Ben Greenfield is gonna rock your world. No one, and I mean no one, is out as far on the cutting edge as this guy!
Ben Greenfield is gonna rock your world. No one, and I mean no one, is out as far on the cutting edge as this guy! Ben’s deep deep immersion into bio-hacking, peak performance, and health optimization is enough to make your head spin. At times, he may seem over the top to the average citizen trying to cover the basic health objectives and then get enough sleep, but those who follow Greenfield quickly come to understand that the trail he is blazing is for not just our education, but also amusement and inspiration. He is like the George Plimpton of bio-hacking, submitting his body to science for our edification.
Get a load of his bio to get you in the proper frame of mind for the show: “Ben is a biohacker, human body and brain performance coach, ex-bodybuilder, Ironman triathlete, professional Spartan athlete, anti-aging consultant, speaker and author of the New York Times Bestseller, Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health and Life. Ben is an extremely knowledgeable and serious scholar of health science, but I really love his lighthearted side where he makes goofball selfie videos and gives his followers unfiltered access to the way he and his family life daily life.
He touts so many cutting edge products and strategies you are going to want to pick and choose stuff to try out, but if nothing else, Ben will get you thinking and reflecting about how close to your personal A game you are getting each day—especially because today, we are leading lives of unprecedented ease, luxury, and convenience. Of course, there are all kinds of disastrous consequences to leading our soft modern lives, and sometimes we forget about simple, fun changes you can make to optimize your daily routine. Take some notes about the amazingly adventurous and productive typical day of Ben’s, and you will get pumped up to tackle new challenges.
Enjoy some more background about Ben, and check out his blog and podcast at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. He has recently started a grand endeavor called GetKion.com that features his custom designed nutritional and health products. In 2008, Ben was voted as NSCA’s Personal Trainer of the year, in 2013 and 2014 was named by Greatist as one of the top 100 Most Influential People In Health And Fitness, and Ben’s articles, podcast and videos reach over a million unique views each month. Ben resides in Spokane, WA with his wife and twin boys. With nearly two decades of experience working as a strength and conditioning coach, exercise physiologist and biomechanist, Ben is also the man responsible for maximizing performance, recovery, fat loss, digestion, brain, sleep and hormone optimization for CEO’s, ultra-endurance competitors, and a wide variety of professional athletes, including poker champions, tennis players, motocross competitors, the NFL, the NHL, the UFC and beyond. Using his vast knowledge of science and research, in-the-trenches experience, and unique set of cutting-edge brain and body biohacking techniques, Ben cuts through the clutter, confusion and snake oil and instead delivers total human optimization in the fastest, cleanest and safest way possible. Let’s roll!
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Speakers: Brad Kearns and Ben Greenfield
Brad Kearns: Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.
Ben Greenfield: “I was homeschooled K-12. And so, I developed a pretty robust attitude towards productivity. I always liked to do a lot of different things.”
“This concept of ‘itchy guy’, being able to get out of bed in the morning and have a reason for living. I mean, that’s as important as sunshine, and fresh water and all these other thing we know help people to live a long period of time.”
Brad Kearns: Here’s a quick thank you to our sponsors. They make this show possible and the tremendous production behind it – online and in audio.
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And the Primal Blueprint online multimedia educational courses. To go primal, go keto. Get a stand-up desk going, master the challenge of endurance training. Go to Bradkearns.com and click on the links to learn more about these courses. If you’re sick of my voice on the podcast, you can now get sick of my face too on the videos.
And Ancestral Supplements. This is grass-fed, liver, organ meat and bone marrow delivered in a convenient gelatin capsule. Don’t stress about cooking liver anymore. Just pop some pills or throw capsules into a smoothie every day like me.
And now, onto our show.
Hi listeners, it’s Brad introducing the one and only Ben Greenfield. You know how we use that term one and only indiscriminately about anything and everything? This time I really mean it. This guy is one-of-a-kind on the planet earth. He is an extremely high volume, high intensity, high performing human. I do not know how he does all that he does. I asked him that question right out of the gate. It’s absolutely an amazing journey.
So, your responsibility in this podcast is to strap in and hold on tight and take notes and push the back play button and get a load of all the stuff that this guy is into. Oh my goodness. And he gave a beautiful answer out of the gate when I asked him, “How the heck do you do it?” And one of the things he mentioned was that he doesn’t consume pop culture. So, he has more time, more energy to go deep into the aspects of human peak performance, especially diet, exercise, longevity, enhanced cognitive performance, enhanced sexual performance, protection against the assorted environmental offenders in modern times, like electromagnetic fields and blue light.
Oh my goodness. And he’s an expert in all these fields. He reads a book every day. You’ll hear him quote, just breezily quote numerous books. And man, what an amazing resource. I’ve known him for several years, hung out in person. He was a presenter at our PrimalCon event, and we hung out down at Paleo f(x).
Ben is a unique guy that blends the scientific mindset and the deep thinking and the deep researcher, also an accomplished writer. He has a very prolific blog at bengreenfieldfitness.com. A great book called “Beyond Training”. An absolute encyclopedic volume of anything related to peak performance. And he’s also an accomplished athlete.
So, he’s putting his assorted George Plimpton-like immersive journalism experiences to the test when he goes out there and compete. And he talks about a recent world championship that he won. So, fun times from Ben.
I think it’s important to reflect too, he might not be for everyone because he’s pretty hard core. But we’re so used to living a life of ease and luxury and convenience, like never before in human history. We can go through life without ever having to get cold or warm because we have air conditioning. And he’s talking about the very cutting edge of cold therapy and heat therapy and mixing them every single day to deliver all these hormonal cognitive immune function benefits.
I got to say, my mind’s spinning right now after hanging up the Skype call, but the guy pumps me up. He makes you want to be the best you can be. You feel maybe a little inadequate when you realize just how deep he is into this human peak performance scene and that you may never be able to measure up. And the show does get a little sciency at times, but it’s well-explained. I think you’ll grasp it. I think you’ll be in the groove and you’ll pick some wonderful insights to do regardless of your budget or time level of commitment. Obviously, you’re not going to be following his footsteps, buying these super expensive machinery to stick up your nose or expose your balls to while you’re working at your standup desk.
In any case, here is a rare treat to hear from a human on the absolute cutting edge of peak performance and health and longevity. And when we got talking on the subject of longevity, his answer, his perspective will absolutely touch your heart.
Here goes Ben Greenfield, all around, good guy, family man and peak performer. Recently crowned world champion in the Spartan race, executive division.
Ben Greenfield: Hey man. What’s shaking?
Brad Kearns: Just having fun in LA, hanging with my son. UCLA just started and hanging with my dad who’s 96 and finishing up an awesome run in life.
Ben Greenfield: Sick.
Brad Kearns: Totally sick. How about you?
Ben Greenfield: I just got back from the Spartan World Championships.
Brad Kearns:Was that in Tahoe?
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, it was. Nosebleed Country baby.
Brad Kearns: How did it go?
Ben Greenfield: Good, good. I won.
Brad Kearns: Let’s get right into it with that, man. Let’s get right into that.
Ben Greenfield: Let’s do it.
Brad Kearns: I’ll introduce you with the craziest bio ever. I’m just going to have to read this thing, but we’ll go to town.
Ben Greenfield: You should just tell people I’m a bad ass speed golfer and I can bowl 300.
Brad Kearns: If you have enough frames, right? 30 frames times-
Ben Greenfield: Hey, come on. Come on now.
Brad Kearns: My bowling story is a decent … I used to go at lunchtime when I worked 20 years ago in corporate setting, and I’d roll up 130, 140, 180, 120, 108. And then one day I rolled like an 86 and then the second game was like a 93 or something. And the next game was strike, strike, strike, strike, strike, spare, strike, strike, spare, strike, nine for a 2:31. And I printed the thing out. This was like 1997, never bowled again. It was like the stars aligned and then I just dropped the mic and left the bowling alley.
Ben Greenfield: That was either a traumatic or an incredibly exhilarating experience for you to be able to remember those details from 21 years ago.
Brad Kearns: Oh yeah. So, Ben Greenfield, we caught up and you’ve just returned from the Spartan World Championships. What happened out there, man?
Ben Greenfield: Well, Spartan World Championships as they have been for the past four years, took place in Nosebleed Country. The bastards that put together those races, the race directors like to play the earth to their advantage and do things like put races on ski resorts where you just got to go like up and down the slopes. Not on a gondola or on skis, but by foot. So, they’re painful races and cold. They’re very cold. Like your hands are like swollen and cold for a long time afterwards.
So, it’s not a sport for anyone with Raynaud’s or any other blood flow issue. But it went well. I competed in the executive division this year and I won. So, I can now call myself the world’s fittest CEO if you gauge the world’s fittest person based on how well they can carry a sandbag or crawl underneath a barb wire.
Brad Kearns: I love that. The executive division throw down, man. Did you have any worthy competition or was it a bunch of pasty soft guys that undress out of their three piece suit into their bike shorts?
Ben Greenfield: You know what? It was kind of the latter. It wasn’t an incredibly competitive field in my opinion. I probably just offended a bunch of people, I just realized by saying that. But yeah, I mean, I still had to push myself, but it was not quite as deep a field as the actual, the pro field I typically compete in. But at the same time, considering I’m working like 10 to 12 hours a day right now, running a corporation and being a CEO, I figured what the heck? I should compete in the executive division since I do own a suit. I mean, I’ve got one up in the closet somewhere.
Brad Kearns: Bring it to the award ceremony at least. So, you could show you’re a legit executive.
Ben Greenfield: Right? Exactly. I’ve got winged tips. See?
Brad Kearns: You know what? This tees up the ultimate Ben Greenfield question that I’ve been wanting to ask since I’ve studied your game for many years. And that is-
Ben Greenfield: Yes, I did a coffee enema this morning. Oh, sorry.
Brad Kearns: How do you do it, man? I mean, you’re everywhere. You’re all over the place. I want to get down and understand what your operation’s like. I know you started this new Kion thing that’s sort of become the centerpiece of what you’re all about and your brand and what you stand for. But it’s mind-blowing how many pies you have your fingers in.
Ben Greenfield: Well, first of all, I’m a little jaded because I didn’t really grow up knowing what it was like to be normal in terms of either work hours or school hours or anything like that. I was homeschooled K-12, and so, I developed during that time, I guess a pretty robust attitude towards productivity. I always liked to do a lot of different things, whether that would be writing fiction or reading fiction or playing my violin or … I was president of the chess club and in a band and played for the tennis team and just loved to do a wide variety of activities. Cooking and watercolor painting and babysitting, you name it.
So, when I got to college and actually had my first taste of the real world, so to speak, I kind of just continued on that path. I would take anywhere from 25 to 30 credits a semester and I moonlit as a personal trainer and as a bartender and a barista and worked at a little French bakery. So, I had four to five jobs in college and a full course load and went full on premed and wanted to be a doctor. So, I spent a lot of time in the emergency room and shadowing surgeons and spending time in sports medicine facilities.
I think part of it was I just never actually did a lot of, I guess downtime activities that I didn’t find productive. Like video gaming or … still to this day, I might go see a movie like once a year. I don’t really watch TV. I’m a complete idiot when it comes to politics actually. So, I guess that’s where I fall short of the whole renaissance man piece, and I would probably do a really, really crappy job explaining the blockchain to you.
So, I’ve kind of wedged my way into more like health and fitness and nutrition and longevity and biohacking a little bit more than a lot of other things in life. But I still, I’m two books into my first fiction book series right now. So, I still like to write fiction. I still dink around on my ukulele and go play open mic nights. And so, I still love to spend time with music. But I would say aside from like music and fiction and hanging out with my family and also cooking – I just got back from Japan where I took a whole bunch of Japanese cooking classes. So, I like to cook too. I was actually just whipping up a brew up in the kitchen earlier this morning. We can talk about this later if you want, but this is a liver cleanse week for me. So I’m doing a lot of recipes based on cleansing my liver.
So, yeah, I’ve just always been kind of all over the map. And I do like to do things like that, like after world championships, like scheduling a week where I’m just doing like TLC for my body. So, this week I’m doing a lot of sauna and a lot of massages and taking milk thistle extract and I’m making – I’ve got a big vat of Kitchari upstairs, which is like a split mung bean ayurvedic cleansing stew. And so, my vitals for the next week will basically be celery juice, minerals, that stew and lots of teas and no coffee, no alcohol, no red meat. Actually, I will have coffee, but it’s only up my butt every morning. And then a lot of sauna, a lot of dry skin brushing.
So, I’m spending the next week, just detoxing my body, my liver. Not because I live an unhealthy lifestyle, but I think after months and months of training and you know, you got to eat 3,500, 4,000 calories a day minimum to support intense physical activity. I just, I want to go through a little bit of a detox. So, I try and throw those in a few times a year.
Then this Saturday, I’ll venture down into the Den of Satan and go watch the UFC match. So, I’ll probably have a drink or two down there in Vegas.
Brad Kearns: Oh, so you’re a UFC fan?
Ben Greenfield: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I like the UFC. Actually, I work with a few execs in UFC, like some of the guys that own the UFC. So, I can always jet down there and jump into a fight with good seats if I want to go watch, in this case, Conor McGregor. I love to watch him fight. So, I’ll go down and watch him fight in the lightweight division.
Brad Kearns: Well, you’ve tackled every other challenge, man. I think maybe it’s a matter of time before you jump into the cage or what do you think?
Ben Greenfield: I trained for about seven months and got my eye broken in a sparring match about three months out from my first fight. And the break, it was an orbital fracture, which is not an uncommon injury in MMA or fighting. But my eyes would swell, shut and stay swollen shut every time I blow my nose or sneeze, and I had a great deal of cognitive fatigue and brain fog for about three months and the TBI concussion. And as I dwelt upon that injury and healed myself, I realized that my noggin in terms of being a father and a provider for my family is just too important to me to put it out in the line like that.
So, I instead kind of scratch that itch of hitting someone by doing it across the net with a tennis ball and a racket, which I consider to be kind of sort of the cognitive equivalent of boxing or striking without actually having to get hit in the face. If you get hit in the face during a tennis match, something went horribly wrong. So, I like tennis a little bit more these days than striking sports.
Brad Kearns: Yeah. I have to put triathlon in the same category. I stopped so long ago and my reflection getting off the bike, looking at my training logs, having completed 100,000 miles. I feel like I’m lucky to be here alive talking to you, and the danger factor of riding your bicycle out on the road is probably the most dangerous thing we do by a factor of 10 to the second place.
Ben Greenfield: Oh, yeah. I got pinged just like five months ago riding my bike in Austin, Texas during rush hour. Got a concussion. I actually wound up – I have all of my stem cells harvested and stored on ice down in Florida. So, I had them ship my stem cells up to me and I actually injected myself with mannitol, which increases the permeability of the blood brain barrier. And then, I mainline the stem cells into my arm via an IV. I did that and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a pretty strict ketosis and a few other kind of neuro anti-inflammatories for several weeks following that accident. And I think that’s key really.
I mean, anytime that you get injured, whether it’s boxing or bicycling, I mean, pulling out all the stops to take care of what could arguably be one of the most important and delicate organs of your body is a pretty good idea. But yeah, there’s actually a really good book called “The Concussion Repair Manual” by Dr. Dan Engle. I think anybody that’s out cycling or competing in MMA or anything like that, should own a book like that, just to be able to do a little bit of TLC, if shit should hit the fan.
Brad Kearns: Well, with the ketosis element of your healing regimen there, would you also jump onto that if you had an adverse health diagnosis of cancer or something like that?
Ben Greenfield: It depends. I mean, there’s always considerations such as the fact that people with an ApoE-4, 4 gene or even like myself with an ApoE-3, 4 high intake of coconut oil and butter and saturated fats, can actually cause not only a pretty high increase of storage fat but also an inflammatory response. And so, in a scenario like that, I would say choosing more of the mono unsaturated Mediterranean fats type of route, would be a little bit more prudent and be a better way to get into ketosis than say like, putting a stick of butter in your coffee.
We also, of course, with better living through science, have access as you know to things like beta-Hydroxybutyrate salts or for a really potent source ketone esters, so you can amplify ketone availability even when blood glucose levels are low without necessarily a high intake of saturated fat. So, I would say even if you have something like cancer, you need to take into consideration the fact that the diet that you choose might be causing cardiovascular risk potential, while at the same time, shutting off available glucose to a tumor.
So, you’d want choose your fats wisely and how you get into ketosis a little bit more intelligently. People without that genetic issue, people who have a liver and a gallbladder that seems to be able to produce and store and release enough bile, to be able to break down those fats – people without any genetic issues that would cause a high inflammatory response to saturated fats, those folks could probably do a little bit … they could do okay managing cancer on a ketogenic diet.
But for the most part, and I would imagine folks listening in are probably somewhat familiar with what you’ve alluded to. This whole idea of managing cancer with a ketogenic diet based on the metabolic theory of cancer. The idea that cancer to a certain extent can be aggravated or angiogenesis to a tumor, those types of things could be aggravated by availability of glucose and the ability of cancer cells to go into kind of rampant production of lactic acid, so you have an acidotic state at a whole bunch of glycolysis happening. And the idea being that if you cut off glucose to those areas, then you could potentially halt tumor growth or even kill cancer to a certain extent.
There’s some very good books about this. I think it’s Nasha Winters who has one on ketosis and cancer that’s kind of a multimodal approach to cancer in the same way that Dale Bredesen’s book “The End of Alzheimer’s” is a multimodal approach to Alzheimer’s. I forget the name of Dr. Winters’ book.
But ultimately if I had cancer, I’d do a lot of things, but I would certainly limit my carbohydrate intake and glycemic variability. I would just, for me personally, get into ketosis using more carbohydrate restriction, ketone salts, ketone esters and mono unsaturated fats versus saturated fats just based on my own genetics.
Brad Kearns: Speaking of diet, man, you’ve made an offhanded comment on some podcasts long time ago, and I kind of glommed onto it as a possible strategy. And I absolutely love it. And you were talking about how you spend a lot of time fasting or in ketosis including doing intense workouts, and then come evening time you’re enjoying life with your family and all the great things that your wife’s making and that might include a good dose of carbohydrates, of course, healthy, nutritious carbohydrates. But kind of letting things loose in the evening is your way of ensuring that you’re restocking glycogen for your intense workouts the next day or whatever falls ahead.
But I thought that was maybe getting the best of both worlds, where you spend a lot of time in those wonderful vaunted benefits of being fasted or being ketogenic, and then also getting those nutritious carbs, maybe supporting gut health and definitely supporting athletic recovery. So, thanks man, because that kicked me into gear and I have been experimenting with that type of approach.
Ben Greenfield: There are reasons that go beyond that actually, that I would choose a dietary strategy like that. Although I thought you were going to talk about my collection of frozen snickers bar in the freezer and my habit of sprinkling those on top of ice cream at night. No, I’m just kidding. I do actually eat ice cream sometimes. I recently discovered this halo top ice cream. I don’t know if you’ve had this before. There’s like 300 calories in a pint. It’s like Inulin and Stevia and still not the healthiest thing on the face of the planet, but man, when you can punish a whole pint of ice cream with a 300 calorie punishment … And I’ll sprinkle like cocoa nibs and even a shameless plug. I actually designed an energy bar and I keep that in the freezer too. And sometimes sprinkle that on top of ice cream at night. You can have your cake and eat it too, to a certain extent.
But you touched on the fact that glycogen replenishment with a post, kind of an end of the day feeding can be a good strategy for cyclic ketosis, right? Training your body, how to access primarily fatty acids as a fuel during the day, and then topping off the energy source at the end of the day, so that you have adequate glycogen availability for the next day’s workout, which is important, especially if you’re a strength or a power athlete or even a hybrid endurance speed athlete, which is who I would consider myself to be, right?
Like I’m dipping into the glycolytic tank far more regularly now than in the days when I was doing say Ironman triathlon, just based on the fact that Spartan has a lot more heavy carries and a lot more uphill sprints and things along those lines. But I would say there are two additional reasons that an evening refeed, especially for an active person, and to a certain extent from a social standpoint is important. A) You’ll find a lot of people who follow strict ketosis or who limit carbohydrates in the evening experience a little bit of a serotonin deficit at night, which decreases your melatonin availability.
So, you see a lot of people not sleeping well on a strict ketogenic diet versus folks who do an evening carbohydrate feed often have great sleep because of the serotonin availability. So, that’s one reason that I like the carbohydrates in the evening.
Then the other reason would be for me, and for a lot of people living in a Western society, where we’re not say following some ayurvedic principle of a decent breakfast, lunching kind of like a king, like a great big lunch followed by a siesta usually. And then like a pretty poultry dinner. In a lot of westernized societies, dinner’s kind of the prime meal of the day. And it sucks to go out to a restaurant or to sit down with your family and have to be incredibly restrictive, right? Like I like going to a restaurant when they bring that wonderful warm plate of bread out to the table, some heirloom, local salad or something like that with big pads of butter. I’ll indulge all night long on that type of thing.
So, from a social standpoint, allowing yourself to refeed a little bit more in the evening, especially from a carbohydrate perspective is important.
Then the other thing is that, I think family dinners are incredible important. It’s a way for our own family to gather at the end of the day. In the morning, the kids are off getting ready for school and everybody’s rushing around. It’s just way too busy to sit down for a family, as a family for an hour. And then lunch, the kids aren’t around and my wife’s often out gardening or farming or taking care of the chickens or the goats or she’s off playing tennis. Lunch is just kind of an afterthought for us. But then dinner, our entire family comes together at the end of the day and we’ll play table topics and we’ll play Pictionary, which I hate because I got to stop eating every two minutes to draw some picture.
But we’ll play Texas hold’em, we’ll talk about the day. And so, it’s a time for our family to bond. And I actually, because of that, like we eat dinner actually later than what I consider to be healthy. Like I think in an ideal scenario, you’d have dinner just for digestion, and everything done with before you kind of go horizontal for the night. You’d have dinner over with two or three hours before bed. But our family gathers at about 8:30 at night and we’ll finish dinner around 9 or 9:30 and we’re usually in bed by 10.
But we have these amazing evening family dinners that are just like those are a crucial part of our family dynamics. And when the kids are off doing Jujitsu and tennis and soccer and piano and all these things, at the end of the day, we can’t have a 6 PM dinner. So, we have dinner at like 8 or 8:30. And yeah, that’s another scenario in which whatever we’ve decided to eat, I eat and my kids love to cook too. And they’ll often make risottos and cookies and desserts and like rice cakes with fish and all sorts of things that would cause dad to be kind of a bore if I had to sit there with like a spoon and a stick of butter
Brad Kearns: And an app typing in your right number of grams of carbs.
Ben Greenfield: Right, exactly.
Brad Kearns: The family dinner, man. You’re on it. I remember reading that great book, “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. Been out for a while – documentary also. And he talked about how the rise of the fast food culture basically destroyed the fabric, the centerpiece of the American family, which was the family home cooked meal and the shared experience. And now, you could outsource that by going through a drive through line and handing your kids what they wanted and carrying on with your busy day and watching more TV. So, it was kind of a turning point in culture that we’re still struggling to recover from unless you take this action and make this the centerpiece. So, good job by the Greenfields.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, and I mean like now in the era of fricking … not the healthiest food on the planet, but it’s something. In the era of things like Blue Apron and these other meal delivery services that will bring like recipe kits to your home, it’s pretty easy. And that’s to a certain extent between lessons from Jessa and they take some local cooking classes and then we get boxes sometimes delivered to the house with ingredients and recipe cards. That’s how my kids learned to cook to a certain extent. And even if you don’t have time to make a big complex dinner or even something like some of these meal delivery services. And some really are, like paleo-ish or primal-ish or a little bit more healthy.
I think Freshly is one of the ones that’s a little bit better. Blue Apron is okay. Kind of depends on what they’re delivering. But yeah, even something like that, it’s kind of like a hybrid way to kind of sort of be at home and have what you could argue is almost a version of fast food, but I think is just a convenient way to get your hands on recipes and ingredients. That’s always another option.
Brad Kearns: Hey, changing gears a little bit and going back to that big picture. And I think you delivered an interesting insight where you said that you grew jaded as a homeschool student, and jaded to what is normal. And you also told Joe Rogan that you don’t consume modern culture and that gives you the time and energy to pursue the ultimate highest level of sophistication of health and fitness.
I think that’s really interesting because we find ourselves today completely maxed out on stimulation. That’s entertainment or just obligations with email and texting and staying connected in a digital manner, and it leaves precious little time to work on ourselves or pursue those hobbies that you mentioned. And it’s something that’s really concerning to me, because I find myself slipping away from, “Hey, once upon a time, I was a writer, but I can’t even find the time now because my email inbox is so filled.”
Any kind of departure into an entertainment zone can turn into a black hole when you’re talking about all the stuff that we’re compelled to consume now with the binge watching of shows, and who knows what else is distracting us and pulling us away from potential human peak performance endeavors that you stand for.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, I mean, I think you could to a certain extent say the same thing about, God forbid, exercise, right? Like I think that’s a waste of time for a lot of people who don’t consider the fact that when you look at the blue zones, right? These areas where people are living a disproportionately long period of time, they’re not taking like an hour at the beginning of the day or an hour at the end of the day to do an exercise session. And that’s time that adds up too.
I mean, you and I are talking right now and I don’t know if this is a video podcast or not, but as you can see, like I’m walking on a treadmill and I’ll walk a good six to eight miles each day while I’m at work. And it’s different than my wife who’s out … I mean, my wife is outside right now. She’s pushing a wheelbarrow. She’s hauling Alfalfa down to the goats. She’s pushing around her a little mobile chicken coops. She’s moving rocks, she’s gardening, she’s pulling weeds. I mean, that really is more of an ancestral example of low level physical activity all day long.
But as an author and a podcaster and someone who is relegated to spending a lot of time in front of the computer, for me, I’ve just had to learn how to kind hack my personal environment in my office to allow me to engage in that same type of low level physical activity that we see prevalent in a lot of these blue zones. There’s a kettlebell by the door in my office. There’s a hex bar in the room next door that’s always loaded up with a few plates. There is a pull up bar right below the stairs going upstairs. There’s like a mini trampoline outside the door of my office.
So, I’ve always got these little movements snacks and work breaks and even brief bursts of explosive activity during the day, so that by the end of the day, my exercise sessions are relatively brief. Like tonight, I know what my workout is going to be. I’ve got three tabata sets, each one separated by 30 kettlebell swings. The tabata sets are on an air assault bike. The kettlebell swings are on a little mat right beside that. I’ll drop down and do planks for my recovery and that’ll be about a 20-minute workout session.
If I have low level physical activity all day long, and I’m making a point to take the stairs to lift heavy stuff, to hang, to move during the day, it frees up a ton of time for me to not have to feel like I got to get in the car, drive to the gym, spend an hour at the gym, get back in the car, drive home, etc. So, I think that even though it tends to be glorified and respected a lot more than say like, time spent on Facebook, even time spent exercising is something that I think sometimes uses up valuable hours that someone could spend being more productive.
Brad Kearns: Well, the other part of that for me, Ben, since I’m 53-years-old, I’m noticing that it’s difficult to recover, especially from an enthusiastic exercise session that lasts a while. Whether it’s at the gym or going for an endurance training session. And it’s troubling to me because I don’t want to be tired in the days following my workouts. I’m trying to be a good guy and stay fit and delay aging.
So, I’ve kind of transitioned into more of a routine like you described where the hex bar’s waiting there. I might pull some stretch cords, which is an extremely challenging workout that if it only lasts for five minutes, you’re working hard and then you’re accumulating this body of work even in brief interspersed manner, which can help you be more productive cognitively. But you also avoid kind of that trashed existence where you went over the edge and had a workout that takes too long to recover from, to really be considered healthy.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, another thing I’m a fan of is the single set to failure training, right? Like you need about two, two and a half minutes of time under tension for the muscle to be able to respond in terms of satellite cell proliferation, mitochondrial density formation, fast-twitch muscle fiber, etc. And that can be achieved pretty easily and conveniently via incredibly slow training, and granted you miss out on some of the explosive aspects and all fiber composition usage via this method. But I kind of have changed a little bit to where I’ll finish up each single super slow set to failure with a few explosive reps at the end of the set.
For example, like I mentioned, I’m traveling to Vegas this weekend. We’ll land, we’ll go get ready for the fight. I’ll slip down to the gym for 20 minutes. It only takes me 15 to 20 minutes to do single set chest press to failure, pulled down to failure, shoulder press to failure, seated row to failure, leg press to failure, right? Two to two and a half minutes, you finish up with as many explosive partial range of motion sets or reps as you can bang out, and you’re just done. I mean, it’s easy. You’re not sore for days and days afterwards.
I’ve monitored my heart rate variability during a workout like that and it drops extremely low, which is a very good sign actually that you’re activating the sympathetic nervous system. It’s like barbell back squats, right? Like those are a very good way to drive your heart rate variability, very low during the training session. And we all hear that high HRV is a good thing, but actually during a workout, your HRV, if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, to be really low during the workout so that you know you’ve just drained your nervous system, but it’s only for a brief period of time. And then you’re up and out and done.
That’s actually how I maintain my strength and my muscle when I travel because there’s not a lot of cognitive fatigue either. Like I can be tired, I can whatever, land in … I just got back from Tokyo. I can land in Tokyo, I can duck into the hotel gym. Do that, be done, walk out. And though I’ve got my strength training in for the week, and I try and do that two times a week. Especially when I’m on heavy bouts of travel and I can piece together work out like that, just about anywhere on the face of the planet. Even the absence of machines. You can use resistance bands, you can use body weight, you can use dumbbells, you can use kettlebells. But that’s another really effective and efficient way to get the minimum effective dose of exercise.
Brad Kearns: So, you’re talking a 20-minute session twice a week can be the centerpiece of you maintaining strength and training for all manner of these endeavors, peak performance competitions.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. I mean, those kinds of little things that add up. That’s not going to turn you into like a great, let’s say, my case, like a triathlete or a Spartan athlete. But when you combine something like that with a low level physical activity during the day, I do a tabata set usually three times a week. Those quick four-minute tabata sets. I do every single morning when the coffee is heating up or the water is heating up for coffee or for tea, I do about 10 minutes of mobility work and breath work. Meaning I’m kind of getting the equivalent of 60 to 90 minutes worth of massage therapy each week. Just kind of like self-inflicted as a little morning habit.
Then the only other two key workouts that I do during the week – actually, there’s three. The three key workouts I do during the week. One is for mitochondria. So, I do once a week, usually on Tuesday, five to six 32nd efforts. All out with full recovery periods. The recovery periods usually take about three to four minutes. So, really long recovery periods, but that’s it. It’s my mitochondrial density. I’m already hitting lactate tolerance with the tabata sets that I just kind of throw in wherever they seem to fit. They only take four minutes. You can just do them wherever. Like I mentioned, I just sprinkle about three of those throughout the week.
Then VO2 max, I usually do that on Thursdays. And that’s also very simple. We know the body, we’ll build maximum oxygen utilization with about a four-minute effort. So, I do four four-minute efforts with four minute recovery periods. Those four-minute efforts suck. They’re at maximum sustainable pace, but I only need to do that once a week to maintain VO2 max. So, I have one mitochondrial set, one VO2 max set, and then finally on the weekend, at some point, I do some sort of physical activity that’s slightly more intense than the low level physical activity of me say, walking on the treadmill while I’m talking to you.
Sometimes it’s – like our mutual friend, Mark Sisson ask paddleboard session. Sometimes it is a hike, sometimes it’s a bike ride, where I’ll just go run all my errands on a Saturday morning. But I try and move for about one and a half to two hours. It’s always fasted, right? So, I’m enhancing my fat burning capacity. I call this stamina or endurance or whatever you want to call it.
But I remember, when I was in Ironman, you do that three to five days a week, right? You’d have a long session once a week, fasted hour and a half to two hour session where I’m out just doing something that’s slightly more intensive than my low level physical activity that I’m doing during a typical week day. That’s another kind of key session for me. And sometimes that’s a race, right? Like a race counts too.
Brad Kearns: I spoke with Joel Jamieson recently, you probably know him from a prominent MMA trainer and recovery based training concepts. And he told me something interesting and I’m still thinking about it, and I wonder what your opinion is. Is that when it comes to recovery, where you have to recover from the Spartan race or whatever you did, and we have a one choice of sitting on the couch and watching Netflix and eating popcorn versus some carefully considered types of efforts, workouts, all the things you mentioned. A mobility stretching session or brief intervals with long recovery. Do you think there is a way to accelerate recovery from the baseline example of sitting on the couch for a day or two days?
Ben Greenfield: Oh, absolutely. So, some of the better things. One would be hot, cold contrast. I’m a huge fan of, let’s say sacrificing the day after the workout. That was very hard for you or a day after a race with, for example, 15 minutes in the sauna, five minutes cold shower, three times through. That’s an hour of recovery. That’s a time when I’ll put on a heat resistant or an underwater MP3 player and just go back and forth with hot, cold contrast.
I actually like infrared for that because the infrared penetrates a little bit more deeply into the tissue. You get a little bit better cardiovascular response, a little bit better heat shock, protein increase. And I have a cold pool outside. I actually have one of those endless swimming pools, but I keep it super cold. That’s out in the forest behind the house. The sauna’s in my basement. So, I’ll do 15 minutes of sauna, head out to the cold pool. Just tread water, hang around in the cold pool for five minutes and go back and forth. That’s one perfect way to recover and put work into your body without necessarily setting around.
Another one that would be considered a form of cellular exercise because of its ability to open and close, some of the channels on cell membranes would be this thing called Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF). There are full body mats that they sell. And so, that I can get more bang for my buck, if I’m getting a massage, if I’m taking a nap, whatever the case may be, I own a couple of these mats and I’ll lay on them and you can feel your body vibrating as you lay on them. But you’re getting a really good removal of inflammation and a similar effect to this more ancestral practice of earthing or grounding as you’d do if you were outside on the planet, but in a more concentrated manner. That’s another very good way to enhance recovery, to enhance blood flow and to decrease inflammation.
I’m also a fan of low level physical activity like swimming or walking or whatever. But gradated compression would be another. I’ve got a pair of these NormaTec compression boots that kind of milk the metabolic byproducts like calcium or any residual lactate out of the muscle and back up towards the heart. And that’s again, something, even if you are sitting around on the couch, you can put on your legs. They make them for the arms, they make them for the low back and the torso. Gradated means that, very similar like gradated compression tights which cost more but are a better form of compression. They’re tight towards the extremities and then get looser as they come up towards the heart. So, you’re really getting a good milking action. That’s another one that I like.
Then there’s even this concept of what’s called photobiomodulation, which I’ve caught flack for just based on the fact that talk about how I pull down my pants for like 20 minutes during the day while I’m standing at my standing desk and bathed my balls in infrared light based on the idea that about a 600 to 800 nanometer wavelength of light has been shown to increase mitochondrial activity, the leydig cells in the testes. So, you get an increase in testosterone.
I do this every day. There are other things that I do, but since I quit doing Ironman triathlon, my testosterone has gone from 300 and currently it’s at 900, and that’s a daily practice of mine. Is I do this photobiomodulation, but it’s also great for blood flow, it’s great for collagen and also assists with recovery.
They even make one for the head called the Vielight. The one that I use on my desk is called a Juve. The one for the head is called a Vielight and it actually causes, in addition to mitochondrial activity of neural tissue, a production of nitric oxide. Which is kind of like viagra for the whole body, enhances blood flow. And there was actually a recent article, I forget the journal it was in, but it talked about how the effects of this were similar to using like a legal performance enhancing aid, when you use photobiomodulation. So, they might be someday stripping red lights out of the buses of Tour de France cyclists, you never know.
But this near and far infrared therapy via photobiomodulation, very similar to sunlight, but in a more kind of concentrated format with the ability to be able to do it, say indoors while you’re working and getting things done. That’s another pretty good one.
There are a lot of other – I mean, we can talk about recovery all day long. But for me, probably the most profound thing I ever did and I realized this is a little bit more elitist and may not be available to everyone. But I went to Park City, Utah and I was sedated for four hours and I had all my joints, up and down spine, knees, ankles, face, wrists, elbows, shoulders, everything injected with bone marrow aspirate that was taken out of my hips.
So, I literally refilled every single joint in my body with stem cells. And when you look at the stem cell theory of aging or joint breakdown, it’s based on this idea that indigenous stem cell availability, and the availability of what we call pluripotent stem cells that can differentiate into other tissue or that can enhance repair and recovery tends to decrease with age. So, essentially at the age of 37, just refilled everything. And so, I have all these new stem cells available and it takes about two to three months to kick in. But I can, I have to be careful. Like I can work out every day now, pretty hard if I want to and bounce back the next day and feel a profound difference in soreness and workout efficacy after doing the stem cell procedure.
They’re one of the few places in the world that does it. This clinic in Park City, Utah, but it’s called a full body stem cell make over. And then I actually tacked on what they call the cosmetic and sexual enhancement piece of that, where they inject your face, they inject your dick in three different locations and then they do the hairline as well. So, sky’s the limit as far as what you can do with stem cells. But that’s kind of like the top of the totem pole for me when it comes to enhancing recovery.
Brad Kearns: So, we’re going to check in with you like 12 years from now and you’re still going to be 37, it’s what you’re saying?
Ben Greenfield: That or my dick will have turned gray and fallen off and I will have lost all my hair, we’ll see.
Brad Kearns: Oh, I guess we could put a little “E” sign on this episode now. Thank you Ben. That was great. So, are you going to live to …?
Ben Greenfield: At that point God made like bird sounds and honky-honky sounds and you can edit it out for all the kids.
Brad Kearns: Are you going to live to 170 like Dave Asprey and the others that are pursuing this goal?
Ben Greenfield: Well, look, my take on longevity, Brad, is if you’re just living a long time so that you can be that person who lives a long time, sees all your friends die and think, “Ha-ha, I’m not dead yet.” So, that you can be that person who, whatever, has the most years, makes the most money, has the most sex, whatever it is – the reason that you’re living a long period of time. I think that’s all just grasping at straws and is a relatively selfish pursuit.
But if you are living a long time so that you can better fulfill your purpose in life, because everybody was born with a unique skill set. Everybody was born with the ability to be able to change the world and to make it a better place. And I think that – and this is one thing that kind of irks me about, say for example, many elements of modern Christianity, right? We have people who are talking about saving souls and positivity and peace and love and joy and spreading salvation. Yet, you go to a church potluck and it’s all Doritos and Twinkies and obesity and cardiovascular disease because these people aren’t actually caring for their temples, so that they can be around for a longer period of time to truly make the world a better place.
So, I think if you’ve identified your purpose in life, which we know is actually very important for longevity, this concept of “itchy guy”, being able to get out of bed in the morning and have a reason for living, I mean, that’s as important as sunshine and fresh water and physical activity and wild plant intake and not smoking and all these other things that we know help people to live a long period of time. But if you can clearly identify that purpose – I can clearly identify mine. My purpose in life is to empower people to live a more adventurous and joyful and fulfilling life. To empower people to live a more adventurous and joyful and fulfilling life.
Now if I can be alive for as long a period of time to do that, then I think that I am doing my duty as a human being to make this world a better place. And so, yeah, I would be overjoyed to live to 170 years old provided that during all of those years, I’m able to really, truly help people and fulfill my purpose in life. But if I’m just living a long time to feel good and sit in my basement with infrared sauna with a clay mask on with coffee at my butt, that’s kind of a selfish pursuit.
Brad Kearns: Or if you’re in a bunker without any interaction with other humans because the worlds in that state, yeah. Not a big goal anymore.
Ben Greenfield: Or if you’re cold and hungry and libido-less because all you’re doing is fasting and taking cold showers.
Brad Kearns: Oh boy. I like that take man. Very fresh. That’s the defining path of longevity that’s going to get predict longevity at the same time when you have the right goal in place.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, he right goal and again, not to kick this horse to death, but that concept of family dinners. When we look at a lot of those things I rattled off, like things that fit into that Venn diagram of longevity. We have all these areas where people are living a disproportionately long period of time from Okinawa to Sardinia to Nagoya to Loma Linda. We see things that aren’t that surprising. Like no smoking, wild plant intake. Probably because of the mild hormetic stressors that eating wild plants actually inflicts upon the human body, which is why I think the paleo diet is stupid because it restricts the intake of certain things that they say are assailants to the human gut, or don’t fall into the path of natural human ancestral eating patterns.
But I think you can eat just about anything on this planet provided that you ferment and you soak it and you sprout it, and you treat it properly and you eat in moderation. So, wild planet intake. Legume intake would be another, which is definitely not paleo. But I don’t think there’s anything magic about legumes even though I have a bunch of wonderful split mung beans in a stew upstairs. I think that really it is the absence of the processed and packaged carbohydrates, starches and sugars, and the fact that legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, etc; are replacing those as more stable forms of glucose.
I think that low inflammation of low glycemic variability are two of the most profound things that you can track and manage when it comes to living a long time. So, no smoking, wild plant intake, legume intake. One, we already talked about low level physical activity, usually outdoors, right? Not exercise, but just moving outdoors.
Then finally the last one is just relationships, love, social life. Time with the family, time with friends, laughter often over a glass of 10 enrich alcohol at the end of the day. That is as important as many of these other variables. And furthermore, we don’t see a lot of these blue zones doing a lot of the biohacking. I certainly think there’s something to be said for better living through science. But ultimately, I think it’s important to really dial in the low hanging fruit and I would put purpose in life right in there with those other variables like eating plants, controlling your blood sugar, not smoking, spending time with your friends and your family and moving around during the day and knowing what your purpose in life is.
Brad Kearns: Well said. Peter Attia talked about this low hanging fruit too, as he’s pursuing the cutting-edge of longevity medicine and so forth. But he said that you could get 80% of the way there, 80% of your longevity potential just by doing the basic stuff that you just enumerated. He said, eating stuff that your great grandmother could have eaten and not eating stuff that wasn’t around.
So, you’re kind of on the far end here. And if we had to drop in or sprinkle in a few cutting-edge practices, could you go with some top three or top five or someone’s enthusiastic, maybe not ready to invest in a Juve light. Although it was pretty cool. I saw the booth at Paleo f(x) and I’ve seen your video. And I have the little handheld red light at 660 or whatever the proper wavelength is. So, I use that on certain occasions and hopefully it’s working.
But I know some of this stuff, it’s difficult to discern the return on investment, but if you can drop in some that are of great appeal to a peak performance enthusiast that’s busy and trying to squeeze in some fun stuff.
Ben Greenfield: Sure. I’ll try to avoid talking about things I already mentioned like PEMF or photobiomodulation or cold thermogenesis or something like that, because I would consider all of those in many ways, be an example of better living in neuroscience. So, we might not see our ancestors doing in many cases or these areas of the blue zones. But when you think about it, photobiomodulation kind of simulates the sunlight. Cryotherapy chambers or cold pools kind of simulate not having air conditioning, getting out in the cold and working sometimes.
PEMF kind of simulates being outside on the earth, in the ground. So, we can draw ancestral or natural corollaries to many of these modern biohacking, spend your pieces of equipment that simply concentrate those practices into a shorter period of time or allow people to do them when they’re living a postindustrial lifestyle indoors because that’s how you pay the bills. You got to be in front of a computer. You can’t be outside in the sunlight, so you have a photobiomodulation panel at your desk. And you can’t work outside all day and be a little bit chilly, but you can maybe step into a cryotherapy chamber at the little health center next door to your office for three minutes. And maybe you can’t sleep outdoors and camp and walk around barefoot, but you can sleep at night on a PEMF mat. Right?
So, these are all kind of examples of being able to tap into a more natural way of living and using better living through science to do so. And I’m certainly open minded to a lot of these principles.
To reply to your question, If I could throw a few more in there that I’m interested in right now and have been experimenting with for kind of like the longevity or just the better living through science component. One would be hydrogen rich water. There are a lot of these machines now or tablets that will dissolve H2 gas into water. That seems to very significantly influence the NF-κB pathway, which is an inflammatory pathway we named already, that inflammation is something that’s correlated with decreased lifespan just due to everything from cholesterol oxidation to cellular damage to skin damage to vascular damage.
So, what I like about hydrogen rich water, you can buy or spend your like 5 to $6,000 hydrogen rich water generator machine, or you can simply buy tablets and put them into a normal glass of water. Is that they blunt the inflammatory response without blunting these hormetic response to exercise. Green tea polyphenols actually act similarly. Those are two examples of just a few of the very rare antioxidants that are something you could even take in the presence of exercise without making exercise not as beneficial or as effective. So, I start off every day, I’ve got one of these hydrogen water generators. I have a big glass mason jar full of hydrogen rich water. When I travel, I take these tablets with me. So, that’s one example.
Another example, let’s see, I talked about infrared, but just this concept generally of hyperthermia, heat exposure and heat treatments. That in addition to cold, is something I do quite frequently. I kind of have this rule every day. I get into something that gets me really hot and something that gets me really cold. The heat components sometimes with the sauna, but then there’s this other thing that I use, kind of like … I’m trying to name the things that I would use daily. I have that hydrogen rich water daily now.
Another thing I do daily when I’m at home is I have this thing called a biomat, a biomat. And it generates a whole bunch of heat. It’s not so uncomfortably hot that you can’t map on it. And I like to take a post-lunch siesta. So, I go up and I lay on this biomat. It’s just basically infrared therapy generated by a mat. And it’s very warm, sometimes you get a little bit of a sweat. If I’m sick, I can literally wrap myself in that thing and sweat it out. Or if I’m detoxing, you can wrap yourself in like these silver mylar space blankets and lay on top of your biomat and just sweat things out and lay there. It’s kind of a cool tool to have around. My kids even have a biomat mini. They have a mini red light that they use called a Juve mini. My kids have a lot of this stuff up in their bedroom.
Anything that’s had a profound impact on my own health, I try to expose my kids to. They have a big glass of hydrogen rich water before they go to school each morning. So, they kind of do their own mini version of a lot of this stuff.
Brad Kearns: And then they have play dates. The kid comes over and then it goes back and his parents say, “What did you do over there? “ “We did some red light exposure. We did some hot and cold therapy.” How fun.
Ben Greenfield: Upside down from a yoga trapeze in the living room and did probiotic enemas. It was a great time at the Greenfield house. No, I’m kidding. My kids’ friends don’t do that yet.
So, we’ve got hydro rich water, heat therapy and I guess if I could finish with a third. I’m like looking around my office. Here’s something interesting. Again, I mean you asked, so I’m going to give you something that will be kind of more technology based and maybe not something everyone would own, but something I think it’s cool to own for people who like to own nice things.
Let me explain to you first why I have this. We know that cells can communicate via a variety of different communication mechanisms, right? Most people know that nerve signals will travel using primarily neurotransmitters that cross synaptic clefts and carry messages from one nerve to another. So, neurotransmitters will be one form of communication. Hormones would be another form of communication.
We know that based on more recent research that cells can communicate with light as well, be what are called biophotons. We know that cells can communicate via tiny little vesicles called exosomes, which actually when I did my stem cell injections, I had a bunch of exosomes, inject stem cells, help to carry the stem cells to different areas of the body. But one way that cells communicate, and in particular one way with which mitochondria communicate, is via free radicals. And we all think free radicals are bad.
But what happens is as you shuttle electrons down the electron transport chain in the mitochondria, they should be used to generate ATP. But when too much ATP is available, such as you’ve been stuffing your face with too many Twinkies, the electron send them back up. And when the electrons back up, you get free radical spillage out into the mitochondrial matrix and into the rest of the cell. And it can cause membrane damage and it can cause reduction in mitochondrial activity.
So, one of the ways with which mitochondria regulate the actual activity of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, is by sensing the free radical availability within a cell and then altering the production of ATP accordingly. So, it’s a very robust way to control mitochondrial activity and keep mitochondria healthy via free radical signaling.
Well, you can simulate the same type of free radical signaling without necessarily introducing more free radicals into the body by actually breathing air that is infused with the same signals as these free radicals carry. And this is a device on my desk called a … you probably can’t see it. I can kind of drag the nasal cannula. But sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll put this nasal cannula on. It looks like this, and you can’t see the machine that it’s connected to, but it’s called a Nano V. And you fill it with water, and it actually exposes the water to the same signal as the free radicals, and then you breathe this in.
I did a stint where I tested my telomere length when I was using this. So, I used it for about three months and tested my telomere length and it knocked about three years off my biological age, not chronological age. My biological age when I use this thing and apparently it’s because it can also do a good job at DNA repair via that enhanced mitochondrial activity. So, that one’s called a Nano V. It’s made by a company in Seattle.
Again, for like the desk bound person who wants to make their body better, just while they’re getting things done during the day or that athlete who wants to add a little bit of extra recovery in. It’s a few thousand bucks, but that’s another one probably just because it’s right here under my nose. And I thought of it that, that’s another thing that I use I think is quite interesting and I’ve found to be pretty efficacious. So, hopefully that wasn’t too far off the deep end.
Brad Kearns: Well, you also mentioned the nap. So, I’d love to know your daily routine in complete detail. You talk about the family dinner a little late, trying to get to bed by 10, and then talk us through when you wake up and what you’re doing. You already mentioned the exercise protocols that drop into certain days of the week.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. A few of the things that I do that are like daily must staples for me, would be, a) that 10, maximum 15 minutes of mobility work and breath work and mobility dynamic stretching, foam rolling, stuff like that in the morning. Daily must for me is like gratitude journal every single day. I write down what I’m grateful for, what I learned that morning because I read for a little bit each morning while I’m lying in bed. And then who I can pray for or help or serve that day. So, I try and start every day with gratefulness and with kind of an attitude of helping others.
What else? Our daily must [inaudible 01:04:06] the day. Typically, I’ll have lunch and then after lunch, I drink a little bit of rishi tea, which kind of settles me down. It’s a wonderful mushroom tea that kind of relaxes you and then I go and I lay on that biomat and I often will pull on those great aids, compress boots at the same time. So, anytime I can double up on something like that, I’ll do it. I lay there and I sleep and usually, I put in my headphones because sometimes other things are happening around the house or people are over and so I’ll listen to … Usually I’ll use either an app called SleepStream or there is another app called Brain.fm. SleepStream and Brain.fm are two apps that I find helps me relax when I play them through headphones.
Brain.fm is more like music, but they call it artificial intelligence music that they’ve programmed for either focus or for sleep or for like a power nap or whatever. You picked your poison on the app. And then the SleepStream, that’s also kind of like a Dj for sleep, right? You can play binaural beats that lull you into alpha or delta or gamma frequencies. You can play piano, you can play white noise, pink noise, brown noise – I forget all the colors of noise, whatever. Purple noise, violet noise, crimson noise. Anyways, you can play all these noises that kind of cover up other external noises and help you to sleep.
So, I lay on that, wake up, get a little more work done. I hang out with the kids for a while when they get home from school. We outsourced their education by sending them to private school. But I’m a firm believer that the moment your kids walk in the door from school, your role as a parent educator begins. And that’s when I try to teach my kids all the things they’re not learning at school. So, we do everything from meditation and manifestation practice to shooting the bow, to doing plant foraging, to cooking, to playing instruments, to just basically doing all the things that help them to become more well-rounded, a little renaissance man and to learn the things that they’re not getting in their academic institution.
Where admittedly, I like the fact they’re learning how to be good little factory workers, how to play well with others, how to cooperate, how to engage in team task. They’re also learning from people who are better able to teach them the things I would probably suck at teaching them. Like for example, they’ve got Lego programming for making Lego robots right now. And they’ve got a really good Spanish teacher and I kind of suck at Spanish.
So, there are things that just really, I think are smart and good time management to outsource to others. So, anyways, though I try to be done with a lion share of the hard work for the day by the time my kids get home from school around four. So, hang out with the kids, throw down like a late afternoon or an early evening workout, which is when I’ll do something like I described to you earlier. One of those quick intense sessions I described to you earlier.
Then after that workout, I will typically disappear down into my office to kind of put out for around 45 minutes to an hour, all the last minute things I don’t want to be thinking about during our family dinner.
Then I come upstairs, I lend a hand to Jess and the boys. Sometimes we prepare a meal together. Sometimes Jess is cooking something and the boys and I are helping out making dessert or open up a bottle of red wine and decanting that or whatever the case may be. And we gather around, we have a family dinner. We finish up, I play the kids a little guitar, ukulele. And then we’re all in bed by about 9:30 or 10.
I try and read a book every day. So, I’ll usually lay in bed and read. I read very quickly, I have a pen underline. I go through the book, table of contents, skim, go through each chapter, fold over pages, write, underline. A lot of times it’s for my podcast. So, I’m thinking of all the cool questions I want to ask that person on my podcast after I’ve read the book.
Then, I turn on something called a chilly pad which cools the sheets underneath me, so I can sleep at a low body temperature. I turn on this thing called a body balanced mat, which produces those same PEMF signals I was talking about, but it does it while I’m sleeping. So, I sleep all night long. The same as if I were sleeping outdoors. I put on a sleep mask and I get a little lavender oil diffuser and I put all this stuff on that just helps me just crush every single night of sleep. I love to sleep just amazingly.
So, I’ll sleep anywhere from seven and a half to nine hours. I never set the alarm. I just wake up when I wake up. Usually, it’s around usually 6:30 or so. Around in there on average. Then I get up and have another amazing day.
Brad Kearns: Sounds dialed man. We should have a giveaway for “spend the 24-hour day with Ben Greenfield in Spokane” and get involved in all these little fun toys and contraptions and practices that we have emanating from your headquarters out there.
Ben Greenfield: I coach nine people basically, executives and I help with their sleep and their HRV and the nutrition in their food. And a couple of guys would come up and spend the weekend with me. And it’s always interesting for folks to kind of see that blend of ancestral living and hanging out with the chickens and goats outside, and then the modern biohacking indoors. So, it’s a unique environment. But I like it out here. We live on 10 acres out in Spokane, Washington, and it’s my little oasis I can come home to and kind of detox in and relax in before the next foray of speaking and traveling and flying begins.
Brad Kearns: I like that dream team; nine people, nine and only nine. So boy, what a plum ticket to get to join that squad.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah. I used to be a personal trainer for a long time and I ran all these gyms and personal training studios, and I still like to scratch that itch of getting out there and working with folks and putting them through workouts and stuff. So, typically, when I go to speak at a conference, I’ll like lead morning workouts or do like evening Q&A sessions and I still like to get out there and train people. But honestly, most of my work is done with just those nine people. It’s all via an app called Boxer, which is like their walkie talkie communication with me, Skype calls, emails and all kind of online consulting. Not a lot of like brick and mortar one-on-one work anymore.
Brad Kearns: So, you were on the doctor path as we learned early in your story, just like Mark Sisson. And Mark Sisson was diverted because someone knocked on his dorm room, an alumni wanted to see his old place, and he walked in and Mark had like completely retrofitted and rebuilt the dorm with all this advanced construction skills. And the alum said, “Why, are you going to med school? You should be doing this stuff.” And that got him thinking and diverted. What about you? You were on that med school track and then something happened and here we are today.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, I was actually telling even Mark about that. Like it’s kind of funny because like Mark was a triathlete who got sick of it and realized he was destroying his body and quit. And I kind of had the same thing. I got accepted to a bunch of medical schools and opted not to go into medicine because I became pretty disillusioned with modern medicine and got offered more money in surgical hip and knee sales and decided to go into that instead. And then didn’t like that. And I went back into fitness
I was a painter all through college, kind of like Mark was. And unfortunately though, I have not developed my paddleboard and ultimate Frisbee game with the same amount of finesse as he has. But yeah, it’s kind of funny how we overlap a little bit. But yeah, I mean like I’ve always had a voracious interest in the human body and brain ever since I was a tennis player in high school and wanted to learn how to run and fuel my body and lift weights to become a better tennis player. My foray into bodybuilding in college where I really delved into the broscience and learned how to eat six cans of tuna fish for dinner, mixed with a little bit of relish and ketchup to make it taste good. And strip as much fat off the human body as possible and get as swole as I could.
I used to be … well, I’m at 175 now. I weighed 215 when I was a competitive bodybuilder, at 215 and 3% body fat. And then I went to the next healthiest sport on the face of the planet, Ironman triathlon after that and spent eight or nine years doing Ironman. And then now, do a relatively more sane sport. The Spartan racing and obstacle course racing, which is shorter, more intense, a little more functional in my opinion.
But yeah, the medicine thing, because I was so interested in physiology and nutrition and I got my master’s degree in biomechanics and exercise physiology, I really saw myself delving into sports medicine, orthopedic surgery. But unfortunately, and especially more so during the hip and knee surgical sales job that I had after completing my master’s degree, I just did not run into any doctors who seemed happy with their job, who encouraged me to go to medical school, who weren’t overloaded with cranky patients and a broken medical system and overpriced insurance, and all these issues. Every single time it was a negative experience I walked into a doctor’s office or a hospital or a surgical ward.
So, I loved fitness and physical culture a lot more. So, that’s what I wound up going into and doing. I remember wandering into the gym across the street from the apartment I was living in and ask for a job. And at that point, I had a really good resume. I was a certified strength conditioning coach, a personal trainer, a certified nutritionist. I’d spent five years training people all through college.
So, they offered me a job and within two years, I had partnered up with a local physician and we launched a series of sports medicine clinics in which I was the director of sports performance. But I was this really like geeky propeller hat wearing kind of nerded out version of a personal trainer. Where we had EKG machines and direct and indirect calorimetry for metabolic rate assessments, and high speed video cameras and functional training centers, and a whole host of medical professionals on staff, like physical therapists and chiropractic docs and sports medicine physicians and massage therapists.
So, we really established ourselves as the people you come to when nothing else is working for say, performance or for body composition. And several years into that, one of the docs nominated me with the NACA to be America’s top personal trainer and I got voted as America’s top personal trainer, and everything just kind of sped up from there in terms of speaking and writing and advising and even investing in health and fitness and nutrition companies. And that’s kind of how I’ve spent the past decade of my life, is kind of this new chapter of media and speaking and advising and investing and writing and consulting, and that’s what I do now. But that’s kind of long story short of how I came to do what I do now.
Brad Kearns: And this Kion thing is recent adventure. Let’s finish with a little plug for how you’ve pulled everything together into this operation.
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, I mean look, my passion and even in college, I studied a lot of pharmaceuticals, a lot of nutrition, a lot of biochemistry, a lot microbiology, a lot of organic chemistry. I love to study ingredients and formulations. And I’m currently geeking out on everything one can do to enhance the health of the mitochondria from PQQ to coenzyme Q10 to SK2, to D-ribose to ATP. And so, case in point, I’m developing right now a longevity formula. And before that, I developed, I wanted a really clean energy bar that wasn’t like a greasy ketosis bar that crumbles and falls apart when you open the package and stay stable under heat and also doesn’t turn into a brick like a power bar does in the cold. And so, I developed a bar.
Before that, I developed a really clean, organic antioxidant rich coffee. I’ve got a few formulas for the gut, kind of a complete joint formula with turmeric and cetyl myristoleate, and glucosamine chondroitin and black pepper and all these things that help the joints. And so, I consider TM to be kind of like my playground for creating new and novel formulations that are just basically supplements that really are things I developed to scratch my own itch. Just like gratitude journal I wrote. It scratches my own itch of the gratitude practice I’m doing every morning anyways. I take all the supplements I develop every morning or every evening or during the day, with like coffee and a bar.
So, Kion, it’s basically, first and foremost, a supplements company. I might eventually begin to develop fitness gear. I’ve had some books there. We do some coaching and consulting. We have like a university where we train personal trainers and nutritionists and some of my methods and more advanced tactics from biohacking to ancestor living. But ultimately it’s just the supplements and healthy living company that it’s kind of my playground for every new idea I get to be able to develop some formulation that I hope will help a lot of people out.
Brad Kearns: That’s K-I-O-N, so we can go check that out. And we go find you at other websites, podcasts. You want to plug a few things?
Ben Greenfield: Yeah, let’s just get kion.com. And then yeah. I mean, well, I tell people anytime you’re wondering about something that my opinion on whatever, LSD and psilocybin or minimal effective dose of training or whatever, just google my name plus whatever you’re curious about, and usually you’ll find something I’ve written on a topic or some podcast I’ve recorded on the topics. That’s usually the best way to do it. But my actual website with my podcast on my blog and everything, where I do a weekly article and a twice weekly podcast is bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Brad Kearns: Oh my gosh man. Will you do me a favor? Don’t ever change because you are one-of-a kind. I appreciate you taking the time to talk and look forward to catching up with you. Hopefully, next time I see you, you won’t be an accident victim because you rallied at Paleo f(x). You went on the panel and did your talks and your appearances, but it was right after that bike accident. So, stay healthy. Keep doing what you’re doing. Ben Greenfield from Spokane, finishing his treadmill. How many miles did you walk during this show here? Do you have a little meter there?
Ben Greenfield: I’m so over self-quantification. I look at my sleep when I wake up, I pay attention to my heart rate variability, that’s about it. I don’t track anything else. I do look at my steps at the end of the day. Usually, I try to make sure I’ve taken about 15,000 steps at the end of the day. But I’m at the point now where I kind of know most days I’m doing that, but I have no clue. I’ve got no meters or anything on this treadmill. It’s just a stripped down, no frills, manual treadmill. So, I don’t know, but I’ve calculated just a few times and it usually comes out to about six to eight miles in any given day.
Brad Kearns: Okay, keep going Ben. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for listening everybody.
Ben Greenfield: Alright. Thanks man.
Brad Kearns: Let’s talk about Tribali Foods. If you’re super busy and you want a convenient meal to make in a short time, but you don’t want to compromise great taste – gosh, doesn’t that sound like a commercial? It is a commercial, but it’s for something super awesome. And these are frozen organic beef and chicken patties and sliders, with awesome creative flavors like Mediterranean chipotle, Umami with the mushroom mixed in. And also, these sliders, chicken, apple, and pork sage.
What you do, is you take this frozen box, cut with the scissors, the beautiful little pre-made patty. Drop it on the pan, cook it up and it’s ready in a few minutes. And this company is a real, live, authentic girl power entrepreneur small business success story, home kitchen inspired. Welcome everyone to the new world where the big multinational beasts that make garbage food are getting knocked off by people who care about what they eat and about their health.
Tribali was started by my friend Angela Mavridis in Southern California – lifelong family restaurant business member. She was a vegetarian for 35 years and one day she had a steak, felt great, and started on this path of experimenting with creative ground beef recipes and flavorings in her kitchen. All her friends loved it. She was buying tons of ground meat from Whole Foods and they’re like, “Hey, what are you doing with this?”
So, she brought them in a little sample. They loved it. They flew her to Texas to meet with the national buyer and they said, literally, “Start a business and we will place a large order.”
So, this is a wonderful small business success story with love and attention to everything that goes into this product. Delicious, totally keto-friendly. Go, look at the pork mini sliders. We’re talking one gram of carbs, 11 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat, and you get 15% off.
Just visit tribalifoods.com and enter “Get Over Yourself” in the coupon field and you are good to go. Shipped directly to your door, cold-packed, frozen stuff, thought out in a day, and you have quick dinner, quick lunch. And also, available at finer stores like Whole Foods, Whole Dude’s, Nugget, Natural Grocers, Super Targets and launching into Walmart as well. Good job, go girl! Tribalifoods.com.
Let’s talk about probiotics from Entegro Health. Do you want me to sing the messages? Nah. But probiotics are an extremely important concept. Hopefully, you’re all in on the values, the benefits of nourishing a healthy gut microbiome, so you can flourish in life. And that’s the name of Entegro’s product; Flourish – a unique, extremely potent living liquid probiotic. Yes, it’s liquid form. How is it different from other probiotics we usually see in pills? This is the message from Entegro.
Microbes continue to thrive and metabolize in their own [mil-u 01:13:45]. Do you like when companies use the word “mil-u” to describe their product? I do. These include short chain fatty acids, bioactive peptides, amino acids, enzymes, and minerals. The liquid base makes it acid stable, so microbes can survive the stomach environment and transit to the lower GI tract for integration to give you a healthy gut microbiome.
There’s 11 different strains in this thing, carefully hand-cultivated in the laboratory with precision to deliver 8 billion total CFU. Why take probiotics? Come on, do you have to ask? It’s going to strengthen your immune function, reduce systemic inflammation (the root cause of all disease), improve digestion, promote bowel regularity, relieve gas and bloating, get you going again after illness or antibiotic use.
That’s me, because I first got this shipment the very day I returned home from a Mexican vacation and had a stomach illness once again. What a bummer? So sad, because I love going down south, but I needed to repair and return to action quickly. So, I started guzzling this stuff and had a wonderful return to health. I’m a very enthusiastic user, and will be over the long run because I need all the help I can get. I don’t know about you when we’re talking about our routine usage of antibiotics, the stress we put on our system and in the environment every single day.
I especially notice my gut health is compromised when I engage in overly intensive athletic training, have trouble recovering. My gut is the first thing to go. So, this is my go-to product, the Flourish probiotic in liquid form. Try It yourself. I love the delicious root beer float flavor. Just kidding, man. This stuff is no funny business. This is the real deal. It’s very potent. It tastes fine, it goes down okay. But no root beer float flavors, sorry. Take it, you’ll love it. Go look at Entegrohealth.com for more information, and to order shipped directly to your door in its unique liquid form; Flourish.