Fireside Chat Video Series with Tim Ferriss: Episode 3

The conversation from Tim Ferriss’ phenomenal Building the Perfect Human fireside chat is just about done, but that doesn’t mean the show’s over! After discussing how to turn back the hands of the biological clock, our WellnessFX trio of experts tackled questions from the audience.

In classic fireside-style, our CEO Jim Kean, best-selling author Tim Ferriss, and Dr. Justin Mager have covered topics such as using whole foods to heal, the master regulatory gene, mitochondria and microbiome, and performance enhancement for the future. We gave our audience members a chance to be part of the conversation. Get ready to hear enlightening stories, what to do when you’re trying to maintain your weight, and if we can expect The 4-Hour Brain any time soon.

To see the third webisode and to get access to a summary of topics discussed, simply fill in your email below:

Tim Ferriss starts Episode 3 by reminding us that it’s important to understand the use of the term “optimal.” It’s difficult, if not impossible, to be optimal in every category. The question becomes: optimal for what? For example, Tim sets small goals for himself, like wanting to run a mile faster or to significantly increase his deadlift. Once the goal’s in place, he can take a focused approach to tweaking diet, routine, and supplement use.

Funny story: remember resveratrol? To benefit from its life extension effects, you’d have to consume about 500 bottles of wine per night, so it’s usually taken in its supplement form. Tim was writing The 4-Hour Body and wanted to try it out, but he wouldn’t be able to report on any life extension effects until . . . well, until the end of his life!

He heard about a study where a rat given resveratrol experienced double the endurance (google “super rat resveratrol“). So Tim decided he wanted to become super rat. He went to a website called the Immortality Institute and used their fantastic forum to get the information needed to start his self-experiment. By comparing a rat’s bodyweight to his own, Tim calculated how much resveratrol he would have to take to be equivalent to the doses given to the super rat (he does NOT recommend doing this). He then signed up for a bunch of endurance tests in South Africa and took a massive two BOTTLES of resveratrol (60 days worth!) all in one dose before the race.

As Tim quickly found out, the supplement form of resveratrol is often coupled with Emodin, which is a laxative. Needless to say, his endurance didn’t improve that day. Nothing did. The moral of the story? You can’t optimize for everything. Pick a target, make changes for it, and track it over 2-3 months. It’s a fun and enlightening way to get engaged with your own health.

Check out the full video below, along with an awesome Q&A session!

Question and Answer

Tim ended with that colorful story, but it was far from time to go home. Jim, Tim, and Justin took questions from the audience:

Q: In The 4-Hour Body you discovered you were selenium deficient from working backwards from your low thyroid biomarkers and low body temperatures. How did you discover the problem?

A: Tim had seen research on starkly different cancer rates in China that was reflective of selenium deficiency on one side, so he already had a suspicion. He used spectrocell to analyze his cells more closely and confirmed the problem (selenium deficiency) and looked for potential causes from there. He found that his supposed supply of selenium–brazil nuts–become nearly devoid of selenium if they sit in their shells for too long. In general, selenium is a problem in a lot of places in the US due to top soil depletion.

Q: I lost a lot of weight over the years but now want to keep my current size. What do you recommend for maintenance and joint health?

A: Some good carbohydrates to add would be tubers and root vegetables (sweet potatoes, for instance), but not grains. Tim suggests also increasing fat intake. He’s not afraid of saturated fat, as long as it’s from sources he knows and trusts, like Marin Sun Farm. As long as his insulin and fasting glucose levels are under control, he feels confident.

In terms of joint health, Tim believes that slow-cadence weight lifting is the best way to go. He says that cissus quadrangularis, a medicinal plant from Africa and Asia, has incredible effects not just on bone health, but overall health as well. Dr. Mager is a big fan of jump rope and micro percussions. When you apply small, frequent pressure to joints, they squirt out fluid that lubricates them. He’s also a fan of manual stimulation with the thumbs, even while in motion. It’s important to remember that joint pain may not always be the joints themselves, but adhesions around the joints or tight muscles and ligaments.

Jim recommends looking into MobilityWOD, the “most original thinkers in preservation of function.” They specialize in maintaining tissue health, which is the secret to keeping the body feeling young. Jim also shared his experience with methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Cananda. He took the supplement the whole time and after his trip had his knees examined by a doctor. They were still in tip-top shape.

Q: What physical activity do you recommend most for longevity and anti-aging?

A: For Tim there’s no debate: low-cadence resistance training to failure. Osteoporosis, for example, can be prevented through proper weight training. The top priority should be injury minimization, hence the slow-cadence. Tim recommends checking out this TedTalk for an inspiring story.

Q: Is cardio also recommended?

A: The way the media uses ‘cardio,’ Tim considers in the same category as ‘toning’ and ‘shaping’: hogwash. He believes that resistance training is the best cardiovascular training, as shown by Doug McGuff. There is no advantage to doing a lot of steady state aerobics unless you enjoy it. It’s a perfect way to add repetitive stress to the body.

Dr. Mager is a fan of HIIT, which incorporates a lot of force over a short period of time. This, he says, is the strongest stimulus of PGC 1-alpha, the metabolic regulatory gene. He sees a lot of vitamin deficiencies in his long distance athletes and recommends people look into Paul Chek to incorporate a variety of movements into routines.

Q: We’ve seen 4-Hour Body and 4-Hour Chef. Is 4-Hour Brain next?

A: The meta-learning section to 4-Hour Chef has most of Tim’s thoughts about accelerated learning. On top of that, he wrote a piece for Wired Magazine about smart drugs. In general, however, he’s a lot more hesitant to apply experimental drugs to the brain than to other areas of the body because the intricate feedback networks means a lot can go wrong. That said, he’s currently researching accelerated language learning, which ports over to other declarative knowledge.

Q: I just turned thirty. I’ve read all your books but I have a full-time job and being able to do all of these things seems overwhelming. What you recommend I should focus on the most if I’m not an athlete?

A: Focus on some of the basic low-hanging fruit for cognitive performance and neurological longevity. The most important supplements for this would be creatine and fish oil (from quality sources, of course). Next would be to optimize your fertility. If you focus on neuro function and fertility, the rest of the body will generally fall into place.

Dr. Mager also suggests keeping down inflammation levels. It’s important to avoid foods that cause inflammation, and a first step for this is to figure out to which foods you react.  Dr. Mager usually sees sensitivities with people who eat the same kinds of foods all the time. We need variety, which is shown by how we have eaten historically. Just a few hundred years ago, humans were forced into cyclical foods by season. Variation is key.

Stay tuned for next week and Part 4!

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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.