How Scientific Research (& Supplement Companies) Mislead You with Kamal Patel, Examine.com
In this week’s episode, we have a really exciting guest. In a lot of previous episodes, we’ve talked about the idea that research can be manipulated to deliver the results that the researchers often want to generate… So time and time again, the question has come up… who can we trust?
Well, my guest today is Kamal Patel, a man who definitely has some suggestions on just that. He’s the director of an organization called Examine.com, which provides does unbiased evaluation of supplements and nutrition. He has a master’s in public health and an MBA, and actually put a PHD in nutrition on hold to start his organization.
In this episode, we cover the difficulties with trusting and interpreting research, supplementation, overtraining, and much more. It’s a bit more of a laid back episode than usual, and has a bit of a more conversational pace. Nonetheless, there are a lot of great takeaways and interesting points. In fact, I would love it if you guys would let me know what your favorite piece of information was by sending us a tweet to @gosuperhuman.
In this episode with Kamal Patel of Examine.com, we discuss:
- The importance of Vitamin D in proper mood and energy levels
- Kamal's story, and how he got to where he is today, an expert on supplements
- What is Examine.com, what do they do, and why is it important?
- How much trust can we place in the information we find online today?
- How can we validate the information and research studies we find?
- Some examples of how the media misinterprets research to generate click-bait
- What is the most popular and referenced supplement on Examine.com right now?
- Which supplements absolutely work, and which ones do not?
- How do public health and business school classes relate to how Kamal thinks about supplements?
- Which things should you be eating to improve your athletic performance?
- What does Kamal say about caffeine, raspberry ketones, and other “fat loss” supplements?
- A longer discussion of increasing testosterone naturally and safely
- Thoughts on overtraining, adrenal fatigue, and taking time off training
- What would a $100 health optimization kit designed by Kamal look like
- What is Kamal's dream for Examine.com's future?
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Evidence-Based Practice Centers
- Examine.com, your unbiased source on nutrition
- Reddit, specifically /r/nutrition
- A recent study on low carb vs. high carb
- Creatine Supplements (my recommended brand)
- Modafinil, a favorite of folks like Dave Asprey
- Beta-Alanine supplements (which I strongly endorse)
- Nitric-oxide boosting supplements
- HMB supplements, a metabolite of Leucine
- Kamal's recent article on CrossFit.com
- The Mind Body Medical Institute
- The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson
- Surprise Ride, which was featured on The Shark Tank
Favorite Quotes from Kamal Patel of Examine.com:
Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
Jonathan Levi: Hello, SuperFriends! I am so happy to have you guys here today. Because today we have a really exciting guest in a lot of our previous episodes. We've talked about the idea that research can really be manipulated to tell you whatever you want it to tell you. And that there are a lot of researchers out there that we can't trust that have certain agendas that might be biased that might be working for different corporations.
And that generates a lot of uncertainty. And so time and time again, the question comes up, who can we trust and where can we get unbiased information? Because I can find you studies that will tell you that grains are the only thing you should be eating. And I can find you studies that tell you that grains are going to make you bleed from the eyes.
So who can you trust? Well, my guest today has some great suggestions on just that. He's actually the director of an organization called examine.com, which provides unbiased evaluations of supplements and nutritional studies. Now he has a master's in public health and an MBA, and he actually put. A Ph.D. in nutrition on hold to work on this organization.
Now, in this episode, we cover those difficulties that I mentioned before, the difficulty in trusting and interpreting research and understanding supplementation. We also talk about over-training we talk about what supplements work. I will tell you guys that it's a bit more of a laid-back episode than usual, and it has a little bit more of a conversational tone than a kind of interview, but nonetheless, there are a lot of great takeaways and a lot of interesting points.
In fact, I would really love it. If you guys would let me know your number one, most interesting piece of information that you took away from this episode. By sending me a tweet to @gosuperhuman on the Twitter machine. So now I would like to introduce you guys to my new super friend, Mr. Kamal Patel.
Kamal, welcome to the show, my friend. We're so happy to have you today.
Kamal Patel: It is my pleasure.
Jonathan Levi: So how are things, what are you up to.
Kamal Patel: I am trying to figure out whether I should go outside. It's here in San Francisco, which you're familiar with. And I live near the beach on the Westside. It's quite foggy and chilly. I like to get outside time during light hours. So if that's what's on my mind at the moment.
Jonathan Levi: Um, no. Is that a vitamin D thing?
Kamal Patel: Not quite yet. A little bit of it is evidence-based and a little bit of it is just feeling based. So, like the few things I know are that sunlight exposure is what increases nitric oxide synthesis, and other minor temporary things.
But I suspect it's not really all captured in research because almost everybody feels better outside. And I do too. And when I have particularly bad days, that's probably the biggest thing that I need to do get outside. So this isn't. The greatest area for that, but it's not bad.
Jonathan Levi: That's the really good point.
I've been feeling a little under the weather the last few days. I think it might have to do with the fact that we had a sandstorm here and none of us could go out for three, four days, so, Oh, wow. Yeah. I'm putting two and two together. I'm like, man, why am I bummed out today?
Kamal Patel: So sandstorm is like, uh, it comes over the course of a day or two or more.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, well, you know, so it's the first time that it's happened actually in the history of the country, but I woke up one morning and I unrolled my blinds and I could have sworn I was dreaming because everything was yellow and there's just that it was like clouds, but fog and yellow. And it was just like that. And you can hardly breathe kind of crazy.
Kamal Patel: Wow. So you definitely can't like go running
Jonathan Levi: No the, actually the government or the government health agency, advocated that nobody do physical activity and nobody go outside. Oh, so no wonder I'm bummed, right. Wow. Okay. Come on. Let me ask you this. And before we dive into any deeper, walk us through a little bit of your journey and your path and your background and how it brought you to where you are today.
Kamal Patel: Sure. So I'd say the starting point was probably sophomore year of college. So for me, that was 1999 and I was a very thin or skinny, fat, rather sophomore in college. And I, I never lifted weights. So randomly this guy who lived in the dorm next to me was a really big guy. And I found out later, also this was pretty random.
He was a powerlifter and an amateur world record holder powerlifters. Everybody was scared of him. He had big muscles and veins on his veins. And he was a quiet guy, but then one day I saw him, uh, eating in the cafeteria and, you know, one of those scenarios when you're like, should I sit by the person or sit conspicuously far away.
So I sat near him and I asked him about eating and lifting. And he told me, so I went lifting with them once and he was using a Westside, barbell, powerlifting routine with chains and bands and contraptions. So I learned a little bit about that, but it was way beyond me because I hit my max was somewhere around 55 or 60 for bench.
So eventually what happened is he and some other influences got me to think that what you ate was more important than what you did in the gym. And then when I graduated college, I got more into public health, and eventually, I decided for myself that it might be. More in line with what I was thinking to go into things that help sicker people.
I might not just people optimize their lifts and their physiques. So then it was doing a Ph.D. in nutrition and I took a hiatus to run examine.com. The founders, Sol Orwell and Curtis Frank, Rob Stentorm manpower on that front. So. I had used the website previously because, at a prior job, I was working at this place called the evidence-based practice center.
There's 12 or 13 of them in the US right now. I think one in Canada. And they collect all the information for important medical decisions on the federal level. Like. Should women get mammograms before a certain age? And what are the treatments for prostate cancer? And should you wait and see, or should you get some radiation therapy or whatever?
And a few years ago they were contracted to do the research for the vitamin D guidelines that were coming out in 2010. So they needed all the warm bodies possible and I was literally around, so they picked me out.
Jonathan Levi: And then they pulled you in as an MBA guy.
Kamal Patel: Yeah. So I was in the Ph.D. program and previously I moved from Baltimore where I had studied public health and business.
And then for the first time, I was really in the clinical sphere or at least clinical research. So. I read a lot of vitamin D papers. A lot of which were really boring, but then I got more into evidence and although it can get grinding, I found out it's pretty important to understand what the evidence says and that led me to examine.
And that's basically what we do all day every day.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. So tell me about that. I mean, I've looked around examine a little bit, but for our audience. I mean, you guys specialize in unbiased evaluation of supplements and nutrition. Explain to us first what that means. And then also, why is that important?
Kamal Patel: So the easiest way to think about it is a few years ago, four to five years ago.
Have you used Reddit much the website? Reddit? Not much, but I've used it. So Reddit, the main page has a variety of things from cat pictures to new stories, to interviews with famous people who are online. Like I think maybe Barack Obama was on there last year. So they also have some subreddits which are pretty heavily frequented in certain categories.
So the one that I like best is I'm a big fan of cats. So reddit/aww, animal pictures and a lot of cat pictures. But what I didn't realize is that the fitness, subreddit, and nutrition sort of under that domain often is pretty widely frequented and a few years ago, so people were talking actually solid.
Curtis were talking about how there's no website. Like, there were a lot of good nutrition websites, but there is a couple of things that weren't possible. Like you couldn't systematically collect information because it takes a lot of manpower and then you need a little bit of expertise to read papers.
And then the second thing is in order to run a website, you know, you need money. So if you have a website, relaying nutrition information, or supplement information, then you need to fund it. And often that comes from selling products. And often those products are supplements themselves. So originally there were some Amazon links on examine.com when they decided to create it.
But then they decided it was against the aim of the website, which is to be as objective as possible. So then there was nothing. So for awhile it was just information. And then eventually we sold information products. So just extra information, but the objectivity is pretty much just like if someone was to work with us, they need to have no connections to big food or supplement companies.
They can't have bias research and that kind of thing. So it's pretty important for us to stay independent and not have connections to people who can make more money if results go in a certain direction.
Jonathan Levi: So how prevalent is that? I mean, should we be worried about all the studies that we see and all the research that's coming out? I mean, how big of an issue is this?
Kamal Patel: I'd say it's like maybe one of the biggest issues and it sounds crazy, but it's not even just one of the biggest issues in this sphere, but one of the biggest public health issues, cause like, even though I saw your nutrition, you know, everybody's family has some health issues and my mom has type two diabetes and she loves learning about stuff, but she would send me emails, like, you know, white bread is bad, eat Brown bread or which isn't terrible, but.
There's so much information that people are exposed to. And I think oftentimes when people are really into health, then they're of the mindset like, well, why don't you just look it up? Or if you're on a different level, why don't you just look it up on pub med? That's pretty narrow-sighted because like not everybody is comfortably middle-class so there's a lot of people with kids, you know, single moms, a lot of people with the most health problems are older.
So it's a big issue getting accurate health information. And I, I said this before, but although I'm interested in like quantified self and optimizing and stuff, I don't think it's nearly as important for public welfare as getting somewhat decent information out to the max.
Jonathan Levi: I see. So I guess my question is, yeah, a lot of people, even if they do know to check pub med, I mean, there's a high likelihood that we're not interpreting the research correctly or that the research.
We're maybe not validating it correctly. How can someone go about validating and understanding and getting the right information and finding truth with all this misinformation?
Kamal Patel: That's really, it's one of the hardest things, because. So, depending on who you are, some people are a little fluent and pre-med and can read abstracts, but often you can't get the full text of a paper.
And like recent example is last month important or pretty important paper came out, comparing the lower carb diet to a low fat diet. The primary investigator was a guy at the NIH who was a big deal in this field. So what it was is it was a metabolic ward study, which is extremely highly controlled. And they looked very specifically at how much fat is lost, even though it's inaccurate science to start with.
So the media headlines were, you know, this is the death knell for low carb final nail in the coffin. And then low carvers responded. Oh. But you know, it was only a six-day study. And also one of these graphs shows that over time, low carb ends up being better. So even those two details that people focus on were completely wrong.
So first the graph that some low carb advocates pointed to actually was an error in the manuscript. So the lines were reversed and it turned out that low carb and the model would have performed worse than low, fat over time. Interesting. That's just something you can't avoid. You know, occasionally there are errors and I think they did submit a revised manuscript, but it takes time and people mainly focus on the one that they download the week the paper comes out, and then they said it's a short study.
And what can you glean from that? Well, you can't really do really long metabolic ward studies because it would be prohibitively expensive. And then the hypothesis that they were trying to answer wasn't is low fat or low carb better, but rather, do you have a special advantage if you eat low carb, as in terms of fat loss, which you can a little bit answer over the course of a week, and then the media headlines that it's the end of low carb. Conversely, that's not true either because the study didn't actually look at a very low carb diet, had well over a hundred grams of carbohydrate. Um, and it was compared to extremely low fat diet. So they had to do that because of the numbers, but like pretty much all the media interpretation and even a lot of the like guru interpretation was wrong because it doesn't say much about.
Extended low carb diets and you shouldn't eat or not eat a low carb diet because of this study, but you should be wary of special claims of low carb having an effect because of insulin reduction. And the thing that people miss is that this study was part of a huge universe of studies on manipulating carbohydrate levels.
And even if you happen to read the full text of one paper, it won't give enough background about all the dozens or hundreds or thousands of other studies done on the topic. So the answer is you can't really just, even if you're able to find the paper and you know, what a people value is. You can't really understand the context and you either have to ask somebody who knows the context or spend a lot of time doing it yourself or reading synthesis.
Jonathan Levi: Right. And so that's where examined comes in. And I want to tell our audience just because we are kind of plugging, Examine that in no way. Am I affiliated with Examine and in no way, are you guys selling a service, but rather you guys are offering that kind of synthesis. To the public and to lay people who maybe don't understand how to synthesize that information.
How do you guys go about doing that? And what do I learn when I investigate something on Examine?
Kamal Patel: So when you go to examine, then a lot of the people are on there because they were taking a certain type of supplement and they want to know whether it works. Which is like one of the most direct things you can find out that's directly helpful, because if you're like trying to lose weight, that's actually fairly complicated, even though calories in calories out is totally true.
It's hard to lose weight because of behavioral stuff. So, yeah. That is a lot easier to find out if the supplement has research and whether it's something you might want to take, because the vast majority of supplements don't work and some of them do work, but you have to have other things in your life in place before they work.
So supplements have a lot less research in general than manipulating carbs, for example, and it is possible for us to compile most of the evidence on a certain supplement. So. Like creatine is the page that has the most references on our site right now. And I think it's like 730 references or so, so you went and read all those references if you just went to the website, but you could read the overall summary and maybe the outcome are more than one outcome that you're looking for.
So muscle gain is most popular one, but some people are looking for cognitive enhancement or something related to disease. And then the other aspect is if somebody has a general question, so we have frequently asked questions on the site and those will be harder to answer. So like, should I eat eggs or shouldn't I eat eggs?
Well, part of that is do you like eggs? And when you eat eggs, do you get gas? That's like very simple stuff, but then other things are. Do you have certain conditions and what does the evidence show? And we can answer that a little bit, but we also have somewhat limited manpower and we can't claim to be a hundred percent accurate in all cases, we try as hard as possible, but this is really a game of probabilities. So if I was somebody visiting Examine or somebody who is into health or hacking their own health, and I would try to focus on the highest value and lowest hanging fruit things first, and then only after that, get into the weeds of different supplements that you can try.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. So as I understand it, you guys have a team of people who are trained to look at this stuff who synthesize it and kind of condense everything down into things that people like myself could understand without misinterpretation and with a level of trust that we wouldn't get looking directly at some individualized study.
Kamal Patel: Yeah, exactly. So we try to have somewhat wide variety of people looking at evidence. So people with nutrition or dietetics backgrounds, but then our lead editor has a doctorate in pharmacy and then somebody else is a biochemist. So answering issues, we'll try to pass it by a physician who deals with patients to see if it's practically applicable.
But, you know, we can't look at all angles. So a lot of it is take this stuff with a grain of salt, but then also like one issue that comes up for us is how much should we assume that people know? Because if you don't know what significant means in terms of research, then we really have to dial back the language.
And not everybody knows what that means because a lot of the readers are, you know, like. And grandmothers or somebody that hasn't ever really read a study, so we can really write to all audiences and we might lose some people. Sure. But that's one of the things we think about a lot.
Jonathan Levi: Kamal, you mentioned creatine, and you also talked about that a lot of supplements don't work. You know, we've talked a little bit on the show about supplements that do and don't work. I'm very interested now that we've kind of established the credibility and the expertise that examine brings in which supplements have you guys figured out. Absolutely work and which ones have you figured out to be absolute bunk?
Kamal Patel: So, um, you know, obviously creatine is the one that at least in the physical performance exercise aspect as likely to do something. So the way I think about it as no supplement is almost no supplement has more than a 50% chance of working. So creatine is one that might, and that's because when you take supplements that fall into one of two camps, then there's a decent chance it'll work.
One, is that at something that's in your body or that you get naturally sure. That you now get super physiological doses of and creatine has one of those. And then,
Jonathan Levi: I mean, testosterone is one of those as well.
Kamal Patel: Yeah, exactly. And then another category is. Something that is similar to a drug.
Jonathan Levi: Testosterone's one of those as well.
Kamal Patel: So those things definitely work, but they're pretty rare.
Jonathan Levi: And often pretty illegal.
Kamal Patel: Often pretty illegal, but crazy enough. I didn't realize this when I got into nutrition and lifting, but a lot of people are so focused on results that they'll dip their toes into the illegal sphere. Quite happily. Right. We don't condone that.
But I think it's interesting and not just for people who are trying to increase their deadlift, but also people who a lot of people are really into like achieving stuff in life and optimizing their brain and Modafinil, you might know more than me, but that's one of the holy grails that it's not quite a week or legal to get that from India, but a ton of people do it.
Jonathan Levi: So right. Modafinil abuse is really high up there. And it's also really popular among a lot of internet personalities. I know Dave Asprey's pretty big on it. Tim Ferris has spoken a lot about it as well.
Kamal Patel: It's pretty interesting because nothing pro or anti-Dave Asprey, but he's done a really good job of looking at a lot of things.
So he touches on a lot of stuff, whether it's things that somebody personally has seen research on or believes in, or things that they believe are over-exaggerated. And he takes Modafinil very regularly. And he's the most visible example of this, but as far as I know, there's not a lot of long-term research on Modafinil and it sounds maybe alarmist, but like the way I think about it, the body has been honed over however many thousands or hundreds of thousands of years.
So it's like a finely tuned sports car and it won't hurt the body to throw some experimental fuel in there for a while. But over the course of years, I don't know. And there's a lot of people who do things over the course of years. And even if it's not a drug, even if it's something like melatonin, Sure, which is natural.
I don't know about that, you know, in public health school or on the first things they teach you is the precautionary principle. And also at the same time I was taking business classes and we would have to learn a little bit about game theory. And when you model outcomes and game theory, then things are based on probability.
And when there's potentially big risks with unknown probability, then if that's something that people don't really think about much. And I would hope that they would.
Jonathan Levi: Right. So let me come back then. I mean, we've established creatine, very effective, pretty safe. Are there any other ones that you would take may be in that class that are highly effective and also pretty safe before we go into the stuff that's either ineffective or unsafe?
Kamal Patel: Yeah. So there's some things like, you know, beta-alanine helps some people and it's pretty safe. Nitrates are the one other thing that's extremely safe. And that also bridges the gap between helping you in the gym and helping your health, which means it's sort of a no-brainer. And that doesn't mean to get pills that boost nitric oxide synthesis.
It means. Like a, beet or kale smoothie or juice or something like that. Because if you do take in nitric oxide boosters in the form of food, because supplements aren't really work as well. And you do that 45 minutes or so before a workout, there's a decent chance it'll help. But then have you also eat the leafy greens or other nitric oxide boosters over the course of a day?
Even once or possibly twice, then the bigger portion of your day, that's covered by that. The better it is for your heart. So, or the course of yours, it's a lot more important to do that than to take like central lean or something just once before a workout and then other things that might help. There's not a lot of things that help majority of people, and really it's getting enough protein, you know, the basic stuff like that.
And everything else helps a small percentage of the people. There's things like HMB.
Jonathan Levi: Sorry, what's that?
Kamal Patel: HMB a metabolite of leucine. So like the difference and evidence between that and creatine is. More than a magnitude of order, like recent evidence, there's been a handful of studies. So three, for example, that show extra promise compared to previous evidence on HMB and a different form creatine, however, has evidence for a bunch of different populations, a bunch of different doses, and a bunch of different forms.
So it really depends on if you're like a competitive athlete or if you're just. Trying to, you know, look good than if you're just trying to look good. I'd say there's not a lot of things that are worth trying unless you have extra money lying around and you love trying stuff. But there's probably less than 10 things.
Jonathan Levi: Interesting. Now, what about the stuff that is either unsafe or completely ineffective that you see a lot of people taking. And I do have to say though, I'm surprised by the, uh, nitric oxide. I mean, I remember taking it and for those in our audience who aren't familiar nitric oxide and correct me if I'm wrong, Como it's essentially a vassal dilator. Which is supposed to help ATP transport to muscles. I, I don't remember. I haven't taken it in probably a decade, but I was surprised to hear that actually.
Kamal Patel: Like better blood flow and approved, uh, energy production, possibly, and, and that kind of thing. And it turns out that taking pills like centrally and that kind of stuff is typically less effective because that pathway is more regulated.
But if you eat foods. Then it's a little bit different because those more directly increase nitric oxide and avoid that pathway. And that one, like pretty much every few months and you study comes out and almost always it's a good result either for performance or for blood pressure or something like that.
Like only, just recently there was one that didn't show a benefit for people with hypertension, but that was only because. They were people who were already treated for hypertension. So then there's less room for benefit there, but you know, it's a no-brainer. But then things that don't work, like you had mentioned testosterone if you're not getting testosterone from your doctor and you're trying to boost it through supplements, then it's a little bit of a fool's errand because the majority of things can increase libido, but not really testosterone.
And then if something does increase testosterone, it's usually temporary and sometimes things increase testosterone and then they go even lower than baseline later. And the second thing is, um, fat loss supplements. So there's not a lot of shortcuts to losing fat. If you are sort of naive to caffeine and you haven't either consumed it for a while, or you plan out your doses, then you can lose a little bit of extra fat through caffeine and some other stuff, but most fat loss supplements don't work and you can pretty much just group together.
Anything that's been mentioned on the Dr. Oz show. And cross that off because most of those studies have been misinterpreted. Like for example, I think he advocated for Asbury ketones at some point. And there's this study that combined raspberry ketones with several other things in a pill. And that boosting fat loss means nothing for Asbury ketones because it could be like all seven things or it could be some of those, or it could be the study design. It's probably not Asbury ketones because in other studies they haven't really been shown to lower fat. So it testosterone and fat I'd say are things that don't work and not even things to consider for most people.
Jonathan Levi: Right. Not to mention, I mean, testosterone or any kind of like Trenbolone or almost any sort of drug-like that is by now highly illegal. So we should throw that disclaimer, in there.
Kamal Patel: Yeah, if you need testosterone because you're older and your testosterone is lower, or if you're younger and your testosterone is lower, then that's great and it could change your life.
But other than isn't that right. Really not worth it.
Jonathan Levi: So testosterone increase is something that I've taken a big interest in and something that has really impacted my health just by switching diet and training and adding selenium and good stuff like that. I noticed actually that one of the FAQ's on Examine is how to naturally and safely increase testosterone because within a certain realm, you know, the closer you get to that healthy ideal number, which is, you know, the 900 to a thousand and GDL, the better you're going to feel the healthier you're going to be.
You know, I'll put an asterisk there because it's not true for everybody, but in general, Up to a certain limit, more is better for young men, which are the predominant aspect of our audience. So let me ask, what is your research found in regards to increasing testosterone?
Kamal Patel: The main thing I'd say is it's basically aimed towards people that either don't eat enough or donate enough fat. And maybe most of your audience is like onboard with being okay with fat, but a surprising number are so eating enough fat and especially saturated fat. Like there's not a ton of evidence, but there are fairly strong associations. Sure. And the second thing is also a little bit of a general diet slash lifestyle thing, which is uh, not running herself into the ground. And it's come up recently that we wrote an article for CrossFit about adrenal fatigue, being a myth, and some people hated it and were extremely angry of the sort that easy for you guys to say, I'm actually diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. And if you don't have it, how do you know.
That's a bit presumptuous. I mean, we have a big team. There's been a lot of health issues. So I find that to be one of the most interesting topics because I totally get it. Like having seen a shit ton of doctors, doctors won't care. If you tell them about certain symptoms, even if they're pretty extreme and if you're exercising a lot and then you suddenly are unable to function and you can't get rid of that, then you know, you feel like you have no place to go.
That being said, there's a lot of things in between chronic fatigue syndrome, which is hard to define as it is. And just feeling kind of crappy on a given day. And I think general stress and general fatigue has been way underappreciated by physicians. So a while back, I spent a summer interning at this place called the Mind-Body Medical Institute in Boston.
And it's where this physician, Herbert Benson. He's a cardiologist who wrote a book about meditation called the Relaxation Response. And there is research done on edge as well. And that center is one of the main meditation research centers. So there oftentimes, they would talk about how, you know, everybody knows this, but if you are either voluntarily or involuntarily, not turning off your stress response, then it's going to build up over time.
That's not really a disease. That's the thing. It's, you know, a syndrome is different than a disease. But as syndrome also, isn't something you need to take supplements for. So if you think you have adrenal fatigue, even though, you know, obviously that's a misnomer and your adrenals are not fatigued, then you don't need to go for supplements right away.
Even if it might seem a little bit easier and more complete, it's extremely important to. As cliche, as it sounds, look at root causes and nobody needs to exercise every week. You know, Michelle Obama says you need to do certain exercises every week, but that's really for people who aren't feeling like extremely crappy like you can take days or weeks off and not get your 10,000 steps and, you know, not go to CrossFit and not go to the gym.
If it takes more than weeks, that's fine too. Even if you're just moving around to get blood flow in, because some people are really have driven themselves into the ground and it's not adrenal fatigue, but it's the stress of work combined with overexercising and not eating quite right. So I'd say that's the main thing for people who are young males who are trying to do well in life.
Maybe like trying to retire early or, you know, get a house or something. It's the big things before the little things and it's definitely not supplements. Definitely. We started out talking about being outside. And I really think that's one of the things, the more you're getting into, let's say you have your own online business or something to grow it.
You need to spend as much time as possible on your computer. And I run into this, which is more time on computer means more time hunched over a computer, which means more time inside. And less time interacting with people. And you can't quantify that for studies, but if you could, I'm sure it would show a stronger effect, creating.
Jonathan Levi: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I'm standing upright now facing a window for exactly that reason. Although I do want to clarify, you said not needing to exercise every week. I'm assuming you meant not needing to exercise every day of the week.
Kamal Patel: Yeah. Maybe even every week, you know, for most people would be every day of the week, but there are some people who like in college, there was a girl I briefly dated who was addicted to exercise.
And I don't think anybody ever told her, but it wasn't so much that she exercised so much on a given day, but she exercised at least an hour or two every day. And it reminded me of when I first started lifting weights, I would read blogs. And at that time, really, the only big website was bodybuilding.com and T mag, I think was just starting.
There was this guy who wrote a blog about his lifting and he was really strong and he called himself the air raid lifter or something because he lived in one of the offshoots of Yugoslavia. And he went to the gym when there was an air raid on a city. Oh, wow. It's probably taking it a bit far, probably.
And there's some guys and girls who take it almost that far. Like I feel crappy or sick, I'm gonna work out. Oh, somebody is in town, but I only have couple of hours free, I'll work out instead. Like that kind of thing, get over it. And then some people have mysterious illnesses, which sucks. Invisible mysterious illnesses make you feel really terrible, but give you take more than a couple of days of exercise like a week or two or more off that could help. That a hospital I used to work at in Boston, there are pediatric hospitalists called the Floating Hospital. Floating Hospital for children. And the reason it's called that is, and the early 19 hundreds, or somewhere around there, they observed that children who spend time outside felt better.
And then what they crazy enough, ended up doing is putting a lot of our, all the children on a boat, like a big ship outside that was docked in a Boston Harbor. And the children actually felt a lot better. So they stopped doing that when modern medicine really started going. But if I had to guess, I'd say obviously, sun being outside, there's also some temperature-related things.
So, When your inside temperature is always controlled when you're outside sometimes cold, sometimes it's hot. That could be good for the body who knows. And then there's more moving around. You're not in a limited space when you're in the Harbor, there's a water around. So those things that aren't really quantifiable, I think it's great.
So if you were to take a week or two off exercise and somehow be able to afford a vacation to like Bali, I would wonder if that might be better than just lowering exercise and focusing on dialing in your diet. You know, just the out nature therapy.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. I have some people in my life who are addicted to exercise. And I've also been one of those people up until relatively recently when all of a sudden I wasn't recovering anymore and I wasn't getting stronger and I wasn't feeling good.
And I had to take a good week off to the point where I'm now only at two to three workouts a day instead of six. So that's definitely a real thing.
Kamal Patel: Yeah. And that's something that I guess people have to learn themselves, but hopefully, if that becomes more prevalent in media, you know, blogs and podcasts, then more people will prevent their own burnout.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. My coach is, uh, the national powerlifting champion. He holds like the regional record for bench press and he looks at me one day and he goes, yeah, you're, over-trained go home. And it's like, I'm not training you today. You're over-trained, you're not recovering. You're weaker than you were the last workout. Go home.
Kamal Patel: You know, those guys are full of wisdom. There was a time that I went from my local neighborhood gym to this sort of seedy-looking gym in a basement of an apartment building. Yeah. And I didn't know it then, but it gets listed on this list of CD powerlifting gyms that you should really go to if you're in certain cities.
And those guys had the best advice. Like if you are at a typical gym, Some people will wear belts every time they squat, you know, and these guys had gone through everything. So they know when you need to. And when you don't need to wear a belt and then if you should, or shouldn't step on carbs during your workout and they don't know everything, but that old-timey wisdom it's pretty good.
Jonathan Levi: Definitely. Kamal, I want to ask if you were to build it, I'm going to get into some of the kind of weirder and more practical, applicable questions. Okay. If you were to build a a hundred dollar kit to optimize health, which you could vary, you know, vary based on gender vary based on age, what would be some of the core components and what would be some of the variable components that you would offer in this hundred dollar general health box?
Kamal Patel: That's a really good question. And I've never heard that before.
Jonathan Levi: Well, I thank you. I made it up today.
Kamal Patel: Very recently show shark tank?
Jonathan Levi: I have actually, I was watching it earlier today.
Kamal Patel: Oh, okay. Cool. Oh, by the way, Mr. Wonderful was, uh, a judge on Ms. Miracle last night. Oh, interesting. And, uh, they had this thing recently that I saw where these people came in with an idea for a box that you get are your child guts?
Every month or something, and your child says what they like learning about. Or what they like doing or whatever. And the box is tailored towards that. So Robert Herjavec is into cars, so he got a car box and it had like information about cars, a model car, or whatever. Mark Cuban owns the Cavs or the Mavs rather.
So he had like a popcorn or something that you would eat during game, but he also had like a little basketball game. You could, um, play on your desk and then some stuff about physical activity. So as really well-packaged and the people were like super good at business. You know, one of them was a Harvard MBA and another, I don't know what worked for some marketing, please.
And I was really impressed because it's all about this, that X, and, and if something resonates with somebody like you could have the best advice or the best medication in the world. And if a medication looks gray, you know, it'll perform worse than one that looks clean and more medical ease. So if I had a hundred dollars off the top of my head, I think what I do is maybe something like that.
So my dream for Examine as if we had a lot more money and way more people, it would be awesome. If we could set up something where if you're interested in a certain topic, fat loss, autoimmune disease, whatever. We can tell you what you need to know on a periodic basis and cover all the bases like for autoimmune disease.
Let's say like you get a package or a digital package where if you've had issues with like Crohn's disease and something else celiac, then you get like a gut testing kit and you can send that in and get results and retest after a few months of trying something different. And then you also get like a digital or print version of like what you need to know about the supplements you're taking or something.
So it isn't like one discrete thing, but like something that's, well-packaged, that's easy to read or consume, and that helps you track stuff over time. Interesting. That's what I would do. That would be the a hundred dollars kit. And I don't know quite what would go in it, but, uh, something physical would be awesome.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Interesting. I was going to say, you know, don't feel obligated to make it all supplements. Cause you could include books, research, papers, stuff like that. And it's interesting. You actually went in the opposite direction. It would be mostly information, which I think is telling.
Kamal Patel: There was one time in my life when, just for like three to six months, I was a personal trainer and it was the first time I had interaction with clients in my life.
And I, myself am not good at marketing myself, uh, as a person. So eventually after weeks I got a client and this guy was getting married, so he needed to lose some weight. People always think, you know, the women are trying hard to lose weight. The guys try really hard to oftentimes lose weight. So this guy had met a woman online and, uh, if this ever gets too tangential, let me know.
He met this woman online and he was like, so thankful to have randomly met her that he wanted him to lose X amount of weight really fast, but he was like a quiet guy. So. I went with them and he had never like worked out much before, so we did it two or three times and he never said a peep. And then eventually I told him you're really smart person and you're way smarter than me.
I think I should maybe just like either lecture you or send you information on what you need to know, and then you can do it. And he said, okay, So, you know, I thought that was that. And then a few weeks later he was like, can we meet again? So we did another workout. And again, he didn't say a peep. And then on like one of the last sets on the last exercise, eventually, like we actually start talking about something.
I don't know how it got started, maybe talking about UFC or something. And then I was like, you know, you haven't really said much this whole time. Like what's your Mo and what you really want to get out of this. And he said, I really just. Wanted somebody to work out with, and I don't have any friends who work out.
So, you know, you seem kind of normal. And I wanted 50%, some needleworks out with, and 50%, I wanted to know the, like top five things. I need to keep in mind to lose weight over the course of this couple of months. And I was like, Oh shit. You know, I did it completely wrong because people need very different things to make health changes.
Some people just need the snippets for them to practically affect their health. Some people need a buddy it's really hard to predict. And from then on, I kept it in my mind that like, no two people are the same and some people love the information and examine is one of the only things they need.
And some people they don't need examine at all. They would only randomly want to see. If we say yes or no to a supplement, and that's it.
Jonathan Levi: Interesting.
Kamal Patel: You know, really hard to predict and people are crazy and fascinating and it's not just does this supplement work or does it not work?
Jonathan Levi: I love that. And that's actually a great point to end on Kamal.
People want to get in touch with you. Obviously, they can go to examine.com and we'll link them in the show notes to that. But how else can they get in touch with you and learn more about what you're up to?
Kamal Patel: You know, we love getting emails. So if you go to the contact form and sometimes people will say, I have a question for this person, then say, I just wanted to send a message to come on and say, hi, you know who I am.
And or if I have a question or something, sometimes people send studies that we haven't covered. And we like that too because you know, we're not infallible. And then if you want to see us cover something, then that's good too. So, you know, again, touch with me on examine or on our Facebook page. We'll post updates and stuff, and we can talk in a more real-time fashion.
So comment on a post and I'm usually checking the post and I'll get back to you.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Well, fantastic Kamal. I really appreciate your time today. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you.
Kamal Patel: No, you're a natural. So this was my pleasure.
I'll love to say that
Jonathan Levi: I'm a natural, but if you listen back to our first couple of episodes, you will see that I've applied my accelerated learning techniques to interviewing,
Kamal Patel: Oh, man, everything takes effort.
Jonathan Levi: Everything takes effort and learning, man. I was doing nothing. None of what I do for a living today. I was doing a year and a half ago, so, Oh, wow. It all takes learning and growth, which I think is why I like it so much.
Kamal Patel: Yeah. Change is possible with a ton of effort.
Jonathan Levi: Indeed. All right. Well, come on. It's been a pleasure and let's do keep in touch.
Kamal Patel: Yup. Thanks.
Jonathan Levi: All right. Take care.
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