Episode 186

Performance Menu: Journal of Health & Athletic Excellence

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  1. [7:05] Child With Down Syndrome
  2. [11:30] Stevens Johnson Syndrome
  3. [16:35] Going From Measured to Unmeasured Diet
  4. [19:34] Setting Personal Fitness Goals
  5. [26:04] Working Out Or Resting When Tired And Fatigued
  6. [32:39] Balancing Diet, Weight, Etc. For A MMA Fighter
  7. [43:20] Water Purification
  8. [48:12] Astaxanthin
  9. [54:18] Herbal Tea Over-Consumption



1. Maximising development for child with Down’s syndrome

Michael says:
Hi Robb and Greg (2 Gs)

I’ve been following your podcast for a long time and was lucky enough to have  a question of mine answered back in episode 91. I’m pleased to see you still going strong another 91 episodes later! (well, another 93 at the time of writing).

My question back then was concerned with my wife and I preparing for the birth of our first child. Well we had a lovely, happy baby boy called Aidan who is now 18 months old and doing very well.

Not everything’s perfect though as he has Down’s syndrome. The first concern when a child is born with Down’s is that they are more susceptible to certain health conditions such as heart, thyroid and hearing issues. After that, and as they grow up, the challenge is concerned with slower mental and physical development.

Happily Aidan is so far free of any underlying health problems. Nevertheless his general development is noticeably slower than his peers, though the full impact of his Down’s will not be known for quite a while yet.

My question is quite straightforward. Apart from following a standard Paleo diet and lifestyle, are there any other things you think we could be doing or tweaks to be made to the diet in order to increase the chances of Aidan continuing to be free of the underlying issues and to maximise both his mental and physical development as he grows up?

Aidan was breastfed for his first 12 months and since has eaten mainly veggies, red meat, some white fish, banana and full fat greek yoghurt (which he loves). Very occasionally he’ll have a small amount of white rice or potato mixed in with some of the above.

Many thanks for any thoughts you may have and thanks to the both of you for continuing to provide such a fantastic resource of both information and fun!


2. Steven Johnsons Syndrome

Tony says:
Hello, My name is Tony. I read your book last year and it changed my life. I felt great! Better than I ever have. Last September I had pneumonia and was prescribed Biaxin (Clarithromycin). Several days later I had sores in my mouth and extremely red eyes. Finally, my wife made me go to the hospital. I was admitted and diagnosed with Steven Johnsons Syndrome. Shortly after my hospital visit (as soon as I could tolerate anything except for ice cream) I resumed Paleo.  I had a few “Flare ups” since the original outbreak but not as severe. This even happened with anti-viral medication (Valtrex and Acyclovir). I have been reading as much as I can about SJS. Unfortunately, there is a myriad of things that can cause it. The doctors have branded me with a Sulpha allergy. Which is odd because I don’t think Biaxin is Sulpha based antibiotic. What I have noticed is sometimes I become “blotchy” when I eat foods with Sulfites. I have been logging what I eat to try and nail down what is causing it. It is not real a big deal. I don’t experience dis comfort, only weird looks when it happens.


My question is: Do you think my switch to the diet may have exacerbated a latent allergy? Although I doubt this is the case: Do you think my diet may have caused SJS or could have been a contributing factor? I know SJS is somewhat rare, but is there any information you can provide to help me out? I am active duty Navy and very concerned this may mess with my career. I really enjoyed your book and I am a huge fan. The doctors at Balboa can be cryptic and reluctant to provide advice or information. Having said that, I promise I will not try to leverage your response with any legal action. I also understand if this falls outside your expertise.  I know you are very busy. So I understand if I have to wait a long time to hear back from you. Thank you so much taking the time to read this. I know it is wordy and probably riddled with grammar and spelling errors. Very Respectfully, Tony


3. Converting from weighted to unweighted diet

Joel says:
I am currently doing a weight and measured diet around paleo food principals and found it helps keep me losing weight by keeping my mind on portion sizing and calorie intake. I’m unhappy with doing this but I have no idea how to limit my food intake without a kitchen scale. How do keep myself from eating too much food on paleo without weighing everything out? I’ve been eating this way for the past 7 months and I’ve lost 115 lbs and I’m happy with my new body, just not the inflexibility of having to weigh my food.

I’m 6’4″, male 202lbs, 28 years old. Eating around 2600calories/day. Moderately active.


4. setting fitness goals

Sara says:
Dear Robb and Greg,

What advice do you have for determining fitness goals? I have vague goals like “Stay mobile as I age” and “Be able to carry heavy things” and “Don’t injure myself at the Y in an embarrassing manner,” but more specific ones could help with self-motivation.

How do I figure out what realistic but challenging goals are good for me, personally?

I’m a 42-year-old woman. I’m 5′ 10″ and 150 lbs and healthy, but I’d like a stronger core (to ward off neck and hip problems I have to see a PT for occasionally) and to be trimmer around the middle (out of vanity).

Any suggestions?


5. Fatigued – Train light or rest?

Adam says:
Listener #8. Insert standard flattery here. 43 year old male, Taurus, paleo plus dairy for a little over two years, and feeling great all things considered. We have a two year old that wakes up in the middle of the night several times a week, which keeps me in a chronic state of fatigue. The good thing is she clearly is going to be a jock, which motivates me in the gym.

I feel like I’ve done a good job of finding my exercise limitations – I walk a total of about two miles a day to/from the parking deck at work, use a stand up desk, and lift for one hour, twice or sometimes three times a week. I’m focused on strength (working sets of five or less), and I primarily stick to compound movements – bench press, squats, weighted pullups, etc. Despite the lack of volume I’ve made really good progress – a couple of weeks ago I benched 225 at 5’7″ and 137 pounds.

I’ve tried increasing my volume a couple of times, and it didn’t go well. Aside from the scheduling difficulties, I just can’t get enough sleep right now to recover. My question is this. I need to get in my workouts when I can, but sometimes the windows is on a day when I’m pretty knackered. Usually I’ll workout anyway, but take it easier – i.e. lower intensity / volume, maybe some accessory movements. Am I better off doing this, or just resting? Should I keep the intensity up and do fewer sets? My worry is that if I only workout when I feel fresh, I’ll never get in the gym.


6. Bulletproof coffee, MMA, Diet & Weight

Ian Peters says:
Long question, so I’ll skip the praise and comment about loving listening to all the post casts.

I’m an MMA fighter from the UK and have over the past year or so switch to the Bulletproof diet, (paleo like) and am enjoying the energy and health benefits. I’m currently doing IF (intermittent fasting) 6 days a week from a bedtime of 9-10pm until first food around 12pm (olives, mackerel or sardines and an avocado). I train hard around 6:30am for an hour and take BCAAs (6g) before and (6g) after. Now I’ve heard you mention this is a bad idea, which I agree with, ‘but’ I have a 700kcal Bulletproof Coffee around 1 hour before training. This ‘obviously’ keeps me in Ketosis for fat loss/weight control and gives me more than enough energy to train hard. It contains around 30-40g of grass-fed butter and 30ml of MCT oil. Does this in your opinion change anything on athletes training during IF and not refuelling for around 4hrs after? I’m finding I have loads of energy during my AM session and cardio/strength increases are good. AM session are the hard ones, with classes and more technical work in the PM.

Also as I compete in a weight category sport, I need to watch my weight carefully to avoid difficult weight-cuts (only like to cut 10lb and don’t like losing too much weight during camp when I’m training hard). So I spend a lot of time either calorie restricted, or close to neutral, as obviously when I eat too much (weekly rest/refeed day), my body is happy to hang on to the extra, leaving me back at slight calories restriction while using Bulletproof Coffee IF and a heavy training load.

MMA seems nearly impossible to get right. I need to be a lot lighter than is natural (170lb is too high, guys are massive), I need to be able to go hard for 15mins with little rest, need to be strong enough to pick another human up with speed & power and do it over and over. Not to forget getting hit in the face and taking damaged during the process. Not sure where to balance everything that’s needed to be done. I think I’m on the right track, but everybody will say a least one thing I’m doing wrong generally. As you train a MMA guy I thought you might be able to give some insight and keep me on the right track.

On a side note, I have a keyhole surgery coming up, with a 4-6 week recovery time. Any advice on how to eat and train during this time. Thinking about just completely relaxing and enjoying some extra food and rest. But at 40+ I’m worried if I let go too much, or at all, I’ll struggle to get back to my current level of fitness, which is critical due to it being a combat sport (mistakes hurt). I hope to continue to compete until the wheels fall off, I would have said knocked out, but that’s already happened.

Hoping to make it on to the podcast as I’m listening to the podcast from the beginning at work and from the end at home. Getting through 3 or 4-a-day. Really enjoying the info, thanks.

See my last fight here (www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuVDsxbQZ6U). Didn’t go so well, but that’s the game, enjoy

Facts for Info
Age: 40
Sex: Male
Weight: 155lb (fight), 165lb (camp), 175-180lb (between fights)
Bodyfat: 6% (fight, 8* (camp), 10% (now)
Height: 5’9″

Training: 1hr in the morning (sprints, pads, circuits, bag work, kettlebells, weights (deadliest, squats, weighted chins))
1-2hrs in the evening (BJJ, MMA, Wrestling, Boxing etc)
5 days = 2 a days
1 day = 1 a day
1 day = Rest & Refeed day.

Deadlift = 345lb
squat = 280lb
hang clean = 175lb

Diet: 60% fat, 30% protein, 20% carbs roughly
2,500kcal, 200g fat, 110g protein, 70g carbs daily
One refeed day a week, with more carbs

Currently in-between fights awaiting keyhole surgery on my knee cartilege, so around 179lb and training every morning with a few evening session here and there.


7. Water purification

Joe says:
Do you guys purify your tap water? Would you recommend that people take it a step further than a brita filter and buy a heavy metal removing, bacteria and virus killing, fluoride removing purifier?

What systems would you recommend if any?


P.S. Greg, Can you do us a solid and drop any hints on the American Weightlifting documentary?


8. astaxanthin, sunburns, and showers
Charlie says:
I was reading Dr. Mercola’s web site and saw him praising astaxanthin. Checked reviews on Amazon, sure enough, miracles reported, especially for eyesight and chronic joint pain.

Mercola says the stuff is utterly safe, but I’m a bit concerned because most vitamins and antioxidants that seem too good to be true usually do have a safety limit. When consumed from whole foods there’s usually some kind of co-factor that mitigates the damage. Is astaxanthin really so great? Is it really that safe? What whole foods (if any) contain significant amounts? What co-factors might food sources contain if we’re looking to stack them in pill form?

Also, Mercola suggests not bathing for 48 hours post sun exposure to maximize vitamin D effect. It seems the vitamin is formed in skin oil and needs time to soak in. Actually he says to use soap only on your pits and groin, and just wash gently in plain water everywhere else. This is precisely what I’ve been doing anyway because it helps keep my skin from breaking out. But is it really that helpful for vitamin D?

To connect these subjects: Mercola says astaxanthin reduces the damage from sunburn and possibly the risk of skin cancer. Know anything about that?

I’m neither a Mercola devotee nor a hater. Just getting a second opinion before I add another damn pill to my daily routine. I’m already trying small amounts of sunbathing after hearing you talk about it. Came across Mercola’s site while trying to figure out safe sun exposure time limits.

— Charlie, formerly from Oklahoma, now in Colorado

Links to the articles:



9. Herbal Tea & Biology

Travis says:
Robb & Greg,
Thanks for all the great work you do. I’m a long-time fan of the podcast, blog, and book. Two quick questions:

1) Is there any concern with high consumption of herbal teas? I know I’ve read about chamomile being problematic with certain individuals, but what about mint, roibois, etc.? I’m sure the poison is in the dose, but would it be healthy and safe, for example, for an average male to consume 8-10 cups or more of peppermint tea per day?

2) I come from a history background but have recently wanted to pursue a self-study of science, specifically biology, to give me a better foundation for understand ancestral health and fitness. Any recommendations on a basic biology text or are they all pretty similar in content?

Thanks for continuing to be awesome (in that your brilliance fills me with awe),

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Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. says

    Robb, I’m with ya on the bone broth rant, but I think it’s important, especially for newbies, to distinguish between homemade (or otherwise procured from a good source) stock from *bones* vs simple broth. I guess the technical difference is that stock is made from bones, and broth is made from meat, but of course stock can also be made with “meaty bones.” The main issue in terms of gut healing (as I understand it, anyway) is that real stock will have a lot more gelatin and collagen than regular ol’ broth. (Probably more minerals, too.)

    Not disagreeing with you here – I agree that semantics make it *seem* like “bone broth” is this otherworldly “thing” that requires lots of technical know-how to make. (That, or a French or Jewish granny hanging around your kitchen.) And a lot of people get intimidated by it when all you really have to do is toss bones, chicken carcasses and other gnarly bits into a pot with some onions & celery and let ‘er rip. (Possibly soak in vinegar first.)

    Just want to make sure people who are new to this don’t go buy a couple cans of Swanson or College Inn broth and wonder why “it’s not working,” hehheh.

  2. Michael says

    Hi Robb,

    I’m Michael from question 1 this week. Firstly, thanks for answering another of my questions.

    I got the impression you felt you weren’t being much help with your answer, but quite the opposite. There’s lots for us to try out there.

    Bone broth (stock!) and organ meat are both quite easy for us to try and introduce, but we hadn’t thought about it for our son just yet. We’ll give that a go.

    Kraut and kimchi, could be a bit trickier as I guess it has to be homemade rather than shop bought. Though I can feel a project coming on, we’ll give it a go! It’s hilarious that your daughter loves it so much, good on you both for managing that.

    As for the GAPs diet, we’d heard of it but never looked into it. A quick google after your mention has been quite illuminating. Definitely lots for us to look at, and it appears GAPS is quite commonly used with Downs. The googling has also led us to a couple of Downs related blogs, which make excellent reading for us.

    As for the kid’s DHA supplements. We’re in England and all we can find suggest they’re for 3 years old and above. Can you see a problem giving such a supplement to our 19 month old?

    Many thanks once again.

  3. Travis says

    Thanks for answering my question about herbal tea and biology. As an hyperconsumer of coffee, I’m thinking about taking a break from caffeine at some point this summer and was going to sub in herbal tea–I’ll diversify my options, though. Thanks again.

  4. Edward says

    In terms of personal fitness goals, I just caught the cavemandoctor.com podcast #45 where Colin and Roger reference a study that shows a strong correlation between all causes mortality and the ability to sit on the floor and then rise from it. The study was on 51 to 80 year old men, but it is revealing, I think for anyone who tries the test.

    The idea is to give your self a score of 5 on the way down, deducting one point for each bracing movement such as using your hands or knees for leverage. And ditto on the way back up, starting at 5 points and losing one point for going onto your knee or pushing with your hands. Going off balance is also a 1 point deduction. The resulting score
    This is an amazingly quick way to evaluate basic levels of fitness, and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    The study is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23242910

  5. says

    I loved your reply, Robb, to the question about herbal teas and wanted to strengthen your point about not overdoing it, especially when it comes to mint and men. Mint may have some powerful anti-androgenic properties and so far in listening to your podcast, I’ve yet to hear from a man who wants less testosterone! (Some women may, though, and mint has been shown to reduce female hirsutism, for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17310494.)

    This is a rat study, but still, I think caution is warranted for men consuming mint-based herbal teas: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15302514.

  6. says

    What if I, as a woman, want to naturally INcrease testosterone?
    Also, I’m enjoying the paleo lifestyle I’ve recently started in April. When I was thinking about it being a “diet” it felt limiting hard to stick to. I had an epiphany that Paleo is a lifestyle rather than a diet, just like being a vegetarian is a lifestyle. Thinking about it in this way, I no longer feel like I can’t have certain things. I can have anything, but I choose to limit my intake of post-agricultural foods. I’ve also started thinking about how seasons and hunting/gathering practices would limit food availability. For example, honey is on the Paleo foods list, but probably shouldn’t be eaten everyday. As a caveman, if you were lucky enough to find some, it would have been only at certain times of the year, and you would have had to expend calories (work) to get it.

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