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Nutrition, Fitness, Online Entrepreneurism, Homeschooling & What Happened When He Trained for an Ironman on a Low Carb / High Fat Ketosis Diet

By November 4, 2013August 7th, 202331 Comments

For fans of Ben Greenfield, this is Ben like you’ve never heard him before.

For longtime listeners and fans of health & fitness podcasts, Ben Greenfield needs no introduction.  Self-avowed training guinea pig, ardent nutrition student, accomplished multisport athlete, podcast host, blogger and health entrepreneur at Ben Greenfield Fitness  and all around good dude.

Ben and I have been acquainted for some years — but only through the internet.  He was an early guest on this show ( RRP #11 ), I have guested on his podcast as well as his Endurance Planet podcast ( HERE ), we did a nutrition-oriented Spreecast with Vinnie Tortorich back in February ( HERE ) and he has written about my exploits a bit as well ( HERE ).

And yet surprisingly, we had never met in person.  So it was a pleasure to finally sit down with the guy one-on-one so we could dig a bit deeper.  Skype interviews are great, but there is just no substitute for sitting across from someone when you want to have a proper chat.  And this interview gets it done in spades.

Today on the show we talk about a multitude of things, including:

    1. How he turned his passion for health and fitness into a thriving online business
    2. Some keys for entrepreneurial online success;
    3. His experience training for and racing an Ironman on a high fat / low carb ketogenic diet;
    4. His plan for putting on 30lbs of muscle during the upcoming winter months;
    5. Our experiences interviewing Durianrider;
    6. What the lifestyle “hack” (as in #lifehack or #biohack) actually means;
    7. His experience as a homeschooled child and how he homeschools his children;
    8. How his dietary regimen is often misunderstood, his passion for plants & his vegetable garden; and
    9. Ben’s Upcoming Human Performance Course on CreativeLive.

Like many of my guests, I don’t agree with all points & issues raised.  But I truly like and respect Ben, particularly his willingness to engage in all forms of self-experimentation and his transparency when it comes to openly sharing his results.

I hope you enjoy the conversation!


Finally – dig the music cues and intro/outro clips on the show? Thanks my 18-year old son Tyler Piatt — not only did he produce and edit today’s show, he wrote, arranged and performed all the music as well, including the clip in the teaser trailer – give him a nice shout out in the comments below.  Thanks Tyler!


  • Ann says:

    Hey Tyler, your music clips are groovy–both thoughtful and upbeat. They totally fit Rich’s style and content, and are an asset to the show. Nice work!

  • DelightedJim says:

    Podcast rocks- most of them are awesome. Favorite is “transcending the shadow artist”. Thanks for doing this! Ben is cool too 🙂
    Tyler is the best!

  • Will Kriski says:

    Make eating and exercise complicated and then sell solutions, supplements and hacks. Genius! I saw the same thing in engineering and jazz guitar improvisation at college. It’s hard to make money telling people to eat fruits and vegetables as Rich can attest to.

  • Derek Hurst says:

    Ben’s podcast with Harley was difficult to listen too. My opinion, but it appeared Ben really enjoyed to hear himself talk throughout the whole podcast. The tone transitioned into Ben “reaching out” to Harley to “help him” as well. As someone that spent a lot of time in “paleo circles”, and now looking into a more plant based approach, the discussion would have been more interesting if Ben could have let Harley speak a bit more. Anyone steeped in Paleo could have guessed what Ben’s responses would be before he made them. Not a fan of Harley’s approach per se, but love his passion and the entertainment value of his videos.

  • Jackie says:

    Great podcast! Two of our favorite pod casters…

  • Steve says:

    Good interview. You got Ben to tone down the big boy words a bit and talk about things other than (or in addition to) a sub 10 hour Ironman. Interesting comments about his DR podcast. Not sure if you heard it Rich, but I thought it was anything but contentious. There was something awkward about listening to guys being so civil to each other after all the ad hominem comments lately. Also, I mentioned the Halloween party idea to my girls this morning, and was met with stares of both disbelief and contempt. You’ll need to hit me up with some tips on how to make that work.

  • lee says:

    Nice podcast. Ben is super smart. But with all due respect, Rich politely served him up here but quietly pointing out the utter absurdity of the ketogenic diet. In your own way, Rich, you’re as devastating to the keto camp as Durianrider.

  • BYOL says:

    Great podcast.

    Having listened to Harley on Ben’s podcast, I’d have to disagree with Ben. I think Harley and he had a very very civil discussion. Even in the end when Harley pushed Ben a bit about cardiovascular disease, it was never in a mocking or mean spirited tone (actually never heard Harley so civil before and was pretty surprised.) Anyway, as always nice job man!

  • Susanna says:

    I used to listen to Ben religiously 3 years ago, but he became too commercialized, his hacks were extreme and everything he put forth was a product. I had to unsubscribe from his text alerts and e-mails, because everything was “BUY THIS NOW!” I love that your podcast is not a platform to push a product constantly, but a medium to spread a message and create dialogue. Like one of the other commenters said, Ben created a niche for making simple things very complicated and then sells a product for solving manufactured problems. I remember when he started talking about taking cold showers and wearing an ice vest, I just realized that it was no longer relevant to my life. I don’t want to “hack” life; I want to live life.. I LOVE your podcast, your long-winded intros and the relaxed conversational style of your interviews.

  • Wallace says:

    I really enjoyed the interview but when I compare Bens approach which includes a chemistry lab smoothie versus Michael Arnsteins approach which is some dates and watermelon, I know which diet I want to pursue. Simple and natural beats chem lab any day. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration Rich and keep up the good work.

  • Lance Mateas says:

    Great interview! A range of interesting non-health topics, like internet business and home schooling. I’m a long time listener to Ben’s podcast, and while I agree with the other commenters that it is too commercial, I enjoy the variety of guests and topics new to me. But I disagree wholeheartedly with his nutrition philosophy, which was a lot less prescriptive here with Rich than on his own. I’m familiar with his sources, I read his links, and I’m not convinced. His consistent falling back on Taubes, the Weston Price crowd, Jimmy Moore etc. is, as another commenter noted, quite predictable. I thought the Durianrider interview was surprisingly civil albeit tense, but too much time was spent criticizing Durianrider for “playing with fire.” I believe Ben’s high fat diet, ketosis, and cholesterol denialism to be playing with a very big fire! I’m glad Rich was able to challenge that a little, as I’ve given up hoping Ben will host any really authoritative plant based advocates. But it is his platform, and he makes no secret about his opposition to vegan and/or high carbohydrate diets, so I suppose it’s fair. That’s why I love Rich who has guests like Dr. Greger and Dr. Garth Davis. Keep up the great work, Rich!

  • Wendy LaPointe says:

    I almost didn’t listen to this particular podcast, because I was put off by some of Ben’s wellness philosophies, experiemnts on himself and his demeanor in general. But I decided that it is important to hear from others who may differ (sometimes greatly), but that may still have something of value to share. I enjoyed the podcast after all and I thought Rich did an awesome job giving the disclaimer “not to try this at home” in reference to the high fat, very low carb approach that Ben experiments with. And the common ground takeaway of eating whole foods cannot be stated too often.
    Confession: I was a little creeped out by Ben’s description of his family homestead in the making, especially when he referenced the amount of firearms he had etc.

  • Sarah K. says:

    Good for you for not vaccinating. Not to be demeaning, but the educated are more likely not to vaccinate. That says something.

  • Jay D says:

    With a little help from Lipitor. Classic!

  • Kelly Mahoney says:

    Ben uses a lot of big technical words and acronyms that I am not familiar with. So I get lost in the conversation. Am I the only one? Reminds me of Robb Wolf’s style.

  • Lance Mateas says:

    As a regular listener to Ben, I’ve heard about the house plans, the hunting, etc. and never thought it creepy. That is, until Rich connected the dots and called Ben a prepper!

  • Paul Spring says:

    Yes – I kicked and screamed before succumbing to the statin. No-oil vegan got my LDL down from 160 to 103, but to reverse my heart disease I need to be below 70. Death by heart disease runs in the family unfortunately.

  • jsmacgray says:

    Why would you want to be devastating to a particular camp?
    Hopefully everyone is looking for the truth about these things and not just looking to subscribe to a label of “vegan or “LCHF”, etc. Rich clearly doesn’t know much about the science behind nutritional ketosis or the current studies that are taking place and it’s very obvious that Ben’s comments are falling on Rich’s deaf ears. (no offense, Rich, I enjoy your blog and continue to read your stuff :)) However, anyone who is bold enough to suggest (by subscribing to a label) that “this is the way for everyone, for sure!” in our modern world where everything is shifting and changing and the science of nutrition is being rewritten and re-understood is simply foolish.

  • Paul Spring says:

    Don’t get your response…

  • BC says:

    Great show! I listen to both podcasts and enjoy the personal touch that Rich brings to an interview and the geeked out research provided by Ben. I think like many who listen to Rich, Ben, Vinnie, etc…. I get confused with which approach is best. It seems all dietary approaches advocate vegetables as the main ingredient for most dishes, which is great. The confusion tends to be about meat, carbs and fat. The takeaway seems to be that the quality of the fats, carbs and meat are the most important contributors to a healthy diet. A vegan diet of processed food is not healthy. A paleo diet dominant in bacon and meat raised on grains is equally as bad. I think Ben has it right when he says to eat only real food and know the source. Good advice for all. Thanks for the great content Rich!

  • lee says:

    It’s not about devastating a camp so much as correcting a clearly erroneous concept (or better yet, misconception). There is no such thing as a genuine ketogenic athlete. Even Ben G. required sugars to complete Iron Man Canada (Coke, no less). And he admits that even to achieve what he did required teaching his body to run on fats, which took two years, requires a barrage of supplements, and still, with all that in mind, when it came to the end of the race it was sugars that got him through.
    I commend what he did. The world needs guinea pigs. And you’re wrong about something else as well. The science of nutrition is not being re-written — the truth is, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There is no secret biological state that solves everything.
    If one day in the hypothetical future doctors find a way to prove that we’re all supposed to live in keto, despite the bad breath and the deprivation it requires, than I’ll be the first to sign up.
    But for now, when you have health problems, as Clinton did, do doctors prescribe keto or a healthy low fat diet?
    Ok, how about athletes? Do 99.99% of well-educated coaches recommend carbs or keto to their athletes?
    Keto is a stunt. A way to get quick hits on your webpage.
    To Ben G’s credit, he called it the Keto Experiment. Now let’s look at the results of that experiment. He couldn’t finish the race without sugars. Conclusion? I’ll leave it up to you to surmise that one.

  • Jo justice says:

    Rich I am a clinician in the UK and a complete wellness advocate often recommending your book and podcasts to the many people I am writing a prescription for to help with a lifestyle health issue. You are gaining respect and I am know many people follow your advice which is usually well informed and scientifically correct. Please please be careful voicing your personal thoughts on childhood vaccinations though, for those of us who have cared for children with the ravages of encephalitis following measles understand the miracle and modern day blessing that is the vaccination program. Just a footnote to a previous comment, those of us with degrees/master degrees and further specialist qualifications DO vaccinate our children.

  • rob says:

    The episode, more than any other thing I’ve read or heard, convinced me that the Paleo / Ketosis stuff is just pure unadulterated insanity. Great episode, and many thanks to Ben Greenfield

  • Lena says:

    Oh, yeah, I totally agree 🙂


    Rich Roll actually got me into Ben G, I think they are actually more aligned nutritionally than most people. Yea Ben eats meat, but lets not look into the dichotomy of plants vs meats. Its all about what nutrition works for you and your physical demand… and moderation. Cheers to your Health!

  • Miriam says:

    enjoyed this podcast 🙂 thank you

  • Jess says:

    Totally dug Tyler’s music!! Always love the music on your show but this show’s music really spoke to me. Beautiful!

  • lee says:

    I respect your sentiment but it’s not all about the meat. Ben is also about the hacks and the supplements — and I mean he is REALLY about the supplements.
    Sure, they both agree on exercise and whole foods. But at this point who is seriously going to argue with that?
    Truth is, they are profoundly different.

  • jason says:

    I like Ben Greenfield, but what he does in terms of eating is absurd in my opinion. It works for him because it’s his hobby and livelihood, but for anyone else it is 100% not sustainable. WAY WAY too complicated. In my view, just keep it simple; focus on a variety of plant-based whole foods. You don’t need to measure anything or overthink things. Mixing, matching, proteins, carbs, fats, blood chemistry, bla, bla, bla. Just eat healthy foods when you are hungry: veggies, fruits, whole grains. Easy, natural, simple, done. Live life.

  • Timothy Solomon says:

    My conclusion –
    Can you do an Ironman on a LCHF diet? Yes.
    Is it the best diet for endurance sports? No.

  • Otto says:

    Funnily enough I was really enjoying the podcast until the debate on immunization came up. I am a medical doc in the final stages of a PhD in Immunology, so have thought about this fairly critically. The idea of not immunizing children is as selfish as eating meat and dairy. Sure, for some conditions where the risk may outweigh the benefit and the vaccine might be relatively poor in its efficacy then a debate can be started – but it is almost always still indicated. The idea of not vaccinating children is a “luxury” only considered because of how well it has done to reduce the incidence of these diseases.

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