A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK TO OPTIMIZE YOUR MIND, BODY & SPIRIT Ben Greenfield’s Daily Routines

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THE IMPORTANCE OF DAILY
ROUTINES
At one of my favorite websites called “Art of Manliness”, my friend Brett
McKay notes:
“…secretary of state and president, John Quincy Adams skinny dipped
in the Potomac River in the morning, always trying to see how long he
could swim without touching the bottom (he got up to 80 minutes before
his wife told him to stop).”
“…after putting his kids to bed, President Obama goes over briefing papers and does paperwork, and then reads a book for pleasure for a half
hour before turning in…”
Other routines I came across the interwebs are as follows:
“…King writes every day of the year without exception, beginning work
between 8:00 and 8:30 am. He has a glass of water or cup of tea and takes
a vitamin pill each day, ensuring he is in the same seat and his papers
and desk are arranged in the same way every single day. King has a daily
writing quota of two thousand words and rarely allows himself to quit
until he’s reached his goal.”
“…the 31-year-old Harvard dropout and founder of Facebook, Mark
Zuckerberg, is well known for almost always wearing a plain gray T-shirt,
saying in a 2014 interview that wearing the same shirt helps allow him to
make as few decisions as possible.”
As a matter of fact, I don’t know any successful people who do not have
some kind of a relatively structured, and occasionally elaborate, daily
routine. So without further ado, for your entertainment and education,
let’s delve into the morning, afternoon and evening routines that will enhance your health, your energy, your body, your brain, your sleep and
beyond, beginning with the most logical place to begin: the start of your
day.
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MY EXACT MORNING ROUTINE
UNVEILED STEP-BY-STEP
Several years ago, I posted a bunch of videos of me doing strange poses in my backyard while wearing teeny-tiny black shorts (at The Exact Stretch Routine That Ben Does Every Morning, No Matter What).
That ten-minute stretching routine was actually my very first foray
into doing something at the beginning of each day that established
blood flow, breathwork, and momentum, to achieve more the rest of
the day. Prior to beginning to do it, I would simply roll out of bed,
make a quick coffee and head to work with absolutely no clue as to
how much better a morning routine can make your day.
Since then, my morning routine has progressed way beyond the level of
just a few silly stretches in my underwear. My morning routine has, in
fact, morphed into an absolutely epic series of journaling, elaborate exercises, twists, oils, supplements, toilet techniques and an entire host of
other ridiculously complex self-care habits.
But I’m not complaining.
Not only do I absolutely love my morning routine, hopping out of bed
each day with a big anticipatory grin, but I also know that a morning,
an afternoon and an evening series of rituals, habits and routines are a
great way to “bookend” sections of your day. The morning routine in
particular allows you to prioritize all the things necessary to take care of
yourself and your body, your brain,, and your spirit while your willpower
and energy is high, grounding your body and mind, and even giving you
something “old and reliable” to use when you’re traveling or starting your
day in strange, new places.
Before you dive in, please understand that any new routine can initially
feel intimidating and confusing until it becomes an automatic habit. But
after 2 to 4 weeks of launching into a routine, you’ll subconsciously begin
adopting the habits you’re about to discover without even thinking about
it. You just need to stick with it each day until it becomes automatic.
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-6:30-ISH…
BEN GREENFIELD’S
MORNING ROUTINE
Wake up. Unless I have a flight to catch, I do not use an alarm, and ensure
that I only book appointments, calls and work after 9am. This allows me
to follow my body’s natural clock. If you’re afraid you might upset a client, miss an appointment, get “fired from work”, then you need to understand the importance of “zeitgeibers”, which are circadian rhythm cues
that let your body and brain know that it is either morning or evening.
Some of the most important cues are A) light; B) movement; C) a meal.
For example, if you desire for your wake time to be at 6am, and you’re
currently sleeping in until 7am, then at 6am you would A) get plenty of morning sunlight or use something like a “Human Charger” or
“Re-Timer”; B) do morning movement between 6am and 7am and C)
don’t skip breakfast, and preferably have breakfast within a couple hours
after waking up.
Anyways, back to my own waking routine. Upon waking, I remove my
huge, wrap around SleepMaster sleep mask, turn off my Brain.FM sleep
sounds, remove my Sleephones and remove my DeltaSleeper.
I then roll over, strap on a bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (most
models work but here’s an exact list of compatible ones, smear conducting gel all over the strap’s electrodes, and do a quick five minute measurement of my heart rate variability (HRV), nervous system readiness
and stress using the NatureBeat app. While I monitor my HRV, I read
my Bible, complete my daily entry into my Christian Gratitude Journal,
and pray.
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I walk downstairs to the kitchen. I pour 20oz of water, into which I add
10 drops of lemon essential oil and 5 drops oil of oregano. As I drink this
water, I take my morning supplements. What I take varies, but just about
every day of the year I consume on an empty stomach:
-5 grams of creatine
-4 capsules colostrum
-2 capsules probiotics
After swallowing these capsules, I put on the water to boil for coffee and
head down to the basement gym or, if it’s a nice day, outside into the sun
(in my bare feet to get all the benefits of “earthing” or “grounding”.
-6:45-ISH…
If I’m outside, then I’m already
in the sunlight. But if I’m in the
basement gym, I flip on the lights,
which are powered by a special
kind of bulb called “Awake And
Alert”. These bulbs crank out massive amounts of blue light, and this
is why, if the day is gray, I’ll head to
gym rather than the backyard patio for a massive dose of light. Remember: light is a good circadian
rhythm cue.
Then, I proceed to do my 10-minute morning movement routine,
which frankly, is quite different
than that original routine I was
-6:50-ISH…
doing 5 years ago. The series of moves that I do now are designed to
“turn on my glutes”, “activate my breath” and “decompress my spine”.
They are called “Core Foundation” exercises, and you can read the full
story on them here. I do the M/W/F exercises from the book on M/W/F
and the T/R/S exercises on T/R/S, and Sunday too.
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Now fully energized, I charge back to the kitchen and grab the coffee,
which is always caffeinated for 3 weeks, then decaffeinated for 1 week,
allowing me to only be nursing a caffeine habit 75% of the time (and allow for resensitization of the adenosine receptors). To do this, I simply
get 3 bags caffeinated and 1 bag decaf coffee with each coffee order that I
make, and typically opt for good organic coffee. And no, I do not use
copious amounts of butter or MCT oil. Just black coffee, thank you very
much.
While I drink my coffee, I do a bit of light morning reading, usually blogs
or research articles. I stay far, far away from e-mail, social media and
anything that would stress me out at this time of day.
-7:15-ISH…
So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I only poop once-a-day. That’s right
– I get it all out of the way with one massive toilet trip first thing in
the morning. There’s just something I don’t like about walking around
during the current day with the previous day’s majority of solid waste
still inside me.
I’ve pretty much got the morning poo down to a science. I stroll into the
bathroom, hop onto my Squatty Potty then shift, shimmy and shake
until everything is out. Typically, while on the toilet, I do indeed have
my phone, and I scroll through emails and Facebook (yep, you know it
and you’ve done it yourself once or twice I’d imagine), read any of my
bathroom books and magazines, and just chill out until everything is
expulsed. This is generally an oh-so-glorious 15-20 minutes. I walk out
of that experience with a big satisfied smile on my face. And yes, every
two weeks or anytime I return from a big bout of travel, my morning
bathroom routine includes a Bulletproof Enema.
-7:00-ISH…
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-7:30-ISH…
I hang out with my two boys before they head to the bus stop. We talk
about their sleep, their dreams, their morning journaling, breakfast, and
the day’s activities. Then they’re off until 3:30pm, which gives me 8 hours
of extreme productivity. My day’s goal is always to be finished up with all
the hard work by the time the boys get home, so we have plenty of time
for afternoon workouts, adventures and fun father-son activities.
I complete 30 minutes of fasted morning movement. This varies a bit
from day-to-day but generally is setup as follows:
-Monday and Friday mornings: Yoga. I’ve been through enough yoga routines to where I have my own hybridized version, but it’s usually basic flow
yoga with an intense focus on deep breathing, often in the cold, and often
wearing an elevation training mask. Yes, nerdy, but effective.
-Wednesday mornings: 20-25 minute full body foam roller a la “Becoming
A Supple Leopard” and 5-10 minutes hanging from inversion table.
-Tuesday and Thursday mornings: Infrared sauna, Kundalini yoga, warrior breathing followed by a 5-minute cold water swim at 55-60F, or a cold
shower.
-Saturday and Sunday mornings: 30 minute nasal breathing and breath
hold walk (only do nasal breathing as 4 count in, 4 count hold, 4 count out,
4 count hold during the entire walk, and hold breath every few minutes for
as long as you can) or 30 minute kettlebell walk (just what it sounds like –
carry a kettlebell however you desire for 30 minutes).
I always finish any of these routines with my signature cold shower (see
video here). Post-shower, I slather my legs with magnesium lotion and I
slather my face with extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or my skin serum.
-7:45-ISH…
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Breakfast. With very little exception, 7 days a week breakfast is simply a
green smoothie. You may want to take a deep breath before diving into
this. Ready? Here we go:
-A huge bunch of greens. I prefer kale, but spinach, bok choy, mustard
greens, etc. also works.
-Some kind of herb. Cleansing herbs like parsley, cilantro or thyme are nice.
Get ‘em fresh.
-Half an avocado, or a whole one if it’s a high calorie day.
-4-6oz of full fat coconut milk that is BPA free. The less you use, the thicker
your smoothie will be. I prefer an extremely thick smoothie that I have to
eat with a spoon, so that the digestive enzymes in my mouth can work on
pre-digesting before the food even makes it to my gut. Like my mom always
said, “Chew your liquids and drink your solids.” Didn’t you always wonder
what that means?
-2 teaspoons organic cacao powder.
-2 teaspoons cinnamon.
-1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt (I use the fancy Aztecan stuff).
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.
OK, stop there. Blend everything above for 60 seconds-ish. You don’t
want to pulverize things like protein powder, collagen, etc., and you also
don’t want to pulverize the chunky chunks of goodness you’re about to
toss in.
Now, let’s keep going. To your blended green goodness, add:
-20-30g of a “clean” protein powder (I have been primarily using any of
these vegan protein powder)
-2 teaspoons of a good organic collagen hydrolysate.
-1 large handful of unroasted, non-vegetable-oil coated walnuts or almonds
or cashews or brazil nuts.
-8:30-ISH…
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-1 small handful organic dark cacao nibs
-1 large handful organic unsweetened coconut flakes.
Boom. That’s it. You’re now ready to begin consuming your smoothie,
preferably with a spoon or a spatula. I personally use an enormous mug
with an inspirational quote from Theodore Roosevelt, although I have
been known to simply eat it straight out of the blender container when in
a hurry or when I’m too lazy to make the transfer into a civilized cup. Depending on how exact your measurements are, this smoothie is going to
weigh in at anywhere from 700-1000 calories, so scale yours accordingly
if you want fewer ecalories.
The morning supplements that I currently take with this smoothie (all
are best taken before or with a meal):
-2 capsules digestive enzymes
-4 capsules Superessentials fish oil
-3 capsules multi-vitamin
During breakfast, I surf through blogs, read research, plan my day, and
wipe green smoothie goodness off my face.
-8:30-ISH…
The work day officially begins.
And I’ll go ahead and close the morning routine curtains there. Now let’s
move onto the afternoon routine.
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You’ve now seen the nitty-gritty steps of my morning routine, which
includes occasionally disgusting detail and everything from my giant
green smoothie to my goosebumping cold shower…
…I figured it is now high time to delve into the next section of this tiny
manual, in which I will describe every meal strategy, biohack, healthy
living trick and other features of my afternoon routine, specifically from
where we left off in the last post at 9:00 in the morning, all the way up the
beginning of the evening routine.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know any successful people who do not
have some kind of a relatively structured and occasionally elaborate daily
routine. So without further ado, for your entertainment and education,
here is mine.
MY EXACT AFTERNOON ROUTINE
UNVEILED STEP-BY-STEP
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Breakfast finished, shards of green smoothie still stuck in my teeth, it is
now time for work to commence.
At this point, I am supercharged with nutrients and caffeine, and I’m
ready and raring to launch into the morning’s activities. As you learn
in my article “4 Steps To Getting More Done During Your Peak Time
Of The Day”, your most attention-demanding, left-brained tasks should
be performed during your peak hours, and your most creativeness-demanding, right-brained tasks should be performed during your nonpeak hours.
Based on the results of my Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire, my
own personal peak hours occur from about 9:30am until 1:00pm, and so,
during this time, I work my friggin’ booty off.
I am not kidding.
During these peak hours, I am like a horse with blinders, completely focused on my primary tasks for the day. I do not snack, I do not answer my
phone, I do not text message, I put in headphones with Brain.FM so that
-9:30…
BEN GREENFIELD’S
AFTERNOON ROUTINE
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nobody can bother me, I do not dabble in the fiction book I am writing
and I completely avoid any social media such as Twitter or Facebook. Instead, I focus on whichever tasks fall into that day’s “bucket” (a strategy
I outline in detail here).
In other words, on Friday, which is a day I reserve for writing, I will simply hunker down and write for about four and a half hours. During this
time, I alternate from seated to standing to lunging to kneeling to lying,
etc., exactly as I outline in this video.
Until I recently moved into my new home, I eliminated physiological
issues that would arise during these work “marathons”, such as brain fog,
tiredness, lack of focus, etc. by completely cleaning up any forms of electrical pollution around me. This video below shows the exact tactics I
used to do that.
Now that I am living in my new home, my office is completely hardwired
with shielded Cat-6 ethernet cable, and contains no bluetooth devices,
no stand-up desk motors or treadmill motors and no Wi-Fi. I’ve done
extensive testing of the EMF fields in the office using a Tri-Field EMF
meter and the amount of dirty electricity or electrical pollution is virtually non-existent.
It’s like working on a pristine Himalayan mountaintop, without the wind
chill factor.
To increase wakefulness and simulate sunlight, all the bulbs in my office
are “Awake & Alert” blue-light bulbs by Lighting Science. To decrease
cortisol levels, I generally work with pine or evergreen essential oil diffused via a cold air diffuser placed near the door of the office. To ensure
fresh air, I keep a variety of NASA approved air filtering plants such as
Weeping Fig, Peace Lily and Boston Fern scattered throughout both the
office and the rest of the home. You can learn about all these type of air,
lighting and electricity tactics, and many more, in my book “How To
Biohack The Ultimate Healthy Home”.
Finally, although I am working in one long intense burst, I take brief
breaks to reset my visual balance by stepping outside and focusing my
eyes on a series of close trees, more distant trees, the far horizon, the sun,
and any moving objects such as cars or birds. A nifty program called
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“Iris” reminds me to do this, and reduces glare and flicker from my computer screen.
Technically, if I wanted to be ultra-scientific with these breaks, I would
incorporate the proven method of “52 minutes on, 17 minutes off ”, but
frankly, I’ve found that 52 minutes is too short and 17 minutes is too
long, so I instead work for about 60-75 minute chunks with relatively
brief 5 minute breaks.
-1:00-ish…
Eventually, I finish my morning of research, book chapter writing, article
writing, podcast recordings, phone or Skype consults, and video recordings sometime between 1:00 and 1:30pm. At this point, I haven’t eaten
since breakfast, but I sip on my wife’s plain jane homemade kombucha
recipe, a glass of TianChi on ice, or just plain-jane sparkling water from
a glass bottle, and continue to do so in the afternoon.
Once I’ve slammed shut my laptop and turned off my working brain, the
very first thing I then do is assess whether the day is a “nap day”. If I am
coming off a non-taxing day of exercise the day before, I have an easy
recovery day planned, or I have completed at least five 90-minute sleep
cycles the night before (exactly as discussed in this podcast with Nick
Littlehales), or I’m simply not tired, I will typically forego my usual postlunch nap.
But most days, I nap.
So just before lunch, I take something that will help me wind my busy
mind down enough to fall asleep after lunch. Since I typically take CBD
and Sleep Remedy in the evenings, my afternoon napping weapon of
choice is Inner Peace, which is a blend of Chinese herbal adaptogens that
allows me to sleep like a baby every afternoon. I pop three of these just
before lunch.
But before the post-lunch nap comes something very important and epic
must occur…
…my Big Ol’ Lunchtime Salad.
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Many folks have raised an eyebrow at my claims that I personally eat 20-
25 portions of plants each day, but today, as I write this little book, I took
a break to photograph my lunchtime salad. In the photo, you will see:
-2 servings of kale (often this can be any other random leafy green I grab)
-1 serving of squash
-1 serving of carrots
-2 servings of nori seaweed (I’ll often eat this salad like a burrito, wrapped
in the nori)
-3 servings of tomatoes
-1 serving of avocado
-1 serving of olives
-1 serving of a scrambled egg (often I’ll do sardines, anchovies, nuts, or
leftover protein from dinner the night before instead)
-1 serving of hard pecorino cheese (sometimes this is a dollop of yogurt)
You can do the math. I’m averaging eleven servings of plants with lunch
alone. My Big Morning Smoothie you read about in the first part of this
book contains another eight to ten servings of plants…
…and I haven’t even yet gotten to dinner. Frankly, this intake could put
the average vegan to shame in terms of total daily plant consumption.
Anyways, I top this cornucopia of vegetables with extra virgin olive oil,
balsamic vinaigrette, Aztec salt, black pepper, and turmeric.
Then, with olive oil and tomato juice drizzling down my chin from wrapping my salad contents burrito-style in a nori wrap, I generally eat outside in the sunshine on my porch, either listening to an audiobook or
podcast, reading a magazine, watching an instructional video on YouTube (e.g. cooking, guitar, documentary clips, etc.) or doing anything
else that is relatively non-stressful. And I make sure to chew each bite
20-25 times to enhance digestion. So yes, this salad takes me a long time
to eat. But it is oh-so-delicious and satisfying.
On a big training day, such as a Saturday or a Sunday that might include
a two hour heavy ruck, two hours of obstacle course training, a long bike
ride, a big swim or some other crazy adventure, I’m often still hungry
after lunch or I know I need to eat more to fuel activity later in the day.
On days like this, rather than opting for a pre-workout meal, which often
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-2:00-ish…
leaves me feeling food sloshing in my stomach during the workout and
removes all the benefits of working out in a somewhat fasted state, I’ll
simply have a snack after lunch, typically:
-2-4oz organic, full-fat coconut milk
-a few drops dark chocolate stevia
-a handful of spirulina, chia seeds, or walnuts
Is there a “science” behind this concoction? You bet: very few carbohydrates, easy to digest fats in the form of medium chain triglycerides and
essential fatty acids, and easy to digest proteins in the form of amino
acids. You can read more about these tactic in this article. For this mix,
I don’t use a blender, but simply stir it all into a cup and eat with a spoon
or spatula. It keeps me more satiated that way.
My post-lunch napping routine is a science honed down over years of
practice, and I can now fall asleep within five minutes and wake completely refreshed. In addition to the Inner Peace I mentioned earlier, my
napping process is as follows:
Step 1: Unfold and plug-in Biomat on floor of my office, bedroom, living
room, or wherever else I plan on sleeping.
Step 2: Use Brain.FM napping app or place SleepStream app in
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“Power Nap” binaural beats mode with “Sleepstream Mix” as white noise
in background (you must wear headphones for this to work properly, and
I generally just use my ho-hum standard white Apple iPhone headphones
or SleepPhones.
Step 3: Put on SleepMaster wraparound sleep mask, which generously covers both eyes and ears.
That’s it. And if your napping time is limited, you will be pleased to know
that the Power Nap setting on the Sleepstream app will allow for adjustments of 10 minutes up to infinity, gently lulling you back into a wakeful
state without any harsh alarms.
As discussed in Podcast #331, I took a transcendental meditation (TM)
course and for the past month have been experimenting with substituting the day’s nap with 10-20 minutes of TM. I’m still quantifying my
body’s response to TM with heart rate variability measurements, and still
consider myself to be a TM rookie, but eventually plan on releasing an
article on how TM can be potentially used as a substitute for either napping or even several hours of sleeping.
-3:00-ish…
At some point between 2:30 and 3:00pm, I wake up, and this means I
usually have a good hour and a half to “kill” before my two sons get home
from school.
What do I do with these 90 minutes?
So that I can spend quality, undistracted time with my kids, my goal is to
be completely finished with any stressful work, time-consuming tasks, or
fires that need putting out before they arrive home. That means that this
is now my time to make a cup of tea (I generally use mushroom blends
such as the cordyceps, chaga, reishi, etc. discussed here) and do any or all
of the following:
-Making phone calls.
-Paying bills.
-Opening mail and packages.
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-Checking blog comments, e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Since my peak morning hours are now over and my creative hours have
not yet struck, this late afternoon period is the perfect time of day for
these relatively less productive and less creative activities, which are typically also activities that tend to follow Parkinson’s Rule, which states that
tasks will expand to the time you allot to them. Because I only allow a
maximum of 90 minutes for these activities, they don’t wind up taking
too much precious time.
-4:00-ish…
The boys arrive home from school. And now the fun begins.
If you read my book “10 Ways To Grow Tiny Superhumans”, then you
know that I try to include my kids in my workouts. Since testosterone,
grip strength, body temperature, reaction time and post-workout protein synthesis all peak between the hours of 4:00pm and 6:00pm, this
becomes the perfect time of day to throw down a hard workout, which
can include things like:
1. Body Weight Workout:
-20 feet backward and forward crabwalks with kid riding on waist
-20 reps overhead child presses with squat
-20 feet bear crawls with kid on back
-10 pushups with kid on back
-20 feet crocodile crawls with kid on back
-10 arm curls holding kid upside down by their legs
2. Pool Workout:
-2 lengths underwater swimming with kid on back
-2 lengths doggy paddle with kid on back
-20 reps pool pullouts with kid on back
-2 minutes treading water with kid on back
3. Kids Mini-Version of My Workout:
-I sprint hill in weighted vest, kids sprint hill weight-free
-I do 10 reps barbell squat, kids do 10 reps body weight squat
-I do 10 reps barbell deadlift, kids do 10 reps sandbag deadlift
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-I do 10 reps kettlebell swing, kids do 10 reps smaller kettlebell swing
-I do 30 burpees, kids do 10 burpees
-I spend 30 minutes in infrared sauna, kids join me for first 10 minutes
You get the idea. Sure, sometimes my workout simply isn’t conducive to
including children (e.g. a 40% incline walk on treadmill for 45 minutes),
but I try to save these “adults-only” solo workouts for when the boys have
some kind of post-school activity such as tennis, Awanas, piano, etc.
Why do I go through such trouble to include my children in my workouts?
A fascinating study at the University of Essex looked at the perception
of children about their parents’ activity levels. In the study, researchers
asked schoolchildren to rate how active they thought their parents were.
Then they had those children complete a test of their own cardio fitness.
In this case, they used a “bleep” test, which is a common way to measure
basic fitness levels.
What researchers found was that the likelihood of the child having greater fitness based on their performance on the bleep test was directly influenced by how active that child perceived their parents to be. In other
words, kids who were under the impression that their parents didn’t exercise very much, did not appear themselves to be exercising very much.
This resulted in a dramatic decrease in their fitness compared to peers
who rated their parents more highly in the physical fitness department.
This means that no matter their age, kids really do pay attention to and
mimic their parents. So a big step to getting your kids fit is to be an example yourself. It makes a much bigger difference than you may think.
If you don’t have kids, I still, for the physiological reasons outlined above,
recommend you save your hard workouts for late afternoon or early evening, and use your morning for less stressful activities such as yoga, Tai
Chi, morning walks in the sunshine, etc.
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-5:30…
As you can read in detail here, nearly seven days a week I finish up my
afternoon or early evening workout with a glass of red wine.
Why?
Three main reasons, really.
First, I love the taste of wine, but I’m also well aware that alcoholic drinks
and the fructose and other sugars therein can make you fat if you consume them in a fed state, so I instead consume my daily glass of wine in
a “fasted” state post-workout (vs., say, having a big glass of wine during
dinner or after stuffing my face with dinner). In this post-workout situation, the fructose sugars in the wine simply help to replenish my liver
glycogen stores (muscles do not contain the enzyme to store fructose as
glycogen, but the liver does), and the glucose and sucrose sugars are far
less likely to spend significant amounts of time in my blood stream.
As for protein, if my workout includes any eccentric, muscle-damaging
activities such as running or weight training, I also pop 10 amino acids
tablets, which help with muscle repair and avoidance of tissue catabolism. I do this because any precious proteins I get from dinner usually
won’t be rolling into my body for at least another two hours.
By this time of day, I’m also inching back into my creative hours, and
since our family typically doesn’t eat dinner until 7:30 or 8:00pm, I now
have plenty of time for:
–Fiction or creative writing
-Playing guitar or ukelele
-Taking a class (e.g. boxing, tennis, etc.)
-Preparing or cooking dinner
-Walking and plant foraging
So that’s how the afternoon ends: nearly every day of the week, I sip my
wine and write while I sit for 20-30 minutes in compression boots (I
swear by these boots for making my legs feel light as a feather for the next
day’s workout), and then I venture into any other pre-dinner creative,
learning or fun activities.
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But wait, Ben! What about what happens after 7:30pm? Dinner macronutrient ratios? Sleep routines? Evening hacks? Making love? Black-out
curtains? Epic fireside dance routines?
I have good news. Below, I’ll delve into all the juicey-ness that is my evening routine.
Let’s do this.
MY EXACT EVENING ROUTINE
UNVEILED STEP-BY-STEP
Well, this is it.
We have finally reached part three of this manual, in which I give you an
insider, sneak peak of every single nitty-gritty component of my daily
routine…
I’m now going to share with you everything I do at night to relax, enhance fat burning, enter deep sleep and biohack every PM hour of my
life.
The evening routine you’re about to discover is something that evolved
from years of studying, self-experimentation and self-quantification,
and interviewing experts like Nick Littlehale for advanced sleep hacking
tactics, Dr. Joseph Zelk for sleep tracking and deep sleep enhancement,
John Kiefer for evening carbohydrate, fat and protein ratios, and many
others you can discover in the sleep category of BenGreenfieldFitness.
com.
As I mentioned in the previous two parts of this book, I don’t know any
successful people who do not have some kind of a relatively structured
and occasionally elaborate daily routine. So without further ado, for your
entertainment and education, here is my current evening routine in extreme detail.
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-7:00 PM…
BEN GREENFIELD’S
EVENING ROUTINE
As you learned earlier, because
physiological parameters such as
body temperature, grip strength
reaction time and post workout
protein synthesis (your anabolic response to a workout) peak
sometime between about 4 PM
and 6 PM in the day, I finish up
my afternoon with a difficult workout that challenges my sympathetic
nervous system.
After a quick cold shower (click here to watch a video), I then wrap a
big red bow around my afternoon or early evening workout with a lattefrothed glass of organic, low-sugar, high-antioxidant red wine. As I mentioned earlier, this is because in a post-workout situation, the fructose
sugars in the wine simply help to replenish liver glycogen stores (muscles
do not contain the enzyme to store fructose as glycogen, but the liver
does), and the glucose and sucrose sugars in wine are far less likely to
spend significant amounts of time in the bloodstream.
Glass of wine complete, it will now be around one to two hours before I’ll
have dinner. As I discuss in this podcast episode with Mark Sisson, this
is because avoiding a big meal in the immediate post-workout window
can actually help to enhance both growth hormone and testosterone. If
it’s been a very difficult, muscle damaging workout such as a hard run,
sparring, kickboxing or a weight training routine, I will often include 10g
of essential amino acids along with the wine, so that I can give my muscles some amount of repair capability without actually spiking my insulin
levels.
During these hours before dinner, I will, depending on the day:
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-Write for 15-30 minutes in my book of fiction “The Forest”, typically using
the dictation methods I discuss in my podcast interview with author Joanna Penn and also sitting in my special, space-agey recovery boots…
-Play the ukelele or guitar, typically alternating between formal learning
videos on YouTube or from books, or playing actual songs via the Ultimate
Guitar app, which I’ve downloaded to both my phone and Kindle…
-Wrestle, play board games, walk in the forest or read to my twin boys…
-Play an easy game of doubles tennis in men’s league at my local tennis
club…
-Catch up on any last remaining e-mails, phone calls or work activities…
As I discuss in my article on getting more done at your peak time of day,
there are certain times of day during which you are most creative and
certain times of day during which you are most productive. I am absolutely, beyond a doubt, relatively useless in terms of productivity after
about 7 PM, and so I save most of my creative work for that time of day
(which fortunately happens to be my peak creativity time) and ensure
that by that time in the day I have already produced any articles, podcasts, consults, training plans, meal plans, etc. that I need to take care of.
-SOMETIME BETWEEN 8:00 PM AND 9:00 PM…
Yes, we are absolutely a late dinner family. While we do indeed eat together as a family most nights of the week, we’ve simply found that in
our household, it works best to save dinner for later in the day, after
nearly everything else is complete. Since my entire family is on board
with the concept that snacking and grazing is overrated and that three
square meals a day is about the most that you need to keep your metabolism elevated, nobody in the family really creates any grief over waiting
a long time for dinner.
When we do sit down for dinner, unless it is a very special “movie night”
(about once a month), we go completely screen and device free for dinner, and typically play a board game, spark conversations with questions
such as “What Superhero Would You Want Here At Dinner With Us?” or
“Where Would You Travel If You Could Snap Your Fingers And Trans-
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-port Us Anywhere Right Now?”, and we also discuss what it is that we
learned in our morning devotionals, and what it is that we were grateful
for that day.
As a rule, dinner is nearly always the most carbohydrate-rich meal of the
day, and I personally, depending on the day’s level of physical activity, will
typically eat 100-150g (400-600 calories) of carbohydrates with dinner.
The concept here is that while carbohydrates will indeed spike insulin,
as long as your muscle glycogen stores are not full (as will be the case at
the end of an active day, and especially at the end of the day that includes
a hard workout in the afternoon or early evening) the insulin will drive
carbohydrates into muscle tissue, not into fat tissue. John Kiefer explains
this concept quite thoroughly in his “Carb Backloading” book.
Nonetheless, I still, for both longevity and blood glucose control, will
often use bitter melon extract capsules (which act very similarly to the
diabetic drug Metformin) prior to dinner if the dinner is very large in
carbohydrate content (e.g. 100g+) or if I’m going to a restaurant or a party where I do not know exactly what I’m going to be eating or anticipate
high carbohydrate intake.
Another supplement that I will use 20-30 minutes prior to a large meal is
digestive enzymes. This is because gut testing that I have done on myself
has revealed that I have low levels of enzyme production, most likely due
to my extremely high level of physical activity, and the fact that to support that high level of physical activity, I’m often eating in excess of 3500
calories per day.
So what exactly do we eat for dinner here in the Greenfield house?
While I eat nearly the same thing every day for breakfast (a green smoothie) and lunch (a salad), dinner tends to be our most varied meal of the
day. Some of our go-to staples include homemade pad thai with nori
wraps, quinoa salad with nuts and cheese, fish with roasted vegetables,
steak with sweet potato fries, falafel or lentils with yogurt, and many of
the meals I outline in my “40 Meals For Busy Athletes” article.
Contrary to what many folks seem to assume (since I’m a hunter and
often hang out with the Paleo crowd), we actually don’t eat meat every
night, and I personally only have a small portion of meat once every 1-2
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days.
Why the meat moderation?
Three reasons, really:
#1: Meat has been shown to cause what is known as “Neu5Gc-mediated
autoimmunity”, which can cause everything from skin issues to hypothyroidism to increased cancer risk. You can read about this in Part 1 and
Part 2 of author Paul Jaminet’s recent treatise on the topic of red meat and
Neu5Gc.
#2: Excessive meat and protein intake is very anabolic, can cause uncontrolled division of a population of rogue cells in the body, and can increase
cancer risk, especially if that meat is cooked or processed. Stephen Guyenet
has written an excellent research-based article series on this topic.
#3: Due to meat and high protein intake’s activation of a protein called
mTor and an increase in the rate at which telomeres shorten, there is a
definite tradeoff between meat intake, protein, growth and longevity. Ray
Cronise details this in his Metabolic Winter Hypothesis by Ray Cronise.
For these reasons, my diet is primarily comprised of a copious amount of
vegetables and plant matter dressed up in plenty of healthy fats and oils,
and moderated amounts of meat and protein intake.
If we’re not eating dinner at home, we will typically wind up at a sushi,
Korean, Japanese, or local “farm-to-table” restaurant, at which we implement the following best practices:
-Always substitute roasted vegetables for any bread or mashed potatoes,
and turn down or avoid bread or chips if brought to the table, unless they
are something like slow-fermented sourdough bread or non-GMO corn
chips in moderation.
-Acceptable starches: rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, sweet potato, yam,
squash, carrot, beet or other non-gluten, non-GMO sources.
-Acceptable proteins: nuts, seeds, grains and any non-fried meat that is
cooked in preferably low temperatures with healthy oils and is organic,
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local, wild or grass-fed.
-Acceptable fats: coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, flax seed oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, and any fat that is 100% natural, that is not a
vegetable oil, that is not batter-fried, and that is not an oil with a low smoke
point (e.g. canola oil, sunflower oil or safflower oil) that has been heated.
When in doubt, we ask for creams, dressings and sauces “on the side”.
I’m often asked about post-dinner snacks and desserts. If I’ve had a very
active day, have a very big workout planned for the next morning (e.g. a
day hike with a heavy pack), or if I’m simply still hungry after dinner, I
will often include some kind of snack or dessert, including:
-A handful of chlorella or spirulina tablets mixed with 90%+ dark chocolate…
-Dark chocolate stevia blended with full fat, BPA-free coconut milk in an
immersion blender…
-Organic chia seeds soaked in water with Aztec sea salt and frozen berries…
-Half an avocado blended with dark chocolate powder, Ceylon cinnamon,
vanilla, coconut milk and almond butter…
-A spoonful of coconut oil with some kind of raw nut butter on a chunk of
dark chocolate…
-When I’m really in biohacking mode, some form of exogenous ketones to
shove my body into ketosis for the evening (they actually taste pretty good
blended with water and ice)…
-This homemade high-fat, low-carb ice cream…
As you can imagine, I do indeed have plenty of snacks in my pantry, and
you can read a full list of my staple pantry and kitchen items here.
Once I’ve finished stuffing my face, I glance at my watch. While I don’t
get too obsessed over quantification, I do indeed perform a quick mental
mental calculation and wait at least 12 hours before eating again. This
means that if I’m finished with dinner and snacking at 9pm, I won’t eat
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again until noon. Due to the extensive research on the link between
intermittent fasting and longevity, cellular repair and gut health,
on nearly every day of the year, I incorporate this 12 to 16 hour fasted window. During this time, the only items I consume are supplements, water or caffeinated beverages such as coffee or green tea.
-9:00 PM…
With dinner over, it’s now time to begin winding down for the night.
It all begins with helping my twin boys, River and Terran. They personally take very, very good care of their teeth and bodies prior to bed,
and I don’t need to help them too much. We raised them on Kid’s Calm
Liquid Multivitamin, but now that they have teeth, they each use the
no-sugar version of the Smarty Pants Kid’s Multivitamins, then brush
their teeth with a special tooth powder that my wife Jessa makes (thanks
to my friend The Wellness Mama for this tooth remineralizing recipe).
While the kids are taking their multivitamin, brushing their teeth and
getting into their pajamas, I take care of my own body, using their same
tooth powder and also taking my nightly sleep remedy: 4 capsules of NatureCBD, 1 packet of Sleep Remedy, and if I’ve been traveling (traveling
tends to get me constipated), a cup of Natural Calm magnesium powder
or Smooth Move chamomile tea.
We then head up to the kid’s bedroom, where I play them a bedtime song
on the guitar or the ukelele, and then we gather around to give thanks to
God for one little thing we’re grateful for that day and also pray for one
way that we can help make someone’s life better the next day (this is very
similar to our morning Christian Gratitude Journal practice). I say General Douglas McArthur’s prayer over them, the same prayer I highlight in
“Five Quotes I Live By, Three Keys To Happiness, Two Questions To Ask
Yourself & One Must-Do Thought Experiment.”, and then tuck them away.
25
Yes, yes, yes, I realize I’m well known, and occasionally ridiculed, for dialing in every tiny detail to get myself into deep sleep as fast as possible,
to optimize every second of sleep that I get, and to get through four to
five full 90 minute sleep cycles each night. I’m constantly researching and
testing what truly works to enhance my morning heart rate variability, a
key sign of a well-rested body, brain and nervous system.
Jessa and I generally don’t waste too much time staying up after putting
the kids to bed, and rarely watch TV or spend time on a computer, Kindle
or phone at this point in the evening (should I use a screen after 7pm, I
do use my custom blue light blocking glasses or my Swannies). If we do
get it on, we do it in the evening, and it’s generally around this time after
the kids are down for bed. I really don’t feel I need to get into too much
detail as I don’t use too many “sex hacks” or crazy sex toys, but here are a
few quick tips:
-We use natural lambskin condoms for the ultimate sensory experience…
-If it’s legal in your state, a THC balm can also make things a bit more
exciting, and we use one called “Bond”…
-We use a special kind of bulb in our room made by Lighting Science. It is
a biological LED bulb engineered to remove blue light, but the nice thing
is that it also gives off a bit of a red glow that seems to be perfect for sex…
–Big stand-up mirrors in the bedroom – can’t recommend them highly
enough
In my recent presentation at the Men’s Sexual Satisfaction Summit, I get
into plenty more details about sexual habits, sexual practices, and sexual
health, so go listen to that, and if you want to enhance sexual fitness, I’d
also recommend you check out my article on “The Private Gym” (warning: it’s explicit).
Finally, after making love, it’s time for sleep.
-Attach the SR1 PEMF DeltaSleeper device to my collarbone and turn it
on…
-10:00 PM…
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-If I’ve been traveling or I’m jetlagged, turn on the Earthpulse or lay on the
Biomat…
-Turn on the ChiliPad to 60 degrees…
-Put the room temp at 66-67 degrees…
-Close the blackout curtains…
-Rub down any sore muscles or tight spots with magnesium lotion…
-Flip the kill switches I’ve installed in the bedroom (detailed in my “Biohack
Your Home” book)…
-Sprinkle a few drops of essential lavender oil on the pillow…
-Put on my wraparound Sleepmaster sleep mask…
-Put on my Sleepstream app and play it in “Deep Sleep” mode or play Brain.
FM sleep track through my SleepPhones
-And…that’s it.
I realize this seems like a lot of “stuff ”, but now that it’s a nightly habit,
I fly through this entire routine in about 2 minutes, and makes a nightand-day difference (pun intended) in sleep quality and quantity.
I’m often asked if I track sleep. No suprises here: I do. I use a non-radiation emitting device called the “Oura ring”, which I wear all day long
to track things like activity, body temperate, nervous system, heart rate,
etc. and at night to track things like sleep latency, REM sleep, non-REM
sleep, sleep cycles, etc. Since any Bluetooth transmitting mode can indeed be turned off with this ring (think of it like airplane mode), and
it’s been shown to be over 80% as accurate as professional sleep tracking
equipment, it is, in my opinion, the gold-standard way to track sleep and
activity. You can listen to my podcast with Oura here, or read a follow-up
FAQ I wrote about it here.
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Whew! You made it through.
Before closing, I’d like to make two resource recommendation to you. A
place where you can hunt down the routines of many famous folks is the
blog Daily Routines. I’d recommend you give it a read, or bookmark it for
later. Another place where you can find the routines of some interesting,
famous and successful folks is the excellent book “Daily Rituals: How
Artists Work”.
And finally, remember: this exhaustive list may seem – well – exhausting!
Or intimidating. Or excessive. But frankly, after making these routines
and habits subconscious and automatic rituals, I barely even think about
them, and I simply flow with ease through the day. You’ll discover that
the same thing happens to you once you make a commitment to one
month of establishing a morning, afternoon and evening routine. You
don’t need to do everything at once, but hold onto this little manual and
gradually begin to incorporate each of the tactics I’ve described.
You’ll sleep amazingly.
Your productivity will go through the roof.
Your exercise will become easy.
Your body and brain will start working the way they’re supposed to.
You’ll live in an upgraded fashion, unlike 99% of the world’s population,
with performance, fat loss, recovery, digestion, brain, sleep and hormone
optimization. Enjoy the feeling.
And finally, for updates, new biohacks, more resources, and continual
learning, be sure to click here to subscribe to my free podcast, and click
here to subscribe to my free newsletter. This is a perfect way to stay upto-date with all the research I do on a daily basis to make your life better.
SUMMARY

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  Since releasing last week’s controversial but curiosity-inducing Down The Rabbit Hole With Ben Greenfield video, I’ve received plenty of questions about my odd, far-from-orthodox daily routines for enhancing my own health, performance, and longevity. So I figured I’d clarify everything for you in one big, mighty post that explains […]

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