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Mitochondria, ATP and Longevity with Ben Greenfield


Don't miss endurance fitness expert Ben Greenfield talking mitochondria, ATP production, ancestral eating, making bone broth and more on Episode 009 of the Optimal Performance Podcast.

Ben Greenfield is a world class endurance athlete, fitness model, former bodybuilder, fitness coach and bio-hacking expert.

He joins us today on the Optimal Performance Podcast to discuss ancestral eating, performance nutrition, increasing mitochondrial function & ATP production, the best foods for longevity, supplements, nootropics, and becoming superhuman. Check it out!



What You'll Learn From Ben Greenfield in THIS Episode of the OPP:

  • FACT OF THE DAY - Just one tablespoon of short or medium chain triglycerides can induce ketosis in 10-15 minutes... Happy Fat Burning!
  • Ancestral Eating vs. Strict Ketosis
  • How to maximize fat oxidation
  • Working out in a fasted state
  • Why we get that primal urge to "go to town" on available food sources
  • Why you need LESS protein than you think...and how eating too much can lead to premature aging.
  • The #1 Food you're NOT eating...and how to make it at home!
  • Ben's surprise "burrito" method - this a GREAT tip.
  • How to increase the resistant starch content of one of the most common foods we eat
  • Ben's thoughts on Stevia and sweeteners
  • Living better with science: the place of supplements and nootropics
  • Ben's TOP 3 TIPS to #liveoptimal



Ben's website:

Use CILTEP for increased focus and motivation

Use BioCreatine to increase your endurance

Use Smart Caffeine to give you high levels of harnessed energy


Mitochondria and Longevity, with Ben Greenfield

Ryan: You're listening to the Optimal Performance podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you're into biohacking, performance and getting more out of your life, this is the show for you! If you want more on building optimal performance, check out

Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers and welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance podcast. I'm your host Ryan Munsey and I am chatting with our guest this week, Ben Greenfield. Ben, say hello.

Ben: Yo, wassup? And I'm sorry for not wearing a shirt! I did not get the memo that this was video and I work at home in my underwear, so just thank your lucky stars that it's not a full body video...

Ryan: I think you planned it that way. You wanted everyone to see you shirtless again, didn't you?

Ben: Yeah, you know me!

Ryan: So, for you guys that don't know, Ben Greenfield is a world class endurance athlete, model, actor.. I'm sorry, coach, ex-bodybuilder..

Ben: I can be a model and actor if I need to be!

Ryan: Okay! And a business owner and biohacker. So today we're gonna talk about all kinds of cool stuff, including performance nutrition, the best foods for longevity, becoming super human and a whole lot more. But before we dive into all that, you guys know that we love your 5* reviews on iTunes. So I'm gonna read a couple of them here from our latest episodes: "A crisp podcast jammed with golden nuggets, always worth a listen. Fingers crossed for that giveaway!", "As expected, love it!" This is from Adam W, "Huge Natural Stacks fan and this podcast doesn't disappoint. The show's already had some great guests, the episodes are filled with actionable steps that you can take to move to the next level in your performance. I look forward to what lies ahead for this show". So make sure you guys head over to iTunes, leave us a 5* review and you'll be entered to win a year's worth of free Natural Stacks goodies! Also make sure you check out for the show notes, the video version: you can see Ben shirtless(!), that is  for this specific episode.

Alright, so let's get into our Fact of the Day! We try to tailor these to the episode, so we knew we were gonna talk about performance nutrition and maybe not necessarily needing as many carbohydrates as the typical endurance athlete thinks. There is research out right now, funded by NASA and the Navy Seals, where some doctors are researching the best ways to fuel performance and what they're finding is that medium chain triglycerides and even shorter chain triglycerides: 6 and 8 carbon chains, have induced ketosis with as little as one tablespoon dose right before activity. And what they've found is, compared to a regular state or the control state, the experimental groups are experiencing improved cardiac output, higher VO2 max, prolonged exercise endurance and increased mitochondrial function and energy. So a lot of good scientific evidence there to support fueling with those short and medium chain triglycerides instead of carbohydrates. Ben I know based on your experience and the experience that you've had with a lot of your coaching clients, you've got some anecdotal evidence to back up that lab research, right?

Ben: Yeah, I mean it's like time in the trenches type of stuff. Yeah I'd say absolutely! You know I did about 12 months of ketosis last year in preparation for ultra-endurance like Iron Man, and I used a lot of medium chain triglycerides during that experiment, and it turned out pretty well. Definitely for endurance it's a useful hack. And I talked to Dominic D'Agostino about it, improvements in VO2 max; efficiency and economy of oxygen utilization, and I shouldn't say improvements in VO2 max, it's more an improvement in your output at a given percentage of VO2 max, not your top end speed. But ultimately, yeah, it's interesting stuff.

Ryan: So now you said you experimented with that for about a year. Are you no longer trying to stay in ketosis? Are you a little bit higher in carbs than you were during that phase?

Ben: Yeah, I don't really think that ketosis is necessarily.. At least not strict ketosis is necessarily like ancestral or natural or anything like that. I mean I've spent plenty of time out camping and out in the wilderness and you certainly do go through periods of time where you've got like 12-16 hour fasts or all you have access to is plants with occasional oils like nuts and seeds and stuff like that, but then there's times where you're just like going to town on craploads of meat when you do come across food. And it's like, yeah, it's very likely from an ancestral standpoint that we would've been in that point where there would have been highly insulinogenic feedings such as heavy protein meals based off of animals, spikes in blood sugar from something such as finding fruits or carbohydrates in nature, you know like whatever, if I'm out on an epic hike and I come across like, huckleberries or blueberries or something like that then those bad boys are going to get eaten! Especially if I'm out camping and I don't have anything else.

So ultimately, strict ketosis is more of like a biohack, right. It's like coconut oil, MCT oil, lots of seeds, lots of nuts, even using liquid ketones like beta-hydroxybutyrate for example, and ultimately you do maximize fat-burning efficiency. I mean we've shown that in labs, the recent faster study with Jeff Bullock showed improvements in fat oxidation, in terms of grams per minute fat oxidation, at a level of interest of about .3 to .5 extra grams of fat per minute being burned which is incredibly significant, especially from a performance standpoint. And especially from a performance standpoint for any performance that utilizes any percentage of slow twitch muscle fiber or that relies upon fat oxidation to any extent. And I worked hard at that study and I experienced that. So yeah, absolutely. I have seen it work from an anecdotal standpoint.

Ryan: So that's really cool scientific research there. If our listeners say 'hey, I wanna do something where I can burn more fat, where I can oxidize more fat, you know, per minute that I'm exercising', how would they do that in... Let's say a listener's going to the gym today or tomorrow, how can they use that hack?

Ben: Uh, that's the tricky part! I mean like, we were all born.. Well at least most of us, breastfeeding; other than those of us unfortunate enough to have parents that gave us soy formula, right?! But ultimately once you get past the stage of breast milk, which is pretty high in ketone and has relatively high fat content, and you start down the road of whatever gurgaon baby food and cheerios and fruit rollups and raisins and everything else that honestly most of us; most of our listeners probably grew up on, then what happens is you really aren't any longer that efficient at burning fat and ketosis can be incredibly uncomfortable in a situation like that. I found that even though it only takes about 2 weeks of shifting your macro nutrient ratio towards a higher fat percentage; not snacking as much, doing some intermittent fasting and engaging in a lot of these strategies that allow you to oxidize more fats, after 2 weeks you start to feel okay, like you don't feel crappy like you want to punch somebody in the face unless they're giving you a breadstick. But then in terms of performance implications, it takes about 6 months before you feel good going out and doing a hard workout fasted. Something other than like a nature walk or yoga.

It takes a good year before you can really throw down an intense voluminous workout. Now for me it was a good two years into a higher fat diet- not strict ketosis per say, but a higher fat diet- before I really got to the point where I could go out and get through any workout on very, very few carbohydrates, primarily because of an increase in mitochondrial density that occurred to the extent that I could generate high amounts of ATP based primarily off of fat utilization. And frankly most people who have been ripped out of ketosis or fat oxidation at an early age have to go through that entire cycle. Like ride out two weeks of feeling crappy, 6 months of getting to the point that you can start to feel pretty good during your workouts, one year before you're really performing heavily and then 2 years before you're ultra competitive being able to stand fat oxidation and ketosis.

So, if somebody were just gonna like go and let's say, tomorrow, shift from whatever, let's say oatmeal from breakfast or even something highly insulinogenic or gluconeogenic like bacon and eggs for breakfast, and instead shift into like, no breakfast and a workout and then maybe a higher fat meal after the workout, like plants and oils, they're gonna feel like crap for a couple of weeks and they're not going to have a good workout. So ultimately, you can't just shift into this and head to the gym the next day and feel good. And what I have most of my clients do, like especially when they first start off is we go through a good 4 weeks, I double that 2 weeks time, so a good 4 weeks of like, body weight exercise, super slow training like no longer than 15 minutes. Walks, mobility, foam roller, yoga, sauna, cold thermogenesis. Nothing really that's that glycolytic, nothing that is incredibly demanding from a cognition or coordination standpoint, on a physical level, because it can be so difficult to just jump right into that, straight in, during a dietary change.

Ryan: Gotcha. Well, you mentioned cold thermogenesis, and we're gonna talk about that, but we'll save it for probably a little bit later on. You mentioned something else earlier too that I don't think many people talk enough about. You said, from a primal standpoint it's kind of in our nature to when we do encounter food, especially after periods of fasting, that you know, we're wired to eat to satiety. You know, either until we can't fit any more food in, or until there's just no more food in front of us. And most animals too, if you watch a dog or any other wild animal eat, that's how they eat. Is that a benefit or maybe  a lifestyle benefit of intermittent fasting, paleo diet, Bulletproof diet? Any of those diets where you eat a large portion at one sitting, you know, that kinda satisfies that primal urge to eat a lot. Whereas, on the other side of the spectrum, the 6-7-8 meals a day, small tiny meals, is kind of counter to what we're designed for or primal instinct is?

Ben: Yeah, I mean, it is kind of a loaded question because there are a few considerations. First of all, you do have a group of folks- generally more of like the masking, bodybuilder, strength power athlete folk- who take that concept of like you know, let's call it whatever, the Warrior Diet, carb-backloading, however you wanna look at it; strategies that involve a lot of fasting and a lot of caloric restriction in micro-doses followed by large feedings, often large evening feedings, because that's usually when you see that type of recommendation made. And sometimes it's over done a little bit, especially in terms of protein intake and you know, protein has a very insulinogenic effect, it also has a very high ammonia producing effect, it also has some pretty interesting effects on activation of mTOR pathways which could potentially decrease the rate which telomere shorten and have an ageing effect as well.

So if you are living like a caveman, or living paleo, or living ancestral or whatever term you wanna give to it, whatever nomenclates you wanna use, and for you that means that you're eating whatever, like 20oz of steak at night or you know, an entire huge fillet of salmon, that probably is overdoing it to a certain extent. Because if you've ever been out, you know whatever, let's say camping or even hunting.. Let's say like an elk hunt, you are out there sometimes for 6-8 days before you get a kill, right. And up until that point you're living off whatever's in your pack, or if whatever, let's say like the native americans, you're living off of like yarrow and gooseberry and mints and nettle and molen, you know, like basically all of these plant based foods, along with maybe some mushrooms, some seeds, some nuts, like squirrel foods basically. But you're not eating an elk every night, right?

Ryan: Right

Ben: So there's that consideration that if you are going to follow a diet like this then you do need to step back and look at it in a little bit more of an ancestrally appropriate manner. As far as... I'm a fan of protein intake, from a longevity standpoint, to about 20-30% of your total [unclear 15.06], uh, there's a lot of evidence out there that once you exceed 0.7g per pound of protein that you're going to get a significant benefit from a repair and a recovery standpoint. And even though you should try and eat somewhere around the range of 0.55g per pound of body weight, in terms of protein, that range of 0.55 to 0.7 is a range that's going to satisfy most of your needs.

You don't wanna get too far below 0.55g and you don't wanna go too far above 0.7, but if you can set up your macro nutrients and your feeding ratio in a way that you are eating lower carbohydrate, moderate protein, higher fat, most of the day then at the end of the day, preferably in a post workout scenario, getting some kind of a re-feed in; without overdoing things from a protein standpoint, still skewing things towards healthy fat but allowing yourself enough carbohydrates for things like protein formation in the joints, mucin production, supportive thyroid hormone, etcetera. That's a pretty good scenario in my opinion.

Ryan: That's awesome and that's really, really valuable information because I know as you talked through that a lot of our listeners are gonna say okay, 'well what does that mean, you know, for me in a real world situation?' So, those numbers for protein per pound of bodyweight are gold. Now you recently had a blog post, I think it was in response to; was it Mark Sisson's 50 Greatest Foods for Longevity? And I think yours was the 19 Best Foods for...

Ben: Healthy Pantry Foods from Thrive Market.

Ryan: Okay. So, Thrive Market will be a great place for people to go and get these and we'll actually have a link to that in the show notes:, but I wanna ask you about a couple of the foods that you have listed in your Top 19. At number one...

Ben: Sure, can I give a caveat first before you do?

Ryan: Absolutely

Ben: Those are pantry foods, right? That's like 10% of my diet. Almost everything is from the garden, or it's food that I've hunted, or it's food that I've purchased from like a community supported agriculture, or food from local farms, right?

Ryan: Yeah

Ben: So that is a very, very narrow niche. Okay? Most of the foods in my cupboard don't have a label. They're in glass jars or they're pickled or they're fermented or from the fill or from the garden, so I wanna make sure people know that. That I don't endorse a huge percent of your diet being pantry food. But that being said, go ahead?

Ryan: Well, number one you had bone broth. Either chicken or beef.

Ben: Mmmhmm

Ryan: What are your thoughts on store bought or making it yourself? And of course, why is bone broth so important?

Ben: Making it yourself is always better, um, in this situation unless you're just a really, crappy, crappy cook because making bone broth is super duper easy. I mean, you need onions, you need carrots, you need some herbs or choice, thyme, parsley, cilantro, sea salt, black pepper, whatever makes you happy. Get like a whole chicken, preferably organic, pasture raised or you know, basically just like a natural chicken. You put it in a crock pot and you let it sit for 24 hours. Or you get like some femur bones or some like, hooves, many of the bones that normally get thrown out, you put those in the stock and you make more like a beef stock or whatever. But ultimately, you're leeching all that gelatine, all that protein, or that methylamine, which we actually, like... Lean meat has a really really glycine, not very high methylamine.

When you have skewed glycine to methylamine ratios a lot of times that is one of the leading causes of the issues that we see with things like carcinogenicity of higher meat consumption, right. It's because we're not getting a lot of like the marrow and the fats and a lot of the more methylamine rich components of meat. But you are taking care of all that, when you drink bone broth. It's incredibly supportive for the lining of your gut, it's really really good for amino acids, for neurotransmitter information, it's got a lot of the same type of growth factors in it that you're going to find in things like breast milk or colostrum. So ultimately, it really is, yeah I don't want to throw this term around, but it is like a super food, right.

So um, basically, as far as store bought vs making it yourself, it really is easy to make yourself but if you're not a crockpot/slow food kinda person, you can buy it. You just wanna make sure that if you buy it you get it from a good source where typically it's made fresh, shipped, frozen to your house. It arrives, you put it in a freezer and after you've thawed it out you use it pretty readily. There's a guy named... Chef Lance Roll who I interviewed on my podcast at and we talked about this, and he ships bone broth all over the country. It's healthier than what you'll find in the grocery store, which is a lot of times full of a lot of preservatives and a lot of glutamate, MSG, typically doesn't have quite as much of the marrows and fats in it because they've skimmed those off, because frankly your average consumer at the grocery store doesn't want to see a whole bunch of glug, glug, glug like fat come pouring out there because it freaks them out.

So ultimately, yeah, making it yourself is a good way to go. All you need is a frigging crock pot, and some bones, and I mean.. Dude I leave my chicken in there long enough to where those bones get so soft you can almost eat the whole bone. Like, you can definitely eat the knuckles off the end of the bone, like the joints off part of the end of the bone, you can definitely suck out all the marrow that's left in there, and honestly, after we make bone broth, that's one of my favourite things to do. I'll take all those bones and I'll get like coconut oil or butter or olive oil and I'll get out one of the cast iron cooking pans, I'll just dump all of the leftover bones into that cast iron cooking pan, put some extra salt, some extra pepper on there, and then that's like, that's like a lunch for me, right. Just this huge pile of greasy bones with salt on them.

Ryan: That's what I was going to ask you, once.. Let's say somebody makes that broth at home, how would they eat that and how would they count that towards protein/fat intake for the day? If they were..

Ben: Yeah, so, so I mean you can look that up.. I don't have all the macro nutrient ratios of bone broth memorized but it's mostly fats with amino acids.

Ryan: Right

Ben: And minerals, huge amounts of minerals. So the way that I use it is, a: I'll either take the broth itself and I'll drink it cold or drink it hot, so like literally just as a snack, right. The same way that you would have a protein bar. Right?

Ryan: Right

Ben: So it's just got a lot more nutrient density in it than a protein bar. So you can have it like, pre workout, post workout, you can have it for breakfast, on like a lighter calorie day, you can have it with like a light lunch salad to get a little bit more minerals and amino acids alongside your plants, things like that. So that's number 1. Number 2: really, really perfect for soup and mixed in stews, right. So you could make a bone broth and then make a stew with the bone broth by putting in carrots and onions and a roast in there and making a roast with the bone broth. Number 3: the way that I like to use it is just a basic risotto, right? Where you make risotto but you use bone broth instead of water. So you use like bone broth, you use some white wine, and you reduce your rice in the risotto cooking process that way, rather than reducing it with say like wine and water or like heavy cream or something like that.

Ryan: Awesome. Okay, so that's really really cool information. Another food that you had in that post was nori. Tell us a little bit about nori.

Ben: Nori is just a dried seaweed. So like most seaweeds it's pretty rich in minerals, it's pretty rich in iodine, which when balanced with selenium is like a decent option for people who have like hypothyroidism. It is very versatile in terms of its ability to be used in the same way that you'd use like a condiment, meaning you can dry it, you can roast it, you can even- after you've dried it and roasted it- you can put it in like a black pepper grinder and grind it, and use that as like a seasoning for salads and soups and stuff like that. But, dude, like my number one way to use the nori sheets that you get.. Like you can get organic nori sheet, I just use it like a burrito wrap, like. So I used to be big time you know, few years ago.. Originally like wholewheat wraps because I thought those were healthy and then I realised that those weren't the best thing for my body, so then I switched to like gluten free wraps, like. Which is just a starch and sugar load because normally they're rice based and then I realised that I could like take my salads and I could wrap those burrito style inside nori, I could take any meal really, like I mean, to the extent now that my wife will make pad thai, right? And instead of eating my pad thai with chopsticks or a fork, I'll just take a big old sheet of nori and like wrap it all up inside the nori and eat it like a burrito. And frankly, it's a good kinda like calorie and carb control method for me too because when I eat it like that I generally eat more of the nori because it's very fiber filling and it expands and..

Ryan: Yeah

Ben: Take a sheet of nori and soak it in water and see what happens. It gets all like gelatinous the same way that chia seeds do. So just like chia seeds, it kinda expand in your stomach, keeps you full. So yeah, I'm a fan of nori. But my number one way to use it is just like a burrito wrap basically.

Ryan: That sounds awesome. You've got me craving a nori burrito!

Ben: Yeah, yeah, I mean honestly dude, let's say like a higher carb or for like a refeed or whatever, if I'm lazy and I want like a super duper simple dinner, you can cook up some sushi rice.. If you wanna make the resistance starch style sushi rice you use the coconut oil cooking method and you cool it and you take it back out and you heat it, if you want it to be a little bit lower in starch; but you'll take your sushi rice and  you'll just get a can of sardines, like sardines in olive oil, and an avocado. You put the sardines, the avocado and the sushi rice inside the nori and you eat that like a burrito and it's just like kinda a fast sushi.

Ryan: Yeah, that's awesome. Um, the third food that I wanted to ask you about, this'll be the last one here. Stevia. That was your number 19 on your list. You know, a lot of people will be interested to hear why you considered that maybe as a food, you know or something to be in your pantry. But also as an alternative or maybe, that's your choice for sweeteners.

Ben: Right, well first of all. There is a form of stevia called truvia that's mostly erythritol and sugar alcohols and I'm not a fan of that. I think that's one the Coca Cola company is just like... But ultimately, like a real stevia, which actually has a lot of the steviosides in it that are even a little bit bitter. As far as the options when it comes to sweeteners, if you do wanna go for something lower calorie, if you're trying to stay in ketosis, or if you're trying to sweeten something without a blood sugar spike, um, I prefer it far more than sucralose or acesulfame potassium or any of these things that have potential for neurotoxicity, carcinogenicity or even the ability to do potentially a little bit of damage to the gut from a bacterial standpoint.

So I use anything sweet sparingly, because you still do get a little bit of an insulinogenic effect from anything sweet. That still is a trigger for your incretin hormones to send out a message to your brain that calories are there, that it needs to digest calories, and so you do start the hormonal cascade. And if you don't supply your body with calories, if you're not careful many times you do have food incretins and you will eat more. Like, one to two hours later. But ultimately if you wanna sweeten something, I'll give you an example. So if I'm going to make, like, a dessert. I'll take coconut milk, I'll take a little bit of an alkali free chocolate powder, I'll put a little bit of stevia in there, sometimes I'll throw in like a half of an avocado, I'll blend all that up and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes or so, like I'll usually do it before dinner, so after dinner you've got like this high fat ice cream you can eat. And then for a little bit of crunch you can sprinkle that with some dark cacao nibs or some unsweetened coconut flakes or something that isn't super super high sugar, and the stevia offers you a little bit of sweetness to something that might otherwise be slightly bland. So I like to use it in situations like that. I'll occasionally put in a tea or  occasionally put it in a coffee for a little bit of sweetness. It's not something that I use a lot of but I am a fan of it as an alternative to something like.. You know, we also use raw honey, we use organic maple syrup, we use coconut sugar, but if I wanna go for something lower calorie then I'll use stevia.

Ryan: Alright, gotcha. That's one of my favourite recipes. Anything with that coconut milk base turned into homemade ice cream is, it's the bomb!

Ben: Yeah, exactly, yeah, you whisk it, you froth it, whatever. It gets nice and creamy.

Ryan: Yeah, you have tons of different options and directions that you can go with that. You mentioned the importance of gut health and not ingesting foods that can disrupt that. Do you use any prebiotics or do you focus.. Try to get any foods that contain resistance starches? Thoughts on that?

Ben: No I don't. Dude, I eat 20-25 servings of plants per day. I mean I have 8 raised garden beds right outside my office window here, I mean, I've got everything from kale to spinach to mint, I have 10 acres of land full of.. We've got like nettle, we've got tons of different wild edibles out there. So ultimately, your jaw would drop at the amount of plant matter that I eat per day. It's like a grower. So my body's getting plenty of starch, it's fermenting a lot of starch into butyrate short chain fatty acids and everything else that I need, so I don't go out and buy like green bananas and you know, do  a lot with like the potatoes and stuff. About the only thing I do is what I mentioned to you, like a lot of times before I eat rice I'll cool it and then heat it, and I mostly do that just because I like it that way. I like how it gets kinda clumpy and chewy, I don't necessarily do it because I think I'm not getting enough prebiotics in my diet. Because I am literally.. If you look at my diet it looks like basically like a vegan diet with a little bit of meat thrown in here and there and a ton of fats and oils.

Ryan: Okay, alright. So what are your top supplements, if you're eating that much plant matter and, you know, we hear how that looks.. I'm assuming that you look at supplements as a way to fill in any gaps. Are there any gaps that you try to fill in with supplements?

Ben: Yeah, I use them primarily for just like better living through science. So sometimes I'll use like tribulus, fenugreek, you know usually that's bundled up with like beta-alanine supplements and a lot of these like libido enhancers. I'll use that on a day where I know that I'm gonna get laid. You know, I'm married but my wife and I, we know that one of the secrets to good sex is you plan it out, just like a workout. So, you know, if I know I'm going to be having sex later on that day or in the evening then I'll use a supplement like that, right. Just because you get better erections, ejaculation, all that kinda stuff. So that's one that I'll use. Um, if I'm really beat up, if I've had a tough day, like I had a race yesterday this morning I took fish oil and I took proteolytic enzymes, right. Two things I normally wouldn't take but 2 things that can definitely help with the inflammation and break down fibrinogen. Two things that I know were going on in my body this morning when I woke up. Um, what else.

Actually one that I do take every day I use about 5 grams of creatine, just about everyday, 365 days a year. Simply because of the well proven performance enhancing benefits of creatine for strength and power athletes; and also because it's been shown to do things like maintain strength and muscle mass, especially as you age. So I'm a fan of about 5 grams of creatine a day. When I travel I'll take probiotics with me; like a good, heat stable probiotic.

Um, I use a lot of times in the evening, especially on like a high stress day, a tough work out day, you know, a day where I have a really, really important meeting or the next day that I could be anxious about, I use like CBD or THC, either some kind of.. Something that will trigger like the endocannabanoid system, to help with like anxiety, stress, sleep, stuff like that. When I travel I'll use melatonin, but again, just like everything I use, you know, it's like a bunch of tools in a tool box and I'll take them out when I need them. But uh, I'll take creatine.. Oh, the other one that I use daily, primarily because of the amount of strain on my body from the sports that I compete in and because I've tested and every single time I test my gut, I test low on enzyme production, especially like pancreatic enzyme production. So I'll use a digestive enzyme before most of my major meals of the day. So those are some examples.

Ryan: Any nootropics?

Ben: Uh, for nootropics, I'll use caffeine, I'll have a cup of coffee. Um, I will occasionally do something similar like an Alpha Brain, I'll occasionally use like a CILTEP, um, yeah I kind of experiment with a few different things but ultimately nothing beats my morning cup of coffee.

Ryan: Okay

Ben: There's another one that I use like an Adaptogenic Herb Complex called TianChi but I will admit that my, my smart drug system is poor. I don't really have any type of system when it comes to smart drugs. For me it's mostly sleep and a cup of coffee and for me it's more like just kind of playing with some stuff when it comes to smart drugs. And honestly, whenever I use them I feel them, but yeah, I've used everything... I wrote an article about this. I've used everything from like Racetam, Piracetam, Alpha GPC combos, to CILTEP to Alpha Brain to Dave Asprey's Upgraded Force Step. I'll say about once a week I'll open up my refrigerator and see what's in there and just pop something. But honestly, dude, it's kind of like, you know, it's like randomly deciding to go on a hike or something like that. It's not part of my workout routine, it's just fun.

Ryan: Well, if you're up for some guided hiking then we'll send you over some CILTEP, some Smart Caffeine, the new Dopamine Brain Food and I'll be happy to help you figure out the right combo for you.

Ben: I think I have some Smart Caffeine, some of that caffeine-alphamine blend and I noticed because there was something.. I'm always a big napper, I like to do an afternoon nap just about every single day, and there was one day last week when I skipped my afternoon nap and I opened my refrigerator and there was some of that Smart Caffeine and I'm like, okay, well if I know alphamine with caffeine then this is going to keep me up tonight and I needed to get through this tough afternoon, so I'm just going to do that. So yeah. But I'm always... My rooster's outside my window right now, crowing. I wonder how he got out. He's got the whole flock out there with him though!

Ryan: Uhoh

Ben: So anyways, yeah. I will experiment with most stuff generally, as long as the label like... Somebody sent me and I know I gotta go soon, but somebody sent me a smart drug because I get stuff in the mail all the time. And it was I forget the name of the company, and it looked like, you know, a decent blend. It was like a racetam base, but then you know, it was a pretty blue capsule; they used FD&C Blue in it, and I'm like, you know, I threw it out. That's an example of no matter how good it is it does have to have clean ingredients for me to touch it.

Ryan: Absolutely. And you're the second guest in you know, 2 episodes now, to say watch out for those artificial colors. So, look. I know you have to go. And before we let you go tell the folks listening where they can find more of you.

Ben: Um, just go to, I mean that's a pretty good place to do it I would say. There's a good menu at the top with links to everything and um, sign up for the newsletter, I send out interesting stuff. At least stuff I think is interesting! So, there you have it.

Ryan: Right. Well, before we let you go, your top 3 tips for our listeners to live optimal and perform at the highest level.

Ben: Mmm, they always change for me. Like people ask me that and they always change. Let's say.. But I always like them to be practical, right. So as far as what's on my mind right now, I'd have to say um, number one: make sure you pay attention to the importance of light in your life because you know, from food exercise, activity, sex, everything that can regulate our circadian rhythms, light is the most powerful. So um, you know, pay attention to the type of light exposure that you get in the morning and the type of light exposure that you get at night. I just wrote an article about that on my website released this morning about using light to hack your circadian rhythms and jetlag your sleep, so don't underestimate the importance of light.

Number 2 would be, I would say, if you implement at least once a week some kind of fascia workout. Really intensive fascia work, like that's actually a workout. A 30-60 minute workout where you have a whole collection of tools from like balls to sticks to foam rollers etcetera. I'm more and more amazed when I look at fascia research, at the amount of neurotransmitters that fascia can both store and release, the amount of stress that fascia can both store and release, the amount of information that can build up in fascial cross adhesions, or cross linking fascial adhesions. So have a fascial practise, but actually have a devoted workout once a week where it's just you, whatever, audiobook or podcast or whatever and just hit the ball, foam roller, muscle stick, everything. And hit it hard. Just become like a leopard or whatever, hunt down every tight spot on your body and get rid of it. That's number two. It'll really really decrease your risk of injury and increase your longevity of your body in particular.

And then, number 3: I would say, do something every day that makes your head hurt. Because we have a lot of people, especially in like the smart group of the community, the kind of performance.. the biohacking community, whatever, we're used to anything from like our go- to n=1 app or luminosity or brain training or maybe for you it's music, maybe it's reading, whatever. And it's very easy to get comfortable with our cognitive performance enhancing activity of choice and what I've found in my life is once a day I just do something that just makes me fricking frustrated and my head spin, whether it's you know, I've got a little breakdance app on my iphone or you know like, walking handstands, or pulling out the classical guitar book rather than my go-to guitar covers. Something that at least for 15 minutes, makes my head hurt. That's for me, like.. 15 minutes, I literally set my stopwatch and every day I try and learn something new for 15 minutes or something that makes me frustrated and makes my head hurt for 15 minutes and I think that's a really, really good way to keep your brain in the game. So that would be number 3.

Ryan: Awesome. Those are all great tips. And thanks a lot for hanging out with us today, we appreciate your time!

Ben: Cool, thanks for having me on, Ryan

Ryan: Yeah, man. So, for all you guys listening make sure you head over to and get more of Ben and then of course the show notes, the video, and all of the links and resources that we discussed today will be available at And that's it for today, we'll catch you next Thursday!

You've been listening to Optimal Performance podcast. Remember you can find show notes along with video versions at and also remember Optimal Performance podcast loves your 5* ratings, so head on over to iTunes, show us some 5* love. See you next Thursday!


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