineral analysis test…

…I made a stop at my local barber…

…got a few strands snipped off…

…sent my hair off to Wendy’s lab…

…and was absolutely shocked at the results I got in my e-mail inbox a couple weeks later. In this episode, we talk about about the results of my hair mineral analysis, and you’ll also learn:

-Exactly what hair mineral analysis is and how it works…

-How you can discover things like adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues and nutrient and mineral deficits from your hair…

-What to do about heavy metal toxicities, and why some heavy metal chelators can actually be dangerous…

-How to tell if you’re undereating or overeating carbohydrates…

-Where natural remedies like infrared saunas and coffee enemas fit in…

-Why even pristine well water can have some serious issues…

-And much more!

Resources:

Click here to download the results of Ben Greenfield’s hair mineral analysis.

Click here to download the results of Ben Greenfield’s hair mineral ratios.

-Want your own Hair Mineral Analysis? Click here to go to Wendy’s website and get started.

Copper Dysregulation podcast

Transdermal magnesium

APSWater.com

Infrared Biomat

Trace Liquid Minerals

Do you have questions, comments or feedback or hair mineral analysis? Leave your thoughts below!

The Ultimate DIY Guide To Growing Your Own Food And Living Green.

Alik Pelman

Last month, my wife and I traveled to Israel with Vibe Israel, an organization that brings international on- and offline opinion leaders in health and nutrition on a weeklong personalized experience of the burgeoning wellness scene in Israel.

I’ve already released three valuable lessons I learned on that Israel journey: “5 Things You Can Learn From The Burgeoning Health, Wellness And Nutrition Scene In Israel“, “Why You Get Cancer And What You Can Do About It“, and “The Problem With Paleo: Why It’s OK To Eat Bread, Grains, Legumes, Cheese & Milk.”.

Today, you get to listen in as I interview one of the most amazing individuals I met on the Israel trip – a man named Alik Pelman (pictured above with myself and others at his property, photo courtesy Or Kaplan). Alik completed his PhD in philosophy at the University of London and then took a break from academic life and went to learn how to grow food, becoming a professional organic farmer for two years.

Alik then set up his own self-sufficient home in the small village of Clil, in Western Galilee. I had the pleasure of visiting him in his small hut, built almost entirely from local, natural materials. This is where he grows virtually all of his food, and spends most of his working hours doing farm chores, reading, writing and hosting curious visitors like me.

In this show, you’ll discover:

-How to grow food on your roof…

-How to use sheep’s wool for insulation…

-How to make walls out of completely edible corn flour porridge…

-How to use natural oils to protect your floor and furniture…

-How to build an efficient, composting toilet that uses no water…

-How to easily rotate your garden crops for maximum yield…

-How to grow and make your own bread, from seed to loaf…

Resources from this episode:

Alik’s video that documents all stages of growing your own bread – from seed to loaf

Israel Homestead. pdf handout that walks you step-by-step through how he built his eco-friendly hut

-My How To Biohack Ultimate Healthy Home book

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Alik, his life, his hut, and how to grown your own food? Leave your thoughts below!

Is Detoxing Really A Myth?

detox juice

Last week, The Guardian released an article entitled, “You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth. So how do you get healthy?

In the article, author Dara Mohammadi said:

“…detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.”

So is this true? Is detoxing just a sham?

You’re about to find out. But not here.

See, unknown to many BenGreenfieldFitness.com visitors, I really don’t do the lion’s share of my writing on this site. I instead write an article, write a newsletter, and release a short, 5-10 minute helpful and easy-to-understand audio podcast every week over at the Quick And Dirty Tips website.

So that is where Part 1 of my thoughts and recommendations based on this detoxing article appears, and also where Part 2 will appear tomorrow (Tuesday). Click here to read Part 1 of “Is Detoxing Really A Myth” (and if you want instant notification when Part 2 goes live, just click here to subscribe to the free Get-Fit Guy newsletter).

Enjoy.