Ben Greenfield is a personal fitness trainer who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and biomechanics. He blogs and podcasts about all things fitness and nutrition.

In a recent podcast, he covered some of the basic fitness and nutrition habits that can be developed to improve overall health and wellbeing.
The complete podcast runs for about 1.5 hours.
Some of the things he covers are a little ‘out there’ and I am not sure about the science supporting them, but much of what he says is good practical, evidence-based advice.

Diet:

Everyone is unique, and everyone will have a unique diet that will enhance their health and wellbeing.
Vegan? Carnivore? Ketogenic? Intermittent fasting?
Everyone will respond to these diets in differing ways.

There are, however, certain patterns that keep coming up again and again in populations that are predisposed to longevity and health.

  • High wild plant intake.
  • Eating in ways that limit blood glucose fluctuations.
  • Ingesting foods that are nutrient dense.
  • Eating in a parasympathetic (relaxed) state.

I try to eat in a social setting where I’m surrounded by people and there’s talk and laughter and socializing and relationships and a lot of these things that keep you from just like stuffing food really quickly into your gaping maw and then moving on, like eating when you’re driving, eating when you’re commuting, eating by yourself when you’re touring around on Netflix or replying to emails, et cetera.

Ben Greenfield

Excercise:

Again, everyone is individual so there is no ‘one best exercise program’.
It all depends on your current situation, age, and your goals.
There are certain physiological triggers that everyone will probably benefit from to decrease the risk of mortality and increase their cardiovascular status.

Strength: Resistance training once or twice a week with heavy weight and slow, controlled form.
Stamina:
VO2 Max: or maximum oxygen utilisation. Including a weekly exercise that takes you to your maximum sustainable pace for 4-5 minutes. For example: 4 minutes of exercise at your maximum sustainable pace followed by 4 minutes of recovery. Repeated 4 or 5 times.
Lactic acid tolerance: this involves short intense bursts of exercise followed by a longer recovery period. For example 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy, 8 times through (such as TABATA training).
Stamina: longer period of exercise in a fasted state.

I think that everybody, at least once a week, should get out and do something long in a fasted state. I love to do like a Saturday or Sunday morning hike where I wake up fasted, go train my body how to burn fatty acids very efficiently, train it how to go for a longer time without fuel. Sometimes this could be a bike ride. Sometimes it could be a swim, hike, walk, what have you, but the idea is you’re training your body to go for longer periods of time in the absence of trail mix and energy bars.

Ben Greenfield.

Sleep:

Known as sleep hygiene, some general strategies to help improve the quality of your sleep include:

  • Environment: sleep in a cool, dark, silent room.
  • Exposure to natural sunlight as early as possible in the day.
  • Make sure you don’t have some form of preexisting sleep interrupter such as sleep apnoea.
  • Have a regular, consistent sleep time and wake up time. Ideally, as close to sunset and sunrise as possible.

You use the bedroom for sleep or for sex but not a lot else. You don’t do business on your bed with your laptop. You don’t lay in bed reading books about your career or about things that are going to keep you up at night thinking about them.

Ben Greenfield.

Breathwork:

Develop your breathing pattern. Avoid shallow ‘chest breathing’.
Meditation. Chanting. Singing. All good.

Stress & Inflammation:

Avoid vegetable based oils. Replace with virgin olive oil and grain fed butters.

Moderation:

Include recovery days in your health and fitness program.
Don’t let the FOMO (fear of missing out) lead you to cram your days with yoga, and running and gym work and fasting and cold therapy and a sauna session, and bike riding and all those other routines that make the popular media hypes.

And don’t develop the habit of stressing out when you miss one of your regular training sessions or meal plans.

When you combine, allowing yourself to nourish your body with really good healthy food on a frequent basis, combined with periods of stoicism and fasting and lower calorie intake, and you allow yourself to do all the high-intensity interval training and the heavy lifting, but also have those patterns in your life where you have ways to make your body or your brain better without beating yourself up with exercise.
And this can include things like music, poetry, writing fiction, reading fiction, doing a lot of the things that actually still result in a release of dopamine without necessarily requiring exercise session. Then you allow yourself to avoid a lot of the hormonal depletion that can occur from getting in that cycle of overexercising and being on a constant diet. I think that’s how you keep your hormones optimized.

Ben Greenfield.

Aesthetics:

Can be thought of as ‘looking good’ or symmetry or beauty. The way you carry yourself, your posture, your facial expressions, your attention to self-care.
Pay attention to your body as you use it.

Emotions:

Do not neglect your emotional training. Look for opportunities to express joy, laughter and grattitude throughout the day.

Community, relationships, love, life, social times, having dinner with the family, not being by yourself, understanding that Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat do not scratch our ancestral itch to be able to look people in the eyes, be with humans, be with flesh and blood, be in a tribe.

Ben Greenfield.

If you would like to dig deeper into these concepts you can listen to Ben’s complete podcast here.

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