Ben Greenfield is one of the most prominent biohackers who has never been afraid to act as a human guinea pig. He embodies an ethos many of us share to optimize human performance, and is dedicated to providing actionable techniques for anyone looking to take themselves to the next level.
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Hey, welcome to this week's episode of The HVMN Podcast. This is your host, Geoffrey Woo. And if you know anything about biohacking, or performance fitness, or have heard of a crazy biohacker injecting stem cells into his penis, you might have heard of Ben Greenfield, who is one of the most notable biohackers, has one of the top podcasts in health and wellness, and has interesting efforts going on with supplements and performance and coaching. Also, a professional athlete, particularly well-known in the triathletes and obstacle racing. So, happy to have Ben on this program.
Well, I'm glad you said penis first, instead of me. Good ice-breaker.
Hey, I mean I think if you've been following something in the media, I think that's been one of the top headlines recently in biohackers doing crazy things. I mean, we might as well just go dive right into that. So, my context for that journey was that you were writing a series for men's health, and were trying a bunch of things for male enhancement, male performance.
Yeah, it was an article called New Year, New Dick, where they wanted to see what would happen if a gentleman did just about everything possible in, I guess what could be considered biohacking terms, to enhance the health of his dick. But there was more than just modern stuff. They had me doing a lot of Ayurvedic principles too, like things you'll read about in Multi-Orgasmic Man, or A Way of the Superior Man, things like reverse orgasm and no ejaculation. Some of those tactics. But, yeah the more, I guess, the sexy interesting stuff for your audience did indeed involve stem cell injections into my penis. Along with PRP and acoustic sound wave therapy. Digital pump, like a digital penis pump, that was an interesting one. Which is actually gold standard, if you do a platelet rich plasma injection and acoustic sound wave therapy it assists with the growth of the new blood vessels if you use a pump for like 30 days.
They just gave me the Cadillac of pumps. The digital one, which is like a hands-free pump, and I found out it's not really hands-free because when you use it and you turn it on, it'll gradually go up to whatever, let's say 30 millimeters of mercury. The problem is if you don't pay attention, I found this out the bad way, is that it'll suck your balls in and that's really uncomfortable. If anyone has never had their balls just instantly and surprisingly subjected to about 30 millimeters of mercury, hurts like hell. I was actually sitting at my desk with my pump on, as you do, typing away at my computer, and all of a sudden it got sucked in there. I looked down, my balls in there turning all-
Make sure it's still intact, yeah.
It's turning purple, and I'm struggling to get the pump off and wondering if I've just lost the ability to make children or not. But yeah, that and what else did we do for that experiment? We did all the gas station dick pills, which were pretty scary. Just basically Sildenafil and Ephedra and Caffeine, and had none of the sexy herbs that they actually advertise are in it were actually in it.
Right. So basically off label Viagra that you're not supposed to sell at gas stations.
Yeah, exactly. That's essentially what it is. It's off label Viagra, without any of the super expensive supplements and herbs reportedly in those compounds.
Obviously, N equals to one. For the listeners out there, do at your own risk, and do your own homework. But, I'm curious in terms of the measurable outcomes, I mean what was the best, what was the worst?
Yeah, well I mean up until that point that I'd been writing the article, I'd done the acoustic sound wave therapy before, and it actually does work pretty well. I mean they blast it. It's called extracorporeal shockwave therapy. They do this for both men and women. They blast you with sound wave frequencies for about twenty minutes. And it supposedly breaks open old blood vessels and builds new blood vessels. And that actually worked for me the first time I did it and the second time I did it. And then I did it again for this article, and I'm going down to Miami on some business and to speak at a regenerative medicine conference tomorrow. I'm gonna do it again down there, because you just get these amazing erections, and mind-blowing orgasms for a good solid month after you get this therapy.
You feel like that effect attenuates after the month?
Yeah, it attenuates after about a month or so. The stem cells though, I had that done three months ago and I still have the effects of that. I don't know if the effects of that ever go away. I think it's permanent growth with that, in terms of measurable, you use the word, pun intended, results. It did make my dick bigger, and also increased the quality of sex and the quality of orgasm. But I'd say as far as expensive, that's an expensive procedure by the time you've drawn out your own stem cells, grown them using, it's like a collagen-ess enzyme that they use to break down the fat marrow that they take out of you and concentrate the stem cells. It's an expensive procedure. I mean, all said and done it's five to ten thousand bucks. I think to do the acoustic sound wave therapy is a lot less, I wanna say it could be under a thousand. So I would say bang for the buck, that was a little bit better.
Yeah, so how do you explain to the skeptics out there that you're just jamming stem cells. Are they going to the right places? I mean, it sounds like if you actually see a quantifiable difference, the results speak for themselves. But I'm curious, going deeper into the mechanisms, just throwing stem cells randomly into places doesn't typically work. So, what do you think was the difference here?
Sure it works, I mean it works in joints. And systemically, that's where we don't have any old men and old women walking around that have done systemic stem cell injections and actually shown a decreased Telomere shortening rate, or markedly improved life span, right.
This is all theoretical blood of young mice injected into old mice type of thinking.
It's our philosophy that if you inject stem cells systemically into the bloodstream, you will actually ... Basically, what stem cell scientists will say, is that they will travel anywhere in the body, they will differentiate into the tissue that your body needs most, healing injuries where your body would need it, decreasing inflammation where the body might need it, et cetera. I don't know if that's true. I'm actually waiting to get the results back from TeloYears. They E-mailed me last week telling me my results were going to be ready this week, so they should be ready really soon. That would be my actual first quantitative analysis versus I've felt amazing qualitatively since I did the stem cell injection systemically. But, as far as what's going on with my Telomere length, I won't know for a little bit what's actually happening from a Telomere standpoint.
From a joint standpoint, I got my back, my hips and my penis injected, and every single area that I've had injected I've gotten the result I was looking for. Penis, better sex, bigger size, better orgasms. Completely healed up a ton of QL and multifidus tears I had going up and down my spine. Healed up my upper hamstring injury. I'm running now, I'm training, I'm ready for race season. I mean, it just worked. So-
What's the regulatory status on this? Cause I think that's an interesting question, right. The everyday Joe can't go to their doctor and say, "Hey. I'm interested in this thing. Can you prescribe it to me? Can I get my insurance to pay for it?"
Yeah. Harvesting, totally legal. I've harvested down there where you're at in Berkeley. I've gone to Forever Labs and done the bone marrow punch and I've collected my bone marrow, concentrated the stem cells and I have that stored. What they say about bone marrow is that actually it supposedly works better if you're just going for the anti-aging type of effect. And those would be cells that you would, for example, re-inject every two years or every five years or however often that you want to inject the, in my case, the 34-year-old me into the 50 or the 60, or the 70-year-old me.
With the U.S. Stem Cell clinic, which is where I had the fat marrow extracted, yeah they got raided by the FDA, I think. Actually it was two days after I was there in their clinic. And I made it out just in time! Anyways though, I think they got raided because their storage procedures were frowned upon, or something along those lines. My experience with them has been nothing but positive. However, from a legality standpoint, having them extracted, having them stored, that's all completely legal.
Having them injected, from what I understand, for specific medical reasons into specific joints is also legal, at least as far as the mesenchymal stem cells derived from fat.
But luckily you can't made medical claims on them. You can't make therapeutic claims on that.
But if it's for wellness or enhancements or personal responsibility, one can do that as a biohacker will-
Exactly. And the only thing I think might be beyond the bounds of legality for a medical practitioner to do would be the intravenous injection. That's the one that I think the legality is questionable on. What I did was I just injected it myself using a Push IV into the cubital vein in my left arm. And that's not that hard to do, especially in a skinny ass venous guy like me. You just find a vein and give yourself a Push IV. That, I'm not sure would've been legal for a physician to do, but again, even that, the research seems to go back and forth. But I can tell you that, I mean a lot of these Cayman Islands, Panamanian companies that are saying you gotta go out of the country and pay the boo koo bucks to get it done out of the country, I don't think that's true. I think there's a little bit of financial motivation behind those claims, at least at this point. There's also something that intrigues me right now I've been looking into called Exosome Therapy. Exosomes apparently act very similar to stem cells and can be used in hair, facial tissue, skin, joints. They also use them, for example, in cerebrospinal fluid. But that's a very interesting procedure as well. There's a guy in Salt Lake City, Dr. Harry Adelson, who probably knows a full body exosomal procedure.
Can you describe what exosomes are?
I'm actually not quite sure, they are apparently stem cells, or stem cell-like compounds. I'm still studying them. You're catching me at the point where it's fresh in my mind, something I just found out that I'm looking into. When I say, just found out, like two days ago. But apparently work very similar to stem cells, they are not something that you need to extract from your own body. They can be grown. Apparently they differentiate very similarly to stem cells into cells that your body would need. And this guy does what is called a full body makeover with exosomes. It's like a 30K procedure and you go in there and they just do your entire body with exosomes. So, I'm actually gonna go do that and write a story on it in May. There's this full body exosomal treatment but apparently it's like literally getting stem cells injected into every joint of your body.
That sounds like a fun N equals one. We'd love to hear that story. I'm curious, in terms of where the cutting edge is, right. I think U.S. is known to be cutting edge. I think we see a lot of the cutting edge stem cell therapies are being done in China, where the ethics, the regulations are more aggressive in terms of line for experimentation. I'm curious, your thoughts in terms of, if we don't allow people to experiment, or don't loosen some of the constraints, are we gonna lose the jump on other countries? What are your thoughts?
I guess I never really thought that much about losing the jump on other countries-
Cause you're pretty much at the forefront of doing exosomal therapy, injecting stem cells. You're already at the front, right. So, I guess from your perspective you're the initial guinea pig.
Well, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of barriers to entry that I've found, personally. Just as a guy who's always taken my medical care into my own hands. Being able to get access to, whatever, extraction of stem cells, re-injection of stem cells, et cetera. I guess on a mass market scale, like you mentioned, the legality could be questionable, and certainly it seems like there's this battle to regulate it, in the same way there's this battle to regulate CBD or Kratom.
I'm a total Libertarian, right. I'm of the belief that ... Well, let me use just a very frank, personal example, right. Let's say I were to do a full body exosomal therapy, and I were to die, right. Let's say I were to die a horrible death, and I were to bleed out from the inside with little alien babies popping out of my gut. For me as a Libertarian, I'm like: great. That just did a lot more to stop people from doing something that could potentially be dangerous to their bodies than forcing it to be illegal will ever do, right.
It's like if a restaurant kills somebody with some kind of nasty salmonella in their hamburger meat, not a lot of people are gonna eat at that restaurant. We don't need the feds to jump in and tell that restaurant to shut down business. Dumb people that continue to go there are gonna die, and that will self-regulate. So-
Right. And you take full responsibility if you killed yourself, it's like, "Yep, I'm a dumb ass. Whoops."
But it's my rights, my responsibility to educate myself and make that decision.
Right, exactly. And my wife wouldn't go sue the Doctor or anything cause she just knows. Our philosophy is such that we're not litigious, we just take ownership of our own mistakes.
I mean I think that's something fundamentally American about that. Having the responsibility, exploration to push the edges and I mean, I think there's of course that line, where yeah, don't let people do too stupid things that can affect other people's livelihoods, right. I think that's where regulation starts making more sense. But I'm with you in the sense that in general I think people should have the responsibility, educate themselves, and be able to make choices.
Yeah, exactly. I mean we could go far down that rabbit hole.
Yeah. And I wanted to zoom out a little bit. I mean, I think, how did you become Ben Greenfield, doing these crazy stunts at the forefront? I mean, you started off more on, I presume, the athletics, nutrition side. Where did that ascent, or descent, whatever direction you wanna take it, start?
Yeah, you're right. I mean, I didn't give a shit about the science of most of this stuff. I really was just in the performance game to be a good athlete. I played high school tennis, and wound up playing college tennis and water polo, and men's volleyball, and did body building, and managed the Wellness Program at University of Idaho, and I was really just a renaissance man of fitness from about the age of 15. But I really was just really into the fit part of it, not really into the health part of it. Meaning, I wasn't tracking bio-markers and blood. I wasn't doing any form of self-quantification. I wasn't even training that intelligently. I talk about in my book, two different pathways to induce mitochondrial density, or endurance, which has been probably the, as you mentioned, the focus of a lot of my sporting career. You have your AMPK pathway, and your PGC-1 alpha pathway. It's two different pathways to get yourself into a state of endurance. And the former being a little bit more of the traditional endurance athlete, just train your ass off for copious amounts of time in an aerobic zone, type of approach. The other being more like high-intensity interval training, power training type of approach. And it wasn't even until later in my sporting career when I realized, hey, by combining low level physical activity like I'm doing right now, talking to you, walking on the treadmill, fooling my body into hunter, gatherer, gardener-esque mode. Taking breaks throughout the day, right before we got on the call, after I'd finished another call, and had finished my breakfast, I did a hundred kettle bell swings, right.
And I'll just drop in and do little things like that throughout the day. Then just a very brief high-intensity interval training session, like I did this morning. It was ten 30 second sprints on the bike with 30 seconds recovery using a hypoxic training unit. But that kind of intelligent training, or self-quantification wasn't really anything I did. I just trained like an animal, you just throw as many training noodles at the wall as you can and see what sticks.
So, for me yeah it started with being an athlete. And I wound up, as one does when they're a student athlete, declaring myself as an Exercise Science major, just cause most of the jocks and the athletes, we just wanted to stick around exercise. So, I studied Exercise Science, but I actually developed a real love for science. I'd never been that interested in science, really. I was really into English and into writing and was probably someone you would define as a very right-brained, creative type of person all through high school. I did a lot of acting, a lot of writing, a lot of music. But In college I really did fall in love with science. Enough so to the point where I went full pre-med, I took the MCAT's. I got accepted to a bunch of medical schools, I wound up getting a master's degree in Exercise Science and Biomechanics and took a lot of Human Nutrition and Pharmacology courses during that time because I found it real interesting. Things like the supplement industry and the supplement world, and that was probably because I was getting into body building and just trying to figure out ways that one could put massive amounts of muscle on the human body. So I was studying creatine, and nitric oxide and a lot of these performance type of supplements. And I didn't wind up going to any of the medical schools that I was looking at, and I instead jumped back into the fitness industry. And wound up opening up a series of personal training studios and gyms in Washington state and Idaho, where I took my love for science and for biomechanics and for physiology and outfitted all my places with high speed video cameras for biomechanical analysis of running and cycling.
We also did that for swimming at local pools-
So you're interested on the performance side rather than the therapeutic side, I guess. You went through the medical school path, you would've been ...
I was curious to dive into that. I mean ...
Yeah, I wanted to focus more on working with healthy people, on sticking around the exercise and the fitness sector and I had a real passion for it, and I was good at it, right. I was good at teaching people fitness, and at that point was merging from body building into Ironman triathlon, and just loved being around that whole scene. We were doin' indirect calorimetry, we were doin' Viatom AX test, platelet rich plasma injections, EKG, of course training but with a real bent on functional fitness and using science to get the minimum effective dose of exercise.
That's what we realized as well, the triathlete, Ironman population is some of the smartest athletes, because they tend to be older, they tend to have a little bit more resources to invest in the technologies and biometrics. And then I think they just ... If you have a career, and you are competitive, it's like, "How do I max out the amount of gain through the minimal amount of time." Right.
Yeah, they're all divorced and lonely, so ... No, I'm just kidding! Anyways, though so I did that for a long time, and a few of the local physicians who would send their patients to me, they nominated me to be the personal trainer of the year through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. And once I was named as the personal trainer of the year I started to get a lot more requests to speak at conferences and to write, and to freelance and do a lot of the things that I do now, so I eventually wound up pivoting from the brick and mortar fitness industry into new media, into podcasting, into videos, into writing. And continued exploring the edges and the boundaries of nutrition and fitness. Not just how can you get the minimum effective exercise dose by utilizing things like high-intensity interval training or power training, or even training according to your genetics, but also how could you, for example, maximize performance in an Ironman Triathlon by looking at forms of fuel that might be alternatives to things like maltodextrin and fructose. Or how could you take recovery beyond inversion and cold and look at other things, like electricity, like EMS or pulse electromagnetic field therapy. And how could you go beyond having your own personal mantra and look at other ways to motivate oneself. I began to look at research by guys like Samuele Marcora on pre-priming the body before exercise with things like trans direct cranial stimulation, or other things that would somehow up-regulate motor neurons. And you just start to look at all these different ways that you could enhance the human body. And that's what I do now, is I use my own body as a playground to mess around with the stuff and to test it and to try it and then I write about it. I program it for my athletes, I used a lot of this stuff just on my own training cause I'm still racing professionally.
And yeah. For sure that's how I came to be interested in a lot of this stuff.
No, I mean it sounds like an awesome sweet spot where the passion, the business, the paying the bills all really synergize super well together. I'm curious, I mean I think one of the things that we actually shared interest in is ketosis. And it sounds like this is a field that has been gaining more and more traction in science. I think a lot of people were talking about intermittent fasting. Celebrities like Terry Crews is quite vocal on intermittent fasting. Curious as you're looking at things like TCDS, some of the cognitive training mechanisms, I'm curious on the nutrition side, the ketosis side, what have you looked at there. How has that informed your training protocols? I noticed you mention, in terms of fueling for example, dextrose, maltodextrin, those are essentially different forms of carbohydrates. And if one is looking to be more keto-adapted or use fats or ketones as fuels, when probably needs to be smarter how to best fuel. Curious how you think about the broad space with ketosis and things that you've seen that work really well and not so well in different types of fueling?
Dude, I feel old when I say this, but I was using a ketogenic approach to fueling specifically endurance performance eight years ago. Before anybody was really talking about ketosis, and there were no exogenous ketones, right. You just did long fasted workouts, you restricted carbohydrates during training. I would use things like-
How'd you get aware of the space? Did you read Phinney Volek's book, or? I'm just curious.
I think my first interest in that, I'm trying to think. I wanna say the approach was mentioned at one of the Ironman sports medicine conferences. This would've been probably 2012, something like that. I used to go down there and speak at that conference in Kona. And of course you can drop from Gatorade Sport Science Institute was always there talking about these things like up-regulating, glucose transport by combining things like fructose and maltodextrin, and at the same time I was very interested in alternative approaches. A: Just because like I mentioned, I love to explore a lot of the other options that are out there, and B: I was having increasingly concerning issues with everything from blood sugar, my Hemoglobin A1c was going through the roof.
Cause you're just pounding basically sugar. We're just pounding boost shots.
Yeah, I'd go through a typical race and take at least 40 of the normal gels, it's about 100 calories of fructose and maltodextrin. You'd think you'd sleep after crushing yourself and going to hell and back for about 9 or 10 hours during an Ironman triathlon but-
It's 500 grams of sugar, basically.
Oh, with caffeine, yeah. And everything else they put into gels as performance aids. So, taurine, caffeine, central nervous system stimulants, flavors, sugar et cetera. And so I would just lay awake at night, and I got to the point where I would just have to take two or three Valium after racing an Ironman triathlon in order to sleep. It was pretty bad, and my gut was gettin' flipped. I would finish races and just have gut rot for days due to the fact that essentially you're eating an extremely high FODMAP diet, and combining that with the enormous increasing gut permeability that occurs during exercise, and especially during endurance exercise in the heat. And then of course you're also generating a lot of free radicals by relying on glucose as the primary energy source. So I was becoming increasingly aware of these issues and I believe it was somebody a that Ironman sports medicine conference. I don't remember the exact context, but there was talk about trying to consume fewer carbohydrates during exercise, or trying more protein and less carbs, or more fat and less carbs. So I just started experimenting. One of the first things I started experimenting was just using a lot of amino acids, fewer carbohydrates, and in this case it was branched chain amino acids. I was talking a lot with Peter at TIA and he was recommending to me, I think it was BioSteel, was the brand he recommended. But, he and I were looking at ways just on phone calls together to help me get through Ironman triathlons while eating fewer carbohydrates. So I wound up using a lot of branched chain amino acids, which I eventually replaced with essential amino acids. I would blend those in a blender with coconut oil, with Ucan Superstarch. I was using this slow release starch that was original-
Low glycemic index, yep.
Yeah, very low glycemic index starch that also just flips the gut. That does not digest well. At least for me it resulted in a lot of gas and gut and bloating issues. And then electrolytes, I found this out just from personal experience, before I found the research on it. That when you're consuming lower carbohydrates you do dump a lot of sodium and dump a lot of electrolytes, so your electrolyte needs go up. But I was basically on electrolytes, amino acids, oils, specifically coconut oil, Ucan Superstarch, and I eventually replaced the Ucan with more like a potato-based dextrose fuel. I was using something from Millennium Sports at the time. But I found a dextrin based fuel seemed to actually digest a lot better than a Ucan Superstarch. I found that essential amino acids seemed to work a lot better than branched chain amino acids. Coconut oil seemed to work pretty well and then eventually I met Dave Asprey and replaced the coconut oil with MCT oil and eventually replaced that with C8 based on-
Some of his recommendations in my talk with him, yeah. And kept the electrolytes as part of the formula that I would use when racing. And then when I would go into the run portion of the race a lot of times that particular mixture, which was in water bottles, wasn't logistically that manageable to carry, so I would simply switch to more of a fat-based energy gel, or like a chia seed based gel, or almond butter based gel, or something that was not a fructose and maltodextrin based gel. Even Hammer Gel I think had some that were fatty, like they had a peanut butter flavor, stuff like that. So, I'd use that stuff a little bit more. And that was my initial foray into experimenting with ketosis. And I found it to be increasingly effective. The longer I stayed on that diet the more and more I felt good on it, cause obviously I was becoming very fat-adapted. But-
So this is leaking through your daily diet as well. So, I mean it wasn't just-
The fueling routine.
Now I'm beginning to restrict carbohydrates and I had a little bit of experience with low carbohydrate diet, cause as a body builder I was eating high protein, low fat, low carb, right. Just tuna fish out of the can, and hot dog just straight out of the package, and just tons, copious amounts of protein. So, I was used to carbohydrate restriction from the time of about 19 years old, I'd been eating a lower carbohydrate diet and then I got into endurance sports and there were about five years of endurance sports where I swallowed hook, line and sinker, the whole endurance sports fueling recommendations that are quite popular. About 50-60% carbohydrate, with a gradual carbohydrate load, so you're getting up to 80, to 90% carbohydrate by the time you get to race day. And then when the ketones came around I guess this would've been probably about 3 or 4 years ago when I found that you could either amp up the effectiveness of that fuel, or you could replace some of the oils, right. Like a caprylic acid or an MCT or a coconut oil that you might have in that blend, with ketones. And I found those to offer an even greater advantage.
When it came to really maximizing the effectiveness. And I was just using basic blood ketone measurements and was finding that when I was able to maintain ketone levels above 3 milim I'd perform like a champion when I would go out on my longer workouts. And I don't do a lot of ultra-endurance anymore, now I use ketones just as much for day to day fuel, as I do for workouts, but yeah I mean like anything I've discovered, it's just been a matter of constant experimentation and seeing what works and what doesn't. But I mean now if you were to drop me into and Ironman triathlon, yeah I'd be using essential amino acids, I'd be using electrolytes, I'd be using trace amounts of some form of a dextrose based carbohydrate fuel. Probably about 100 calories an hour or so. So, you get a little bit of a slow bleed for any glycolytic efforts that might occur.
You still need glucose for anaerobic exercise, yep.
Yeah, exactly. And then ketones. And I actually still like, just cause as you know, medium chained triglycerides can up-regulate the production of ketones in the liver, so I still like to combine or include some form of medium chained triglyceride into that fueling mix. But yeah, it's a pretty good scenario.
Yeah, no I mean it's especially interesting. And I think that is right in some of the PK studies looking at, if one takes exogenous ketones that's the straight delivery of ketones into your blood, but as MCT's metabolize in the liver too, BHB just have a more smoother or longer elevation of ketones. So, I think you can get the best of both worlds by stacking exogenous ketones with MCT's, which again are a pre-substrate to BHB.
Yeah, and I raced a Tough Mudder in Vegas last year, and for that I actually used a ketone ester, and a glucose maltodextrin blend, just to see what would happen, if you just went full on with the best ketone delivery mechanism and the best carbohydrate delivery mechanism. And that actually gave me some really, really good performance as well. If I would've had my hands on more of a dextrose based fuel I would've preferred to mix a dextrose with a ketone ester, but yeah, simultaneously elevated levels of blood glucose and ketones for performance is a pretty powerful combination as well.
Yeah, and talking about ketone esters, as you know, we are developing one of the first ketone ester drinks, and that's where our further Oxford partner's been showing that, they get the really, really big boost of performance. It's stacking carbohydrate with ketones at the same time, right. So you get duel fuel sources. And you get the anaerobic advantage, and the aerobic advantage at the same time. So, yeah it's an exciting field as I think we're just seeing how to best optimally fuel, and I think now we have ketones as a fourth lever, or a fourth macro-nutrient that you can use and mix with fat and mix with protein, amino acids and mix with carbohydrates. One thing I was actually curious about was to get your thoughts on exercise or routines for performance, and exercise or routines for longevity. I mean, I think there's a bit of discussion around are those antithetical goals? I think to most people, most people are overweight, obese, so getting any exercise is better for both performance and longevity. But if you're at the peak level, how do you think about that? Are you training for performance or are you training for longevity? You switch it up? Do you sometimes see it as antithetical?
Oh, it's certainly antithetical. I've put a lot of hurt on my body, and induced a lot of inflammatory related damage along with just depletion, constant activation of M tore from face stuffing with calories to support the copious amounts of endurance exercise. There's a lot that I've done that has flown in the face of longevity, although now I would say my training program has allowed me to strike a sweet spot between longevity and performance. But yes, there is no need to exercise in the way that we Americans would understand exercise, to live a long time. If you look at the Venn diagram of a lot of these blue zones. We don't really see exercise or stepping into a crossfit gym, or taking a Zumba class or whatever, as a core component of the lifestyles of the lifestyles of a lot of these centenarians, right. You see lack of smoking, you see high legume intake, you see high wild plant intake, you see lots of time with family spent in love and life and relationships, and you see time outdoors, right. Those are some of the prevalent characteristics. And even when you look at the physical activity it's low level physical activity all day long. My wife's program is probably one of the best examples I could give you of a longevity based program, right. She spends a lot of time outside, whether it's in the cold, or the extreme heat, chopping wood, moving wheelbarrows, gardening, taking care of the goats and the chickens. There's a microbiome effect. She goes on hikes a couple of times a week, she takes the dog walking. She plays tennis with some of her female friends a couple of times a week, and then she'll be lifting rocks, moving rocks, doing manual labor. She'll paint. She's just moving around all day long, but she's not actually thinking about exercising, she's just moving.
Her lifestyle is movement.
Right, exactly. That's an example of a good exercise program conducive to longevity. If you were gonna try to hack that because you couldn't work outside all day long like she does, you would do things like I'm doing right now, where low level physical activity all day long, every time I take a break in-between calls or consults I'll go grab a kettle bell and do a few swings, lift a couple of heavy things, hang from the pull-up bar, or do a few muscle ups, or even a few body weight squats or whatever. Do like I did this morning and sweat for a little while in the sauna, then go jump in the pool. And you're just basically surrounding yourself or hacking your environment to be able to engage in low level physical activity all day long.
That's super smart.
Yeah, you get to the point where, let's say that because of your lifestyle, maybe you're not even able to do much of that and so you have to compress a lot of physical movement into a short period of time. So now we start to cross the boundary to stress on the human body that really mostly only in traditional times, the athletes, or the Olympians would've really had the pressure to do, but now a lot of the general population is doing cause we're sitting on our asses 8 hours a day. And these would be the crossfit WOD's, and the brief spurts of high-intensity interval training, and that kind of stuff is a good way to get fit quickly. We know it's a little bit more conducive to longevity than chronic cardio or, yeah chronic cardio basically. So, in a scenario like that, a program for longevity I have an article on my website called "How to look good naked and live a long time" and it's like, well there's a few just key things you just focus on each week. You subject your body to very slow, heavy, intense movements. Something like Doug Mcguff's Body by Science type of protocol one to two times a week. Five full body lifts that you're moving very slowly, like 30 seconds up, 30 seconds down, or even i symmetrically. And then you're doing something explosive to develop that wire-y type 2b type of muscle fiber contraction, and to maintain some amount of athleticism and functional fitness. So that might be something like the 7 minute New York Times workout, right. Where you got 14 exercises, 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Boom, boom, boom. Quick, explosive, less heavy.
And then you would have some form of stamina training, which might be a long weekend hike that ideally you do in a fasted state so it's stamina that's teaching you how to burn fat as a fuel. And then you'd have some type of mobility training, right. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes each day when you wake up, part of your morning routine. Mine is a little bit of yoga, a little bit of foam rolling, and not necessarily the same thing each day, but listening to your body and seeing what needs to be stretched or what needs a little bit of love from the lacrosse ball. And then you'd wanna train your mitochondrial density. Example of that would be four extremely hard 30 second efforts with four minute recoveries, and you'd wanna train your VO2 Max, which might be four 4-minute efforts with four minute recoveries. And then you'd wanna train your lactic acid tolerance, which would be [inaudible 00:42:12] where 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for four minutes.
And you're weaving each of these into a typical week for an ideal longevity program. You're weaving super slow training, explosive training, stamina training, lactic acid tolerance training, mitochondrial density training, VO2 Max training, and mobility into any given week. And you can actually accomplish everything that I just described with about anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes of time for yourself each day. And that would be an example of a longevity based training program. Is it gonna turn you into a super athlete? No. But what I just described would actually allow you to jump into quite a few activities and do pretty well with them.
It's more intentional than most people treat their lives, right. I think the beauty of it is that I think most people have that activation energy where it's like, "I've gotta go to the gym and it's gotta be an hour, 90 minute big investment." And I think what you espouse and I think is brilliant, is that, hey it doesn't need to be such a high activation energy, right? If you have five minutes, do 20 push-ups, do some kettle bells, right. Can you incorporate this as a part of just daily lifestyle, where it's not a huge commitment. It's like, yeah, be active. I think that's the beauty of it.
Yeah. And we know from a longevity standpoint once you exceed about 60 minutes per day of intense exercise or 90 minutes per day of chronic cardio anaerobic exercise, you actually begin to see a decreased rate of return and no decrease in your mortality risk. And there's a lot of fascinating research out there by guys like, Dr. James O'Keefe, for example, on arterial stiffness and potential for calcification in folks who are excessively exercising, especially excessively exercising with that marathon-esque type of intensity. But ultimately from a longevity standpoint I would say, if I could put people in any scenario it would be: you're outside, you're in extremes of temperature, you're working with your hands, you're moving, and you're occasionally getting your heart rate elevated. And that's a pretty good program. Next best would be using the type of structure that I just described to you. To stack all that stuff throughout the week because you have some kind of an office job where you've gotta do a lot more in the gym to stay active because maybe you aren't even able to have a standing work station or a treadmill work station or whatever and you're just relegating to sitting for long periods of time. Or maybe you're a pilot, or somebody that has to sit for a long time. But the worst scenario would be to, hour long lunch time run, lift weights when you get home at night. There's a lot we could delve into when it comes to the issues with most of the exercise programs out there creating more inflammation and decreasing longevity more than increasing it.
Right. But I think at least just do something. And it doesn't have to be too crazy. I mean, I think all of us listen to you. It's like, "Okay, I could be a little bit more thoughtful in incorporating some of these approaches or techniques." I think we all can think about-
Yeah, you just have a purpose. It's like when you wanna chop down a tree effectively. You spend a lot of time sharpening your ax before you go chop the tree. When I'm chopping wood outside, right. I'll spend 20 seconds looking at the block of wood, preparing for the swing, and then finally delivering in one blow the ax swing that splits the wood. And back in the day I would just grab the ax and start hacking at the wood-
Wham, wham, wham, yeah.
Yeah, and then I realized, no. My blade is sharp and I know exactly what I'm gonna do, I focus and then I go for quality over quantity. It's extremely efficient. It's the same with a workout. You know the purpose of the workout, have a plan when you walk in. Don't just go to the gym and start lookin' around at which machine you're gonna lift first. And yeah, I mean if you have a purpose and an intention and a meaning behind each of the movements that you do, if you are gonna be a gym or health club person then that's ideal.
Yeah. No I think that's-
And the way that I do that, sorry. The way I do that practice by the way is for me. I have in an Evernote document that I look at on Sunday night that has the general intention of each day's workout, written down on it, and then what I do is, in the morning before that day's workout, I write down the workout. And my only rule is it must be simple enough to fit on one of these little yellow post-it notes like this, right. Cause I don't use my phone or anything at the gym. But if I can have a post-it note in my pocket or just stuck on the wall or whatever, and it's a simple enough workout to be on a post-it note, I know I won't have a lot of decision making fatigue, but I've also sharpened my ax because I know exactly what I'm gonna do, and I know the purpose physiologically behind it.
Awesome. And then I think those are all actual tidbits for our listeners to hear. I wanna transition into Big Ben Goals for 2018. I know you mentioned you have a couple experiments lined up, what are you most excited about testing out, personal goals, business goals? What can we watch out from Ben in this year?
In 2019 I'm primarily working on a book that address a little bit of what we just talked about. I'm working on the title of the book because I've gotten a little bit of blow back from publishers and editors, but it's essentially how to look good naked, live a long time, and be happy forever. It's a guide to achieving really good levels of aesthetic appearance while at the same time maximizing longevity, and also focusing on what is the most important thing, really: your spirituality, your soul, which is gonna be around for a long time after your body has kicked the can. And so it delves into everything from the longevity based workouts that I just described, to beauty principles, and symmetry principles, and anti-aging principles, including things like stem cells. And then also concepts of gratitude and love, and even frequencies and emotions and chakras and how those are all very much intertwined to achieving a complete experience as a human being. And so the idea is that it's thirty chapters that each tackle a specific component of body, of mind, and of spirit, so that you can actually use that as a manual to really be a complete human. So I'm spending quite a bit of time on that book in 2018. I continue to work on my fiction in 2018. I just published my first work of fiction.
And starting into book 2 of that series. And then I've got a lot of new formulations that I'm working on developing for supplementation. I'm both advising some other companies in terms of supplement design and supplement formulation and also working on some of my own formulations. It's still a realm that I love to play in, is food and nutrition. So, yeah doing that too and then just being there for my two nine-year old boys and my wife and spending lots of time with the family out here, as you say, in the wilderness.
Thanks so much, Ben. Love to hear how all those projects pan out.
Yeah, and I'd love to come see how you guys are doin' next time I'm down in San Francisco. See ya!
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