339: Is Cardio Really Bad For Your Heart, What Is The Best Way To Filter Your Water, How To Get Rid of Candida & More!

339_ Is Cardio Really Bad For Your Heart, What Is The Best Way To Filter Your Water, How To Get Rid of Candida & More!

November 25, 2015 Podcast: Is Cardio Really Bad For Your Heart, What Is The Best Way To Filter Your Water, How To Get Rid of Candida & More!

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on,, and Google+.


Special Announcements:

This podcast is brought to you by: Kimera Koffee, nootropic infused coffee that makes your brain work faster (use 10% discount code BEN10), and by Onnit, the world’s best website for outside-the-box performance enhancement.

The Fat Loss Summit just began and goes November 15-29. This is a FREE online event you can attend from home or on any mobile device, and includes talks like: How to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling strategies, secret Russian and mixed martial art training principles that speed fat loss, how to gamify your workouts to burn more fat in less time, a gut healing plan to go from sugar burner to fat burner, how to tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster…and much more (including a cold thermogenesis episode from yours truly). Sign up NOW here:

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Dr Andrew Hill? It was a must-listen – titled “Can Weed Really Shrink Your Brain”. Click here to listen now or download for later!

Now Available – Ben Greenfield’s “REV Yourself Conference” – 25 Packaged Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts In Physical & Mental Performance Enhancement Strategies. In this package, you’ll get to watch and listen as Ben Greenfield sits down with the world’s leading experts in biohacking, physical performance, mental performance, cognitive enhancement, personal productivity, muscle gain, fat loss and more. In a frank, easy-to-understand, fireside chat format, these experts reveal all their most cutting-edge secrets, and your access to the videos and audios also includes helpful notes, summaries and more. From Dr. Mercola to Mark Sisson to Nora Gedgaudas, you can check out the lineup and get access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever (no expiration!) once you click here to get lifetime access for $47.

Dec 4-6, 2015: Ben is speaking at the Unbeatable Mind Retreat in Carlsbad, California. This is where SEALFit and Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine will be assembling the best of the best in everything from performance to cutting-edge mental training to advanced sleep tactics and more. Includes amazing ancestral meals, morning WOD’s at SEALFit HQ (the site of the world famous Kokoro camp), Warrior Yoga instruction and workouts, and speakers such as Robb Wolf, Dr. Kirk Parsley, Dominic D’Agostino, and more. Click here to get in now.

Nov 17-18, 2016: Ben is speaking at the Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!



Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the NEW Podcast Sidekick.

How To Know If Your Brain Is Damaged

Terrence says: He heard that you recently took up boxing. He’s an MMA fighter and is always worried about traumatic brain injury – he takes turmeric and fish oil regularly. But he’s wondering if HRV can be used as an indicator of TBI or if not, are there any biomarkers specifically of brain trauma and brain inflammation that he should be aware of and on the look out for?

What Is The Best Way To Filter Your Water?

Julia says: She’s on the go and often ends up buying a lot of bottle water. She’s wondering if you have the chance to evaluate any filters for handheld bottles?

In my response, I recommend:
Structured water filter (the one Ben uses in his home)
OralIV (use 20% discount code BEN20)
Klean Kanteen with Kishu Charcoal Sticks
Bobble – Bobble’s sleek water bottle comes in three sizes and many different colors. The carbon filter removes chlorine and organic contaminants.
Camelbak – Camelbak’s durable bottle has a carrying handle and spill-proof bite valve. The filter reduces chlorine, taste, and odor.
Vapur – Vapur’s water bottle is collapsible, making it easy to stash and carry. The filter removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa.
Hydros -The Hydros filtering water bottle has a unique side opening for ease in filling up at water fountains and taps. The filter reduces chlorine, chloramines, and particulates.

How To Get Rid Of Candida

Chrissy says: She’s wondering if you can provide information to get rid of candida overgrowth for good. Since September last year she’s had recurring UTI’s and yeast infections, she’s started taking supplements like anti-fungals, probiotics, fermented foods she eats paleo/gluten free, but every time she goes off her supplements it comes back. She doesn’t want to depend on supplements to keep her body in check and she’s trying to figure out how to get her gut/bacteria balance back in order.

In my response, I recommend:
GAPS diet or SCD Diet
The Candida Cleanse

5 Ways To Stay Healthy In The Armed Forces

Olivia says: What is your advice with someone going into the Armed Forces? In regards to fitness and maintaining health and sanity in stressful situations with limited access to resources. How would you prepare for the armed forces and what would be your hacks for someone with their boots on the ground?

In my response, I recommend:
Use MRP’s like SuperGreens
-Sleep efficiently (Sleepmask, Sleephones, Sleepstream combo)
-Use carb back-loading and ketosis (get KetoCaNa with 10% discount code BG2015)
-Avoid the fancy gym
-Make every moment count (PowerLung, GripTrainer, etc.)


Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!


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A Tree-Climbing Modern-Caveman’s Secrets To Living Ancestrally In A Modern World.

tony itunes

This is a protected Premium podcast episode! Click here to get this – and over 300 additional hidden episodes, .pdf’s, videos – for just $9.99/year inside the BenGreenfieldFitness Premium channel.

That guy in the photo above climbing the tree like an ancient ape is Tony Federico.

Tony is one of the leaders of the Paleo movement, and a guy I met several years ago at the PaleoFx conference. He is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, editor of Paleo Fitness Magazine, and the author of “Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman’s Guide to Cooking with Fire“. In addition to his work in the Paleo community, Tony is a full-time personal trainer with 10 years of experience in the fitness industry…

…and he’s quite knowledgeable on living ancestrally in a modern world, even if you don’t have any desire to be a coconut-collecting caveman.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How Tony has biohacked his office to make it more ancestral…

-Why sitting isn’t necessarily evil…

-How you can figure out what’s ancestral and what’s not…

-How you can sleep ancestrally, yet still live a modern life with streetlights, car headlights, night work, etc…

-How you can tweak your electronic environment at work to be more ancestral…

-Whether Crossfit, Spartan, triathlons, etc. are ancestral forms of movement…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Daylamp Light

Stand Steady

Melatonin Patch

NASA Clean Air Study

The Paleo Manifesto book by John Durant

MovNat by Erwin Le Corre

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Tony or me about marrying modern living with ancestral fitness? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply.

Can Weed Really Shrink Your Brain?

weedbrain itunes

A few weeks ago, I talked on this podcast episode about whether THC can cause damage to the grey matter in your brain.

But, frankly, I spent very little time addressing the matter on that particular show, so in today’s episode, I’m revisiting the topic of THC, brain damage, liver damage, myths about marijuana, CBD, smart drugs, nootropics and more with Dr. Andrew Hill, Lead Neuroscientist at truBrain, and one smart cookie.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why left-handed people are more sensitive to chemical stimulants…

-The truth behind the evidence that THC can shrink the brain…

-The important differences between THC and CBD…

-How Dr. Hill can “reset” tolerance to marijuana using neurofeedback in his clinic…

-If there is a deleterious effect of THC on the liver or other organs…

-How to map your brain and change your brain using neurofeedback…

-Little known smart drug ingredients such as oxiracetam and centrophenoxine…

-And much more, including a killer giveaway at the end of the show!

Resources & studies cited in this episode:

Decreased grey matter but increased connectivity (not controlled for SES):
More recent and much larger study that failed to find grey matter volume changes:
And a summary of another study that found decreased volume, and the two studies that refute this:

Peak Brain Institute

Pocket Neurobics

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training

TruBrain drinks and capsules (use code BEN to save 50%)

Previous episode with Dr. Andrew Hill on smart drugs vs. nootropics

Water soluble CBD

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for myself or Dr. Andrew Hill? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply.

Unlocking The Superpowers Of Speed Reading, Memory Enhancement, Learning Skills Faster & More With Jim Kwik.

jim kwik itunes

My guest in today’s podcast is Jim Kwik (yes, that’s his real name).

Jim Kwik is really, really…well…quick. He can learn much faster than mere mortals.

Take reading, for example. Most folks read at a rate of 200-250 words-per-minute (wpm). But Jim reads heavy science material at about 500 wpm and devours light fiction at upwards of 1300 wpm. And more importantly, he can remember everything he reads.

I’m seen Jim on stage, memorizing the names of every face in the crowd. And long strings of random numbers. Many people struggle to remember all seven digits of a phone number. But Jim can remember phone numbers all day long. Hundreds of them.

But Jim isn’t special. He doesn’t naturally have these superpowers. They were learned. And if he can learn them, anyone can learn them – regardless of age, background or education.

In today’s podcast, you’re going to discover the amazing story of how Jim went from a childhood brain injury to being one the smartest guys with one of the fastest brains on the face of the planet. 

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How Jim became a memory and learning expert, even after a debilitating head injury…

-Why you shouldn’t let school get in the way of your education…

-Whether it’s true that we only use part of our brains…

-How technology can make you stupid if you use it incorrectly…

-The three stages of learning you must know…

-The exact process and system Jim uses when he sits down to learn a new skill or task or language…

-What you can learn from Jim’s recent conversation with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger…

-Five easy ways you can remember names better…

-Jim’s top tips for becoming a speed-reader who actually remembers what you read…

-The specific diet Jim follows to help his brain achieve peak function…

-The 4 free videos that you can get from

-And much more!

More about Jim:

Jim is founder of Kwik Learning and a widely recognized world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance and accelerated learning.

For two decades he has served as the mental coach to students and seniors, entrepreneurs and educators, and advisor to many of the world’s leading CEOs and celebrities.

After a childhood brain injury left him learning challenged, Jim created strategies to dramatically enhance his mental performance. He has since dedicated his life to helping others unleash their true genius and brainpower to learn anything faster and live a life of greater power, productivity and purpose.

Jim’s cutting edge techniques, entertaining presentation style, and impressive brainpower feats have made him a frequent and highly sought out trainer for top organizations, with clients that include Virgin, Nike, Zappos, SpaceX, NYU, GE, Fox Studios, Harvard, and Singularity University, and his online courses are used by students in over 100 countries.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about speed-reading, enhancing memory, learning new things faster or anything else Jim and I discuss? Leave your thoughts below, and remember to get your four free videos at!

Ben Greenfield’s World’s Toughest Mudder Race Report (And Big News For 2016)



World’s Toughest Mudder is finally over, and although I was only able to complete 50 miles due to a nearly torn Achilles tendon, I just published all the nitty-gritty details, and big news about my 2016 racing plans, in the full audio race report which you can access at the BenGreenfieldFitness Premium channel (along with 300+ other videos, audios, .pdfs and other protected insider content).

Want to see all my clothing, gear, nutrition and more? Simply watch the video below, and feel free to use the handy-dandy checklist under the video if you plan on doing the World’s Toughest Mudder yourself.



FuelBelt Crush (
Insulated Hammer Nutrition Water Bottles (get from with 15% discount code 80244)
Natural Force “Natty Stack” (get from with 10% discount code BEN10)
Onnit Oatmega Bars (get from for instant 10% discount)
OralIV (get from with 20% discount code BEN20)
NatureAminos (get from
BlueSeventy Helix Wetsuit (
UnderArmour Long Sleeve Compression Top (
Skins A400 Compression Tights (
Brooks Running Shorts (
Brooks Running Short Sleeve Top (
Castelli Windbreaker (
Castelli Thermal Vest ( Care:
Brooks Ghost Shoes (
Reebok All-Terrain Shoes (
Polypropylene Liners (
Nike Wool Socks (
GaiterWraps ((
DonJoy Calf Compression (use 25% discount code BENG25 at
RunGoo (
110% Knee Sleeves (use 10% discount and free shipping code GREENFIELD at

Lighting/First Aid:
Global Vision Goggles (
Hand/Foot Warmers ((
Princeton Tec Apex 275 Lumen Headlamp (
Spare AA Batteries (
Nathan Sports Strobe Light (
Silver Thermal Blankets (
ActionWipes (use 10% discount code bgfit at
Badger Natural Sunscreen (
Silver Antibacterial Lotion (
Voltage Portable Solar Charger Pack (

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the checklist above or the race report over on my Premium podcast channel? Leave your thoughts below and I promise to reply!

How To Use Space-Age Technology To Banish Heavy Legs Forever, Run Faster, Increase Nitric Oxide Production, Enhance Flexibility & More.

monday itunes update

Nearly six years ago, in a tiny hotel room lobby in Kona, Hawaii, I met a guy named Gilad Jacobs.

Gilad was holding a black box about the size of a shoebox, and had two big, space-agey looking boots with him, which attached to the box via two air tubes. I fumbled my way into the slightly awkward, hip-high boots, then sat in a chair as the black box pumped air in and out of the boots.

I’ll admit: six years ago it was a little hokey, and I wasn’t quite sure whether the things actually worked to make my legs “more fresh”.

But since then, Gilad and that tiny black box have come a long way. His company NormaTec is now one of the world’s leader in rapid recovery, and give a competitive edge to a host of the world’s elite athletes, coaches, and trainers, including…

Pro triathletes like:

-Craig Alexander
-Helle Frederiksen
-Chrissie Wellington
-Jordan Rapp
-Terenzo Bozzone
-Mirinda Carfrae
-TJ Tollakson
-Jesse Thomas
-Gwen Jorgensen
-Jan Frodeno
-Sarah Haskins
-Linsey Corbin
-Heather Wurtele
-Trevor Wurtele
-Marino Vanhoenacker
-Kim Schwabenbauer

Pro cyclists like:

-Taylor Phinney
-Clara Hughes
-David Zabriskie
-George Hincapie
-Levi Leipheimer

Pro runners like:

-Deena Kastor
-Meb Keflezighi
-Ryan Hall
-Dan Huling
-Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz
-Tyler McCandless
-Alan Webb

Crossfit athletes like:

-Noah Olsen
-Annie Tunnicliffe
-Jason Khalipa
-Michele Letendre
-Crossfit Invictus
-Crossfit NorCal

NBA basketball players like:

-Roy Hibbert
-Steve Nash
-Ray Allen
-DJ Augustin
-Jason Terry
-Kevin Garnett
-Shaquille O’Neal
-Al Harrington
-Amare Stoudemire
-Chris Wilcox
-Dorell Wright
-Ekpe Udoh
-Monta Ellis
-Kara Lawson

NFL football players like:

-Larry Fitzgerald
-Matt Shaughnessy
-Patrick Willis
-Vernon Davis
-Adrian Wilson
-Deion Branch
-Jerod Mayo
-Kevin Faulk
-Tyson Jackson
-Earl Bennett
-Richard Seymour
-Darrius Heyward-Bey
-Kevin Faulk
-Devin McCourty
-Jason McCourty

Those old-school boots I tried on many years ago have now evolved into something called the NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems, a dynamic compression device designed for recovery and rehab, and something I personally use nearly every day now.

The NormaTec systems include a control unit and attachments which go on the legs, arms, or hips. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with a pulsed massage pattern.

When you use a Normatec system, you will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to your exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.

Today, I interview Gilad, who serves as Vice President of Sports Medicine at NormaTec Industries, LP. He leads NormaTec’s Sports Medicine division, which he established in 2007, and is responsible for sales to pro teams, top college and Olympic programs, and elite and amateur athletes. 

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-How these space-age boots took the leap from being a pure medical device to being an underground method for athletes to recover faster…

-The main differences between pulsed compression in the compression boots and regular compression from something like compression socks and compression tights…

-What happens biomechanically when you wear the boots, particularly for flexibility, arterial function, pumping of blood and lymph…

-Two chemicals that get released in response to pulsed compression that massively dilate the arteries…

-How the Normatec system can compress your hips and your arms…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Click here and enter code BEN15 at checkout to save $100 on  pair of Normatec boots.


“The purpose of this study was to assess peristaltic pulse dynamic compression (PPDC) in reducing short-term pressure-to-pain threshold (PPT) among Olympic Training Center athletes after morning training. […] We conclude that PPDC is a promising means of accelerating and enhancing recovery after the normal aggressive training that occurs in Olympic and aspiring Olympic athletes.” —view article on pubmed.


“We investigated whether a single 60 min bout of whole-leg, lower pressure external pneumatic compression (EPC) altered select vascular, metabolic, antioxidant and inflammation-related mRNAs. […] An acute bout of EPC transiently upregulates PGC-1α mRNA, while also upregulating eNOS protein and NOx concentrations in vastus lateralis biopsy samples” —view article on pubmed.

-Study: PERISTALTIC PULSE COMPRESSION OF THE LOWER EXTREMITY ENHANCES FLEXIBILITY – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2014 Apr; 28(4):1058-64

“This study investigated the effects of peristaltic pulse dynamic compression (PPDC) on range-of-motion (ROM) changes in forward splits. […] PPDC provides a means of rapidly enhancing acute ROM requiring less discomfort and time.” —view article on pubmed.


“The purpose of this study was to determine the acute effects of a single bout of peristaltic pulse EPC on peripheral conduit and resistance artery function. […] Acutely, whole limb, lower pressure EPC improves conduit artery endothelial function systemically, but only improves RH blood flow locally (i.e., compressed limbs).” —view article on pubmed.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to use recovery boots, or anything else Gilad and I discuss? Leave your comments below, and click here and enter code BEN15 at checkout to save $100 on your pair of Normatec boots.

Lightning Speed Healing Hack or Overpriced Fad? What You Need To Know About Stem Cells.

shawn and cells itunes

From Regenokine treatments to edible phytoplankton drops to NFL players traveling to Europe for stem cell injections that would be illegal in the USA, it seems that stem cells are the hot new arrival on the recovery and anti-aging scene.

I distinctly recall my first experience with injecting cells into the human body. I was a young, bright-eyed hip and knee surgical salesman, and the company I worked for at the time (Biomet) had just developed a post-surgical procedure called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). This PRP process involved collecting and then centrifuging a patient’s blood to separate the platelet-poor plasma and red blood cells.The platelets are concentrated about five-fold, and then re-injected into the wound site to speed up healing. I later thought this was such a cool process for other issues, like knee and elbow pain, that I partnered with a physician to purchase a PRP machine for treating the athletes and clients who I worked with, many of whom had uncanny and “miraculous” injury and inflammation reversals.

But compared to PRP, stem cells are a whole new animal, and in this podcast with my guest Shawn Stevenson, we dive into the legality, the conflicts, the long-term health the potential for doping, the alternatives, the costs and much more.

Shawn-188 FLCShawn (pictured right) is a bestselling author and creator of The Model Health Show, which is often featured as the #1 Health podcast in the country on iTunes. A graduate of The University of Missouri – St. Louis, Shawn studied biology and kinesiology, and went on to be the founder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, a company that provides wellness services for individuals and organizations worldwide. Shawn has been featured in Men’s Health magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, ESPN, FOX News, and many other media outlets.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The crazy story of how Shawn’s hip broke while he was running, and the broken medical system that nearly destroyed his entire gut while fixing his hip…

-How Shawn regenerated his spine, which doctor’s told him was “the spine of an 80 year old man”…

-The four different types of stem cells, and which ones work best for killing pain, healing injuries and decreasing inflammation…

-The two surprising ways you can find and harvest stem cells without using embryos…

-How new human body parts can literally be regrown after being injured…

-How Shawn skipped any blood centrifuging, bone marrow injections or stem cell therapies and instead used specific foods to increase stem cell growth in his own joints…

-The exact ingredients of Shawn’s most potent medicinal tea recipe…

-Why both Ben and Shawn stuff mushrooms into vodka bottles…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Man’s Finger Grows Back After Treatment With Pig’s Bladder Powder

Platelet Rich Plasma injections



Aloe Vera Gel (and research on medical aloe)



Transdermal Magnesium


Do you have questions, comments or feedback about stem cells, stem cell therapy, alternatives to stem cells and how stem cells work? Leave your thoughts, comments and feedback below.

338: How To Lower High Cortisol, The Groundbreaking High-Fat Endurance Study, What Causes Low HRV & More!


Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

November 11, 2015 Podcast: How To Lower High Cortisol, The Groundbreaking High-Fat Endurance Study, What Causes Low HRV & More!

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on,, and Google+.


A donate button that reads - keep the podcasts comingSpecial Announcements:

The Fat Loss Summit just began and goes November 15-29. This is a FREE online event you can attend from home or on any mobile device, and includes talks like: How to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling strategies, secret Russian and mixed martial art training principles that speed fat loss, how to gamify your workouts to burn more fat in less time, a gut healing plan to go from sugar burner to fat burner, how to tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster…and much more (including a cold thermogenesis episode from yours truly). Sign up NOW here:

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Chris Kelly and Dr Tommy Wood? It was a must-listen – titled ” The Underground Test That Shows You How To Legally Upgrade Your EPO, Increase Your Oxygen Levels, Boost Your Red Blood Cells & Build Double Digit Percentages In Power And Endurance.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

This podcast is brought to you by Texas Superfood, which has 55 fruits and vegetables in one serving (a capsule, powder or stick-pak). It is the only product on the planet with 55 fresh, raw, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. Beat food cravings, get better sleep, and get convenient mega-dosing of nutrients without having to eat pounds and pounds of food. Go to and use promo code “BEN” at checkout to get 10% off your first order.

This podcast is brought to you by Harrys Shaving. Visit and use $5 discount code BEN to get the exact shaving kit that Ben Greenfield uses: the Truman Kit (or anything else!)

Now Available – Ben Greenfield’s “REV Yourself Conference” – 25 Packaged Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts In Physical & Mental Performance Enhancement Strategies. In this package, you’ll get to watch and listen as Ben Greenfield sits down with the world’s leading experts in biohacking, physical performance, mental performance, cognitive enhancement, personal productivity, muscle gain, fat loss and more. In a frank, easy-to-understand, fireside chat format, these experts reveal all their most cutting-edge secrets, and your access to the videos and audios also includes helpful notes, summaries and more. From Dr. Mercola to Mark Sisson to Nora Gedgaudas, you can check out the lineup and get access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever (no expiration!) once you click here to get lifetime access for $47.

Dec 4-6, 2015: Ben is speaking at the Unbeatable Mind Retreat in Carlsbad, California. This is where SEALFit and Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine will be assembling the best of the best in everything from performance to cutting-edge mental training to advanced sleep tactics and more. Includes amazing ancestral meals, morning WOD’s at SEALFit HQ (the site of the world famous Kokoro camp), Warrior Yoga instruction and workouts, and speakers such as Robb Wolf, Dr. Kirk Parsley, Dominic D’Agostino, and more. Click here to get in now.

Nov 14, 2015: Ben will be competing at the World’s Toughest Mudder. If you live near Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada, be sure to come watch the action! Ben will be using the “NattyStack” from NaturalForce products to fuel this event “BEN10” will get you 10% off all supplements from NaturalForce and “BEN5” will get you 5% off all protein.

Nov 17-18, 2016: Ben is speaking at the Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!



Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the NEW Podcast Sidekick.

How To Lower High Cortisol

Dean says: He’s a masters athlete – a road cyclist. He also has a high stress job and a ‘wound up’ personality. He’s been in a cycle of everything going great with training, then he gets sick, has to reset, goes great with training and the cycle starts all over again. He had a conversation with his physio about elevated cortisol levels and the impact a stressful lifestyle can have on cortisol. He’s interested to hear your opinion on how elevated cortisol can make you sick, even if you’re very fit and what can be done naturally to work around it, and particularly the role that caffeine may have on elevated cortisol.

In my response, I recommend:
The Cortisol Connection book
Seven best ways to stop stress

-Chinese adaptogenic herbs such as TianChi or InnerPeace, which can fine-tune your adrenals and help you to begin producing cortisol and adrenaline.

-High electrolyte intake, preferably with liquid trace minerals or quality salt, both of which can restore precious minerals that your body tends to lose when you’re low on cortisol.

-High dose vitamin D/K complex 35IU/Vitamin D per pound of body weight and huge amounts of morning sun exposure to ensure that you produce the necessary building blocks to restore hormones.

-2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of a whole foods Vitamin C source each day (or basically, as much vitamin C as you can take until you get lose bowels). Your adrenal glands are one of the #1 storage sources of Vitamin C in your body, and to become severely depleted in Vitamin C in a case of adrenal fatigue.

-4-6g per day of a good fish oil that contains vitamin E with mixed tocopherols (I recommend SuperEssentials) to reduce inflammation and restore the health of the nervous system.

-A B-complex supplement that is high in B6 and pantothenic acid, both of which tend to be severely depleted during adrenal fatigue (I recommend Lifeshotz for this).

Red ginseng at approximately 6g/day, which stimulates the body to begin producing cortisol again.

Licorice root extract at 200-400 mg, which reduces the half-life of cortisol and allows it to be broken down at a slower rate by the body.

Natural Ways To Avoid Getting Schizophrenia

Ryan says: His grandmother was a paranoid schizophrenic. He’s worried about becoming schizophrenic himself. He’s 24 and has not displayed any symptoms yet. He was hoping that you could give him a list of lifestyle factors like stress and food to avoid any epigenetic expression of schizophrenia. What do you suggest?

Can You Use Protein Powder When Breastfeeding?

Danella says: She has been using the MHP Paleo protein which is beef and egg white protein. She noticed when she went to reorder that it wasn’t suitable for nursing mums.  She’s currently nursing an 8 month old and she couldn’t find any information online about why it’s not suitable. Can you shed some light on what the issue is, and what protein is OK to use while nursing?

In my response, I recommend:

What Causes A Low HRV?

Shane says: He’s been testing his HRV with Sweetbeat for a couple of months and he’s consistently low – between 17-35. He pegs the stress meter even when he turns the sensitivity to the lowest. What does it mean when HRV is that low? When can he find something specific?

In my response, I recommend:


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Episode #338 – Full Transcript

Podcast #338 from


Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness show: How To Lower High Cortisol, The Ground-breaking High-Fat Endurance Study, What Causes Low HRV, Cardio Before Weights Or Weights Before Cardio, and much more!

                           He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that for natural movement, get out there! When you’re working all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest effort to see…”  All the information you need in one place right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Rachel:              So Ben, you got the World’s Toughest Mudder happening this weekend.

Ben:                   Mmm-hmm.

Rachel:              How are you feeling about it?

Ben:                   Yeah.  Well, let me give you a little bit of an idea of what my home looks like right now.  I have a crap-load of gear, it looks like I’m like moving to…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   Timbuktu or like the far reaches of Siberia right now, so.

Rachel:              Uh-huh.

Ben:                   On my kitchen table – let me just go through my pack-list with you: sleeping bag, blankets, thermo silver blankets, knee sleeves, bottles, sunscreen, 3 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of liners, chamois cream, windbreaker, thermo vest, bulk water, electrolytes, tights, gloves, 2 headlamps, extra batteries, blister treatment, hand and foot warmers, towels, band-aids, anti chafing cream, portable phone charger, wetsuit, hoodie, alcohol wipes, antiseptic spray, sharpie, zip ties, lip balm, trash bags, knee pad, getters for shoes, goggles and few other random items, and we didn’t even get into all of the nutrition that I’m bringing.  So it is quite a chore to pack for this thing.

Rachel:              Insane!  Oh my gosh!  So will you actually be sleeping?

Ben:                   Me?

Rachel:              Yeah!

Ben:                   Oh no.  No…

Rachel:              So why have the sleeping bag?

Ben:                   absolutely not, for my wife!

Rachel:              Oh. (laughs)

Ben:                   She’s my Sherpa.

Rachel:              Oh, I see.  I see.

Ben:                   Yeah.

Rachel:              Oh.

Ben:                   And if any of our listeners, either have no clue to World’s Toughest Mudders or if you wanna follow all the action, couple of things: first of all, for those of you in the U.S.A, on Saturday morning, I’ll be texting out all the links and everything to track the race and you can text the word FITNESS to 411247, and that’s my free little text club that I send out little text out.  Sometimes I just drunk dial you on a Saturday night…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   But most of the time it’s useful information, so you can do that.  You text FITNESS to 411247 or you can check out the Facebook page because Rachel, I know you’re gonna be posting some stuff up on there.

Rachel:              Yup, definitely.  Jessa is gonna be sending us photos, so we will be posting them on Instagram and Facebook and we’re gonna be posting the link to live of follow the race, the morning of.

Ben:                   Quite epic.

Rachel:              Yes.

Ben:                   Quite epic.  I’ll be going for 90 plus miles, four times.

Rachel:              Ninety plus miles… wow!

Ben:                   Yeah, yeah. So anyways, speaking of which, let’s talk about cortisol, etc., shall we?

News Flashes:

Ben:                   So Rachel, you were not a podcast co-host/sidekick when I went through this protocol, but basically, 2 years ago I followed a high-fat ketogenic 90% plus fat diet for 12 months, and then I went into a lab at University of Connecticut where I ran on a treadmill for 3 hours and they cut muscle using biopsy out of my thighs…

Rachel:              Oh my gosh.

Ben:                   …to basically – and a ton of blood work to analyze what happens when you follow a low carb, high fat diet for an extended period of time to your fuel utilization during exercise.  So the cool thing is, people have been asking me so much what happened, what are the study results, well the study just came out.

Rachel:              Wow!

Ben:                   It’s actually, really, really interesting.  The concept that the diet that’s high in carbohydrate is necessary for optimizing your exercise performance, sometimes it’s been around since the 60’s.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   And basically, what happen is back in the 60’s, they discovered that muscle glycogen depletion.  So exhaustion of your muscles carbohydrates stores was associated with fatigue.


Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   And they also found out that high carb diet maintains that muscle glycogen and maintains that performance.  And so now, here we are decades later and there’s tons of evidence that has accumulated that’s supports consuming carbohydrate before, during and after exercise.  It’s kind of like one of the fueling paradigms that we follow in a range of sports, you know, from hockey to soccer to marathoning to the World’s Toughest Mudder.  So the idea here is that there actually is no zero essential requirements for dietary carbohydrate because the human body actually has this really cool capacity to adapt to low carb availability.  So what that means is that when you are starved or when your glycogen levels significantly decreased or when carbohydrates are not available, you produce what’s called hepatic ketone production; it’s a production of ketones by your liver that increases dramatically to displays glucose as your brain’s primary energy source…

Rachel:              Hmm.

Ben:                   And then what happens is fatty acid supply the majority of energy for skeletal muscle.  How can this occur? Well basically, it comes down to a combination of lactic acid that you produce and also the glycerol backbone of fats being burnt by muscle as a fuel.  Basically, you create your own carbohydrate when you don’t have an exogenous source of carbohydrate; you have a little carbohydrate producing machineries in your body that make glucose.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So basically, they took us into lab to see exactly what happens to the body when you do restrict carbohydrates.  Can you actually achieve just as good performance and what else happens.  Well, the paper is very long.  It’s – but it’s not that hard to read, it’s not that propeller hat-ish and…

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   I will link to it in the show notes, I’m gonna keep it a mystery what happens…

Rachel:              Oh, come on!

Ben:                   And potentially I may do a full-on podcast with the lead researcher in the study – Dr. John Bullock, but essentially what it comes down to is he, the researchers, they really kind of re-wrote the textbooks when it comes to fat burning and carb burning.  And I would especially challenge anyone who’s very interested in carbs, ketone production and how the body actually produces energy from fat even in the absence of carbohydrate, go read the discussion section of this particular study, it’s all free, the discussion section is actually quite enlightening – if that’s the correct word to use.  And yeah, if you want a bit of fun reading over the weekend, check it out: we’ll link to it in the show notes over at  Alright, next up, speaking of cardio-vascular exercise and ungodly amounts of time spent in a treadmill during loops of the World’s Toughest Mudder, another study came out that is the – first is, it’s been out in a long time that looks at like the whole cardio versus weights versus weights versus cardio.  Did I chose the word ‘versus’ too many times?

Rachel:              That is too many times, yeah you did.  That’s okay (chuckles).

Ben:                   I think so.  Yeah.  So I get this question a lot, especially when it comes to fat-loss, do you do the cardio first or the weights first?

Rachel:              Hmm.

Ben:                   And up until this point, the research that existed was primarily done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning or a period in Journal of Strength and Conditioning.  And what it showed was that order didn’t seem to matter, so most of the studies at this point were done in inactive sedentary people and the particular research study that was the biggest one done up to this point was done about a year and a half ago.  And they put these two different sets of ladies through 8 weeks of exercise and were stay either to get endurance first or strength first and they found that ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you do strength or cardio first if your goal is just fat loss.

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   But this most recent study in which they looked at overweight men found that when comparing cardio versus strength versus strength versus cardio – there, I did it again, what happens when you look at leptin which is the marker of appetite and fat-burning regulation, and they looked at testosterone, they looked at cortisol, they looked at body fat, they found there wasn’t a really significant difference for cortisol or for testosterone.  But what they did find was that both groups experienced a significant decrease in body fat and the weights before cardio, weight lifting before cardio, they came off slightly better in the fat-loss category.

Rachel:              How slight is slightly?

Ben:                   And actually, it wasn’t super significant but it was enough to test for significance in the actual study, so.

Rachel:              Okay.


Ben:                   Ultimately, if your goal is weight loss purely, you’re gonna be better off doing weight lifting first, like warming up during your weight lifting and then do the cardio-vascular exercise after.  Probably because the weight lifting depletes some your muscle glycogens stores, and then you turn the fatty acids to utilize during the cardio.  You know, if you’re to do like a series of weight lifting sets followed by let’s say, 20 minutes on a bike or treadmill or something like that.  Now the thing is though, when it comes to both of these studies that were done inactive sedentary overweight people, and so we can’t necessarily extrapolate this to act of populations but there was one other study that was done way back in 2008, back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, whatever that phrase goes – is that how it goes? Knee-high to a grasshopper?

Rachel:              I’m not sure, but 2008…

Ben:                   I don’t remember.  Yeah, way back in 2008.  And what they found was that in more active people combining strength in cardio during the same workout, meaning doing like a set of back to back strength exercises, let’s say overhead press to a squat followed by a brief burst of cardio like 30 to 60 seconds of jumping rope, and then going back in to back to back strength exercises back to cardio burst so to speak, is superior when it comes to fat loss…

Rachel:              Mmm!

Ben:                   …to just doing weights or just doing cardio.  So ultimately, what it looks like here is in overweight women it doesn’t seem to matter, in overweight men, weights before cardio seems to matter, and active people mixing it all up in one big jumble seems to be the best solution for fat loss.

Rachel:              Oh, there you go!

Ben:                   Yeah.  But obviously, fat loss is not like necessarily the holy grail for people…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   For example, if you’re goal is a really good biomechanics and getting as strong as possible, you should definitely do your weights first before you’re exhausted by cardio, but if you’ll say a runner who’s really working on form, and efficiency, and economy, you don’t wanna go running after you gone a bunch of like dead lifts or squats.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So in a case like that, you separate the two or you do cardio before weights.  So, ultimately, that’s the skinny on the cardio and the weights.  And then the last thing I wanted to mention was a ‘Buyer beware warning’…

Rachel:              Uh-oh.

Ben:                   …about probiotics.

Rachel:              Oh!

Ben:                   They did a study on probiotics to see if the probiotics were antibiotic resistant, which is really interesting and I’m not quite sure if it’s that meaningful for folks to know if they’re probiotics are antibiotic resistant unless they’re I guess, taking probiotics and antibiotics simultaneously and even then it doesn’t really matter if the probiotics are antibiotic resistant ‘cause you wouldn’t wanna kill them anyways.  But more meaningful on this particular study, and I’ll link to that study in the show notes, was the fact that as part of the study they evaluated whether or not this probiotics even had all of the strains in them that they claimed to have in them, so.

Rachel:              Mmm.  What’s probiotics were they testing?

Ben:                   There were 5 different strains from a variety of different manufacturers, they didn’t…

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   …list the actual manufacturers but they tested 5 different brands of probiotics, and they looked at all the different strains like lactobacillus and saccharomyces boulardii, and all these different you know, strange names that they give to the bacteria in the probiotics that you can never pronounce but that are actually on the label of most yoghurts if you read on the label.

Rachel:              Right, yup!

Ben:                   And what they found was that mostly yoghurt – not yoghurt manufacturers, the probiotic manufacturers, when you look at the parts per billion or million of probiotics that they claimed to have, they fell far short and some of them barely contain any live bacteria whatsoever…

Rachel:              Awww.

Ben:                   …in terms of viable active bacteria which means that not only are most the good bacteria dead before they even get to your small intestine, they’re dead before you even open a package.

Rachel:              Aww, wow.

Ben:                   Very important when you’re getting probiotics that you pay attention to whether or not it was heated or heat stable, if it’s a spore forming probiotic, there’s a lot of consideration when it comes to probiotics.

Rachel:              So is it worth buying them at all?

Ben:                   I think that your best bet is a.) to get dirty – meaning…

Rachel:              Get them yourself.

Ben:                   Avoid antibacterial hand soaps…

Rachel:              Ohhh.

Ben:                   …avoid frequent showering with lots of soap, get out in nature, have pets, spend time with kids, expose yourself to wide variety of bacteria fermented foods: kimchi, kombucha, I think chocolate is fermented food, too.

Rachel:              Yey!

Ben:                   Yeah.  And then when it comes to probiotics, you know what I do is I use them when I travel because I don’t have access to a lot of fermented foods and I’ll either use a soil-based organism.


There’s one called Prescript-Assist for example, there’s another one that I recently talked about on Facebook ‘cause we did like a little giveaway and promo this stuff called Black Water.  And that’s also like water with soil-based organisms in it, and they sell a powder too, but that’s one option – soil-based organism.  The other is heat stable spore forming probiotics and that would be for example the advanced Caprabiotics is one, we’ve got a few of them in the Greenfield Fitness Systems ‘cause I evaluate pretty rigorously whether or not the actual studies that show that the bacteria are alive when they hit your gut.  And the ones I have at Greenfield Fitness Systems I’ll vouch for.  But one is the EXOS probiotic, another one is Caprabiotics Advanced, and then you’ve got this soil-based organisms that which are basically they could’ve going on your backyard and licking dirt, but with none of the pucker factor.  Anyways, what it comes down to is don’t just freakin’ use any old probiotic you know, off the counter and by the way, shout out to my friend Rich Roll.  I noted that he recently had a fantastic interview on the microbiome in the gut on his podcast and so – I don’t know which number it is, but if you go listen to Rich Roll’s recent podcast on the benefits of getting dirty in the germ with the microbiome, he’s got some good information on there too.  He interviewed a physician for a couple of hours and it’s quite good, so there you go, there’s everything that you need to know about bacteria.

Rachel:              And you can receive these news flashes and more including a bunch of awesome giveaways every single day, if you follow Ben at, and, sorry for all of the different URLs. (chuckles)

Special Announcements:

Ben:                   So, if you know someone in your life who is fat then you should forward this podcast to them, so there you go, just offended a bunch of fat people.  No seriously though, I mean, who doesn’t want to get lean and stay lean? And recently, on our newsletters are some of a bunch of my own tips for staying lean like setting my clock and letting it run for 12 hours after I finish dinner at night before I eat again or you know, taking cold shower – morning and evening – making sure that I move, walk, do something for at least 5 minutes after every single meal, give out a  bunch of tips, but the reason that I did that was in celebration of the Fat Loss Summit that’s going on right now.  So real quick, what it is, is my friend Yuri Elkaim, he’s got a bunch of kinda like underground fat loss secrets going on like Russian and the mixed martial arts training principles for fat loss, gut-healing plans that turn you from sugar burner to fat burner, how to like tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster, a really, really good summit going on.  So you can check that out at, it’s and I believe Rachel, we’ve been getting some good feedback from people on the Facebook page, right?

Rachel:              Yeah.  Well, this week we’ve actually been posting Fat Loss Lies, 1 per day and we had our last one posted I think on Sunday, and we had some really great feedback: a lady jumped in and said, “They have been so helpful and motivating.  Thank you so much.”, so just love to just see it further.

Ben:                   Nice.  So you can check out the conference, lots of juicy fat loss dose.  Speaking of fat loss, this podcast is brought to you by Texas Superfood – Texas Superfood – and what that is, is it this little pill that’s like a meal in a pill, it’s like a turkey dinner all right there in a pill.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Fifty-five fresh, raw, vine-ripe fruits and vegetables, you get probiotics, you get digestive enzymes, you get it all in just a little pill.  So if you have like food cravings or you just wanna mega dose all your nutrients, it’s not really like eating bunch of turkey and cranberry, it’s more of like getting vegetables.  So super convenient way to travel.  I should probably pack some of those for the World’s Toughest Mudder

Rachel:              You should and…

Ben:                   …just in case.

Rachel:              they come in powder as well, right?

Ben:                   Yes.

Rachel:              For the people that hate taking tablets.

Ben:                   Yes, and powder tablets, etc.  Actually one of the things too that I did want to mention, actually, let me give you the Texas Superfood info first,  You use promo code ‘ben’ and you get 10% off this stuff.


                           And like you said, Rachel, you can get the capsule, you get the powder, you get the stick cap stir it in a tea, stir it into I don’t know, smoothie, coffee, you name it – you can make a Texas Superfood Coffee Latte Frappuccino.

Rachel:              Mmmm.

Ben:                   Anyways though, I was mentioning World’s Toughest Mudder, I also wanted to let folks know ‘cause I get a lot of questions about what I use to fuel long events…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …like this, and of the things that I’ll be using, kinda like the main crucible of my nutrition during that event is called the Natty Stack.

Rachel:              Hmm, what’s the Natty Stack?

Ben:                   The Natty Stack is a stack of 3 things, it’s made by this company called NaturalForce, so we’ll put a link in the show notes, how’s about that? We’ll put a link in the show notes to Natural Stacks for you but basically, you use discount code ‘ben10’, we’ll put all these in the show notes.  And you get a coconut aminos which are like electrolytes and coconut powder, and you get a raw tea which is like beet juice caffeine in Yerba Mate and then finally a chia seed-based blend, very similar what like the Tama-Mahar Indian tribe used.  I think I just butchered that name by the way, Ta-Taramuhara? Tarahumara, I don’t know.

Rachel:              I’m sorry, I don’t know.

Ben:                   Yeah, I don’t know either of one.  Anyways though, what that crazy Indian tribe in Mexico use in the book of Born to Run, this is basically that stuff on steroids, ‘cause they had a bunch of like B-pollen and royal jelly, it’s really a kinda like a knock your socks off kind of powder that burns really clean, so, if you have a long event coming up like me, check out the Natty Stack and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes for you at  And then finally, finally, yes we’re not done yet…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   Harry’s.

Rachel:              Awww.

Ben:                   So Harry’s, I don’t know if you knew this, they have a shave plan which means that, in no matter how frequently or infrequently you shave, they will deliver their shaving supplies, they’re German-engineered blades, ergonomic handles, foaming shave gel, their aftershave lotion which all the ladies love when I wear because it smells like a rustic man.  Anyways though, they’ll send all that to your door, and you get free shipping, and it starts at 3 bucks a month.  I’m not quite sure how this works ‘cause we’ve got a 5$ discount code for you, so maybe they pay you to use their shaving plan, I’m not quite sure.

Rachel:              That’s the case scenario.

Ben:                   But you can use 5$ code ‘ben’ over at  I typically have to shave, I would say about once every 8 days or so like a little boy, I can pluck my chest hairs and rarely need to shave, it was a little but more often than that, but when I do shave I use the Harry’s razor, so check them out,

Rachel:              So when you say that they’ll just keep sending you razors for the same amount per month regardless of how much you need to shave.

Ben:                   It’s like the shaving club.

Rachel:              Oh my gosh!

Ben:                   Yeah.  So maybe the idea is if you really want to grow a lot more hair, all you guys out there, maybe if you get on a shaving plan, you’ll somehow convince your body to grow hair more readily.

Rachel:              I feel like that makes perfect sense.

Ben:                   It makes perfect sense biologically, physiologically, scientifically…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   This podcast is all about science!  So, shall we jump into the Q & A?

Rachel:              Let’s do it.

Ben:                   Alright.

Listener Q & A:

Dean:                Hi Ben, it’s Dean from Australia, I got question about cortisol.  I’m a master’s athlete, I’m a road cyclist and I have a pretty high stress job, and I got one of those I guess ‘wound up’ personalities as well.  So the last couple of years, I’ve been in a cycle of everything going great then I get sick, it’s kind of reset, start again, try and try and try and get sick, reset, start again.  And I had a conversation with a good physiotherapist recently, he was talking about his experience with elevated cortisol levels and particularly the impact that stress in lifestyle and caffeine can have on the cortisol, and the end result being me suppressed in the immune system and getting sick on.  I do pretty much everything raw and that has a nutrition, and then try to sleep well but yeah, I guess I was wondering your thoughts on elevated cortisol and the impact it can have on getting sick while very fit.  And what can be done naturally to work early on that and particularly the role that caffeine may have cause I’m a bit of a, a little bit caffeine junkie.  Thanks guys, loving the show.

Ben:                   Dean.  That sounds like a cousin of yours, Rachel.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  It is my bro from another mo (laughs).

Ben:                   That’s right.  It’s what you say over and over at the Land of Oz.


Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   Yeah.  I can speak a little Oz.  So anyways, cortisol – cortisol, cortisol – this a topic near and dear to my heart because I have personally struggled a bit with hypocortisolism or high cortisol, hypercortisolism not hypocortisolism.  Hypercortisolism, many times, on blood test that I’ve done and for me it’s related to an act of lifestyle, what I mean by that is I live pretty low stress.  I love my relationships…

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   I shave with great shaving equipment that is just Harry’s.

Rachel:              You live in a beautiful home that’s in fully detoxed.

Ben:                   And surrounded by nature and I don’t get a lot of WiFi, stuff like that, but I do send my body to hell and back almost every day with the workout.

Rachel:              Like this weekend!

Ben:                   Yeah.  Like I’ve got tough workouts and then like every – at least every two weeks I’m doing something that’s scares the hell out of me…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   when it comes to just like putting my body through the wringer.  And no matter how healthy you are, how much you sleep, how good your diet is, how good your relationships are, etc., even as something as simple as just pushing your body above and beyond what are you know, hunter, gatherer, farmer ancestors would’ve done when it comes to low level physical activity throughout the day, that can dump a lot of cortisol into your body.  And is it’s just this uphill battle athletes always have to follow, it’s the reason that I will probably after the World’s Toughest Mudder, be taking in good month that some point just super duper easy.

Rachel:              Just chillin’ out.

Ben:                   You know, yoga, sitting in the grass in my backyard, staring off into space.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   Had a goat, hold the chicken, just basically…

Rachel:              Take in some CBD.

Ben:                   That’s right, that’s right.  So anyways, yeah, big, big old long blade grass stickin’ out of my mouth, chillin’ out there with my farmer’s hat on, anyways though, yes.  So cortisol is something that we all have to deal a little bit and just kind of a couple quick things on cortisol, I know that most of you could just like go to the Wikipedia page for cortisol and know exactly what it is and what it does.  But before we jump into caffeine and cortisol, and also cortisol in the immune system, basically cortisol is what’s called a glucocorticoid –it’s also known as hydrocortisone.  Which is why when you get a cortisone injection, sometimes you get super stressed out and you grit your teeth and you’re up all night you know, for these people who’ve gotten like injections in their knees for example, or another swollen joints because it just dumps a bunch of cortisol unto your body and cortisol is produced in your adrenal cortex in response to stress.  It’s made from cholesterol which is why a few on very, very low fat diet, you don’t have enough cholesterol, you actually can have trouble waking up in the morning because cortisol is what butch you out of bed…

Rachel:              Yeah.  Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   …and we get that big peaking course around 8 am.  Ironically, coffee causes you to have a big cortisol dump.  It’s very strange how we drink a cortisol inducing stimulant at the same time that our cortisol levels are naturally the highest…

Rachel:              Very high.

Ben:                   ..during the day.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   It’s kinda, kind of odd but you know.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   Yeah, it’s – coffee is also a digestive, it’s got anti-oxidants, it does some things for your brain so you know, there are other benefits to a morning cup of coffee but it is a little bit strange.  It seems like lunch time, right? or after lunch would be…

Rachel:              Afternoon would be like…

Ben:                   …a better time of the day.

Rachel:              Yes.

Ben:                   Yeah, all the research studies that have been done on coffee and its ability to restrict wakefulness or restrict sleep and restrict deep sleep patterns or deleterious effects circadian rhythm, they’ve all shown that as long as you’re kinda finished up with coffee by approximately 3 hours before bed time, it’s not that big of a deal.  But I’ve – but yeah, I have always thought that it’s strange that we drink coffee you know, as a society, at the same time, that we are already producing our natural wakefulness hormone.  So cortisol helps you deal with stress which is great, so for example, stimulates gluconeogenesis which basically is the making of the new glucose specifically in your liver.  So, cortisol actually uses amino acids, lactic acid, glycerol and something called propionate to create glucose in your liver, and then what happens is it also causes glycogenolysis.  So at the same time that it helps your liver to make new glucose, it also helps you to break down glycogen that’s stored in your liver and your muscle cells and that’s put glucose in your bloodstream which you can use to run from the lion.  So…

Rachel:              Uh-huh.

Ben:                   It also inhibits insulin from shuttling glucose into cells, so it keeps glucose hanging around out in cells so you can just access it a little bit more readily when it comes to need and to fight stress.  Now that’s what cortisol does from an energetic standpoint, but it affects other things too, like bone and muscles, so cortisol inhibits the uptake of amino acids into muscle cells which means that if your cortisol is very, very high for too long, it can be very difficult to fuel muscles because you’ve already got cortisol lowering insulin and at the same time, you’ve got cortisol inhibiting the uptake of other nutrients in the muscle cells.


                           So your muscles have a very hard time getting both amino acids as well as glucose when you have high levels of cortisol.  It also inhibits again, in excess, it inhibits bone formation and decreases calcium absorption in your intestines, so both your muscles and your bones can suffer from elevated excess cortisol.

Rachel:              Hmmm.

Ben:                   Yeah.  Few other things that it does, it actually increases your sensitivity to epinephrine and also to norepinephrine, and what that means is it causes vasoconstriction or reduced blood flow in many parts of your body.  Primarily, so you can shunt blood flow to your core, to help you to survive and so in many cases, you’ll get like increased blood pressure, for example, especially because cortisol also serves as an anti-diuretic.  So it causes your body to retain sodium, and this is why high blood pressure is one of those things that we know goes hand in hand with high amounts of stress or high amounts of cortisol.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Now there are some… Oh go ahead, go ahead.

Rachel:              Oh no, I’ve got my propeller hat on and I’m just piecing together.  Have you…

Ben:                   Yeah, ‘cause I really want.

Rachel:              Yeah, it’s deep.

Ben:                   I don’t know if I’ve really go into everything that cortisol does before on a podcast, so.

Rachel:              This is just juicy.

Ben:                   Juicy.  I’ve got very low levels of T3.  I showed this on the recent blood test that I went through my entire blood panel on a recent blog post at, so that all the world can see how (curse word) my body is.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   It’s actually not that bad, but there were 2 areas that were a little bit affected deleteriously by the amount of primarily physical stress that I put my body through.  One is T3, and one major reason for that is cortisol can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones and specifically, even if your thyroid gland is producing adequate T4 which is a precursor to T3, high amounts of cortisol inhibit that conversion of T4 to T3.  And the other thing that happens is cortisol can shut down the production of testosterone because the – your body doesn’t want to create babies in time of famine, stress, running from lions, etc.  So sex hormone binding globulin which binds the total testosterone and causes it to not be able to be available in its free active form is something that gets increased again in response to high amounts of cortisol.  So you’ve got basically shutting down the reproductive system and shutting down on the thyroid and the metabolic system.

Rachel:              Now when you say high cortisol, does it – is it kind of like chronically high cortisol?

Ben:                   Mmm-hmm.

Rachel:              Like over an extended period of time?

Ben:                   Over an extended period of time, exactly.

Rachel:              How long do you think that would be?

Ben:                   It varies from person to person because genetically, if your ancestors were very hardy population, you’ll find that and then I’m just gonna throw population out here, I’m not saying this to be like racist or anything like that, but let’s say you’re like Jewish, right? You come from a lineage that has been exposed to high amounts of stress.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Wars, famine, lots of moving, nomadic lifestyle, etc. and you would be able to handle a higher amount of cortisol for a higher period of time if genetically, that is your lineage at least theoretically.  Like that’s the way that it would work.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   Whereas I don’t know, if you’re big, fat Samoan islander whose ancestors set around playing the ukulele and eating coconuts…

Rachel:              I can’t believe that’s what you think Samoans do.

Ben:                   (laughs)

Rachel:              Samoans are hot asses.  They’ve become the majority of every ______ [0:33:58.4].

Ben:                   I love, I love all our Samoan listeners but anyways, so the answer is it really does truly depend, you know those people.  Like my wife for example, so it comes from this hard Montana ranch line, right? And she can just – she can go all day whereas I need a nap, like you know…

Rachel:              Yeah, yeah.

Ben:                   Just different strokes for different folks.  So the other interesting thing because I’ve also struggled in the past with gut issues, and I know a lot of our listeners do have these issues as well, but cortisol causes an increase in gastric acid production.  And when this occurs chronically, that can lead to things like acid reflux and it can cause other problems in your small intestine, and the decrease blood flow from the increased sensitivity to epinephrine and norepinephrine, part of the decreased blood posture GI tract.  Your body doesn’t want to digest food when you’re stressed out and so that can cause incredible problems with digestion, constipation, lack of nutrient absorption, a lot of other issues that people have to deal with and again, I know for me personally, the more stressed out I am the more I deal with things like gut issues or having to spend a long amount time at the toilet.


                           You know there’s things that you would think would… you kinda know theoretically that their response on stress but they’re actually biological things happening in your body.  Like decreased enzyme production, decreased hydrochloric acid production, decreased blood flow to the intestine that causes those issues.  Sympathetic nervous system activation you know, when pooping and digesting is all parasympathetic nervous system activation, so.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   So basically, I’m hoping I’ve convinced folks enough that you do not want to necessarily have chronically elevated cortisol levels, there were basically two things that Dean asked about the effects of caffeine on cortisol and also the effects of cortisol on the immune system.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So the main thing with immunity is that if you’re stressed out, you do get sick more easily because high amounts of cortisol suppress your T-cells and these are important immune cells responsible for causing your immune system to be able to fight off infections, etc.  You’ll find a lot of times in people who are exercising chronically, very, very low white blood cell count, and this can go hand in hand with that low T-cell count and it’s a kind of a good 1,2 Combo for not being able to fight off infections very easily.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Now granted, there are things that you can take to naturally increase white blood cell production or to improve your immunity.  So for example, Chaga mushroom extract is one that I’ve talked about before as a really, really good way to improve the activity of your immune system.  Astragalus is an herbal extract that’s also very good for the immune system, you’ll also – you’ll see everything from like Echinacea, to elderberry to, Vitamin C as things that can help out in a case of low immune function.  Some of those actually have research behind them, some of them are you know, alternative medical remedies that don’t have a great deal of research but a lot of anecdotal evidence.  You know, people who…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …you know, I know for me when I used elderberry and when I use Vitamin C, I use Chaga, I use a little bit of oregan0 if I’ve been around sick people or feel sickness coming on, and it does help quite a bit.  I used to get sick all the time, I just don’t anymore.  So that’s one thing when it comes to cortisol and you know, chronic exercise, etc. in general; especially endurance exercise seems to cause us a little bit more in strength based exercise.  You do get a suppression of the immune system and those are some of the things that you can do about it.  When it comes to coffee, you know the – you have to take in into consideration some of the things that I talked about already you know, the fact that in the morning I already producing a bunch of cortisol but caffeine has been shown to stimulate cortisol production that is undeniable.  And they’ve also found – this was a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine back in 2005 – they found that regular coffee drinking can actually increase your tolerance to the effect of caffeine to induce a cortisol spike.  And so, what this means is that, this is probably the increase in cortisol’s probably more of an issue for a.) people who are drinking coffee, feeling far between and finding that you know, if they’re stressed out and you don’t drink coffee very much, you shouldn’t drink coffee if you’re stressed, period.  If you’re habitual coffee drinker, it may have a little bit less of a cortisol stimulating effect, so that’s one thing to bear in mind.  And then the other thing is that you know, part of this is of course the doses and the poison and small amounts of coffee are probably not as big of an issue as the folks who are drinking 3, 4, 5 cups of coffee during the day, and especially drinking coffee in the evenings.  So you know, that’s the main thing.

Rachel:              That’s a familiar cycle if you drink more coffee; you decrease your response to increasing your cortisol…

Ben:                   Mmm-hmm.  Yeah.

Rachel:              But you need to drink less coffee in order to stop in the first place.

Ben:                   Yeah, but that’s the deal with coffee in general, we become tolerant to its wakefulness effects, we become tolerant to its cortisol inducing effects.  Frankly, just you know, unfortunately, coffee just does less for you, period.

Rachel:              The more you drink it.  Yeah.

Ben:                   The more you drink it, but you know, one of the things that coffee does do and this is interesting is has a peristaltic effect, meaning that it can in due some bowel movement in the morning, and I know that a lot of people use it just for that, to be able to you know…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …go to the bathroom and…

Rachel:              That is the way you use it, Ben, ‘cause we all know how much you love pooping.

Ben:                   You know what? I actually, I do – first of all, I am now almost…

Rachel:              Let’s get deep into it.

Ben:                   I’m almost 17 days into a no coffee and no alcohol.

Rachel:              Oh wow, yeah! How’s it going?

Ben:                   Oh, I’m gonna have 8 freakin’ shots of expresso and a margarita after that World’s Toughest Mudder.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Gotta tear it up.  It’s actually going quite well, I feel great and oddly enough, I’ve actually been a little bit hungry when I wake up in the morning because I think I’m consuming like a 150 to 200 fewer calories in the evening from like a glass of wine.


                           And I didn’t really put anything else in to replace those calories and so it’s interesting.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   I’ve never really thought about how much those calories from alcohol add-up, and then the coffee? You know, I’m on like doing green tea with a little bit of Chaga mushroom, speaking of Chaga and yeah, I feel fine.

Rachel:              And how’s the morning poop?

Ben:                   The morning poop doesn’t seem to have been deleteriously affected but again…

Rachel:              Oh, good.

Ben:                   I’m drinking a nice big hot warm beverage of green tea so that may be replacing some of the effects of coffee.  And granted a green tea, it also has a little bit caffeine in it.  So that’s the deal with coffee and caffeine, and the immune system and cortisol, so ultimately, I really haven’t given Dean that mini-solutions and so I just wanna tell you a couple of things real quick.  I’m gonna put all of these references in the show notes for you over at  If you do struggle with high cortisol, some of the best things that you can do: first of all, I’ve got an article called ‘Seven of the Best Ways To Stop Stress”.  I will link to this in the show notes for you, I’m not gonna get into a ton of detail on this, but the primary stress reducing activities because there are ton of them, but the ones that have been shown to have the most beneficial effect on reducing cortisol, and have been shown in clinical studies to reduce salivary levels of cortisol.  One would be breathing, okay? There are baroreceptors in your chest that respond to shallow chest breathing and produce cortisol in respond to that.

Rachel:              It’s so incredible that something so fundamental could have such a profound effect.

Ben:                   Mmm-hmm.  Yeah

Rachel:              Just breathe.  Deeply.

Ben:                   Deep diaphragmatic nasal breathing, and turning that into daily habit, that’s why I love starting off your day with yoga because you set that habit, you set that pattern, you know, and I start off everyday with 10 to 15 minutes of yoga.  Just so I do a lot of these deep nasal breathing.

Rachel:              And I also find that when you get used to breathing that way, you notice when your breathing then becomes quite shallow which is a sign of being stressed which enables you to be able actually tell when you’re stressed and minimize it.

Ben:                   Yeah.  And there’s always like I don’t use any of these apps or like straps that you wear like the tech shallow chest breathing, etc., I just don’t ‘cause I like to be a little bit more unplugged during the day, but there are tools out there that you could look into for that type of thing.  And by the way, if you are listening in and you have any breathing tools that you personally like to use, let Dean know in the comments, and we can pass that information on to him, so leave a comment if you have something helpful to add.  Meditation is the second thing in addition to breathing…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …and obviously meditation in many cases incorporates breathing. It’s gonna be number two, whether it’s transcendental, whether it’s mindfulness meditation, whether it’s you know, moving meditation like a very easy swim or something like that.  There are variety of ways to skin that cat, but meditation also good science behind that.  Yoga, you’re noticing a little bit of a pattern here…

Rachel:              Interesting.

Ben:                   I’ll incorporate breathing although very light restorative, so yoga and also, yoga’s Chinese sister – I’m just making that up…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Tai Chi, so either yoga or Tai Chi, or both have been shown again to decrease salivary cortisol.  There’s a really good DVD called ‘Tai Chi for Beginners’, I own it and I’ll just take that in every once in a while and watch it – it’s just this old Chinese dude in like this white, cool, full in outfit walking through these different moves like the crane, and you know these little animal esque movements…

Rachel:              Just looking…

Ben:                   …very much like the old guys in the park.

Rachel:              just so serene.  Just pure serenity.

Ben:                   Yeah, exactly.  It is actually as quite calming.

Rachel:              Yeah!

Ben:                   So neurofeedback using coherence, this is another one that you can do and there is this technique – I’ll just give you the URL, go and you can learn something called ‘The Quick Coherance Technique’.

Rachel:              Hmmm!

Ben:                   It’s simply a matter of thinking of something that you’re grateful for, something that you love, closing your eyes, placing that into your heart, breathing into the center of your chest, taking a moment to reflect upon that and then moving on.  But you can tie that into biofeedback, meaning that Heartmath they have a hardware that you can purchase, and you attach a little clip to your ear and analyzes your heart rate variability at the same time, you’re going through all these thought patterns and coherence and you can do things like make flowers grow in the computer screen as you’re –

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   …as you’re learning to consciously control your nervous system.  It’s pretty cool stuff.

Rachel:              That sounds awesome. 


Ben:                   Yeah.  And so I’ll link to that article in which I talked about more thoroughly about how to do that, but that would be another of the stress reducing methods and then finally, last and I’ll throw out you here, and again, check out the article for all the details on this stuff.  Sleep and that’s it, that’s a biggie and what happens it’s very interesting a lot of times, we will get very busy and throw in some exercise, throw in a new hobby, throw in some relationships, etc., short a little sleep here, a little sleep there and pretty soon it adds up very quickly.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   So sleep is a biggie.  You know my pattern almost every day? Is 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night – I’m one of those 10 p.m. to bed, 6 a.m. up kind of guys.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  Yeah.

Ben:                   And then a quick snooze after lunch.  That’s pretty much every day for me, and I’ve been putting in a little bit of extra sleep in the bank this week just because I know I’m not gonna be sleeping much…

Rachel:              Yeah, this weekend.

Ben:                   …this weekend.  You’re running and jumping off cliffs in the water.  And then supplements, I get a lot of questions about this, remember you cannot out-supplement a stressful lifestyle but there some things that I do recommend for anyone dealing with high levels of cortisol.  I’m gonna throw them out to you pretty quick here but Chinese adaptogenic herbs like TianChi is the one that I like – those can help you to lower cortisol when cortisol is high…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …or raise it when cortisol is low.  High levels of cortisol and stress do a very good job exhausting your adrenal glands of minerals, so high electrolyte intake and mineral intake via things like seat salt and liquid minerals, that’s also a very good solution.  You go through Vitamin D much more quickly when you’re stressed out, and so taking anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 IU of Vitamin D a day.  Vitamin C, your adrenals and also a storehouse for Vitamin C so anywhere again from a 1,000 to 5,000 mg of Vitamin C a day, and then finally, because cortisol causes a histamine release that increases inflammation, some kind of a fish oil can be quite helpful as well – these are all the type of things you’d use for adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, etc.  The very, very last resource I wanna give you is the most comprehensive book I ever read on cortisol, written by a friend of mine, Sean Talbolt.  It’s called ‘The Cortisol Connection’ book and just a quick read, grab it off of Amazon, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well but yeah, there’s – you know, we can obviously do a 3-hour podcast on cortisol.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   But those are the biggies.  Dean, I hope that’s helpful for you.  And again if any of you who are listening in, you have your comments or you have own tips to share, go and share the love.

Ryan:                 Hi Ben, this is Ryan Walker, I’m from Mobile, Alabama.  I love the podcast, addicted to the podcast, share it with everybody.  I have a question I’ve been dying to ask for the longest time now, my mother – or my grandmother on my mother’s side was a paranoid schizophrenic.  When I found this out, I was absolutely terrified that I might struck to display symptoms and develop schizophrenia myself.  I’m 24 years old, I haven’t displayed any paranoid delusions or symptoms, however I can be paranoid at times but I think rightfully so.  I was hoping that maybe you could give me some a list of things that I can stay away from, lifestyle factors to avoid any epigenetic expression such as you know, food, staying away from stress.  I heard that stress can be an issue, so I’ve tried managing stress through some TM in the morning, so I do 20 minutes transcendental meditation, try to manage stress that way.  Another thing would be foods, I have heard which this maybe complete BS but that cow’s milk or you know, cow dairy may actually contribute to the expression of that genes. So I don’t know if that’s true, if not, please clarify and please just give me a list of this lifestyle factors to stay away from or some things that you even implement to mitigate the potential effects of the onset schizophrenia.  Thank you, bye bye.

Ben:                   This is an interesting question.

Rachel:              Isn’t it?

Ben:                   I don’t know that we’ve talked about that much about schizophrenia on the show, and I should point out that I’m not a doctor nor am I a psychiatrist, nor do I wear a lab coat, nor do I do frontal lobotomies on anyone…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …ever, never done that.  Not even on a pet, so…

Rachel:              So, talk to your doctor.

Ben:                   Talk to your doctor. However, there is pretty much unanimous agreement among experts that schizophrenia develops as a result of the interplay between biological predispositions, inheriting certain genes basically and the kind of environment that you get exposed to.

Rachel:              Yes.

Ben:                   And so you are definitely born with, depending on parental factors, a higher risk for schizophrenia genetically or lower risk as the case may be, and then your epigenetic environment or the kind of triggers that you pull for environmental standpoint can then – it further increase the risk that genetic predisposition to schizophrenia is going to develop into it, actually manifesting itself.


So this is just a simple case of nature versus nurture some in you know, for example, there was one study that this is not schizophrenia, this is more like a aggression and criminality.  But this is back in 2002, they identified this gene called the MAOA gene and they term this – the scientist term this ‘violence gene’, and what they found was that it was associated with aggression and criminal activity and that people have this gene, had a higher than normal risk of growing up to be anti-social or violent but this is only if they were neglected or abused as children.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So if they had this violent gene but they also had a loving, non-abusive family, they turned out just fine, so you know, that’s just you know, one example of the nature versus nurture type of thing.  With schizophrenia, you know, an example of various schizophrenia, for example, there is one pretty recent research study that showed that people who have multiple copies of version of the gene associated with schizophrenia and who smoked marijuana or used cannabis, they increase the risk of developing schizophrenia by 1000%.

Rachel:              Wow.  That’s huge.

Ben:                   So that would be one example of something that you should definitely avoid if you have genetic predisposition schizophrenia, this is because of the interplay between marijuana and dopamine receptors.  We just published or about to publish an article on this from the Examine Research Digest, if you wanna dig in to dopamine, schizophrenia and marijuana a little bit more, Rachel that’s going live on the Facebook page this week.

Rachel:              I think it might be live already.

Ben:                   Okay, cool.  So…

Rachel:              I think it’s today.

Ben:                   If you wanna read that whole article for free on dopamine, schizophrenia and marijuana, go to, that’s  So we know that weed is one issue when it comes to development of schizophrenia if you have a genetic predisposition to it.  A lot of the research that’s been done on schizophrenia unfortunately, for our dear listener Ryan, has been done on what the mother does while she’s pregnant with you – everything from alcohol and lead exposure causing increase for schizophrenia, to expose you to like genital herpes during pregnancy, a toxoplasmosis which is basically you know, like your mom having a cat which is kinda interesting, but cats carry a toxoplasmosis gene and they found that if your mom has exposure to that while she’s pregnant with you, and you have the gene for schizophrenia, it could increase your risk for developing it later on in life.

Rachel:              How bizarre.

Ben:                   I know.

Rachel:              That is so bizarre.

Ben:                   But if you Google the term ‘cat lady, schizophrenia’ there actually is some evidence that women who spent a lot of time around cats, who have the gene for schizophrenia tend to develop that because a lot of cats will carry this toxoplasmosis gene.  I’m serious, take a deep dive into that one on the Googles.

Rachel:              Gosh.

Ben:                   Yeah. Low folic acid levels during pregnancy, low choline availability during pregnancy, like low amounts of fish oil, but I know that is probably just kind of like a depressing topic for you if you’re listening in and you aren’t able to go back in like being born again.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   So what can you do?

Rachel:              Finding out what to do while she’s pregnant with you.

Ben:                   Yeah, mom.  So anyways, what can you do if you know that you have the gene for schizophrenia to prevent schizophrenia? In addition to avoiding marijuana, one is fish oil?  They found that Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil may lower the risk of psychotic disorders from getting worse and even prevent psychosis from occurring in the first place.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   So this is probably related to the enhanced neural function that occurs from a high intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, so that’s one that I would definitely look into, would be the use of essential fats and specifically Omega 3 fatty acids.  So you know the breaking down or stripping of essential fats from the brain is actually done by this enzyme called phospholipase and phospholipase appears to be over expressed in people who have schizophrenia which means that schizophrenics would have lower levels of fatty acids in the final cortex of their brain.  So using high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, when I say high amounts, you have some people, some fitness “expert” you know, guys like Charles Pollak for example recommending like 40 plus grams of fish oil per day.  I’ve never recommended fish oil dosages that high, but for the regular person, I recommend about 1 to 4 grams per day depending on how much fish you’re eating.


And if you’re looking at needing more because of a high level of turnover from something like a high levels of this enzyme called phospholipase, you’d probably close to like 8 to 10 grams per day of fish oil, so it’s almost double/triple the dosages of what’s normally recommended.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   The other part of the essential fat story is that these essential fats are also prone to destruction in the brain and on the diet by oxidants, and there’s also evidence that there’s more oxidation in the frontal cortex of people who have schizophrenia.  So not only you wanna consume these essential fats, but you want to ensure that they are not oxidized.  Now, the main vitamins that tend to show that they can keep essential fatty acids from being oxidized from the human body are Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, so using like a multi-vitamin that has those anti-oxidants in them or consuming a fish oil that’s packaged with those antioxidants, there’s one called super essentials that I like, it’s called Super Essentials Fish Oil and it’s packaged with anti-oxidants Astaxanthin, cold processed, so it’s like not prone to oxidation and also has anti-oxidants with it as well – that’d be another thing.  And then of course, as you can probably guess, any form of smoking and carcinogen exposure like you know, barbecued meats, processed meats, smoking – any of these sources of oxidants can destroy a lot of these anti-oxidants more readily, especially Vitamin C.  So, and also it’ll lead more to more oxidation these essential fatty acids, so you know, doing a lot more like boiling, steaming, raw cooking, blending, juicing and then avoiding cigarette smoke, and of course, marijuana smoke would be another under very important thing to do in terms of reducing risk for schizophrenia.  Methylation, so a faulty methylation means that you’re gonna develop a lot of this amino acid in your bloodstream called homocysteine, and many people with schizophrenia tend to have this very, very high levels of homocysteine even if they’re not taking in a lot of things that can cause high homocysteine.  Like synthetic folic acids such as you would find in like a cheap commom multi-vitamin that’s gonna dump a bunch of folic acid into your body and that can get converted into homocysteine, and these high levels of homocysteine are associated with schizophrenia.  It’s probably because people diagnosed with schizophrenia probably also have a genetic variation of this homocysteine lowering enzyme which may mean that they need more of an active form of folic acid.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So what this comes down to is if you have a genetic risk for schizophrenia or has schizophrenia, there’s a form of folic acid called methyltetrahydrofolate, MTHFR.  You wanna look for a multivitamin that has that form of folic acid in it, and because just for anybody, not in people with schizophrenia, high levels of folic acid can cause some serious health issues and so you don’t wanna use a synthetic folic acids supplement like most multi-vitamins used nowadays.  You wanna use this stuff called methyltetrahydrofolate, so.

Rachel:              And the access multi that you suggest, is that kind in it?

Ben:                   Yeah, the one I take, the EXOS – that definitely has the MTHFR in it and that multivitamin was one like I was actually on well down the path to formulating my own multivitamin using raw ingredients from a number of different manufacturers and then realized that this company EXOS you know, like 40 miles from my house at the Thorne Facility in Dover, Idaho, they were already producing a multivitamin that satisfied all these criteria and many more.  So that one you can find at  Full disclosure, I’m on their board and I profit from that multivitamin, but there’s a reason for that because it’s what I take, it’s what my wife takes, it’s…

Rachel:              You believe in it?

Ben:                   Yeah, I believe in it.  So anyways, that would be another thing.  And then the last thing is just in food allergies, some people with mental health problems can be very sensitive to gluten, that’s primarily related to what’s talked about in the book “Grain Brain” and the neural inflammation that very concentrated high levels of gluten can cause.  And there was studies back in the 50’s that showed that schizophrenic children frequently have celiac disease or severe gluten allergies and so, and when meaning gluten from the diet would probably prudent – would probably be prudent for sure.  So I’ll put some of these resources in the show notes for you, Ryan and if you have questions, you can leave it in the comments there but those are some of the biggies that I’d start with would be: avoiding marijuana, take in some essential fatty acids, using a good multi, checking for food allergies, and then also getting some antioxidants into your system, so.


Rachel:              There you go.

Danella:            Hi Ben, Danella from New Zealand.  I have a question for you about protein powder.  So I’ve been using the MHP Paleo protein which is a beef and egg white protein.  I noticed the other day when I went to reorder that it says it’s not suitable for nursing moms.  So I’m nursing my 8th month old, and I couldn’t find any information online as to why it wouldn’t be suitable and I couldn’t find any information from the company itself.  Perhaps you could shed some light on this as to why we wouldn’t be able to use that protein and if you think that I shouldn’t.  Maybe have a suggestion from another protein that would be okay for me to use while nursing.  Thanks so much.  Love the show.

Ben:                   So Rachel, I think Danella is probably trying to have a big old swole muscular baby.  What do you think?

Rachel:              That’s definitely what she’s going for.

Ben:                   Yeah, she wants to have the next Arnold.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   The next governor of California, of course!

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   And as we all know, the best way to have a large, muscular baby is to consume a lot of protein powder…

Rachel:              While breastfeeding.

Ben:                   …well said baby, is breastfeeding.  Yes.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Of course.

Rachel:              Win-win.

Ben:                   You should probably throw some creatine in there, too.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   And maybe some kind of like jacked Ephedra based supplements, so they’re very hyperactive, able to lift more, a little pre-workout booster for your baby.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Yeah, proteins – so first of all, there’s nothing inherent in protein, you should not exceed 200 grams of protein per day, you’d probably get a little bit of nitrogenous build up that might make your milk taste crappy or you know, put some ammonia in milk, but that’s really not a big issue unless you’re just like in a seriously large amount of man in the can while you’re pregnant.

Rachel:              So why did they, why did the protein company say that she shouldn’t use it while nursing?

Ben:                   So there’s a couple reasons that this could be likely: first of all, I don’t know if you have heard about the study a couple of years ago that found that most protein powders have really high naturally occurring levels of trace heavy metals.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   So interestingly, the vegan proteins tend to even have higher heavy metal counts than like the animal-based proteins like whey, and whey isolate.  And usually I’m pretty good advocate of vegan based proteins like living protein is the one that I used but…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …there can be some metals in there and just naturally high levels of metals, so you may want to be careful from that perspective.  And you can contact just about any manufacturer and ask for a certificate of analysis of heavy metal contamination and testing but if you aren’t able to get that, you may wanna be careful with protein powder while breastfeeding because of that.  So in most folks, it’s very, very trace levels.  It’s not that much, it was kinda blown up proportional study but it is something to know if you’re breastfeeding especially, ‘cause babies are little and metals are gonna affect them.

Rachel:              Right.  They’re vulnerable.

Ben:                   They’re very vulnerable, especially to metals.

Rachel:              And they’re growing.

Ben:                   And we won’t even get into the vaccine discussion at this point…

Rachel:              We wanna help them develop.

Ben:                   …as we talk about metals.  Sweeteners: so using a good multi, checking for food allergies and then also getting some anti-oxidants into your system, so.

Rachel:              There you go.

Danella:            Hi Ben, Danella from New Zealand.  I have a question for you about protein powder.  So I’ve been using the MHP   protein which is a beef and egg white protein.  I noticed the other day when I went to reorder that it says it’s not suitable for nursing moms.  So I’m nursing my 8th month old and I couldn’t find any information online as to why it wouldn’t be suitable and couldn’t find any information from the company itself.  Perhaps you could shed some light on this as to why we wouldn’t be able to use that protein and if you think that I shouldn’t maybe have a suggestion from another protein that would be okay for me to use while nursing.  Thanks so much.  Love the show.

Ben:                   So Rachel, I think Danella is probably trying to have a big old swole muscular baby.  What do you think?

Rachel:              That’s definitely what she’s going for.

Ben:                   Yeah, she wants to have the next Arnold.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   The next governor of California, of course!

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   And as we all know, the best way to have a large, muscular baby is to consume a lot of protein powder…

Rachel:              While breastfeeding.

Ben:                   …well said baby, is breastfeeding.  Yes.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Of course.

Rachel:              Win-win.

Ben:                   You should probably throw some creatine in there, too.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   And maybe some kind of like jacked Ephedra based supplements, so they’re very hyperactive, able to lift more, a little pre-workout booster for your baby.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Yeah, proteins – so first of all, there’s nothing inherent in protein, you should not exceed 200 grams of protein per day, you’d probably get a little bit of nitrogenous build up that might make your milk taste crappy or you know, put some ammonia in milk, but that’s really not a big issue unless you’re just like in a seriously large amount of man in the can while you’re pregnant.

Rachel:              So why did they, why did the protein company say she shouldn’t use it while nursing?

Ben:                   So there’s a couple reasons that this could be likely: first of all, I don’t know if you have heard about the study a couple of years ago that found that most protein powders have really high naturally occurring levels of trace heavy metals.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   So interestingly, the vegan proteins tend to even have higher heavy metal counts than like the animal-based proteins like whey, and whey isolate.  And usually I’m pretty good advocate of vegan based proteins like living protein is the one that I used but…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …there can be some metals in there and just naturally high levels of metals, so you may want to be careful from that perspective.  And you can contact just about any manufacturer and ask for a certificate of analysis of heavy metal contamination and testing, but if you aren’t able to get that, you may wanna be careful with protein powder while breastfeeding because of that.

Rachel:              Hmm.

Ben:                   So in most folks, it’s very, very trace levels.  It’s not that much, it was kinda blown up proportional study but it is something to know if you’re…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …breastfeeding especially, ‘cause babies are little and metals are gonna affect them.

Rachel:              Right.  They’re vulnerable.

Ben:                   They’re very vulnerable, especially to metals.

Rachel:              And they’re growing.

Ben:                   And we won’t even get into the vaccine discussion at this point…

Rachel:              We wanna help them develop.

Ben:                   …as we talk about metals.  Sweeteners: so saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, etc. – not only when you’re pregnant can allow that to cross the placenta and could remain in fetal tissue but it can also wind up in breast milk.  And we still don’t know a lot about how fully these are metabolized and there are some evidence that they can cause some damage to for example, a bacteria you know, specifically, potentially, your gut bacteria – granted that’s study was done in rats with ungodly amounts of artificial sweeteners, but it’s still one of those things where I say proceed with caution when it comes to artificial sweeteners and many protein powders have artificial sweeteners in them.  Along with a lot of other added dose – so herbal stimulants for example, are commonly found in protein, extra caffeine, creatine – last I checked, nobody was thinking any booze in the protein powder but that’s about the only thing that you’ll find left out of protein powder in many cases.  So, it all comes out to the cleanliness of the powder itself.  And when you combine that with the fact that you know, you can get some amino acids from bone broth, and you know, if you’re concern about protein intake, you can just get yourself some nice you know, some nice eggs from free range, hens that haven’t been fed a bunch of grains and corn.  And you can eat some you know, if you’re concern about food allergies or you know, the way this red meat scare, you can get like a really hypoallergenic meat – like a good lamb for example, is very hypoallergenic when it comes to meat.  Like a grass-fed beef and you can use for example, amino acids like essential amino acids capsules which are basically everything you’ll find in a protein powder from a protein standpoint with none of the calories or the additives.  And you know, a lot of these milks out there like goat milk, and you can combine like you know, almond milk and rice milk and you know, there’s a lot of different ways that you can get adequate protein without necessarily using a protein powder.


Rachel:              So would you recommend that?

Ben:                   Unless of course, you do want your baby to get swole in which case it’s used.  Use it.

Rachel:              (laughs)  So, would you recommend that you don’t use a protein powder while breastfeeding?

Ben:                   I would recommend that unless you are 100% sure it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners, it’s been tested for heavy metals and doesn’t have additives like caffeine or any other herbal stimulants in it, that you move along and find another way to get your protein.

Shane:               Hi Ben, this is Shane.  I found you through the ‘Less Doing’ podcast and I have a question on HRV.  I’ve been testing with the Sweetbeat app for a couple of months now, and I am consistently low – at least where I think is low, somewhere between 17 and maybe up to 35 on HRV.  I peg the stress meter on the thing even when I turned the sensitivity to the lowest, so I’m trying to figure out, is there something wrong with me? What does it mean when HRV is that low and where to find out some specific? I sent info off to the Sweetbeat folks, and they kinda sent me a generic thing back but that’s not a diagnostic tool and they can’t help.  So I’m not looking for a diagnosis, I’m looking for you know, what does it mean when things are so low? And I’m generally healthy person, about 43, about 160 and work out on a regular basis, so not sure what it means.  Anyway, thank you very much.  Love your show, talk to you later.

Ben:                   That’s a really low HRV, Shane, you are probably gonna die.

Rachel:              (gasp) Oh, Ben.

Ben:                   Or horribly.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Amputation.  Yeah, that actually is a really low HRV or heart rate variability.  And first of all, if you don’t know what heart rate variability is and you’ve never heard any of our podcast on heart rate variability, go get yourself some self-education because I’m not gonna go over that all in this particular episode, but go to, that’s  I’ve got all the articles in podcast that I’ve ever done on like HRV 101 there.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   But when it comes to low heart rate variability or low HRV, first of all, that does not necessarily forecast impending reductions in performance.  So for example, they did a study of tennis players and they found that after they had followed 30 days of over-reaching and getting very close to over-training by decreasing the heart rate variability quite significantly between 15 and 50%.  It actually had improved performance at the end of that program, meaning that if you are training, you can purposefully, intentionally, reduce your HRV by over-reaching, training yourself a little bit harder than usual, and as long as you programmed in smart recovery from that, that low HRV can actually come back to help you as long as you get it back up.

Rachel:              Interesting.

Ben:                   So that would be one situation in which a low HRV is a good thing.  The other situation in which we actually tend to see a low HRV is in athletes who are training with a high amount of sympathetic nervous system training, and what I mean by that are like CrossFitters, sprinters, people who were doing a relatively low amount of aerobic training.  So we’re not talking about people who are say like doing CrossFit and also going out in a long run in the weekends and maybe another you know, a long bike ride halfway through the week.  We’re not talking about you know, for example, triathletes who both weight lift and do cardio, those would be examples of situation in which low HRV is probably just an indication of beating yourself up too much.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   But low HRV can also be caused by an imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system training which is why when you turn on the T.V., and you see the guys in like the World’s Strongest Man Competition competing, those guys can run a mile to save their lives but they’re big, they’re strong, they’re quite robust and healthy in what they do.  And those guys are all gonna have a low heart rate variability simply because they’re so skewed towards sympathetic nervous system activation towards more of like the fast-switch-power strength type of training.  And so if that is your you know, your sport, you know, if that’s your poison, then low heart rate variability is not something you should be too concerned about because you want an imbalance, you want to be good at sprinting and not that great at running.  It’s like an interview I heard once with, I believe it was Venus Williams who said she’s very careful not to overrun more than a mile ‘cause she didn’t want a lot of slow twitch muscle fiber.


Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   She doesn’t want to get slower, she doesn’t need that much endurance theoretically, even though I would argue that, being able to run 5 miles is part of your serving pretty well on a four hour tennis match.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   But ultimately, low HRV is not always a bad thing.

Rachel:              A bad thing.

Ben:                   To some it’s a bad thing, sometimes you wanna purposely dig yourself into that low HRV hole, and sometimes you want to depending on your goals, have an imbalance in the type of training that you do.

Rachel:              And where can you find something specific information?

Ben:                   So I’ll give you some more information here in a second about what to do if you don’t fall into the categories that I just described, but you also have a low HRV.  Because a low HRV if it’s not related to what I just described, there’s a lot of things that have been associated with low HRV such as increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac events.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   Coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol – that cluster is associated with a low HRV.  People with a low HRV are the higher risk of dying in the subsequent 3 years, so…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   You thought I was joking, but I’m really not.

Rachel:              I did think you were joking.

Ben:                   Yeah, there’s actually this study that appeared in the European Medical Informacology Journal that looked at the link between heart rate variability and death due to mild cardiac infarction and so the one your HRV is consistently low, it is a sign that the ticker may need a little bit of help.  So we’ve also seen that like in elderly people, high HRV is very strongly associated with longevity and a lot of elderly people have been tested with high HRV a relatively free of many morbidity factors, so.  Just this morning, I posted my personal HRV that I measure each morning to the internet just because every once in a while I wanna kinda show people you know, what are the numbers look like if are doing things mostly right.  I know I talked about how I do lead a relatively stressful lifestyle, but my HRV is pretty good because even though I’m beating myself up with exercise, stress, I have a very good combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise – so that means my parasympathetic and my sympathetic nervous system are pretty well balanced.

Rachel:              Balanced, yeah.

Ben:                   And my HRV is kinda high.  So basically, as far as some of the best things to raise an HRV that is low, actually even before I get into that, the kind of things that can lower an HRV.  The things that I found to have the biggest effect on lowering HRV: one would be lack of sleep, it’s a real biggie, my heart rate variability is always lower after bad night of sleep; any type of excess sympathetic anaerobic training which I already mentioned.  Shallow breathing – shallow breathing can significantly lower HRV, so you may want to check your breath patterns.  Also, any type of antihistamine, right? Like Nyquil or zzzquil, or something like that, drops HRV extremely, extremely low.  I’m not quite sure of exactly why that happens but I’m guessing it has to do something with the effects of antihistamines on the vagus nerve, so that’s another one that will lower HRV.  And then the last one would just be heart disease, so you may wanna listen to the episode we had a couple of weeks ago, episode 336 on heart disease because it’s possible that you may just wanna go get your ticker checked out as well, so.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   As far as what else to do with things that can raise HRV, I mean, we have a ton of resources if you go to, and check that out because there’s a lot of things that can increase HRV.  Also, what you’ll find is that changes of HRV related to specific pathologist, actually Wikipedia has a great article on heart rate variability and they do get into some other things like liver cirrhosis, diabetic neuropathy which could also look at as you know, want to get your liver enzymes check and check in your fast and blood glucose because both of those can cause a reduction in HRV.  And even some chiropractic issues, right? Like cervical imbalances or thoracic imbalances in your vertebrae, like structural abnormalities, muscular, skeletal abnormalities – maybe you just need to go and get a freaking good massage you know?

Rachel:              I always need a good message.

Ben:                   Yeah, but I’m serious, they give you spine as mal-aligned, you’d may wanna go see a good like chiropractic doc who can adjust you or an osteopathic physician to you know, make sure that none of that is affecting your HRV as well.  A lot of things you can go after, so you know, sometimes it takes some detective work, but I hope that helps Shane and opens your eyes to the wonderful, broad, sometimes confusing but enchanting world of HRV.  So, there you have it.


Rachel, what do you think, we do have a review this week?

Rachel:              It’s my favorite time!

Ben:                   The favorite time of the show.

Rachel:              Yup!

Ben:                   So, this is the time of the show – I feel like we need some kind of a gentle lowing piano music (piano music playing).  This is the time of the show when Rachel reads a review, so if you leave a review, if you go to iTunes and leave us a review.  Be nice and by ‘be nice’ I mean with 5 stars in it after your great review.

Rachel:              (laughs)  That’s the only way it gets around the podcast.

 Ben:                  That’s right.  And if you do that, then we’ll read your review on  the podcast, and if you hear your review read, all you have to do is email [email protected], that’s [email protected], and when you email the said address, we will send you a sweet tech t-shirt, BPA-free water bottle, an awesome Ben Greenfield Fitness beanie – all three come in a box to your house, make sure you let us know your t-shirt size too, ‘cause we’ll send you t-shirt, this are sweet t-shirts, I love my t-shirt.

Rachel:              I want one.

Ben:                   My kids have baby – you don’t have one?

Rachel:              I don’t have one.

Ben:                   Oh my gosh.

Rachel:              I want a Team Greenfield shirt so I can take photos and post it to Instagram when you’re doing fun stuff like running 24-hour, tough mudders.

Ben:                   You remind me after this, I’ll make sure that we…

Rachel:              Alright, I will.

Ben:                   …we get you a shirt.  I’ll cut you a deal (laughs).  I’ll give you a 10% discount, Rachel.

Rachel:              (laughs) Oh yes, they’re nice, Ben.  Thank you.  Alright.

Ben:                   Anyways though, so, what do you think? Let’s hear the review.

Rachel:              Alright, let’s do it.  It’s by mrod31:  “This is by far the best health and fitness podcast out there.  I’ve been listening to various podcast and they all seem to be saying the same things.  Ben brings something different and has definitely opened my eyes to so many more health and fitness topics.  I think what the best thing is, is that he actually does his research on all of the topics, unlike some other folks who seem to try and work through the subject matter.  Ben actually knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t miss a beat.  I’m happy I found this podcast, and Rachel is a welcome addition.” Awww!

Ben:                   You just scored some points!

Rachel:              Wee! Got some serious points!

Ben:                   He/she, whoever was – you just scored some Rachel points which is – those are good for something.

Rachel:              You’re in! You’re in!

Ben:                   If you ever go to Australia…

Rachel:              Uh-huh.  Oh yeah, baby! (laughs)

Ben:                   It looks like, yeah, those are some good, good Oz karma going on there.

Rachel:              You want us to answer your question on the podcast? You need Rachel points.

Ben:                   Oh yeah.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   So, if you are listening in, don’t turn off the show yet because I wanna tell you, this weekend’s episode is gonna be fantastic.  You gonna learn how to re-grow limbs…

Rachel:              (gasp) What?

Ben:                   Heel, about heel stuff.  Amazing podcast with ______ [1:17:44.6]

Rachel:              That’s crazy!

Ben:                   And then you will not hear Rachel or me next week because we have a substitute podcast.  The reason being, I’m off on a weeklong free diving course and we’ll be…

Rachel:              Yey!

Ben:                   I’m gonna write a blog post about this because I’m going to be experimenting with the effects of ketosis on breath holding time in free diving performance, and I’ll be writing an article in my use of MCT powders and liquid ketones during that experiment, so…

Rachel:              Hmm.

Ben:                   that would be an interesting one.  Stay tuned for that.

Rachel:              I will.

Ben:                   Speaking of ketones, check out the ground breaking high fat endurance study that I just posted the link to at  We have a bunch of crazy interviews coming up, so don’t turn off the show, make sure you subscribe through an iTunes.  I mean now you can turn it off ‘cause we’re done, but…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …don’t turn it off permanently.  So subscribe in iTunes, tell your friends, thanks for listening in and I’m Ben Greenfield, she’s Rachel… Browne.  Signing off, Later, Rachel.

Rachel:              Later, Ben. 

You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.

[1:19:53.0]     END


The Underground Test That Shows You How To Legally Upgrade Your EPO, Increase Your Oxygen Levels, Boost Your Red Blood Cells & Build Double-Digit Percentages In Power And Endurance.

pod cast epo itunes

You may remember Christopher Kelly from the podcast episode “The Little Known Test That Tells You Everything You Need To Know About Your Metabolism” and “7 Signs Your Cortisol & Adrenals Are Broken“.

In today’s episode, Chris is back, along with special guest Dr. Tommy Wood.

The reason I’ve invited Chris back on the podcast is because he recently wrote me about new methods he’s been using to identify how to increase EPO, increase oxygen consumption, beat anemia, boost red blood cells, and get double-digit percentage increases in power and endurance.

I’m always looking for insider tips on how to maximize my own athletic performance, so figured it would be a good idea to have Chris on to talk about these new, little-known testing and treatment methods.

Christopher Kelly is a computer scientist, pro mountain biker, certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and graduate of the Kalish Institute. Chris is British but lives in California where he runs the functional medicine practice Nourish Balance Thrive. Chris has been on the podcast twice before, once to talk about salivary hormone testing for adrenal fatigue, and once to talk about organic acid testing.

My other guest, Dr. Tommy Wood is a qualified medical doctor, graduating from Oxford University in 2011. He has a previous Bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences and Biochemistry from Cambridge University. After working as a junior doctor in the UK for two years, Dr Wood is now working towards a Ph.D. in neonatal brain metabolism at the University of Oslo, Norway.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why oxygen deliverability is so extremely crucial if you plan to compete at elevation or altitude, or you want to maximize your physical performance…

-The exact blood-building protocol Chris used to get a a 32-watt (9%) improvement in his cycling power at threshold…

-Specific conditions you probably get exposed to that directly shut down your ability to produce red blood cells and EPO and what you can do about it…

-How to know if you’re deficient in any of the nutrients required to produce red blood cells…

-The common nutrient deficiencies (which Chris had) that severely hamper your oxygen delivery capabilities, and how to fix them…

-The best way to track and monitor whether excessive red blood cell destruction is occurring…

-Little known ways that you can actually lose red blood cells, and how to test to see if that is happening…

-And much more!



[3:36] Introductions

[7:24] The background behind Chris’ interest in blood chemistry.

[9:17] Why measuring total hemoglobin mass is important to athletic performance, i.e. its relation to VO2 max.

[10:54] The importance of owning one’s health and data instead of relying on one’s primary care physician, especially when targeting athletic goals.

[12:22] How conventional treatment with intravenous iron didn’t help Chris, and how doing his own research into other treatments led to improvements in his hemoglobin and, eventually, a 9% increase in his threshold wattage.

[14:29] The biochemistry behind hemoglobin and Chris’ experience.

[17:40] EPO and the evaluation of kidney function (which produces EPO).

[20:16] Tests that can be used to identify issues with producing red blood cells, including both examining red blood cell size and count and nutrient tests.

[22:35] Chris’ personal experience with testing for nutrient deficiencies, reference ranges, and other tests that helped him such as testing for formiminoglutamic acid (FIGLU).

[25:20] Common reasons for folate deficiency.

[25:55] Interpreting elevated levels of methylmalonate.

[28:10] Causes of Chris’ nutritional deficiencies including gut inflammation, pathogens, sweat loss, genetics, etc.

[33:01] Reasons for red blood cell destruction such as the normal breakdown cycle, exercise, and chronic inflammation.

[35:16] How to determine if inflammation or oxidize stress is occurring excessively.

[38:57] Possible causes of actual loss of blood cells, including athlete’s anemia and reperfusion injuries.

[44:42] How to protect yourself from damage to the gut.

[46:06] How to know where to start and prioritize tests.

[47:58] The process for testing and test interpretation.

[49:31] Benefits of this clinical coaching.

[51:45] Other resources, discount codes, service options, etc.


Resources from this episode:

Dr. Michael Puchowicz website on doping and hematocrit

The Oxygen Boosting Webinar downloadable .pdf (where you can use code BEN10 for a 10% discount on the testing and consulting services we discuss in this episode)

the Paleo Autoimmune protocol that Chris followed

Fecal occult blood test

Do you have question, comments or feedback about how to build EPO, how to test your blood and biomarkers for precursors to oxygen production or anything else Christopher Kelly, Dr. Tommy Wood or I discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and we’ll reply!

337: Does Marijuana Shrink Your Brain, Building Muscle With Vitamin D, Best Ways To Track Fat Loss & More!

337_ Does Marijuana Shrink Your Brain, Building Muscle With Vitamin D, Best Ways To Track Fat Loss & More!

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

November 4, 2015 Podcast: Does Marijuana Shrink Your Brain, Building Muscle With Vitamin D, Best Ways To Track Fat Loss & More!

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

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The Fat Loss Summit just began and goes November 15-29. This is a FREE online event you can attend from home or on any mobile device, and includes talks like: How to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling strategies, secret Russian and mixed martial art training principles that speed fat loss, how to gamify your workouts to burn more fat in less time, a gut healing plan to go from sugar burner to fat burner, how to tweak your nervous system to lose weight  faster…and much more (including a cold thermogenesis episode from yours truly). Sign up NOW here:

Did you miss the weekend podcast episode with Kim Anami? It was a must-listen – titled “A Vaginal Weightlifting Coach Reveals Her Secrets On How To Train Your Body For Soul-Stretching, Bed-Shaking, Neighbor Complaining Sex.” Click here to listen now or download for later!

This podcast is brought to you by Audible. Ben Greenfield’s New York Times Bestselling book Beyond Training is now available on Audible! After spending over 43 hours in front of a microphone, Ben has finished recording a 100% (fully updated) audio recording of this quintessential guide to performance, recovery, fat loss, digestion, brain, sleep, hormones and more. If you’re new to Audible, you can get it now for free by clicking here.

This podcast is brought to you by Texas Superfood, which has 55 fruits and vegetables in one serving (a capsule, powder or stick-pak). It is the only product on the planet with 55 fresh, raw, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. Beat food cravings, get better sleep, and get convenient mega-dosing of nutrients without having to eat pounds and pounds of food. Go to and use promo code “BEN” at checkout to get 10% off your first order.

This podcast is brought to you by Onnit. Visit to instantly save 10% on any of their tasty superfoods like nut butter or their Warrior bar, made with real prairie-fed buffalo, cranberries, and a spicy pepper blend. You can also awaken your primal nature and produce a savage workout. Made from high-quality, extremely rust and chip-resistant coated iron, the Primal Bells have been 3D scanned to ensure perfect balance for a professional quality workout.

Now Available – Ben Greenfield’s “REV Yourself Conference” – 25 Packaged Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts In Physical & Mental Performance Enhancement Strategies. In this package, you’ll get to watch and listen as Ben Greenfield sits down with the world’s leading experts in biohacking, physical performance, mental performance, cognitive enhancement, personal productivity, muscle gain, fat loss and more. In a frank, easy-to-understand, fireside chat format, these experts reveal all their most cutting-edge secrets, and your access to the videos and audios also includes helpful notes, summaries and more. From Dr. Mercola to Mark Sisson to Nora Gedgaudas, you can check out the lineup and get access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever (no expiration!) once you click here to get lifetime access for $47.

Dec 4-6, 2015: Ben is speaking at the Unbeatable Mind Retreat in Carlsbad, California. This is where SEALFit and Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine will be assembling the best of the best in everything from performance to cutting-edge mental training to advanced sleep tactics and more. Includes amazing ancestral meals, morning WOD’s at SEALFit HQ (the site of the world famous Kokoro camp), Warrior Yoga instruction and workouts, and speakers such as Robb Wolf, Dr. Kirk Parsley, Dominic D’Agostino, and more. Click here to get in now.

Nov 14, 2015: Ben will be competing at the World’s Toughest Mudder. If you live near Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada, be sure to come watch the action! Ben will be using the “NattyStack” from NaturalForce products to fuel this event “BEN10” will get you 10% off all supplements from NaturalForce and “BEN5” will get you 5% off all protein.

Nov 17-18, 2016: Ben is speaking at the Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.

Grab this Official Ben Greenfield Fitness Gear package that comes with a tech shirt, a beanie and a water bottle.

And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!



Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the NEW Podcast Sidekick.

Why Surgery Isn’t The Only Option For Gallstones

Seth says: He just got diagnosed with Gall Stones and it seems the natural remedies don’t work. What’s your opinion on them and is surgery his only option?

In my response, I recommend:
Vitamin C
Enzyme with bile acids

Why You Should Cry More

Matthew says: He feels really good after crying and is wondering if there’s any physiological benefits to it?

Curcumin vs. Turmeric

Zach says: He’s wants a definite low down on turmeric and curcumin. He’s an ultra endurance runner who wants to recover faster and upregulate his fat conversion. Should he buy bulk turmeric powder, or turmeric extract supplements or curcumin extract supplements and of those, with or without piperine or black pepper? Is the 95% curcuminoid label play a factor in that decision? What should the dosage be  as a hard-charging athlete and when should it be taken?

The Best Way To Track Fat Loss

Jamal says: He owns his own group personal training facility focused on fat loss and he wants to incorporate a tracking measurement. What do you recommend? What’s the best way to track fat loss performance?

What You Need To Know About NRF2

Billy says: What do you think of the new area of research on NRF2? Most of the research is looking at preventative health approaches but what do you think of it as a strategy for recovery?

In my response, I recommend:


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Episode #337 – Full Transcript

Podcast #337 from


Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness show: Does Marijuana Shrink Your Brain, Building Muscle With Vitamin D, Why You Should Cry More, Curcumin Vs. Turmeric, The Best Way To Track Fat Loss, and much more!

                           He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield… “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that for natural movement, get out there! When you’re working all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest effort to see…”  All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Ben:                   Rachel, I feel like we might need sad trombone music for today’s show.

Rachel:              Oh really? Why? What’s going on?

Ben:                   Because I have not had caffeine this morning nor did I have a glass of red wine last night as, as my usual habit.

Rachel:              But definitely deserves some sad music.

Ben:                   Sad trombone.  Cue sad trombone here, Charlie Brown style. (trombone sound) I’m actually going on doing it – a no alcohol, no caffeine experiment, so.

Rachel:              Uh-huh.

Ben:                   And…

Rachel:              And you haven’t tried this before?

Ben:                   I haven’t tried this before, no.  I mean, like I’ve had times where there’s like you know, whatever, weekends where I don’t drink or you know, I’ll go like a week.  I’ve talked about this before in the show where probably 4 weeks that I drink caffeinated coffee, I switched in 1 week of decaf to reset the receptors in the brain that can become…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   desensitized to caffeine.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   And I decided to see if it would influence anything from my gut health to my weight, to my overall feelings of energy, not anything’s broken but I’m always wanted to try out these things.  And alcohol and caffeine are two staples in my diet, so…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  And how are you feeling, so far?

Ben:                   Well, in the evenings, I’ve been using CBD to you know, that token glass of wine at the end of the day can helps you relax.

Rachel:              Helps you relax, right.

Ben:                   Yeah.  So I’ve been doing CBD, occasionally a little bit of THC here and there, but for the most part you know, I’ve been doing fine.  Frankly, I’ve been sleeping extremely well.

Rachel:              Interesting.

Ben:                   Extremely well.  I tend to wake at about 2 or 3 o’clock briefly and then go back to sleep and I don’t – you know, and since I’m not doing alcohol in the evening right now, I don’t wake…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   …at that time.  But I gotta tell you, I’d rather have my glass of red wine and wake at 2 or 3 am than not have it.

Rachel:              Not have at all?

Ben:                   But I’m just experimenting in.  The caffeine thing interestingly, there’s a lot of evidence that caffeine, if you have food intolerances to things like gluten or corn, or soy, caffeine particularly coffee can cause a lot of cross reactivity with those compounds and aggravate even trace amounts of those type of things in your diet.  So for me, I wanted to see if my gut would feel better you know, not that I’m walking around with explosive diarrhea…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   But I basically just wanted to see how my gut feels if I cut out coffee and also if it affects things like sleep, energy levels in the afternoon, etc.  So I’m still kinda feeling things out, I’ll write a more comprehensive blog post hopefully soon, but it’s been a week and I’ve not yet spontaneously combusted…so.

Rachel:              (laughs) Well, interesting.  I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Ben:                   Yeah, so stay tuned for that, all you podcast listeners who are obsessed with coffee and booze.

News Flashes:

Ben:                   Rachel, do you or have you ever had a goal of getting swole?

Rachel:              Uhh, no? Should I learn? (laughs)

Ben:                   Some of this big, ripped?

Rachel:              Should I? I mean, I’m open.

Ben:                   Do you own a Welcome to the Gun Show t-shirt?

Rachel:              I don’t own a Welcome to the Gun How t-shirt.

Ben:                   Uh, you’re dead to me.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Seriously.

Rachel:              Just lost all respect.

Ben:                   Everybody needs a Welcome to the Gun Show t-shirt in their closet.  Well, the reason is that one of the things that I talked about this week was the fact that winter is quickly approaching.  Father winter ‘cause…

Rachel:              Mmm.  Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   It’s called ‘father winter’ or ‘mother winter’?

Rachel:              Not sure.

Ben:                   I guess it’s ‘father Christmas’, huh?

Rachel:              Father Christmas, yeah.

Ben:                   Yeah, okay.  Close enough.

Rachel:              (laughs) This is – those are very different things, but we’ll keep going.

Ben:                   Father Christmas approaches.


And there is a recent study that came out this week in the American Journal of Physiology that investigated Vitamin D and skeletal muscle repair and regeneration.  And as we all know, we get less levels of Vitamin D in the winter, I actually live on a north facing slope which means that it’s a treed north facing slope, meaning that if I don’t get out before about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, my body doesn’t see sunshine.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   So, I’ve got this little tiny patch of time, it’s actually between about noon and 1:30 out of my front porch when there’s some serious rays of sun floating through the tamaracks and I will just go outside.

Rachel:              Go out there and shove it off and soak it up.

Ben:                   Soak it in, yeah.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Exactly.  So anyways though, what this study looked into was supplementing with 4,000 international units of Vitamin D a day which for those who want to quantify that.  That’s about 10 times as much as vitamin D as most multivitamins use.  So, you really can’t achieve this with a multivitamin without risking toxicity from all the other things in the multivitamins.  So generally, you need to use supplemental vitamin D for something like this.  But they did 4,000 international units of vitamin D a day, and that control group got a placebo which was just basically like a capsule but it didn’t have anything in it.  Usually they’ll use like cellulous or some other kind of fiber in the placebo capsule.  And then they measured a strength muscle repair, muscle regeneration, and hypertrophy which is just basically muscle building.  And what they found was a significant role for vitamin D in skeletal muscle regeneration and repair, and also in hypertrophy or getting swole.  So, in turns out and especially for those of us living in northern climates who don’t get a lot of sun exposure, and for doing things like lifting weights for example, or running which tears down muscles or you know whatever, obstacle training or triathlon or marathoning or whatever else that vitamin D supplementation is probably prudent with the caveat that as we’ve talked about on the show before.  Vitamin D can have toxicity.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Usually it’s 10,000 IU or more that typically causes bigger toxicity issues and you generally want your Vitamin D blood ranges to be between about 40 and 80…40 and 80.  So if you are to go and get a blood test and find out that your Vitamin D is at 90, you probably don’t need to take a Vitamin D supplement…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And if you did, you risk arterial calcification.  Vitamin D can pull calcium into the bloodstream, and you can even risk that at lower levels of Vitamin D unless you have adequate Vitamin K and adequate magnesium.  So, if you are going to do something like using a strategy such as the one in this research study and I don’t think they used Vitamin K or magnesium, they should’ve if they’re looking over our health, right? Not just muscle repair.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   If you’re gonna use Vitamin D and you wanna take the results from the study and run with them and you know, go bench press and impress all your friends and take boat loads of Vitamin D, use Vitamin K and use magnesium as well, so.

Rachel:              Hmmm.  Alright, good to know!

Ben:                   And by the way, Rachel, before I keep going, so I got some interesting stuff on marijuana today.

Rachel:              Interesting.

Ben:                   Can you remind people where they can find all these and oh so much more?

Rachel:              So all of these info post more over at the show notes at

Ben:                   337 and if follow any links there for Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or whatever, you can follow all the goodness.  Do we even have Facebook giveaways going on right now, by the way?

Rachel:              We have an awesome Facebook giveaway, the Sleep Master sleep mask.  We’ve got one going on Instagram, one going on Facebook, one going on Twitter so you got 3 chances to win.  So all you need to do is go to the post and comment ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether you wear a sleep mask, simple stuff.

Ben:                   Yeah. Follow any of the links over at for Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, but yeah, the Sleep Master sleep mask, that’s one I use every night.  It covers your ears, covers your eyes – it’s the best sleep mask, I can sleep anywhere like in an airport, put that sleep mask on.

Rachel:              Mmm.  Yeah, it looks awesome.

Ben:                   Yeah.  Anyways though, we digress, because I want to talk about weed.  I want to talk about what it can do and what it can’t do.  And there is a study that came out that shows that marijuana can – we may have to use the sad trombone again (sad trombone sound) shrink your brain…

Rachel:              Ooooh.

Ben:                   …particularly the area in the brain called the orbital frontal cortex which is involved in decision making, emotion and controlling reward and punishment related behavior, can shrink slightly with frequent marijuana use.  In this case, toking up about 3 times a day.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   Which is more you know, it’s more than the most people use, but I do know you know, as marijuana becomes legalized, there’s a lot of people using a lot of THC, using a lot of edibles… 


Rachel:              Mmm-hmm, right.

Ben:                   …and e-cigs and all that stuff.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   And that effect is even more pronounced in terms of shrinking of the gray matter in that region of the brain, and they used MRIs to study this and this was at the University of Texas that they did this study.  And it’s even more pronounced in younger individuals, people whose gray matter may not have completely formed, people who are still growing from a neural standpoint…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  Yup.

Ben:                   …this is why you should rip that bag of weed out of your teenager’s hands, right away.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   But ultimately, marijuana can cause damage to the brain and particularly it’s the interaction with the CB1 and the CB2 receptors that can cause these issues.  And…

Rachel:              So when you say ‘use it a lot’, so that’s 3 times a day for how long? What kind of period of time?

Ben:                   Hmm.  Yeah, the study says chronic marijuana use is about 6 to 8 years it would appear.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   That 6 to 8 years of chronic use of marijuana which you know, a lot of people like ‘heh’ and you know, don’t use marijuana 6 to 8 times a year but ultimately, whenever I see studies like this, I’m careful, right? Because it’s like ‘what if they would’ve studied people who use it for a year, once a day? right?

Rachel:              Right.  Hmmm.

Ben:                   So, this study gives me pause – and this is why you know, like I mentioned earlier in the show notes, talking about relaxing at night, this is why I’m trying to progress even more towards using CBD than THC just because CBD which is cannabidiol, that’s the legal form…

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   …it’s derived from organic hemp, it’s legal in almost every country, all 50 states.  And it interacts with your endocannabinoid system which is the same system that THC from marijuana interacts with, but it doesn’t interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors which can in long term it appears, cause some damage to the gray matter in the brain.  But it can do everything from like decreased symptoms of colitis and irritable bowel syndrome to causing a release of Adenosine, very similar to what you want of you were to like go to sleep if you take in higher amounts; it acts like a smart drug in lower amounts and  even counteracts a lot of the effects of THC.  It somehow blocks the ability of THC to cause some of the psychoactive effects that indicate interaction with some of these receptors in the brain.  And so if you use CBD even at the same time as you use THC, you might be able to reverse some of this…

Rachel:              Interesting.

Ben:                   …some of this damage.  Yeah, and the interesting thing I think about this, is that there is a post on the Huffington Post and this appeared several weeks ago.  But the Director for the National Institute on Drug Abuse wrote an article in the Huffington Post called “The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes”, cannabidiol is CBD, and I thought that this article is interesting.  I don’t know if you know this, but the government holds a patent on the use of CBD to manage medical conditions.

Rachel:              Interesting.  Did not know that.

Ben:                   The U.S. government holds a patent on it and what this study goes into and what I think you know, I’m being a little conspiracy theorist now…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …but the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse is someone who’s basically you know, on favor for the government pens a big article on Huffington Post about the beneficial effects of CBD on a variety of different medical conditions particularly neural conditions like seizure and epilepsy, and also for kids who have untreatable conditions.  And the article itself which I’ll link to in the show notes, it goes over how GW Pharmaceuticals is now developing a pharmaceutical drug that is basically CBD, they’re gonna patent it and they’re gonna sell it on ungodly prices which is dumb ‘cause you can get it from just like organic hemp of plants for not as much as you were or insurance is gonna pay for the CBD from this pharmaceutical company.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   But I think it’s quite interesting that this stuff seems to be taken the world by storm in terms of people recognizing its effects and it’s ability not just combat some of the issues with THC but it’s ability to recreate some of the effects that marijuana has without destroying the gray matter in your brain.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Like thumb sucking, stupid, short-term memory loss stricken individual. (chuckles)

Rachel:              Uh-huh.  Yeah.

Ben:                   But and I know you’ll like this Rachel, because this is the last thing that I wanted to get into.

Rachel:              But wait, there’s more (chuckles).

Ben:                   There’s something else that can rebuild the gray matter in your brain within 8 weeks.

Rachel:              Meditation.  Bam!

Ben:                   Meditation, you got it.

Rachel:              Yes!

Ben:                   Mindfulness meditation.  So the Harvard University did a study in which they investigated using MRIs, this very same MRIs that they used to study the effects of marijuana shrinking gray matter in the brain, they investigated meditation and the effects of meditation, 8 weeks of meditation on gray matter in the brain.


In this case, participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day doing mindfulness based meditation.  They experienced a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that is associated with self-awareness and compassion and introspection.  And interestingly, they also saw a slight decrease in gray matter in the amygdala which is the area of the brain responsible for creating anxiety and stress.  Yeah.  So although they could’ve changed this headline, they could’ve said, ‘8 weeks of Meditation shrinks your brain, because technically they lost gray matter in their amygdala and they gained gray matter in the hippocampus’.

Rachel:              (laughs) And the meditation is free.  It does the same similar things as CBD and it’s free.

Ben:                   Yes, yes.  Although I like to combine the two, personally, ‘cause CBD has other effects in like your gut…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   …in gut inflammation, stuff like that.  But ultimately, what you’ve learned so far in today’s podcast and we aren’t even into the Q & A yet, is don’t drink alcohol, don’t drink caffeine, oh, all the Mormons listening are gonna be really happy – Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, etc., we’re gonna gain a lot of listeners.  Don’t do drugs, take CBD…

Ben/Rachel:    and meditate.

Ben:                   Uhmmmmmm.

Rachel:              That was a really good ‘Uhmm’, Ben (chuckles).

Ben:                   Thank you.  Appreciate that. 

Special Announcements:

Ben:                   So Rachel, a few months ago you told me I had to look at this person named Kim Anami who lifts…

Rachel:              That’s right.

Ben:                   …coconuts and kettle bells with her vagina and…

Rachel:              Well, it was after you did that penis gym one, I was like ‘come on, the ladies need something, too, right?’

Ben:                   Yeah, ‘cause I was using this penis gym – this device that you attach to your penis, like a small – it’s a round, I think it’s less than a pound, that you attach and you do like weight lifting exercises with…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   …to increase the strength of you know, things like erections and decreasing continence and all these cool stuff.  Anyways though, so all the ladies were upset including Rachel…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   …that they do not have a penis magnet, so I got Kim on the show and it – if you didn’t tune in to the weekend episode with Kim, I think it’s a must listen if you are someone who has sex or plans on having sex.

Rachel:              Right.  And it’s not just for ladies, either, she talks a lot about men.

Ben:                   Exactly, I got a ton out of it.  I’ve been practicing that breathing exercise (inhales) when I’m engaged in intimacy…

Rachel:              (makes sounds)

Ben:                   and it’s – why do you make a sound like that?

Rachel:              ‘Cause you’re making me blush (laughs).  You can’t see me –  making me blush (laughs).

Ben:                   It sound like a ‘U’ sound…

Rachel:              It is.

Ben:                   Like a dirty old man talking about sex.  Anyways though, the stuff that she talks about works, so if you didn’t get the chance to go to iTunes or the website or whatever to listen in, go listen to the episode with Kim.  It’s not one for the office, it’s not one for the minivan with the kids, but it’s a good episode, so.  Few other things, the Fat Loss Summit is just about to begin, I just published a really cool info graphic called “7 Fat Loss Lies” on, and it is all in preparation for this big new summit.  So a lot of the summits suck and there’s just full of bunch of information that you could get for free at other places but this one is actually pretty cool.  It’s got a bunch of talks like ‘how to lose more fat with intermittent fasting and carb cycling’, ‘a Russian and mixed martial art training principles to speed fat loss’, ‘how to gamify your workouts to burn more fat in less time’, ‘a gut plan to go from being a sugar burner to a fat burner’, ‘how to tweak your nervous system to lose weight faster’ and I’m even in the summit.  I did a big thing on like different strategies for using the cold to lose weight.

Rachel:              Awesome!

Ben:                   Anyways, you can get it now.  It’s one of those things, it’s one of those summit, so it’s like free to watch live and then you pay for it to access the downloads.  What I do is I typically will pay, I’ll get the downloads, and then I’ll use like a YouTube converter to convert the video into audio and then I’ll just listen to the whole summit while I’m riding my bike or doing my training or whatever.

Rachel:              Awesome!

Ben:                   So, here’s how you get it:, that’s, you don’t know how to spell summit?

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   It’s with 2 m’s and 1 t – s-u-m-m-i-t, Fat Loss Summit, so check that out, and I got a few sponsor shout outs as well.  So first of all, this podcast is brought to you by Audible.


Do you listen to audio books well, Rachel?

Rachel:              I do, yeah.  Uhmm, I love Audible.

Ben:                   What was your favorite recent audio book that you listen to aside from my book, “Beyond Training”.

Rachel:              “Beyond Training”, I actually do listen to “Beyond Training” on it.  It’s great.  I have the hard copy as well but I find listening a lot easier, and you can listen everywhere, driving, on that kind of stuff, so.  “Beyond Training”.  My fave.

Ben:                   Okay, “Beyond Training”, so you’re gonna recommend my book.  Thanks for…

Rachel:              Oh yeah.  It’s a good book.

Ben:                   So, here’s my book that I recommend: One that I just read that was fantastic.  It’s about the neuro-biology of water and why we as humans have such a draw to water, and why particular people have an even greater draw to water like me, like I have to be near water.  Water makes me happy.  I have to get in every week.  And if I’m not near river or lake or a pool, it’s not – I don’t feel complete.  So this book is called “Blue Mind”, this surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.

Rachel:              Yeah.  I am actually come from a surf town, and there are so many people who would not leave ever just because they can’t not be near the ocean.

Ben:                   Yeah.  That is why I actually – when I moved out into the forest from being beside the river, I actually paid out the wazoo to have a crane drop at 19 foot endless pool into a giant concrete pit behind my house so that I will have access to water.

Rachel:              Ohh! Gosh.

Ben:                   We also want to get bees and eventually make a man-made you know, like pond for the animals but anyways, I have to be near water.  This book was amazing, so check it out.  If you go to, that’s, you can get that or any other book you want for free.  You get your first book free when you join Audible following that link, so check it out, we’ll put the link to that in the show notes as well if you can’t remember all these linkages.  Another thing is Texas Superfood, so these are capsules, I actually had some this morning – you can check them out at  What they are is they’re like one of these super food capsules and you can also get it in a powder or what they call a stick pack which is like this little travel pack that you can take with you on the go.  The cool thing is it doesn’t just have 55 different raw, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables extracts in it, but it also got a.) probiotics and b.) digestive enzymes, so you kinda kill a lot of birds with one stone when you take it.  This is one of those things that you should take with food, because it’ll be better absorbed if you take it with food.  But 6 capsules allows you to pretty much mega dose on nutrients without having the pounds and pounds of whatever, spinach or…

Rachel:              Super handy!

Ben:                   …broccoli or liver pate or whatever your nutrient dense food of choice is, instead you can just take Texas Superfood.  So check it out,, I think it’s called that ‘cause it’s made in Texas and you use promo code ‘ben’, use promo code ‘ben’ at check out, you get 10% off your first order from Texas Superfood, people and then finally, Onnit.  So, is where you can – actually, it’s, is the actual URL.  When you go to that automatically does something magical to your computer…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   It allows you to save 10% off of pretty much anything on their website, either kettle bells, their club bells.  So I am going to race and we’ll talk about this in a second, I’m gonna race World’s Toughest Mudder on November 14th.  I’m gonna use a combination of liquids – so I’m using a combination of liquids and solids.  The solids that I’m using are these bar that you can get from Onnit called the oat mega bar, and they have this chocolate mint crisp oat mega bar that I’m addicted to.  And I’m just gonna eat one of those after every 5 mile loop of the World’s Toughest Mudder course.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So basically, if I’m doing – you know my goal is to at least get 75 miles plus, so I’ll be taking about 25 or so of those bars down, oh not 25, 15…

Rachel:              Click now click (laughs).

Ben:                   …15, 20 or so.  Exactly, podcast Math in the fly, obviously I’m good at that.  So anyways, visit and those bars are called the oat mega bars, chocolate mint – just try, like even just order like one – they’re really good.

Rachel:              Sounds yummy.

Ben:                   Those are, yeah.  And the other thing that I wanted to give a little bit more insight ‘cause people always ask me what I use during these 24-hour events.

Rachel:              Yeah, yeah.  Right.

Ben:                   The liquid that I’m using is – I’m using this thing called the Natty Stack.  It’s made by this company called NaturalForce and its 3 different things: it is a chia seed blend called iskiate, it is a raw tea blend that’s got a bunch of different wakefulness-based compounds in it and along with beet juice for basal dilation.


And then it’s got aminos and electrolytes in it from coconut, so 3 different things come in this Natty Stack: this Recovery Nectar which is the coconut stuff, Iskiate Endurance which is the chia seed stuff, and then Raw Tea which is the beet juice stuff.  So, in addition to the bars for each leap of the course, I’m gonna drink 1 bottle of this Natty Stack.  So I told them I was gonna use it for World’s Toughest Mudder, they shoves off over discounts, so discount code ‘ben10’.  If you want to try the Natty Stack, you could just go to the URL that we have there in the show notes…

Rachel:              Nice!

Ben:                   And use code ‘ben10’, get yourself the Natty Stack.

Rachel:              Hookin’ em up!

Ben:                   Yeah, we got a bunch of hook ups: we got Onnit discounts, Audible discounts, Texas Superfood discounts; we’ll put links to all these stuff over at, so enjoy all that goodness.

Listener Q & A:

Matthew           Hey Ben, my name is Matthew.  After a good cry, I will feel really good.  Are there any physiological benefits to crying?

Rachel:              So, that is a really fascinating question, Ben, because I must admit, after a good cry, I feel a lot more resilient.  I’m like ready to go and I wonder what have you got to say about this?

Ben:                   Do you cry a lot?

Rachel:              I love crying, for sure.

Ben:                   Really?

Rachel:              It’s weird.  It’s a weird relationship I have with it, but it always makes me feel better.

Ben:                   Do you know how much people cry?  ‘Cause I looked into this.

Rachel:              Oooh, how much?

Ben:                   10 ounces of tears per day.  Like a lot of times we didn’t even know, like they it didn’t have to be crying like you can just produce tears – they’re called like reflex tears and basal tears and while you…

Rachel:              Wow!

Ben:                   produces them, you keep your eyes…

Rachel:              Eyes wet.

Ben:                   …wet and moist but we produce about 30 gallons a year of tears.

Rachel:              That’s crazy!

Ben:                   Yeah, yeah. Is that crazy?

Rachel:              Yes!  So what’s the deal?

Ben:                   So crying does a lot of cool things that you probably would not expect.  So when you produce tears, they help the body to get rid of specific adrenal compounds called – once called a prolactin, another one is the adrenalcorticotropic hormones, like adrenaline for example and then also, another endorphins called lucin and tefillin.

Rachel:              Hmm.

Ben:                   When you cry, you find all those substances in your tears…

Rachel:              Oh my gosh.

Ben:                   And when that happens, you actually get a decrease in cortisol and opioid like pain-killing effect.  So crying actually helps to kill pain and in addition to that, you can actually in the similar way that you lose some toxins, right? Some metals, some phytoestrogens and stuff like that through your skin, and then through your urine and then a big part of those through your stool, you actually lose some of these same toxins through your tears.

Rachel:              Wow!

Ben:                   We should write a book called ‘The Tear Detox’.

Rachel:              Oh my gosh, can we? Please?

Ben:                   ‘The Crying Diet’.

Rachel:              I’ll do the case study ‘cause I cry so much.

Ben:                   Yeah and even the not only when you cry, just like watch a sad movie or plucks a nose hair or something…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Oh okay, this is our next idea, stay tuned.

Rachel:              Well, another question would be – do you get the same benefits from crying that’s like not an emotional crying versus crying from like plucking your nose hair, is it the same thing?

Ben:                   I doubt it, because I would imagine that if you’re crying when you’re stressed, you’re going to release those chemicals more readily than if you’re crying just to whatever, to keep your eyes moist.

Rachel:              Right, right, right.

Ben:                   So, yeah, that’s a great question but I’m honestly not sure.  There was a study – a study was done, forget where this one was done – but basically it was a psychiatry study.  It was at the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center, and this is the one that found that you could detox through the tears and you could also get rid of these chemicals that raise cortisol when you cry.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   So there’s that.  That’s one thing.  Crying can also kill bacteria, tears contain lysozyme, lysozyme – you’ll also find lysozyme in breast milk, you find it in semen, you find it in mucus, you find it in saliva and it can kill 90 to 95% of any bacterial strain in about 5 to 10 minutes.  They did a study on this in the journal Food Microbiology in which they studies tears and they found that tears actually have enough anti-microbial effect that they can even protect against contamination from Anthrax.

Rachel:              Oh my god, that’s insane!

Ben:                   Tears can kill Anthrax, so the way that lysozyme work is they destroy bacterial cell walls, so – and I guess what this would mean like, if you were to drink tears, maybe you would like kill off some of the good bacteria in your gut.  So I would recommend, I would recommend the hardest thing and drinking your tears or maybe like licking your tears off of someone’s face as they cry.  So you try to condole them.


Rachel:              Uh-huh (chuckles).

Ben:                   Just ‘cause I know some of our listeners are face-lickers.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   But basically, the idea behind tears, I don’t know why, I don’t know why they will come in useful – I could see why having anti-bacterial properties in like milk, or even for reasons I don’t get into the show, semen…

Rachel:              Semen.

Ben:                   ..would be beneficial to some extent, but I’m not quite sure why tears would have anti-bacterial powers. It’s kinda interesting.  But if you’re concern about food poisoning, you could for example, cry on your food…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …before you eat it.  So there’s that.

Rachel:              Oh god.

Ben:                   Okay, so like we mentioned, tears can moisten the eyes but tears are produced by something called the lacrimal gland among other glands.  And what made by that gland, it can clear up your vision by lubricating your eyeballs and your eyelids and when your membranes in your eyes get dehydrated, that can make eyesight a little bit blurry.  But when you cry, it’s almost like a – it’s like a detox for your eyes, right? It keeps them moist but then it washes away dusts, it washes away debris you know, that’s why sometimes you get a little teary eyed if you, you know if I like went out for a bike ride…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   and I’m not wearing glasses and went flying down the hill, I’ll have to cry afterwards.  But crying prevents the dehydration of those surfaces but then it also prevents dehydration of some of the mucus membranes in the eyes.  So basically, if you finish up a hard day of working on the computer or riding a bike without sunglasses on, just have a good cry.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   It makes all those stuff go away.  I would suspect that that effect of tears is part of the effect made by those natural-like subconscious tears that we just released during the day…

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   You know, those 10 ounces or so that everybody releases during the day.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   I’m guessing, so.

Rachel:              And so… is that all you have on tears?

Ben:                   No.

Rachel:              Oh gosh.  There’s more!

Ben:                   But wait, there’s more!

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   So tears can actually – they’ve done a study on anti-depressants and tears and this was the study of the University of South Florida.  They found that crying elevates mood better than any anti-depressant that they tested.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   And what they found was that 90% of criers actually felt better than any anti-depressant that they’ve ever been on after a cry.  I’m not totally sure how they conducted this study if it was actually questionnaires or like profile of mood sticks…

Rachel:              Right.  Right, right, right.

Ben:                   …scores or something but there’s some effects of crying against depression.  So, there’s that as well.  And there’s a couple of other things, crying is actually a way that we show emotions and that we communicate so we can you know – now we’re gonna get totally woo-woo, right?

Rachel:              It’s alright.

Ben:                   But when you are communicating with someone and you show emotion, like anger or tears you know, punching the wall…

Rachel:              Right, yeah.

Ben:                   …or sitting quietly with your hands folded – all of these things send messages and crying send a very powerful – it was like an evolution or ancestral based message when you’re communicating with someone else.  If you are emotionally distressed, it acknowledges that you’re in touch with your emotions but it’s a very, very good way – some extremely clear signal to someone that they need to pay attention to you.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And humans are hard-wired to pay attention to people who are legitimately crying.

Rachel:              Wow!

Ben:                   So there’s that, too.  It’s just it’s a way to get what you want.

Rachel:              That’s horrible (laughs)

Ben:                   So yes, that’s the deal with crying.  What were you gonna say?

Rachel:              I was gonna say, did you find a lot of research on it?

Ben:                   A lot of research on crying, I did.  I found that study in the Food Microbiology journal and then the National Eye Institute who had the study on the moistness and how much we actually cry.  And there was a study from the University of South Florida that looked into the anti-depressant effects and finally for the detoxification study by the Psychiatry Research Laboratories, the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center that who looks into the detoxification effects, so yeah.

Rachel:              Yeah, it’s interesting ‘cause you don’t hear too much about it but I guess the takeaway is: you should cry more!

Ben:                   That’s right.  Matthew, start crying.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  Good.

Ben:                   Pluck some nose hairs, watch a sad movie.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   What is the – before we move on to the next question, what would you say like if you were to cry right away, what movie will make you cry?

Rachel:              Oooh, I hate to be this person ‘cause I’m not a super lovey-dovey person, but ‘The Notebook’.  Yeah, brings real tears for sure.

Ben:                   ‘The Notebook’.  Is that with Ryan Gosling?

Rachel:              Yes.

Ben:                   Yes.

Rachel:              And it’s a love story. (chuckles) I hate myself a little bit for it, but.

Ben:                   I think I’ve seen that one.

Rachel:              Yup, what about you?

Ben:                   I can’t tell you the last movie I cried, darling.

Rachel:              Oh, come on!

Ben:                   I really can’t even remember a single movie that I cried during.

Rachel:              So you’re not moved by movies?

Ben:                   Probably like back when I was a little kid, and I was a little more moved by movies or will watch more movies.  I watch like one movie every couple of months now, like I’m not just a movie guy.  Maybe like ‘Hoosiers’ where they win the basketball game?

Rachel:              Again, before my time (laughs)?

Ben:                   Yeah, yeah.

Rachel:              Oh your jokes are lost on me, I’m sorry! (laughs)

Ben:                   That made me feel old, the laugh went by making disgusting noises when I talk about sex, offending my old school basketball and when was the last one?

Rachel:              What are your boys cry about? Tell me that.  Do they crybabies?

Ben:                   My boys?

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   Actually, one of my boys is crying the other day, and then I promised to our listeners will stop joining on.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   He was crying because I’m having my kids do – oh gosh, might get nasty letters, comments from listeners now – I’m having my kids get really cold – that was a few times a week now.  And it’s like winter – almost winter here and it’s getting colder, so I’m having them go out to the cold pool before school and jump in the cold pool and stay in there, and I refilled the cold pool and they didn’t know it, so it was really cold.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Like from the deep in the well, like just barely above freezing like low 40s probably, and they were used to like upper 50s and one of them just like jumps in there and his head pops up from the pool and he’s just like (gasping sound), he had some tears for a while.  But I taught him how to do like the Wim Hoff’s style breathing…

Rachel:              Breathing.  Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   I got him to do the inhale (inhales) and then don’t exhales as quite as much (exhales) and inhale and exhale as quite as much and I calm – I wouldn’t let him get out and I got in with him you know.

Rachel:              Awesome.

Ben:                   And I would not get out until I like calmed them down…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   it was pretty cold though, but…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   there was some shrinkage going on.

Rachel:              Oh.

Seth:                  Hi Ben, loved the show.  Just have a quick question on gallstones.  I recently got diagnosed with them; looks like the natural remedies don’t really work.  I wanted to get your input, see if there’s anything that I should do other than surgery or if that’s my only option?  Thanks!

Rachel:              I have never had gallstones but I hear that pretty painful.

Ben:                   Yeah, a lot of people do have to get a surgery for them.  So they’re like this tiny little – they’re literally like stones – they’re mineral deposits.  And you can get one really big one, or you can get a hundred small ones, or you can get some big ones, and some small ones but they just like hardened pebble like deposits in your gallbladder.  And there’s certain things that put you a higher risk for them.  Like if you’re female, you’re a higher risk, if you’re overweight, you’re a higher risk, family history, or being over 50, being on birth control pills can increase your risk of them.  Being on hormone replacement therapy, a lot of those things can increase your risk for gall stones.  There’s some dietary factors as well, and I’ll talk about those in a second, but basically they’re just from cholesterol and then something called bilirubin.  And bilirubin is just a waste product that which are found in bile.  Bile is a liquid that helps your body to digest fats.  So bile is made in your liver and it get stored in your gallbladder and what happens is that when you get excess cholesterol and excess bilirubin, you get hardening into this gall stones.  It’s just basically hardened cholesterol with a little bit of bilirubin and then it will eventually block the duct that carries bile from your liver to your small intestine.  And when that happens it gets really painful.  It just having a blockage in a tube inside your body.  When you get a blockage in a tube of your body, usually doesn’t like that.  And so, it gets painful, it gets inflamed, you can get your pancreas inflamed, sometimes stone fragments will just pass through the bile duct of the gallbladder but that’s pretty rare.  And so, the good news is, you don’t necessarily have to get surgery when you have gallbladder issues.  So, when we talk about just basic, big picture preventive issues, when it comes to gallbladder, a lot of people will say that a high fat diet because of all the cholesterol causes gall stones.  That is a false perception.

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   Let’s bust that myth.

Rachel:              Alright.  Let’s do it.

Ben:                   So, that’s actually not true.  So, the idea here is fats are not soluble in water, and so before you can digest digestary fat, you have to do what’s called a mulsification – you have to emulsify the fat.  And that’s what bile does.  Bile emulsifies fat so you can actually digest it.  So, the liver makes the bile like I mentioned, it will store in the gallbladder until that bile is needed.  But if you don’t eat much fat, your liver is still going to create bile but that bile will remain in the gallbladder, and gall stones can get formed when you aren’t emptying bile from your gallbladder on a regular basis.  So if you’re eating a very, very low fat diet or you have a family history of gall stones, you decide you’re gonna switch to a low fat diet, that such not a good idea.  They did a trial at a few different American university hospitals and they found that the lower the fat intake, and in this case it was after about eight weeks of low fat dieting,


what they found was that subjects who had gallbladder disease, a quarter of them developed gall stones after 8 weeks of this low-fat dieting.  And when they were fed with a high fat diet, they did not develop that.  So yeah, the idea is you need to somehow stimulate bio-release of cutting in out fat completely from your diet is not a good idea when it comes to pre-existing gallbladder disease or when it comes to getting rid of gall stones.  So switching to a low fat diet – I heard a lot of people say that – that’s not necessarily the best thing.  The other interesting thing from a lifestyle standpoint is skipping breakfast.  Skipping breakfast may also increase your risk of gallstones.  This was a study in France and they found that French women and particularly French women with gallstones, if they fasted on average for two hours longer overnight, they want of having increase risk of gallstones vs. people who didn’t skip breakfast and instead ate when they got up in the morning.  There’s something about the bio-release that happens when you have like a well-time morning meal, that helps with gallstone prevention.  So…

Rachel:              Interesting.  And so, what you’re talking about the natural remedies don’t work?

Ben:                   Okay.  So, the idea here is that there are some things that may help a little bit with reducing gallstone formation, but a lot of them are particularly efficacious.  So, for example, curcumin is one.  Curcumin actually is something that is good to take with a meal whether sprinkling a bunch of turmeric on your salad, or even using like a curcumin capsule, and what they found is that about 300 mg or so of curcumin increases what’s called the solubility of your bile.  We’ll talk later on on this podcast about forms of curcumin and how most curcumin really doesn’t get absorb at all, and so kinda depends on the source of that 300 mg, but curcumin may help out in this case.

Rachel:              Interesting!

Ben:                   Another study that they did was with vitamin C.  Not high, high dose vitamin C but about 200 mg a day.  So nothing super out of the ordinary, and they found that in women who took vitamin C, they found that they were half as likely to develop gallstones as those with lower intake of vitamin C.  So, that’s another one is vitamin C in addition to curcumin.  There’s also something called bile extract.  You can actually take a bile supplement and a bile supplement may actually jumpstart the production of your own bile formation and a lot of these bile acid pills are typically something that comes along with a digestive enzyme.  So for example, EXOS makes a digestive enzyme that has, and this is the one that I use.  It’s got ox bile extract in it.  It sounds just nasty.

Rachel:              Hmm, great.  Bile out!

Ben:                   You know how many baby oxen died to make ox bile extract.

Rachel:              Oh!  So, you make me cry.

Ben:                   I don’t think they actually killed…

Rachel:              I’ll detox this.

Ben:                   I don’t think they killed baby oxen.  I’m not pretty sure.  It’s – It’s…

Rachel:              They’re adults for sure.

Ben:                   …it’s not safe.  Yeah.  Anyways though, taking bile acids may not only help to prevent the onset of gallstones but it may help to dissolve and breakdown gallstones.  So, bile acid supplementation maybe an alternative to surgery.

Rachel:              So when you say they don’t work that well, what kind of like percentage are you talking here.  Like is it worth looking into, worth trying?

Ben:                   Curcumin and vitamin C are more preventive measures that are just good overall lifestyle practices whether it’s using turmeric, and eating lots of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits.  You know, I never like to say fruits and vegetables because I’m a fan of eating about 10 times as many vegetables as fruits.  But getting good natural sources of vitamin C or there’s like – there’s a 1 cup in a mix of very absorbable form of vitamin C that doesn’t cause stomach distress even in high doses.  The company is called American Nutriceuticals.  You should be able to find it on Amazon, we’ll put a link in the show notes but that one you can take vitamin C even in higher amounts without creating a lot of digestive distress.  But those are more preventive but with bile treatments, what they found is that about two-thirds of people who take bile acid pills and that’s found in form called ursodeoxycholic acid or ursodiol – this would be very similar like ox bile extract that you can be symptom-free within 2-3 months, but they found that even in those studies it may take several years for these stones to completely disappear.

Rachel:              That symptom-free in 2-3 months is still pretty good, right?

Ben:                   Symptom-free but that means you may still have some of the gallstones like it may come back or whatever or take a matter of…

Rachel:              Okay, yup.

Ben:                   Now, cholecystectomy is what you normally do.  That’s a surgery that removes the gallbladder.  It’s one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the US.  I’m not a fan of removing the gall bladder ‘cause once you remove it and you don’t produce bile, you can get loose stools, gas exploding, fat malabsorption, really, really rough day if you have a big steak or something like that.


                           You know, or too much nut butter.  So, I’m not a fan of that type of surgery.

Rachel:              So what do you recommend?

Ben:                   Well, there’s another treatment called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.

Rachel:              That sounds interesting!

Ben:                   ESWL, so there’s not that many places that offer this but it use a shock wave to break gallstones into smaller fragments with and then get dissolved if you take an oral bile acid pill.  So you combine this ESWL therapy with the use of bile acid supplementation.  And apparently, yeah, I’ve haven’t personally gotten it but from what I’ve read up on ESWL, it’s uncomfortable, it’s a somewhat painful procedure.  It usually take a sedative to remove some of the discomfort, and you make it some biliary pain as those broken stones fragments pass through the bile duct.  Biliary pain meaning up around like that right upper quadrant where your liver is like you can be make it some pain in there as you pass the stones.  But they’ve done some studies on it.  They’ve shown everything from successful treatment with 90-100% of people in one stone and with multiple stones, up to 67% of people.  And so, I mean like if it were me, I would do that before taking on organ of my body.

Rachel:              Definitely right.

Ben:                   Like that’s what I would look in to do.  So, yeah it’s called ESWL.  So that’s one that I would look into.  You’re gonna have to probably, I mean, the way that I would start with the procedure like that is I would google ESWL plus the name of your city, start to look into who’s doing it particularly with procedures like that who’s doing a lot of them.

Rachel:              Right, yup.

Ben:                   But that’s where I would start.  You can use curcumin, you could use vitamin C, you can use like a good digestive enzyme with bile acids, if that’s not working you try this ESWL.  Last ditch would be getting your gallbladder removed or even don’t skip breakfast and don’t eat a little fat diet.

Rachel:              Is it performed by a doctor, the ESWL?

Ben:                   Yes, yes, you would get those at like a health center or I would guess that it be like a gastric disease type of facility, so, or gastroenterologist.  So, you just have to find someone who could do it.  If you’re a listener and you’re listening in, and you have a friend who does ESWL out of their basement or preferably a hospital, please leave a comment and direct our dear listeners Seth to someone who can do ESWL in such area, I don’t know where Set lives but either way leave a comment if you have experienced with ESWL, and we’ll help Seth out.

Zach:                 Hey Ben, it’s Zach here.  I heard about turmeric and curcumin from you and the community.  I would like a definitive low down on it.  I’m an ultra-endurance runner and general health minded guy who wants to recover faster and upregulate my fat conversion.  Should I buy bulk turmeric powder or turmeric extract supplements or curcumin extract supplements, and of those with or without piperine or black pepper?  Is the 95% curcuminoid label also play a large factor in that decision?  Further, what should the dosage be for me as a hard-charging athlete and when should it be taken as I usually subscribed to a fast and morning workout?  Thanks a lot for all you do.  Bye.

Rachel:              I would like a definitive low down from this as well.

Ben:                   Yeah, ‘cause curcumin – I use curcumin almost every… I also use turmeric almost everyday.  Like…

Rachel:              Hmm, and this is a question we get all the time.

Ben:                   From salad, I use turmeric and black pepper, I take curcumin in supplement form, I take turmeric too in supplement form.  I mean, I’m a huge fan, I’m a turmeric junky.  So, here’s the idea – turmeric, so turmeric is well-known as a culinary spice and it’s been used traditionally like ayurvedic medicine, and in India as a disinfectant, as a treatment for things like bronchitis, laryngitis, and it comes from the underground stems are called rhizomes of a plant called “curcuma longa” which is actually a member of the ginger family.  So, it’s interest—ginger is very anti-inflammatory.  It has a lot of really good anti-oxidant properties, and of course, so does turmeric.  So it gives like the yellow color to Indian curry, and you know mustard, and anything that’s yellow, a lot of times it’s been flavored with turmeric.  Don’t spill it on the couch.  My wife probably (curse word) one night when I hit curry on the couch and we never did get those turmeric stains removed.

Rachel:              Alright.

Ben:                   So, careful with it.  It does stain.  Now, in terms of turmeric and curcumin, both have quite a bit of really good research behind them.  So, turmeric has been shown to work just as well as a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen for knee arthritis and knee pain.


There was a study that they did back in 2009, they’ve shown that curcumin acts to have experts similar to like a weak phyto estrogen, and what that means – it can have some very good cancer productive effects.  It can induce program cell death of colon cancer cells which is very interesting because we talked about last week about how red meat can cause cancer in colonic inflammation potentially especially processed red meat, but – you know, and we talked about marinades and spices, and curcumin it turns out – if you are eating a lot of bacon maybe something that you should include as a staple in your diet.  Curcumin has also been shown to suppress micro-inflammation in the GI tract that’s associated with inflammatory bowel disease and there are a host of other studies that have been done on curcumin, but it’s most promising research looks like decrease in triglycerides, decrease in inflammation, decrease in pain related to like joint pain and arthritis, it’s got very strong antioxidant activity, can decrease HSCRP which is an inflammatory compound, can increase HDL, decreasing triglycerides, and those are the biggies.  Then there’s some less, less well conducted studies or studies that show minor facts in terms of for example, a staving off cognitive decline, decreasing damage to DNA, increasing insulin sensitivity, increasing intestinal motility which is your ability to kinda move things in the digestive tract, decreasing blood glucose, and increasing vascular function.  There’s a lot of really interesting studies on curcumin.

Rachel:              So why is it not like a super food?

Ben:                   Curcumin?

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   You mean, why isn’t it in Time Magazine listed as (crosstalk)

Rachel:              Why hasn’t it been marketed as a stupid fruit, Ben?

Ben:                   Honestly?  ‘Cause of knowing Western palate, it doesn’t taste as good as blueberries.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Might it be piggeries and isn’t taste as good as blueberries and kale smoothies.  So anyways, the idea behind turmeric or the difference between turmeric and curcumin is pretty significant.  So, I’ll get into some of the differences here.  The idea is that turmeric is relatively well absorbed if you take it in food form but only in very, very small amounts.  You have to take a lot of turmeric to get all of the curcuminoids that you’ll get in the isolated curcumin that they extract from turmeric.

Rachel:              How much is a lot?

Ben:                   You’d have to take about 400-600 mg of turmeric, about 3 times a day to get adequate absorption.  That’s a lot of turmeric and even then it’s not very well absorbed unless you mix it with something called bioperine or black pepper extract.  Now granted I put turmeric and black pepper on my lunch-time salad but I’m well aware that’ll dump nearly the entire spice bottle of turmeric on my salad to get what I’d get from far less levels of curcumin.  So curcumin is like a very. very concentrated form of turmeric.  When it comes to curcumin though, curcumin is also not very well absorbed at all unless it’s pared again with black pepper or piperine.  When I say black pepper, I don’t mean you’re gonna like swallow a bunch of curcumin capsules and then like grinded pepper grinder into your mouth.  They sell bioperine supplements, okay?  Go to like Amazon and you can buy bioperine or black pepper and some curcumin supplements.  Ah, there’s one for example, I know there’s one called (what’s it called) Extreme Endurance, I think they make like a recovery capsule that’s got some curcumin, some black pepper in it, I believe.

Rachel:              Is it like 50-50 unit of each?

Ben:                   I don’t know what the ratios are.  I could look into it.  I don’t know the ratios though, it’s at the top of my head in terms of how much curcumin, how much black pepper.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   I would imagine, there’s really good website called Examine at  I’ve talked about how I subscribed to various research journals and examine is one of the ones that I subscribed to and they probably have a little bit of information on that website.  If you go to, you could probably find out about how much black pepper you need to take to make curcumin or turmeric absorbable but generally this black peppers capsules coming like a capsule form that you take.  So you don’t like chew on on black pepper.

Rachel:              Uhmm, I hate taking tablets.  So, I go to try do the black pepper thing.

Ben:                   But there’s another work around here, and this is what I do… phytosomes.  So, phytosomes are plant extracts like turmeric that are bound to what’s called phosphatidylcholine.  Now, your bodies can make phosphatidylcholine and you can also get it from food, or you can get it from supplements, and phosphatidylcholine is extremely well absorbed.  Very well absorbed.


                           And so, what they’ve figured out how to do, and this actually made in India, I believe.  This form of curcumin called Meriva – m-e-r-i-v-a.  When you attach a curcumin to phosphatidylcholine. what happens is you get almost instant absorption and bioaviability vs. most curcumin that you’d take without it being attach to this unless you accompany it with black pepper, that curcumin is not going to be absorbed at all.  Now, what they’ve demonstrated in human studies is 29-30 times greater bioavailability when you combine curcumin, when you attach it to one of these phosphatidylcholine molecules.  And the resulting compound is called the curcumin phytosome, curcumin phytosome.  Now what this company Meriva does is – this is the type of company that sells it’s curcumin to other like vitamin and supplement companies.  So, if your vitamin, or your multi or your supplement or anything that you’re taking for curcumin, if you look at the label and it says Meriva on it, or you look at the label and it says curcumin phytosome on it, that means that it’s that absorbable form of curcumin, and you don’t have to take anything else along with it to get all of the benefits of curcumin.  So, the one that I take is made by EXOS – e-x-o-s, and then it’s just curcumin phytosome.  It’s about 1,000 mg and a serving of that and I’ll take 1-2 servings on any day were I’ve had like hard and heavy exercise.  I’ve also taken those capsules and broken them into morning tea or morning coffee because of the neuro protective effect that you can get from curcumin as well.  So, I’m a much bigger fan of curcumin than I am of turmeric although the one exception to this is that turmeric in most studies has shown greater efficacy for arthritis than curcumin.  I’m not quite sure why but apparently there are some pain-fighting components of turmeric that aren’t in curcumin.  So, if you have something like let’s say knee-osteoarthritis or elbow arthritis, you may benefit more from using turmeric and the source of turmeric that I use when I’m injured is this stuff called Nature Flex which is turmeric mixed with tart cherry, ginger, bunch of other anti-inflammatory compounds – glucosamine, chondroitin.  It’s like a joint-support formula.  I only take it if I’m injured but it’s because turmeric may have greater efficacy for arthritis or like injury like issues whereas curcumin is probably better as like a daily tonic if that make sense.

Rachel:              And Zach says, “Is the 95% curcuminoid label – does that play a factor in making a decision? Does it?

Ben:                   Nah.  Something could have a 100% curcumin and in less black pepper is present or unless it’s bound to phosphatidylcholine, it’s going to be almost completely non-absorbable.  So, you really wouldn’t wanna take it unless you actually have it in that form.  So, the percentages don’t matter, what matters is the actual form that it comes in, so.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Yes.  We’ll put some links in the show notes with some other resources but the last thing I should mention is that when you’re using curcumin, it appears to go quite well not only with black pepper and/or phosphatidylcholine but also you can get a little bit of a synergistic effect if you also use ginger, and fish oil.  So if like joint soreness, pain, stuff like that is an issue for you, that’s a really good stack to use a curcumin or a good absorbable turmeric along with black pepper, along with fish oil, along with ginger, great stack for like joint pain for example.

Rachel:              So, there you have it – a definitive low down on turmeric vs. curcumin.

Ben:                   Yes, now you can go get your curry on!

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Jamal:               Hi Ben, this is Jamal from Texas, and I own my own group personal training facility where we’ve mostly focused on fat loss and I wanted to know or start incorporating some tracking measurement during or before and after, and wanted to know what you would recommend.  I know a lot of people are doing the heart rate thing like ohm’s theory, and a couple other people, about what would you personally do if you own around personal training facility and you’re looking to maximize fat loss and using analytics for your clients to track their performance and maybe also use it to – use as a leaderboard measure?  Thank you.  I always enjoy the podcast.

Ben:                   Rachel, do you track your own body fat?

Rachel:              I don’t but we’ve talked about it in the last podcast and I – by looking at those photos kinda determine what percentage body fat I am.

Ben:                   Exactly, yeah.  We geeked out on body fat in episode 336.  So if you get a chance to listen to that, listen in.  But we didn’t talk much about like how to measure it, like a little bit about it but as far as like tracking fat loss and measuring fat loss sustainably, I believe what we talked about was skin calipers.


Rachel:              We did, yup.

Ben:                   In the last episode…Yeah, and how I use to do a lot of skin caliper measures.  That’s called the pinch method.  Real pinch the body fat in 3-7 different areas of the body to approximate the body density which you then feed into a calculation and you get body fat.  And there’s a lot of other things in addition to skin calipers that folks will use to calculate body fat like underwater wing.  This is one that we use to do a lot, back in the exercise physiology lab when I went to University of Idaho.  You’d strip out as much of your clothing as possible, in a giant pool of water, you let out all the air of your lungs – and so it was really uncomfortable test and then you get dunk underwater and you’re body density is calculated from your underwater weight.  And then that’s use to calculate your actual body fat percentage.

Rachel:              Wow!

Ben:                   It’s like medieval torture combine with body fat measurement.

Rachel:              And that sounds kinda intense to do for like a normal person?

Ben:                   Yeah, it’s called hydrodensitometry, and you can find it in a lot of exercise phys lab and like research phonics, they’ll still use this as a method of measuring body fat, but yeah, it doesn’t work that well for the average person.  Most people’s bathtubs aren’t deep enough now.

Rachel:              (laughs)  Yeah, you’re right!

Ben:                   There’s also Dexa – the full body scan and these are pretty cool.  I got this done when I did – I was part of a study at University of Connecticut where they brought us in and they had me follow a high fat diet for a year, and then run on a treadmill for 3 hours and they measured fat utilization, everything else but they also did body composition and they use a Dexa scan for this.  That’s a full body scan that it’s stands for Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry, and it’s a more costly form of measurement, and it’s probably an option if you like to avoid x-ray radiation.  However, it will show you your body fat at any different area on your body which is kinda cool.  So, you’ll get to see you have – you know, I got fat thighs but I got skinny chest, or whatever.

Rachel:              (Chuckles)  And are they kinda equally as reliable?

Ben:                   Nah.  Dexa’s pretty – Dexa’s really reliable, underwater wang is very reliable, skin calipers has the person doing them has done a lot of them, that’s also very reliable.  There’s also near infrared interactance, that’s called NIR – that’s where they use a fibro optic probe, they hold against your skin and you can get one of this for yourself at home but there’s another thing that is better than that, that I’ll talk about in a second.  But that just use as light that gets reflected off your tissues and off your bones back into the detector, and it approximates your body fat based off of how fast the light comes back in.  So…

Rachel:              Interesting!

Ben:                   Yeah, they usually do that on like your biceps.  Uhm, bod pod is another one.  That’s very similar to like the underwater wang, except you sit inside a small chamber rather than going underwater, and a lot of like gyms and health clubs have that.  It’s relatively accurate.  And then they have bioelectrical impedance – that’s the cheesy device that you see at health expos, and at the gym like the handles that they have you hold, and it’s not super accurate.  However, if you measure at the same state of hydration, at the same time of day, each time that you measure, even though the body fat percentage that it gives you maybe off by 1-5%, it will still give you a consistent reading, so if you’re just using it for tracking purposes and you’re using it consistently at the same time of day, in the same state of hydration, it can be pretty accurate at least for your own personal tracking methods.  So…

Rachel:              So, what do you recommend for Jamal?

Ben:                   Here’s what I recommend – here’s I recommend for Jamal and anybody else that’s listening in.  There’s two different things that I like – one, and I’ve use both – I own both.  One is the withings smart body analyzer.  So, this is a scale that you stand on.  It’s similar to what I just talked about.  It uses impedance to measure your body fat percentage but the cool things is that when you step on the scale, it measures your heart rate, it measures your body fat and it even measures the quality of the indoor air, like it does like see to analysis and measures like at the quality of the air that you’re breathing.  And so, it’s kinda cool because you cannot just know what your body fat percentages but also some other things in your environment, so.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   It does continuous checks of carbon dioxide levels in your environment, it calculates your resting heart rate.  Let’s say you get on every morning, and you can see where your heart rate is every morning, syncs to your phone so you can keep track of your percentages, and the phone app that comes along with that has a lot of like little like weight loss goal tools, and little like coaching tips…

Rachel:              Very cool.

Ben:                   …and stuff like that.  So, that’s the one that I like.  It’s called the withings smart body analyzer.

Rachel:              Do you use that at home?

Ben:                   I don’t use it anymore, it’s in my closet somewhere because I quit tracking my body fat just because I found that – but for people – ‘cause my goal, Rachel right now is not fat loss, so I have no reason to be tracking my body fat that intensively.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   The other one though is called the body metrix.  This one is pretty cool too.  It uses ultrasound and what you do is you get this little handheld body metrix device.  I’ll put links to both of these in the show notes.


                           The withing scale is not super expensive, it’s 100-150 depending where you get it, so it’s expensive for a scale but it’s not that expensive for a body fat measuring device.  This other one is close to 500 bucks but what it is is it’s an ultrasound device that you hold up against different areas of your body according to the instructions that come with it and again it’s called the body metrix, and it gives your body composition across your entire body, very similar like this, you know, multi, multi-thousand dollar Dexa scan units except it measures hydration, it measures body fat, measures a bunch of different things, it’s some – it’s the same one, I think Tim Ferriss talks about it in the Four Hour Body Book for example, it’s like a kinda cool little cutting edge method that a lot of biohackers like to use to find out the true fat thickness that every single measurement point.  So, if you’re trying to reduce body fat, you could even see which areas of the body would be best to really spot target, and a lot of people think body fat spot reduction doesn’t work.  But I’ve written articles before particularly over at  I’ve got an article about research showing that when you hit a certain part of your body over and over and over again with targeted training to muscle fatigue, you actually experience lipolysis and decrease fat deposition in that area of the body.  So, if you find out that your weakness is like fat thighs, you can really step up for example, how many squats and lunges that you’re doing, and decrease body fat in that specific area.  So you could combine something like body metrix ultrasound, body composition measurements with targeted body fat reduction, spot reduction. So…

Rachel:              Awesome.

Ben:                   Yes.  Withings or the body metrix are the two ways that I would go, Jamal, and best of luck man, have fun geekin’ out with those.

Billy:                 Hey guys, I had a question regarding a pre/new area of science and research, it’s going on out there but it seems to be growing pretty quickly in the last few years called NRF2.  I know that a lot of the research there is coming out right now is really look at preventative health approaches but also I wanted your feedback on this as a strategy for recovery.  I’m a fireman and a father of three, I’m always looking for an edge so any feedback on this, t’will be great.  Thanks!

Ben:                   Strap on your propeller hat, baby.

Rachel:              Yeah.  I know.  I’ll do it.  He’s talking about it already.

Ben:                   Alright, and you have to.  My Alludium Q46 explosive space modulator!

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Have you ever watched – you’re gonna make me feel old again.  Have you ever watched “Marvin the Martian”?

Rachel:              Oh!  I did!  I did watch “Marvin The Martian”.

Ben:                   Marvin The Martian, he was pretty cool.  He was a villain.  He was a cool villain – he was the villain you could laugh at ‘cause he’s always, always hurting himself like Wyly Coyote.

Rachel:              Do you feel way less old now?

Ben:                   I feel – I feel young again, thank you.  Appreciate that.

Rachel:              Alright.  NRF2, let’s do it!

Ben:                   Redemption.  NRF2, so NRF2 – it stands for Nuclear Factor-like 2 and that’s – it’s what’s called the transcription factor.  It gets encoded by a certain gene in your body, and basically what it does is it regulates the expression of certain proteins that protect you against antioxidants or against oxidative damage, inflammation, things like that.  Oxidative stress whether it’s from the environment or whether it’s from radiation or you know, not eaten enough turmeric whatever.  Like NRF2 can prevent some of these inflammation, and activating NRF2 has been shown in some studies to even potentially promote the development of cancerous tumors as well as the development of atherosclerosis.  So it’s very interesting how this particular gene interacts with different regions in the body and basically what you would want to do is activate it but not activate it too much because it appears that by constantly activating it, you can get cancer, you can get atherosclerosis but you still wanna activate it to a certain extent and the reason that I say that is for example, you look at ketosis let’s say.  Ketosis activates the NRF pathway and it decreases oxidation, it decreases inflammation, and the way that it does that though is it initially – this is gonna sound kinda confusing, it initially increases oxidative stress.  And when you increase your oxidative stress, what happens is your body starts to churn out more of its own endogenous antioxidants, and its own natural anti-inflammatories and pain killers.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben;                   This is what’s called the hermetic effect.  It’s the same reason that mild dosage of radiation and adequate amounts of exercise, and some cold exposure, and some heat exposure, and some fasting, and even some exposure to things that are slightly aggravating to your gut, like wild-plant extracts for example.


All of these things have a hormetic effect whether a little bit stressful on your body, but only a little bit and for the most part what they do is they cause your body to turn up its ability to withstand higher levels of stress.

Rachel:              Right!

Ben:                   So, NRF2 is one of those things that’s activated via this hormetic response and once you begin to overdo radiation, you begin to overdo heat exposure, you begin to overdo cold, overdo the intake of toxins from plants for example, or pesticides, you know, overdo exposure to sunlight and sun damage, etc.  That’s when you get so much expression of NRF2 that you can potentially increase your risk of cancer, and increase your risk of atherosclerosis, and that’s why you may for example see people who are overdoing exercise, out in the sun, flying in airplanes all the time and beating their bodies out, and start to lose out a lot of these health effects instead in addition of hormone depletion and thyroid depletion whatever, they get over activation of NRF2.  So it’s one of those balance things kinda like activation of mTOR, your muscle building protein, alright, like when you activate that pathway you can activate it so much that it becomes carcinogenic.  So the trick is to eat enough food to keep yourself somewhat anabolic, lift weights enough to where you’re strong and you got tight, powerful muscle, but not to get to the point where you’re eating 6,000 calories a day and walking around with a barbell attached to your shoulders all the time because that eventually can become too pro-growth, too much m-TOR activation, and potentially pro-carcinogenic.  So it’s one of those things where it’s always a balancing act.

Rachel:              And so, what do you think of it as a strategy for recovery?

Ben:                   Well, I’m not aware of like supplements and stuff like that that increase NRF production although I would imagine that you know, you could take like wild plant extracts and probably get some of that effect.  So when it comes to recovery, I would say that if you use something like mild amounts of cold, mild amounts of heat, a little bit of intermittent fasting.  By the way, turmeric and curcumin have been shown to increase NRF2 as well, interestingly enough.

Rachel:              Interesting!

Ben:                   Then what happens is if you’re getting a little bit of that systemic oxidative stress, you’re going to increase your body’s own ability to activate NRF2 and to recover more quickly.  The even more interesting thing is that if you get genetic testing done like a salivary genetic test, you can find and there’s one company called DNAFit that will spit out these results for you.  I’ll put a link to that by the way in the show notes but basically what you can find out is how much of your own endogenous antioxidants you naturally produced based off of your genes.  Some people produce more, some people produce less, so some people need to take less of a substance to activate their NRF2 genes and some people need more, and you can actually get that test via genetic test and find out whether or not you are actually needs more cold, heat, wild plants, curcumin, vitamin C, like a lot of these natural things that would increase the production of NRF2 vs. you maybe somebody who just recovers really well with minimal amounts of these type of things.  So not everyone is created equal when it comes to this stuff.

Rachel:              And considering that it’s about striking balance, you probably wanna stop it to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Ben:                   With genetic testing?

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   Genetic testing is so cheap now, yeah.  I mean, it’s like – what?  97 bucks, something like to get your 23 immune done.  I recommend it and then I recommend in getting the results and exporting them to a company like this DNAFit, which will tell you like your salt, and your alcohol, and your caffeine sensitivity, and whether you have pre-disposition or celiac disease, whether you have the genes for lactose intolerance, what your fast twitch, slow twitch muscle fiber capacity is, whether you respond better to power training vs. endurance training, I mean, there’s so many cool things that you can derive from DNA base data.  So, yeah, check out the show notes.  We’ll put links to all the goodies that we talked about.  Not just that but also body fat analyzer, forms of curcumin, and all the studies we talked about with marijuana making you stupid.  All that stuff, so.

Rachel:              Meditation making you smart.

Ben:                   Meditation killing off your amygdala, which is a good thing.  So,, check it out.  And speaking of the show notes, if you leave a review and you hear your review read on the show, the way that you leave your review is just go to iTunes, leave some stars, you say something nice, then we will send you a gift pack.  And we actually have a review to read…

Rachel:              Yey!

Ben:                   …and if you hear your review read on the show, email [email protected], that’s [email protected], and we’ll send you a sweet tech t-shirt, bpa-free water bottle, get it free.  You won’t get water bottle cancer or water bottle man boobs, and then a – (what’s the other thing?) a toque, a beanie to keep your head warm.


   So, check that all out. and Rachel, what do you think?  You want to take it away with this week’s review?

Rachel:              Yes.  It’s called “It’s not all about Ben”.  Ohh, 5 stars!  By DAA021.

Ben:                   I’ll warn – I’ll warn those of you listening in.  It’s kinda long but it’s actually kinda entertaining.  So, yeah.

Rachel:              Good.  “I have listen to the show for over a year now.  My wife started listening to it about 6 months ago.  The information we’ve taken from this podcast has changed our lives.  We eat and live differently than we did a year ago.  No, we don’t do everything Ben recommends, but we do what we can and take the information and incorporate what works best for us.  It’s not all about Ben because he has also introduced us to some other great podcasters like Jordan at the Art of Charm”.

Ben:                   Good guy.

Rachel:              “Tai Lopez, Tawni, Lucho at Endurance Planet”.

Ben:                   Lucho.

Rachel:              Lucho.

Ben:                   Also both good people.

Rachel:              “…at Endurance Planet as well as others.  I disagree with some of the recent reviews about dishonesty… Ben is very open and forthcoming when he produces, when what he produces or sponsored by a specific supplement and if you think otherwise, you must not be paying attention”.

Ben:                   What else do people say on their iTunes review?  That I am dishonest because when I recommend, I don’t know what like digestive enzymes or curcumin, or something like that, that I make money off of them.  Yes, if you click on links in the show notes, you help to support the show.  That’s not dishonesty.

Rachel:              Yeah Ben, you’re a very honest person.

Ben:                   That’s capitalism!

Rachel:              Alright.

Ben:                   Okay, go ahead.

Rachel:              “Yes, Ben does talk about a lot of tests and equipment that is not cheap but he does offer alternatives of cheaper options when they exist… but that is not what the show is about.  It’s about pushing the boundaries of our bodies and learning about our bodies at a finite scale with micro-nutrients, etc. that cannot be accurately tracked and tested over the counter.  Overall it is a very informative show and Ben does his best to research everything he brings to us and explains when articles are based on bad science and why”.

Ben:                   Pseudo-science, woo-woo!

Rachel:              “Last, but not least, I really enjoy the new co-host Rachel…”  Oh, that’s very sweet.  Thank you.

Ben:                   Except they spells your name Ro-che-el.

Rachel:              That’s okay!  Thank you.

Ben:                   Ro-chel.

Rachel:              “Ben – thank you for not picking a doctor or someone as technical as yourself.  I think Rachel and formerly Brock, do a great job asking questions and bringing some of the topics out of the clouds for us less technical folks”.  Right.  “Keep up the good work”.  Thank you!  That’s lovely.

Ben:                   You know, this whole thing comes out to though?

Rachel:              What does it come down to?

Ben:                   So, during this podcast, you made me feel really old.

Rachel:              Old… (laughs)

Ben:                   And our reviewer made you look really stupid.

Rachel:              (laughs)  So, we’re even?

Ben:                   Is that drinking glass half empty?  Actually, that was a great review.  I love it, and I’m start calling you Ro-chel now.

Rachel:              Nah!  …Whatever.

Ben:                   And he spell Brock’s name Broch.

Rachel:              Broch.  Uhmm.

Ben:                   Broch.  Which is also a cool name.

Rachel:              They’re obviously great people so we don’t care.

Ben:                   Yeah.  Well, anyways, if you’re listening in you can go leave a review in iTunes and we can read your fantastic, highly entertaining review on the show.  So again, head over to, to check out everything from the link to our interview with a vaginal weight lifting coach to weed, to fat loss devices and fat tracking devices, curcumin, turmeric, DNA tracking, NRF2, you name it and…

Rachel:              So much stuff.

Ben:                   Yeah!  Thanks for listening in, and stay tuned this weekend for a very cool episode.  I’m gonna keep it as surprise but you’ll gonna love it.  In the meantime, Rachel, chow.

Rachel:              Bye.

                           You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.

[1:19:52.2]     END


A Vaginal Weightlifting Coach Reveals Her Secrets On How To Train Your Body For Soul-Stretching, Bed-Shaking, Neighbour-Complaining Sex

pod cast kim anami itunes

Kim Anami, pictured above (yep, she’s the one with the weight plate between her legs) travels around the world lifting things with her vagina. Possibly more than you can lift with your biceps.

Anami is an intimacy coach who teaches, among other things, what she calls “vaginal kung fu,” along with pelvic floor muscle strengthening, how to have better sex, stronger orgasms, and a host of other sexual health topics. Throughout the year, she runs a series of online courses, which she calls “salons”, on topics with titled such as “Vaginal Kung Fu”, “How to Be a Well-F**ked Woman”, “Coming Together for Couples” and “Sexual Mastery for Men”.

So obviously, as you have probably guessed, this is a bit of an explicit episode, but in it, we cover very practical material for enhancing your sexual pleasure, your sexual endurance and your sexual health, including:

-Exactly how to do vaginal weight lifting…

-What it feel like to lift 10 pounds with your vagina, and what kind of weight do you use?

-Why Kegels don’t work for urinary incontinence or sexual strengthening…

-The core and glute strengthening exercises that are crucial to include if you’re doing vaginal weight lifting…

-How women can train their bodies to have 20 orgasms in a row…

-How do you strike a balance between tantric sex and optimizing your sleep?

-Kim’s #1 tip for how men can go longer and have multi-hour “sexercise” sessions…

-The technique Kim uses to “make love to her partner while he is on the other side of the planet”…

-Why Kim uses colostrum and glutamine…

-Kim’s feelings about whether men need to restrict ejaculation or orgasms…

-How to have “sex dates” with your partner…

-The form of meditation Kim uses to enhance her sexual energy…

-What Kim thinks about porn, and how porn affects your sex life…

-The single, most natural lubricant you can use to enhance sex…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Kim’s “Sexual Mastery For Men” and “Vaginal Kung Fu” courses

Jade eggs for vaginal weightlifting

Book: The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity: A Modern Practical Guide to the Ancient Way

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Kim Anami or me about increasing sexual endurance and sexual strength, or anything else we discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below!

336: How Low Can Your Body Fat Go, The New “Red Meat Causes Cancer” Study, Five Ways To Know If Your Heart Is Healthy

336_ How Low Can Your Body Fat Go, The New _Red Meat Causes Cancer_ Study, Five Ways To Know If Your Heart Is Healthy

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Oct 28, 2015 Podcast: How Low Can Your Body Fat Go, The New “Red Meat Causes Cancer” Study, Five Ways To Know If Your Heart Is Healthy

Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right (or go to SpeakPipe), use the Contact button on the app, call 1-877-209-9439, or use the “Ask Ben” form at the bottom of this page.


News Flashes:

Finally, Kevin Carr (who we discussed in episode 334) wrote in to say:

Hi Ben – Kevin Carr here, I’ve been a listener of your podcast for the last 6 months – following the completion of my world run, and enjoy the show a lot. Thank you for mentioning my unusual fluid-recycling techniques for extreme long running! I enjoy the show as although I run extreme distances I train very efficiently – for instance throughout the last 5 weeks of the world run I averaged 75km a day, however in training before the run I was running only 4-5 hours a week. I spend more time strength training – both ‘maximal strength’ and prehab style movement patterns than running – and the proof is in the pudding I ran 16,300 miles in 621 days with zero ‘overuse’ injuries. I also work at a standing desk – sit as little as possible and wear weights the whole time – essentially live under ‘hyper gravity’ these techniques amongst others are an incredibly efficient way for runners to train whilst dramatically reducing injury risk – both through over training and through being stronger in the events. I was heavily inspired by William Sichel – a Scottish Ultra Marathon runner who turned his back on ‘high mileage’ training to develop more efficient/intense ways of training – William is also a ketogenic athlete. Myself I’ve been training fasted for almost a decade now and recently moved to a cyclical-ketogenic diet. Best of luck in your upcoming 24 hour tough mudder, Kevin.”

You can receive these News Flashes (and more) every single day, if you follow Ben on,, and Google+.


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Now Available – Ben Greenfield’s “REV Yourself Conference” – 25 Packaged Interviews With The World’s Leading Experts In Physical & Mental Performance Enhancement Strategies. In this package, you’ll get to watch and listen as Ben Greenfield sits down with the world’s leading experts in biohacking, physical performance, mental performance, cognitive enhancement, personal productivity, muscle gain, fat loss and more. In a frank, easy-to-understand, fireside chat format, these experts reveal all their most cutting-edge secrets, and your access to the videos and audios also includes helpful notes, summaries and more. From Dr. Mercola to Mark Sisson to Nora Gedgaudas, you can check out the lineup and get access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever (no expiration!) once you click here to get lifetime access for $47.

Dec 4-6, 2015: Ben is speaking at the Unbeatable Mind Retreat in Carlsbad, California. This is where SEALFit and Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine will be assembling the best of the best in everything from performance to cutting-edge mental training to advanced sleep tactics and more. Includes amazing ancestral meals, morning WOD’s at SEALFit HQ (the site of the world famous Kokoro camp), Warrior Yoga instruction and workouts, and speakers such as Robb Wolf, Dr. Kirk Parsley, Dominic D’Agostino, and more. Click here to get in now.

Nov 14, 2015: Ben will be competing at the World’s Toughest Mudder. If you live near Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada, be sure to come watch the action!

Nov 17-18, 2016: Ben is speaking at the Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now.

Ben Greenfield’s New York Times Bestselling book Beyond Training is now available on Audible! After spending over 43 hours in front of a microphone, Ben has finished recording a 100% (fully updated) audio recording of this quintessential guide to performance, recovery, fat loss, digestion, brain, sleep, hormones and more. If you’re new to Audible, you can get it now for free by clicking here.

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And of course, this week’s top iTunes review – gets some BG Fitness swag straight from Ben – click here to leave your review for a chance to win some!



Listener Q&A:

As compiled, deciphered, edited and sometimes read by Rachel Browne, the NEW Podcast Sidekick.

How Low Can Your Body Fat Go?

Ana says: She wants to lift heavy to get bulky. What’s the lowest body fat she can go without risking hormonal problems? What diet and exercise do you recommend and can you add in the age issue, she’s 43.

In my response, I recommend:
This Body Fat Calculator
-These body fat percentage photos

Five Ways To Know If Your Heart Is Healthy

David says: He has a heart murmur. But every check up he has his heart is healthy. What kinds of things can he do to increase the healthiness of this heart and what kind of things should he avoid.

What To Do About High Heart Rate During Exercise

Anonymous says: When training on his bike recently, his heart rate got up to 233, and that’s the highest it been. He’s noticed over the last 6 weeks, every 3 or 4 training sessions it’s been getting up over the 200 mark. He’s not feeling pain, but should he be worried?

Is Reverse Osmosis Water Healthy?

Cathy says: She’s curious about drinking reverse osmosis water or distilled water. A lot of people say its fine and a lot say it’s dangerous because it doesn’t have the minerals in it and can strip the minerals from your body. She knows you can put mineral drops back into the water but she’s also heard that’s bad because trace mineral drops have mercury and lead, etc. What are your thoughts?

In my response, I recommend:
Reverse Osmosis with remineralization added
Trace liquid minerals
High mineral sea salt
-Structured water filter code BEN15 for 15% discount


Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!


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Episode #336 – Full Transcript

Podcast #336 from


Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness show: The New “Red Meat Causes Cancer” Study, How Low Can Your Body Fat Go, Five Ways To Know If Your Heart Is Healthy, Is Reverse Osmosis Water Healthy, What To Do About High Heart Rate During Exercise, and much more!

                           He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness.  His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance.  He is Ben Greenfield.  “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that for natural movement, get out there! When you’re working all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest effort to see…”  All the information you need in one place right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.

Ben:                   Well, I’m dressed up quite fashionably this morning, Rachel.

Rachel:              Really? What are you wearing?

Ben:                   I’m wearing among other things, it’s not the only thing that I’m wearing although it would be an interesting look if it were.  I’m wearing a weighted vest this morning as we record our episode.

Rachel:              Oh and what inspired you to be wearing a weighted vest this morning?

Ben:                   Well, aside from the extreme fashion effect, all the cool kids are wearing weighted vests these days, as you know.

Rachel:              Oh, they’re about to start wearing them (chuckles).

Ben:                   We got – we had a listener right in: a guy who we talked about a couple of podcast episodes ago.  This is the guy who pees on himself.

Rachel:              I remember.

Ben:                   Do you remember this guy?

Rachel:              I do.  Yeah.

Ben:                   Yeah, it’s like the ultra runner who find out he could drink less water by peeing on himself to stay cool.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   Right? He of course doesn’t call it ‘peeing on himself’, he calls it his ‘fluid recycling technique’, his unusual fluid recycling technique.

Rachel:              And it’s much more digestible as a name?

Ben:                   Yeah, and he wrote into the show because apparently he’s a listener at least he listened to that episode, and he says in his training, before his big Ultra Run, he was actually only running about 4-5 hours a week, 4-5 hours a week of running which is not much for an extreme, long Ultra runner.

Rachel:              Right, right.

Ben:                   And what he says is and I’ll quote him here.  He says, “I spend more time strength training and the proof is in the footing.  I ran 16,300 miles in 621 days with zero overuse injuries.”

Rachel:              Insane.

Ben:                   Crapola of running.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   But he says, “I work in standing desk, I sit as little as possible and…”, and here’s the kicker that influences my fashion choice this morning.  He says, “I wear weights the whole time, essentially, living under hyper gravity.”  And this is a technique that he uses as a way for runners to train during the day while dramatically reducing injury risk.  So basically, he keeps himself loaded with weights while he works during the day, so.

Rachel:              Wow.  And have you heard of this before?

Ben:                   Well, I’ve written before about like you know, when you’re cleaning the garage, you’re doing the laundry, you’re – you know, whatever, wearing a weighted vest so that you are forcing to move your muscles to be stimulated as you’re working or to burn more calories.  But I’ve never really thought about just kinda loading myself the whole day…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So, I’m either going to get a horribly bad back and perhaps shrink a few inches or you’re gonna see me winning Ultra Runs.

Rachel:              Wow, can’t wait to hear.

Ben:                   There you have it, hyper gravity, baby.

News Flashes:

Rachel:              So Ben, some fascinating claims this week about red meat causing cancer.  What have you got to say about this?

Ben:                   So it’s kinda funny.  Everybody and their dog were tweeting at me yesterday about this study of red meat and red meat causing cancer.  And then I wake up this morning to the smell of bacon…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …as my children are biggies in this enormous pals – bacon at the kitchen table and…

Rachel:              So it came fully waited in the Greenfield family, then?

Ben:                   Yes.  I actually was joking to my kids about how they were going, probably not a great thing to joke about kids to before they head to school in the morning.  But I was joking to them about how they were gonna get cancer, and then we had a nice, long discussion about how anything can make you sick or kill you, including water in correct amounts or from the improper sources.  So, anyways, let’s get into this whole ‘red meat causes cancer’ study.


Rachel:              It’s juicy for show.

Ben:                   It is quite juicy, yes.  So here we go: the actual paper and in all of the headlines that you’re reading, they’re based on this summary paper that refers to a meta-analysis of about 800 different studies.  So what happened was all these researchers met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  That’s a mouthful – the IARC which is an arm of the World Health Organization, the WHO and they came up after looking at all these studies with some pretty strong conclusions about red meat.  And specifically, the major conclusion that they came to was with regards to colorectal cancer.  So when it comes to colorectal cancer, they classified processed red meat – that’s processed red meat like you know, I don’t know, a birdie beef jerky as a Group 1 carcinogen.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   Carcinogenic to humans.  As for regular red meat, not processed red meat but just you know, the average steak that you might barbecue.

Rachel:              Yep.

Ben:                   They classified that as a Group 2A carcinogen.  The difference between a Group 1 and a Group 2A is that the Group1 is definitely carcinogenic, Group 2A means it’s probably carcinogenic, so.  So let’s dig in to what we can derive from this.  So first of all, the study itself was very interesting in terms of the percentage of a risk that they said was increased by eating meat, so basically, it’s a relative risk.  So what they found out was a 17% increase in colorectal cancer emerge when you consume red meat and each additional intake of red meat, about a quarter pound was associated with 17% increase in colorectal cancer.  Now 17% sounds pretty big, but that’s a relative risk and what that means is that the absolute risk of developing colorectal cancer isn’t that high.  So for the average 50 year old, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1.8%.  So increasing an absolute risk of 1.8% up by relative risk of 17%…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   …doesn’t really account for as much as it sounds like it accounts for.  So just a slight kinda thing to be aware of whenever you’re hearing percentages, know if it’s an absolute risk or a relative risk.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   So 17% is not super huge but it still is significant.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So let’s get into not just why this might be the case but also a couple of other things about this study that I want to get into before we go into – get into why red meat might cause this.  So first of all, it’s not like we didn’t really know some of these already.  So processed red meat is something that has been linked to cancer for many years, and we’ve seen some studies that also suggest that regular red meat, we’ve talked about this on the show before, especially from factory farms…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   …and commercial sources might not be all that great for yah.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So, you’re buying your steak at Walmart as you did on Master Chef…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   (chuckles), it might not be the best thing for you.

Rachel:              They didn’t make any of claims about organic versus whatever?

Ben:                   No, they didn’t differentiate the quality of meat.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Just you know, that’s the problem: they’re rating from like, whatever, saturated fat studies to salt studies.  You know, for example with the salt study where they’re showing that keeping salt intake less than 2,000mg per day.  Are they talking about salt from TV dinners or they’re talking about salt from like…

Rachel:              Sea salt, right?

Ben:                   Himalayan sea salt and like seaweed from sushi and you know, maybe some nice mineral, rich fruits and vegetables.

Rachel:              Right, right, right.

Ben:                   So you know, you always have to look at the actual source.  And then the next thing to bear in mind is that most of this evidence that was reviewed was from what’s called epidemiological evidence.  So that’s where you observe people over time or you rely upon like food intake surveys or not talking about a bunch of people inside of a lab…and inside of a closed-off room being studied, you know, via 2 wave mirrors by men in white lab coats.

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   So, these aren’t like super duper strict controlled studies.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And then the last thing to bear in mind, before we get into why meat might be causing cancer is that the dose makes the poison, right? Like this is what I was talking to my kids about.  The average amount of meat being consumed in these studies comes out to about 50 grams per day, so when you look at like, bacon, 50 grams per day of bacon.  Well, if you are doing the whole like you know, Paleo thing, if you’re eating bacon for breakfast and maybe a ______ [0:09.52.6] for  lunch, and then some ham or fish of something like that for dinner – you’re eating a lot of meat.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And anytime that you’re overdoing something…


it can be a sure fire recipe for creating some health issues.

Rachel:              Okay, yup.

Ben:                   Unless it’s my giant ass green kale smoothie which you could just have for every meal if you want to.

Rachel:              So everything else in moderation.

Ben:                   That’s right.  Everything else aside from my giant fat kale smoothie, you can do in moderation.  So let’s talk about some of the reasons that this might be an issue.  So the first kinda suspect when it comes to cancer is something called NOCs, NOCs are N-nitroso compounds.  N-nitroso compounds are something that the hemoglobin in red meats, red meat is red because it has this hemoglobin in it.  That’s the red pigment in blood, it’s why red meat can be kinda good for like let’s say, athletes for example, because you’re getting lots of good absorbable hemoglobin.  But the problem is that some of that pigment can be processed in your gut to create these N-nitroso compounds and those can damage the gut lining and when cells in the gut lining are damaged, DNA damaged can occur overtime.  So the processed forms of red meat like say, bacon or hotdogs, these can lead to the production of these NOCs much faster than even unprocessed meat.  And so, that could be part of the issue here is DNA damaged from N-nitroso compounds, particularly from red meat that is rich in hemoglobin and processed.  So that’s one issue.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   That’s one possible mechanism here.  The next is what are called heat compounds, now heat compounds make that delicious, crusty, black chard flavor that we get when we barbecue meat.  What are called heterocyclic amines HSAs, those can also damage the gut.  Now there are of course, things that you can consume along with meat to vastly reduce HSAs.  This is why we marinated with spices.  This is why a lot of times we’ll have meat with vegetables especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.  A lot of these can significantly reduce the formation of these heterocyclic amines, but if you’re studying a population that’s doing a lot of barbecue, a lot of charring, a lot of heavy cooking of meat, not eating a lot of vegetables or not using a lot of marinades, you’re definitely looking at an increase risk for cancer – so heterocyclic amines are the next.  Despite how much you may enjoy the crunchy charred flavor of your rib eyed steak, it may not be best to burn it or if you like it that way, you may want to use a…

Rachel:              Even vegetables…

Ben:                   generous portion of marinade.

Rachel:              Mmmm.

Ben:                   So the next thing is iron.  Now red meat is as we know, rich in iron and this is good for people who may have anemia or low iron level but on the flip side, iron can be very easily oxidized.  Now think about the rusty nail, that’s iron.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   It’s why especially men who weren’t losing iron monthly like women are need to be cautious about their iron levels and test on those levels at least on yearly basis, I test my iron levels 4 times a year to check and see what they’re at.  N0w iron, especially iron for meat can pretty easily build up in intestinal cells because iron is not as tightly bound, like when you eat plants, even plants that seem to be rich in iron like spinach or kale, whatever.  The iron tends to be relatively tightly bound to those plants, it’s in what’s called that’s non heme form.  But the heme form of iron that you find in meat, a lot of times, that does actually get not just oxidized but it builds up in the gut and it can eventually lead into cell damage, in a very similar way that these N-nitroso compounds can lead to cell damage.  And this is why you need to be careful if you’re taking iron supplements, it’s why you need to be careful again, dose is you know, the poison is in the dose.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And if you’re eating a ton of red meat, you may be overdoing the iron.

Rachel:              Mmm.

Ben:                   So there are a couple of other reasons, I’m not done yet.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   A couple other reasons: so one is something that I actually talked about in the podcast last year because there was a red meat study last year in which meat was linked to cancer.  And the term here that you need to know is called TMAO – so TMAO stands for trimethylamine N-oxide and TMAO is something that can be formed by bacteria in your gut when you consume red meat.  And TMAO is something that’s been linked t0 disease, particularly disease in the gut or a change in the gut bacterial profile and it’s possible that in the absence of a healthy gut…


in the absence of probiotic intake, intake of fermented food, etc. but at the same time, high intake of red meat that you could create like rampant TMAO production.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And someone who has good gut flora, this is not an issue, in someone who has a poor gut bacterial balance however, TMAO can be a serious issue.  So that’s the next thing, is – particularly in people who have unhealthy guts, red meat could be a bigger issue.  And then the last thing is something called Neu5Gc.  Now the idea with Neu5Gc is that’s a type of sugar and normally, what happens with Neu5Gc is it gets incorporated into our cells, but some people have an autoimmune reaction to this compound.  They produce antibodies against it.  Almost like a food allergy to red meat and in these people, when you get a very high build up of this Neu5Gc and the antibodies they get produced in response to it, it can increase risk for cancer.  So that’s another area that comes into play here is an autoimmune reaction to red meat.  So let’s step back and look at this big picture.

Rachel:              That’s a lot.  That’s a lot.

Ben:                   Now about what we can do ‘cause there’s a lot of stuff.  So a.) if you’re gonna use red meat and you’re gonna cook with red meat, makes sure that you use marinades and that you’ll eat plenty of plants.  So that will help out with these N-nitroso compounds that can get formed and also the heterocyclic amines that can get formed.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   B.) limit your intake of red meat, particularly processed red meat…

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   Yeah, bacon, beef jerky, hotdogs, etc.  There should not be staples in your diet, there should be treats…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   And the less processed, the better.  Next, and especially if you are a man, test your iron levels and ensure that your iron levels are not building up to the point where you’re at risk for hemochromatosis, so very simple blood test that you can get for iron.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   And make sure you’re not overdoing it with iron supplements and red meat at the same time.  Next, use probiotics or eat a wide variety of fermented foods if you’re gonna eat red meat, that’s another thing that I highly recommend.  And then finally, even though it can be expensive, you can go to a lab like Cyrex Laboratories for example, in which you can get the 3 best arrays there are an array 3, an array 4 and an array 10 which will tell you not just beyond the shadow of a doubt, whether you’re allergic to gluten, but whether you’re allergic to a wide variety of foods that cross react with gluten, and whether you’re allergic to a lot of these other proteins including the protein in say, red meat, like this Neu5Gc that could be something that causes like an immune related issue.  And then the last thing that you go without saying is – I mean just limit your intake of meat and protein in general.  Something I’ve talked about in the show before is when you overdo protein and you overdo meat, you create a lot of what’s called this activation of a protein in your body called mTOR that increases the rate which telomere shortening and could potentially decrease longevity and increase risk of cancer.  So essentially what this comes down to is if you overdo protein intake and overdo meat intake, you’re in this constant anabolic pro-growth state that is not necessarily conducive to longevity, it’s conducive to look in really good in your…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   …walk to the gun shell…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   …of getting swole, baby.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   But at the same time you know, the bigger you are, it’s like the elephant versus the mouse, right? They are some advantages to being big and being able to lift heavy stuff but you eventually get to this point where there’s a lot of diminishing returns…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   and so you gotta be careful.

Rachel:              And so you know, the headlines are saying things like ‘red meat causes cancer’ and that’s pretty vague.  So the only type of cancer we’re looking at is colon cancer?  Is that correct?

Ben:                   Yes, so they should adjust all the headlines saying…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   ‘Red meat gives you butt cancer’.

Rachel:              (laughs) Well, it’s a very inflammatory headline.  I’m sure it causes people a lot of fear but it’s not really something as extreme as what seems to be, being put out there.

Ben:                   Exactly, yup, so now you know the truth.  Anyways though, there are couple other things I wanted to mention real quick in the news flashes.  And by the way, any studies we talked about, etc. I put links to all of them and you can access those links in the show notes.  And the show notes for this episode, episode number 336 are shocker…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   …at  So another thing that I tweeted this week about runners, so this is kind of an interesting one – running makes you fat.

Rachel:              Oooh.

Ben:                   (laughs)


                           So this was a study that they did at Harvard University, and what they found was that marathon training has little or no effect in terms of helping you to lose weight and in fact in many people, especially with people who are running more than 15 miles a week at a nice, steady aerobic pace, they’re actually getting fatter.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   So what they found was that in runners running 4 times per week, so 4 times per week for 3 months, 11% loss weight, 78% loss no weight and 11% gained weight.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   Some of these are as to gain weight and one time are gaining body fat.

Rachel:              So what why is this?

Ben:                   Well there’s a few reasons for this.  I was actually, I was interviewed on a new show yesterday about this and what I pointed out was: a.) when you are exercising aerobically, you tend to have a higher appetite afterwards.  The reason for that is when you’re lifting weights or you’re doing sprints, you’re body produces lactic acid.  Lactic acid gets converted into glucose very readily in your body and this glucose conserve as a fuel for, for example, brain tissue.  And so when you finished your hard workout, you’re actually less hungry than when you finished an aerobic workout which makes you more hungry.  So that’s one thing.  The next thing is that long, slow distance training doesn’t build muscle, and lean muscle increases metabolism and has – it causes a simultaneous increase in a lot of these same hormones we talked about last week in response to cold like adiponectin and irisin.  You get a little bit of a surge of these in response to weight training or sprint training as well, and you don’t get that with long, slow, endurance training.  And then finally and they talked about this a little bit in Jeff Volek and Steve Phinney’s book “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance”.  They bring up a study that showed that for some reason in response to long distance running, probably some kind of evolutionary like energy conservation mechanism.  You see a drop in thyroid activity and a drop in metabolic weight, and because you’re sending your body the message that ‘hey, you gotta go for long periods of time everyday so we might wanna suck away some fats to help you out with that.”

Rachel:              Right, right.

Ben:                   So now I’m not saying, let’s put it this way: if somebody had to choose between like sitting on a couch all day and running a marathon or running 50 miles a week or you know, running three times a week for 4 months, I’d say, ‘go run’.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   But at the same time, there are some issues with our perception of running as a good way to lose weight that are just seriously flawed and it turns out that a good way to get say, skinny fat would be to run and do run training for marathon without including say sprints or weight training, so.

Rachel:              What about not doing that long, slow-bone running but doing like high intensity or anything like that?

Ben:                   Yeah, that’s what most of my run training programs are based on, right? Like a typical week, you would do a track workout, you do a hill workout and then you do a very focused long run but your long run’s like 60 minutes…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   …and it’s not that 3 hour-death march that you see a lot of people shuffling through down the trails.

Rachel:              And that’s gonna work better for losing weight?

Ben:                   Exactly.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   Exactly.

Rachel:              Mmm.

Ben:                   There you have it.  If you’ve signed up for marathon don’t necessarily keep your fingers crossed that it’s gonna help you lose weight, get better body. Okay and then the last thing was a study on sleep, catch up sleep.  This is something new and dear to my heart ‘cause I’ve spent the past 72 hours or so down in Encinitas, California at this Kokoro Camp, and I was able to squeeze in a few cat naps here and there but spent the better part of the past 3 days awake.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   Walk up and down the beach and you know, we set on people on marches down the sand, beside the ocean and you know, watching folks do ungodly amounts of burpees, etc.  And it turns out that based on a recent study that just appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology.  What happens is if someone has a long history of sleep deprivation, right? Like at least a 6 month history of lifestyle-driven, restricted sleep, you know like long work hours, occasionally a little bit of weekend catch up sleep, etc. – we know.  And I’ve talked about this on the podcast before you get disregulation of glucose and insulin, you get a disregulation of the hormones called leptin and ghrelin which are responsible for either regulating appetite or stimulating appetite respectively.  You get an increase in cortisol, you get a drop in testosterone, you get a drop in something called luteinizing hormone which is something produced by your brain…


that causes you to produce a lot of your – like your testosterone for example.  So you get a lot of disregulation of a bunch of different blood parameters in response to long-term sleep deprivation.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   You get some of a response to short-term sleep deprivation, frankly.  But long-term sleep deprivation, you get a lot of issues with this.  So what they did was they took a group of folks who had been engaged in at least 6 months of poor sleep, crappy sleep patterns and they gave them 3 nights of catch-up sleep.  So when I say 3 nights of catch-up sleep, what they gave them were about 10 hours of sleep per night, they call these ‘intervention nights’.  And 10 hours is pretty good, it’s pretty decent amount of sleep.  They even used acoustic stimuli you know, which I’m assuming were binaural beats to help keep these folks kinda like in a sleepy unbothered, uninterrupted state.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And they were able to show that all of these metabolic effects of chronic repetitive sleep restriction were reversed with just 3 nights of catch up sleep.

Rachel:              Wow.  Wow.

Ben:                   So it turns out that sleep – you know, lack of sleep is powerful, but sleep in terms of just like turning around a lot of issues is pretty powerful as well.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   So there you have it ‘catch up sleep’, not to be confused with ‘ketchup sleep’.

Rachel:              (laughs) So you can receive all of these News Flashes and more every single day if you’re following Ben on, and

Ben:                   Boom.

Special Announcements:

Ben:                   Rachel, did you hear the weekend podcast episode with Denise Minger called “278 Pounds Of Fat Magically Disappears In Just One Year On A High-Carb, Low-Fat, Sugar-Laden Diet”?

Rachel:              (chuckles) I definitely did.  And it was controversial.

Ben:                   It was.  We get about 50 comments or so in the show notes for that podcast right now.  If you didn’t listen to that one, you need to go listen it.  Trust me.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   It’s one of those that you may wanna even listen to a couple of times.  We’ll put a link to it in the show notes over at, but if you did not have the chance to listen to that episode with Denise Minger on high carb versus low carb, definitely go, give a listen.  So, it may make you think twice about stuffing your face with either bacon, or peanut butter cup and crunch just in case maybe…

Rachel:              Two things I don’t do but even I, listening to it, I was really interested to hear what she had to say I thought she – you know for a lot of people, she’s quite inflammatory but I thought, she was pretty grounded and just you know, interesting.

Ben:                   Maybe your takeaway message was do not combine bacon with peanut butter cup and crunch, so.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   That’s the biggest mistake you can make.  This podcast is actually brought to you by Texas Superfood.  So speaking of food and food cravings and everything, a big, big part of food cravings as well as lack of sleep can be micro-nutrient and nutrients deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies, etc.  And what Texas Superfood is, is 55 – count them, 55 fruits and vegetables in one serving and you can use a capsule, you can use a powder or you can use one of their stick packs which is like this portable little pack that you take with you on the go.   So it’s 55 fresh, raw, vine-ripen fruits and vegetables, and they’ve got probiotics in there, they’ve got digestive enzymes in there so you can basically get a mega-dose of nutrients without having to eat ungodly amounts and pounds and pounds of food.  So, it’s called Texas Superfood and we have a discount code for folks.  You go to, not texassuperfoods, and use promo code ‘ben’ and check out to get 10% off of your order of Superfood, so…

Rachel:              Yum.

Ben:                   Texas Superfood. Yeah, yummy.  This podcast is also brought to you by Onnit, on it, baby.  So last week we talked about Onnit’s warrior bar and their nut butter, this week I wanted to mention that not only when you visit do you save 10% off of all their tasty functional foods, but you can also get a savage workout if you order dome of their Primal Bells.  Have you seen these Primal Bells, Rachel?

Rachel:              And although… no, I haven’t, no.

Ben:                   So they’re kettlebells, they come in gorilla…

Rachel:              Oh, I have.

Ben:                   …or zombie faces.

Rachel:              Yeah, yeah.

Ben:                   They’re made from this really high quality, extremely rust and chip resistant, coated iron kettlebells, but then they 3D scan them to ensure perfect balance; even though they have the gorilla face…


or the zombie face on them, and they just looked cool, they’re like pieces of art in your gym.  I’ve got them scattered and not just in my gym but in a few other spots around the house.  As you walk into my house and you’re prone to see a zombie or gorilla kettlebell in just about any room.  So you can get those over at and you can save a bunch of money on them when you get to  So Rachel, you’re gonna get yourself a gorilla or is it?

Rachel:              Yeah, I’ll get a gorilla.  I need things to make me look a hot ass.

Ben:                   Well I was trying to figure out, what are you gonna be for Halloween’s? Speaking of zombies.

Rachel:              Oooh.  I haven’t thought about it.  Typical foreigner doesn’t get the Halloween thing.

Ben:                   You know Halloween’s like 4 days away.

Rachel:              Last year I went as a koala.

Ben:                   A koala bear?

Rachel:              Uh-huh.

Ben:                   Like the…

Rachel:              It was adorable.

Ben:                   …full-on koala costume?

Rachel:              It was a onesie.  Yup.

Ben:                   Okay, interesting.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   I haven’t decided yet what I’m gonna be.  I was thinking about maybe, my last thought – because I always try to come up with pretty lazy costumes.  I was thinking about putting on a bathrobe, some flannel pajama pants, wife beater and some sunglasses and just go in as ‘the dude’ from The Big Lebowski.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   It would be a comfortable costume.

Rachel:              It would be.  I was really actually appreciative of my onesie last year ‘cause it’s kinda chilly and that onesie was so comfortable.

Ben:                   Mmm.

Rachel:              So yeah, comfort more than style.

Ben:                   Yes, my children are Yeti and the Headless Horseman, so I figured The Dude outfit right and there.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Couple other quick things for this Special Announcements: the Unbeatable Mind retreat, I will be speaking down there in Carlsbad, California.  You can go to to get into that, it is a part of Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine’s organization takes place at the site of the world famous Kokoro Camp that I was just at and you get everything from warrior yoga to morning SealFit wods, to amazing meals, to guys like Robb Wolfe and sleep expert Kirk Parsley, ketogenic expert Dominic D’Agostino, bunch of cool folks were talking there and speaking there.  I’m on a nutrition panel, I’ll be down there, so come check that out.  Spaces are limited but you can get into that at, I think they will only let like a 100 people in, so.

Rachel:              Mmm.  Get in, quick.

Ben:                   Act fast! That’s December 4th through the 6th, and then the last thing I wanted to mention is that the World’s Toughest Mudder is coming up in a couple of weeks, so that’s gonna be in November 14th and again, tune in to the Obstacle Dominator podcast which is the Obstacle Racing podcast that myself and a couple of other folks produce.  You can check that out at, but if you’re Spartan racer or you like the Tough Mudder or you’re gonna be at that event, the World’s Toughest Mudder, you wanna tune in to all the action that we’re gonna be podcasting about over at

Rachel:              Are you still gonna have an after party?

Ben:                   Oh yeah, we’re still planning on throwing down, so you can stay tuned to all that action over on that podcast, so, check it out.

Listener Q & A:

Anna:                Hi Ben and Rachel!  I’m Ana, a big fan of your show from Spain.  You know how you always say that women should lift heavy and not worry about getting bulky?  How about those few of us who really want to get bulky or ripped, how far in our lowest body fat could we go without risking hormonal problems? What diet and exercise do you recommend? Can you add the age issue into it, please? I’m 43.  Thanks! Keep up the awesome job you’re doing.

Ben:                   Rachel, do you know your body fat percentage?

Rachel:              I don’t.  I’ve actually never measured it.  I mean Yankee, come on, we don’t that! (laughs)

Ben:                   You somewhat mean, do you have a six pack or an eight pack…

Rachel:              No.

Ben:                   …or a four pack?

Rachel:              I was a gymnast for 10 years and I never got a six pack.  I think there’s something genetically against me.

Ben:                   Yeah, yeah.  Your abs might be broken.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   You need that checked out.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   My – so my wife has had her body fat measured.  I’ve – I used to measure thousands and thousands of people.  I had horrible job at University of Idaho when I managed the wellness program there.  I was the guy who did free body fat emails.  And so, in addition to you know, personal training and teaching spin classes and managing the wellness center and launching you know, new wellness programs and you know, group personal training, and all that jazz and measuring all the personal trainers, one of the primary components of my job was about a dozen times a day to measure the body fat on all the sorority girls who would walk in, who want their 7 site skin fold calipers, so. 


Rachel:              Oh, such a hard job.

Ben:                   It’s a tough job.

Rachel:              Oh, Ben.

Ben:                   Take them in a side room, undress them…

Rachel:              Wow. (laughs)

Ben:                   …gauge 7 different body fat sites.  So, I did really a sucky job in college, let me tell you. (chuckles) But anyways, I got pretty good at skin caliper measurements and the way that those work is you pinch several different spots on the body and you measure the skin fold of each of those spots and then you plug that into the equation to get body fat percentages, so.  My wife, when I measured her, shy typically comes out to and I’ve still done her a couple of times in the body fat percentage.  She comes out to 8 to 9% every time, and she is one of those skinny, Montana-rancher girls who finds funky just fine and you know, she has her monthly period and everything like that but she does just fine and feels great at 8 to 9%.  I fluctuate, right now I’m at about 7%, I’ve been as low as when I was body building 3% and felt…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   …absolutely horrible.  So you know, our family, my kids are gonna be super duper lean just ‘cause my wife and I tend to kinda lean towards body fat percentages, but the ranges are huge based on everything from genetics to body type.  The idea here though is you carry 2 kinds of fat in your body: you got essential fat, now essential fat is stored in very small amounts in bone marrow, in organs, in your central nervous system like lining your nerves and your muscles.  And you need it for normal, healthy functioning of all those body fat systems, all those body systems.  And then you have storage fat, now storage fat would be like adipose tissue, white fat, brown fat, fat that is stocked for energy or that is used to create heat you know, insulation.  So for men, the essential body fat, the stuff that get stored in bone marrow, organs and etc., typically makes up around 3% on the average guy.  Now in women, essential body fat stores typically are closer to about 10 to 12% essential body fat…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   …and that’s because of female reproductive function and the fact that females tend to store more fat in breast, pelvis, hips and thighs.  Either child birth or the functions that come after child birth, that’s just natural fertility.  So the idea here is that in most cases, for the average women, the minimum body fat percentage is around 13 to 17%, beginning in a pretty broad brush.  And I’ll get into like ages and percentages here in a second, but the idea is that if body fat falls below in most women, falls below 13 to 17%, what typically happens is you send the message to your body that there’s not enough body fat to basically nurture a fetus if you would become pregnant.  I mean, and a big part of this is just basic evolutionary mechanism…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So the female body has that certain amount of fat in order to reproduce and reproduction is still wanted the primary you know, whether or not you want to have babies, like that’s something your body wants to…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   …stay prepared to do.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   What happens typically is you get a menorrhea or the menstrual cycle ceases and the body becomes temporarily infertile, that’s you know, the major thing that happens when it comes to dropping body fat.  The other thing that’s really, really big for women and this is the reason that you see a lot of like female cross-country runners for example, always struggling with stress fractures because they’re running so much, limiting food intake, body fat drops really low.  What you get is a drop in circulating levels of estrogen which are not only, that estrogen is not just like the principal reproductive hormone but it’s also necessary for bone density.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   So you see a big drop in bone density and a big drop in fertility and then you also get some other things.  You get like a drop in thyroid activity, you get extreme cold sensitivity and those are the biggies, the drop in the thyroid, the drop in estrogen and the drop in fertility.

Rachel:              So even if you’re like lifting a lot while you have a really low body fat, will it still affect your hormones in the same way?

Ben:                   You know, theoretically, and this is kinda like blue sky stuff, like you can go with weights, you can kinda jack up your testosterone and your growth hormone you know, acutely, right? Temporarily after hard and heavy weight training session, but people who are super lean get to the point where they just can’t lift weights very heavy ‘cause they don’t have the energy and everything necessary for that.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And even when I was a body builder, I was lifting pretty heavy weights but once I got down under 3%, my testosterone dropped, my sex drive dropped.  I, you know, I looked like this great big old chunk of meat though I wanna do is just like lay on the couch.


Rachel:              And then my other question is – when I was a gymnast, there was basically delayed on set of menstrual cycles ‘cause you train so much.  So when you lose it, is it such a bad thing or does it just come straight back?

Ben:                   When you lose your menstrual cycle, you lose a lot of a natural production of progesterone and estrogen…

Rachel:              Mmm.  Okay.

Ben:                   …that are supposed to happen each month and so you can get a gradual drop in bone density.  You can get in many cases if progesterone drops low enough an issues called estrogen dominance which leads to…once you do begin eating, body fat getting distributed in places that you don’t wanna get it distributed.  Drop in progesterone also can cause like a lack of motivation, lack of libido, lack of drive.  A little bit of depression-like symptoms, so yeah.

Rachel:              Feels terrible.

Ben:                   Yeah.

Rachel:              So stay above 13%.

Ben:                   Well, in most cases, yes.  Even though it’s going to very few, like I mentioned, my wife is one of those people which just based on her genetics, like she just got skinny genes.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   So.

Rachel:              Skinny genes.

Ben:                   Skinny genes.  But there are some ways that you can, there’s actually, I’m gonna link to some picture descriptions for folks in the show notes who – if anybody wants to either go calculate their body fat using some handy dandy online body fat calculators I’ll link to.  Or if you wanna look at pictures of what a certain percentage of fat in men and what is the certain percentage of fat in women actually looks like, follow the link in the show notes.  So what we see in men is typically anything around like 3 to 4%, that’s what you’ll see in bodybuilders.  That’s what you’ll see like striations and like all the veins popping out and everything like that.  And you know, anything below that is extremely unhealthy and even that is not healthy. Around 6 to 7% is from men, what you’re typically gonna see on like magazine cover models and these aren’t like bodybuilders but you still get vascularity, you still got abs showing up.

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   That type of thing that you’d see in like a photo shoot for men – 6 to 7%.  Ten to 12% is frankly a more healthy range for men who are shooting for like testosterone, libido, etc.  You can still see some muscles kinda standing out a lot of times like this would be more of like the GQ model being 10 to 12% versus like the Men’s Fitness cover which would be closer like 6 to 7%.  So 10 to 12% you know, you still have what would be considered you know, very attractive body to the opposite sex, etc. you know, and…

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm. (chuckles)

Ben:                   I think it’s the more healthy body fat percentage to and it also keeps you warm.

Rachel:              Yeah, I’m looking at it right now.  It looks very healthy compared to 3 to 4 and 6 to 7.

Ben:                   I don’t think 6 to 7 is that bad but it’s pushing the border of healthiness, basically. Fifteen percent is typically where you start to see some of the muscles not showing up anymore, you don’t sit some striations and sometimes you start to see a little bit of protrude around the mid-section – not a lot but around 15%, you start to see it a little bit more body fat.  And then once you get to 20%, that’s where you start to look kinda soft.  Not necessarily fat and round but just full-on soft.  We’re talking about pen still here but…

Rachel:              Yup. Yup.

Ben:                   And then once you get to 25%, that’s where you definitely can see like some fat around the mid section, you know like a male version of a muffin top, etc. would be at right on 25%, 30%, now you’re getting up into the overweight-obese category and so on up.  And then once you get to 35, 40, etc. like 40% is just like full-on, big, fat and that’s basically what you’re looking at as far as men goes.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  Right.

Ben:                   And follow the link in the show notes if you wanna see the visualization of this.  For women usually, you know, we’re turning back to like the bodybuilding you know, type of status or like the posing on stage.  Typically you’re gonna see somewhere around 8 up around 12% for women, again, depending on the body fat type but like vascularity, striations, bikini fitness models, bodybuilder women, etc., 8 to 12% is typically what you’re gonna see – like lots of veins sticking out, etc.  Now, once you get above 12%, all the way up to 17% like that 13 to 17% range that I talked about – that is really the body that a lot of women are kinda going for.  It’s like the magazine cover model look, the bikini model look and you tend to see some amount of fat in the hips, butt and thighs.  You get a decent amount of essential fat, a lot of times you can still be regular at that body fat percentage but you – you know, look at in the swimsuits or… 


Rachel:              I’m looking at her and she doesn’t look like she’s got any fat on her (laughs).

Ben:                   In 15 to 17%?

Rachel:              Yeah, I don’t know what you see in that.

Ben:                   That’s the photo – I suspect looking in that photo at the woman in that photo is probably closer to 13%…

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   But yeah that’s pretty lean.  Then you get pushing up closer to 20% and again, for most women the ultimate kinda like marriage of health longevity and you know, a nice body if that’s what you’re going for occur somewhere right around that 20% range where you actually are really regular, really fertile.  But you know, there’s not necessarily bunch of striations and vascularity and stuff like that, but that is a pretty good number to shoot for, in my…and if you’re going for again, like the ultimate and like health and longevity and performance and kinda getting everything I’ll put together.

Rachel:              Right, right.

Ben:                   So once you get up above 25% that would be like a very curvaceous woman which a lot of people are frankly going for these days, you know, it’s curves, it’s some amount of body fats, some amount of cushioning, again it’s not like a super unhealthy body fat percentage, and a lot of feel good and look good closer to 25%.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   Once you get – now whereas men, if a man is at about 20%, he starts to look fat.  A woman at 20% still looks pretty lean, a woman at 30%. at 30% body fat – that’s for women would tend to start to look fat with 30%.

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   Then similar to men, you know, women are always legging behind men like 5 to 10%, so once the woman is at 35%, she’s starting to look a little soft, she’s not someone you’d see and say is like obese or seen in some cases even extremely overweight, but it’s some softness.  Then once a woman gets above 40% that’s where you would definitely notice that that woman is fat, whereas the man, once a man gets above 30%, that’s where you’d notice that a man is looking fat and then…and everything just kinda goes up from there.  But you’ll see a lot of women you know, the upper around like 50%, from man that’s morbidly, morbidly obese.  Some women naturally are up around 50% especially if they’re like an endomorphic like apple shapes so women definitely tend to air you know, more towards at slightly higher percentage body fat.  But if you’re listening in, definitely go check out the body fat percentage photos that I’ll link to, it’s over in this website called, I’ll link to this in the show notes at  That’s kinda the deal with the body fat percentage.

Rachel:              Interesting stuff.  I reckon off the top of my head, I’m 23% body fat and in winter, I’m 26% halfway (laughs).

Ben:                   Mmm-mmm.  That’s actually really interesting observation, I’d – just today, I started doing what I tend to do in the winter which is have a couple of days per week where I kinda back off like the metabolic conditioning type of workouts…

Rachel:              Yeah.

Ben:                   and I just instead lift some heavy stuff for about 5 to 6 reps.

Rachel:              Nice.

Ben:                   And you know, eat little bit more food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, get the insulation on, baby and hibernate.

David:               Hey Ben and Rachel, this is David.  I wanna start by saying that I love you guys podcast, I listen to it just about every episode that comes up.  But my question is about heart health, I’ve tried looking at your Ben Greenfield heart health on Google, stuff like that, but nothing really seems to pop up.  But I’ve been told that I have a heart murmur and – but every checkup that I’ve ever had you know, my heart appears to be healthy and I don’t know, a completely normal condition.  But what kinds of things can I do to increase the healthiness of my heart and what kinds of things might I avoid since I have a heart murmur?  Hopefully that’s enough detail to kinda punch in the right direction, but I appreciate it.  Thanks for everything you guys are doing, looking forward to hearing your answer.

Ben:                   Well, heart murmurs.  Heart murmurs are kinda interesting because there these sounds that the heart makes as the blood circulates through the heart’s chambers and the valves are through these blood vessels near the heart.  And a lot of times, you will hear them and they’re totally normal, they’re benign and they’re known as functional or physiologic murmurs, they don’t necessarily indicate heart valve problems.

Rachel:              Hmmm.

Ben:                   So, there are things that I think go above and beyond murmurs that you should look into in terms of quantifying your heart health, so.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And I’ve actually you know, I’ve been freaking scared before because I’ve seen all these stories about like triathletes and marathoners dropping dead during races, and a couple of years ago, I went to my local heart clinic…


and I got a – an electro-cardiogram, an EKG, stress EKG, where I got hooked up to a bunch of electrodes and then just ran on a treadmill you know, until I was about to fall off the back of the treadmill.  And what the physician measured during that test was the electrical status of my heart and whether or not there were any what are called a periventricular PVCs, periventricular contractions, I believe is what the ‘C’ stands for.  Say, it might be something else.  But PVC is anyways are an indication that there are some electrical abnormalities going on with the heart.  And sure enough and the doc told me after this test, so this is pretty common with endurance athletes, once I got close up to my VO2 max, my maximum pace, I experienced a pretty big cluster of misfiring of the SA node and the electrical activity in my heart.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   So, that was a little bit disheartening but apparently, that’s something that’s common especially among athletes.

Rachel:              And that’s something we should be worried about?

Ben:                   Well, possibly.  We’ll get into that in just a second.  But the other thing is that I did what’s called an ultrasound echocardiogram and that is where they look at whether or not you have what’s called athlete’s heart, which is a thickening of the wall of your left ventricle of the heart, sometimes accompanied by scarring.  And it turns out that in my case, I had the thickening but not the scarring.  And the scarring is the bigger issue when it comes to you being at risk for potentially having like a heart attack or improper function of the heart, especially during exercise.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So those were the two tests that I got, and those were the two if you kinda wanna do things on a budget, as far as analyzing your heart health that I would recommend for athletes – would be like a stress EKG and an ultrasound echocardiogram.  But there are some other things that I’d recommend a.) when it comes to testing and b.) when it comes to like things you can look for in your blood and biomarkers when it comes to just seeing if your heart is actually healthy.  So before we jump into that, Rachel, have you done any heart testing or do you test blood, biomarkers or anything like that?

Rachel:              I have did test – did a comprehensive blood test… a couple years ago when I was probably partway from being vegetarian but nothing on the heart, nothing on the heart.

Ben:                   Gotcha.

Rachel:              I think my heart’s healthy (laughs).

Ben:                   What do you mean ‘partway through being vegetarian’?

Rachel:              Well, that’s true – that indicates that there’s an end point and there hasn’t been one yet.

Ben:                   Half-meat vegetarian.

Rachel:              Probably about 5 years into being vegetarian.

Ben:                   Taking half the bacon off…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …of the sandwich, is that vegetarian?

Rachel:              Yup.

Ben:                   Okay.

Rachel:              Alright.

Ben:                   So, one test, in addition to the two that I just described that I think that most people should get is what’s called the coronary artery calcium score.  So there’s a website called which is probably the most famous of the websites out there when it comes to pretty comprehensive explanation of what this test actually is and where you can get it.  But the idea here is that most of the calcium in your body is in your teeth and in your bones, of course.  But about 1% is in your blood, and this calcium that’s in your blood can deposit in the arteries and calcification of the walls of the arteries is something that you’ll see quite commonly in people who are at risk for heart issues or for blockage.  So when you want to see, if you have any of this calcification going on, you can get one of these calcium score test and in most cases, it’s gonna be older people who have calcification, however, what they’re finding is that more and more are probably because of like Western diets, inflammation, etc.  Coronary calcium build-up and its contribution to atherosclerosis is something that they’re seeing in younger and younger people as well now.

Rachel:              Atherosclerosis?

Ben:                   Atherosclerosis would just basically be like inflammation of the vascular wall, the build-up of plaque or calcium…

Rachel:              Okay, okay.  Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   …in the wall, particularly of the coronary arteries.  So what you can get is this calcium score and all it measures is whether or not you have calcification going on and how much of it is actually occurring.  It’s like a calcium score of 0 would be ‘you got no plaque’, like calcium score of 1 to 10 would be mild amounts of plaque but low risk of coronary artery disease.  Once you get above 10 that’s where you definitely have some atherosclerotic plaque; once you get above a 100, that’s like definite narrowing of the corner arteries because you got caught so much calcification going on.  And then like a coronary calcium score of over 400 would be mean that you are at a high, high risk for having a heart attack due to atherosclerotic build-up, so. 


Rachel:              And so what age would be a good age to start thinking about it?

Ben:                   I’ve been thinking about going in for this test myself, just to see, just ‘cause I’m curious and you know, I’m constantly trying to quantify and you know, same reason that I got a colonoscopy 15 years earlier that I needed to.  It’s the same as when I tested my blood 4 times this year, it’s the same reason I poop in a little tray twice a year and you know, I’m constantly running these tests in my body.  You know, the recommendations are I believe, 50 for men and 60 for women or something very close to that, because men tend to have heart issues a little bit earlier in life and women tend to see a little bit later.  But yeah, as far as when to do it, I mean honestly, if you’re worried about coronary calcification or if you at some point in your life have eaten unhealthy diet, it would be something to look into.

Rachel:              Look into, yeah.

Ben:                   Yeah.  Now I’ve been thinking about getting it, but you can check it out: would be the main website to learn more about that particular test.  If I can go back and do all of my heart tests over again, I would just get the EKG and echocardiogram, I’ll also get this coronary calcium one.  So, if you weren’t going to shove over all the money for these tests though and you wanted to still measure a few things, there are some other things that you can measure.  So I’m going to give you a few of them: first of all, before I jump into these, I wanna tell you that I’m gonna link to a really comprehensive  paper that just appeared in a journal of lipids.  If you love to read and you wanna knock yourself with this, the title of this study is emerging risk biomarkers and cardiovascular disease.  And basically, it’s the best paper I’ve seen of late that goes into why LDL cholesterol levels really don’t have much at all to do with heart disease and aren’t a very good marker for cardiovascular disease.  Even though we tend to say LDL is the bad stuff, it’s really not; there are a lot of other things to bear in mind.  The paper itself has some really helpful tables and everything in terms of like which biomarkers are more important and which ones to look at.  But from a simple standpoint, a few that I look at: the first is your triglycerides to HDL ratio, so you’ll on most blood test, you’ll be able to get both triglyceride and HDL.  And essentially what you’re looking at is you’re ensuring that the triglyceride to HDL ratio is at 1 or lower.  Meaning, that HDLs are the same as or higher than triglycerides.  And that’s a bigger risk factor for coronary heart disease, then something like you’re LDL cholesterol levels, so you’re looking at your triglycerides and you’re looking at your HDL.  And just put very simply, what would increase HDL? A high intake of plant matter…

Rachel:              Ohh!

Ben:                   and also high intake of fish-based oils like you know, eating a lot of cold water fish or taking a fish oil.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   What would controversially increase triglycerides that you wouldn’t wanna do, well the biggies for that would be high amounts of fructose, high amounts of alcohol and shocker, high amounts of especially on a hyper choleric diet: high amounts of things like butter and coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides and a lot of these that “healthy people” are consuming nowadays.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Like the whole high fat sector, so.

Rachel:              And is that kinda what you touched on with the last podcast that the increase in the very fat diet was response to a heart disease?  And now I’m consuming way more of these fats.

Ben:                   Right, exactly.  So the idea is that especially in the presence of sugars and carbohydrates, you’d want to limit those amounts of fats, but overall, in general, some people are just doing too much butter, too much coconut oil, too many medium chain triglycerides and the triglycerides to HDL ratio is much higher than 1, so.  That’s one thing is you wanna look at HDL and triglycerides.  The next thing that you wanna look at is blood glucose, the longer amount of time that glucose spends in the blood stream, the more likely that glucose is to adhere to fats that are circulating in your bloodstream and when glucose adheres to fats in the bloodstream, it can cause those fats to become inflammatory or to become atherosclerotic or to become oxidized – all of which would not be a good thing.  And so, chronically elevated blood glucose levels are typically something that’s going to happen as a result of a.) snacking – right? Like eating 6 to 10 small meals per day, is the blood glucose levels are constantly going up.  B.) being sedentary, right? Like sitting all day long or not doing what I’m doing right now, standing with the weighted vest on, but instead, just like you know, sitting, not keeping in metabolism elevated.


Ben:                   And then interestingly, stress – because stress and cortisol particularly causes glycogenolysis.  What that means is that it causes the liver to release glycogen and to up regulate blood glucose.  This is the reason why if you would attest your blood glucose after a hard exercise session, it wouldn’t be low, it would be high because all the cortisol you produce from a hard exercise session actually causes your liver to release a bunch of glycogen and your muscles to release a bunch of glycogen which bumps up your blood glucose levels.  So the idea here is that when you’re exercising, that’s not a big of an issue but if it’s all day long because of cortisol and stress from cortisol, it does become an issue, so.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So that’s the next one is blood glucose.  So the next thing after glucose would be inflammation.  Now there’s a variety of different test for inflammation like hs-CRP and homocysteine and Lp-PLA and all these different blood markers that will tell you whether or not you are inflamed.  And if you are inflamed, it can cause high amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood stream to become more damaging, more atherosclerotic.  So hs-CRP on a blood test is typically a marker of muscle damage.  But there are two other things that you can test, one called homocysteine and one called Lp-PLA, and both of these are more indicative of vascular or gut inflammation.  And so those who’d be a couple of pay attention to when it comes to heart health as well – would be inflammation, so and I measure all three when I get a blood test done.  The next thing from basically like a testing standpoint that you can do and the last one that I would recommend would be heart rate variability and this isn’t the biomarker; this is more of like a self-quantification device.  So what I do in the morning is I roll over, I put on a Bluetooth enabled heart rate strap and I use the NatureBEAT device and I’ll link to all the stuff in the show notes for you to check out but the NatureBEAT device will measure not only my heart but heart rate variability.  The beat to beat variation in the heart and so it’ll tell me whether or not I have a high amount of sympathetic nervous system activity like fight or flight or parasympathetic nervous system activity a rest and digest.  And how well my brain is talking to my heart and if the heart rate variability is very low and consistently very low, it can indicate that your nervous systems interplay with your heart is poor and…

Rachel:              Oh, wow.

Ben:                   …you’re either overtraining or you’re overaging or you’re overstressed, so that’s another way that you could kind of test the health of your heart from a nervous system standpoint.  So, as far as ways to know if your heart is healthy, if you have a heart murmur? I would be looking at a stress EKG, an ultrasound echocardiogram, I would be looking at a calcium score and then I’ll get a blood test and look at HDL triglycerides, blood glucose and inflammation and then I would also do a daily heart rate variability measurement.  And if you really wanna kinda keep your finger on the pulse, pun intended…

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   …of what’s going on with your heart, those would be kinda like the gold standards in my opinion.  Then and they’re pretty low hanging fruit, like all those are pretty easy to do.

Rachel:              And what about increasing the healthiness?  What can we do for that?

Ben:                   Increasing the healthiness just comes down to I mean, freaking everything, well let’s talk about the variables that I just mentioned, right? Like HDL would be increased plant intake, increased fish oil intake.  Triglycerides, moderate alcohol intake, decreased fructose intake, decreased intake of dense sources of oils and fats in general.  Not saying fats are bad but I’m saying like in excess especially in a hyper caloric diet, they can be an issue.  Stabilized blood glucose, how do you do that? Avoid frequent snacking, avoid lots of starches and sugars and stay physically active.  Decreased inflammation, how do you do that? That’s typically environmental: electricity, water, air are biggies, right? So, you breathe clean air and you have air filters; you breathe clean water or you breathe clean water?

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   You drink clean water and you have water filters and you’re careful with constantly being exposed to electrical pollution, WiFi signals, etc.  I’m a big fan of environment in terms of inflammation.  And of course, you know food can cause inflammation as well, like commercial meat, grains, corns, things of that nature – those kinda contribute to inflammation as well.  But I find in people who are conscious of that and eating healthy, water, electricity and air are just as big, so.

Rachel               Right, wow.

Ben:                   And then stress, you know…


It’s no mystery that sleep, meditation, yoga, good relationships, love, taking your time, deep breathing – all of those are enormously helpful when it comes to stress.  Now we’ll also – I think we also have a question about exercise related to heart health, so we can get into some of the things you may want to avoid regarding exercise, I guess in response to our next question.

Anonymous:    Hi Ben.  Today I was at training and on my bike and sort of the first 8 minutes of the ride, my heart rate was really unsteady but got up to 233, and as long as it’s been but I’ve last sort 6 weeks.  It’s been probably every 3 or 4 training sessions it’s been getting up over the 200 mark, don’t sort of feeling any pain or anything like that but should I’m sort of stuck and get worried?

Ben:                   Holy-moly, 233 for a heart rate.  That’s pretty high.

Rachel:              I don’t know what that means…

Ben:                   (fast rattling sound)

Rachel:              that means, I’m agreeing.

Ben:                   That’s high.  Well, do you ever test in your morning, like your resting heart rate or your heart rate doing yoga, anything like that?

Rachel:              I haven’t, no but I will.  I will.

Ben:                   Okay, so like…

Rachel:              What are the different like measurement for it as in why is 233 high?

Ben:                   Well 233 is high because if you look at for example, like a resting heart rate in most like healthy people, it’s gonna be between 40 and 60.  And then if you look at when it gets to during like an easy exercise session, it’s 90 to 120.  And then during like an aerobic exercise session, a 120 to 150 and then during a hard exercise session, a 150 up to maybe 200, and then at 200 be like…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   …a really young person, right?  So 233, that’s up into the range of what’s called V-tach or ventricular tachycardia – V-tach, that’s a V-T-A-C-H.  So the idea behind V-tach is it’s an abnormally rapid ventricular rhythm, and a lot of times it can be anything that’s an excessive 200 beats per minute.  And in an older individual, because your maximum heart rate tends to drop as you age, the general formula is 220 minus your age, would be your maximum heart rate.  So when in a 20 year old, the maximum heart rate theoretically would be approximately, it’s not super accurate but approximately 200.  However in the 70 year-old, the maximum heart rate would be 150 right? So when a 70 year-old a heart rate of a 160 could be V-tach, you know whereas that’s not a V-tach for a younger person.

Rachel:              Right, right, right.

Ben:                   But the idea is that this arrhythmia, this V-tach originates in one of the ventricles in the heart.  So you have two different ventricles: your left ventricle and your right ventricle and it can originate in the pacemaker cells of either of those ventricles, or the pacemaker cells are stimulate either those ventricles but it’s essentially an uncoordinated contraction of the heart.  Meaning that the pacemaker cells are not firing properly and what happens is the ventricles tend to not contract the way that they should to pump blood out to the body but instead they kind of tremble, right? They kind of twitch and the just like produce this (fast rattling sound) type of heart rate that’s super duper high.  And there are many different triggers that can cause this: it can be like an abnormality with the vegas nerve, it can be an abnormality with the pacemaker cells in the heart, it can be an abnormality with the ventricles, it can be something like the excess scarring that I talked about and typically, in someone who has a V-tach, you’ll go through everything from an MRI to what’s called angiogram.  It’s one of these calcium score tests that I talked about to run this ECG test that I talked about, many different test that they’ll typically do to see why V-tach would be occurring.  And treatment for V-tach in an athlete would typically involve inserting a catheter into the heart and cauterizing the area of the heart effectively killing in this called radiofrequency oblation and if that’s not possible or it doesn’t work, then you would get a pacemaker put in.  I mean, it’s a pre – V-tach can be pretty serious issue and there are a lot of endurance athletes that tend to get V-tach.  There’s something about the mineral loss and the electrical abnormalities in the heart stress that occurs during endurance exercise in particular that seems to cost a lot of endurance athletes.  And there’s a lot of professional endurance athletes for example, I talked about this quite a bit in my book, folks like professional triathlete Greg Welch is one who’s famous for having to retire after V-tach diagnosis.  Emma Carney, who’s an Australian ITU triathlon champion…


She had to retire after a V-tach diagnosis, and she actually had to get fitted with a defibrillator to stabilize her condition and you know, she’s kinda sort of made a way back into sport but she can’t compete at a high level ever again.  You know…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   These two people like Greg Welch and Emma Carney are some really physiologically gifted athletes with strong hearts but they pretty much got struck down by an arrhythmia V-tach that is fatal or can be fatal if it occurs to you while you’re out there you know, riding your bike or running or swimming or doing whatever it is that you’re doing and you don’t catch it in time, so.  It’s not something to ignore this whole V-tach issue, so.

Rachel:              So if your heart rate is higher than it’s highest, does that automatically mean you have it?

Ben:                   It can and in many cases if it occurs regularly during exercise, that means that you have exercise induced V-tach and there are some things that can increase your susceptibility to this.  Drinking a bunch of caffeine before workout, high blood pressure, an imbalance in electrolytes, right? Like in potassium or magnesium, there’s a lot of things that can cause you to become more pre-disposed to V-tach and as it occurs over and over again, you can actually experience damage to the heart, so it’s not something to ignore.  And if you take care of your blood pressure and you take care of electrolyte imbalances, and you take care of like excessive caffeine intake prior to a workout and it’s still happening, then you may be somebody who actually has to avoid activities that cause ventricular tachycardia, so, or get it fixed.  Like I mentioned, one of the things that you can get as well is called the catheter oblation.  And that’s where they use a catheter and they mix this high frequency electric current, and they get rid of the area that’s actually causing this abnormal rhythm, so that’s one thing that can be done: you destroy a little bit of your heart tissue when you do that but you get rid of the offending area.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   Another thing that I mentioned like this Emma Carney athlete got this implanted defibrillator and that’s the device that monitors and controls your heart’s rhythm that gets implanted in your skin, it’s very similar like a pacemaker.  And it’s got these lead wires in it and it basically stops when or it stops the tachycardia when the tachycardia occurs, it sends an electrical signal across these leads to the heart to restore normal heart rhythm, so it detects and then adjusts for V-tach.  So those are couple of the major treatments that you would get if doing things like controlling blood pressure, taking in adequate electrolytes, controlling stress of the high amounts of caffeine, etc. didn’t get rid of this issue.  But ultimately, what it comes down to is I have seen many athletes who get V-tach and just needs to switch to yoga, some super slow weight training, some easy walks and things that are less stressful on heart.  I know I’ve shoved you know, between saying marathoners get fat and endurance athletes with heart issues may have to stop endurance exercise, kinda shoves a lot of runners under the bus today, but that’s kinda the reality of it.  The last thing you should be aware of however is that some heart rate monitors just suck and don’t give you accurate values.  If the electrodes on a heart rate monitor say like a chest strap that you’re wearing are not wet or you don’t have some kind of like conducting gel applied underneath that heart rate monitor, it can generate a signal that makes you think that your heart is going 200 or 250 beats a minute, but it’s not really.  So that’s the last thing is freaking, like just take 2 fingers and check on your wrists or on your carotid artery in your neck before you – you know, throw up your hands and rush into the emergency room at your local hospital.  You may wanna actually check to make sure the heart rate monitor itself is sending an accurate signal.

Rachel:              Right.  And so otherwise, my kiwi friend, go see the doctor.

Ben:                   Yes, go see the doctor, get some tests, pay attention to everything that I’ve been talking about when it comes to the heart and which appears to be an underlined theme of today’s podcast.

Cathy:               Hi Ben, I got a quick question for you today.  I’m curious about drinking reverse osmosis water or distilled water.  I hear a lot of people say it’s perfectly fine and I hear a lot of people say that it’s actually dangerous because it doesn’t have the minerals and it will strip the minerals in your body, etc., etc., so just wondering if you have thought on that.  I know you can replace, put mineral drops back into water like this but I’ve also heard that that’s bad because these mineral – trace mineral drops have all minerals including things like mercury and tin and lead, though it’s in small amounts, they you know, I still obviously like to avoid that.


So I just wanted to know your thoughts on that and thanks as always for your awesome information, bye!

Rachel:              So I need some clarification here, Ben.  What is reversed osmosis water?

Ben:                   I’m glad you asked.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Reverse osmosis – so that’s where you use pressure to push water through these tini-tiny pores, so it filters out like chemicals, bacteria, minerals – it’s like an arrangement of different sized membranes and then also carb, in so you can pretty much filter out just about everything that’s in water with reverse osmosis.  It’s considered the gold standard when it comes to just pretty much getting rid of everything like fluoride, minerals, birth control pills and pharmaceuticals in the water, you know, chlorine – you name it – it gets filtered out with reverse osmosis.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   And that can be the issue with reverse osmosis is because even though I recommend people who live in areas with municipal water that has like chlorine and fluoride, if you live in urban area where we know that a lot of stuff that’s getting like flushed down the toilet is winding up in the water supply which is nasty to think about, but it’s reality.  That maybe you’re drinking your neighbor’s poo and your neighbor’s birth control pills.

Rachel:              (laughs) Lovely!

Ben:                   Reverse osmosis is a good idea, but the problem is that you get rid of the bad stuff and you get rid of the good stuff, too, so.

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   So the idea here is that if you have a reverse osmosis system which again is what I recommend is gold standard if you live in an urban area with municipal water, you have to figure out how to add the good stuff back into the water.  And when I say the good stuff, I’m specifically referring to minerals, minerals are the biggies.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.  Right

Ben:                   So reverse osmosis demineralizes the water to the extent where you know, iron and calcium and manganese and magnesium and potassium and chloride and all these stuff gets filtered out creating you know, not just the problems that we just in talking about like the potential for electrical abnormalities in the body.  But low bone density and lack of healthy teeth and you know, a lot of issues when you…

Rachel:              Right, right.

Ben:                   …strip all the minerals from the water.  So the cool thing is that you know, just the simple search on Amazon for example, and I’ll put a link in the show notes to some of these, reveals that there are a lot of reverse osmosis systems now that come with remineralization filters.

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   And all these are are just you know, essentially the special systems that add minerals back into the water so that you don’t need have to worry about it, right? So, it’s called the reverse osmosis system with remineralization.  There’s several different forms out there, there’s a company called A-P-E-C, APEC, that’s one of the high rated, built in the USA systems, it’s got really, really high reviews on Amazon, it’d be one to look into.  I’ll link to a few different options over at, so that’s one option is a remineralizer.

Rachel:              Is there any issues with what they’re putting back into it when they remineralize?

Ben:                   Potentially and that is one of the problems with potential for exposure to metal, to mercury, to lead, etc., depending on the amount that they’re adding back in.

Rachel:              Okay.

Ben:                   That APEC one is not bad, you can also just get a reverse osmosis without the remineralizer, if you want to take over that process yourself and use what Cathy mentions and that is Trace liquid minerals.

Rachel:              Mmm-hmm.

Ben:                   So trace liquid minerals are and we talked about these a few podcast episodes ago.  They’re just these liquid mineral sources that have copper and iodine and iron and manganese and chromium and zinc, and all these trace elements or trace minerals in pretty good ratios.  So they’re not designed to overload you with very, very trace amounts of lead or very, very trace’s amounts of any of these other metals you know, zinc, etc.  But just because they have – just because a trace mineral supplement has these metals in it, does not mean that they’re in such high amounts that you have to work with them.

Rachel:              Right, right.

Ben:                   So like, it’s not like drinking paint.  So the idea though is that you do, even if you’re getting say like, you’re using reverse osmosis system and you’re taking a shot of trace liquid minerals each morning which is what you would do if you’re using something like this.  You buy some trace liquid minerals and you take a shot each day and there are few decent brands out there, we sell one brand made by Natural Calm.  So like my kids used the Natural Calm multivitamin and then I recommend them to a lot of clients to just go to and get the trace minerals that we sell there, it’s made by the same company that makes this liquid multivitamin that my kids use… 


because everything is in a pretty good ratio and that one I’ll vouch for its efficacy.  But even that one you can overdo. What happens is usually your digestive system is the first place that side effects will start to occur if you do a mineral supplement.  You’ll typically get gastric upset, nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, and that’s because when trace minerals start approaching their tolerable upper intake levels, they start to draw a bunch of water you’re your gut and once you get higher up in terms of an imbalance mineral intake, you can get tremors, muscles spasms, you can have like trouble walking, trouble with brain function, you know, if iodine levels get too high and you’re not balance that with selenium, you can get thyroid gland and thyroid hormone issues.  So, the idea here is that more is not better…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   More is not better when it comes to trace minerals, so if you’re gonna use your reverse osmosis filter and you’re gonna take trace minerals, stick to the serving that’s recommended on the label, don’t take more.

Rachel:              So in contrast, is it worst to have water that doesn’t have any minerals or to have water that has too many minerals?

Ben:                   It would be better to have water that doesn’t have minerals in it and then add your own.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   Right? And so do like take your own shot of trace liquid minerals everyday or even like use a really good mineral rich salt, right? Like there are different salt like I use this Aztec salt stuff.  I have a combination of things that I do and it’s not because my water is low on minerals but it’s because I exercise, I sweat a lot, I do my sauna thing every morning, like I sweat bucket loads every morning, so I use a lot of different minerals sources during the day.  The way that my water system is set up is I’m on raw water but that doesn’t mean I just like have a bucket that I got on the backyard, like a wooden bucket that I draw off from the hole in the ground.  Like the water comes out from the well, it passes through a bacterial iron filter which is a hydrogen peroxide bacterial iron filter, then it passes through a manganese filter because there are high amounts of iron found in the water and then I did a hair test, I tested very high from manganese on my hair test.  So I went back, I tested the water from manganese and sure enough, manganese levels are through the roof…

Rachel:              Wow.

Ben:                   …in the well water.  So then I added a manganese filter and then after it passes through the iron filter and then the manganese filter, I have a passing through a structured water filter which if you listen to my interview with Dr. Gerald Pollack, on my interview with Dr. Anthony Beck.  You know that water vibrates at specific frequencies and after it passes through a bunch of filters and after it sits in the cistern or sits in pipes for a long time, it’s no longer vibrating at those frequencies.  And so, I pass it through what’s called the structured water filter which is a series of glass beads that causes the water to begin vibrating at that natural frequency again, that would normally be vibrating at when it passes through, so like a bunch of rocks travelling through an underground spring closer to the earth…

Rachel:              Fascinating.

Ben:                   …so it restores water to its natural frequencies and that creates what is called an exclusion zone.  So an exclusion zone is bonding of water molecules that goes above and beyond just hydrogen oxygen bonding.  Really fascinating stuff, you could go, if you would, just Google Dr. Gerald Pollack – P-o-l-l-a-c-k and look at some of his research at the University of Washington.  He’s found that you can actually enhance cellular hydration when you consume water that is vibrating at the specific frequencies, so that’s why I use a structured water filter as well.  And so, if you’re on well water, test your water, filter out the stuff that’s unhealthy for you and then pass out water through a structured filter.  If you are on municipal water, use a reverse osmosis filter, preferably with a remineralizer or as your own minerals back in by just consuming this during the day…

Rachel:              Right.

Ben:                   And also, preferably, pass it through, after it passes through reverse osmosis, have after – have your plumber out this in after in passes though reverse osmosis, have it pass through a structured water filter.  So I’ll put links and more resources and an explanation for all these stuff over on the show notes if again, you’re nerdy and you just wanna dig into this, but that’s what I’d recommend when it comes to filtering out your water, so there you have it.  Do you filter you water?

Rachel:              I don’t but I can taste the difference for sure between like all the different types of water.  So, we’re moving into a new house next week, so I’m gonna actually own a house and care about that kind of stuff.  It’s interesting.

Ben:                   Yeah.

Rachel:              Renting and not been able to do too much about it.

Ben:                   ‘Cause buying Pellegrino, taking baths in Pellegrino and showers in Pellegrino…

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   …and get a little spendy, so.

Rachel:              Alright.


   Time for review?

Ben:                   The review of the week, that time has come.  And if you hear your review read, if you go to iTunes and you leave the show a review which is fantastic – we actually had a bunch of people leave us reviews in the past couple of weeks and it’s really helped out with getting the show a lot of good publicity on iTunes.  So, if you hear your review read by us, and you email [email protected], that’s [email protected], we will send you a really cool gift pack, just let us know your t-shirt size and your address when you email in.  So we have a review called ‘Absolutely the best health and fitness podcast’ and leave us 5 stars, so thank you so much.  And the review is left by $V – current handle? I don’t know what that means, $V, you wanna take this one away?

Rachel:              Yes! It’s my favorite part.

Ben:                   Alright.

Rachel:              Okay.  “I have listened to Ben’s podcast for a long time and I have to say that is changed my total outlook on health and fitness.  I totally appreciate the evidence based info but I also really like the discussions about the things out there that might be considered woo-woo science or controversial.”

Ben:                   Woo-woo.

Rachel:              “I always feel like Ben is very honest and forthright when it comes to his opinion, and he always lets his listeners know when he might have a conflict of interest like if he actually sells the product to you he is reviewing.  I also like the fact that Ben walks the walk, that he’s always in shape and that he competes in the very things that he talks about in his podcast.  I guess it comes down to the fact that I believe Ben is the real deal, and then he is not just out to make a buck.  Keep up the good work and I love your new sidekick, I just wish I could remember her name.”

Ben:                   Urrhhhhm!

Rachel:              What a sweet review.

Ben:                   It was all good up to that point.

Rachel:              (laughs)

Ben:                   You have to remember her name.

Rachel:              Whatever, the best part!

Ben:                   That’s right, Rachel.

Rachel:              That’s my name!

Ben:                   So anyways, now you won’t forget her name ever again.  It’s Rachel and perhaps, Rachel, we just need to do a better job reminding people of that in each episode.

Rachel:              (chuckles)

Ben:                   I’ll call you out by name.  So Rachel is so much easier to remember than our previous podcast host, Brock Jason Skywalker Armstrong.

Rachel:              Is Skywalker really his name?

Ben:                   So I’m pretty sure… that’s his full name and we have a whole discussion about that in the podcast episode and we had like renaming and multiple like parents different names of each, I forget the whole story but yeah, anyways.

Rachel:              Rachel’s much easier.

Ben:                   So there you have it.  So, anyways though, everybody, thank you for listening in.  This weekend, stay tune because we have a fantastic podcast episode coming up with a woman who lifts coconuts with her vagina.

Rachel:              Kim Anami!

Ben:                   That’s right.

Rachel:              Kim Anami.

Ben:                   A sexual health and the vagina weight lifting expert, so stay tuned for that coming up this weekend.  Might be an ear muffs one for the kids, but check out the show notes for this particular episode you just finished listening to over at  Thanks for listening in, we’ll put links to everything we talked about over there at from the Red meat causes cancer study, to reverse osmosis options, to structured water filters, to the studies I talked about in terms of a heart disease risk factors, etc., etc. and of course, body fat percentage photos – should you want to see the difference between 3% and 40%.  Check it all out  Thanks for listening and have a wonderful week!

                           You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  Go to for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.

[1:29:43.4]     END



A Running Doctor’s Unorthodox, Dogma-Defying, Minimalist Approach To Running Fast And Injury-Free.

running itunes

This is a protected Premium podcast episode! Click here to get this – and over 300 additional hidden episodes, .pdf’s, videos – for just $9.99/year inside the BenGreenfieldFitness Premium channel.

Here is the extremely entertaining bio from the website of today’s guest, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (written by Bill Katovsky)

“In the beginning there was darkness, and runners seemed lost, confused, chronically injured, always experimenting with “bigger is better” footwear as a potential remedy. Then a new “less is more” approach emerged, a radical way of thinking led by a handful of scientists, athletes, coaches, and charismatic best-selling author. They looked backward to the past for inspiration. Soon, a healer and educator came forth. Collectively, they would become the shepherds to a flock of broken-down, often-sidelined runners accustomed to wearing conventional running shoes.

As it were, this health-conscious individual lived in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the oldest town in the state and just up the road (and river) from Harpers Ferry. His name is Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, a family physician and an elite runner, who, in his early 40s, can still reel off sub 2:40s at the Boston Marathon. Mark had a singular vision regarding the need to spread the gospel of natural and minimalist running to the masses. In early summer 2010, he opened the first minimalist running store in the nation. He called it Two Rivers Treads because culturally and historically vibrant Shepherdstown is located near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

Mark and his tiny store became a fixture in the natural running community. Coaches, athletes, trainers, physical therapists, bloggers, and runners from near and far became connected to one another through Two Rivers Treads…”

As a professor of family medicine at West Virginia University, Lt Col in the US Air Force Reserves, and Chief Medical Consultant for the Air Force Marathon, Dr. Mark describes popular run training, eating and recovery methods as “mind-draining dogma and reckless bias”, and is trying to spark a new “re-evolution” in running.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The #1 blood marker to track if you want to make sure you’re not one of those “healthy on the outside, dying on the inside” exercise enthusiast…

-How to effectively transition from built-up footwear to a minimalist running shoe approach…

-The most cutting-edge technology that currently exists to analyze your symmetries and gait patterns during and after running…

-Why Dr. Mark finishes every workout with what he calls an “alactic sprint”…

-Why you must earn the right to do intervals and sprints…

-Dr. Mark’s personal method of tapering for a marathon, and why one of the top weapons in his running arsenal is a hot tub…

-Why Mark doesn’t use most other popular running methods…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Home blood glucose monitor

Optogait biomechanical analysis

TrueForm running treadmill

Natural spa enzymes as an alternative to chlorine

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Dr. Mark’s barefoot, minimalist running approach? Your own thoughts to add? Pipe in below and one of us will reply.

278 Pounds Of Fat Magically Disappears In Just One Year…On A High-Carb, Low-Fat, Sugar-Laden Diet?

pod cast high carb itunes

Meet Denise Minger.


Wait, no. That’s not Denise. 

This is Denise.


The woman above Denise is a woman from a dietary study who lost 123 pounds in just shy of a year. She’s not to be confused with the woman above her, who obliterated 278 pounds in a bit over a year.

All on a 90-95% carbohydrate based, high-sugar, high-starch, low-fat diet.

And that’s just a peek into the contents of today’s podcast. But back to Denise.

Denise blogs at, where she just released the controversial article “IN DEFENSE OF LOW FAT: A CALL FOR SOME EVOLUTION OF THOUGHT.” That particular article is exactly what we’re going to be digging into this podcast…

…but Denise is no stranger to Last year, I published the article “How To Figure Out What Diet Is Right For You“, which contains many anecdotes from Denise’s book “Death By Food Pyramid“.

As a self-described health blogger, Denise typically spends about five hours a day reading and writing about nutrition. In both her writings and lectures she has a reputation for aggressively challenging today’s leading voices of conventional wisdom, and is perhaps most famous for her thorough refutation of “The China Study” book. Denise is considered to be a major thorn in the side of both mainstream nutritionists and other health figures who adhere to standard dietary dogma.

During my discussion with Denise, you’ll discover:

-Why Denise doesn’t drink coffee and eats lots of sushi and sashimi…

-How in the process of redeeming fat, we traded one form of oversimplified blame for another…

-What carbosis is, and why you need to be very careful mixing carbohydrates with fats…

-Why our current definition of low fat is very flawed, and the more appropriate definition of what low fat actually is…

-The low fat history you’ve probably never heard…

-The shocking evidence that sugar and white rice can actually cure diabetes and melt fat off the body…

-How decreasing “healthy” saturated fat and increasing intake of vegetable oils has been shown in baffling research to actually benefit conditions such as multiple sclerosis…

-Why it’s a myth that a low-fat, high-carb vegetable diet is what eventually killed researcher Nathan Pritikin….

-Why Denise has changed her mind about some issues she had with the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, and why she apologizes to vegans and vegetarians…

-And much more!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about high carb vs. high fat, and Denise’s new take on a high carb, low fat diet? Your own thoughts to share? Leave it all below and either Denise or I will reply!