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See Ben Greenfield get his “brain mapped” and talk about what his personal fitness, peak performance, and biohacking tips and strategies are, and look at his Quantitative EEG for a suggestion of some brain performance targets.

Head First is an in depth conversion with thought leaders in the wellness space. Guests include entrepreneurs, fitness professionals, elite athletes, psychologists, biohackers, and out of the box thinkers.

Now welcome to head first with dr. Hill this is our video podcast with a weekly
release schedule and one of our first guests is Ben Greenfield fitness professional and bio hacker
extraordinaire so Ben and I have been talking for weeks trying to get him down to Los Angeles to do a quantitative EEG
a brain map and here he is in studio and so we’ll do that a little bit later on in the hour but first Ben why don’t you
introduce yourself and tell our listeners who don’t already know who you are who you are yeah absolutely I have
been trying for weeks and weeks and weeks to get to LA avoiding the traffic and finally made it down it’s tough yeah
so happy to be here and yeah I mean I’ve been in the fitness industry for the
past couple of decades um pretty pretty much started off in personal training
and then began to delve into nutrition Grand biohacking performance of not just
the human body but the brain digestion hormones sleep fat loss and what I do
now after being a personal trainer for about a decade is I now speak and I
write and basically do do the one-to-many thing in the fitness realm
but I’m pretty much obsessed with with helping people get better bodies and in this case brains great it’s wonderful
yeah Ben and I actually we spoke at the same event that we were we sort of had just you know yeah we we were just
offset in times I didn’t get to see it I think we were probably the least muscle-bound guys there we totally were are yeah I certainly was a real tiny
returner absolutely yeah well great so um you know I have ought to questions for you about all the things you do to
keep yourself healthy as well as your perspective on some of these you know biohacking strategies for both body and
brain health but we’re going to start off the the hour by gathering some brain data from Ben Greenfield so we’re going
to take a peek under the covers and look at your gray matter actually we’re not look at your brain itself we’re going at
the electrical activity that your brain is producing so as I’m sure you know
then we do something called quantitative EEG at peak brain and that means a brain
map or an assessment of resting baseline brain activity and for any viewers who don’t know a quantitative EEG is
essentially a it’s not really a diagnostic tool that the joke I tell is it’s a prognostic tool we get a sense of
what might be true about one person’s brain and this is a database compared analysis meaning that it’s not an
arbitrary clinical judgment I don’t look at your brain activity and say oh you have this kind of brain but instead I
take your brain activity and compare it to a normative database of several thousand people who all or
medication-free and caffeine free and by the way if my fingers cross all these thousands of people aren’t extreme geniuses or I’m
going to look really bad they are a normal variable of copulation I feel you’ll you’ll you’ll fall somewhere in there I assume and thank you for
updating from caffeine today one of the caveats of yeah hey you know yeah exactly kid it’s for folks don’t know it’s about 2:00 in the afternoon and
Benes caffeine free so he can have this quantitative EEG brain map done today so that was a sacrifice on his part I have
a date with Starbucks within about an hour and a half just so you know yeah there you go great so we’re going to start putting a dry cap I
recently switched in my clinic to using pure dry headsets when possible for quantitative EEG so we won’t get your
gray hair messed up too too much but I’m gonna have my technician Sean who’s in the background here stand up and we’re
going to start putting a brain map cap on qejy cap on this is a wearable
sensing dry cap DSi 24 for anyone that’s curious as you can see Sean’s starting to work
all these little tiny electrode heads down through Ben’s hair so normally when
you do an EEG of any sort quantitative or clinical you need to sort of
exfoliate little spots of scalp and spend about 10 20 30 minutes sticking a couple dozen wires to
people’s heads i exfoliate like that daily do you know are really pointy to 30 minutes we’re good and nice it really
soft scale that exactly that’s that’s great that’s great and so what Sean’s going to do he’s putting some your clips
on right now this will pick up Ben’s the electrical activity believe it or not in your ears ears are not electrically
neutral they do have a signal and we actually measure each spot on the head
relative to either other spots or to the ears and so after we have this data all
gathered we’ll have so two formats of data one of which is looking at every spot in your head
to the earlobe sort of a distant reference and the other way we look at the data is every spot on the head
compared to surrounding spots and this gives us a local emphasis on that data
you’ll take actually quite comfortable it’s not useless can I wear this home I
may be not that particular device a $25,000 headset yeah they’re going through the airport they are a little
pricey and you might get some weird looks in the airport and get sort of selected for a random search if you walk
around that thing in your head I would guess either that is if I check you into a hospital works for some of the x-men there you go well if you start
developing strange powers that I know I’m onto something yeah so nice so as Shawn’s doing this can take us with some
time to adjust each individual electrode head so he’s spinning them down this little metal pins under each electrode
and so on is sort of spinning them down through Ben’s hair and working the skin a little bit to have it sort of release
a little bit of sebaceous secretions or sweat and oil and that actually is what the kneecap uses to make the connection
I don’t sweat I glow you glow that’s right a healthy Young’s life so I took a
few minutes to get all the electrodes set up and make sure if good signals and we may have to have you you know so relax your muscles if there’s some
muscle tension I was going to say I feel as though immediately when the device is placed on my head I adopt an upright
posture that’s good I think it’s the awareness that there’s a very expensive thing on my head right it’s right it’s
not that heavy that right no no it was like a baseball cap yeah when we use wet caps are actually a lot more annoying
they’re sort of this swim cap lycra based swim cap with holes in it we have to squirt gel through about 21 holes in
the cap which ends up with a full head of electrode gel so for adults with average or not too big or too small
kinds of heads I use thank you system yeah there you go but as Sean’s getting set up let’s start
here more about your your perspective on some of these biohacking things so I know you’re a health and wellness
professional as you introduced earlier you have a long history doing these things I actually don’t know all the
details in spite I haven’t gotten your show once or twice and having talked to you a bunch I don’t really know your full perspective on things so I’m
curious first of all about diet I am a hardcore you know sort of paleo primal
a guy my linchpin in the peak brain derek is a hardcore plant-based guy and
we get along regardless of that actually I’m not a nice yeah I’m curious where you fall on the sort of you know high
fat low carb versus low carb high plant you know yeah where you got that’s kind of funny my podcast sidekick on my show
is a Australian female vegetarian okay I am a a red-blooded male meat-eating
hunter so I understand the tension that’s right but yeah I mean you know my
perspective and the reason that I haven’t written a book that has the word diet on it is that there is no one
perfect diet there are people who based on their genetics actually do quite well
it’s based on on methylation with a primarily plant-based diet versus a
meat-based diet and there are people who do better on macros that consist of higher amounts of fat versus higher
amounts of carbohydrate so what I like to do is start off with looking at
genetic individuality along with and this is the part that that I think some people ignore what that person is doing
from a performance standpoint because you can take someone and put them on let’s say we were to argue that that
like a ketotic diet where ancestrally appropriate for that person right like say eating thirty to fifty grams of
carbohydrate per day and that diet may work for something like let’s say managing epilepsy and seizures or
managing you know ms or something of that nature but you know then you take an Ironman triathlete or a Spartan racer
or a bodybuilder or a crossfitter and they try that same diet and even though
in the absence of their their what we could probably say would be unnatural physical goals mm-hmm that would be a
healthy diet in the case of what they’re actually pursuing it becomes a diet that restricts the gradually level of just
output of calories alimentos gross deprivation leading to hypothyroidism because you get inhibition of t4 to t3
hypercortisolism as cortisol surges up to mobilize glycogen from the liver
testosterone defects as you know the HPA axis gets down regulated from quick calories or an adequate
carbohydrate and so you know you can’t just look at what’s genetically appropriate you have to look at what is
appropriate from an activity standpoint do you think you can sort of ramp up the
the fat-burning metabolism to such an extent that very low carb diets can be maintained even with a high level of
athletic output you can as I was talking with a guy about this in the sauna this morning he’s preparing for this big
paddleboarding race down in Hawaii and he said well is going to help me to do a high fat diet leading up to this race
and I said well it can yeah like if you’re burning and burning a higher
amount of fats as a fuel if you are efficiently producing and utilizing ketones the byproduct of fat metabolism
and you have the mitochondrial density necessary to produce lots of ATP from
fat then absolutely that is that is a really good you know we could say like a nutritional bio ak4 let’s say like a
long endurance event like that the problem and this is it in you know and this is what the discussion led to in
the sauna this morning he said well great I’m in my race is in four weeks I’m going to start doing the coconut oil
and the MCT oil you know and avocados and you know you fattier cuts of fish and seeds and macadamia nuts and the
problem is that it takes one to two years to get the mitochondrial density and the adaptation to a fat based diet
to where it actually becomes a decent performance hack and is that a diet based adaptation over two years or
that’s a diet based adaptation that way there was a study at University of Connecticut and I was one of the subjects in this study where they took
one group of athletes and had them follow a very high 85 percent plus fat based ketonic diet for 12 months and
then they had another group follow a normal number that the Gatorade Sports Science Institute is currently
recommending you know 50 to 60 percent carbs 20 to 30% protein 10 to 30% fat
and what they did and they’ve never done a study this is this is the important part they’ve never done a study of that
length comparing a fat base to a carbohydrate based diet most of the studies are 4 to 12 weeks in length sure
what they looked at in that study in addition to things like gut microbiome the muscles ability to store glycogen
which is very painful by the way they stick a needle into the tissue and do a biopsy and take actual chunks of muscle out and
see if you’re still able to store carbs in muscle Wow the biggest part of the study there was a three-hour run on a
treadmill the fat group and the carbohydrate group what they found was that after 12 months of following a
high-fat katatak diet without too many cheats mm-hmm without too many errors made walking
past an Italian restaurant they found that the athletes following the high-fat diet were burning on average 1.7 grams
of fat per minute and what the what exercise physiology textbooks will tell
you is that the maximum amount of fat per minute the human body can oxidize is 1.0 grams of thumb in it so in essence
this study rewrote the textbooks when it comes to how much fat the human body can actually oxidize again with what got us
started down this path the caveat that you have to be following that diet for a pretty extended period of time and I
would not necessarily argue that a diet that high in fat is socially achievable
in many situations it’s tough to follow and I think you can get pretty good benefits from eating a higher amount of
fat again if that’s something ancestrally appropriate for you let’s say you’re not what ever sub-saharan
African or you know perhaps Southeast Asian you know or you come from a genetic heritage that might dictate not
eating that much fat but if you if you’re actually eating that amount of fat you could get away with close to
like 50 to 60 percent rather than like the 80s and 90% and I personally that’s what I do now like I eat about 50 to 60
percent fat I follow it would be called cyclic ketosis okay right where I stay
high fat most of the day I do lots of intermittent fasting I don’t snack I don’t graze and at the end of the day I
do a hard workout which up regulates the the glute for transporters responsible for taking sugar and shoving it into
muscle tissue so the pancreas doesn’t have to release as much insulin so sherbert doesn’t hang around in the
blood for as long a period of time and that’s when I will eat a higher amount of carbohydrate with the meal and then
so you’re essentially going to a higher carb state than at night when very very Aretha and I’ve done blood testing the
most prandial blood glucose testing and also testing breath ketone monitoring and
blood ketone monitoring and I found it takes about two to three hours you know after a post-workout meal comprised of a
little red wine beforehand sweet potatoes yams white rice quinoa amaranth millet sourdough bread you know whatever
it is that I’m eating not cherry tarts and pizza I I choose real foods but it
is it’s pretty amazing how quickly the blood sugar returns to normal when you use that strategy and do you think
eating your carbs at night is helping the sort of growth hormone release the pence to half and we sleep are your
price is always there there’s a couple of studies that show that influence sensitivity may peak at night based on
your natural circadian rhythm but for me the logic goes like this your your grip
strength your reaction time your body temperature your post-workout protein synthesis and all sorts of other things
peak between about 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. okay on the debt yeah based on your natural circadian rhythm because of this
I choose that time of day to do my hardest workout got the type of workout that would up regulate those glute 4
transporters and make me more shoulder sensitive sure if I were doing a workout like that in the morning I would
consider flipping the scenario and doing like a you know high carb breakfast a lower carb dinner there there’s a
gentleman I spoke with named John Kiefer who popularized a diet called the carb
backloading diet he argues that no matter when you do your hard workout you’re still going to be most influent
sensitive in the evening and that you’re going to get the most anabolic effect and the least say fat gain effect for
meeting your carbohydrates in the evening but I I’m not sure I’ve seen quite enough evidence to say that I for
sure if I were doing like a hard workout in the morning wouldn’t just shift my carbon take in the morning sure well the human body has a maximum ability to
absorb carbohydrates as muscle glycogen at about what 50 grams per hour max
right anything more than that anyway is going to be sort of defeating the equation right I’m guessing you aren’t
doing more than you know 50 yeah and then the other thing that’s important is for people who are concerned about you
know am I going to have enough glycogen or enough energy for the next day’s work out if I miss that – our post-workout
window f a morning workout what they’ve shown is that glycogen liver and muscle glycogen
levels will return to normal if you just eat according to appetite within about eight hours okay
and so you unless you unless you’re doing like a two a day workout let’s say you’re working out at 6 a.m. and then
again at noon and that that post 6 a.m. workout would be the workout after which
you’d really actually want to prioritize that that magical post-workout feeding window sure but in many cases you
actually get a little bit more of a growth hormone response by avoiding a heavy feeding post workout and instead
just you know basically waiting until your next meal or at least not walking out of the gym and stop on your way out
for the 20 ounce Jamba Juice right right or the you know in an upper right so okay great so I think we have the EEG
cap on and getting some good signals to be shown are we all good okay it’s mostly great the wool great I
note about to take me to the hospital yeah that’s right that’s right in Shawnee so I’m happy with it exactly there’s been no shock on Shawn’s face he
set you up so all right so we’re going to take a break on the camera for a second we need to have been due to baseline recordings so we’re going to do
about three to five minutes of eyes closed and three to five minutes of eyes open recordings and that’s the data we’ll analyze for your your map so we’ll
take a break now for the camera and we’ll be back in a moment okay so we found some brain activity Ben is alive
and it has some evidence of cognition going on up there that’s pretty awesome so Shawn going to take this cap off and
unlike the wet caps these things come right off and leave you without any evidence of having been assessed very
pleased to have not been found to be a vegetable that’s right I was a little concerned you definitely give a good
imitation somebody who’s cognitively intact so yeah yeah now I’m a good poser there you go and you can’t see yourself
Ben which have these little tiny dotted circles now all of your skin from me oh really yeah nice yeah those doesn’t go in a
female has to snapchat that there you go there you go great so I’m sure I’m going to process some data for us we can talk
about what we found in a few minutes but while he’s doing that you know I’m still you’re interested in your own
perspective as a biohacker what do you think about sleep I know
you’re a big fan of controlling sleep so to speak yeah I
definitely have thoughts on sleep by the way we were talking about nutrition before sleep and I have to mention the
fact that I don’t just think you look at genetics and macros I’m a huge fan of blood testing style very testing gut
testing urine testing to identify specific parameters that you need to
address so I’m a huge fan of dietary customization beyond things like methylation what sort of things come out
of that kind of data like well you look at bacterial balance in the gut presence of or absence of inflammation something
as simple as a blood vitamin D status cortisol testosterone free testosterone sex hormone-binding globulin all sorts
of things that could be affected by either lifestyle or by diet so you know
there’s a pretty extensive list of things that you can look at but ultimately I hate to see people you know
more or less wasting their money on supplements that someone told them they should take or a diet they’ve been told
is perfect for their genetics when there’s going to be other things that actually do need to be addressed that
you find out from blood you know just a basic blood panel or or a dried urinary
panel for hormones or a three-day gut panel for stool or anything else that in our day and age is not that hard to come
by in order to compare to how hard it was for the average person to get that stuff like 10 years ago absolutely absolutely
so sleep um yeah how do I like it how do you sleep I mean what is your sleep
routine like I mostly ignore incest I mostly princess so I use lavender essential oil and I’ll typically use a
cannabidiol a little bit micro dosing with melatonin a little bit of 5-htp
sometimes some holy basil before sleep and the reason for the lavender the holy basil is I have done that that dried
urine testing on that I produced lots of DHEA and good amounts of testosterone
but also good amounts of cortisol hmm and so I found that helps me being a
high cortisol you know I don’t have adrenal fatigue a lot of issues with zero Horsell deprivation for me it’s
more cortisol excesses so I’ll do that before bed I typically dial down the room temp
Church is somewhere between 62 and 65 degrees right great I’m fortunate in that my wife likes that temperature too
otherwise I’d get one of these fancy chili pads that were sleeping on now to cool their body as they sleep without
bothering their partner blackout curtains in the bedroom along with sleep mask and the sleep mask
is more often than not something I rely on when I’m at a hotel okay I want to walk into a hotel room I unplug the
television if the router is in the hotel room I unplugged that and plug anything that produces light the alarm clock and
in you know I don’t know if you’ve talked about this on your show before but you don’t just have photoreceptors
in your eyes down right in and so you want to make sure that the room is is as black as possible
I have roosters chickens okay children so I sleep with binaural beats and white
noise so I use a phone app right now I use one called sleep stream and I keep
my phone in airplane mode to keep it charged I plug it into a portable battery rather than the wall just to get
a little less dirty electricity or sure from your phone as you’re laying there at night and so I play the binaural
beats where the sleep masks diffuse the lavender keep things nice and cool and
those are some of the biggies and of course you know there are the things that everybody knows you know I don’t have to insult people’s intelligence
these days by talking about you know avoiding screens and keeping the bedroom for just sleeping sex and surveys or
things like that but yeah I highly value sleep and when I’m traveling when I
start my sleep routine in the morning meaning that I go out of my way if there is Sun to expose myself to large amounts
of blue light great morning great to jumpstart the circadian rhythm and I look gray or if I’m indoors at a
conference I will either use in ear light therapy a couple of buds that will produce light in your ear just looks
like you’re wearing headphones I use something called a human charger for that and is in the morning mm-hmm or
there is a there’s a set of glasses that produces a greenish blue wavelength
which is actually healthier and less damaging to the retina than these light boxes that allow people put on their
desks and that one’s called re timer so I’ll do either a lot lots of Sun is my preference because that’s the most
natural but if I’m at your conference or something like that I’ll did it any or the iPhone therapy to ensure that I am I’m not
getting me circadian rhythm that shifted too far backwards or too far forward so you can bind light presence in the
morning with light absence in the evening silence darkness cool and any relaxing relaxing
supplements and that’s why I sleep so those are two things will to some extent make up for variable and Trainmen you
know if you’re not sleeping enough or you’re running on a crazy schedule those things will sort of shore up the desire
of your brain to slide it’s Soto pretreatment past the Earth’s they do but but to happen how regularly are you
sort of a six hour of sleep night regardless or you know I’d it variable I’ll generally when I’m in a competition
phase because it’s going to vary we there are a professional athletes that that and they’ve done Studies on this
near they hit more free throws or they’re more accurate with their tennis or with nine to ten hours of sleep at
night but we’re talking about a professional athlete right we’re talking like five to six hours of training per day that’s a great deal of mental stress
measure oh sure I personally shoot for approximately thirty-five sleep cycles a
week okay so if you can get five sleep cycles for a 24-hour period yeah and a sleep cycle is going to be 60
to 90 minutes or longer I use a ream called an aura ring to track my sleep cycles and and you know any ring isn’t
isn’t going or any quantification device isn’t going to be as accurate as a sleep lab sir but I shoot for about thirty
five sleep cycles a week which means if I’m getting three or four sleep cycles because I’m at a conference or something
like that during the week on the weekend I’ll shoot for a couple of nights of six sleep cycles okay and be in bed for nine
hours oh yeah dude by the end of the week you should try to rack up right around thirty five sleep cycles now how
does this work with your me you have a wife how does your sleep and your partner sleep and affect each other is
she letting you sleep when you need to or we that we have a good relationship which means that if we are in bed at the
same time at night good things will often happen and ensue and so we generally the kids usually go to bed you
know 8:30 or 9:00 we’re usually honestly we’re in bed by like 9:30 or 10:00 okay and having been in LA the past few days
spending time with people who go to bed at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. it’s always a shock to my cycle when I step outside of my tiny home in the forest and realize that
not everybody acts like an old fuddy-duddy like me right right but I go to bed it was just based on on the
natural circadian rhythm and even that you know if you’ve been camping or hunting you know the body starts to get
tired about 8:30 and the complete absence of artificial light and so when I’m in those settings I’m an 8:30 p.m.
to 4:30 a.m. typing now when you’re in those sorts of settings do you ever experience the sort of middle period where you sleep for a few hours wake up
and have a reverie and go back to sleep – absolutely that’s a little more relaxed like if I’m hunting I do bow
hunting spot in stock and so I’m I’m hard all out during the day and typically sleep like a baby you have
night I don’t have that wake cycle but if it’s more of like a like a wild edible foraging or a little bit of
hiking something like that and then I’m sleeping at night yeah absolutely interesting so that could have potentially prehistoric if you will
naturally of sleeping without the light cues to push your onset back right
exactly and in granted you do have some light cues from from the stars and the moon and you know that’s certainly
something our ancestors would have experienced but bear in mind that that light that you’re experiencing in that situation is paired with the absence of
artificial light assuming you’re not on your cell phone all day in the woods it when you’re in a more of a wilderness
setting and so I would I would hazard a guess based on zero research that I’ve seen that in the absence of artificial
light you know the potential of non blue light at night is probably less sleep disruptive if you haven’t been staring
at screens okay absolutely great so all right let’s see what the questions I have for you here exercise
when you’re you know we’re both of course biohacker is I’m more in the brain side and you’re sort of in the
brain and body side but certainly have a long history as a physical trainer right so what is your own personal you know
workout routine when you’re not in competition mode we’re not trying to reach some special you know girl what is them the maintenance what is the keep
been healthy right I competed as an Ironman triathlete for a decade and I
was I was fast I didn’t race pro I race doesn’t amateur work okay and I was
consistently one of the one of the top amateurs I went and raced Hawaii Ironman World Championships every year and and
the reason I’m putting this in context is because I train about eight to ten hours a week before that I thought when
we know my peers were training for twenty five to eight hours a week but the kicker here is that I tweaked my
environment and still do tweak my environment to allow myself to be very physically active during the day mm-hmm so we’re talking pull-up bar in the door
of the office I’m heavy punching bag hanging next to the desk walking treadmill a stool that I lean against or
a little you know special foot pad that activates on my tiny foot and core muscles while I’m standing by the time
the day has ended you know I’ve taken 15,000 steps I’ve done 50 pull-ups I do
100 jumping jacks for every hour that I do spend inactive which is relatively rare but you know for example when I’m
traveling I do 40 squats every time I use the restroom so I have these little rules for okay so by the end of the day
I can do a very brief high-intensity exercise session like we described and we were talking about priming those
glute fortran’s poems and that’s like the cherry on top of the cupcake for
fitness if you’re competing if you’re not competing if you’re not an athlete you can you can almost do what I’ve just described but I like lift heavy things a
few times during the day like a few pull-ups or hit the heavy bag or keep a heavy kettlebell next your desk and pick
that up a few times or do some swings with it walk stay mildly physically active and just avoid a sedentary
position during the day and you can you can stay very fit and even as an athlete if you pair that with brief spurts of
heavier training or brief spurts of high intensity training you would be surprised at how fast and health fit you
can be without actually spending tons and tons of time in the trenches which leads to you know the problems that
people experience injury for training hypo cortisol ISM all that jazz and the the final caveat to that is of course if
you’re going to do an Ironman you’re going to a marathon there will be every once in a while those sessions that you
need to do that training how to mentally go long they train you how to use logistical e whatever fuel source you’re
going to use when you’re out there in your actual competition sure that those type of sessions we’re talking like once every two to four weeks whereas there
are people doing that type of stuff once or twice a week you know right weekend bike weekend long run weekend long swim
midweek long run and that’s where people are screwing up when it comes to
training for for ultimate indoors or ultimate fitness so some borrowing sort of a professional level of athleticism would you as I’m
hearing that you might just need to keep yourself more active and sort of engineer out the sedentary habits we
have and that would actually be enough to keep most you know non professionals healthy it is a working man or woman’s
model of what is called the polarized training approach they’ve looked at some of the most successful athletes on the face of the planet some of the fittest
athletes on the face of the planet cross-country skiers cyclists you know marathoners triathletes you name it they
found that all of them naturally adopt approximately 80% very light aerobic training hmm we’re not talking about a
lunchtime run where you’re where you’re huffing and puffing you’re not working too hard you’re you know you’re not working super easy we’re talking about
nice easy conversational runs long bike rides you know walks in the forest stuff
like that and then 20% is extremely high intense we’re talking the maximum heart rate you know things like tabata
protocols and 20-second extreme all-out Sprint’s things that activate a lot of motor neurons things that build vo2 max
lactate tolerance things like that but there’s very little time spent training that dead zone that grey zone that many
people are actually actually trained in so when I describe a scenario like I just described in terms of me operating
in a low level of physical activity as anyone you know listening can can do and
then adding that 20% of high intensity in a weight training or cardio or
whatever it fits the bill for you for your chosen sport that you might be participating in that’s a scenario that
actually simulates what a lot of professional athletes are doing but just on a different level that 80% 20% approach interesting that’s wonderful so
alright let’s see how we doin like qejy processing almost done all right let’s you have a question for you
so we done he hasn’t shouted take me to the hospital yet that’s right and I haven’t seen looks of shock or harv I
see there’s I think you’re actually pretty intact no no seizures no no damn thought no missing part that’s right as
far as we can tell we’re only looking at functional activity not structural so that could still be missing parts we wouldn’t know
but we would see I think nothing’s fallen out here in the course of my lifetime that works that’s pretty important I think yeah that’s wonderful
so um aside from thinking about you know sleep when you wake up and and planning your
your your exercise what is your daily routine like in terms of biohacking keeping yourself fit are you do you have
a massive medicine cabinet full of supplements and vitamins are you you know so I think I would have a Messam
ism but I lived on ten acres out in the forest okay and I’m a big fan of if you are able to relying upon you know what
Mother Earth has right out there wrong so I can go pick wild nettles and I can get plenty of vitamin C from you know
dandelion leaf and plantain and doc and all sorts of things that are better growing around me so I have that I have
a garden with a raised garden bed you know go milk so I don’t need to take colostrum and probiotics and I’ve got
chickens so I don’t have to do much in the vitamin ad Department so I would say that you know if that’s not your
scenario certainly I endorse better living through science and having a medicine cabinet fold supplements that fill in the gaps that you might not be
able to fill in with nutrition obviously most people aren’t you know living on essentially farms let’s say you’re the
you know half the Americans we’re living in cities and don’t have a lot of access to you know green spaces and growing
food what would you say are among the most critical you know places to
supplement or things to shore up yeah well it is slightly returned where I said earlier you test if you can I
understand the testing can be expensive if you if you simply cannot go out of your way to get a blood test or to
figure out what you were personally deficient in my my top go twos are number one a good fish oil okay and I
was at a friend’s house yesterday morning and he said I’m taking a great fish oil check this out I took it open the lid smelled it smelled like fish
roll and idea bad fish oil is worth fries and not taking fish oil at all right and that’s simply because a lot of
people have omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies that fish oil can easily address we do not live in a post
industrial area with perfect air water light sources we are exposed to lots of radiations flash inflammation slash
talks and slash pollutants so yeah your ancestors might not have taken omega-3 fatty acids but you need a little help
in the inflammatory department and this helps I’m a fan of fish oil plenty of proven research behind it I’m
a fan of creatine I’m about five grams of creatine as a nootropic to avoid sarcopenia or muscle loss with age I
like it for power and strength of course and I also like it because like fish oil it’s heavily researched yeah shown to be
safe shown to be efficacious do you know if the I’m just curious as an aside i’ma teach gerontology courses in UCLA and we
often harp on this idea of sarcopenia being a long slow almost irreversible decline starts at age 30 and it’s only a
loss in muscle mass but it’s an increase of lipid mass mmm so it’s loss of bone mass intramuscular fat or just general
body wide you lose muscle mass you lose the skeletal mass and water mass and you have an increase of lipid mass and it
does over many many years become more added more abdominal and unimposing gathers roll intrahepatic yeah but I’m
wondering if creatine affects skeletal lipid and water mass as well as muscle
mass I do not know about that you know the only thing I can comment to regarding that that muscle structure as
you age is a study that was done in guinea pigs and there’s a there’s a great post on Paul Gemini of the perfect health diets blog about this how they
found that the type of muscle fiber that is best and when it comes to anti-aging
or decreasing the rate of which telomeres shorten is hardwired you muscles such as a powerlifter might possess okay and so you know what I what
I tell folks who are aging who want to maintain muscle or maintain function or get the best anti-aging type of exercise
protocol is to include some type of explosive activity okay whereas if you read a book like body by
science by Doug McGuffy a cardiologist or believe he’s ahe’s he’s not a heart
surgeon I believe he said he’s a cardiologist he has a super slow training protocol for controlling
peripheral and central blood pressure and so in a perfect scenario I’m a huge fan of doing super slow heavy lifting
right like very very slow controlled sets sure 1 to 2 times a week and then very explosive body weight or water
based type of activities for the other side water in water I was spending this morning was holding dumbbells at the
bottom of the pool you hold the brats you jump out of the pool but but basically the idea here is that you want
a combination of heavy stuff and explosive stuff if you are going to try to maintain muscle as you age great
advice I think it’s really a wonderful way to think about you know tapping into your sort of body potential and then uh
you know not not to stick my foot in my mouth but again if you if you don’t test the last one be a multi-vitamin so multi
vitamin fish oil creatine we got sure great all right so that’s a good advice but the body I think we’re going to
switch to talking about your brain mmm and if people do want to know my daily
routine that you asked about I have copious blog post on it at Ben Greenfield fitness comm site I have
written about it in gory detail were we able to get this laptop on the on one of
the screens it is ok there it is beautiful all right I don’t you can see this been probably not hair I can see it
now to see it now yeah great so what we’re looking at our heads essentially these are your my head your heads your
brain activity and if you look at these round circles we’re looking down from above so your nose is up top and then
your ears on the sides actually this is a time Sigma no so I really stick it out there you go so as you go through these
columns they’re Delta through high beta very slow brainwaves and lasts very fast brainwaves on the right we may call
brainwaves all frequencies all the time so that’s not really a problem to have more or less of different ones but we
expect to see your brain do different things eyes open and eyes closed we expect to see different ratios of frequencies relative to sort of healthy
or distractible states right and when we see different patterns in these maps we find them interesting but not definitive
this is a statistical analysis this is you compared to several thousand people and somewhat arbitrarily we draw a line
and say ok more than one and a half standard deviations out of range above or below is probably clinically
interesting probably doing something that’s causing some trouble or has some has some interest these maps these colored maps go through
light through dark blue through dark red the Reds are hot or excess if you will active excess power higher than average and the
blue is colder or the less activity average most of your maps look really pretty typical really healthy so to
speak and when you say that you would mean that most of them have a lot of green with with little bits a little bit
so the green is this little color bar here at the bottom this is a bell curve the green is essentially one within half
a standard deviation of average so typical brains I hate using the word normal because it really is not such a thing when it comes to brains but
typical or average so most of these frequencies fall into the typical range in terms of the amount of electricity in
a band we’re finding at different spots on your scalp there are a few things that are red here and some of those red
ones are actually some noise you have a little muscle tension in the back your head behind the ear so someone that’s a little bit noisy and I’m going to switch
to a different set of maps that often cleans up the noise a little bit let’s see laplacian is open right or is it not
let’s see and that type of muscle tension can be created from something as
simple as the the head just being slightly forward exactly back yeah and
and and I know that that as we were recording it seemed like when I changed neck positions a couple times some of
that noise significantly declared so this is an eyes closed map that we’re looking at right here and you sees a lot
of red actually on this one and so what this means is your brain is making three
standard deviations above average and Delta and in theta and this is not the muscle tension this is something
specific to your brain also there’s something that shows up back Delta and theta brain waves Delta
and theta brain waves in broadly in the back a little bit of beta in the back here as well as high and a little of
alpha that’s a little tiny bit so the few interesting patterns that could mean something and I’m saying could because
again Q EEG is not a diagnostic process it gives you a statistical arrow pointing one direction saying you know
it’s likely that things are unusual in this way right and the Delta and the theta seem seem to me just looking at it
like they’re taking up most of the head they you know they tend to slow brain waves or big brain waves and can they sort of distribute pretty broadly and
also your eyes are closed without visual input the brain tends to go into a slow mode and that’s actually not an unusual
thing just or sleep mask owners exactly and in fact we’d like to see differences between eyes open and eyes closed so this is the
eyes open equivalent still a lot of red a lot of red and so I often see Delta
and theta going down when you open your eyes yours didn’t really go down this
would suggest that especially the Delta being persistent with eyes open but you may have had some concussions at some
point in your life yeah that’s so that’s probably what we’re seeing these are why is that why would a concussion produce
Delta a great question so Delta again the slowest frequency it’s running between about half Hertz or one cycle
every two seconds up to about four cycles per second that’s really Delta range and Delta’s not a cognitive frequency so you aren’t thinking with
Delta Delta to some extent isn’t is an autonomic frequency so the brainstem runs in Delta if you will and keeps your
heart beating your lungs moving so some of an automatic frequency when you
damage the cortex you can sort of crush it or tear it away from surrounding areas of cortex in both cases it doesn’t
receive input from surrounding cortex and you have a bit of cortex that’s intact but not receiving input from
friends it does one of two things it free runs with no inhibition and it’s a beta excess at the shearing damage so
the tortoise was torn away from neighboring areas or a crush damaged there’s the input signals if you will
aren’t being heard and the cortex itself isn’t sure what to do because it’s been damaged and it sort of defaults back to
the brainstem frequency it’s kind of goes back to the really core frequency the body uses to run the body and this
is a delta frequency so Delta’s not pathological per se in fact you want to make a lot of Delta when you’re deeply
asleep and not dreaming so you hear about that a lot of you know like Delta would be or Delta and theta would be
very relaxing brainless absolutely if you don’t make Delta when you’re asleep you aren’t washing your brain you aren’t
doing restorative stuff sleep consolidation or memory consolidation requires slow wave sleep or Delta so
it’s a really healthy phenomena when you’re deeply asleep it’s okay to have when your eyes are closed when you open
your eyes we expect sensory information to suppress a lot of the slow brain waves it’s not totally happening for you
this would suggest there’s some scar tissue some wear and tear in your brain probably from all the athleticism you’ve been doing for the past you know 20 30
years that’s interesting now in a situation like that when you well actually let me ask you this first
do you see this a lot in like fighters people who have been knocked out a little bit can cause like it is a common
it’s uncommon in people like that it’s also common in just the average person some high school kid has done all the
football here and there or headed the ball in soccer too many times and you see concussions evidence of some wear and tear damage again not diagnostic but
it’s a hint in that direction and so what do you do well I mean we can break up these patterns with neurofeedback I mean neurofeedback or biofeedback on
brainwaves is one of the primary biohacking tools I use both clinically and personally and we would measure this
Delta moment a moment and it’s not stuck on some flat amount it’s always fluctuating in response to other brain
signals and so every so often it’ll happen to go down and in a biofeedback environment you’d be sitting there
watching or having wires in the back of your head whenever the delta happened to trend in the right direction something would
happen on a screen a spaceship flies faster music swells and volume and then Delta goes back up and the game stops
and the next moment Delta goes down and the game resumes the stages are you thinking what did I just do to make that
spaceship appear you’re not actually it’s not a voluntary process your brain is changing so rapidly that the software
the feedback is simply capturing the fluctuations your brain is already doing and giving you applause for fluctuations
in the proper direction you probably have no voluntary control passive you just sit there and watch the screen it
is in fact the process of neurofeedback was discovered on cats right and they’re notoriously bad instruction followers
don’t we try to do very much and it works on people who are non-verbal people in coma it’s really a core
low-level way the brain learns parsing signals from the environment and trying to control or get information from the
signals so if you only give it a signal when it does certain things the right way it does more of those things trying
to get more signal trying to get more stimulus from the environment it doesn’t know that the computer is not a real object it thinks it’s a tool it’s trying
to learn to use for instance so that’s a little interesting you know probably is some some wear and tear damage when I
see this sort of thing I also do what’s called the traumatic brain injury analysis so up until now all of these analyses have been compared to a
normative population but when I see some damage like this or some question of damage I look at what’s called a TBI
traumatic brain injury databases a different population this is the this thing here you see it
as a green curve that’s the typical population the red curve is a TBI population you are the dotted line so
you even though there is some evidence of concussion nah there’s really no evidence of we’re not expanding over on the green your dead center in the middle
of typical populations so is it so are you saying that a concussion is different than a TBI mild concussions
might not show off this traumatic brain injury okay yeah and so I’m guessing you had some wear and tear some scar tissue you know
probably from concussion if you weren’t such a good sleeper I might suggest sleep deprivation as influencing that
data as well it looks to me like – some wear and tear but the concussion of the actual traumatic brain injury looking
for clothes head injuries structural tract differences those show no evidence of you having a TBI traumatic brain
injury so I’m guessing your can experience much in the way of symptoms and you probably don’t have any sense of real you know cognitive fatigue or
concussive fog that is sort of persistent so that’s good all right so just a couple more interesting things about your brain here been that pop out
and again just a caveat before I tell you all the things that are wrong with you that this is just a suggestion about
how your brain may work so well can you throw in Cato something positive in there like this is this is something really good well let me give you
something but it could be good or bad depending on how you use it so this is on the left and eyes-closed map and if you notice in the back of the head
there’s a lot of data mmm now Beit is an active processing frequency when your eyes are closed we don’t usually see a
lot of beta on the back of the head because that’s the visual cortex when your eyes are closed it’s usually shut down yours is staying pretty lit up with
your eyes closed just in case so we consider this a marker for vigilance interest and if it’s getting in the way
it’s hyper-vigilant related to like the warrior versus warrior type of gene absolutely so this is this this is could
be actually both but it’s to sort of have your feelers up staying really on staying checked in and if you notice
there’s also a spot in the front middle it looks also a little bit red in the beta and that’s a part of the brain involve of switching your attention
called the anterior cingulate and sometimes and that is hot like this it means you get stuck on things and your mind tends to cycle and spin a little
bit the two things together it can be a problem they can sort of be almost a ruminative worry state or they can be
somebody’s incredibly checked in so like you know like an OCD pattern can be pathological if it’s getting in your way
we can make you like the most powerful CEO on the planet you’re really detail-oriented and know exactly what you want to do yeah so these things
aren’t necessarily good or bad but it does suggest that there’s a vigilance marker your brain is up and on right
even when it might not need to be even with your eyes closed right so this might be why you even need like darker
rooms to fall asleep because a little bit of stimulus will grab your attention and a wait might not for the average
person who is an extra chapter I would have made a great scout then back in the oil exactly is essentially what this is saying yeah all right any close these
amplitude maps for a second and I’ma pull up two more things one is a mark of how fast your brain is and one is a
marker of the ratios of these frequencies so the ratios if you look on this page here these are different
frequencies that show us this is a ratio showing us slow brainwaves over fast
brainwaves theta over beta and the theta over beta essentially is a very well
validated marker for executive function okay the theta beta ratio is among the
most tightly applied sort of features for ADHD if they say the beta ratio is
high you have ADHD the FDA recently approved a diagnostic headset that mostly uses the theta beta ratio to look
at if you have ADHD or not hold on to theta not enough data at high ratio that’d be 88 and if you’re a young person you have high theta beta it’s an
ADHD brain if you’re an old person with memory issues and you have theta beta the chance of progressing to Alzheimer’s
is dramatically higher than if you don’t got so you can use theta beta as a sign executive function slipping or being a
little bit sort of wide in general if your ADHD when you’re going so your theta beta ratios are fine it’s a little
bit of you know yellow and red here but it’s for the most part we’re looking at a green head overall I would be diagnosed as ADHD not at all not not at
all and the Alpha over beta might show up if you’re inattentive or Spacey and look at that head it’s actually blue in
the middle so the part of your brain is tend to stay focused on things if you were what we used to call a DD you know
inattentive that head would be orange or red and yours is actually blue through the opposite of in attempted so it’s
kind of like a combination of hyper vigilance and attentiveness exactly that’s sort of we’re seeing for you and
with that I start thinking about my wonder through some anxiety markers and so one of the more robust anxiety
markers is looking at the actual number of your alpha how fast your brain is so
across the table not sure you can see this but your alpha is running at about nine and a half to ten cycles per second
that is totally typical for the average adult human okay ten Hertz that’s a totally set difficult alpha if your
alpha was much slower than that you know nine and a half nine eight and a half you’d be very sluggish cognitively right
and if you’re a bit older we might think that was a function of normal cognitive aging but it’s not slow nor is it fast
with those vigilance markers we saw if we also saw a very fast idle speed essentially in your brain we would start
to think those vigilance markers are hyper vigilant or anxiety rumination yeah but since you rate your brains just
below 10 Hertz on average and speed I wouldn’t necessarily consider those beta markers as hyper vigilance just being
sense orally sort of checked in your feelers are not again a warrior who tends to pay attention to any War II the
good scout or hunter if you got it the interesting is here what this did with a cup of coffee well what it would do all
those Delta and theta excesses those slow brainwaves those would be completely obscured mmm so I would not
know I would not be able to say you likely had some concussions if you come in with caffeine on our system it would
completely hide suppress all of the Delta and theta and so this is among the reasons why it’s so critical that I have
you off of caffeine right I mean we might be having exacerbation of those features at Delta and theta excess
because it is you know 2:30 in the afternoon or something you might be in caffeine withdrawal a little bit well I
usually went and also I usually nap at about 1:30 in the afternoon until 2:30 so some of these markers might be in
hand I bye to being asleep sleep tap or a little bit of caffeine withdrawal this is why we have to be really cautious an
interpreting data in the context of the individual right not just the database yeah an activity I would imagine can
affect it too you know like two hour workout this morning in the pool yeah potentially not as dramatically not
automatically even even stressors and mood those things don’t dramatically affect it we’re really looking at your
traits versus your states except extreme traits sleep deprivation anxiety attacks
massive caffeine no caffeine those things you distort the data right for the most part this is a 10,000 foot view
it’s a suggestion of traits not how you are today right so it looks like you’ve had some concussions
Alice tractable and you’re the hyper-vigilant and so those are little incongruent to happen at the same time
so we should assume that the Delta and theta is more concussive and/or some sleep depth now you have you have peak
brain here yeah LaLanne inoculator you’re doing some some clinics you know around I believe you’re opening new
clinic we are yeah um what if I wanted to to hack this what if I wanted to fix
this but I did not want to come spend time in LA trash org though the the closest clinic to you we’re opening up
is in Portland Oregon not that far away but still not super continuar for coming three times a week eh right so for folks
that want to work with the peak brain way of training your brain is our qejy and neurofeedback approach but can’t you
know spend three times a week in our offices what I do is offer a supervised remote boot camp and that requires
somebody come to one of my larger offices which are currently in st. Louis and Los Angeles to come to one of those
offices for three to six days and have sort of educational and assessment boot
camp where we spend a few days teaching about neurofeedback running the software and hardware sticking wires to your
heads charting your sessions getting a sense of what to expect throughout the neurofeedback process how it unfolds
what a bad signal looks like what a good signal looks like and we actually prepare serve a training plan like a
personal coach might and we send you home with a pretty high-end laptop and
EEG system also self-contained a nice looking case and we ought we encourage
you to train yourself three to five times a week and I check in with you about once a week and whenever you have tech problems or other difficulty you
check in giving you protocols to try during those 3 to 6 days that you spend in LA how many hours are you actually training because you’re in the office
about three hours a week oh three hours a day because you come in early in the morning so I could come here on a
business trip knock out three hours a day in your office work on fixing at home with a case absolutely and then
you’re training yourself and doesn’t work for everyone you happy so much computer savvy not not terrified of wires but for most people even you know
parents working with their kids this is a pretty effective way to do it it’s one of the more fascinating brain brain
hacks that I’ve that I’ve seen yeah and we’re currently working on some sort of apps to help manage all of the data from
clients or self-training keep them keeping a good dashboard but what they’re actually doing day to day a lot of the success of neurofeedback is
predicated on what to do next so I can’t fix this by playing Lumosity or brain scan unfortunately not all the cognitive
training quote-unquote de masa T and you know those sorts of things the research is roundly not supporting that they do
anything there is within game change but you don’t have what’s called skill transfer so learning to get good at a
specific game on one of those platforms and know your scores change the exact same resource in a different context no
no game that’s what I’ve heard one one good one is the n-back yeah the dual n-back about half the research suggests
there’s a positive effect but half sis is no effect so it’s still a very weak endorsement in the literature but it’s
the strongest endorsement there is for cognitive training right so and again it’s it’s very low cost or free you know
getting in to lend back to several free downloads out there it’s not going to hurt you it might be fun to do you might
as well try it it’s not going to do anything negative but it’s not really a big gun so to speak right I would
encourage folks to look for like the real serious levers for adjusting performance of course neurofeedback is
very technical and hard to do and a little bit expensive and so that’s you know a goal to get to maybe but the
immediate thing sleep packing getting your fats under control and meditation doing meditation practice for even 15-20
minutes a day appears to be enough to develop significant trajectory changes in executive function over even weeks so
so I want except one last question what about because it because I’ve messed around Transcendental Meditation during
I work with both with music and learning and Sudoku and and back and bring like that what about Kundalini Yoga that’s
something that I just started doing and so from what I understand it can somehow assist with cerebral blood flow do you
know much about that well I mean all yoga to some extent can exist with it can assist with blood flow and most yoga
has inversions certainly it’s whole body exercise lots of intense breathing and movement and closing your eyes or
looking like on the third eye I think you’re going to Leaney has also an ecstatic component so you’re getting into the place of altered consciousness
and pushing yourself to point your mind shifts those other benefits there but I’m a big fan like
you are of moving slowly often to circle mark Sisson the idea is to get sedentary
behavior out of your life right and whatever you need to do I think it’s wonderful I do a form of yoga called
Ashtanga so every morning we have actually a Vasu right next to my office that’s kind of why I put my office there
and so you know 6:30 in the morning till 8:00 doing Ashtanga getting my blood flow going and then next door doing
their feedback yeah yeah my morning routine and it is infrared sauna Adelina yoga for 20 to 30 minutes
followed by a cold plunge so I think it’s wonderful you know broadly for your body as well as for your brain I’m not
sure that I that I have any strong feelings about Kundalini pressure stronger versus some form of hatha
versus any other form you know Vinny or vinyasa yoga I think if you’re doing it that’s what matters people always ask me
hey what’s the best kind of exercise for brain health and my response is always the kind that you do right because
people have a hard enough time committing to routines and daily exercise that’s the most important thing
so okay so we’ve covered your brain a little bit and we talked about your routines then thanks so much for coming
on to head first with dr. hill we’ve had a great time talking to you dude this has been fascinating had I I
am incredibly intrigued by this whole process and I think I’m gonna take a
deeper dive and there you go we’ll come on down when you have a check I take a lot read absolutely well we’ll get your kit I’ll set up it we’ll get you some
trainings wait people use experience subjective effects within about a couple of weeks of training and usually got to train for a
few months to make it permanent or long lasting all that being said let’s leave
our viewers and listeners with opportunity get to know you more where can they find you where can they look
you up ask you questions and follow you on the great interwebs honestly just Google Ben Greenfield you will find me
or you will find possibly a highly offensive website put up by some poser Ben Greenfield
oh no no honestly just Google me and you’ll come up with my website my books and all that jazz great so anything else
you want to give us any plugs any books you’re working on projects you have in the near future that you’d love to people to know about well I just
republish the updated version of my book beyond training which is about 500 pages
worth of bio hacks Oh wonderful and lifestyle tactics training tactics
for gut-brain om basically you name it so I just republished that with updated stuff
because I think I need to copy the fast at how quickly that stuff becomes unobtainium training book calm wonderful
great so uh let’s thanks to Ben Greenfield and for all our listeners and viewers keep your brains healthy and
safe and come back next week for head first with dr. hill

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield is a health consultant, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of a wide variety of books including the widely popular titles Beyond TrainingBoundlessFit SoulSpiritual Disciplines Journal, the Boundless Cookbook and Endure.

A former collegiate tennis, water polo and volleyball player, bodybuilder, 13-time Ironman triathlete and professional obstacle course racer, Ben has been voted by the NSCA as America’s top Personal Trainer and by Greatist as one of the top 100 Most Influential People In Health And Fitness. 

A frequent contributor to health and wellness publications and websites and a highly sought-after speaker, Ben’s understanding of functional exercise, nutrition, and the delicate balance between performance and health has helped thousands of people around the world achieve their goals and improve their quality of life–from high-level CEOs to soccer moms to professional athletes and beyond. Ben also seeks to teach and inspire people to fully experience and joyfully savor all of God’s creation while optimizing their physical health.

Ben is an advisor, investor, and board member of multiple corporations in the health and fitness industry, and is also the co-founder of the nutritional supplements company KION, a nutritional supplements company that combines time-honored superfoods with modern science to allow human beings to achieve peak performance, defy aging, and live an adventurous, fulfilling, joyful and limitless life.

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