Ben Greenfield Podcast 103

Podcast #103 from 103-how-to-manage-a-low-thyroid-ketogenic-diets- and-more/ Introduction: In this episode from Ben Greenfield Fitness: how to manage a low thyroid, are ketogenic diets helpful for fat loss? The link between magnesium and testosterone, budgeting your supplement intake, how to improve circulation, knee strengthening exercises and how to eat during an Ironman triathlon. Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield. The day before I’m about to head out for a 10-day flurry of trips across Oregon and California for various business meetings and family reunions. So, over the next couple of weeks, am I still going to be bringing you the podcast? You bet. I have some great interviews lined up. Last week, I asked you to tell me who you wanted to see on the show. You gave me great feedback and I’m lining up a fantastic series of podcasts for the next couple of months so look forward to still getting the podcast even though I’ll be rushing around, and the audio might change a little bit as I use portable microphones and iPhones to record the podcast, but either way we’ll make it work. So, in today’s podcast, I’ll be interviewing Dr. Roby Mitchell who is an expert on many forms of natural medicine, but is going to share some insightful tips on managing a low thyroid and low metabolism today. And why you should even care about your thyroid, even if you don’t have hypothyroidism. I’m also going to be answering listener questions both call in questions and write-in questions that cover a variety of topics. Before we get into that, we’ll have a special announcement feature, a special message and then the Listener Q and A. Enjoy. So here’s what we’ve got going for today’s special announcements. First of all, you may remember that last week I mentioned that I’ll be teaching a triathlon camp in Texas. The 2011 Austin Triathlon Camp. You’re not going to want to miss that if you’re a half Ironman or Ironman triathlete who’s preparing for a 2011 event. It’s a blast. It’s all inclusive. That means your lodging, your meals, your nights out on the town, your training, your segue in. Everything is


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Transcript of Ben Greenfield Podcast 103

Page 1: Ben Greenfield Podcast 103

Podcast #103 from



Introduction: In this episode from Ben Greenfield Fitness: how to manage

a low thyroid, are ketogenic diets helpful for fat loss? The

link between magnesium and testosterone, budgeting your

supplement intake, how to improve circulation, knee

strengthening exercises and how to eat during an Ironman


Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield. The day before

I’m about to head out for a 10-day flurry of trips across

Oregon and California for various business meetings and

family reunions. So, over the next couple of weeks, am I still

going to be bringing you the podcast? You bet. I have some

great interviews lined up. Last week, I asked you to tell me

who you wanted to see on the show. You gave me great

feedback and I’m lining up a fantastic series of podcasts for

the next couple of months so look forward to still getting the

podcast even though I’ll be rushing around, and the audio

might change a little bit as I use portable microphones and

iPhones to record the podcast, but either way we’ll make it

work. So, in today’s podcast, I’ll be interviewing Dr. Roby

Mitchell who is an expert on many forms of natural medicine,

but is going to share some insightful tips on managing a low

thyroid and low metabolism today. And why you should even

care about your thyroid, even if you don’t have

hypothyroidism. I’m also going to be answering listener

questions – both call in questions and write-in questions that

cover a variety of topics. Before we get into that, we’ll have a

special announcement feature, a special message and then

the Listener Q and A. Enjoy.

So here’s what we’ve got going for today’s special

announcements. First of all, you may remember that last

week I mentioned that I’ll be teaching a triathlon camp in

Texas. The 2011 Austin Triathlon Camp. You’re not going to

want to miss that if you’re a half Ironman or Ironman

triathlete who’s preparing for a 2011 event. It’s a blast. It’s all

inclusive. That means your lodging, your meals, your nights

out on the town, your training, your segue in. Everything is

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paid for so be sure to check that out. In addition, I’ve been

getting fantastic donations from listeners. I’ve been sending

out lots of free T-shirts and lots of goodies along with those

T-shirts. And you can donate to the show by going to the

Shownote episodes where I always put lots of goodies and

links and resources that have to do with whatever

information we covered during the podcast. You can go to

the episode Shownotes for episode 103. Scroll down to the

bottom and that’s where you can donate to the show. In

other news, I am still accepting just a couple more people for

the trip to Thailand that I’m organizing. A two-week trip to

Thailand for anybody who’s interested in doing an Olympic

distance or a half Ironman triathlon over there. I’ll be

helping you organize your trip and putting together some

social events as well as organizing some of the logistical

difficulties of racing in Thailand for you. So for any of that,

email me [email protected]. Whether you are a

triathlete, or you just want to shed a few tones, you’re not

going to want to miss the Q and A and featured topic coming

right up.

So folks, if you have a question, you can email

[email protected]. If you’re in the US, you can

call toll free to 8772099439 or if you are international and

you want to use the fantastic free conferencing software

called Skype that you can download from, my

user name is Pacific Fit. That’s Pacific like the ocean, Fit like

fitness. So Pacific Fit. The first question is from listener Sean,

and listener Sean actually had a very long question about

some struggles he’s been having with low testosterone. But

he finishes by saying…

Sean asks: My question is do you have any literature or information

about athletes with low testosterone and how it affects their

training? I’ve listened to your podcast about your own bottle

with low T. Besides any supplements or medication, do you

think it takes a guy like me more time to reach the desired

results due to my low testosterone?

Ben answers: Well Sean, it’s a great question and just to clarify, you say

I’ve been battling with low T – I personally had testosterone

levels that weren’t ideal for the level of competition for

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triathlon that I wanted to into. But from the letter that you

wrote me, you’ve got far more clinical issues when it comes

to your testosterone levels. I see that you’re trying a lot of

different things like the testosterone patch and different

types of supplements. But what I would recommend is that

instead of coming to me for advice on hormone therapy or

medical testosterone management, which I’m really not an

expert in, you go to two different people. One, the guy that is

going to be on the show today, Dr. Roby Mitchell. And you

can find information on him and information on hormones

that he provides at You can also go look at

the company Bioletics, which is where I get the OptiMale

testosterone supplement that I take on a daily basis. I

actually cycle on it. Five days on, two days off. It did double

my testosterone levels. I’m not saying that it’s going to do

that for you, but it’s worth looking into that and also maybe

trying to arrange a consultation with Dr. Cohen over there,

who’s also an expert on testosterone management and

bringing testosterone up. I can tell you that with the athletes

I’ve consulted and the individuals I’ve consulted with who

are attempting to battle low T, especially males who have

testosterone levels that are in the tank – it does take several

months and sometimes more than a year to really get things

optimized in terms of all the different things that have to

take place within your body to get your testosterone levels

back up to where they should be. But because your question

does have to do with testosterone, I wanted to talk to you

about an interesting study that I just came across in Alan

Aragon’s research review. And Alan Aragon is actually going

to be coming on the show to talk about the top ten myths in

nutrition and training here in a couple of weeks. But he talks

about a study that was published in Biology of Trace

Elements Research in March of 2010. The title of the study

was The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on

Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at

Rest and After Exhaustion. The results of that study showed

that the free testosterone levels increased at exhaustion,

that’s after a hard workout, before and after magnesium

supplementation compared to resting levels. The conclusions

were that supplementation with magnesium increased both

free and total testosterone in sedentary individuals and in

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athletes. And those of you who have been listening to the

show know for a while that I have recommended magnesium

on the show. Dr. Cohen has, Dr. Caroline Dean has, Dr.

DiMarco has. Lots of different physicians are really

recommending magnesium and more magnesium than what

you’re going to see in most dietary guidelines. We’re talking

about magnesium levels… as a matter of fact, in this study,

the actual dosage was 10 milligrams per kilogram of body

weight. So for example, for a guy like me that’s between 700

and 800 milligrams of magnesium. Now between the food

and the supplements that I take, that’s about what I get on a

daily basis. But a lot of people aren’t even taking 100

milligrams of magnesium. The way that I do it is I use a

combination of topical and oral magnesium. I’ll put a link to

the topical magnesium that I use in the episode Shownotes,

and the oral magnesium that I use – I’ll put a link to that as

well. I’m not saying that the increased levels of testosterone

are necessarily going to enhance performance. As a matter of

fact, this study shows and Alan Aragon on his notes on the

study mentioned that it didn’t exactly mean that you were

going to be a better athlete or perform better, but there was

an increase in testosterone. And I have yet to see that be a

bad thing. So, I’ll put a link to a couple forms of magnesium

in the Shownotes for you and also check out Dr. Cohen and

Dr. Fitt. So we’re going to move on to the next question. This

question is from listener Patrick.

Patrick asks: How much fitness is really gained in the last big month for a

long distance training plan? I’m on your Triathlon

Dominator plan and I’m three weeks into the last five week

kick of volume. I’d be interested to know how much all this

volume really amounts to on race day. I get the feeling that it

might not make much of a difference from a fitness

perspective, but perhaps help a lot from a mental perspective.

Ben answers: Well Patrick, you’re on the right track in that if you’re going

to do something like an Ironman triathlon, whether or not

it’s going to help you to sit in a bike saddle for five hours

before a race from a physical perspective – you definitely

have to have some amount of mental fortuitiveness to

actually make it through that event. Just by training and

doing a few long sessions. However, you need to take into

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consideration a few things. For example, during the

marathon, you are going to be on your feet for at least three

hours. For most people, closer to four hours and sometimes

more than four hours. If you’ve never spent that much time

on your feet, moving on your feet and you’ve never spent

even close to that time moving on your feet, then you may

not have the actual strength in your ligaments, in your bones,

in your soft tissue to actually support you during that event.

Especially after you’ve been on your bike for five to six hours.

The same goes for the swim. If you’ve never been horizontal

in a pool or in the open water for an hour or an hour and a

half or however long it’s going to take you to swim 2.4 miles,

you may find some hip flexor and some core fatigue that you

didn’t experience from shorter swim sessions. That’s why

including some volume is important. But it goes even farther

than that. Understand that there are lots of adaptations to

endurance training. You gain in your oxygen capacity and

your ability to use oxygen. You gain in your ability to be able

to buffer lactic acid and also shuttle that lactic acid up to the

liver to be reconverted and reused as fuel. You improve in

your exercise economy, meaning that if you’re training to

swim, cycle and run you’re going to become more efficient

neuromuscularly at swimming, cycling or running. Whether

it be your stride length or your push off when you’re running,

your swimming technique, your body position on the bicycle,

your ability to push and pull the pedals. You also develop a

greater ability to use fat as a fuel during a higher intensity

exercise, meaning that you get a carbohydrate sparing effect.

You’re able to go longer on less fuel. You get a conversion of

your fast explosive – what are called type two muscle fibers

into type one muscle fibers, which are slow twitch muscle

fibers that take a much longer time to fatigue. So I could go

on. You get increased capillarization which means your blood

vessels that feed into the muscles become more dense and

larger. You get an increased size and density of the

mitochondria in your cells which are the part of your cells

that are able to take oxygen and convert it into energy. You

get increased stroke volume in your heart meaning that your

heart can pump more blood per beat, delivering more oxygen

to your tissues and your tissues can become enhanced in

their ability to extract that oxygen from the blood as it rushes

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past. All sorts of things happen in your body that if you did

not engage in heavy training up to the race, you would not

gain all of those results. Now, there’s also the use it or lose it

philosophy in exercise. What that means is all those aerobic

capacity benefits that I talked about tend to disappear after a

certain amount of time spent in de-training. There has been

a study that looked at well-conditioned athletes who trained

regularly for a year and in that study, they stopped those

athletes from exercising and after three months they lost half

of their aerobic conditioning, which means if you really

neglect your fitness in the 12 weeks leading up to the race,

you’re going to lose a lot. And your muscles can tend to

atrophy after they haven’t been stimulated for 72 hours.

That’s how short a time period you have to really be able to

stimulate your muscles and to do exercises that use the

muscles that you’re planning on using during the race. So

there are a lot of physical benefits that maintain a sharpness

for triathlon in your body that you’re going to lose if you

don’t engage in the workouts. Now as far as the mad volume

goes, like on the Triathlon Dominator plan, there is an 18-

mile in there. There’s a 100 mile bike in there. Could you go

out and do an Ironman triathlon without doing those? Yeah

probably. But you wouldn’t do as if you had because you’re

not going to have the mental wherewithal, and you’re not

going to have that neuromuscular training and it’s likely that

something called the central governor in your brain – which

is the part of your brain that says “Okay, I’m tired now, this

is all I can do” – it’s likely that that’s going to kick in a little

bit earlier if you haven’t gotten yourself close to that marker

of long-distance fatigue. So there’s a lot of reasons to be sure

you include the volume. Any single training plan that you

look at – whether it be a volume or intensity training plan

definitely has some workout that stimulates something close

to race distance in those final eight weeks leading up to

something like an Ironman triathlon. So great question.

A question from listener Gabe.

Gabe asks: I’m on a budget but committed to improving my health. If

you had to choose, would you take the EnerPrime

supplement as a first priority or the Living Fuel Super

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Greens supplement? Also, which supplements would you say

are the most valuable to you in order of priority?

Ben answers: Well, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the two

supplements that Gabe just mentioned, I will put a link to

those in the Shownotes. But to answer the first question, you

have to understand the difference between those green

supplements. They both contain super foods, greens, things

like chorela and spirolina, blue-green algae, all sorts of

basically alkalinic super foods that help the body fight off

inflammation, have a less acidic state, give you a little bit

more energy and they’re very, very nutrient dense forms of

nutrition meaning that there are not a lot of calories but a

high amount of nutrients and minerals and vitamins. Now

the difference between the two is that the Living Fuel Super

Greens is formulated to be a meal replacement, meaning that

it’s got carbohydrates. It’s got proteins, it’s got a couple

hundred calories per serving. The EnerPrime supplement is

designed to be just a green supplement meaning it doesn’t

have the carbohydrates, the proteins and the calories. Now

my entire philosophy of life and nutrition is to try and get my

meals from real foods as much as possible and then

supplement that real food with the things I need to fill in the

holes. Now although I think that both of those supplements

that were mentioned, the EnerPrime and the Living Fuel

Super Greens are both excellent supplements I would tend to

have to go with the EnerPrime just because I like to have

salad, fresh fruit, things of that nature. Post-workout I try

and have a real meal like chicken and quinoa or brown rice

with a little bit of nuts, almonds, things of that nature. So for

me to have a post-workout drink is pretty uncommon. That’s

why if I had to choose from a budget perspective between the

EnerPrime and the Living Fuels Super Greens, I would go for

the EnerPrime. That being said, I do use both. I use a serving

of that Living Fuel Super Greens typically about once every

couple of days, I’ll have that as a meal. Usually when I’m on

the go and I’m real busy. And I do the EnerPrime powder

every single day. I stir that powder into a glass of water every


So the second part of your question.

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Gabe asks: What would I do if I had to budget my supplements?

Ben answers: It’s a pretty simple answer. In this order, I would take my

greens supplement, I would take a vitamin D supplement

and I take the NanoSpray from Bioletics. I would take a

magnesium supplement and I’d take a fish oil supplement.

All four of those are supplements that are very effective, that

are not super expensive. If we took them all together, you’d

easily be under $100 a month and all of them are well proven

to really help out with your overall health and your

performance. So that’s what I would do if I were you. Take a

green supplement, take a vitamin D, take magnesium, take a

fish oil and then eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Lots of real

food, real nutrient dense food.

Laurel asks: I just pulled something in my back doing squats, putting the

weights down when I was done. I am trying to get my left

quad back from an ACL energy and I think squats are some

of the better exercises, but are there safer ones to do at home?

Ben answers: Well Laurel, the interesting thing about strengthening your

legs is that any body builder will tell you that they do a lot of

reps when they want to build up leg muscles. They’ll do 12, 15,

20 reps and that results in hypertrophy in development of

the leg musculature and you actually don’t need a squat rack

or a barbell to do those amounts of reps. You can use things

like kettle bells, dumbbells. I have something called a gym

stick that I use. You can check that out at However, if you’re

rehabbing your quad from an ACL injury, I don’t think that

heavy squats are necessarily going to get you the most bang

for your buck compared to single-leg exercises, which are

going to actually train your knee to move properly so you

don’t risk tearing your ACL again or doing damage to your

ACL again, whatever it is that you did to it. So, you would

want to do what are called propeoceptive exercises, which

means you’re doing things where you’re standing on one foot.

Whether it means starting off with walking lunges,

supporting yourself in the middle of the walking lunge by

standing on one leg and then dropping into that lunge

pattern, doing single-leg squats starting by supporting

yourself using a wall or a stability ball and then gradually

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getting to the level where you can do so without holding on

to something. And then using things like pillows and bosu

balls and elements that you stand on that make you balance

and not even worrying too much about doing leg exercises

per se but just standing and balancing. I have some people

who have weak knees and I have them stand on one foot

while they’re brushing their teeth just to improve the

propeoception in that leg and the ability of the elements

around the knee to develop the awareness that’s necessary to

support the body. Dropping off of low level surfaces like the

bottom of your stairs and practicing landing in a controlled

pattern can also help out your knees quite a bit. You can do

that double leg and then progress to doing it single leg. When

I was in college, I did an internship down at the Nike Sports

Performance Center in Duke University, and there were a

couple athletes that I worked with… NFL football players,

both rehabbing from ACL injuries and half the work that we

did was things that if you looked at, you would have thought

they were pansies because all we were doing was doing real

light weights on one leg, doing balancing on balance pillows.

We were even doing some water running and some aqua

jogging, some light plyometrics meaning those jumping and

landing type of activities and some light change of direction

type of activities out in the field. But not a lot of squatting

600, 700 pounds or anything like that. So sometimes brute

strength is not what you need to protect a weak link in your

body as much as the awareness that’s necessary to keep that

injury from occurring again and help your body to protect


Now you had a second part of your question.

Laurel asks: There are so many slang terms for exercises. Is there a place

to look them up?

Ben answers: There are tons of different exercise resources that are out

there, Laurel. YouTube of course is the most popular one

that comes to mind. You always want to be careful because

obviously anybody and their dog can throw exercises out on

YouTube. I have a full exercise database – exercise photo and

video database at my Web site I’ll put a

link to that in the episode Shownotes for you. I also have

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several workouts, recipes, videos, tons of different things at

my YouTube channel. That’s at I’ll put a link to that

in the Shownotes as well.

So we have a question from listener Patrick.

Patrick asks: What is your opinion on very low carbohydrate ketogenic

diets? In studying for my CISSN test (and that’s a Certified

International Society of Sports Nutritionist test) and reading

a chapter on very low carbohydrate ketogenic diets – they

basically praise it to the skies as a new cutting edge way to

increase your metabolism and lose weight, saying that it’s

safe and effective in terms of promoting weight or fat loss,

improving metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors and

compatible with a physically active lifestyle.

Ben answers: Okay, I guess the best place to start here is to explain

listeners what a very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet

actually is. What ketosis actually is. Basically when the

amount of carbohydrate that your body burns drops below a

critical level – so the fuel that your body needs drops below a

critical level, your body turns to protein and fat reserves for

energy. So if you’re on a low carbohydrate diet, that’s

basically what’s going to happen. Your body will take protein

into a process called gluconeogenesis – convert it into

carbohydrate energy and fat through a process called beta

oxidation, also convert that into energy. So when you convert

protein into energy, you do get some nitrogen released into

your bloodstream and your kidneys do have to excrete some

excess urine due to sodium loss from that nitrogen. When

you break out fat, you also produce something called ketones,

which also puts a little bit of a burden on the kidneys. So the

idea behind people who slam the low carbohydrate ketogenic

diet is that if ketosis continues for a long time with this very

low carbohydrate diet, there can be some damage to the liver

and the kidneys. Now there has been some research done

that shows that ketones in the bloodstream actually can

inhibit the release of insulin and the release of cortisol. So

you can get some blood sugar stabilization, you can get some

calming of your hunger. They’ve shown that it can help

prevent epileptic seizures because keytones actually can help

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calm down your brain cells and at the same time, it’s kind of

interesting because there are also some problems with

ketogenic diets such as increasing your risk of kidney stones.

Definitely not recommended for kids. There’s been some

research that shows that it can retard growth. It can lower

bone density. For some people, they get a little bit of what’s

called acidosis, hypoglycemia and low blood sugar especially

in diabetic or pre-diabetic people – this is not really such a

good idea. And interestingly, it can also be associated with

kidney stones because of the excess calcium that occurs in

the urine which happens when you get increased bone

demineralization that occurs with that’s called acidosis or an

acid state from the breakdown of all the fats and the proteins.

Now the interesting thing about the ketogenic diet is that the

question is, is it the low, low carbohydrate intake that is

helping you to lose weight on a diet like that and to stabilize

your insulin levels? Or is it the higher levels of protein intake?

There has been a study that looked at low carbohydrate diets

that included a high amount of protein intake and regular

carbohydrate diets that contained a high amount of protein

intake and the regular carbohydrate with the higher protein

intake actually improved the body composition more than

the low carbohydrate diet – the ketogenic diet with the high

protein intake. So, the idea in ketogenesis for me when it

comes down to the nutrition plans that I write and the help

that I give to people is I always look at it from an energetic

standpoint. If you have a hard exercise session – if you’re

lifting weights, if you’re engaging in a high amount of

endurance activity, this diet is not for you. There’s way too

much use of carbohydrate that’s going on. There’s way too

much reliance on glucose and glycogen that’s going on. For

you to be able to justify either tearing through your muscle

tissue or lowering your body fat or just burning too much fat

in general, which will form all those excess ketones – for you

to justify doing it. It’s simply not healthy. A low, low

carbohydrate diet for an active population, it doesn’t even

make sense. It’s not the way that the Earth is built. There’s

fruit and starchy vegetables all over the place. There’s

potatoes and yams and peanuts and all sorts of things for you

to eat that can contain carbohydrates. Why the heck would

you fight against nature and not consume carbohydrate

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energy that’s plentiful around you? As long as you’re doing it

in moderation. Now if somebody really needs to lose a lot of

weight quickly, I don’t have a problem with going high

protein. I did it when I was body building. I went very low

carbohydrate. I probably got to the point of ketogenesis. A lot

of times your breath starts to smell a little bit when you get

to that point. Almost like nail polish due to the state of

acidosis and the ketones in your bloodstream. I didn’t feel all

that hot. I felt horrible actually for the last few weeks leading

up to my bodybuilding show. And I had very low energy, very

low sex drive, did not feel healthy. So, what I would say from

my perspective is that although I haven’t pored through over

all the research significantly to compare the ketogenic diets

with a regular carbohydrate diet with high protein, I would

tend to lean toward the direction of consuming as I’ve

recommended in the past somewhere in the range of 40 to

50% carbohydrate if you’re going to consume a controlled

carbohydrate diet and then make sure you get lots of high

quality proteins in and continue to consume anywhere in the

range of 20 to 30% fat primarily from healthy fat sources. So,

it all comes down to really depending on who you are but if

you’re an active individual and I know that most of the

people who listen to the show are active individuals, you’d be

better off going medium carbohydrate, high protein rather

than low, low carbohydrate; high, high protein.

Jennifer Roe asks: Hi Ben, my name is Jennifer Roe and I have a question about

circulation. I like to do a lot of hiking, skiing in high

elevation peaks in Colorado. And I have always had this

problem with – as soon as I finish exercising, my body cools

down really fast and basically the blood leaves my fingers.

My fingers turn white. They are kind of swollen and they

become very, very painful with cold. So, I was wondering if

there’s any supplements out there or nutrition or tips that I

could do to improve my circulation so I don’t have this

problem. I’ve tried using different pairs of gloves and mittens

to try and keep the problem from happening and I have it all

the time, even in the summertime during my exercise. So if

you can let me know of anything I could do, that would be

great. Thanks a lot, love your podcast. Bye.

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Ben answers: Jennifer, there’s absolutely some supplements that can help

with circulation but I wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket

and just rely on nutrition supplements to help with

circulation. That being said a fish oil and Omega 3 fatty acids

would definitely be something that you could take. Bioletics

puts out a great fish oil. There’s another one called Ener-EFA,

that’s a flax oil. You can find both of those – I’ll put a link to

them in the Shownotes for you. Ginko biloba can help with

circulation. That’s basically a herb that you can find at most

health food stores. Topical magnesium which I already

mentioned earlier in this episode can help. But I would also

look into something like a muscle warming lotion. There’s

one that I use in cold weather triathlons made by a company

called Greyhound at I’ll put a link

to that in the Shownotes. But that’s actually got cayenne

pepper and other essential oils in it that help draw blood to

the extremities and improve circulation. So I would

definitely look into that. I would also look into my favorite

type of glove that I wear when I’m doing cold weather cycling

or skate skiing or anything where I’ve got to have my hands

out there in the elements. That’s Lobster Gloves. A little bit

different than mittens, a little bit different than regular

gloves. You’ve basically got two fingers on one side and two

fingers on the other side and then your thumb in its own

compartment. Those tend to work really well. Google those.

“Lobster Gloves.” They work really well. So I’ll put a link to

those other things in the Shownotes and that’s a great

question and I hope you do well with that. But Greyhound is

something that definitely I would try.

Jason asks: Ben, hey my name is Jason and I just want to say that I’m a

huge fan of your podcast. My question is about Ironman

nutrition. I’m planning on doing Ironman (inaudible) at the

end of August. I just wondered if you could possibly divulge

some of your insight into fueling pre-race, during the race

and maybe recovery from the race all the way from the

nutritional way down to (inaudible). Hey, I appreciate it. My

name is Jason.

Ben asks: So, Jason. That is a very, very loaded question. You may

suspect that that’s a very, very loaded question. I could fill

probably several hours worth of audio answering that

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question. And I hate to do this, but I need to tell you that I

have answered your question. I have several CDs out there

and audio products that go into great detail – every tiny,

little element that you need to consider for the last eight

weeks leading up to Ironman all the way up to race day, race

morning, what to eat, what to drink, what to take in during

the race, what to put in your swim to bike bag, bike to run

bag, bike special needs bag, run special needs bag, morning

swim bag. Everything. Every pill, every capsule, everything.

That is basically what Triathlon Dominator is. So rather than

go into great detail on Ironman fueling in this podcast, you

need to go check out Triathlon Dominator because that’s

information that I’ve put so much work into that I have a

hard time going on with an hour long response on the

podcast when I’ve really already given that response on a

program that I’ve designed to be comprehensive for Ironman.

So I’ll put a link to that. Sorry

to not answer your question in detail. It’s just too big man. I

can’t answer that question on this podcast. So, that being

said we’re going to go on. I actually didn’t receive any

questions – really any questions that were that good or that

weren’t repeat questions from Twitter this week. But again, if

you ask me a question on Twitter, then I will send you a free

T-shirt if I answer your question on the podcast and choose

it as the best question. How can you do that? Go to, hit the “follow” button, then

write a message and ask me a question. So we’re going to

move on to this week’s interview with Dr. Roby Mitchell, and

remember to leave a comment on the episode Shownotes if

you have feedback on this interview.

Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and I am here

once again with Dr. Roby Mitchell, aka Dr. Fitt. Straight

from Texas, this natural healing physician has a ton of

experience working with both athletes and the general

population. He’s a triathlete himself. He also happens to be

an expert on thyroid activity and hypothyroidism and the

effect that that can have on your metabolism and on your

health and some of the solutions that are out there and

alternatives that are out there for treating your thyroid. So,

Dr. Mitchell, thank you for coming on the call.

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Dr. Roby Mitchell: Oh, it’s great to be on, Ben.

Ben: So, the most important thing to start off with – just as a

refresher for people is the thyroid itself and why proper

thyroid activity is actually important. So can you give your

overview of how you in your words would say people should

think about their thyroids and the importance of the thyroid?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: So, the thyroid gland is a gland that’s located right there at

the bottom of your neck. It’s right over your trachea and that

gland produces a hormone called thyroid hormone. The

reason thyroid hormone is so important is because that is the

– you think of it as the sparkplug in an engine or the

electricity in your home. That is your energy source. So that

is the hormone that goes into your cell and asks as a

sparkplug for these organelles that are inside each cell. These

little power plants that are called mitochondria. Now the

mitochondria are the actual energy makers, so think of the

mitochondria as the engine, but you have to have that

sparkplug in there in order to kick off the energy producing

process. So, as thyroid levels go down, then energy goes

down and we see stuff start to build up in the system and the

motor doesn’t run well.

Ben: Interesting. So, for the same reason that someone would say

exercise to keep the mitochondria dense and keep a high

level of cellular activity, that’s the same reason why someone

would want to make sure their thyroid activity is optimized.

Dr. Roby Mitchell: No question, and actually there’s a dovetail in there in that

exercise improves the conversion of T4 to T3, and we’ll talk

about why that’s important here in just a minute.

Ben: Gotcha. So, in a previous podcast episode when you were on

the show and I’ll make sure I link to that in the Shownotes

for people, you talked about when somebody walks into your

office how you look for a range of symptoms. Things that you

can see just by looking at them without doing a lot of blood

testing to identify that they may have low thyroid activity.

Can you briefly review some of the things, some of the most

important parameters that you look at?

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Dr. Roby Mitchell: Again, thyroid – one of the major things that it does is it

creates cellular energy. So one of the primary complaints

that people with hypothyroidism come in with is low energy,

no energy. I’m tired all the time. For athletes, this will

manifest in an inability to recover. Your recovery time will

start to slow down and we see this as people get older. I

started to notice it in my 30s. It started taking me a little

longer to recover from a triathlon event. Another thing that

people will notice is hair loss, constipation is a very common

symptom. Again, and actually one of the very common thing

is muscle cramps. If you start having muscle cramps on a

regular basis, charley horses, that’s an indication of either

low magnesium or low thyroid. Cold hands and feet, again

the thyroid is very important for peripheral circulation so

when you start getting cold hands and feet that’s an

indication also. Some of these clinical features like high

blood pressure and high cholesterol and so forth – when I

see a person, I look at their – I automatically scan people for

these physical symptoms. So one is the ridging on the nails.

If people have these longitudinal ridging in their nails, that’s

a clue for me. If they’re losing their eyebrows on the

periphery, that’s a clue for me. Just a pot belly is an

indication of low thyroid. Swelling in the hands or legs. If

their rings are getting tight or when you take off your socks,

there’s an indentation from your socks or pantyhose for

women. You take off your sandals or shoes, if there’s

indentation there that means that you’re holding on to excess

fluid. Skin manifestations – so things like eczema and hives

and psoriasis. Even athlete’s feet. People think that’s

something you catch. It’s not something really that you catch,

it’s something that you are prone to. So those fungi that

cause that particular problem – what we call dermatophytes,

they are opportunistic organisms. So if they see an opening,

they’ll jump in. Everybody that’s using that same shower

doesn’t get the athlete’s feet, right? It’ll just be the person

that has again kind of a crack in the armor. A lowness in

their ability for the immune system to keep them healthy

because of low thyroid.

Ben: Interesting. Can the same be said for other fungal thyroid

issues like yeast growth?

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Dr. Roby Mitchell: No question. No question. So that is a big under riding factor

for proliferation of candida is the dropping of thyroid levels.

The dropping of the thyroid – that is the first domino. And

then things just spread from there. The yeast starts to grow

and then you get the inflammation and from there, once that

inflammation starts in any particular place – that is the

(unintelligible) for all these diseases that we talk about like

coronary heart disease or Alzheimer’s or gastrointestinal

problems, diabetes, osteoporosis. If you link any of those

terms – if you go up and Google whatever your favorite

disease is and inflammation, you’ll always see inflammation

as the common denominator and that inflammation again is

sparked by that overgrowth of yeast and then your immune

system’s response to that.

Ben: Interesting. I also think that’s interesting what you said

about the cramping issue because there are several athletes

out there who I know have done quite a bit of work on their

electrolytes and their hydration intake who cramp frequently

who may not have looked at their thyroid activity. Now,

when you’re talking about the options for people who have

hypothyroidism, I know that Synthroid for example is one

popular pharmaceutical drug that’s used quite a bit, I’m

curious what types of treatments you incorporate and what

type of alternatives there are out there to prescription drugs

for hypothyroidism?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: So, first let’s distinguish between drugs and hormones. So,

thyroid replacement is a hormone replacement therapy. A

bioidentical hormone therapy. So we have to put back into

the body the exact same molecule that your normal thyroid

would normally produce. Now, a hormone is something that

your body recognizes and it has a biochemical specificity,

just like what your body normally produces and hormones

facilitate normal biochemical reactions whereas drugs are

chemicals that are foreign to human biochemistry and

they’re designed to inhibit normal biochemistry. So when we

do thyroid replacement whether it’s synthetic or the natural

ones that we’re talking about, that is a hormone replacement

therapy rather than a drug therapy. That being said, there

are several different choices out there. So now the actual

thyroid hormone – when we talk about what your

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mitochondria wants – the type of sparkplug they want to fuel

the engine, it wants T3 which is this amino acid terasine with

three molecules of iodine on it. That’s T3. That’s the actual

thyroid hormone. Now, your thyroid gland though produces

it in the form of T4 and that T4 has to be directed – it flows

through the blood stream to the cell or to the liver and it’s

converted to T3 and then again that T3, that’s where the

action is. So even though – but a lot of people don’t make

that conversion from the T4 to the T3. So they’ll get put on

T4 Synthroid or one of these other brands of levothyroxine,

it’s the generic name – they’ll be treated but then they’ll go to

my Web site and go through the checklist and they’ll find

they still have lots of symptoms of low thyroid. Their blood

test will be so that they’re balanced and everything and

normal, but they’ll still have all these symptoms of


Ben: Interesting. Why is that?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: Again, because they’re not converting the T4 into T3, right?

So if we just give them the – it’s like you take that oil that’s

spilling there in the gulf, you use gasoline in your car right?

And oil is made from gasoline. Why don’t we just take out

the middleman and put the oil in your gas tank? Well your

gas tank won’t convert oil into gasoline, right? A very similar

thing with the T4. Many people are given T4 but they don’t

convert it into T3.

Ben: So at some point you have to get from the – do you go for the

T4 to the T3 conversion? Do you attack it from that level or

do you try to get T3 into someone or can that only be done in

the body? That conversion?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: So, you can attempt to do both. So one of the things we just

alluded to earlier was that exercise improves that conversion

of T4 to T3. So regular exercise is very important. Not just

for us athletes, but for everybody. Testosterone is a key

element in converting T4 into T3. That’s why in most sports,

we separate men and women. We have a little bit of an

advantage as far as energy and strength output and so forth

because our testosterone being able to make us get a little bit

more bang out of the buck for thyroid. Selenium is very

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important. There’s an enzyme that makes that conversion for

T4 to T3. That enzyme is dependent on selenium. So if you’re

low selenium, then you’re not going to have an optimum

conversion of T4 to T3. Now, the next step from that though

is to give a product rather than one that just has T4, has a

combination of T4 and T3 to prime the pump so to speak and

that can get things going. So Armor Thyroid is a prescription

product that fits that combination of T4 plus T3. Armor

Thyroid has been on the market for a long time. Lots and lots

of people take that. It’s an extract from whole porcine

thyroid. Thyrolar is a synthetic form of the same thing. It’s a

T4,T3 product. It’s just a synthetic form and then a

pharmacist – and then the next step – I have patients who

have such an inability to convert T4 to T3, we have to give

them just pure T3. A pharmacist can compound a product to

us that’s just pure T3.

Ben: Do you just go to a compounding pharmacist and they make

pure T3?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: Yes, now your doctor has to prescribe it, right? That’s not the

thing that you jump right to. That’s why you need to go to

someone who has some expertise in using these thyroid

products, but the pure T3 product – many times for some of

my patients, that is just a bit of icing on the cake. So we get

them 95% optimized and they’re not quite there so we

sprinkle in a bit of this pure T3 and we get them hitting on all


Ben: Now what’s the ThyroPak that I saw you email out about a

few weeks ago?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: Now, ThyroPak is very similar to the Armor Thyroid, the

prescription thyroid with two exceptions. One is that it’s

derived from whole beef thyroid glands rather than the

porcine or the pig thyroid. The other is that it’s non-

prescription, but even though it’s over the counter, it’s still a

thyroid product. Again, it’s very similar to the Armor Thyroid,

and it’s able to be purchased over the counter because it’s

kind of a loophole in what we call the DSHEA act that allows

things that are natural in nature to be able to be bought over

the counter. Initially the story I hear is that it was outlawed.

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The FDA did. But the guy that was producing it down there

in Mexico had enough money to take them to court and

overcame the injunction. So that product is available over the

counter now.

Ben: Interesting. So in terms of if someone’s unable to find Armor

Thyroid, that might be something that they could look for –

not that we’re prescribing medical advice on the show but

that’d be an alternative to something like Armor Thyroid?

Dr. Roby Mitchell: Yes, it would. I would recommend to anybody that goes to

my Web site and they come out with all these symptoms

checked and it’s an indication that they have low thyroid –

the first thing that I would do is I would get this book called

Type 2 Hypothyroidism by Dr. Mark Starr. Read through

that so you can get educated. Don’t just run off and start

trying to find a thyroid product, or even go to your doctor

without getting educated first. Because most doctors are not

educated on this particular topic well enough to matriculate

patients through successfully. So a patient needs to go in

with a little bit of knowledge about how things should go.

They should know what symptoms are associated with

hypothyroidism. They should know a lot more than just a

doctor doing a blood test and well, this looks normal. That’s

not enough. Once the patient gets that information under

their belt, then the next thing I would do is go to a

practitioner. Try and find a practitioner. It can be your

family doctor, but you just need to find somebody that is

open-minded, that is going to work with you, not be

dismissive of you, not treat you like an idiot or somebody

who has no idea what they’re doing. Find a doctor like that to

work with. It doesn’t have to be a specialist. Again, it can just

be your family practitioner or an internist. And then work

with that person. You two work in conjunction to get it where

you start to bring down the level of many of these symptoms

that you’re having from being low thyroid.

Ben: Interesting. So people can find out more information about

how to access Dr. Fitt’s list of thyroid symptoms, and I’ll also

put a link to some of the other resources that he talked about

in the Shownotes to this episode. Now, is there anything else

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that you’d like to share that you feel will be important for


Dr. Roby Mitchell: Again, the ThyroPak is something that is over the counter.

Even so, I wouldn’t recommend that people try to

orchestrate their own thyroid therapy. You need to get with

somebody who knows what they’re doing and will graduate

you along in order to get the proper results because it’s not

just about replacing thyroid. If you’re having low thyroid,

there’s a strong possibility that there are other things that

are out of balance also. Again, I mentioned the selenium.

There can be thyroid imbalances also particularly with

women. The estrogen that women have, that tends to block

thyroid. So if you have an imbalance in your estrogen and

progesterone, you have to get that right. There’s cortisol, also.

Many times there’s a combination of low thyroid and low

cortisol. You won’t optimize thyroid unless you optimize

cortisol. So that has to be looked at also. Even though this

ThyroPak is over the counter, right? It doesn’t give people a

license to go in and try and do their own thyroid replacement


Ben: Gotcha. Alright, well folks if you have questions for Dr. Fitt,

then go to the episode Shownotes and leave a comment or

question and let me know what you think and if you have

some things that you’d still like to hear about from Dr. Fitt

about hypothyroidism. So thank you for coming on the call

today Roby.

Dr. Roby Mitchell: Oh, certainly. Again, always a pleasure.

Ben: Alright. Until next time folks, this is Ben Greenfield and

Roby Mitchell signing out.

Alright folks, that is going to wrap up this week’s podcast.

Remember to go to iTunes. Do a search for Ben Greenfield

on iTunes. Leave a ranking or rating on the podcast and

while you’re at it, check out my other podcast over at the

Quick and Dirty Tips network. Little five to ten snippets on

basic fitness concepts. Actually there’s some pretty advanced

concepts on there as well. But much shorter than this

podcast and still a great deal of information put into a very

dense five to ten minutes. So check that out at

Page 22: Ben Greenfield Podcast 103 or just do a search for

“get fit guy” in iTunes and that will come up. That’s just

another free podcast. So remember to go to the episode

Shownotes. I make sure I put all the information that you

need in those and you can access them at For this particular episode,

you go to and click on

episode number 103. So, I think that’s about it. Last thing is I

did get an email from a listener this week who wanted to

know if there was a way he could not listen to these episodes

sitting in front of his computer. Absolutely. You can

download any of these by subscribing to iTunes or by looking

at the “how to subscribe” link that’s right there at And it’s all free, but

absolutely. You can get these on your mp3 player, listen to

them while you bike, run, lift, drive your car, do laundry,

clean your house, whatever. So that being said, until next

time, this is Ben Greenfield signing out.

For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s

from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at

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