Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 12 - Dr. Greg Grosicki - TRUST YOUR GUT - Part 1 of 3

So, this has some pretty, very relevant and deleterious consequences, right, we lose our ability to perform our activities of daily living. So, then we ultimately lose our physical independence and then end up having to reside in nursing homes and that older adults--

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“So, this has some pretty, very relevant and deleterious consequences, right, we lose our ability to perform our activities of daily living. So, then we ultimately lose our physical independence and then end up having to reside in nursing homes and that older adults-- So, one of the facts I like to tell people about aging and it's different from a younger person's perspective, but they fear losing their independence and being put in a nursing home way more than they fear death.” This episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast is brought to you by Solpri, skincare for athletes. Whether you're in the gym, on the mats, on the road or in the pool, we protect your skin so you're more comfortable in your own body. To learn more, go to JESSE: Today on the Smart Athlete Podcast, my guest has his PhD in human bioenergetics. He's currently a professor at Georgia Southern University. Not only that, he has an impressive two overall Ironman 70.3 wins under his belt, and is racing for Every Man Jack. Welcome to the show today, Dr. Greg Grosicki. GREG: Thanks for having me. JESSE: Greg, sorry, I almost mispronounced your name there again. GREG: That's all right. First time ?? 1:25>. JESSE: Just a little tongue tied. GREG: Yeah, yeah, sure. JESSE: To many G’s. Have you considered revising that, maybe becoming Frank or something like that? GREG: I kind of like the uniqueness of it. It's all right. Makes it easy to stand out when I search for my own publications. There's not that many Grosicki's out there. JESSE: Yeah, super easy. Did you get any-- This is like a personal aside, so my last name is Funk, F-U-N-K. So, I got all kinds of nicknames along the way from schooling. Do you remember anything like ?? 1:59> nickname? GREG: Yeah, I remember. I already feel bad for my kids like all the G’s. JESSE: You could like hyphenated for no reason like Grosicki-awesome or like, just something. You can shorten it to awesome if you want to. GREG: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. JESSE: So, I've had a couple of people say I should talk to you. So, I'm happy to have you here. Previously, Todd Buckingham and then Corey also recommended you. And then I think you know as you mentioned before we were on talking, you listened to Chris Douglas's episode. I think you know Chris as well. GREG: Yep. Definitely. I'm going to go train with him this weekend. JESSE: Good deal. And I think I have your friend Richard coming on next week. So, it's like, this confluence of all the people you know. Definitely, you're like the nucleus here. GREG: I've coached many of them. I found Corey’s girlfriend, I coach Richard’s girlfriend, coach Richard. JESSE: Yeah. So, it seems like you are the nucleus and for somewhat makes sense, I watched your lecture yesterday, I think-- was that lecture, was that from your dissertation? GREG: No. So, actually, well, some of it was. A lot of it was the first half on the contract - properties and single muscle fibers. That was dissertation work ?? 3:27>, and then the second half of the lecture, the gut microbiota stuff, that stuff I did when I was at my postdoc up in Boston...Korean Richard. JESSE: Okay. Okay. So, can you kind of give the shorter version of like, what you're doing now? What you're interested in? GREG: Sure. Yeah. So, feel like I'm a man of many hats. And one of the funny things, I'd be curious for you to ask other people who have gone through the academic process, and maybe yourself, I don't know. But I always feel like in life so far, I've been in school for basically 29 years, right. Last year, in my first year, not being in school. And all the time in school, I thought as soon as I finished school, as soon as I get my job, everything's going to settle down, life's going to get easier, right? It's going to get slower. And that hasn't been the case at all. So, you can talk to Richard about this. He just graduated from MIT. So, obviously, he's got a lot going on upstairs. - very stressed about it. You know, he's working on defending his dissertation, I didn't have the heart to tell him that it only goes downhill from here. But suffice to say, a bit of a tangent there but yeah, so I'm an assistant professor. So, I teach three classes a semester here at Georgia Southern, I mentor-- I'm currently mentoring five masters students. We have a Masters in Sports Medicine program here. And so for their master's program, they have to conduct an independent research study. And so they're conducting all sorts of different exercise based research studies. I have a few research studies of my own. We recently got some funding from the-- internal funding from the school here to study. So, we're really looking forward to getting started with that. I have a couple collaborations with people in California, some laboratories in California, doing a couple of research studies. We have one coming up, we're studying one these ultra marathon runners, he trains for and is going to race western states. So, we're really excited about that. So, 16 days away...he's counting down the days, like literally every day. I just ?? 5:41> him as a matter of fact...he's got on his shoes, no joke. And so doing that, and I also coach 12 athletes on the side. So, that's my Saturdays and Sundays and nights. And yeah, that's more or less what I'm doing. I do a bit of consulting for some industries, industry companies. JESSE: You see...always like amazes me and I guess I'm not that dissimilar in that I run two businesses and train. But it seems like, especially you but a lot of people I talked to you are just insanely busy, yet somehow still seem to figure out how to fit in the time to train for triathlon in general, or 70.3 or a Full Iron Man. It's like, I'm always curious of everybody's, strategy for time management, if there is a time management schedule, or if it's just like, go like hell until it's all done. GREG: Yeah, I think it's the inability to say no to things that I like, right? I think it's like, if we love what we're doing, we just, you can't say no, it's like, yeah, more projects. That's awesome. Like, I'd love to do this, which I think is great, right? It means we're doing like, which most people are just talk to your friends, right? Everyone complains about being at work. And I'm like all right, it's like, getting like, I gotta leave work, right? It's not like I-- it's never like I have to go to work, it’s like I love it. So, that's part of the problem. And then the other like - make the point about triathlon, I guess I'm fortunate that I'm surrounded by mostly people who do work out like all my colleagues are male - workout, and most of my students worked out, which like, I don't know why they would be studying Exercise Science if they didn't, just seems logical to me, right? But for me, I can't understand how people could make it through a day without working out, right. When I go and take my two weeks off, I'm like, man, what am I going to do with all this free time here? Like, sleeping until seven or eight o'clock? This is strange, right? So yeah, I guess it's kind of just the lifestyle that you choose, and people you surround yourself with, right? I'm sure. Like, I don't know what time like, I'm sure you're probably not waking up at eight or nine o'clock in the morning most days? JESSE: No, not most days. I mean, it depends on the day. I try not to use an alarm clock most of the time, although I started to recently, but I'm up between I'm up between six and seven. It just depends. If I can help it, I won't use the alarm clock. So, just so my body can sleep as long as it needs to sleep because I don't have to go to a job per se. There's plenty I have to get done during the day, but like I'm the guy in charge. So, if I'm late, I’m not-- Right. Yeah. GREG: If it doesn't get done, it's only you, right? JESSE: Right. Right. It's only my fault. So, yeah, no, I'm still waking up relatively early. And then I always like to joke with my girlfriend or we joke about being A because we're going to bed at like nine or 10 o'clock. ?? 8:46> GREG: ...30. JESSE: Yeah. GREG: Yeah, exactly. JESSE: Not nine hours. GREG: No, I think it's all about just having that. I don't know, I'm pretty rigid with my schedule. Maybe you're not sincere jobs a little more flexible. But it's kind of like this is the time I'm getting up and then going to bed at the right time, things like that. You make time for what you want to do. Right? JESSE: Right, right. Yeah, I'm pretty-- It's not super rigid, but it's definitely like it if I'm not like, so my swim days, I get up early, I'm at the pool by 7:30. But the other days, I'll try to get some work done and then work out by nine in the morning, workout going to start at nine so that everything's done before noon, and then the afternoon’s free for more work stuff. So, it's like, I'm not-- it's not super rigid, but I definitely have like guidelines. Unlike Jack Sparrow right now, they're not rules or guidelines. Yeah, I keep a rough schedule going on most the time. GREG: Yeah. I'm sure. JESSE: So, I'm going to jump in a little bit to like some of the things you talked about in your presentation. I'll actually put a link down in the description for anybody on YouTube watching. You can click over and listen to Greg's talk if you'd like to. So, I we’ll kind of go a little bit through in kind of a chronological order because that's how I took my notes. But kind of curious if you can give us like the short version about, it seems like you do a lot with aging and like fitness and changes in the body as we age. So, in the beginning, you're talking about like, loss of muscle mass versus loss of muscle quality. Can you kind of give the short version of like, why the difference matters and kind of what's happening? GREG: Yeah, sure. Sure. So, I'm going to I'm going to answer that question. I will, but I guess it takes it back. So, I kind of got into the whole exercise science thing, right, just because I loved exercise. Since when I was undergrad, I was like, well, that seems like a pretty cool major, I could study exercise. And then like, kind of ironically, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it enough, everywhere I would go, it would be a program where they'd be studying aging. Either cardiovascular disease or skeletal muscle or things that happen to the body with aging. And then I was like, well, this is pretty cool. And it kind of gives me a way to focus on something exercise related, that's a little bit tangential to my personal interest. So, I think that's kind of why I started, got involved with the aging thing, right, from a research perspective. And so essentially, a lot of my work is focused on aging and muscle and this condition known as sarcopenia, which is, everyone's heard of osteopenia or osteoporosis, the loss of bone with age and bone mineral density that predisposes us to greater likelihood of fractures in our bones. But sarcopenia comes from the Greek word sarc, which means flesh and then penia, meaning poverty. So, we're talking about the poverty of flesh or the loss of muscle mass or more relevantly, function, strength or power of that muscle that is known to occur with aging. About the fourth decade of life, so about 30 years old, which, fortunately, I'm right now, we start to lose our muscle mass at a rate of different between different individuals, but it's generally about 10% per decade, and tends to accelerate a little bit more, gets a little more precipitous, as we get even older. So, this has some pretty, very relevant and deleterious consequences, right, we lose our ability to perform our activities of daily living, so then we ultimately lose our physical independence, and then end up having to reside in nursing homes and that older adults, one of the facts, I like to tell people about aging, and it's different from a younger person perspective, but they fear losing their independence and being put in a nursing home way more than they fear death. And that's just a bit of a different mind shift right, when they get old. So, a lot of my research is focused on that process and mechanisms underlying it. And then as well as how can exercise which is undoubtedly hands down the most potent, preventative therapy for preventative and also probably the best treatment for the sarcopenia or that age related muscle wasting that occurs with aging. So, that's what a lot of my research has done. JESSE: So, this is like, it's kind of a lark a little bit. But have you seen these just-- I call them spam ads like you're reading an article and you'll see like, this one weird food and like, all those kind of different ads? GREG: Yeah. JESSE: Okay. So, sometimes you'll see an ad, and it'll have like, what looks like an 80 year old guy with the physique of like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Yeah. And you're like, okay, well, that's clearly not real. But unless he's taking-- I don't even know like, enough testosterone ?? 14:13> and he kill a horse. GREG: You see in Corey...pharmacist for that one, right. JESSE: Yeah. Have to go talk to Corey. I mean, it's like, is there anything we can do as far as, say, somebody's not worked out ever before, and now they're 60. And they're like crap, my mobility’s in the toilet. You know, there's nothing wrong with them in terms of no bone breaks, or anything, like mobility issues, but they're feeling the effects of aging. Is there routines or supplements or like, is there any, like practical ideas you'd have about how to help them? GREG: Yeah, I mean so, these studies started back in the 1980s and there was a study published in 1990, actually, in the New England Journal of Medicine, that basically looked at muscle responsiveness in people just as you were describing. They were middle, or even they were, I think they were in their 80s or maybe even their 90s, and it's very well stated in the literature. And basically, it just shows that even in individuals like that, who are maybe residing in nursing homes even, their muscles can still-- muscle is probably one of and I would probably argue the most adaptable tissue that we have. In human body, the way that muscle can respond to and change in response to exercise stimulus is remarkable. And so even in someone who's 60, and maybe extremely sedentary, their muscles are not, they're not beyond health, right, they still can respond. And so doing physical action activity, or encouraging them to do some sort of structured exercise can still impart extremely beneficial effects, massive gains and muscle size and strength. And so they're not be on help for sure. And it doesn't take an hour in the gym of intense weightlifting to get these benefits, particularly in someone who's sedentary. And so there's still a lot of-- there's still hope for them. So, yeah. JESSE: Okay. So obviously, we can-- if I'm 60 or 70, I can you gain mobility back. Is there any hope for me to become a champion bodybuilder at that point or is all hope lost? GREG: That one's probably one your ?? 16:45> the parents on that one? JESSE: I just want to check. You know, it's like I said, the reason I bring up the - is they kind of like play on our insecurities, and fears and hopes and dreams. And so I'm always just like, is there any of truth like whatever these people are peddling, and you seem like the guy to ask. GREG: Yeah, yeah. No, unfortunately, you can see not a ton of muscle mass myself. So, I'm hoping I can maintain as functional as possible, right, as I get older. Maybe pick up hitting the weights a bit more, some point in my life. But no, even aerobic exercise can make muscle-- it can improve the strength and the function of muscle potently. So, yeah, even triathlon. JESSE: Right. Well, I mean, you don't really, it doesn't make sense for you to be big considering you know, how competitive you are as an endurance athlete. I mean, you need some muscle to some degree. But as we know, it's a power weight ratio formula we're working with, on a base level. Obviously, there's fluctuations within that. So, it doesn't make sense for you to be huge, unless you just like, have a huge lifestyle change. And you're like, forget triathlon, like Mr. Universe is where it's at. GREG: Yep, yep. And you got to look at the size of the muscle relative to the size of the body too, right. So, the muscle only has to be as strong enough to move the body around. So, if the body's not big, don't necessarily need this gratuitous quantity of muscle tissue, right. JESSE: I didn't take a note on this, but you reminded me of you were talking about the-- I think it was the utilization of energy per amount of muscle fiber or something like that. And you're comparing older people younger people have, there's like these, the older people seem to have a higher utilization per amount of muscle fiber. Do you know what I'm talking? Am I on track-- GREG: I do, yeah. So, one of the things that happens as you get older, we know our muscle gets smaller, we've already said that. There's two underlying factors for this. So, the amount of muscle cells we have decreases substantially. So, in our quadriceps muscle, we have a young person, you or I may have half a million, a million muscle fibers. That will decrease by about 50% by the time we're 80 years old. That's one of them. And the other one is just the number of them. The other one is the size of those muscle fibers is reduced drastically. But the question is what happens to the contractile proteins, the actual proteins in that muscle fibers and make a contract. And it appears to be that there's a bit of a compensatory or an adaptive mechanism at play, as we get older, where, even though some of the components of these muscle cells do seem to go away, the contractile machinery, the proteins within the muscle fibers seem to be preserved. And because of that, if we look at the functionality of these fibers relative to their size, it seems to be preserved or possibly a little bit improved. And so that's kind of one of these things. It's not often thought-- It's usually considered that with aging, everything is going down the toilet, right? Our physiology is just, but there are some things that go on the body that appear to compensate for the aging process, right. So, one of them appears to be that, the proteins, the muscles are good at preserving the specific proteins that are responsible for contraction and maybe some of the less important proteins seem to go away. Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3

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