7 Answers To Your Sports Nutrition Questions With Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield Tri RunningLast month personal trainer and fitness expert Ben Greenfield joined WellnessFX CEO Jim Kean to discuss the cutting-edge strategies about how food, lifestyle and supplement support can reduce inflammation and heal the body more quickly while you’re training for your next event. It was an awesome Webinar, and if you missed it you can catch the full video here: Damage Control: How To Be Extremely Active Without Destroying Your Body.

Naturally, an hour wasn’t enough time to cover all your questions, but that doesn’t mean they went unheard! Ben Greenfield was kind enough to offer very detailed responses to topics about sleep, sports nutrition, vitamins, and aging. So much, in fact, we had to split it into two posts! Below you’ll find 7 questions and answers relating to sports nutrition. Keep a lookout for part two, coming soon!


You mostly burn through liver glycogen stores while you’re sleeping, so assuming you had dinner the night before, when you wake up in the morning your muscle glycogen (storage carbohydrate) levels are full. So technically you could go exercise for 90 minutes to 2 hours without eating anything (even though that kind of long fasted workout would be stressful to your immune system if you did it every day). I’d recommend you include some carbs with dinner (40-60g is fine), then wake up and do no more than 60 minutes of exercise in your fasted state. Ideally, try to take 5-10g of essential amino acids or branched chain amino acids immediately before or during the fasted workout.


For adrenal fatigue, I recommend light yoga, light swimming, QiGong, trampolining, or any other very light, low impact, relaxing exercise, for just 20-30 minutes a day. As you recover, very short (under 30 seconds) sprints and low-rep, heavy lifting can also be included, but only after your salivary cortisol levels are normalized and your heart rate variability (HRV) is above 90. As far as food choices and supplements, I recommend an anti-inflammatory diet that does NOT include significant calorie or carb restriction (good ones would be SCD, GAPS, or Perfect Health Diet), combined with Chinese Adaptogenic Herbs (such as TianChi), and a greens supplement or algae source.


I’m a fan. I use one or a combination of both every day (here’s a more comprehensive article of exactly what algae sources I use and why).

You’ve no doubt heard about anti-aging before. Chlorella’s potential is huge in that department, as well as in the area of oxygen capacity, muscle repair, detoxification and liver protection.

Even though chlorella is high in protein, spirulina is even higher in protein, and also an excellent dietary source for muscle recovery and repair, amino acids and fatty acids (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan and don’t eat meats or have a hard time getting enough fats – which is why I think it’s crazy that algae isn’t discussed in articles like this: Can A Vegan Diet Fuel A High Performance Athlete?).


As you age, I recommend you:

Focus less on endurance or tempo efforts, and focus more on speed, strength, power and balance, which will decline much faster than mitochondrial density or lactic acid buffering capacity.
Consider decreasing protein intake slightly, as your ability to break down and utilize it will decrease. More juicing, more smoothies, more hydrolyzed proteins, amino acids, supplements, etc. vs. steak, chicken and fish (although the use of digestive enzymes can help).
Support your natural hormone production and joint health by using supplements such as Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc, and Fish Oil.


A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that timing of dietary protein intake affects feelings of fullness throughout the day and has a good appetite satiating effect compared to more protein eaten at lunch or dinner. The folks in the study had 18-25% of their daily protein intake for breakfast, so assuming daily protein intake was close to 150g (which is pretty high), then 30g of protein would be appropriate for appetite control.

Amino acids are absorbed by the small intestine at a rate of around 5-10 grams per hour, and food takes around 4-5 hours to move through the gut, so it would seem that a 30g range would be close to your maximum absorbable protein intake for a meal, but this is going to highly vary with digestive enzymes, gut health, body size, activity level, age, stress, etc.

In other words, what works for Tim Ferriss may not work for a 108-pound female soccer player (30g probably not absorbed by her) or a 250-pound male muscle-bound powerlifter (he might be hungry again within a couple hours).


Buyer beware. These have things like dimethylamylamine (DMAA), caffeine, ephedra, and other stimulants similar to amphetamine. So they’re not only going to jack up blood pressure and put unnatural levels of stress on the heart (which is forced to pump against greater resistance), but that also means they’re technically banned by most world sporting organizations like the WADA.

I talk about this in more detail in this podcast episode (pardon the crappy audio as I was traveling), but I personally don’t go near this stuff and neither does the Defense Department.


If you delve into Pubmed and vitamin D/athletic performance, you’ll find evidence for:

Faster reaction time
 Stronger immune system (so less sick days missing training)
 Less perception of soreness/tiredness post workout
 Better bone density and faster bone healing time
 Improved time to exhaustion during endurance sports
 Higher maximum oxygen consumption
 Faster concussion recovery

For more, check out this Vitamin D Wiki.

ben greenfield greyBen Greenfield offers personalized coaching to clients around the world. Get Ben as your coach, access his books, handpicked supplements and wealth of fitness, endurance and overall wellness information at http://www.PacificFit.net, or simply e-mail support@bengreenfieldfitness.com if you have any questions. You can also hire Ben for a one-on-one phone or Skype consult at http://pacificfit.net/items/one-on-one-consultation.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.