I had a great time jumping down the nerd chute with Jason Leydon on the Conquer Athlete Podcast this week!
Check out my interview, as we talking all about cold water immersion, psychedelics and testosterone.
- What a typical day looks like for me
- My thoughts on cold water immersion: how and why to do it
- Is there good data to support cold water immersion?
- My thoughts on micro-dosing psychedelics for athletes
- My thoughts on testosterone replacement therapy
- I describe the Flex Diet and Physiologic Flexibility Certification Courses I developed
For more of my thoughts on psychedelics and training, check out:
Flex Diet Podcast Episode 162: Aaron Rogers ayahuasca retreat, performance and research – a solocast with Dr. Mike T Nelson
Links to Dr. Mike
Physiological Flexibility Course
Metabolic Flexibility Certification
Dr. Mike T Nelson
Dr. Mike T Nelson
PhD, MSME, CISSN, CSCS Carrick Institute Adjunct Professor Dr. Mike T. Nelson has spent 18 years of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier. He’s has a PhD in Exercise Physiology, a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Biomechanics. He’s an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He’s been called in to share his techniques with top government agencies. The techniques he’s developed and the results Mike gets for his clients have been featured in international magazines, in scientific publications, and on websites across the globe.
- PhD in Exercise Physiology
- BA in Natural Science
- MS in Biomechanics
- Adjunct Professor in Human
- Performance for Carrick Institute for Functional Neurology
- Adjunct Professor and Member of American College of Sports Medicine
- Instructor at Broadview University
- Professional Nutritional
- Member of the American Society for Nutrition
- Professional Sports Nutrition
- Member of the International Society for Sports Nutrition
- Professional NSCA Member
[00:00:00] Jason Leydon: Conquer out the community, what is going on? So I just got done speaking with Dr. Mike T. Nelson. Who’s an extreme human performance specialist, fitness and nutritional educator, researcher, and speaker. He’s an associate professor at the Carrick Institute, as well as the creator flex diet certification and the physiological physiologic flexibility certification in this show.
We went down rabbit holes that had nothing to do with my original questions. We talked. Cold water immersion doesn’t really work. We talk about psychedelics the effects of the brain, opening up new pathways to the brain and can that lead to better athletic performance as well as dare we say, testosterone, TRT, or HRT, however you wanna classify it.
This was one of my favorite shows they’ve ever done. He is the smartest man I’ve ever spoken to and he gives information. With pure facts research and he leaves it up to you to make up your own decision in mind. I love this show. I knew you will too. Check us out. www.com.com. If you have passion to reach your fullest potential inside your training, we have some of the greatest coaches in the world to help guide you along your journey, to get you to the golden.
Enjoy the show.
You’re listening to the conquer athlete podcast, an uncensored deep dive into all things, fitness, nutrition, and wellness,
conquer athlete, community. What was going on? I hope everybody’s enjoying their day. I have a very special guest with the second time around on the con podcast is Dr. Mike T. Nelson. Mike is an extreme human performance special. Fitness and nutrition educator. He’s a researcher and a speaker he’s associate professor at the Carrick Institute.
He’s also the creator of the flex diet certification, as well as the creator of the physiologic flexibility. Certification as well. Dr. Mike, thank you so much for being on the show
[00:02:02] Dr Mike T Nelson: again. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me back. I appreciate it.
[00:02:07] Jason Leydon: Yeah. Mike, you’re one of the smartest people that have had the pleasure of talking to, and one of our coaches is going through your certification right now and he is raving about how awesome his certification is.
[00:02:20] Dr Mike T Nelson: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate that. That’s great. Yeah.
[00:02:23] Jason Leydon: So for our listeners out there Dr. Mike was on the first show on January 29th, 2020 it’s episode number 40. And in that show, it’s focusing heavily on his flex dieting. And I highly recommend that everybody goes back to listen to that. Also, if you’re someone like me, who’s a.
I crave knowledge in reading stuff. Dr. Mike has an amazing website as well. And when I first just glanced at it, my first time, I was like, wow, there’s a ton of information here. From your podcast to publishings that you’ve done to your writings, it was really awesome. So I highly recommend everybody checked that out as well.
[00:03:04] Dr Mike T Nelson: Thank you. I appreciate it.
[00:03:06] Jason Leydon: Yeah, man. I appreciate everything you do. I never know how to address doctors. Should I call you Mike
[00:03:12] Jason Leydon: Dr. Mike?
[00:03:13] Dr Mike T Nelson: Doesn’t matter whether I answer to whatever pretty much . Yeah.
[00:03:17] Jason Leydon: All right. So I’m very curious. You’re you have more certifications than I’ve seen from anybody, your knowledge, your constant pursuit for education, as well as being an educator.
What does a typical day look like for.
[00:03:34] Dr Mike T Nelson: I would say a typical day depend on what I’m doing, but I would say as of late, so most mornings I try to get up a little bit earlier, but honestly, that doesn’t happen all the time. So I like today, I usually get up around six 30 and I have like most people, a little bit of a am routine.
I’ll get up and usually make coffee. Do some meditation outside during the sun, which is nice. I have a red light I use for about five to 10 minutes, so I can relax quietly while doing that. Do some meditation outside. I typically like to do endurance work in the morning, but not a ton of it. Lately I’ve done a little bit more running, but pretty short.
Probably a mile, is the longest, so very short or I’ll do just six minutes on the rower. And then I’ve got a freezer that I’ve converted into a cold water immersion. So I’ll typically do that. After that, and then depending on what I’m doing for nutrition, I’ll either work on something for an hour or two and then I’ll eat or I’ll eat right away.
Just kinda depends on what the goals are. And. Really try to do some writing or deeper work first thing in the morning. So I try really hard not to go on social media, check my email or anything like that. Right now, The main writing project I’m working on is not, that’s probably public knowledge, but the second version of Triassic training with Cal dets.
Yeah. So this is an all new stuff, all updated stuff. So I’m like the glorified Cal translator. , I’ve known Cal for God probably coming up, but I’m 15 years now. So just working through that. Yeah. He’s been, yeah, he’s awesome. He’s been on a show twice. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s been fun. Interesting at times cuz it, he just has so much knowledge and I’m always trying to think of how do I explain this so that it’s correct, but people who may be new to his methods who are coming in, especially as a book, like to make sure that they.
Understand it in a way that makes sense. So organizing that type of thing. So that’s been kinda the main project I’ve been working on as of late other projects, different stuff, teaching that type of thing. Typically try to lift in the afternoon between one and three and the difference lately as I’ve been trying to leave Monday and Saturday, more, what I call open.
So I’ll go in a little bit early and then I’ll just go until I feel like I’m not doing any more quality work. So I’ll leave that more open ended in my schedule, which has been nice. Come back during the time I’ll usually take a couple breaks to do some walking food, that type of thing I’ve been working on in a better PM end of the day type thing.
But I don’t know. That’s always a work in progress some days I do pretty good and I’m done. Six or seven some days, not so much by the time you do client follow ups and whatever fires you need to put out, et cetera. But that’s got a little bit of work in progress. So I try. Break stuff up, do more of the heavier mental stuff more in the morning.
And then ideally after lifting the afternoon, I usually lift Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, cardio stuff, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, take off and then do more email client replies client programs those types of things. Yeah.
[00:06:39] Jason Leydon: Mike, I have a question for you. Yeah. With cold water immersion, and I’d love to get people’s insight from this.
And I feel like you would have someone out of some amazing insight. What would be your dos and don’ts around cold water immersion. Yeah. Cause I feel you talk to people and they’re like all four and there’s no don’t, but there are don’t right. There’s dos and don’ts around everything, and I don’t think people really think about that. And I’d love to get your opinion on this.
[00:07:03] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, there’s a lot of, I would say pros and cons. The first thing I would say is whatever you have access to just start there. If you’re not like a crazy person like me and convert a perfectly good freezer into cold water immersion, then you know, taking a cold shower, that can definitely be a step towards better.
I think too often we can hung up on, what is optimal, optimal. I understand what it means, but it’s also something you could never test in the lab. So if you came to me and said, Hey, I’ll give you $2 million. I’ll give you all the subjects. I’ll give you whatever you want. I want you to tell me what is the optimal protocol for recovery using cold water immersion.
Can’t really do it right. I could tell you, however, if protocol a or protocol B is better for some marker of recovery. Cool. We can do. We can run a series of testing of different protocols against each other. And by doing that and figuring out what’s better, we’ll get towards this mythical optimal thing.
So cuz people get hung up on optimal too much and they just don’t do anything. So yeah. So start wherever you can. But let’s say you have access to cold water immersion, cause that’s where most of the research is on. Again, it comes down to what is your goal? If you look at the current research.
There’s not really much of a negative interference effect with endurance training. There may be some stuff based off of signaling research that it might be beneficial. So cold water immersion may increase something called PGC one alpha. That’s one of the main regulators on the molecular side of aerobic adaptations.
Most studies would say it might be a pro, probably not too many negatives in that area. If you look at hypertrophy, And your goal is just to add as much muscle as physically possible to the highest degree. There’s about four or five studies. Now, showing that cold water immersion done immediately after training for hypertrophy does appear to blunted or reduce it to some degree.
And Iman for the physiologic flexibility, course, God, I must have spent six or eight months just trying to read all the research and trying to translate that what does that mean in like numbers we can understand, so if you came in and you’re like, man, bro, I wanna increase hypertrophy.
As best I can. and I’m doing cold water immersion, and I’m doing the same protocol, which we’ll get into that was done in the studies like in English, like how many pounds, half a pound ounces of muscle is this costing me per month in my gains. I don’t know. Cause there’s only one study that used a DEXA scan and it’s within the limits of what the DXA can probably detect.
But if you look. A natural athlete and said, okay, what is the best you can probably gain for muscle per month and someone who’s not brand new, you’re doing really good if you’re like at a pound a month. So you’re at these really small numbers, which definitely add up and make a difference over time.
So we can’t really give you. A number of what it’s really costing you. Some of the studies also looked at muscle fibers, so we can see that the fibers in one group were different size in the other group, but it’s hard to scale that up into a whole body number. And then in the research, when they did that for hypertrophy, a couple of caveats is that they did it immediately after training.
So there was no waiting of time. As soon as you finished your training, you got into the cold water. And most of the cold water was at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit for generally, 10 minutes or longer. So pretty damn intense. Yeah. If you’ve done cold water, even 50 minutes for five minutes, it’s that’s cold.
For some people live in warm climates, I’ve had, ’em start at 70 degrees and they’re like, man, that was cold so pretty intense dose. And then it was done. Like I said immediately after now, if you wait a couple hours, you do it later, you’re doing less than kind of those parameters.
We don’t really have much good data on that. The mechanism. Inflammation is the thing that’s cited all the time. But muscle literature doesn’t actually support that. The best study was that was done from van loon’s lab out of the Netherlands. And they actually measured what’s called muscle protein, synthetic response.
So if we take in, for example, consuming protein, we know we consume protein and the acids we can trace ’em around in the. And a certain percentage ’em, especially after exercise, actually go into the muscle tissue and repair the muscle tissue itself. So a study from van loon’s lab did that. They radioactively labeled 20 grams of weigh protein and they traced it around on the body, like rough calculation, about two grams ish of that ended up in muscle.
Interesting enough for that study. I think he said it took him over three to four years to get it approved because they actually had to get the radioactive feed to label it and give it to the cows and they had to get approval for that. And they had to milk the cows and they had to take that milk.
Extracted into weight and casing. I think the study was actually done with casing and then give it to humans. They did it via nasal cannula. So they jammed it down your nose in the middle of the night God. And he is and then we wake him up with muscle biopsies in the morning. oh, so pretty hardcore study to do it.
[00:12:14] Jason Leydon: Muscle biopsies are gnarly. Now I done on my quads. Oh yeah. Down into Yukon’s performance lab. Probably like a good 10 years ago. I just remember doing like sprint intervals in their performance lab, then going to biopsy. And it’s like just thick needle, ripping muscle outta my quad. I was like, oh my God.
[00:12:34] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. It’s I tell people who aren’t used to it. It looks like a pencil that you’re sticking in your leg and you’re gonna take out like what the lead is in the pencil. Pretty good size chunk of tissue. Like you’re taking out. It’s not ma. It feels massive. You can see it yeah. Yes. It feels pretty good. Yeah. So their study, they looked at cold water immersion and it appears that it turns down that muscle protein synthetic response. Huh? The studies on cold water, immersion and inflammation really don’t show too much of a change in inflammation that I can find. So yeah, it’s probably directly affecting the muscle building process again, to what degree.
Unknown, so if you’re someone who is just held banned on increasing muscle to the maximum amount, you can make an argument that avoiding cold water immersion directly after training. Probably a pretty good idea. If your goal is performance, looking at vertical jump repeatability of exercise, different markers.
It’s all up in the air, right? There’s some studies that mixed martial artists that showed improvement, vertical jump is mixed. So again, you get into all these things of what protocol did they use? Do they look at vertical jump? How cold was the water? Also things like was the water circulating or was it stagnant?
Cause you can have water that is 50 degrees, but there’s a little pump in there. That’s moving it all the time. It breaks that little thermal layer next to your skin and it feels ridiculously. So anyone who’s gotten in a cold water and you sit there and you don’t move after a while. It doesn’t feel so bad.
Cuz your skin is heating up that little bit of layer of water next to you. But if you’ve ever moved around all of a sudden, you’re like, oh my God, it’s cold again. Yeah. So those things make a big difference too.
[00:14:10] Jason Leydon: So Dr. Mike, so why cold water, immersion then?
[00:14:15] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. So the question, which is a great question, why would you even bother doing it?
It sounds like you’re telling me that for all at hyper per, it may not be the best for athletic performance. It’s really mixed. I got lucky and so I installed mine and had it done right before COVID happened. And so I figured great. This is perfect. I’m not going anywhere. I just, stopped traveling.
I’m not, in different countries, educating people, doing lectures. I’m at home, I’ll run an aerobic base. I’ll just do cold water immersion every morning. For a protocol that I like, I just started at 50 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds and then got out. If I was easy, the next day I’ll bump up by maybe 30 seconds.
Once I got easily to about five minutes, then I would drop the temperature. So I go to 49 or 48, my thought process being that I want it to be relatively easy. Just like a progression you use with weight training. If you’re doing nice, slow volume progression, you do something that you can do.
And then come back and repeat again. If you make it too difficult now you’ve got a long period of time it’s gonna take to recover. So I did that and did it probably six outta seven days a week for almost two years, I got down to being able to do 42 43 degrees, up to my neck for, five minutes, relatively easy.
Again, I wasn’t gone anywhere at that time. My other hypothesis was that this will get easier, right? Just like exposure and anything else over time, it generally gets easier. And what I realized was. It did, because I knew what to expect. But even now, like I did yesterday, literally every day, like right before you get in, there’s still that hesitation of what are you doing?
This is stupid thing. This is gonna suck. There’s still that weird hesitation because it is true. Part of your brain, like it’s, probably the limb system, amygdala, whatever this old survival part of your brain is thinking, Hey, if you go in really cold water and you’re in there for a long period of time, like you will die.
And that is a hundred percent correct. However, that’s not gonna happen within a few minutes, even in the coldest water, unless you get it on your face and you just inhale water and drought, but from just the sheer temperature, not so much. We’re hardwired to avoid those things. So you have to use the newer thinky part of your brain, what’s called the prefrontal cortex to override that kinda lizard limbic part of your brain and be like, no, this is okay.
We’re in a safe environment. We’re only gonna stay in for a couple minutes. There’s easy to get out. We’re, everything’s gonna be fine. So there’s this process of Dand Huberman calls it limbic friction, which I like that was a pretty cool term where you have to use the new thinky part of your brain.
To convince the older part of your brain, that this is a good idea. And I think that skillset will transfer other aspects of your life. So the biggest thing I found out just from my own experiments was the physiology is still up in the air, depending upon your goals. You do feel really good after we do see increases in dopamine.
No epinephrine. Those definitely do go up even with short exposures, but I think. Overcoming limbic. Friction is a huge thing, right? Cause I always thought, okay, what is something hard I could do every day that the decision is hard, but the effects of my physiology are not quite so hard. We could do hard exercise every day, but then we gotta recover from it.
And there’s only so much of that we can do or with cold water. If you’re keeping it relatively reasonable, you could do it every day, multiple times a day. And it’s still hard because you have to think your way through. And I think that will then transfer to other aspects of your life of taking the stairs instead of the escalator or going for a walk or choosing exercise or making different nutritional choices, et cetera.
My guess is that will transfer to other areas of your life because you’ve gotten practice of picking the harder thing.
[00:17:54] Jason Leydon: So with the cold water immersion there’s no, I don’t wanna say there’s. The research isn’t fully solidified on true athletic performance enhancements or even inflammation enhancements.
It’s more from, as you just explained a mindset approach, is that correct? In saying,
[00:18:16] Dr Mike T Nelson: yeah, that’s what I would say right now. Okay. Again, the research on it is I’d say is still rather limited. There’s a couple other interesting effects. There, there is some upregulation what’s called brown adipose tissue.
So we do see that’s the darker colored fat, because it’s packed with all these little mitochondria. And they do help control temperature, especially more in so babies have a lot more brown adipose tissue cause they just can’t move around as much. They have a harder time controlling their body temperature.
As adults, we still have some, but it appears to be. Very what we would call plastic tissue. Meaning if you stress it, it appears to, get bigger and has more of an effect. If you don’t stress it, it appears to disappear. So we do know that cold exposure does increase that tissue. Now, is that gonna be a massive effect for say fat loss?
Probably. Unfortunately not. There’s some really studies that looked at, how much you would have to do for, to be significant with fat loss. And one of the old studies, I think put people in like this air conditioned truck they had at the time, just in a t-shirt and shorts at like 37 degrees for like hours on end, to see a pretty big increase in metabolism. If you’re doing cold water immersion, you generally have to get to the point where you’re shiver. As you start to shiver, you switch from using fat to more glucose and carbohydrates, and you do burn more calories doing that. I wouldn’t recommend that because you can have an aftershock effect.
You can have some negative effects once you get out and it feels even more miserable. it feels just. Awful. Yeah. The last part is that there’s some really interesting effects that I don’t think we understand yet on metabolism and especially glucose use. So I’ve done this a few times where I’ll prick my finger right before I get in.
Blood glucose in the morning will be like 85 90. I’ll get in for, just 45 degrees for 3, 4, 5 minutes. And even just getting out my blood glucose will be like in the fifties or sixties. I’ve done this like multiple times and I don’t feel hypoglycemic. I don’t feel any negative effects. Other people have reported that to there’s some literature around it, but not much.
So I do think there is something going on from. Metabolism standpoint that we don’t quite understand yet. But in terms of pure fat loss, eh, I don’t, I was hoping it would be more effective than what I’ve seen so far in the literature on that.
[00:20:34] Jason Leydon: I think I could make an assumption around the answer to this next question, but I’d love to hear you say. And I’m all for cold water immersion, but I love hearing how, yeah, me too. Yeah. I love hearing how intelligent you are with it. Why is it like this new shiny object in the health and fitness world?
If there’s, is it because people wanna believe what isn’t really proven yet? Or what are your thoughts?
[00:21:02] Dr Mike T Nelson: I think many times in fitness and I’ve shit, I’ve been guilty of this myself. We confuse cool stories with actual data. So one of my favorite quotes, I think it was from Pete, Dr. Peter Leman, who said, just because it’s logical doesn’t mean it’s physiological, right?
So cold water has this cool story. That’s somewhat true that, Hey, if you get in cold water, Your body has to upregulate and expend more calories to keep temperature up. That’s a hundred percent true. Do you have, so what’s called futile cycling where the mitochondria will start producing more heat and less energy.
That’s actually true. Do you see up regulations in brown AFOs tissue, this fat that actually burns. That’s a hundred percent true. The hard part where it falls apart is that the dose you need for this to be effective is a dosage that makes it really miserable and probably not all that useful, but it has all the cool stories where someone listening could go.
Yeah. That all makes sense. So yeah, of course it must burn more fat, and data, unfortunately, doesn’t support that. And I think it also is People are looking for things that are always a little bit more extreme and those things just tend to sell. And if you can package a story with that around it.
And especially if you go either pet peeve, if you really go hard on the mechanisms that people like mechanisms mechanism sells all sorts of stuff. But normally as we scale up from, nematodes and earthworms to humans, a lot of shit just doesn’t pan. Cause we’re just more complicated than that.
So if you’re looking at mechanistic data and it’s in like a Petri dish or, an earthworm, it’s interesting. And I get that’s, the scientific process, we gotta start somewhere and we’re probably not gonna start with a lot of this stuff on humans that doesn’t automatically mean that’s gonna scale up to humans.
And if you’re a betting person, I’d actually bet against that. But again, the mechanism sounds cool. It sounds like the person knows what’s going on. A lot of my studies don’t transfer to humans like in the supplement world, like CLA is a perfect example of that. CLA was this sort of magical fat for a while that in rodents did crazy shit.
Like the rodents would lose fat gain muscle that didn’t appear to have too many negative side effects. It was crazy. but all the human subject studies are a failure. It just didn’t really do that much in humans. Like very small changes over 12 weeks. Eh, they lost like a, kilo of fat, eh, nothing to write home about.
But if you didn’t know that and you’re watching someone and they’re presenting all this data, It sounds impressive. It has all the mechanisms and they’re showing all this data. So again, it must be true, but yeah, a lot of things fall apart when you get up to the complexity of humans, unfortunately,
[00:23:47] Jason Leydon: right, man.
I figure we could go down and rabbit on this one, even with training and methods versus principles and. What people are being sold, a bill of goods on Instagram, just cuz someone has a six pack. Or who knows what?
[00:23:59] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. Someone looks good and they sound like they know what’s going on. They throw out a few mechanisms, they show ’em getting in and out of cold water.
Man, that looks hard. I wanna be like that person or that girl or whatever, and it, and I, the weird part is I do think cold water is like very beneficial. Like I, like I said, I just did it yesterday. I do think there’s a lot of benefits to it. Cuz I. I get interesting emails from both sides.
Yeah. People are like, oh, quit pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining. I thought this was amazing for fat loss. And then other people are like, oh, so I heard you hate cold water immersion. Now what’s with that. Yeah. It’s what are you trying to do? And what are you trying to do it for?
Which is right. Nobody wants to talk about context, but that’s, where all the interesting stuff is a hundred percent, I don’t know why I wanna go down this route.
[00:24:40] Jason Leydon: Mike. I have another question for you. Dealing around psychedelics and training or mental acuity. When I say psychedelics for the listeners, I’m not talking about popping high dosages of mushrooms, but I’ve, I don’t think this is something new, but I think it’s new earth for people going down the research hole of microdosing mushrooms and how it can improve clarity and focus around.
Things. And I wanted to hear your take on that as well as can that provide a positive impact on training for individuals who have a ton going on. So yeah.
[00:25:17] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, I it’s super interesting. So as of this recording, potentially MDM a may be legal next year. So Simon may be legal for certain indicated cases, most likely PTs D with counseling at the same time.
So it’s coming to the point where hopefully those trials go forward. The early data for those indications is very. Promising even got fast tracked by the FDA for approval. And then when you talk about microdosing, the most common definition of a micro dose would be consumption of a substance that is considered a classic psychedelic.
It could be, mushroom celly or an example, LSD, et cetera, but you’re doing it in a sub perceptual dose. So if you did it, you wouldn’t really have the psychedelic effects. And there’s been James Fatman has been reporting on this for quite a while. There’s some new, interesting survey data.
One of ’em just came out a couple weeks ago and only really three forest studies that are out on it, which again are generally more survey based. Because as of now, these compounds are still scheduled one substances, which is like the highest classification and just for reference. Cocaine is actually a scheduled two substance.
And the reason for that is scheduled one in theory, have no medical use at all, which again, cannabis is still considered, scheduled one psychedelics are so at some point, those probably need to be reclassified. But oddly enough, cocaine is a schedule too, because it’s used as a numbing agent in like certain nasal procedures E NT procedures.
Yeah. But as a medical use,
[00:26:54] Jason Leydon: I don’t mean to cut you off. I’m sorry for doing that hate cutting my guess off. But as you’re talking about medical use and usages of it I immediately went to examples of, I have two individuals and I don’t micro dose. I don’t use psychedelics. That doesn’t mean I’m against it.
I just don’t. But I have one individual who was classified as ADHD and he was on medication for it. He started microdosing and hasn’t taken medication in five years. And another individual is on who has on antidepressants. A lot of them and really going on bad rabbit holes, couldn’t train, gaining weight.
That individual also transitioned into what we’re talking about outta microdosing. And they’ve been able to back off medication and revert their training and make positive impacts. So it’s interesting to me how the government will still unclassify it. Beneficial if done prop, I don’t know that was just in my thought
[00:27:50] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah. So if you talk to like guys like Rick Dolin through maps, their thought process is if we can get medical use approved through the government, and show via very legit trials that are actually done, hopefully at some point the government would then actually have to reclassify those substances.
So if you have a legit trial, that’s done that shows. Yes. This is indicated for PTSD, depression, whatever. Now you can’t say it doesn’t have any medical use at all. So that’s one route. Yeah, there’s some very interesting studies on and high doses for a treatment of depression, smoking cessation, et cetera.
The microdosing studies are less like I said, most of ’em are survey based. That’s just because it’s a scheduled one compound, but in theory, A micro dose would be a very quote, unquote easy study to run in terms of a randomized controlled trial, because one of the big issues with them is if we give someone let’s say a high dose, OFSi what do we use for a placebo?
And so they’ve tried using high dose nice. And people who are, naive to the substances, et cetera. That’s one to try to work around it. The benefit of a micro dose is that if you’re using. Perceptive doses, like in the acute sense, then it’s very easy to run a randomized controlled placebo based trial because if you had the substance or you didn’t, you would not have those perceptions associated with it, at least in the acute setting.
So as far as I know that study hasn’t necessarily been done yet. A couple groups are trying to look at it. Like you said, anecdotally though, there’s a lot of, I think, support for depression, PTSD, a lot of other. Mental diseases. Anecdotally again, I’ve seen, firsthand, I’ve been to Costa Rica a couple times done iowaska a few times, combos, some other things, people who’ve had, dramatic changes like before and after, and that was a, pretty high dose.
Some people have even used, microdosing of Ika and reported, beneficial effects. Yeah, it’s super interesting. And in terms of potential mechanism, how it may help training, we do know that most of these substances do increase something called neuroplasticity. So how your brain can change and rewire those circuit.
We’re not sure exactly how that works. A lot of the compounds increase something called BDNF. So brain derived, neurotrophic factor, it’s like fertilizer for your brain. So in theory, if you have a period of time where you have enhanced neuroplasticity, being able to learn new skills is gonna be easier.
So one of the researchers said it’s if you’ve ever gone skiing or snowboarding, You’re going down the hill and there’s all these tracks from other people. You tend to get pulled into those same tracks all the time. It’s like after a psychedelic, it’s almost like getting two feet of fresh snow, and now it’s much easier to pick a different track.
So it may allow your brain to go a little bit different direction. Again, if you’re doing a technique based sport, like Brazilian jujitsu or something, that’s very. Technique rewarded per se. You may think of different moves, different ways to do things in terms of performance and studies on them.
It’s almost like zero data so far. Yeah. It’s all just theoretical, the theory is there it makes sense. And then if you have this period of enhanced neuroplasticity what did you do with your training to make it a little bit different? Just from my own personal experience, like the first time I did IASA I did.
Five glasses, which is probably not recommended a short version is woke up on a beach in south Padre. And I was like, oh, I’m kite boarding with my wife. and then I got stuck there for what felt like seven years. Like I was just on this loop of just being present, watching myself for seven years , which was almost like, Hey, you got your answer.
You’re going in the right direction. You. But oh, maybe you should be more present. And so here’s seven years of practicing, like being present. Wow. Yeah. This past year wasn’t nearly as profound, but after last year, what I found was I went on a snowboarding trip. I’ve been snowboarding since 1992 and it was a couple weeks after that.
And it literally took, felt like it took me five days to. Snowboard at the same level I was before. It didn’t feel bad. It didn’t feel off it wasn’t unsafe. It just felt like that little bit of fine control. I had went away and I had to refin it again. Same thing happened when I went kite boarding, the first couple days out were just like, whoa, what’s going on.
This feels weird. But at the same time, it. Better. I felt like my perceptions of where I was like, if I do a jump, I felt better knowing where I was in the air. It’s just like a little bit of that sort of procedure or however my brain had encoded like the snow globe got shook up a little bit.
And then once that sort of passed everything else was significantly better. And again, it’s, end of one, there’s a whole bunch of variables that, that play into it. But yeah, I dunno. I thought it was interest. Yeah.
My, one of my, one of my clients he’s a big financial guy and he tells me I don’t wanna say it wrong.
So it’s like once a quarter or every half year him and a few of his friends, they’re at the cabin and they go out there and they have a lead iowaska. Where it’s led by someone you pay to come out and lead him through this this moment. And every time he comes back from it it’s almost like you explain it.
It’s almost like his brain like opened up these different things that he can like that he like blocked or didn’t notice. And now he feels like he has clarity on it, whether it’s from a family situation or a financial situation or a work situation. And every time he goes back, he tells me I’m like, wow.
That’s intense, man. That is intense about what it can do.
Yeah. It’s interesting. And again, my limited two experiences, after the first year we went down there with a group of people, everybody I knew and, met the shaman beforehand and doesn’t like to be referred to as that, but, facilitator whatever formal title would be.
I even told my wife, I said, okay. So if we go in and I meet this person and my gut feeling is. No, don’t do this. I’m like, here’s all my money. Like I’m out. Yeah. Like even to the point before we did it, I was still like, I can get out if I want . And after having gone through that, we had, just crazy stuff happens.
Like you, you definitely have an appreciation or at least I did for how. It can be a massive difference in some people’s lives, especially a few of the people who were there who had very difficult experiences acutely. And then also, man, there’s a lot of shit that could go wrong. Just, yeah. Just realizing that I think that any compound that’s very powerful has a, it’s much more the edge of a sword, right?
It’s like the old saying about a scalpel, right? In the hands of a skilled surgeon. It can save your. The hands of some crazy person could kill you. It doesn’t mean the scalpels bad. It just means what are you doing with it? What is your training? What’s your, level? And then a lot of these compounds, especially at high doses, I filled it the same way, and we had great experiences.
Everything went amazing. It was awesome. But I could definitely see how, if it wasn’t facilitated as well, or things were different. How yeah. A lot of stuff could go sideways real fast. yeah. Oh my God.
[00:34:46] Jason Leydon: I can imagine. Okay. So I kind of wanna stay down this path a little bit with you, if you don’t mind, cuz this is extremely interesting to me and I think what’s driving so much interest.
And for me to ask you these questions around these topics is your answers are so a matter of fact, which I really appreciate, it’s kinda like it’s data is what I know about it. Here’s what it is. The next. Is around testosterone or whether people on call and I’m not talking about like anal and that, but therapy, whether it’s, they’re doing testosterone replacement therapy for the older age men, and I’m starting to see with some people, whereas these men will have testosterone levels.
By reports of what they classify as normal, still in a normal range, but now some naturopathic doctors or people focus pre predominantly on testosterone will say that kind of really isn’t a range. And if you can operate a little higher while, so keeping everything under check, it’s almost what’s that movie called with?
Not Ryan Reynolds. It was with. Limitless. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s so it’s almost like that pill for the body, for the male body. What’s your take on that?
[00:35:59] Dr Mike T Nelson: Oh, that’s a good question. I just want to get from, clients a lot, and again, I’m not pro work on H HRT or TRT or whatever word you wanna use.
I am very pro on all. Just be educated. Yeah. And make sure you’re asking the right questions. So the. Question. If people ask me, I’d be like, okay, go back to your doc and then ask them if you ever want to go off, what would they do? Because the one thing I think people don’t ask enough about is this something I want to do the rest of my life?
Is this something I may have to do the rest of my life? And. Again, the research on that is, is of split. Some docs will say, if you’ve been on for a period of time, we can slowly titrate you off and give you some other, drugs to help re restart your cycle. And guys have definitely done that and been fine.
There’s also reports of people who their normal testosterone just doesn’t come back online, and so you probably don’t wanna be hypogonadal so super low, the rest of your life. Your option then is that you’re, you may be on these compounds, the rest of your life. Again, that’s not a pro or con it’s just for some people that might be a deal breaker for other people.
It, yeah, doesn’t matter. For me personally, I just have this weird thing where I don’t want to have to do something every day where I did not have the option to come off. So if I was one of those people where my cycle, just, my testosterone production just never started again.
I don’t want to have to do that the rest of my life, even though I’d probably be the only option at that point. So that’d be the first question. The second question would be, why is your testosterone low? If you sleep five hours a night, you’re stressed outta your mind. Your nutrition’s a trash been fired and you’re trying to train on four cups of ES express.
So every day I can tell you why it’s low . So in that case, it’s. You just want to dump a bunch of gas on the fire and get a bigger fire. Like you can do that. I think you’re gonna probably see some additional costs from doing that. So again, ask your doctor, like, why do you think it’s slow?
It could be lifestyle. They can go and look in the different part of the testosterone pathways or some testing you can do to figure out what it is. A big one that’s underdiagnosed a lot is potential head. So if you get hit in the head a lot or get knocked out a few times that may downregulate testosterone production, especially acutely, it seems to, but if you’ve had a lot of impacts or your next, football player or something like that, where you’ve had a lot of, sub-concussive blows, especially military from just, percussion, effects from being in the military.
Those can be an issue also. So again, I would say, do some work with your doc to figure out what’s actually. Going on. And can you maybe fix part of that cycle if you know where it’s actually broke? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. And then after that, I think it’s a personal decision. If you’ve weighed all the pros and the cons, you’ve had a good, intelligent conversation with your doc.
Like you know what part can be fixed, what part can’t your lifestyle is under control. And you’re okay with, what are the potential long term ramifications of it? Cool. There is some data. My buddy, Dr. Meha has talked about where a lot of guys who have gone on H RT one or two later years later have decided to actually go off.
So I think it’s not as much of a panacea as what it’s build out to be again, if you’re staying in the normal range. And then last part too, is that if we look at the data on people for, let’s say trying to maximize training and let. Say you’re low, normal you’re 400, in us scale. And we could take you to 700, right?
So that’s an increase of 300, like almost doubling your testosterone, right? There’s no real good data to say that, oh that’s gonna double your effects of adding lean muscle or training volume or anything else. It appears that middle part of the curve, your effects are flat. We do know that if you’re hypogonadal, so you’re really.
Yes, you probably need to be on some form of replacement. That’ll make a massive difference in your life. If you choose to use, performance enhancing drugs, you talk about ethics later. Yes. It’s some high enough level. They will definitely enhance performance. No, one’s gonna argue about that.
If you’re in that kind of normal range. It’s just not much data. Bays did a study back in the nineties, where is it? Like never be approved now where they chemically castrated men. They literally used a compound to just whack their testosterone production to nothing. And then they supplement ’em back with, I think testosterone and anate two different levels.
So they wanted to see if you’re low, normal, high, normal or super physiologic. Are there differences if I remember right. The ones that were still in the normal range. There wasn’t like a huge difference between say 400 and 700. Now, again, this gets complicated because there’s a huge placebo effect, right?
There may be some other effects that weren’t picked up in the study. Libido is even more complicated because it involves estrogen and a whole bunch of other things too. Even like the microdose studies that. The placebo effect can be a real thing and can be very pronounced. And if it’s an N oh one and that particular individual, like we don’t know how big of an effect it is.
There’s some really interesting studies where they took groups of people and gave them, I think one of the studies, they said, you get steroids, you do not. And they actually got, gave them nothing and the group that thought they were getting a steroid. Much greater gains than the group who didn’t, even though neither group got them.
So the placebo effect is a real effect, counterargument to that is if it’s an end of one and you’re better, do you really care that much? If it was the placebo effect or not. As long as what the potential downsides are. And again, I think it’s a individual choice, as long as you’re educated on what’s going on and you’re working with your doc.
I, my general advice is I do caution people into thinking that it’s gonna be this amazing panacea that it probably isn’t, which again is not to dissuade people out of it. It’s just, be somewhat, I realistic with your expectations too. Yeah, totally.
[00:41:52] Jason Leydon: Yeah. Cause lots of things.
Lots of situations I hear from, with my clients is body comp and recovery. As they get older, I wanna yeah. Continue to look like a, like I’m 23. I’m like, oh, we all do buddy. Yeah. but it might be my recovery just isn’t there. And then you go down and rabbit the hole, like you said, of nutrition and sleep and what’s your lifestyle like, and then people will sometimes choose to.
Try to make adjustments or they’re like, you know what, fuck it. I can’t make an adjustment. It’s too hard. I’m just gonna pop this and see what happens, yeah.
[00:42:24] Dr Mike T Nelson: And again, to me, that’s an individual choice, as long as you’re making an educated choice, that’s what, what you should do.
And you know what the risks, the pros and the cons are, Hey, you can decide whatever you want. When I was finishing my PhD, I was like, okay, at this. As long as I don’t do any irreparable harm to myself, like whatever it takes, if I need to sleep in the back of my car, sleep in the lab, drink five cups of coffee a day.
I’ve got three years left. Cool. I’m fine with pain. That cost, , know, I had blood work done. My testosterone was always like 200 was absolutely just atrocious. Luckily my blood lips were never that bad. So health wise, there wasn’t anything really. I impeding it and a hundred percent knew I was doing it to myself.
I knew exactly. What I was doing was costing me this, but I said, okay, for this period of time, I’m okay with that because this is what I want to do. And again, that’s just an individual choice and, it took me like two years to fix that. Some similar idea, right? I think each person has to hopefully make an educated decision and they can talk to more than one doc.
If they go in a doc, it’s just So my other little rule of thumb is if you go in the only thing the doc ever tests is total testosterone and says it’s low and wants to put you on TRT, find a different doc, right? Because you can find those people very easily. And to me, that’s not really doing their due diligence and a good physician will more than happy to go through and be like, yes, let’s try to figure this out.
This is where you’re at. Here are your options. And here are the costs. They’re more than happy to walk you through. Yeah.
[00:43:51] Jason Leydon: Awesome. Mike, this was amazing. I, that was fun. I had so much fun. Ask these questions. I didn’t plan for this at all. My plan was
getting into your research. No, it didn’t even prepare the questions beforehand, too.
So that was fun.
yeah, I know it was fantastic, but I, I wanna stop now because I want to take the. Nine minutes, 10 minutes. And allow you to talk more about your flex dieting cert as well as your physiologic flexibility, sir. Cause I don’t know anything about your physiologic flexibility, sir.
And I wanna know more about that. And I’d love you to talk more about the flex diet as well. Cause I know you do tons of things with that. The floor is yours.
[00:44:25] Dr Mike T Nelson: Oh, thank you. So the flex diet was trying to solve this issue. I had, especially when I was traveling around a lot more and teaching at different places.
And I would go to a lot of bigger gyms, especially a lot of CrossFit gyms. And, the cultures were amazing. The training, I’ve been around long enough to see the training progressions as, as far as you have definitely gotten way better than they used to be. Yep. Nutrition was one of these weird things that no one kind of wanted to address.
It was like, Hey, let’s do whole 30. Oh this month it’s keto. And this month it’s a 30 day challenge. And it was this hot potato. Like no one. Wanted to really do much with, and I understand because it’s a hard thing. And so that was the problem I wanted to try to solve was okay. How could I create a system that would be useful for, initially my target was of more CrossFit gyms, any gym, most of those gyms I found there was one person who was like super interested in nutrition.
Can we just put that person in charge of nutrition for, a hundred people who opt into it and could you have. Somewhat flexible system that they could manage where the outcome would be. The individual would still have some choice in the matter so that they feel more compliant. But it was like reasonable for them to manage.
And what I came up with is just having eight different interventions from, dietary protein, fats, carbohydrates, sleep, walking, like neat exercise fasting, and micronutrition. So I just kinda rated those all. So they would start on the more effective ones. And then within each one, I tried to condense it down to just one hour.
So if you came in and said, you’re the nutrition person at the gym, I have one hour to teach you everything that you would need to know about protein. And that for me was like really hard, right? Cause if you say, Hey, give an eight hour lecture on protein, that’s easy. Cuz there’s so much stuff you can pull from now condense that into an hour.
Have it be accurate and actually actionable. That was like probably the hardest part. Because I wanted to bring people up to a level and not dumb it down so much that it wasn’t even correct anymore. Cause there’s like way too much of that already. So there’s a in depth, one that’s an hour. Then you would have five different action items.
So per individual, you would all be going towards higher protein, but you’d be doing it in a little bit different manners, right? One person may be four meals at 40 grams of protein. One person may be, get 30 grams of protein in within 30 minutes in the morning. They’re all going the same direction, but they’re different depending upon the individual.
Then we had expert interviews. So we have an interview from Dr. Stu Phillips talking about protein, Dr. Ho Antonio. And that would repeat for the other seven different interventions. So at the end of the day, people would then be educated on the context like we talked about, they know here’s the concept of metabolic flexibility and flexible dieting.
Here’s the specifics. And then here’s also the actions that they would do that are not gonna be the exact same for everyone. So that the analogy I use is imagine you’re gonna go to a bowling. And if your whole job as a nutrition coach is just to yell at your client until they bowl strikes. It’s like good luck, they just don’t have the skillset to do that. But if you can inflate the little bumpers on the side of the bowling alley, They can weave back and forth and knock down a few pins. Like you’re good. Just make sure they stay in that alley. Not like seven alleys down doing, keto and high intensity, whatever Metcons or something.
Just keep ’em in one area and let ’em weave around. So I took that same concept for the physiologic flexibility assert and just expanded it out more from nutrition. So once you have your basic exercise, nutrition and sleep, what do you do then? Cause everyone’s trying to hit well, okay.
Here’s the next level? The Internet’s full of all sorts of things you could do. So I was thinking I’m like, okay, so people are, humans are homeostatic regulators. They have to hold this homeostasis like, so temperature, right? We have to hold 98.6. It’s actually 97.7, but we can do cold water exposure.
We can go in a sauna. We can go in these environments, even without technology and still regulate our temperature, but that homeostatic temperature doesn’t change very much. And if it does, we’re in a world of hurt. So all these systems in the body are around making sure that we can hold this thing constant.
And if we look at the, what those homeostatic regulators are in the body, it’s temperature pH. Fuel systems and then oxygen and carbon dioxide. So the physiologic flexibility cert is built around those. And the goal then is you can either go higher or lower on each one. You can do things to, for example, try to decrease your pH.
So high intensity exercise, certain breathing techniques, but then your body will respond by getting better at buffering those systems. So you’re training to expand your buffer zone in each one of those areas. And to me, that’s like the next level of recovery, because now we’re making you more. Anti fragile, robust individual by targeting those systems that your body absolutely a hundred percent has to have in order to survive.
And we also know that those generally degrade over time. So a story I use is if my grandma, when she was over a hundred. They go visit her in the nursing home. It’d be like 78 degrees in there. And she’s just like freezing , and it wasn’t just her, it was like most of the other rooms.
And you realize that wow. As they got older, they had a hard time regulating temperature. Yeah. These systems tend to degrade over time, mostly from lack of use . So this kind of homeostatic bandwidth is buffers zone. We have degrades. And so can we do things to target them via different intervention?
So that they are better, they are more robust. And therefore to me, that’s more, better recoverability. And I would say more true longevity that we’re prioritizing the correct systems in that order.
[00:50:00] Jason Leydon: That’s fascinating as you’re talking, I wrote a note. I wanna dive into that, that
[00:50:04] Dr Mike T Nelson: certifi.
Yeah, it’s it. It’s one of those things where it all the individual pieces are becoming sexy now. But what I saw was a lack of how do you put ’em all together under one thing that makes sense, right? And there’s a lot of great people doing great stuff with, like Rob Wilson and Brian McKenzie are doing their stuff, which is great.
I taken their course. It’s awesome. Whims doing all his stuff. And so there’s a lot of great information. But I didn’t see anyone that’s taking all those systems putting them together. And then how do they also interact with each other? Because the last component is that’s super interesting.
So there’s a transfer effect that appears between them. What’s called cross adaptation. So in one study they subjected people to hypoxia. So very low levels of oxygen, which is a massive stressor for humans for good reason. But beforehand they took one group and they just did one cold water exposure. The other group, they did.
They both got the same hypoxic, so low oxygen environment, the group that just did the cold water immersion, they were much better able to handle that hypoxic insult. And you’re like, hold water in. Hypoxy like these are not even related. And it turns out there’s little communication and mechanisms between them that will transfer from one to the other.
So the group that did the cold water was better able at handling acutely low levels of oxygen. So I think all those systems transfer to each other. So as you improve one, positive benefits in the other one too, which is to me, just like super fascinating. Yeah, it is
[00:51:30] Jason Leydon: Mike. This is awesome.
And where can people get more information from you? Get information about your certifications, publications, all the good. .
[00:51:38] Dr Mike T Nelson: Yeah, so the best place is probably just the main website, which is Mike T nelson.com. And then on there, there’ll be a way to get onto the daily newsletter. The most of the writing I have right now goes out to the newsletter and they can hop on there for free.
And once they’re on there, just hit reply and tell ’em tell me you listen to this podcast and I’ll send you a cool gift for free too. That’s awesome. That would be the best place. And then I have the podcast also, which is just the flex diet podcast, so they can listen in.
[00:52:07] Jason Leydon: Dr. Mike, thank you so much your time.
Thank you for your openness. This was one of my favorite shows I actually had
[00:52:13] Dr Mike T Nelson: blast. I love. Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate all the really great questions too. That was super fun. Awesome.
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