Ben Greenfield Podcast 71


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Ben Greenfield Podcast 71

  1. 1. Podcast #71 from In this podcast episode: electrical stimulation devices, amino acidsupplements, high protein diets, food allergies, barefoot running, amovie called Fathead, creatine, cramping, and much more.Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield. I got to tell you I‟m alittle sore right now. I actually just this day, today, earlier at noon, Iwas playing basketball and then I went to the gym after I finishedplaying about an hour of basketball and I did those little machinesat the gym that a personal trainer I used to know called birthingmachines because basically sit in them and you kind of put yourthighs on these pads and you contract your legs and your thighs goin and then you move to another one and you sit down in that andyou kind of swing your hips out and open your legs and just backand forth, I did back and forth between those things about fivetimes and so I‟m not only sore from basketball because I just gotinto my triathlon off season and that‟s something I haven‟t reallybeen doing much of. And then I also – I just wanted to try out thosethings and see how they actually felt when you went through a fewsets on them. I do have a little bit of a strong opinion that they‟reprobably not all that great for sports performance. As a matter offact I know they aren‟t and they don‟t burn that many calories andthey really don‟t do a lot for you unless you are practicing to have ababy or engage in the process of making that baby happen. Butunless you‟re really trying to improve your performance in thoseareas, there are probably better ways to train your legs. Anywaysspeaking of the triathlon offseason for you triathletes out there, inthe Shownotes to this podcast number 71, I just published thehealthy triathlete offseason seminar. It‟s called Get Fit Or Get Fat,and it‟s a 70 minute audio seminar taken from a lecture that I gavea few weeks ago and I am putting that up on the Internet, availableto you, pretty much only on the Shownotes to this podcast. But it‟son special for four bucks this week. Meaning that you log in and youhave full access to the complete 70 minute seminar that tells youexactly how to swim, how to bike, how to run, how to crosstrain andif you‟re so inclined how to play basketball and work out on thepregnancy machines. But basically it gives you exactly what youneed to know to get faster this winter if you‟re a triathlete. Or toprepare for your first triathlon, if it‟s something you‟ve never donebefore but you want to know what type of things you should bedoing this winter to actually get your body ready. Because what itcomes down to is you aren‟t really supposed to be doing traditional
  2. 2. swimming, biking and running workouts this time of year. Thereare some better ways to be spending your time and I tell you how inthat seminar. In the nutrition and fat components. So check thatout, that‟s in the Shownotes. And we have a really interestinginterview today about electrical muscle stimulation and whetherthat works for everything from burning fat to healing injuries fasterto improving your performance and making the muscles stronger.You‟re going to find out what works as far as electrical stimulationgoes and what doesn‟t, and who actually needs to avoid it. We‟vealso got a bunch of Listener Q and As, a few special announcementsbefore we get to those Listener Q and As. So let‟s go ahead and jumpright into those.This week‟s first Listener Q and A regards a post that I made to theBen Greenfield Fitness podcast called If You Could Eat TheEquivalent of a Steak in One Pill, Would You? Because when I wentdown to Clearwater, Florida a few weeks ago, I met with a doctorwho I happen to know. He works out of a place called the LifeworksWellness Center and showed me this patented product that he hadcalled MAP which stands for Master Amino Acid Pattern. And it‟sbasically this pill that‟s full of protein. Very dense protein sources.Different than protein powder. It‟s an actual amino acid. So youtake a protein powder, you take all the tiny little amino acidbuilding blocks out of that and that‟s what MAP is. So it‟s a very,very dense source of amino acids and I interviewed the doctor aboutit and put a video up on the blog that you can go over there andview but Listener Patrick wrote in.Patrick asks: Ben, I have a question regarding MAP, the product you featured aswell as your most recent post on‟ve seen the product advertised in magazines for some time nowand have always been interested in its potential benefits. On arecent trip to the local health food store I saw several differentamino acid supplements, all costing between $12-15 for a month‟ssupply. What‟s more, they all claim a serving size to be 2-3 pills andcaution use of more than 4-6, compared to MAP„s 20-30 per daydepending on age, size, diet and exercise load. What are yourfeelings on MAP vs. other amino acid replacement supplements?Is MAP the clear winner across the board? And does it justify the$50 + shipping price tag?”Ben answers: So if you go to the MAP website they talk about how it has what‟scalled 99% net nitrogen utilization. And what that indicates is theamount of absorbable protein that‟s in that amino acid tablet. So ifwe compare that 99% to the other dietary proteins and protein
  3. 3. supplements that are out there, that they went through and testedin the lab, those were found to be 16 to 32%, about anywhere from24 to 96 times lower than what is in MAP. Now, the idea behindamino acid mixtures that are sold everywhere is that if they have anitrogen utilization rate like that, that‟s very low. And especiallyanything under 20%, that means that the product doesn‟t getturned into a protein in your body. Okay? It gets turned intoessentially what amounts to carbohydrate plus nitrogen waste. Sowhat the Master Amino Acid Patter product is, is they‟ve actuallypatented this process of having all eight essential amino acids inthere and in the correct ratio at a high quality pharmaceuticalgrade. At a very, very high net nitrogen utilization. So the reasonthat the other supplements tell you not to take more than 3 or 5capsules per day is if you took more than that, because so much ofthe nitrogen doesn‟t get utilized and instead gets released into yourbody and causes kidney damage, gets converted into carbohydrate,they have to warn you not to take that much. What I‟ve been doingwith the MAP, because I bought a bottle back from Florida is I‟vebeen taking 10 after a workout just to ensure that my amino acidlevels get a little bit higher. Now, other than MAP, the only otherproduct I‟m aware of – and I‟m not sure of the studies that havebeen done on this one – the only one for which I‟ve seen studieshave been the MAP is a product from Bioletics. You all rememberthat was the company that I got laboratory testing done on myselfto actually find out if I was deficient in essential amino acids. Andthey have essential amino acids in a powder form. So the MAPproduct is a little bit different. It‟s in a tablet form. But essentiallywhat it comes down to is the reason that you have to take so few ofthe other products and the reason that they‟re so cheap, more orless, is because they have a very low net nitrogen utilization. Andthat‟s the defining characteristic of the MAP. So I‟ll put a link to thepost that I wrote about it, to the video and to the product itself inthe Shownotes. It actually comes right out of there at the Floridalocation. So moving on to another question from Amie. She says – Iguess this is another protein oriented question.Amie asks: I wondering what your thoughts are on a high protein diet. I amnot referring to the Adkins. There has been some “buzz” (again)about high protein diets. The suggestion for a typical day is oatmealw/protein powder and soy milk for breakfast, then mid morningprotein shake, 2 slices of whole grain bread w/thick layer of organicmeat, no mayo and veggies and then salad or steamed vegetablewith brown rice and lean organic meat for dinner. The day‟s snackssuggestions are raw veggies and/or fruit or raw almonds. I haveheard mixed feedback on whether this is an ideal lifestyle choice. I
  4. 4. recently heard too much protein regardless of the combining withcarbs can be toxic, is that true? And, will excess protein pack on thepounds?Ben answers: Let‟s first address the first part of your question about too muchprotein and whether or not that‟s toxic. Yes it is. What happens isthat if you‟re taking in too much protein – for a lot of people thatcan be anything above about 40% of your caloric intake, it can causea buildup of what are called ketones which are the proteinbreakdown products. So what these ketones do is they essentiallyput your kidneys into overdrive because your kidneys have to flushketones from your body. So your kidneys are getting rid of theseketones and the way that they‟re doing that is they‟re flushing themout with water. So you not only feel this toxic load from the ketonesand your kidneys having to work overtime, which is bad for yourkidney but you also get dehydrated. So you feel weak or dizzy. A lotof times you have bad breath. Your breath kind of smells likefingernail polish. It‟s what‟s called a ketogenic breath. And that canhappen in a high protein diet, especially one that‟s high in proteinand void of actually using that protein in exercise and void incarbohydrates. So in terms of what you can actually utilize forprotein, for a non-athlete, right around 0.3 to 0.6 grams of proteinfor every pound that you weigh is fine, is adequate. Now I knowthere are a lot of athletes listening to this show and I got to tell youthat most of the athletes that I coach and most of the meal plansthat I write – and not only the athletes that I coach, but anybodywho I have exercising a lot – whether that be to burn fat or improveperformance or put on lean muscle, we‟re up around 0.8 to 1.2grams of protein per pound of body weight. I wouldn‟t put asedentary person on that, but someone that‟s constantly breakingdown their muscle and exercising, they can do that and they‟re notgoing to get necessarily a protein toxicity. Although you do need tomake sure that you are drinking a lot of water and staying hydratedand also being aware of the fact that you need to continue to take oncarbohydrates that your body doesn‟t operate on protein as a fuelvery well. That leads to the second part of your question. Can excessprotein pack on the pounds? Well, there is a process calledgluconeogenesis. And what gluconeogenesis is when your bodybreaks down its own protein or breaks down protein and turns itinto blood sugar to be used as fuel, or as we mentioned in theprevious question, breaks down nitrogen, converts it intocarbohydrate. You‟d have to be eating a lot of extra protein in orderfor all that extra protein to be converted into sugar and then beconverted into fat. What you should be more worried about is thesaturated fat levels or any other amounts of fat that you might be
  5. 5. getting in along with those proteins, because if you‟re relying on alot of dairy foods, egg, cheeses, etc. for your protein intake, thenthose come along with fat that can add up quite quickly, calorically.Now the sample meal plan that you gave me. That sounds fine. Iwouldn‟t consider that really a high protein diet because you‟ve gotoatmeal in the morning and soy milk has carbohydrates in it andthe whole grain bread that you mentioned has carbohydrates in it,and all that is fine. That‟s really what I‟d consider to be more of apaleo diet or just a diet that consumes almonds, nuts, seeds,vegetables, small amounts of fruit, limiting bread, limiting starchintake. That‟s fine. That‟s what I consider to be what‟s called a lowglycemic index diet and those types of diets have been associatedwith not only better weight loss but also better overall health.Reduced risk of chronic disease. So, you need to just make sure thatif you‟re doing the calculation, counting calories, try not to exceed1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight or try not to exceed40% towards your intake.Miguel asks: I have bought your book “Holistic Fueling for Ironman”. I findthat you are really capable to change people‟s views about Powerbarand other brands that only care about profit. (I never said thatabout Powerbar in the book Miguel. All I said was that they havegenetically modified wheat in their products and a lot of other stuffthat I list in the book. But Miguel goes on.) When I drink milk or eatwhole wheat bread, one to two hours after when I head to a runmost of the times I have GI distress. Does that mean that I haveallergies to cow milk or wheat/gluten products?Ben answers: It could mean one of two things, Miguel. The first is you could havea lactose intolerance which is different than an allergy. So an allergyto the proteins and cow‟s milk is going to be a little bit differentthan lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is going to cause GIdistress. It will cause bloating, gassiness and can be controlled bysimply supplementing with a lactose based enzyme that helps youbreak down the lactose sugar. Something like… I think Beano haslactase in it. But there are lactose specific digestive enzymes thatyou can supplement with. The other thing you could do is fuel witha non-lactose based milk like a rice milk. Soy milk – I‟m not a hugefan of. Almond milk would be another good one. If it‟s an allergy,there are a lot of other symptoms that you can have. Everythingfrom the gas and the bloating but a lot more severe diarrhea,constipation, high cortisol levels which is kind of your body‟s stressrelease hormone. Low blood sugar which is called hypoglycemia.Low energy. Skin problems. Acne, chronic fatigue, really heavy legs.There are a lot of stuff that goes on when you are consuming a diet
  6. 6. that‟s high in allergies. I actually have a good primer on foodallergies and what they do to your body and a better way for you tounderstand food allergies and what happens with food allergiesover at my website If you goto, all that is is it‟s a non-food allergy basednutrition program that I‟ve designed and if you just go read thewebsite – you don‟t have to buy the book but just go read what I‟vewritten on the website, it gives you a really good introduction tofood allergies. But the short answer to your question is yes. That canindicate food allergies but it can also indicate something as simpleas a little bit of lactose intolerance. For me personally, it‟s not an allor nothing approach. I can handle a certain amount of dairyproduct and wheat product per day before I personally start to getGI distress. I can get the equivalent of about a small container ofyoghurt, like a cup of yoghurt and about one to two slices of bread.If I do any more wheat product or any more dairy product than thata day, that‟s when I usually start to have issues. If I‟m getting readyfor a triathlon or something like that, I completely avoid those foodgroups that entire week.Lisa asks: Just wanted to write in with a question of my own this week. It hasto do with running gear. What are your thoughts on barefoot andminimalist running shoes? Out here in Southern California, there‟sbeen a lot of hype lately about barefoot running and minimalistshoes, such as Vibram Five Fingers. (For those of you who don‟tknow what Vibram Five Fingers are, those are the shoes thatliterally you pull them over your feet. They fit over your toes andthey look like a barefoot shoe. They kind of spread out your toes.They‟re interesting. ) Barefoot enthusiasts claim that the mostnatural way to run is barefoot because the foot naturally knows howto land in order to be most efficient at running. Shoes, they say, areto blame for a lot of running injuries because they force the foot todo something that it‟s not supposed to do, like excessive heelstriking. Do you have any experience with barefoot running orrunning in something like Vibram shoes? I typically train in veryminimalist shoes like Nike Frees or racing flats and just got a pair ofVibrams. I‟m trying to figure out the best way to incorporate theminto my workouts.Ben answers: Well I have two thoughts Lisa. The first is that this is probablyenough to fill an entire podcast. The idea of barefoot running. Iknow lots of people have written books on it. Lots of people havedone audio or video programs on barefoot running. I personally inmy own workouts during the warmer months when I have access toa grassy park or a softer surface area of terrain, will go out and do
  7. 7. some barefoot running repeats on that surface. However, if youcome at this from the caveman approach and you say that the footnaturally knows how to land or to be more efficient at running, yeahthat‟s true. But is our natural running surface asphalt and concreteand glass and all the other type of nasty things the foot is going tobe exposed to if you‟re constantly running barefoot? The answer isno, and that‟s where the Vibram shoes come in. They do give youpadding against that and then you ask the second question, well isthe natural running for humans supposed to be running 26.2 milesor pounding away 10 miles on asphalt? And I‟m not convinced thatbarefoot running is going to protect you against the type of stressfractures that are associated with that type of – what you wouldalmost call unnatural exercising. Yeah if you‟re out farming on grassand dirt all day and you‟re wearing the Vibram Five Fingers andyou‟re not pounding the pavement, sure that‟s one thing. But ifyou‟re a runner who‟s running regularly, who‟s training for amarathon or a triathlon, it‟s my opinion that barefoot running doesexpose you a little bit more to the elements and put you at a higherrisk of not only injuring your foot but also getting a stress fracture.So I‟d be cautious with them. If you‟re going to switch over to them,do so very gradually. And then the other thing is I have a friend. Hisname is Tellman Knudson. And Tellman is running across theentire country right now, barefoot. He‟s made it about as far as Ohioand he started a couple of months ago. Here‟s what I‟m going to doLisa. Next week, I‟m going to call up Tellman while he‟s running,which I‟ve done a few times. I‟ve talked to him and it‟s kind of funnybecause he‟s running along and talking at the same time. He has acell phone and he‟ll shout “ouch” when he steps on a rock, but I‟llinterview him. I‟ll give you guys about a 10 to 15 minute interviewwith Tellman and we‟ll talk with him about what he‟s experiencedrunning barefoot and I can tell you right now, he just came off a twoweek hiatus from running barefoot across the country based ondoctor‟s orders to stop. Now he‟s back at it. But we‟ll get aninterview with Tellman and we‟ll give that to you sometime in thenext couple of podcasts. Probably podcast 72 or 72. He‟s a veryentertaining guy. If you go to his website,,very entertaining and interesting guy.Corey asks: I enjoy your podcast and find it very informative, I have a questionabout nutrition during an Olympic distance triathlon. This distanceusually takes me around two hours to complete depending on thecourse and I normally don‟t eat anything during the event andfinish ok so I guess I can store enough fuel to get through two hoursof racing but would there be any benefit to eating anyway andtopping up during the bike leg?
  8. 8. Ben answers: Yes. There would be. Even though most males are going to havearound 2000 calories or storage energy, most females around 1500calories of storage energy and most people will… they‟ll burnthrough that towards the end of an Olympic distance race. Thereare benefits to keeping your fuel stores topped off. When you havehigh blood sugar levels or when you have caffeine levels, either one,it decreases your rating of perceived exertion. What that means isthat exercise feels easier and you can push yourself harder whilefeeling less pain. So even if physiologically you don‟t need the sugar,mentally your brain likes that feeling of knowing that sugar is onboard. As a matter of fact, they did a study on cyclists who savedover 60 seconds in a 40 kilometer time trial, that‟s a little over 26miles biking hard and they were simply flushing out their mouthwith the sugary product. They weren‟t even swallowing it. So thatshows you how powerful the presence of sugar can be to your brainduring exercise. You‟re doing something like an Olympic distancetriathlon. Now what I personally do is I don‟t eat anything duringthe run of an Olympic distance triathlon. I have a little bump inblood sugar, typically like an espresso flavored gel right before theswim to give me both caffeine and sugar and then I‟ll eat theequivalent of about 300 calories on the bike. Sometimes a little bitless than that and I‟ll try and make sure all those calories or themajority of those calories come on the bike before I‟m even halfwaythrough it. So I don‟t have any calories bouncing around in mystomach or not much bouncing around my stomach when I get tothe run. So, ultimately it can help you quite a bit.Chuck asks: I watched a movie the other night called “Fat Head.” Essentially, itis a response to the movie Supersize Me, but instead, this guy showshow he lost weight on a McDonald‟s diet. Not by eating purelysalads, but by eating the real foods just not gorging himself. Thefilm is somewhat tongue in cheek, but what I really foundinteresting was the research he did and his interviews with doctorsconcerning the intake of saturated and regular fats. His main focusbecame to avoid highly processed carbs later in the day, forexample, a double cheeseburger for dinner, but no additional sideslike fries. At the end of his “diet” he had actually lost weight andhad healthier cholesterol and body fat levels. Obviously, I won‟trecap everything in the movie, but I was wondering if you had seenit, and what your thoughts on it were?Ben answers: Then he goes on, tells me to get it from NetFlix. I‟m not a NetFlixmember. The reason I‟m not a Net Flix member is because then Iwould watch movies just to use my membership. So I‟m not anNetFlix member. And he moves on and he has another part of his
  9. 9. question. Let‟s answer this Fathead question first. The idea is that ifyou‟re looking at fats, there‟s not a lot of credibility to the idea thatwhen you avoid animal fats or you consume a low cholesterol diet,you reduce your risk of heart disease. And one of the things that youcan look at is that the consumption of animal fat in the Americandiet – a lot of it due to us becoming more “aware” of the dangers ofcholesterol or saturated fats has plummeted in the past century, butat the same time our level of cardiovascular disease has gonethrough the roof. So in 1910, the average person consumed about 18lbs of butter a year, and now they consume closer to about 3 lbs.We‟ve cut our fat consumption way down but we‟re still having a lotof chronic disease and a lot of cardiovascular disease. At the sametime we‟ve brought down the animal fats and we‟ve brought downour cholesterol intake, what have we replaced those with? Vegetableoils, more processed fats like what you find in crackers and cookiesand the Starbucks bakery case, shortening, refined oils and ofcourse refined sugar. Higher carbohydrates like the fries that youtalked about. And there‟s really not any studies that have shownbetween a direct link between natural fat consumption and heartdisease. And if you look at all these cultures that are lasting longerand living healthier than us like the Mediterranean cultures, theJapanese… they all have lots of rich saturated fats in their diet likebutter and cheese and eggs and fish and meat. And even the Frenchhave high fat sauces but all those cultures, they have a lower rate ofcoronary artery disease than we do here in America. And it soundslike the guy who did the Fathead movie is on the right track becausethe big issue with cholesterol is not necessarily the naturalcholesterols that you get from natural fats. Yeah, natural fats arevery calorically dense and you need to be careful if you don‟t wantto gain weight not to eat too many of them, but what is moredangerous to us are the vegetable oils that have very, very highamounts of free radicals which are more damaging to the bodiesthan the natural fats that we consume like butter or coconut oil orgently treated olive oil. And then the thing that all refined sugarshave is what‟s called a very small low density lipoprotein form ofcholesterol and this very small what‟s called oxidized cholesterol iswhat is responsible for creating inflammation in the arteries. Andwhat scientists and what the medical profession is discovering to agreater and greater degree is that it‟s the small oxidized cholesterolthat‟s a bigger issue, that‟s a greater threat to us when it comes toheart disease and overall health when compared to the saturatedfats. And so, yeah if you were eating at McDonalds and you wereeating what I guess would be considered more of the proteinMcDonalds diet and staying away from a lot of the refined sugars,then you‟d be okay. There are other issues. The hormones in the
  10. 10. meat, the antibiotics, the bun, some of the sauces that are on there.But technically, yeah the guy in Supersize Me probably did moredamage to his body on his 30 day or 40 day McDonalds diet fromthe French fries and from the carbohydrates than he did from themeats and the saturated fats. So, let‟s see. Good book, even thoughwe‟re doing an interview on essential fatty acids and fats here in acouple of weeks, a good book would be one called Fats That Heal,Fats That Kill by a guy named Udo Erasmus. That‟s a great bookthat talks about fat and there are other books out there that kind ofgo over some of the stuff that I just mentioned. But the whole ideais that natural fats are definitely not as big an issue as the factoryprocessed fats or the refined sugars. So good question Chuck, andthe second part of your question, you say…Chuck asks: My other, short, question is about the triathlon dominatorpackage. You say it‟s the a great plan for people who have jobs, orstill want to have a life and not neglect loved ones while they trainfor Ironman. But for those who might actually have the extra time,is this still the best training method? In other words, if an athletehad infinite time in their day to train, would this still be the bestplan, or would that vary?Ben answers: You know what, I hate to say this because obviously it‟s a product Icreated and I profit from the sale of the Triathlon Dominatorpackage, but no it wasn‟t created for the person with infinite timeChuck. If you have infinite time, if you‟re able to roll out of bed andjust do what you want all day and train all you want and you don‟thave a family and maybe all your friends are athletes too so they‟retraining with you – there are other ways to train. More along thelines of the way a professional triathlete would train. More hours,more time spent training, more time that you‟re able to devote torecovery. We‟re talking about being able to train four hours or fivehours or six hours a day. Yeah that‟s not the person that theTriathlon Dominator package is created for. It was created for theworking Joe or Jill who has a family, who wants to still be able to doan Ironman triathlon or the person who is not a pro triathlete butwants to get faster at Ironman triathlon and maybe have an hourand a half a day that they‟re able to train, or maybe two hours a dayor maybe a few extra hours on the weekend. If you have unlimitedtime to train, go to my coaching website. I‟d love to coach a personwho has unlimited item to train. Because that‟s about 1% of thepeople I work with right now. That‟d be a blast, to just be able to tellsomebody okay go out and ride your bike for six hours today. Havefun. Call me when you‟re done. My coaching websiteis So go ahead and visit that Chuck and look me
  11. 11. up. If you have infinite time to train, I‟d love to give you someworkouts.Paul asks: I love the podcasts which I discovered about five weeks ago. I„mnow enjoying my 40 minute drive to work for the first time in yearswhile I trawl through the podcast archives. The first thing I do as Iswitch off the engine is jot down all the changes I‟ll make to myprotocols then I check your Shownotes. (That‟s great. That‟s why Iput them up there.) Anyway on to my question… having read someresearch about glutamine and creatine supplements, I bought some.I take one teaspoon of each once a day with juice. I‟ve been“loading” one month on and one month off. During each on cycle Ihave developed an episode of cramping on the outside of each shinwithin 10-15 days. Is it possible that these supplements are causingthe cramps? It‟s not something that I suffer regularly and this is myonly change to my routine in these months. Having listened to theMagnesium Miracle podcast I know this is something I really doneed to be taking. Keep up the great work Ben, and thanks formaking a difference to my running and well being in general!Ben answers: Well Paul, there‟s not a lot of evidence that glutamine could causeyour cramping. That‟s great that you‟re taking magnesium. But ifyou‟re cramping is creatine related which it probably is, it‟s going tocome to actually looking at the type of creatine that you‟re taking in.So the whole idea is that the cramping that you get withconventional creatine powders is caused by what‟s called creatininewhich is what‟s produced in your body when it breaks downcreatine. So the theory is that when creatine – any type of creatine –is exposed to the acidic environment in your stomach where there‟sall that acid, the acid actually breaks down the creatine anddegrades it to creatinine before the creatine actually gets absorbedinto your body. Okay? So you‟ve got these high levels of creatinineand what that does is it draws water from the muscle to dilute thecreatinine. So the same type of thing we were talking about earlierwhere your body has to – when you take in a low quality proteinsource – it has to bring more water into the kidneys to help it filterout all the nitrogen byproducts, is the same thing with thecreatinine that occurs from the breakdown of creatine. So that‟s alsowhy people tend to conserve water or put on anywhere from five…some people put up to 10 lbs of water weight when you takecreatine, is to make sure that your body has enough water on boardto be able to dilute that creatinine. Okay? So what you would needto do and this is what I personally ended up doing, because I hadthe same problems when I used to bodybuild, and I had to researchall this myself and find out why it was happening and what I needed
  12. 12. to do – you need to find a creatine source that will not get brokendown in the acidic environment of your stomach. So you need to getthe creatine into the less acidic environment of your small intestinewhere it gets absorbed without being converted into creatinine soyou get less water taken out of your muscle so you don‟t get thecramping that‟s occurring from dehydration at the muscle level. So,what is available now in creatine sources is called an Enteric CodedCreatine. And the enteric coding on creatine actually allows it tobypass the acidic environment of the stomach before beingdegraded in the small intestine. So the product that I use, theenteric coded creatine product that I use is called Cre02, and that‟sput out from a company called Millennium Sports. I‟ll put a link tothat in the Shownotes Paul. But the glutamine should be fine. Thecreatine, I‟d consider making that switch.Clay asks: I have purchased your Triathlon Dominator package. I have set agoal for a half Ironman next summer, and am currently three weeksinto it. I enjoy the depth of information as well as the thoroughworkouts spelled out from day to day. It is exactly what I need tostay focused and motivated. There is, however, a few timesthroughout the 36 weeks that I will be on vacation, out of thecountry, away from my bicycle or pool for up to 10 days at a time.What are your suggestions for maintaining training intensity whenyou cannot logistically maintain the training plan> How do youadjust your training when you know you will not have access to acycle or pool?Ben answers: So great question, Clay. Let‟s address the pool part first. Whenever Itravel, I take an elastic band with me, just like a simple portableelastic band. You can put that around the bed post in the hotelroom, around a stairwell or whatever. You can face towards theobject that the elastic band is attached to, and you can actually do arowing type of motion. So if I‟m at a hotel, I try and do this in frontof the TV and I‟ll just row during the program when I‟m watchingthe TV and then I‟ll turn around and I‟ll push the opposite directionduring the commercials. So you can go back and forth like that. Andif you‟re using an elastic band, you can do literally hundreds of repsand simulate a pool workout. You‟ll finish and your shoulders andupper body will feel much like they do after you finish a swimworkout. Yeah you don‟t get quite as much of the cardiovascularstimulation but if you throw in a few sets of jumping jacksthroughout, it‟s a great kind of swim-based dry land strengthtraining workout and that‟s one that I do quite often. It soundssimple but it works. And the nice part is that you‟re facing towardsthe television or whatever you‟re looking at so you can stay
  13. 13. entertained while you‟re just standing there rowing and then youcan get the presses in facing the opposite direction when theprogram is on that you‟re not quite so concerned about. So as far asthe bicycle goes, that‟s tough but stair climbing is probably the bestactivity that you can do. One thing I‟ll do when I‟m travelling,whenever I can take the stairs, I do. If I can find a stadium and runto it and do stadium stairs, that‟s a great alternative to a cyclingworkout. If I‟m at a hotel or motel and there are stairs, I can do stairrepeats. The other thing I‟ll do is if you‟re really limited on space islunge jumps where you get down in a lunge position and you jumpand switch legs to an opposite lunge position, and you can do fivesets of 2 minutes of lunge jumps. When you do that you‟re going tofeel like you rode your bike for about two hours. So that‟s one of thekeys. If you‟re going to do a substitute for bicycling, typically a highintensity for the legs that make the legs bend a little bit more thanthey would when you‟re running, is a great alternative tomaintaining some of that strength and cardiovascular intensity forbicycling. And then in a pinch, you can always use a recumbentbicycle station or a bicycle at a hotel. I do that all the time because Itravel a lot and speak and I‟m stuck a lot of times without my bikeor without a pool. You just learn to make do. But those are twothings that I do. The elastic band and then lunges or stairs. So, andthen running of course is easy. You can run just about anywhere.And then the final question is from Listener Eric and Eric says… it‟s not aquestion. It‟s a comment, and I wanted to put this in there.Eric writes in: I just posted this on Facebook – but I wanted to write to let youknow that thanks to the Ironman Dominator Plan, I have alreadyshaved off 10 seconds on my 100 meter T pace in the pool – from1:48 per 100 meters down to 1:38. That‟s in only 5 weeks in and afull 7 minutes off my anticipated Ironman swim!Ben answers: Congratulations Eric. So yeah just wanted to put that in there. I likeit when people write in and they tell me that the program that Iwrote is actually working. That‟s what I want to hear. So anyway,those are this week‟s Listener questions and remember if you have aquestion, write in Let‟s go aheadand go on to this week‟s interview on electrical stimulation devices.Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I‟vegotten several requests to talk about whether or notelectrical stimulation devices actually work, what theyare, what the science behind them is and if they can beused in the way that they‟re advertised for either
  14. 14. performance or recovery or even in some cases enhancingfitness. So, I have somebody on the other line who hasquite a background in the use of and understanding ofthese electrical stimulation devices. His name is DavidMarkovich and he is basically going to tell us right nowabout his background and his history with the use of thesedevices. So David, thank you for coming on the line.David Markovich: Oh you‟re welcome. Thank you.Ben: So, tell me a little bit about how you came to be familiar withthese?David Markovich: Well, electrical stimulation in the physical therapy realm is verycommon. Physical therapists who go to school are trained indifferent modalities including ultrasound, heat, massage, differentmodalities like that and of course electric stimulation is one of themodalities that we learn in school. Everybody knows aboutelectric stimulation. If you just even Googled it, you‟ll see that itdates back to way back to I think the 1930s even, if my memoryserves me correct. So electric stimulation has really been aroundfor a long, long time. Of course it‟s used in different types ofvenues. But in a physical therapy realm, it‟s been used a long timeand of course since time has gone on and technology hasadvanced, of course clinicians have found better ways to useelectric stimulation and of course they‟ve learned how it helps thebody and the results it gives the body in terms of recovery, tissuehealing and muscle healing.Ben: So, at a muscular level, what actually happens? When I take one ofthese devices and I‟d like you to tell me about how I wouldactually hook an electric stimulation device up to my body – butwhat happens to my muscles when I hook one of those up?David Markovich: Well, probably one of the first things that people should realize isthere are so many different nomenclatures out there and termsyou hear. You hear TENS unit, electrotherapy unit, you hearmuscle electrical therapy unit. So, the nomenclature is somethingI think most people have to get straight. A TENS unit, typicallywhat most people know of is it‟s literally the size of a transistorradio. It runs on a nine volt battery. And a TENS unit… whichTENS stands for Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation, thatjust means electric therapy or electric current applied through theskin. An NMES, which is a neuromuscular electrical stimulation isa little bit different in that it actually stimulates muscle. A TENS
  15. 15. unit as we know of them do not. But when you think of what anNMES is, which is what sports guys use and things like that – aneuromuscular stimulation unit – in itself is also a TENS unitbecause it is transcutaneous or through the skin. So it‟s a TENSunit but now in how we know it. But most of it, we hear TENSunit… the small ones, it‟s given by doctors. People put them ontheir back. All they are is a small electrical current given by asmall battery which just sends a little stimulation to the skin. So ifyou have back pain, you put it on your back. It just sends electricalcurrent to the skin so that you feel in your body and that area ofpain senses the electrical current which is a slightly noxious typeof stimulation and all it‟s meant to do – a TENS unit – all it‟smeant to do is just stimulate the sensory pathways to the brain toflood them with this noxious little stimulation so that your brainwill not feel the pain. You only have so many sensory pathways tothe brain so if pain is taking up most of those sensory pathways…it‟s your brain and you‟re feeling pain in your back, if you apply aTENS unit to that area, it just will give the nerve pathwaysomething else to carry to the brain so the brain will not feel that.Now we get to somebody coming to your back and just rubbingyour back and that feels really good and it feels like the pain isgoing away but it‟s just your brain is sensing something different.So that‟s what a TENS unit does. Medically it does nothing.Physiologically it doesn‟t do anything. It just takes away the pain,just masks the pain. So your brain is sensing something else. Sowhen people who have chronic pain have that, and they get TENSunits, that‟s what it is. It doesn‟t cure anything and again, itdoesn‟t physiologically do anything. Now an NMES, again aneuromuscular electrical nerve stimulation, that is yourinterferential, your Russian spin which was used back in the dayDC Galbanick, there‟s also an alternating current stimulation –that is something that is deeper, it‟s a more advanced unit, it‟s abigger unit, works on bigger power and that actually stimulatesthe nerves, the muscle and depolarizes the muscle which cause themuscle to contract. So, TENS units I won‟t go into becauseobviously I just talked about that. We know what it is. Theneuromuscular units, those are typically the ones that are used insports facilities and neurological conditions – stroke patients,spinal cord patients, things like that. That is a neuromuscularunit. And typically what that does is stimulation is given the body.The machine itself, whatever type of machine it is has a particularwave form to it, has a particular current to it and it is modifiedsuch that it can depolarize the muscle, causing the muscle to fireand therefore getting a contraction in the muscle. So that‟s how anNMES or electric muscle stimulation works, which I believe is
  16. 16. what your audience is wanting to know about. How you apply it toyour body, whatever units you have and of course the units, Ben,are across the board in variation. Small ones, little bigger ones,little powerful ones. How you apply it to your body… the area ofpain, you apply typically one channel or two channels. Eachchannel typically is divided into two electrodes so each channelhas a pair of electrodes and you just apply it on the body to wherethe pain is in a particular area that usually someone or a doctor orsomebody can show you or even the companies who are providingyou the stimulation unit will show you in diagram how to connectto the paths in a picturesque type form. It is different when you‟redoing tendonitis as in actually doing a clinical diagnosis onpatients. There are actually specific spots of tendons, muscletendons that you want to stimulate when you are trying to cure aninjury such as tennis elbow, golfer‟s elbow, Achilles tendonitis andthings like that.Ben: So by producing a contraction, it seems pretty intuitive that itwould just increase blood flow to the area or help to reduceinflammation, assist with something like recovery. But wouldsomeone just put one of these on after a workout? Like directlyafter a workout? Would you sleep with something like this? Whatwould be the best way to use it for recovery?David Markovich: Since we‟re talking recovery, I‟m assuming we‟re talking aboutsports. We‟ll talk about sports medicine.Ben: Yeah, let‟s say somebody‟s going out on a long run and they haveone of these – what seem to be becoming more popular – like oneof these home units. They‟re not going to a physical therapist.How would they use something like that?David Markovich: Well how they‟d use it is again it depends on the type ofstimulation unit that it is and the reason it depends on it, becauseit depends on what it‟s going to do physiologically. I‟ll talk about VCare which is the company I‟m involved with and the electricstimulation unit that was developed by a NASA engineer and it‟sthe exact technology that was used on Christopher Reeve beforehe passed away. A lot of people saw him walking. They saw himwalking with that apparatus on his legs. That is the sametechnology and the same gentleman – Steve Petrosky of NASA –who actually designed that machine and he‟s also the one whodesigned our machine. I‟ll talk about that later. But your questionwas how somebody would use it. Depending on the stimulationunit, if you were a walker, you were a jogger and you came home –
  17. 17. even if you don‟t feel any pain, electric stimulation unit is great toput on those exact muscles, be it your quad muscles, be it your calfmuscles, whatever you may have, any kind of area of problem thatyou had previously. And using electric stimulation on that for 30minutes, each session could be 30 to 45 minutes, a couple ofsessions a day – that just helps to, as you said before, increaseblood flow to the area, increase profusion to the area, help to washaway metabolytes in that area. Using that in conjunction with iceor heat is also a great therapeutic benefit to muscles that have justbeen worked. It‟s been used quite extensively actually. In baseball,pitchers would actually use electric stimulation on their shoulder.Obviously it would be hooked up into strategic areas – the rotatorcuff of the muscle on the shoulder – and use electric stimulationon the muscles of the shoulder after they‟ve pitched along withsome ice and heat as well. So increasing profusion to the areaagain just helps to bring healing aspects to that muscle. Because, Ihope everybody knows that whether you walk or you run,whatever sporting event you partake in, when you get done you‟veactually got some small microtrauma to those muscles andtendons if you‟ve worked them hard enough. They may not benoticeable to you or to myself or to your brain, but your body doessense it. And that‟s where healing takes place. And electricstimulation – a specific type of electric stimulation – can enhancethat healing aspect.Ben: Now taking it a step forward, could something like this actuallyhelp with the fitness of the muscle or muscular endurance?David Markovich: I personally don‟t believe it can. I think from an injury standpointand from a recuperation standpoint of an injured tissue, I believeit does help. But once you‟ve got healthy tissue – I have not seenstudies that show that taking healthy muscle tissue and you canstimulate it can make it even healthier or stronger. Of course,back in the day many years ago, I remember Bruce Lee woulduse… if you‟ve seen this documentary on Bruce Lee, he would usemuscle stimulation on his pecs and stomach. And you‟ve seenthose gadgets that have been out there that show that you wearthis belt that has muscle stimulation on it, stimulating the muscle– that it actually will give you a six pack. I don‟t believe that istrue. I‟ve never seen studies that show that is true. And I think thereason why is because you need to use the body‟s resources, youneed to utilize the body‟s resources i.e. cardiovascular burningmuscle, sugar in order to get the effect of exercising. So from thehealthy muscle standpoint, I don‟t believe electric stimulation canactually enhance that. So if you were putting stimulation on a
  18. 18. healthy bicep and you stimulated that seven days a week for amonth, I don‟t believe you can have stronger biceps after that. Itjust doesn‟t work like that.Ben: Now as far as something like fat loss, and you mentioned puttingthe pads on your abs and getting a six pack, I guess I‟ve heardsome people say that you‟re increasing the heat or making thatmuscle produce just tiny little contractions that might heat it upand make the fat burn away more quickly. Do you put anycredence into a claim like that or have you seen that at all in yourprofession?David Markovich: I‟ve seen that and I‟ve seen those gadgets on TV where they showputting the stimulation on the belt, we‟ll call it, that I‟ve seen onTV. They‟ve got a thermal device there which shows the heat that‟sbeing generated in that area. The heat may be generated but itmay be more from a stimulation going in. you have to remembertoo that some stimulation – and since I work in the medical field– not all stimulation is good stimulation. If you‟ve got… and I‟llsidetrack for a little bit, if you‟ve got an injury, let‟s say an injuryto an abdominal muscle or any muscle in your body… if you applya particular stimulation to it and that stimulation is too noxious orit‟s too harsh, you‟re actually causing more of an irritant to atissue that‟s already irritated. That‟s the difference betweencertain stimulations. A lot of people, if they go to a therapist‟soffice or a chiropractor‟s office and they get stimulation on theirback while they‟re getting their back treated – generally they canonly keep it on for 20 minutes because it feels a little too harshand you want it off. That‟s the kind that you got to be careful of,because if you‟re trying to treat tissue you can actually cause anirritant to that area and do actually the opposite of what you wantwhich is to take the inflammation out.Ben: Interesting. So as far as muscular fitness, muscular performance,you‟re thinking more along the lines that you would use this toenhance recovery so that you could bounce back quicker the nextday and go into a workout, the same way that an ice bath mightwork or something of that nature?David Markovich: Yes, exactly. I agree. I think using muscle stimulation to the body,to certain areas of the muscles can help increase and enhancerecovery of that muscle, give you a little bit better recovery –shorter period of recovery time – so that when you go back todoing the next bout of exercises that you‟re wanting to do, some ofthat soreness is out of there and maybe a little bit better
  19. 19. performance. And that‟s exactly the sort of hypothesis that I‟msure pitchers use. And the reason they do that is because they‟rewanting to come back in rotation quicker and sooner. In fact, I‟mnot sure if it‟s been done but that would be just a fabulous study,to see if stimulating a pitcher‟s shoulder under a certain protocolcan actually bring a pitcher back in a sooner rotation. That wouldbe phenomenal for any baseball team.Ben: Yeah, and in my personal experience, E-stims has actually beensomething I‟ve used in conjunction at the physical therapist withice and ultrasound to actually really help me get over in this case aknee injury. But then also for some little aches and pains, Iactually had this VST unit at home for a few months and used thatoff and on. It really seemed to help as well just in terms of painreduction. I hurt my back once and used a little bit on that. Thereare obviously a lot you can do with it, but I think a lot of peoplemight not know how to actually get their hands on something likea home E-stim device. So can you go into that a little bit?David Markovich: Well, in the VST… I‟ll touch on that real quick since youmentioned the VST and you used it, the VST is a huge change intechnology and what Steve did, and I talked a little bit earlierabout the harshness or the noxious stimulation that you can getfrom a current. So what Steve Petrowski did was he tried todevelop a stimulation unit or current or a wave form that wouldmimic the body‟s wave form. Such that when the stimulation wasapplied, it would seem like a more natural stimulation applied tothe body. The body accepted it much better and the result of thatwas a more physiologic reaction. A more natural physiologicreaction. So what he did is develop this E-stim, the VST, with aparticular current, a rounded wave form of the current whichmakes it very comfortable, very accepting by the body – that‟s whyI think if you used it, you were told to use it for an hour. Did youuse it for an hour, Ben?Ben: Yeah it has this little time clock. I would usually use it for 30 to 60minutes while I was working on my computer or watching TV orsomething of that nature.David Markovich: That‟s why we keep it on for an hour, 45 minutes to an hour,because it is so comfortable to the body that the body accepts itand the longer it‟s on like that, actually the more benefit that youget and the longer the benefit will remain once it‟s taken off thebody. Although I mentioned to you that if you apply a noxiousstimulation to an already injured tissue, all you‟re doing is just
  20. 20. irritating the same tissue that‟s already irritated. The VST – whyit‟s so great in muscle healing and tissue healing – is because itapplies a natural non-noxious, non-harsh therapy to those injuredtissues, allowing for a naturally physiologic result bringing bloodflow to that area, helping to heal that tissue without irritating iteven further. That‟s where the healing aspect comes in so wellwith the VST and that‟s really what‟s been honed in on and what‟sbeen a trademark with the VST. I think the VST… we‟ve used it atthe University of Texas Football, I‟ve used it myself on the PGAtour on different players. We use it all over the place. I work for afoot ankle surgeon right now and two orthopedic surgeons. Weuse it on almost everything and anything that requires some tissuehealing. So the VST – that‟s just the crux of why I want to get outto your folks there about what kind of device that they get,because not every device is going to do the same thing. That‟s whyit‟s very important for them to be sure of the types of devicethey‟re getting. And typically if they‟re going to get a device that‟s$50, $60 or something like that, it‟s probably not the devicethey‟re looking for. Unfortunately, the devices that give you thebest therapeutic physiologic benefits of E-stim are going to beyour more expensive units that are generally just found inphysicians‟ offices, therapists or chiropractors‟ offices.Ben: Okay. So for somebody who wants to get their hands on a homeunit, how would they do that? Is this something that you wouldjust go to a…David Markovich: You could probably Google “electric therapy units” or even just goto your local hospital or local sports medicine physician and/orsports medicine physical therapy clinic and see what kind of unitsthey use. Because typically some of the manufacturers of thoseunits will also provide or also manufacture a smaller home unitthat can be purchased by individuals at home. Because of course,the units that clinicians purchase of course are multiple thousandsof dollars. So that would be my best advice to somebody. I do nothave specific units or machines that I use or that I wouldrecommend. Of course the VST is one that I‟ve been using for thelast five years, I wouldn‟t use anything else. Of course I‟m biasedto that because I know exactly what it is and what it does and I‟vetreated thousands of patients and gotten great results with it,especially in the sports realm. But that would be my advice to yourfolks. To either talk or consult with a physical therapist who‟s inthe sports medicine realm and see what kind of units they use. I‟msure that any orthopedic surgeon who sends their patients to aphysical therapy clinic – that that clinic is recommending certain
  21. 21. types of E-stim units for the patients at home. You could probablybet that those are probably good units and since they‟re rehabbingsurgeries, that they‟re getting the results that they want to get. Sothat‟d be my best case scenario in getting something that they‟relooking for. But in this type of thing, definitely cheaper is notbetter.Ben: Now kind of probably one of the most important questions andone of the last things I want to ask you today is there anybody thatshouldn‟t be using something like this? Is it something where youshouldn‟t use it if you have a pacemaker, if you have a heartcondition or anything of that nature?David Markovich: Yes, great question. Of course with any device like that, there arecontra-indications. Whether it‟s a small device or big device,anybody with a pacemaker should always contact theircardiologist and let them know what they‟re using, where they‟reusing it and how they‟re using it. It used to be that certain types ofpacemakers were a contra (inaudible) but for myself, no matterwhat type of pacemaker that person has, I make sure that Iconsult a cardiologist and get an okay. Even if they‟ve got apacemaker and are stimulating the toes or the feet or the calfmuscles, electric stimulation to the body will travel. You cannotcontrol where it travels too. So you definitely want to make sureyou‟re not disrupting any other electrical activity in the body suchas a pacemaker or a fibrillation type of device. So definitelypacemakers, consult your cardiologist first. The other thing withprofusions – since you‟re increasing profusions – you don‟t wantto have any type of infection going on in the skin and also withmyself, anybody who‟s undergoing any type of cancer treatmentor is in fear of any cancer treatment or any cancer going – I do nottreat anybody with that. I do treat cancer patients but that is onlyafter I‟ve gotten the okay from their oncologist, if they‟ve got acurrent cancer going on. But any type of cancer or cancertreatment going on, the person needs to finish that cancertreatment and then of course consult their oncologist on whatthey‟re going to do and where on the body they‟re going to use it.That said, any other skin infections going on, you don‟t want tospread any infection. If you have an infection in the skin area… ofcourse we‟re talking about where you‟re trying to treat. If you‟retrying to treat your calf muscle or ankle injuries and you‟ve gotany kind of skin ulcer or infection going on in the area you‟retrying to treat, do not do that. Make sure that is all healed firstbefore you do that. If you‟re treating anywhere on the leg from thehips to the legs to the thighs, feet, calf muscles – if anybody out
  22. 22. there has any history of blood clots in their legs, that‟s definitelysomething you want to consult your doctor for. Any blood clotscan be moved with electric stimulation to another place sodefinitely consult your physician if you‟ve had any history of bloodclots in the lower leg.Ben: So it sounds like the synopsis is recovery, yes. Performance – inthat enhancing recovery will enhance performance – yes. Fat loss,probably no. And then make sure that you don‟t get some cheapunit that doesn‟t actually work but invest the money and thenmake sure that you‟re not one of those people who shouldn‟t beusing it.David Markovich: Exactly. Like I said, behoove your folks to research the type ofstimulation units that will provide tissue healing which is whatyou‟re wanting and that is not just a TENS unit. So if it‟s runningon nine volt battery, folks, it‟s definitely not what you want. Thoselittle stimulators again are just TENS units and it‟s just giving youa little stimulation to trick your brain into feeling something else.So again, it depends on the application. It depends on whatthey‟re using it for but in our discussion, what you said… we‟retalking about tissue healing, recovery from sports and things likethat… definitely research which type of stimulation that theywould want to get. And again, there are interferential and thereare different units out there. For home units, I wish I was a littlebit more educated on what‟s out there in terms of home units so Ican suggest to your folks, but I hope I gave them a little bit betterbackground about what stimulation really does and how it canreally be effectively used.Ben: Absolutely. You did. Well I‟d like to thank you for coming on theline today, David, and for giving us the information about the E-stim. And this has been Ben Greenfield and David signing outfrom
  23. 23. For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’sfrom Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at