Today the crew from Mind Pump (Sal, Adam, and Justin) come on the show to discuss dietary and exercise strategies for optimum body composition. This episode was not only funny but very informative, especially if you are struggling to lose those last few pounds.
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Strategies for Optimum Body Composition with the Mind Pump Crew
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. And today, we are going to do a podcast with the guys from Mind Pump. If you remember, I went on their show a number of months ago.
And today, I had on the show Justin, Adam, and Sal from Mind Pump. And the gentlemen over at Mind Pump are personal trainers/health and fitness experts. And they do a pretty excellent job with everything related to health and fitness—dietary programming, exercise programming, supplementation. And I wanted to have them on the show to get their perspective as experts in health and fitness.
We mostly spoke about things to optimize body composition. But it certainly wasn’t limited to that. And one of maybe the most important takeaways that was presented during this call was the principle of oscillation—not only in your exercise routine but also in your diet with your macros—and how that for some people can be what gets them that last little bit of response in terms of dropping some body fat.
Now, of course, if someone is frankly overweight or obese or type 2 diabetic, then some simple interventions like reducing carbohydrate intake in the diet is going to be very helpful.
But when we start getting down the road of people who have already made some changes, they’ve already had some gains, and now the return on investment is diminishing, they provide some really interesting insights.
One in particular that Sal shared was the oscillation, actually, of your protein intake. And that was something that was new to me where, oftentimes, we get the recommendation to keep protein intake somewhat consistent.
However, he made an argument that you can become desensitized to the anabolic effects or just the healthy effects or the effects in general of protein if you consume it in higher amounts and if you’re chronic in your consumption of it, just like you can with carbohydrates. But rather in using oscillations of protein intake, you can maximize the benefit.
So they shared some really interesting tips and tricks. We did the podcast in their format, which is essentially everyone wears a headset and we’re all going at the same time. So it is a little bit hard to keep us on track because of having four people talking at once. I tried to keep us on track. We get a little bit pulled off track.
It’s a fun conversation. They’re a fun group. It’s a little bit longer of a format. But it was a ton of fun. And I’m super appreciative of them taking the time to record this episode. And so with no further ado, we will jump right in. Alright. Thanks.
Mind Pump: Taylor has been brought on the team right now because he represents a definitely younger—
Mind Pump: He’s the youth.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: But he’s older.
Mind Pump: He’s our blood boy.
Mind Pump: He’s old enough, experienced enough that he—
Mind Pump: If you watch Silicon Valley, you know what I’m talking about.
Mind Pump: He’s already built a successful business himself. He’s been a part of a startup company, watched it grow. So he’s a very, very intelligent young man. But he is far better at the marketing side to the younger generation than any of us are. So Taylor and I are talking about shooting a video. And we’re like, “Hey, we’ve got to definitely do one with Dr. Ruscio, going through the store.”
And I go over to Sal. And I’m like, “Sal, you’ve got to go with Mike. Make sure that Taylor knows the right questions to ask you and stuff like that.”
Dr. Ruscio: Right. Right.
Mind Pump: Because he doesn’t know anything about this.
Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha. Gotcha. Sure.
Mind Pump: So I send Sal to go. So Sal does like he always would do, which is have a great dialogue conversation with you. And then when Taylor watched it, he was like, “That’s not what I wanted.” He goes, “What I wanted was I wanted to ask the most stupidest, basic questions like someone like me—”
Mind Pump: Basically, we sent the smartest guy out there with you. Adam would have been perfect. It would have been over everybody’s head.
Dr. Ruscio: It’s tough being smart, man, isn’t it?
Mind Pump: It is.
Dr. Ruscio: It’s tough.
Mind Pump: Well, and this is a real challenge. And I think a lot of people in the health industry fail here. This is part of what—
Mind Pump: Well, the ones that succeed at it end up giving [bleep] information.
Dr. Ruscio: That’s a tough balance.
Mind Pump: It is.
Dr. Ruscio: Because the more you know the harder it is to connect with the entry level person.
Mind Pump: Exactly. And this is my point that I’m trying to make here. And this is a lot of Mind Pump’s success—the ability to take really, really deep information and then translate it and communicate it to the masses. And I think what took all of us was going through all the years of training that we went through with people and realizing it’s not about how smart I sound or how much knowledge I’ve obtained. It’s really about getting those people to the end goal, which I’ve got to get them to take the first step.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: And the first step is sometimes so basic. But we overcomplicate it with all this information.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: Or we’re so concerned about our own personal egos that we need to sound so intelligent or smarter than the next guy or girl. So we’re caught up in listening to ourselves versus really communicating this information and truly helping people changing their lives in the right direction.
So that’s something that even ourselves—even though I think we’re good at it, I still think we can be better. Taylor, why he was brought on board was to help us with that ability to get to the even younger generation.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure. Sure.
Mind Pump: So long story short, we’re not going to be posting your video.
Mind Pump: Long story short—
Mind Pump: We’ll do another one.
Mind Pump: Yeah, exactly. We need to do it again. So Taylor and I communicated afterwards. And he goes, “It would have been so much better if it was just—” And he told me there’s a little part that’s really good in there. And it was. It was when you and he were having dialogue.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: He’s like, “Because I asked him a couple really basic questions.” And he’s like, “That’s what I wanted from that video clip. If they want something deep and technical and really intelligent, they’ll listen to the podcast—”
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: “Or they’ll follow Dr. Ruscio. I want to try to connect with a generation of people that would not connect with that.” And that really hit home for me when he said that, because I ran over to Sal right away because I was so concerned that Taylor wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with you. So I was like, “Sal, you’ve got to go in there. You’ve got to do your thing.” And then he goes and does his thing.
Mind Pump: Well, think about it this way. Think about if you really want to make a big impact in health and wellness and fitness, the best thing you could possibly do is get the average person to become interested, to bring them in so they become interested to learn these things. Once you could do that, then the rest is up to them.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: Then the information is there. But you’ve got to get them interested first. So communication and how you communicate things and your ability to communicate things are so important, we’ve found, even as a personal trainer. It’s, by far, what made me more effective than other trainers, was my ability to communicate to my clients.
Saying Less Is More
Dr. Ruscio: And sometimes saying less is really more. That’s something I’ve come to learn in the clinic.
Mind Pump: Yes.
Dr. Ruscio: I used to give patients very long answers to their questions and run them through this evidence-based weighing of the evidence. And then I started realizing that’s not really what they want. They just want to know, “Is this good or bad?”
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: And I’d just give them a really simple answer. And you can always say more. But you can never say less. So I, in the clinic, similar to when you guys are working with patients in the training context, I give short, sweet answers. I can always give them more if they need it. But sometimes if you give them too much, they lose the simple, “I’m saying to do this because of da da da da da da da.” They get lost in all those details. And they forget what to do. And they end up doing nothing.
Mind Pump: You know what it reminds me of? Have you ever tried to either learn how to play golf or teach someone how to play golf? There are so many little, intricate details to all of it. And there’s nothing worse than when someone is trying to teach you. And I remember trying to play. And I hate that sport because it’s so challenging.
And I remember all my buddies like, “Oh, this with your wrist. Watch the ball. Your hips. Your eyes. Your hands.” So it’s like there’s so much information.
Dr. Ruscio: It’s paralyzing.
Mind Pump: Yeah, it gets paralyzing. And then I’m just like I don’t want to do it. And I remember I was like, that’s not my personality to be that way. Now, I’m even more driven to figure this sport out.
And the most success that I had with progressing in it was I just would take one thing. And I would go. And I would practice at it and practice at it and practice at it, practice at it. But it was like, I’m not going to try to over think it.
I think the same thing when I’m teaching somebody about health and fitness. Katrina and I—so for your listeners that don’t know, Katrina has been with me for over six years now.
Mind Pump: God bless her.
Mind Pump: Strong, strong woman.
Mind Pump: And we just had a conversation along this line two nights ago.
Mind Pump: At this point, she’s a saint.
Mind Pump: And right now, she’s dieting down with me. And there are little things I was teaching her to do with spiking her carbohydrates for a day and boosting her calories. And then we’re going to go back and reduce. But teaching her how to do this really strategically to ramp her metabolism up. And we’ve been sculpting her body for the last three years.
And every time we go through this process, there’s something new that I get to teach her. And she always goes, “I don’t understand why you didn’t just tell me this at the very beginning.”
And I said, “Well, because there are layers of this.”
Dr. Ruscio: She wouldn’t have been able to understand that or retain that that early on probably.
Mind Pump: Right. Or what would happen is I would make something that almost would sound gimmicky to tell her that, “Right now, you’re just not there yet. There are bigger rocks for us to focus on.” And now that we’ve put that together, now we can get deeper and then deeper.
Mind Pump: I’ve almost said the same thing with my wife but more like, “You’re not asking me the right questions yet.” And so I’ll put it out there.
And I’ll let her go and work out and give her the framework for it. But she’s like, “I need more information.”
And I’m like, “Okay. Ask me.” And I just wait. And I wait for her to ask me the right questions.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: And it’s hard to do because you want to overcoach everything.
Mind Pump: Right. And that’s what we’re talking about. You complicate it a lot when you step in and you’re trying to walk them through everything. But they don’t learn anything that way.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure. Sure. So let’s pull back for a minute, because I think what I’ll do is I’ll record the intro later—
Mind Pump: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Ruscio: Because we already have some good stuff there I want to include in the show.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump’s Mission
Dr. Ruscio: But for everyone listening, these are the Mind Pump guys. These are the guys that you probably heard the off-cuff podcast from a couple months ago. Great group of guys down in San Jose. We had a great conversation. I wanted to invite them to come on the show to talk about their area of specialty, which is fitness.
And there are a couple of us. So as to not burn up too much time, can you guys give a brief overview of your background and how you got into what you did?
And then I want to come back to something that you said, Adam, about the cycling of carbs and calories and get into some more specific ways people can improve their body composition with diet and exercise. So I want to get there soon. But let’s get the background on you guys first.
Mind Pump: Really easy. Between the three of us is 15 to 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, managing big box gyms, entrepreneurs in fitness. And the three of us started a podcast, Mind Pump, about two and a half years ago with the intent and goal and purpose of dispelling a lot of the [bleep] in the fitness industry, countering the cosmetic side of fitness in the sense of, we want to give people advice, information, and motivation that is going to give them long term success.
So without—because we can go into our backgrounds. That would take another hour. But really, that’s the gist of it. We’ve got a lot of experience training lots of people, lots of trainers.
Mind Pump: We serial entrepreneurs for sure. Each one of us has built multiple businesses along the way, all related to—well, not all because I’ve done things outside fitness.
Dr. Ruscio: And really quick, let’s give everyone’s full name just so that people, if they want to look you guys up—
Mind Pump: So I’m Sal Di Stefano.
Mind Pump: And I’m Adam Schafer.
Mind Pump: And then Justin Andres.
Mind Pump: You can find each one of us—MindPumpAdam, MindPumpSal, MindPumpJustin. You could literally—
Mind Pump: Look us up on Instagram.
Mind Pump: It’s the one thing we did smart. We’re a team, Mind Pump. Yeah, so it’s pretty easy to look most of us up. But I think we all have, like Sal said, pretty long stories when it comes to our background in the fitness world because we’ve done a lot of different things.
And I’ve dabbled outside of that also. But we all came together at one point. So Justin and I were connected—Jesus, it’s ten years now?
Mind Pump: That’s a long time, but yeah.
24 Hour Fitness
Mind Pump: Ten years ago, he was fresh out of college with his kinese and started working for the same company that I was working for—24 Hour Fitness. And that’s also the same company that Sal worked for. Now, Sal and I had never met. Neither had Justin and he.
Dr. Ruscio: Because Sal was working in the janitorial section.
Mind Pump: Yeah, they don’t really—
Mind Pump: Custodial engineer. But he killed it.
Mind Pump: Well, it’s funny you say that. I knew of Sal because of all the records and things that he had done in sales. And we had similar friends. And so 24 Hour Fitness was very competitive.
Mind Pump: Yeah, very competitive.
Mind Pump: They tracked everybody’s sales. It was one of the things—the reason why—
Mind Pump: We knew who the killers were. We were all watching each other.
Mind Pump: Part of why 24 Hour Fitness exploded and grew as fast as it did was because of this. They took a very car salesman type of business model. And they implemented it in the gym industry. And they just crushed it. And we were all a part of that during the hay days.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: So we watched a company privately owned by a young 20-something-year-old man build this sucker to a 400-and-something clubs worldwide.
Mind Pump: First billion dollar fitness company.
Dr. Ruscio: Oh, really?
Mind Pump: Yeah, so it was a ride for all of us. I was there for ten years. And so we got to see a lot. And I definitely attribute a lot of my business knowledge—definitely started there for sure. It was a great place to learn, especially if you’re going to be in health and fitness for the rest of your—everything from the marketing to management and leadership and what corporate life was to be like. It was a great teacher for all those things. And each of us had experienced that at different times and at different clubs.
But I knew of Sal always because of everything you had heard about his sales records, the teams that he had developed underneath him and the guys—I ended up becoming great friends with people that he trained and developed.
And when we finally all got together, instantly when we started talking about where we saw the current health and fitness industry right now, where we thought it needed to go, and where we thought it was going. And we, right away, wanted to get on the mics, man. The first time we all sat in a room together, we just—
And we all have very different personalities and different views and different passions within the fitness industry. So it’s pretty unique, too. It’s not like we’re three guys preaching to a bunch of people. We definitely disagree a lot. And we have open dialogue.
Dr. Ruscio: So let’s go into some of that. So I don’t know if your training is different. Now, were you a business major and you kinesiology? So what was your training and also your special focus within the fitness industry? I’m gathering you were more sales and management, Sal. And you were kinesiology, Justin?
Mind Pump: Yeah, more movement based.
Dr. Ruscio: Okay. And then Adam was what? Just the pretty face?
Mind Pump: Yeah, pretty much.
Mind Pump: Yup, definitely.
Mind Pump: He was the handsome one.
Mind Pump: No, I was a personal trainer at 18 years old. And by 19, I was managing fitness teams and then health clubs. And then I bought my own gym at the age of 21. And so I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since.
Dr. Ruscio: So you’ve already excelled at the business side of things.
Mind Pump: I trained trainers, trained sales people, and then did the business side of it. But the interesting thing about fitness is, especially when I was first in it, there really wasn’t too much formal education in it. You could get certifications. And I had those. And you could go get a course. Or you could get a degree in kinesiology, for example.
Dr. Ruscio: That’s how I got my start, actually—now, gosh, maybe 17 years ago. I just went to a weekend seminar because I was interested. And they told me at the end you could take a test to become a certified personal trainer of some sort. And I had no clue. I took the test, and I passed.
So back then you can enter, I guess, at all different levels. But it could be as quick as a weekend.
Mind Pump: There was no formal education. You want to learn about the gym business in particular, you had to go work in a gym.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: And we were lucky enough to work for a company that was—they really pioneered all of it. 24 Hour Fitness didn’t invent EFT, the monthly dues transfer. But they were the ones to really maximize it. They were the ones that maximized the sales process, the assessment process, how to make money off personal training, how to get trainers to get better, how to incorporate group X, and all that stuff. And we were a part of all that. We were a part of the growth of that.
Mind Pump: That’s Mark Mastrov, man. Mark Mastrov was really ahead of his time when it came to—you talk about major influential people in the fitness industry, and that’s a name that you don’t really hear that much about, but I think really changed the game, from a business side, how we do fitness.
Mind Pump: Oh, he’s the Michael Jordan of the gym business.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: Everybody tries to follow that model. Actually, it’s changed quite a bit since then because it became a model of “cheaper is better.” “Get as many people to sign up and hope they don’t use the gym anymore” really has become the model now. Well, now you’ve got gyms selling $19 a month, and they count on the fact that most people won’t use the gym. But it’s too cheap to cancel.
Mind Pump: This is the model that Planet Fitness thrives off of. I don’t know how familiar you are with how they run their gym. But it’s extremely low price to come in. They offer pizza Fridays, donut Tuesdays.
Dr. Ruscio: Makes a lot of sense.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: And they don’t want anyone wearing any clothes that are revealing in there.
Mind Pump: Deadlifts are not allowed.
Mind Pump: No deadlifts.
Dr. Ruscio: You can’t do deadlifts?
Mind Pump: No, actually—okay. So Planet—this is not a joke now. This is for real.
Mind Pump: Lunk alarm.
Mind Pump: They have a lunk alarm, they call it. And it’s a big light in the gym. And if you grunt too loudly or deadlift or make noise with your dumbbells, then the alarm goes off. And it’s a big like fire alarm. And they’ll come and kick you out of the gym.
Dr. Ruscio: Holy cow!
Mind Pump: Yeah. This is really the state of the big box gym.
Mind Pump: And let me tell you, that franchise is exploding!
Mind Pump: But that appeals to a certain demographic of people.
Mind Pump: It’s exploding.
Mind Pump: It’s a large group of people.
Mind Pump: We’re laughing right now at it. But from a business standpoint, it’s brilliant.
Mind Pump: Mark my words. It will fail.
Mind Pump: It’s killing it.
Mind Pump: I think it’ll fail.
Dr. Ruscio: Really?
Mind Pump: It’ll 100% fail because the real sustainable growth you’re seeing in fitness is in the smaller boxes, the more niche—
Mind Pump: Like CrossFit.
Mind Pump: Yeah, CrossFit and Orange Theory and pilates studies and yoga studios. People want more personal because that works. It doesn’t work to have this big box, impersonal gym.
Dr. Ruscio: Okay, so personal. I want to try to bring us back to some things that the listeners can use to pick from you guys’ experience, because you guys have a lot of experience in this field. And I want to try to give people as many pearls as we can.
Now, we’ve talked about a number of different things on the podcast that have been fitness related. What area do you think is your most beneficial niche for people? Meaning, there could be rehab. There could be body comp. I’ve heard you guys talk a lot about body comp. I’ve seen some pretty impressive things on your Facebook feed with your own personal before/after photos and then some of your clients.
So that’s the thing I’m thinking might be the most interesting to pick your brains on.
Resistance Training Benefits
Mind Pump: Absolutely. I’ll tell you. Here’s an easy one. For us, this is common knowledge. But for a lot of people, it isn’t. The most—if you had to pick, and I don’t think you should pick by the way. The best fitness program organizes different modalities and works on different areas of the body.
But if you had to pick one and your goal was to maintain a strong, mobile, lean, fit body, if you had to pick one modality, it would be resistance training. Hands down. Bar none. Man, woman, old, young.
Dr. Ruscio: As compared to cardiovascular or stabilization training or stretching.
Mind Pump: Yes.
Dr. Ruscio: Is this how you mean it?
Mind Pump: Especially as you age and if you’re dealing with metabolism issues. And what we’re dealing with especially in today’s day and age is an environment where we’re obviously not active. Metabolisms are slowing down, and weight gain becomes a problem. Insulin sensitivity goes down. So we have issues with insulin. Diabetes is a big problem. Resistance training counters all those directly.
And what resistance training does and what all exercise does is it sends a signal to your body to adapt. And so if you look at the signals that exercise sends you, you can narrow down what each form of exercise does.
So if I do lots of cardio, the signal that I’m sending to my body is to become very efficient with calories because I’m burning calories while I’m doing cardio. And I don’t need a lot of muscle to do cardiovascular activity. So my body learns how to become efficient with cardio. In fact, you’ll find if you do lots and lots and lots and lots of cardio and you eat a reduced calorie diet, your metabolic rate will slow down.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: In fact, high level, long distance athletes will be extremely efficient with their chosen sport. So you see these long distance runners that’ll run 10 miles who will burn a fraction of the calories than somebody whose body has not adapted to that form of exercise.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: Now, resistance training sends a different signal. The adaptation that resistance training sends is, “I need to get stronger.” And strength requires a very expensive tissue called muscle. So the side effect of that is accelerated metabolism, which is exactly what you want to counter the modern pitfalls of modern society.
So when you look at the obesity epidemic and again you look at issues with insulin, when you look at immobility, hormone issues, all these things that we’re running into, if you’re sending a signal to your body that says, “I need to be stronger,” as a side effect, you’re going to counter those directly. Nothing is more effective in the long term as proper resistance training.
Now, if we want to talk about flexibility, you get lots of carry over. So you can do yoga, which is fantastic for flexibility. But resistance training done properly will give you a great deal of flexibility as well. If you want to talk about stability, you can do lots of balance training, which is great for stability. But resistance training done properly will also give you a great deal of stability. It’ll give you endurance. It’ll give you all those things.
Resistance Training and Injury Prevention
Dr. Ruscio: It’s funny you say that. I was just reading an article, and we’re going to get the author of this article on the podcast as some point. He essentially did a great job of breaking down in a fairly evidence-based way that a resistance training program provided equal if not better results for injury prevention and for rehab as compared to a custom-tailored rehab program.
And this might be very akin to what we talk a lot about on the podcast regarding functional medicine where it doesn’t have to be that personalized. There doesn’t have to be that much testing. In this case for the rehab, it would be a personalized assessment and then a program from the assessment. We may not need to go to that detailed of a level of assessment to get someone to a program that’s going to give them a benefit.
And he showed just some simple resistance, multi-joint movements like squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, things like that were able to produce very good injury prevention or rehab. So it may not be that complicated.
Mind Pump’s MAPS Programs
Mind Pump: So you say that. And now you start to understand how we created MAPS and why we created it the way we did with full body workouts. And we got into a really deep discussion—
Dr. Ruscio: Tell people what MAPS is, because the audience won’t know.
Mind Pump: So MAPS is an acronym that stands for muscular adaptation programming system. Now resistance training in general—there’s been a big problem with resistance training or weight training in the sense that the idea was that you should beat yourself up, tear muscle down, hammer yourself in the gym. And that’s really the only way—
Mind Pump: Most of the good information has been coming from a bunch of steroided-out meatheads. Let’s be honest.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, sure.
Mind Pump: Some of the best information is found on a bodybuilding.com forum these days. And it’s flooded with steroided-out body builders. That’s where this whole evolution of bro-science came from. And there’s a lot of good stuff in there. But the only problem is most of those people that are doing their own personal studies on themselves are hopped up on so much drugs.
Dr. Ruscio: And so they could do anything and look good.
Mind Pump: Yeah, even in spite of it.
Dr. Ruscio: Which is why it’s important for people who are wanting to change their body composition not to think that the person with the best body composition is going to be the most proficient at getting you to a better body composition.
Mind Pump: No.
Mind Pump: Exactly.
Mind Pump: If you really break it down, the body is an adaptation machine. And all you have to do is send a signal that’s going to get your body to adapt.
Now, think about it this way. Think of all the systems of adaptation. If you are at a particular starting point, let’s say look at getting my skin to darken from the sun. That’s a form of adaptation. If I’m extremely pale, it’s not going to take much sunlight to cause a change in my skin color. In fact, if I over apply the stimulus, I’m going to burn.
Resistance training is the same thing. And most people when they first start resistance training don’t need to do much to elicit change.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: There’s a right dose, yeah. And it’s good you brought that up. The common thought process is that I have to go in, and I have to give 110% into this workout every single time. And I have to max out.
And you get to a point where you get diminishing returns. And people get to a point where they really burn themselves out. And then this becomes this cycle of go in, go hard, recover as much as I can, then go back in, go hard. And there’s just a better way to do it. And that’s really what we’re trying to highlight in our MAPS program—just that frequency and volume, these are two of the variables that you want to consider the most in your workouts.
Frequency, Volume, and Intensity
Dr. Ruscio: So frequency is how often you train, and volume is how much you during a training session?
Mind Pump: Exactly. Exactly.
Mind Pump: So yeah. And so intensity has always been, like, that’s the driving focus for a lot of—especially everything you see on TV is very intensity based.
So this is something that we’re really just trying to dispel a lot of myths that your everyday, common person has towards how they can get in shape and how they can do this successfully long term.
Mind Pump: In fact, I’ll give you an example. If you give me an average person who’s trying to get their legs stronger and who’s an average person in the sense that they work 9 to 5. They don’t lift weights. They don’t work out. And you give them to me as a client. Now, I can train them for one hour on their legs with extreme intensity. And I’ll overdo it. No problem. I can overdo it with any sedentary person in an hour. I can hammer them to the point where they may even need to go to the hospital.
Or I could take that person. And I can have them do a little bit every single day. If I use the right intensity, they can do something every single day. And their body will progress at a very, very rapid rate.
So frequency becomes one of the more important components, more important than even intensity. Intensity becomes more important the more advanced you become.
Dr. Ruscio: Now intensity, just for the audience and also as a refresher for me. The way I understand intensity is essentially how heavy you’re lifting at the percentage of a maximal lift you can do.
Mind Pump: It can be.
Dr. Ruscio: Is that how you’re using it in this context?
Mind Pump: It’s how hard you work.
Mind Pump: That’s one variable.
Mind Pump: It can be because that’s one way to measure. But there are all different ways of intensity. Another example, too, of what Sal is talking about. We actually advocate for people to stop two reps short of failure when training.
Now, does that mean that I shouldn’t train to failure sometimes? No, absolutely. There are benefits to training to failure. There are plenty of studies to back that up also.
But what we have found is you are more likely to overdo it when you’re always trying to train to failure than you are the other way around.
Dr. Ruscio: Which I found is sometimes I have a hard time getting myself to want to do a workout if it’s been a long day, knowing that every set I’m trying to push myself to failure. I just come to the point where I feel like, “Screw it. I just don’t have the drive for this today.” You make a good point.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: Because I’m trying to go to failure on every set.
Mind Pump: Well, it’s not just that. But what you’re feeling from those long days isn’t muscle fatigue.
Dr. Ruscio: It’s neuro. Neuro fatigue, yeah.
Mind Pump: Central nervous system.
Mind Pump: Yes.
Mind Pump: Central nervous system.
Mind Pump: Yes!
Mind Pump: And the central nervous system is not considered as a factor in most resistance training routines. It’s only about the muscle.
Dr. Ruscio: Well, maybe that’s why so many people like cardio, because they’re burnt out neurologically. And isn’t cardiovascular just easier? And doesn’t that present a little bit of a dilemma, where if people are burnt out at the end of a long workday, they don’t have the neural drive maybe for some resistance training? But we know that resistance training, pound for pound or unit for unit, may give you more of an effect. So how do you get around that for people?
Mind Pump: So here’s the irony of that. The irony is, first off, your intensity is completely moldable and individualizable. So if you’re coming in and you’re very tired, you can just go through the motions—
Dr. Ruscio: So you can resistance train but you don’t have to go hog wild.
Mind Pump: Of course not. And you’re still going to send a signal.
Mind Pump: Breeze Bands.
Mind Pump: You’re still going to send a signal to your body that says, “Prioritize muscle.” Cardio never does that. Cardiovascular activity never says, “Prioritize muscle.” Cardio literally says, “Become more efficient with your calories. Burn fewer calories during movement. Burn fewer calories—”
Mind Pump: Adapt to endurance.
Mind Pump: That’s right. And you’re going to run into problems, especially if you’re otherwise sedentary. Not to mention, burning calories manually is a massive pain in the [bleep]. So you can go do cardio for an hour. Go do a hard session.
Dr. Ruscio: You don’t burn a lot of calories.
Mind Pump: You’re going to burn maybe 700 calories. I could eat 700 calories in 15 minutes.
Dr. Ruscio: So then you come to the point of mitochondrial density, because now if you can train…And just for the women listening, the resistance training to improve your metabolism, as I understand it…And it may be slightly off because I don’t follow this literature study by study like I do with stuff in functional medicine.
But essentially, as I have come to understand it, it’s not necessarily about having to build more muscle. But if you can make your muscle have more energy…And one of the ways you do this or produce more energy is by increasing the density or the number of mitochondria in your muscles.
And what do mitochondria do? Mitochondria make energy. And how do they make energy? They burn fuel, aka calories.
Mind Pump: And guess what one of the best ways to do that for a female, as in the best way that normally helps them, is getting them to do heavy compound lifts, which most of them have been scared to death to do for most of their lives because of the way we’ve marketed to them for so many years.
Mind Pump: So what they found with—or at least they’re theorizing is with cardiovascular activity, when you get more endurance, there’s obviously glycolytic. So you’re burning glycogen for that. And mitochondria become more efficient.
Now with resistance training, you’re utilizing ATP, which is a faster burning form of energy. And rather than making the mitochondria more efficient, you increase the density of mitochondria to produce more ATP.
So your body becomes less efficient with calories which is, again, in modern societies, what you want.
Dr. Ruscio: What you want.
Mind Pump: What you want. Now, if we were in a survival state and we’re on an island and there’s no food, it might not be a good idea. But in today’s day and age with food available at every corner and the fact that we’re otherwise extremely sedentary, you want a body that burns calories as much as possible because it’s going to offset your number one risk factor, which is metabolic disease and obesity and those types of things.
Diet, Exercise, and Body Composition
Dr. Ruscio: So now, let’s look at this because I want to try to give the audience some specifics. We have a mixture of an audience that is lay people and the other maybe half or roughly half are various types of healthcare providers—doctors, nutritionists, acupuncturists. So we have people doing this for themselves, also people going to be advising other people on how to do this.
So there are two main tracts I’m envisioning in my mind anyway—how to eat and how to exercise. Can you take us through first a 30,000-foot view? What’s the simple take-home on diet, exercise? And then let’s pepper in some of the details and get more granular with the details.
Mind Pump: So you mean starting off with diet and—
Dr. Ruscio: I’m sorry. So a program that would be best for optimizing someone’s body composition. Now, not everyone may need that. But just speaking to the people who are trying to drop a little bit of body fat. How would you start them off?
Mind Pump: So first, just we have to give a little disclaimer that how you eat and how you exercise is on an individual basis. The variance is massive.
Mind Pump: It varies greatly.
Dr. Ruscio: I get that.
Mind Pump: But generally, when it comes to nutrition, in this order, these are the things you want to focus on—calories. Then the next is macro break down—macro nutrients: your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. And then third is food quality. So in that order, you’ve got to master calories first. Then master your macronutrient breakdown. And then master food quality.
When it comes to calories, first—
Dr. Ruscio: Hang on. Hang on.
Mind Pump: Go ahead.
Dr. Ruscio: Pin that for one second. So let’s give the 30,000-foot on exercise and then come back to the details of both.
Mind Pump: No problem. So with exercise, the crux of your activity—first and foremost, you should have some form of activity every single day, but not necessarily scheduled. You don’t have to go to the gym and do cardio every day. But just increase your overall activity. Move more. Walk more. Thankfully, today, there are lots of wearable devices that will measure things like your steps.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: Figure out how many steps you’re taking today. And try to double them over the course of a couple months and then try to maintain that. Most Americans take between 2000 and 4000 or 6000 steps a day. 10,000 is a good goal for most people. Start with that.
As far as resistance training is concerned, you can get away with—and you can get great results from—two to three days a week of resistance training in the gym for about 45 minutes.
Dr. Ruscio: Okay. So you don’t have to go crazy. I wanted to maybe dispel that myth for people—
Mind Pump: Not at all.
Dr. Ruscio: That you have to be in the gym for hours in order to get into good shape.
Mind Pump: No.
Dr. Ruscio: And I think a lot of people get that, but it’s nice to hear some experts in the field saying that two to three days a week also doing some low level, non-planned activity, and with a dietary tract and you can make some pretty strong headway with your body.
Mind Pump: The activity you do every day, they refer to it as NEAT. It’s an acronym that stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which actually makes up more of the calories that you burn throughout the day than your scheduled workout.
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The Importance of Lifestyle
Dr. Ruscio: That can be very powerful because just taking a break from work—I’ve talked about this. I get up from my desk every 45 minutes. And I try to get some type of activity. And one thing I’ve been doing lately—you know those little stress balls?
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: I go down to the carport. And I throw it off the wall. And I’ve been training myself right hand, right hand, right hand, left hand, left hand to try to get my hand-eye coordination going. I throw from right to left, left to right. And just that little bit of throwing gets my mind stimulated and the hand-eye coordination and I feel like neurologically wakes me up.
But I also break a light sweat doing that, come back up to my desk. And I feel charged up. It’s like having a shot of espresso almost. And that gets your metabolism going.
Mind Pump: I think connecting those dots for people is one of the most powerful things I ever did as a trainer. And it took me several years of training people the wrong way before I put that together and realized. When I started realizing that the one hour that I spent with them was almost worthless in comparison to everything else that they were doing—
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: I quit stressing that so much and started to speak more to the psychological side, their relationship with food, their relationship with exercise, their relationship with themselves, and diving into that and then helping create good habits within their lifestyle.
And I think, without skipping too far ahead with the nutrition, that’s how we teach people nutrition, because everyone is so unique and different. I could tell these people that, “Hey, a ketogenic diet is a great diet.” I like high fat diets that are low carbohydrate or no carbohydrate. I like paleo. There are a lot of different diets that are out there that we like. But really, it’s about figuring out your lifestyle, how your body responds to things.
And I think the first step to that is tracking. And this is something that I stress to people all the time.
Mind Pump: That first level of awareness there with nutrition.
Mind Pump: Is just to become aware, because so many people think they eat this—I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by somebody that, “I eat like this. I do this. I do this. I do that.” And then I have them track.
Mind Pump: And they write it down. And it’s mind blowing.
Mind Pump: They couldn’t be further off.
Mind Pump: It’s mind blowing. Yeah, it’s mind blowing.
Mind Pump: They couldn’t be so far off—it’s unbelievable how far off they are. And just helping people make that first connection, that will take you in my opinion, until—because you could read a book about sugar and scare you all away from that direction. You could read a book about fats. It’ll scare you all—
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: That’s what I hate about the industry. There are so many good bits of information that people take. And then they market. And they try to make a cult out of it.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, it’s that dichotomy.
Mind Pump: Yes.
Dr. Ruscio: “This is really good, and the opposite is really bad. And so this is what you have to do.”
Mind Pump: And then people become dogmatic about this one way. And then they’re so afraid to do this because they’ve been told this, and they’ve seen the study. “Someone showed me that this is the best.”
It’s like, “Ugh, easy.” There are so many things, I think, that we can be focusing on before we even get to those [finer points]…It’s like what I was saying when we first started talking with teaching my girl how to diet a certain way. And there are certain levels before I’m going to teach her how to manipulate leptin. Why would I be telling her that on the—?
When we first met, she’s a collegiate level athlete. So her way of getting in shape was, “As soon as I started to put on a little extra body fat, I ran my [bleep] off. And I ate whatever I wanted.” Because she ate sandwiches. She thought she was eating clean or eating well for herself. And she’s never been really fat. So in her eyes, she knew how to train herself.
Simple Exercise Program
And I didn’t ever try to come in and tell her what to do until she was ready to ask. And then it was little bits at a time. I think really learning how to do that for even your audience—you talk about the programming and training. You want the 30,000-foot view? Here’s the deal. Literally, try to get to the gym two times to three times a week.
And you know what the other big mistake I think a lot of people make is the movements they’re choosing. I wish what I know about compound movements like dead lifting, squatting, overhead pressing—what I know about them now, I wish I knew that as a trainer early on, because when I was a trainer when I first started, I was teaching people all the crazy, weird exercises that no one had done—something that we had created and made up.
Dr. Ruscio: Looks cool. Sells well.
Mind Pump: Yeah, because we understood biomechanics. And that’s how I would sell you on training.
Mind Pump: Plyometrics.
Mind Pump: I’m going to show you a workout you’ve never done in your life before.
Dr. Ruscio: Same thing in functional medicine. Here’s a new test. Here’s a new mechanism. This is what’s going to get you well because it’s new. It’s exciting. It’s different. And a lot of times, you focus on that. And you overlook the fundamentals that actually produce the results.
Mind Pump: And literally, if you got somebody who works out just two times a week and they do a full body routine and they hit the compound lifts in every workout—if you’re squatting, overhead pressing, dead lifting—you will change your body.
Mind Pump: Here are your movements. Make sure you do some form of a squat. Make sure you do some form of a horizontal press like a bench press even, some kind of an overhead press…A row, a deadlift, some kind of a split stance, some kind of a split stance type of a squat, something that involves twisting. You’re pretty much covered. You’re pretty much covered doing those things.
Dr. Ruscio: Now, do you think that finger extensors and forehead flexors are important to incorporate? [Everyone laughs]
Diet Tips and Cycling Calories
No, in all seriousness. So with diet, I’m curious to get you guys’ opinions on some finer points. So there is this camp of cycling your macros. You’ve got low carb-high carb cycling. And I’ve also heard that connected in with cycling your calories.
Mind Pump: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: And so this seems interesting to me. And I’d like to get a little more information on that. It sounds like this is something you guys are incorporating into your program.
Mind Pump: We just released a YouTube video specifically about this. It was the one you and I did, right?
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: On undulating your calories.
Mind Pump: Yeah, we definitely advocate it. The body is pretty interesting. When you feed it less—this is documented. This is not controversial whatsoever. When you feed your body less, your body will try to adapt by burning less. One of the ways you can mitigate that or minimize that effect is by instead of taking—for example, let’s say a calorie deficit for me was 2000 calories. Rather than eating 2000 calories every single day, what might be a more effective approach would be to look at it on a seven-day schedule. And on some days, have 1000 calories. On some days have 3000 calories or 1500 calories or 3500 calories.
I’ll equal out to the same total calorie deficit over the week. But I’m not having the same low calories every single day. So some days may even be a slight surplus or a maintenance.
And what this does is it minimizes that effect where your body tries to adapt its thermogenesis, or at least it tries to slow down its metabolism.
And body builders have been doing this for a very, very long time. I’ve been doing this with clients. And it works very well.
And there’s also another side to this. There’s a psychological benefit to it as well. People tend to do better when they have some really low calorie days with some high calorie days, either by looking forward to the higher calorie days or just by changing it up a little bit and changing the food amounts and even the food types throughout the days. Variance makes a big difference. And it seems to be more effective.
Mind Pump: Now, thinking about that, too, that is so counter to what we’ve read and seen when you talk about from a marketing perspective from the fitness industry. We’ve been told small meals.
Dr. Ruscio: Small, consistent meals. Regulate your blood sugar. Minimize insulin, which I think is definitely an old school—because my intro into fitness was body building. I was a little, young kid. I wanted to get bigger. So all those thing were like gospel to me.
But now, we hear all this impressive research about intermittent fasting and how that can actually be a positive metabolic stimulus and also be really good for your gut health, because I know many of our audience knows.
Mind Pump: Evolution. Follow evolution.
Dr. Ruscio: So with that, what’s a way for people to apply this? Because I’m sure people are looking for, “Okay, I get the whole piece of listening to your body and being individual.” But might there also be a general template to shoot for in terms of you have a couple days with 2000 calories, then you have, what, one day where you’re doing 1000 calories?
Or do you do high calorie/high carb? Or do you do higher carb and lower calorie days?
Mind Pump: For me, this goes back to the tracking piece. So I encourage—and I know the verdict is not out on this because some people think it’s a negative thing. And some people fight over the accuracy of it or not. But wearable devices that track your need for you because even we talked about how people overestimate or underestimate food and don’t really realize that.
Well, most people have no clue how little they move. The average American is only stepping 4000 to 6000 steps in a day. Do you know if we were to go outside right now—we just walked right now. We just went for it. We probably doubled that already. That one little walk that we just did just doubled that. It’s crazy.
Dr. Ruscio: And I should mention for the audience that we’re recording this podcast in Sausalito. I’ve got for the weekend this really nice rental in Sausalito.
Mind Pump: We’re looking at Alcatraz right now.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, we’re looking at Alcatraz, looking at San Francisco. We’ll put a couple pictures into the transcript. But essentially, if you picture the San Francisco Bay, you have the city of San Francisco on the water, on the bay. Across the bay, completely on the other side is this kind of ritzy hill town called Sausalito. And we’re sitting on a balcony essentially looking right across the bay into San Francisco and also looking at Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge. And it’s beautiful. So I wish everyone could be here. But we’ll put a few pictures in the post.
Mind Pump: It’s epic.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: It’s gorgeous. This is really basic. First off, Adam said earlier. Get yourself—you can get them now. The apps are free. You can get—Fat Secret is an app that I use with a lot of my clients. And start tracking how much you’re eating now because you have no idea what your calories should be if you don’t know how many calories you’re eating regularly.
Dr. Ruscio: Okay. Step one, for sure.
Mind Pump: So first track your calories. Step one. Do that for a couple weeks.
Dr. Ruscio: What about My Fitness Pal? Do you guys like that?
Mind Pump: My Fitness Pal?
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: Yeah, that’s another one. Track your calories for a couple weeks. Now, you know what your baseline is. So there’s your baseline.
Now, reduce your calories below that, and give yourself a target. I typically put people at anywhere between a 200 to a 700 calorie deficit depending on how many calories they’re consuming.
So if you’re not consuming very much to begin with and you still want to lose weight, I’m not going to put you at a big calorie deficit. If you’re eating a lot of calories, then you can afford a larger calorie deficit.
So let’s say, just for the sake of the podcast, I’m going to aim for a 500 calorie deficit or lower than my normal calorie intake. So let’s say now I know I want to average 14,000 calories for the week. I don’t want to do 2000 calories a day because, like I said before, that’s going to encourage my body to adapt and slow down. So I’ll have someone undulate.
Dr. Ruscio: So that’s the answer to the person who’s asking the question, “But I thought lower calorie diets are bad for you because they slow down your metabolism?” The answer to that question is, “It’s periodic calorie deprivation cycled in with windows of ample carbs so as to prevent that long term metabolic slowing.”
Mind Pump: Not only that, but you have to take in less calories than you’re burning to lose weight anyway.
Mind Pump: On where you’re going, the direction you’re going with that, too, is the person’s body fat percentage matters with this. So the leaner somebody is, the more likely or the faster we’re going to become adapted to this low calorie diet. The more overweight they are, the longer we have to go before this happens.
Dr. Ruscio: Great point. Great point. That makes a lot of sense.
Mind Pump: So this is also why I’ve mentioned the whole thing earlier about how I’ve now taught Katrina how to spike her leptin. She has a very low body fat. She’s like 10, 11% body fat. So that’s pretty low for a girl right now. And so I’m explaining to her as she gets lower, lower like this and you’re staying in caloric deficit, it’s important that we refuel the body because you don’t have a lot of body fat on there.
So there’s not a lot of good sources right now for your body to use for energy, which if you just think about that, just like your car red lining and you don’t have very much oil. It’s just not probably good. We want to let off the throttle a little bit.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: And by us doing that is fueling the body back up. So I think understanding where you’re at—you don’t want too steep of a deficit for too long of a period of time. And that becomes more important the leaner and leaner you become. Does that make sense?
Mind Pump: Now, if you combine that with good, solid resistance training—
Dr. Ruscio: I’m sorry. Come back to that for a minute, because you’re saying maybe 200 calories a week to 500 calories a week is a deficit that people should be shooting for?
Mind Pump: Per day.
Dr. Ruscio: Per day?
Mind Pump: On average per day. It depends on—
Dr. Ruscio: Now, do you have days where you’re going a little bit over on those replete days? What does that look like?
Mind Pump: Yeah, so I will give typically a client who’s trying to lose body fat—I’ll give them one or two really low calorie days during the week, which have their own benefit.
When you throw them in like that, by the way, you see lots of health benefits. You don’t see your metabolism slowing down when it’s that short. It also changes how a person perceives food, how the brain perceives food. It actually, believe it or not, is an appetite suppressant when you do short term. These are the intermittent fasting studies where people fast for 24, 48 hours. They’ll find their appetite has actually diminished instead of going up.
So I’ll throw in one or two really low calorie days. I’ll throw in two or three moderate low calorie days and one maintenance and one surplus. That’s typically how I’ll break it down. So really low calorie, not that low of calorie, maintenance, surplus and then repeat.
Dr. Ruscio: So you oscillate up and down.
Mind Pump: As far as—
Mind Pump: And we can put the link in this—
Mind Pump: To the video?
Mind Pump: Yeah. Because we actually did a YouTube where we wrote this on a board.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, that’d be great.
Mind Pump: So we wrote it on a whiteboard and gave everybody an example of what. And I think we used it off a 2000 calorie diet and a 1400 calorie restriction or something like that. I don’t remember. We gave numbers, giving people an idea of what a basic week of undulating your calories would look like.
But like I said, it wouldn’t even hurt somebody to go a solid week of a pretty steep caloric deficit. But it’s that 14th day, that 21st day, a month. That’s where people start to get into do damage.
Mind Pump: This is why people will lose weight. They’ll get on a diet. They’re like, “Oh my god! I lost 10 pounds the first two weeks. And I’m kicking ass!”
Dr. Ruscio: They don’t keep it, yeah.
Mind Pump: And then nothing. And then nothing moves. And they’re working out. I’ll tell you what, dude. If you want examples of metabolic adaptation, extreme instances of metabolic adaptation—
Mind Pump: Biggest Loser.
Mind Pump: Well, Biggest Loser was a great example of that. They actually documented that. But look at competitors who compete in these body building and bikini and physique competitions. I have 120-pound females doing one to two hours of cardio every single day, one hour of resistance training every single day, eating 1000 calories a day just to maintain. The second they go above that, 1500 calories, boom! They get fat.
Their bodies have adapted so extremely in that direction, because they’ve really beaten themselves up to go on a stage that they find themselves eating anything over 1000 calories. And these are people who are exercising, like I said, hours every single day. And that’s an extreme, extreme form—
Diets, Exercise, and Gut Health
Dr. Ruscio: And then they’re gut is getting messed up. And I see a number of those in the clinic where their guts are just—they can’t even follow the diet anymore because the diet that they were on, albeit being a low calorie diet, because now they’re bloated all the time or they’re crapping like once a week.
Mind Pump: Wow!
Mind Pump: Oh, man!
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: Because that’s stressful. And that’s actually been shown. They’ve shown in a number of studies that high amounts of exercise—ironically, especially when it’s exercise in a hot environment—induces much more leaky gut. And you have that happen long enough, and then you start to see things like SIBO happen and candida.
Mind Pump: Now, is this because the gut is trying to—does it increase its permeability because it’s trying to suck up fluid, and as a byproduct of that, it’s also increasing its permeability and causing more leaky gut-type syndrome?
Dr. Ruscio: I don’t know if there’s a great answer to that. If there is, I haven’t come across it. But you do see less circulation to the gut as part of exercise. And perhaps that’s why—
Mind Pump: Is it inflamed?
Dr. Ruscio: Exercise in a really hot environment makes it even worse.
Well, you lose blood flow to the gut to help bring blood to the extremity to fuel the oxygen and nutrient demand to run the muscles. And in heat, you also need to bring more blood to the surface to try to cool the body.
So as you lose all the blood flow to the gut, the ability for nutrients and oxygen to get to the gut tissues to help them repair and regenerate diminishes. And it may be just lack of the nutrients to the gut, all of which come through the blood, whether that nutrient is oxygen or just nutrients via the red blood cells like glucose or what have you, is somewhat deprived with exercise.
Mind Pump: Yeah, I have a friend who—high level. This guy is extremely fit. He was a pro MMA fighter. Kind of had some minor gut issues. Went and just decided he was going to do a marathon. Ran the marathon. Decided he would do it drinking minimal water or whatever. After that marathon, severe gut issues. And the person he went and talked to told him it was probably because of that marathon that he ran. He noticed right afterward.
Dr. Ruscio: And immunosuppression. It’s been shown that exercise can downregulate certain receptors in the gut called toll-like receptors. And these receptors are used to help your body sense and your immune system to respond to bacteria.
And there needs to be a certain response. You don’t want to kill everything because now you have something like inflammatory bowel disease where you start attacking your healthy, commensal microbiota in some cases.
But you don’t want to have no immune response at all, because then you have overgrowths and things like candida or SIBO or just other types of dysbiosis. So you want to have this correct balance to suppress the immune system but not over suppress it. But too much exercise can over suppress your immune system.
Mind Pump: Think of exercise like anything else. Some is good. More is not better.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: There is a proper dose. And the determining the proper dose is highly, highly individual. It’s highly individual.
Dr. Ruscio: So things like HRV, which are great tools to help people dial in what their exercise dose should be.
Mind Pump: The verdict is not out on that one yet because there’s still—
Mind Pump: It’s a hot trend right now. Let’s put it that way.
Mind Pump: There are too many variables around that still.
Mind Pump: I’ve experimented a lot with athletes with that. And it might’ve been just because it was new, and the technology hasn’t really come out of its infancy. But it’s a helpful tool to understand, “Well, today maybe I’m not at my optimal performance. Maybe my central nervous system is still recovering.” And so it might be able to show based off my morning numbers where I’m at with that.
But it would just fluctuate too much for me. Some days where I felt ready to go and I was charged and energetic, it said that my numbers didn’t reflect that.
Dr. Ruscio: I’d love for you guys to have on your show actually—and I’d love to listen to the episode—Mike T. Nelson. He’s a Ph.D. And he’s actually done some studies with HRV. And he’s a very conservative, evidence-based guy. He knows his stuff. And he does a lot with HRV. And he might be someone to give you the best level of answer to those questions because he’s not just someone jumping on the bandwagon.
I’m a quantified selfer even if the measure has no meaning. I just love measures.
Mind Pump: Oh, you’re talking to the biggest one of the group. I love new technology. And I love to learn more specifics, especially when it comes to numbers.
Dr. Ruscio: Have him on.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: You guys would really like him.
Mind Pump: I get excited about numbers. I even came up with a stick. I’m trying to capture numbers just from force output and all these kinds of different things where I’m really pressing the envelope. How many things can we test and measure that we do throughout the day or in our workout that we can accumulate? And then figure out what our patterns are and how to improve on all those metrics. So I’m all about it.
Mind Pump: Here’s where I think HRV has a lot of benefit: the more advanced training. If you’re advanced and you’re really trying to—
And here’s the thing with advanced athletes, perceived exertion or if you ask an athlete, “How do you feel right now? Do you think you should work out hard?” The answer you’re going to get is, “Yes, I feel great. I need to go hard.”
Dr. Ruscio: Yes, all the time, yeah.
Developing the Body’s Intuition
Mind Pump: With the average person, one of the best measures you could use is—
Mind Pump: How you feel.
Mind Pump: Ask them how they feel. If you go into the gym with the attitude that you’re going in to beat yourself up, punish yourself for whatever you ate yesterday or you hate your body so I’m going to go blast my stomach because I don’t like the way my gut looks or whatever, you’re going to train improperly.
If you go in there and really check in with yourself, go in there understanding that you want to feel good after your workout, you’re probably going to do the right level of intensity.
Mind Pump: Well, that’s how you—okay, so that’s an important point, because I think a lot of people don’t realize this. When you leave the gym, you should actually feel good.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: Yeah, like charged.
Mind Pump: You should not feel whipped. You should not feel like you just went through 12 rounds of boxing. You should not feel that way. And I think a lot of people connect their weight loss, their success of their program based off these things—based off how sore I got the next day. And in fact, these are all indicators that you did way too much.
And it’s tough because if you ran—we did a study on a group of people training. And we only ran it for 14 days. This why you can get away with this, is that they will, they’ll run studies like this. And if I measured going to failure and blasting yourself for 14 days every single day, that person is going to make more progress than the person who only went twice—
Dr. Ruscio: But what happens three months in, six months in?
Mind Pump: Exactly. Right.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah. Yeah.
Mind Pump: So in a two-week study showing that person A who went two days a week and did low intensity compared to the guy who did 14 days of high intensity every day, well, of course that guy made more progress in 14 days. But it’s the story of the rabbit—
Dr. Ruscio: I was just going to say that, yeah.
Mind Pump: The tortoise and the hare.
Dr. Ruscio: Tortoise and hare.
Mind Pump: Tortoise and the hare here is that you will end up getting blown by.
MAPS and Exercise Adaptation
Mind Pump: This is the success of our programs. We introduced our programs to the market. And the response has been incredible. Very, very successful, mainly because we approached it with, again, adaptation as the primary goal, long term success. And little by little, word got out. People started switching.
Dr. Ruscio: You mean, avoiding adaptation long term?
Mind Pump: No, no. We want to chase adaptation. But we don’t want to adapt. Does that make sense?
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, I see what you’re saying.
Mind Pump: Yes. Yes, we want the body to try to adapt. And then we want to change the signal at the right moment.
Mind Pump: We challenge it when it needs to be challenged.
Mind Pump: We challenge it appropriately it. And it’s been extremely successful.
Mind Pump: Well, let’s explain. For his audience, let’s explain how we did that. So we understand—so if you look at all the studies—so again, this is Mind Pump fashion. We try to simplify it for everybody.
If you looked at all the studies, we know that somewhere between this four to six week spot is where our bodies begin to start to get really adapted to any modality of training that we’re doing to it. So after that, the returns are diminishing.
So we move and we change whatever the adaptation is every three weeks in our programming. So our programming will look a certain way no matter which one you have. In the three weeks, it’ll be the same exercises, the same routine. And then at that third week, we’re changing the adaptation.
Dr. Ruscio: And you guys do programming online. So if someone listening to this is saying, “You know what? I think I could use some programming advice.” They don’t have to come see you physically, right? You can do this digitally.
Mind Pump: Yeah, so we have several programs that we designed for different types of general goals or adaptation. We have a program called MAPS Aesthetic, which is more for your competitors on stage. MAPS Anabolic, which we consider our foundational program. We have MAPS Performance for our athletes. Then we have MAPS Anywhere, which is a program designed without any equipment. So if you just want to work out at home, you can follow that one.
And we have our correctional series of programs to help people correct muscle imbalances or get better recruitment patterns, alleviate pain, MAPS Prime. And then Prime Pro which was just released, which really gets into detail.
Mind Pump: Goes into real depth, yeah.
Adjusting Our Macronutrients
Dr. Ruscio: Okay. So coming back to the dietary piece, you’ve gotten the undulation of calories. How do the macros fit in with that?
Mind Pump: So you want to undulate your macros as well. Now, carbohydrates and fats are interesting because those can be very, very individual. And I’m sure you know this as a gut health expert. Some people do very, very well on very low carbohydrates from an energy and gut health perspective. And other people do much better on a little bit higher carbohydrates.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: So those ones, you’ve got to look at yourself as an individual. However, it is still a good idea, even for people who follow something like a ketogenic diet, which is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, to throw in some carbohydrates every once in a while to promote metabolic flexibility. Protein is another one.
Dr. Ruscio: Wait. Wait. So you say, “Once in a while.”
Mind Pump: Yes.
Dr. Ruscio: Now, is that a couple times a week? Couple times a month?
Mind Pump: If you’re very, very keto, once or twice a week is a good idea to throw in some carbohydrates.
Dr. Ruscio: So at least once or twice a week.
Mind Pump: Yeah, so if you’re eating under 50 g of carbohydrates a day, which is a ketogenic diet, once a week it might be a good idea to have somewhere around 100 to 150 g of carbohydrates.
Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha.
Mind Pump: So not a high carbohydrate diet. But enough to kick you out of ketosis.
Dr. Ruscio: I’m assuming most people listening to this are either lower carb, like they’re maybe around 100 g a day. They’re just not eating lots of carbs. They’re not necessarily eating way down to keto. Or moderate carb where they’re having some rices and maybe some potatoes and fruits. But they’re still not doing a high carb diet. So someone who is moderate to lower carb, how would you spike their carbs on the higher macro day?
Mind Pump: So look at your carbohydrates and your fats as being inversely related.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: So if I add 200 calories worth of carbohydrates to my daily food intake, then I’m going to reduce my fat by about 200 calories. So that’s the trade-off. Remember, fat has 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrates have 4. Proteins have 4 also.
Proteins are another one to look, though. Most fitness professionals will tell you to keep your protein consistent. Always eat relatively high protein every single day.
Dr. Ruscio: That’s what I’ve always heard. Yup.
Mind Pump: Totally bad idea.
Dr. Ruscio: Okay.
Mind Pump: False. First off, there’s some pretty compelling evidence now demonstrating that you actually decrease the efficiency at which you utilize protein by having high protein all the time. Your body can actually become protein insensitive, if you will, by having high protein all the time. So it’s a good idea to reduce your protein.
Dr. Ruscio: Interesting. Kind of like you can become insulin resistant if you’re always having lots of carbs, you can become somewhat protein—
Mind Pump: The anti-catabolic effects, yes. Not only that, but too high of protein intake for too long of periods of time is now showing to potentially be damaging to the body. There may be an increased cancer risk. It’s got an age-ifying effect on the body, if you will. So pro-age effect.
Dr. Ruscio: Do you have some of those references hanging around that you might be able to email to me.
Mind Pump: I’ll look them up for you.
Dr. Ruscio: If you can, that’d be great, because I know people are going to ask for the references.
Mind Pump: Absolutely.
Dr. Ruscio: So I’d rather preempt that. And if you have them hanging around and you can send them over, that’d be great.
Mind Pump: In fact, when they do studies on longevity, they find that—so when they do intermittent fasting calorie restriction, they find not only is the carbohydrate restriction probably one of the reasons why you get this longevity effect, it’s also the protein restriction. Protein increases MTOR (mammalian target rhabdomycin), which builds muscle, is pro tissue, which is great.
But it’s also pro cancer. So in a pro cancer environment—of course context is important. So if you’re in a pro-cancer environment, unhealthy lifestyle, you don’t eat very healthy, you don’t exercise, and you eat a lot of protein, you’re going to increase your risk of cancer.
Mind Pump: This is why they recommend the ketogenic diet for people that have cancer.
Mind Pump: By the way, medical ketogenic diet is not high protein. So a lot of people think it’s high protein.
Dr. Ruscio: Thank you for saying that. Thank you.
Mind Pump: No, that’s more modified or Atkins. A true ketogenic diet is very low carbohydrate, relatively low protein.
Dr. Ruscio: So what you’re saying is really interesting, because again it’s painting another macronutrient, protein, as not being always bad or not being always good, and it’s so easy to want to paint something as, “Oh, carbs are bad.”
This is what happened, I think, years and years ago as a lot of the space moved to an anti-carb position. And low carb and ketogenic were what everyone was recommending across the board.
Then we started learning, kind of like we’re talking about, it’s good to cycle these things. And some people, by the way, do better on a moderate to higher carb at their baseline. So the same thing may apply for protein.
And it’s funny. If you think about it from an evolutionary perspective—
Mind Pump: Correct. Exactly.
Dr. Ruscio: We probably had these times of—you had a kill—
Mind Pump: Abundance, yeah.
Dr. Ruscio: You had the feast. You have a large amount of intake. And then when there’s not a kill, what do you do? I’m assuming you’re going to go out and forage berries and honey and whatever else you can get. So you’re going to have this natural oscillation of your macros built in.
Mind Pump: 100%. And if you look at that—because people will use ancestral diets like the Inuits and say, “Oh, they eat a lot of protein.” Actually, they eat a lot of fat. Most of the meats and the blubber and the organ meats that they eat are quite high in fat and not super high in protein.
I can’t remember the term that they use for—there was actually a name for it. But trappers in the—
Dr. Ruscio: Oh, rabbit disease.
Mind Pump: There you go.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: Where they would actually go crazy and die because the only thing they could find and eat was lean rabbit meat, yeah. And they didn’t get enough fat. And they would actually become malnourished as a result and die.
No, it’s a good idea every—by the way, if you’re a body building and you’re listening or if you’re somebody who wants to build muscle and you’re listening, you’re like, “I need high protein all the time.”
Mark my words. Throw one day a week of low protein—and I’m not talking about super low protein. I’m talking about just eat essential protein, 70 grams or 50 grams that day, which for a lot of people listening, especially if they’re trying to build muscle, sounds super low. Do that once a week. Watch what happens the following day when you go back on your high protein diet.
Mind Pump: Just so you can assimilate it.
Mind Pump: You’ll actually get an anabolic effect.
Dr. Ruscio Resources
Hey, everyone, in case you’re someone who is in need of help or would like to learn more, I just wanted to take a moment to let you know what resources are available. For those who would like to become a patient, you can find all that information at drruscio.com/gethelp.
For those who are looking for more of a self-help approach and/or to learn more about the gut and the microbiota, you can request to be notified when my print book becomes available at drruscio.com/gutbook. You can also get a copy of my free 25-page gut health eBook there.
And finally, if you’re a healthcare practitioner looking to learn more about my functional medicine approach, you can visit drruscio.com/review. All of these pages are at the drruscio.com URL, which is D-R-R-U-S-C-I-O dot com, then slash either ‘gethelp,’ ‘gutbook,’ or ‘review.’ Okay, back to the show.
Our Relationship With Food
Dr. Ruscio: If you can’t go a day without your typical diet, there is something broken with your metabolism. I remember, it wasn’t—Mind Pump: Well, there’s definitely something broken with your relationship with food.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: That’s for sure.
Dr. Ruscio: It was one of those reality shows where there are competing teams dropped off in a remote location. It was almost like Naked and Afraid but a competition show. And one of the guys was a body builder. And he was young. And he was in great shape. But the guy was like crapping his pants metaphorically after four hours. “I need protein. I need protein. I need to have my protein.”
And I’m thinking to myself, “This guy is either psychologically unhealthy and he’s coming unglued, or his metabolism is just terrible where he has no metabolic flexibility where he can’t go half a day without eating food without falling apart.
Mind Pump: I’m sure it’s psychological more than anything.
Dr. Ruscio: It sounded like that to me.
Mind Pump: Yeah, in fact, they find spikes in muscle protein synthesis are higher when the protein feedings are infrequent versus frequent. Again, your body becomes inefficient with the protein that you consume. And it’s just a form of adaptation in the body.
Dr. Ruscio: And it completely counters the thinking of, “Three square meals in a day. Make sure to have regular meals.” It shuts off your body’s ability to be adaptive.
I’ve been thinking about the same thing regarding water, where maybe it’s better to have punctuated intakes of water.
Mind Pump: Correct.
Dr. Ruscio: If you think about it—
Mind Pump: You know what’s funny? I literally brought this up in several episodes.
Mind Pump: He challenged everybody with that.
Mind Pump: It was a hotly debated topic.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: But there’s evidence to demonstrate that. Here’s another good one. Drinking tons of water while you eat food—not a good idea.
Dr. Ruscio: Totally.
Mind Pump: And you know. See? I’m glad you confirmed that for me, because you’re the expert in that. But I’ve also read that that dilutes things like stomach acid and can do a lot of things that will contribute to poor gut health if you just drink a ton of water while you’re eating.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.
Mind Pump: And from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense. I’m pretty sure humans lived near water all the time, but they didn’t have water on them all the time.
Dr. Ruscio: All the time, yeah.
Mind Pump: It was probably, had some water in the morning, went for long periods of time, go to the watering hole, drink a bunch of water.
Dr. Ruscio: And that’s how I drink. And I’ve become so accustomed to this now, I almost can’t not do it this way. And maybe that’s not a good thing also. But I just really prefer it where about an hour before I’m going to eat, that’s when I’ll have two or three glasses of water. And then I’ll wait 30 minutes, and that’s when my hunger signal really hits.
Normally, if I would eat at this time, I’ll start drinking a lot of my water about an hour before over maybe a 30-minute period or a 15-minute period. And then I allow myself at least 15 minutes for that water to absorb. And then I just feel like my stomach is empty. But I’m hydrated. And now, I want to eat.
And I feel like that’s a much more physiological way to eat rather than saying, “I haven’t drunk water all day. Now, I’m going to eat and drink my water at the same time.” From a digestive health perspective, that’s never felt good to me.
And I’ve also noticed a number of people, especially the more sensitive your digestion is, they have a harder time with digestion. They feel fuller longer. They feel like they’re burp-y or gassy, probably because you’re putting a lot more contents into the stomach. And you’re diluting some of the enzymes that are needed for this.
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: Also, think about it this way, too, because this was me, by the way, having trained. When I would train clients, I’d train seven to ten clients a day at my peak when I had my personal training studio. And I also would eat the six small meals a day because I believed in that myth as well.
So my meals were between clients. So a client would leave. I’d have a client warming up for five to ten minutes. I had five to ten minutes to eat my chicken, rice, and vegetables or whatever my body building meal was. So I’d wash every bite down with water, which also meant I didn’t chew my food very well at all.
Dr. Ruscio: Oh my. You were like taking pills. But they were bites of food.
Mind Pump: That’s correct. So when you don’t drink water with your meal, you actually are forced to chew the hell out of your food, which is the first stage of digestion.
Cycling vs. Consistency
It all goes back to if you cycle pretty much everything, you’re better off than being consistent with—
Dr. Ruscio: And exercise also.
Mind Pump: I feel like what we have to say there, though, as a disclaimer and one of the things I always stress—and you’re going to keep hearing me go back to the whole tracking thing—is that when you tell an audience that, “Hey, we encourage undulating your calories so you have a high day one day, then you have a low day—”
Mind Pump: Oh, yeah. I know where you’re going.
Mind Pump: It gives them this carte blanche because they’re like, “Oh, well, today must have been my high day because I went and had dessert with my family. This and that. And tomorrow, I’ll eat less. I’ll have a low day.”
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: And so you still have not made those right connections yet.
Dr. Ruscio: It’s not like the Weight Watchers point system where you can eat whatever you want even if it’s crap as long as you’re within the points.
Mind Pump: Right. Right. And this is why I go back to the tracking, because most people are just not aware of what high is, what low is, what a bad day, what a good day is.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: On all levels. And so until you really start to understand what your body needs, how you’re feeding it, and you have a good idea and also how to compare that to your actual activity because there’s another one.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a client who had a super active week. That just happened to be the week that she had to go grocery shopping. And she also went Christmas shopping. And then she also had to clean the yard that week. And so she actually accumulated an extra 4000 or 5000 calories that she burned in that week that she normally wouldn’t have burned because she just happened to be active that week.
Now, are you changing your caloric intake based off your movement? Are you paying attention to those things? And I think until people really learn to connect that, those pieces are first important. And then you start diving into the macros. And then we start breaking down the macros and the calories. “You’ve got the calories, the macros down. Okay, now let’s talk about undulating your calories.” And that’s what I meant by getting, again, back to what I talked to.
Mind Pump: Starting with the big rocks.
Misleading Industry Marketing
Mind Pump: Yeah, starting with the big rocks first, getting them to really get those basics down first and then building upon that. But the thing that sucks, and this is what’s tough about this industry, is that’s not marketable. And it’s not as sexy.
Mind Pump: 100% what you need to realize is most of the information that we believe to be common knowledge with nutrition and with exercise is promoted by an industry that is trying to get you to buy either a product or to buy into something that’s going to get you to buy a product.
I’ll give you some examples. Everybody’s heard the “eat small meals throughout the day.” “You’ve got to eat small meals throughout the day. Stokes your metabolism.” The people that promote that are the ones that sell you protein bars, meal replacement powders, and protein powders, because if I’m trying to eat six meals a day, the odds that two of those meals are going to be a meal replacement are very, very high.
Dr. Ruscio: Good point.
Mind Pump: It’s based 100% on no science whatsoever. In fact, science is now showing that eating too frequently may actually not be good for you, may actually promote inflammation.
Dr. Ruscio: And to back you up, I did go through a review of the literature on intermittent fasting to see if there were any negative metabolic consequences to answer the question of, “If I have days where I eat one or two meals only or I do that for an extended period of time, is that going to cause a deleterious effect on my metabolism?”
And what I can tell you I found through the review of the literature was most studies show no change or a slight benefit from the practice of intermittent fasting.
Mind Pump: Absolutely. So again, go back to evolution. But it was pushed by supplement companies who are selling you meal replacement powders and bars.
Now you look at workouts. Why have we been sold this whole body part split routine? And for your listeners who don’t know what that means, this is the whole, today is chest. Tomorrow’s back. The next day is shoulders. When I go to the gym, I’m going to work one body part each day.
First off, that was promoted by body builders on steroids who build muscle regardless. But it was also promoted by equipment manufacturers and gyms, because if I’m going to the gym for an hour and today is biceps, it’s going to be awesome if I have 15 different machines I can do biceps on. It doesn’t make sense if I go to the gym and I’m just going to do barbell curls or just squats.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: I want 15 different machines I can do for each body part. So it’s all to promote the sale of these types of things. None of it’s based on science.
And in fact, most of it is less effective than what really works, which is you don’t need to eat super frequently. Three meals a day is fine. Two meals a day is fine. For some people, even one meal a day is fine.
When it comes to exercise, full body for most people is superior than these body part splits. When it comes to protein intake, you don’t need to eat tons and tons of protein every day. And every once in a while, it’s a good idea to have low protein. This is the science. And this is just how the body operates.
We talk about this on the show. And we’ve actually pissed off a lot of people because in our industry it’s run by these companies that don’t like that message coming out.
Dr. Ruscio: Yep. No, I feel the same pressure in the field of functional medicine where I speak out against excessive testing. But it’s the same thing. And I don’t think in our industry it’s necessarily been done with any type of malicious intent. But when you have a lot of the education being funded by companies that either sell supplements or sell labs, it’s easy to inadvertently fall into this pattern of thinking you need more supplements or more testing than you do.
And that’s one thing I’ve tried to be critical regarding and one of the reasons why I think the work and the message has been well received. It’s because it’s just taking a step back and looking at what we’re doing and saying, “Guys, have you ever taken some time to think about if this test even tells you anything meaningful? Or if this supplement is even helpful?”
And so the same thing with, have we taken time to examine the belief of “you need to have small, frequent meals in order to lose body fat”? And when you look at some of those beliefs, you actually see that that doesn’t really have a lot of evidence to support it.
There are a small number of people who are recovering from burn out who may need frequent meals to help with their blood sugar regulation. But I think people can eventually make their way out of that. And they can recover their way out of that so they don’t need those small, frequent meals all the time.
Avoiding Burnout and Adrenal Fatigue
Mind Pump: Yeah, speaking of burn out, it’s a very interesting topic. And you do encounter people like that where you may not want to have them intermittent fast. You want to be very, very careful with exercise. And here’s something that I even talked about.
My girlfriend actually brought this to me over the weekend. She is taking some courses over the weekend on adrenal fatigue, which is a term that’s hotly debated in the medical community.
But it was really about—they talk about cortisol and the overproduction of cortisol. And it’s not the overproduction of cortisol. It’s actually the body becoming insensitive or less responsive to cortisol that they’re starting to speculate. And that may be what’s causing some of that burn out where they’re getting all this cortisol. Body’s not responding to it in the same way that would happen with too much insulin.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, and if you think about adrenal fatigue which—I agree with you. That term is being heavily questioned. And there’s a better term that I think many people are starting to use now, which is HPA dysfunction, which, even that, I think isn’t needed. That term, that diagnosis, or that syndrome is more representative of what’s actually happening. But I think it can be said much more simply than that, which is essentially you’re under too much stress. And now, your body is having these systems skew as a result of that.
And what’s challenging is that requires someone to make some changes, meaning sleep more, manage your lifestyle, clean up some type of inflammatory burden in the body that’s causing internal stress as the solution. That is not as sexy and marketable, to our earlier point, as saying, “Here is your spit test for your cortisol rhythm. You can clearly see you’re low in cortisol based upon this test. And now, the solution to your ailment is to take this pill or what have you.”
That’s easy. It’s just spit in these cups. See this number low. And take this. And that’s going to solve my problems. But I can’t tell you how many patients come in after chasing that down for a while and realizing that that was just quantifying a symptom of a deeper underlying dysfunction.
And once you fix that, the adaptation, the adrenal fatigue or the HPA dysregulation, becomes somewhat moot, because it’s just quantifying a symptom of a problem. And if you treat the symptom, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Mind Pump: Well, what people need to realize in health, especially in the wellness field, is that you’ll have wellness practitioners. And I say wellness practitioners, because that encompasses a lot of people. Functional medicine doctors for example will be in there. And you have certain personal trainers who may be in there.
But what they’ll do is they’ll identify a common issue that they’ll see quite a bit. And they’ll try to name it something and come up with an explanation for it. Sometimes, especially early on, the explanation may not be correct. But that doesn’t mean what they’re seeing is not happening.
And adrenal fatigue is something that personal trainers, functional medicine doctors, even some chiropractors and meditation experts have seen for a long time. I’ve seen this with clients for a long time. We just didn’t have a name for it.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: And so I think what the hardcore Western medicine practitioners will have a problem with or what they try to pick on is the explanation. But they won’t pay attention to the fact that it exists or not because it does. It’s a host of symptoms. You see it in people. It’s getting more common.
And the solution, like you said, isn’t really sexy. Unfortunately, when you give people a prescription like that, too, they tend to not want to do it either. “Here are some pills. Take that.” I’ll do that.
“Oh, here’s what I want you to do: sleep in a little more. Stop drinking coffee. Cut down on your exercise. Meditate a little bit.” And they look at you like you’re crazy. Like, “I’m not doing that.”
Ailments and Lifestyle
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah. You know something? It’s interesting. As you say that, I think really the desire of the population is starting to shift. And when I say “the population,” what I mean is maybe 15 years ago, 20 years ago you had a peak of “a pill for an ill.” People just wanted the pill. Medical science is going to solve everything, so there’s a pill for the ill.
And then I think people, after a while, realized, “Yeah, I take the pill for the high blood pressure. But now I can’t get an erection. And I’m tired all the time.”
So people started to figure out that the pill-for-the-ailment-mentality doesn’t work. So the consumer interest then shifted to the natural space. And we started to do the same kind of thing.
Mind Pump: Right.
Dr. Ruscio: And I think people are—
Mind Pump: An herb for the ill.
Dr. Ruscio: Now, what’s finally happening is people are understanding that, “Okay, we keep looking for this easy fix. But that just isn’t going to pan out. And I need something more reasonable and more practical.” And I think people are finally starting to get that.
And you’re bringing work like that to your audience. We’re bringing work like that to my audience. And I think people are ready for kind of discussion.
Mind Pump: And I think along those lines, now people are starting to look more at lifestyle and what they’re doing. And what they need to understand, what people don’t understand is when it comes to ailments that your body may have or illnesses or chronic issues, think of them more as signals than anything. There’s something that’s off. There’s something that I’m doing that is either wrong or too much or too little. And I need to adjust things because I need to listen to the signals that my body is telling me.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: Genetics, or your genes, was another one that people, I think, turned to and said, “Okay. It’s my genes. Therefore, there’s nothing I can do about it.” But now, we’re learning about things like epigenetics where you can turn genes on and off through your actions and even through the actions of your mother and your grandmother and so on and so forth.
Really, just look at these as signals. If you look at them as signals—
The Body’s Signals
Mind Pump: Sometimes, you say stuff like this. And this is where I’ve always got to catch us when we talk about signals and things that we, as professionals—we’ve been doing this for a very long time, been tracking, been paying attention to all this, read all the studies. So we have a different perspective than the average person.
And I think it’s always important to help people figure that out or help them get to a point where they can get to that level where, “What is this signal? What does this mean? What am I looking for when I’m not eating correctly?” A lot of people don’t understand that.
And this is why, too, I’m a big fan of an elimination diet and then having somebody reintroduce foods and then learn to assess that. Again, also why I’m a big tracker and why I tell people you’ve got to track it first.
If you ever care about this—if you don’t give a [bleep] about taking care of yourself or improving your health, then this isn’t for you. But if you are somebody who genuinely says, “Hey, I want to do better, to feel better, to look better, and I want to figure this out,” you’ve got to start tracking at one point and then learning to connect these dots.
And it’s amazing. The body does speak to us. But most people are oblivious to it. They don’t know how to tell if they’re [bleep] off or not. Never normal for them. It’s always up and down, up and down, up and down. So they haven’t learned to connect it to a certain food that potentially is doing that to them.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: I never did. And I know that. In my early 20s, if I had a terrible [bleep] I didn’t think about “What did I eat?” I do now. A 36-year-old me knows, or I know it before it happens now. I go, “I know where I’m going to be in there 20 minutes.”
Mind Pump: Yeah.
Mind Pump: Because you’ve now connected what foods do this to you. And then you talk about your sleep. And you talk about headaches, your energy levels throughout the day, your mood. All these things are signals. And the only way I feel like people can get there is either, one, tracking or eliminating, and then slowly introducing it and then learning to assess.
And this is what we talk about, your relationship with food. This is what it’s all about, figuring that out.
Now, listen. If you want to put something that’s poisonous in your body, that’s your body. Do what you want with it. But just be aware of it and understand what you are doing. And I think most people are completely oblivious to it. And they don’t have the tools to get to the point where they can say things like Sal just said, which is, “Listen to your signals.”
“I don’t know what my signals are. I’ve never paid attention.”
Dr. Ruscio: Yep. Good point. Good point.
Mind Pump: So getting to that point where you are at least either, one, tracking or you did an elimination diet and then started to slowly introduce and then start to pay attention to all these little—
And it’s amazing when you start to connect those dots, you start to want those foods less.
Dr. Ruscio: Totally.
Mind Pump: When you start realizing, “It’s going to make me have diarrhea. It’s going to give me a headache later. I’m going to have terrible sleep tonight.” When you start realizing that it’s because of these certain foods—
Dr. Ruscio: You’re reconditioned at that point.
Mind Pump: Yes! Versus, “Oh, this is bad for me because it’s going to make me fat.”
Mind Pump: Well, you look at the food differently.
Mind Pump: That’s the wrong relationship.
Dr. Ruscio: Exactly.
Mind Pump: That’s the wrong relationship. “Oh, this is bad because it’s going to make me fat.” No, think about what it’s doing and how it’s fueling your body nutritionally and learn how to connect those dots. Then diet won’t be hard anymore because you’re always thinking about what’s most optimal for you. And you want to feel that way.
And sometimes, you might not. Sometimes, you might say, “It’s going to be worth it. Today, we’re going to have a good time. It’s my buddy’s birthday. And we’re going to drink. And we’re going to eat badly. And I’m going to feel like [bleep] tomorrow. But whatever.” That’s life.
Dr. Ruscio: It’s the whole worth it/not worth it.
Mind Pump: Yes.
Dr. Ruscio: I think Melissa Hartwig says that when she’s going to make a food choice. Is it worth it or not worth it? And sometimes, it’s totally worth it. Sometimes, you’re on a bender with the boys, people you haven’t seen in a long time. And you want to catch up. You want to be up late. You want to have a few drinks. And I’m going to be hungover tomorrow. But it was worth it to have that experience.
Mind Pump: Right.
Dr. Ruscio: But you might be grabbing a cocktail with a coworker after work, just a routine Tuesday Happy Hour or something. And there might be a food choice that you have that you know is going to blow, too. And you’re saying to yourself, “This ain’t worth it. This is just me around the block from where I live, a casual drink with a coworker.”
Mind Pump: Right.
Dr. Ruscio: I’m not going to subject myself to a few hours of bloating for this one food.
Mind Pump: Right.
Dr. Ruscio: So it’s all contextual, yeah. I totally get that. And you make an excellent point, which is learning to listen to your body. And I really think that is one of the most important things people can learn or if they can learn that. Then you can make your own rules because you’ve learned to listen to the signs that tell you this is good or bad for you.
Mind Pump: Yes! And this is when you find out that everybody does have different rules.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: And that we’re not all playing at the same game. It’s a different game. Everybody has different rules. And then you can start to play with, “Oh, what’s it look like when I intermittent fast once a week? Or what does it look like when I have a really high carb day, when I have a no carb day or a really high fat day or a moderate all the way around, or fast from protein?”
Then you can start playing with all these little things and then paying attention to how your workout was that day, how your sleep was, how your sex drive was, how your hair is, how your skin is. All these things are affected from what we eat. And if we learn to connect that, I find the dieting piece becomes a lot easier.
So I feel like the best information or knowledge I felt like we could ever pass on to people now is learning how to help them make that connection first, because all these other details that all these companies are trying to market to you and sell you, sure, there’s science to prove that if you take this, it could increase the chances of you building a tiny bit more muscle. But why are you even worrying about that. We’re way over here still.
Dr. Ruscio: You’re not there yet, yeah. Exactly.
Mind Pump: Yeah, well, it doesn’t even matter.
Dr. Ruscio: I’ll give an example, maybe a personally embarrassing example of how you have to really listen to your own body to find your own truth, because just because something does something—you do X to produce Y. And you think you want more Y. It doesn’t mean that doing X is going to be good for you.
And one of the things I’ve come across is fasting after workouts can increase your testosterone levels and your growth hormone levels. Also, doing a sauna or a steam bath after a workout can increase your erythropoietin.
So what I was doing for a little while was working out, then doing a steam, and not eating for a couple hours afterward. And I had a ton of energy. But my libido, I might as well have been a priest. Or actually, maybe that’s not—depending on…
But I had zero libido. And so, yes, maybe my testosterone was higher. But maybe the stress also increased my sex hormone binding globulin and, therefore, my free fraction of testosterone. Who knows?
Without going down the rabbit hole of speculation, what I noticed was, even though something that was supposed to increase my testosterone, even though I did that, my libido absolutely tanked. And so I don’t do that anymore most of the time.
The Body’s Interconnected Systems
Mind Pump: Well, again, too, now you were getting into all the body’s different systems. I always think it’s so funny, too, how we have all these specialists who speak to one system. And they all work together.
Dr. Ruscio: Totally.
Mind Pump: Every bit of us is connected. And so to ever think that one of the others being affected is not going to affect the others is so silly to me.
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: And we don’t take that into account. We separate one system. And then we break it down every more crazily. And then we extrapolate that information, put a study around it and go like, “Oh, when you do this, it could increase that.”
Dr. Ruscio: Which is why I hate it when mechanism is used to market either products or testing or services in medicine, because the likelihood of that mechanism being wrong is so high. It’s ridiculous.
However, if you take that mechanism and then use the recommendation per that mechanism in a controlled clinical trial, you will get your real world outcome of that. And that is what you want. And that is what you’re after. And that’s why I always harp back to looking at clinical trials and not falling into the perils of making recommendations based upon mechanistic speculation.
Mind Pump: Right.
Mind Pump: Absolutely.
Mind Pump: Yep.
Dr. Ruscio: Let’s come back to exercise.
Mind Pump: Yes.
Dr. Ruscio: Because I want to round us home here. We’ve talked about two to three days of resistance training and then some low level, non-structured activity. Walking in nature, I think, is a phenomenal way for people to do that, because there are medicinal benefits of time in nature, especially if you can do that with a friend because then you get social time. And you get time in nature.
Mind Pump: And you get some sunlight.
Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, so walking in nature with a friend—phenomenal. So are there some finer points for exercise in terms of what you do with people, again, who are trying to optimize their body composition? Some other things that you would say would be important. Perhaps, how long is the exercise session? How intense do they go?
Mind Pump: So I have a bit of non-MAPS, simple, game changing tip that I think I wish I would have put together when I first started lifting—understanding how to calculate volume myself and slowly progressing myself from that.
So for example, we get back to the tracking in nutrition. So I would try to take someone on the same path that I’m taking nutritionally by having you start to track and then connect the dots with your food. I would do the same thing with training.
So I’d say, “However you’re training, whatever program you’re following, however it is that you train right now or not train, figure out your volume.” So set, times reps, times weight equals total volume. And separate all the muscle groups out, so all your muscles. And then look at that total volume.
And then slowly, by 10%, increase that volume over time. And that can be every week or every two weeks. I would go off how my body feels. And this is where it can be a little more prescriptive, because everyone’s going to be different, because if we were to give some general rule as far as, “Oh, train this way,” I have no idea who I’m talking to.
Am I talking to the athlete who’s been training for 15 years? Or am I talking to the guy who just got off the couch, and he’s 100 pounds overweight? Because both their prescriptions for training are extremely different.
But a general way that I think I can help everybody that’s listening that I wish I would have understood, how to track and pay attention to my volume and then learn.
So now, I believe everybody here does this intuitively, because you guys all understand your body and how, “Okay, I’ve pushed it a little bit further than I did last week. Okay, not a little bit further. Okay, increase my weight here.” We all have learned to do this naturally or intuitively.
Most people I don’t think understand that. That’s why they also get stuck in, “Oh, I’m following this program. Now, I’m trying this program.” They think it’s this magical program when nothing is going to change.
Dr. Ruscio: Yes, there are not magical programs. I say there’s no magic protocol.
Mind Pump: Right.
Dr. Ruscio: The magic is in the process.
Mind Pump: Yes. And that’s going more towards this, figuring out what works best for you, injecting those compound lifts that we talked about, knowing that frequency. Those are all very, very important. But one of the easiest ways that everybody listening right now can see change in their physique is by changing your volume. Simply, tracking that, adding to it progressively week over week or biweekly, and you’ll see change.
Dr. Ruscio: And then I’m assuming at some point, undulate down. And you cycle volume.
Mind Pump: Yeah, of course. Yeah, yeah. And that would be what people call the de-load phase of that or cycling into a whole new modality or adaptation you’d focus on. But just understanding how to pay attention to volume and slowly increase that, you’ll see gain.
If we’re talking gains and how to see change in your physique, I think that’s one of the easiest things that somebody can.
Mind Pump: I think very, very basic advice—if you’re going to the gym two, three days a week, 30 to 60 minutes is probably good for most people. Pick one exercise per major muscle group. Do between two to four sets of that particular exercise. Start with your large body parts and finish with you small body parts. Very, very basic advice that can work for most people.
So an example of that would be—guy goes to the gym. Barbell squats would be the first exercise. Bench press would be the second exercise. Some kind of a row, third exercise. Some kind of an overhead press, fourth exercise. Then maybe some curls, some triceps exercise, and a core exercise. And then you’re done. You’ve hit the whole body.
Rest Periods During Exercise
Dr. Ruscio: Now, what about rest period, because that can be a key parameter of training that can change the metabolic effect, at least as I understand it. And for the audience, when I say rest period, I mean are you waiting 60 seconds between sets, which, if you time it, that is actually a very short amount of time.
Mind Pump: So here’s a great help. Every single person that’s listening right here and how you could differentiate the two of them—there are going to be people either, one, that lean towards too much rest. And then there are going to be a majority of people that lean to too little rest.
So you have your cardio king and queens that love high circuit—
Mind Pump: They want to do circuits.
Mind Pump: That love circuit training. And you know who you are if you’re listening right now. You love them classes. You love to sweat. That’s how you measure how—
Dr. Ruscio: And that’s been shown to be the worst for people with “adrenal fatigue.”
Mind Pump: Right.
Dr. Ruscio: That type of lots of exercise, little bit of rest is worse for that population. So if you are burnt out, factor this into the program that you make for yourself.
Mind Pump: So that being said, that person is going to benefit, long rest periods—90 seconds to three minutes. You are going to throw such a new adaptation for that body and that person who’s addicted to that way of training. That’s the best advice for them.
The people that are the other side, maybe like your power lifters, rest 5—Go brush their teeth in between sets, take their weight belt off, have a protein shake in between sets, then go do that whole break again. Those guys, you throw them on some circuit training for a little bit. And their body is going to change.
So typically, what ends up happening to all of us, almost everybody I’ve ever trained or met, we all tend to migrate somewhere, whether it was something that we perform better or a type of way of training that we saw the most change in our body over the last ten years of lifting and exercising. And so we all tend to gravitate towards a modality.
And really, I think everybody just needs to get out of what they love. And normally, the things that we like to do least are probably what are best for us.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: Well, just also realize the principle of specificity. So what are you telling your body to do? Are you telling your body to promote a strength signal? Or are you telling your body to adapt to more of an endurance-based protocol?
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: And so you have to just evaluate that process and go through that as you’re working out. Is my rest period adequate enough for me to be promoting strength from this type of exercise and movement? So that’s just something, if you just carry that with you.
And then, like Adam said, you have to evaluate what you always do, what you’re prone to be doing the most and where you can interrupt that and work on things that might actually improve the overall functioning of your body and change.
Mind Pump: General population, 30 seconds probably to 120 seconds or maybe even a little longer. That’s your range for the general population when it comes to strength training.
Dr. Ruscio: For time in between sets.
Mind Pump: Time in between sets. If you go too quick, you’re just doing cardio with weights.
Dr. Ruscio: Yep.
Mind Pump: Yeah, that’s it.
Mind Pump: I think, though, it’s very individual for sure.
Mind Pump: Oh, totally.
Mind Pump: And I think everybody tends to—
Mind Pump: Some people recover pretty quickly.
Mind Pump: This is what we do in MAPS also, though. Part of the changing it—
Mind Pump: We change everything, all the variables in MAPS. And by the way, it’s not haphazard. That’s the thing, too. Just changing things haphazardly is better than not for the most part unless you go too crazy with it.
But if you really want to structure it in the most effective way possible, there is a better way to do it than just haphazardly, “Oh, I’ve got to mix everything up again.”
But you’ve got rest in between sets. You’ve got the tempo of the rep, how fast you lift the weight, how fast you lower the weight, how long you hold it in between those two things, the order of exercises, the intensity, how many reps you do, the exercise selection. Those are the big variables. There are other variables on top of that.
Periodically Adjusting Your Program
Dr. Ruscio: And this is what a good personal trainer should be doing in my opinion. And if you’re a personal trainer and you’re not doing this, this is not a knock at you because I used to be a personal trainer. And I used to be, if I’m being honest with myself, a somewhat glorified rep counter.
Mind Pump: A lot of trainers are.
Dr. Ruscio: And a good trainer—in my defense, I quickly learned my way out of that. And what I started doing with my clients was I would see them less. I started charging more, but I would see them less. But I would spend that time giving, “Here’s what you’re going to do for the next two weeks. And then we’re going to come back. And we’re going to train together for a week and give you a different program. And then you’re going to do that for three or four weeks.”
So a good trainer, good coach, in my opinion doesn’t need to be there with you every rep, but needs to be monitoring these parameters that you’re talking about to help with that undulation of the program and prevent your body from adapting.
Mind Pump: We’re getting there, Mike. We’re getting there.
Mind Pump: Yep, yep.
Mind Pump: So the future of Mind Pump is we will eventually train the trainers. So that’s why we had to first lay out all the programs. Then it’s why we have a correction-based one. That’s why we have a built-in assessment so people can do it online.
Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha.
Mind Pump: So eventually, now, we can train trainers on how to program for their clients. And now, we have a program for literally every single type of person, whatever their goal may be. And actually, our most sold program is our bundle, our super bundle which has all the programs, because we encourage people. We don’t tell you, “Oh, it’s a 30- or 60-day quick fix.” It’s like, “No, everybody should experience all these adaptations.”
Dr. Ruscio: Right.
Mind Pump: Because each one of them is different. When you talk about going through Performance, our Performance program is based on multi-planar movements, a lot of unilateral-type movements, things that everybody should incorporate in their training.
Dr. Ruscio: Sure.
Mind Pump: But we’ve organized it in a specific program with specific adaptations that we’re focused on.
Mind Pump: That’s what you’re focusing on right now.
Mind Pump: And then we transition you somewhere else.
Dr. Ruscio: Like that.
Mind Pump: It actually would take you almost a whole year to go through all of it. And we manipulate all these things. So really, one of the things that we get a lot of is trainers that actually buy the programs to go through themselves so they can then teach their clients, because that’s what we talk about with MAPS. Not only is it a program for the people, but it’s also a program for trainers so they can take their clients through that and learn how to program properly.
Mind Pump: It’s a program for the people!
Mind Pump: For the people! It’s made of people!
Dr. Ruscio: We’ve talked about some really great stuff. The most important concept to take away from this is just the importance of change, because if you don’t change, your body adapts. And then you don’t continue to progress. So changing or undulating your calories, your macros, also even building that into your exercise that you don’t need to beat yourself to a bloody pulp in order to make gains.
And I was really actually impressed when Ben Greenfield, who’s a competitive triathlete, was telling me how little he actually trained to hit the high level of performance that he hits.
So again, guys, I feel like we have points reinforcing that you don’t need to exercise more to get better from both the body composition perspective and the performance perspective. So some really good points and some really good takeaways.
Where can people track you guys down or connect with you to learn more?
Mind Pump: So our podcast is Mind Pump, which you can find on iTunes. We also have a YouTube channel where we post a new video every single day demonstrating new exercises and techniques, or we discuss topics like the ones we’ve discussed today on this podcast. On YouTube, our channel is called Mind Pump TV.
And then if you want to look at our website and look at our programs, it’s MindPumpMedia.com.
Dr. Ruscio: Awesome. Guys, thank you so much for coming out and hanging out.
Mind Pump: Always a good time, brother. Always a good time.
Mind Pump: Appreciate it.
Mind Pump: Thanks for having us on.
Mind Pump: Thank you, Mike.
Dr. Ruscio: You got it, guys.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.