“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

-Archimedes, 2,300 years ago-

The ancient mathematician and engineer Archimedes knew the power of tools.

He knew that the right tools, combined with the right skills and the right knowledge, could change the world.

With the right knowledge, he pioneered new theories.  It was by having the right knowledge that he figured out why bathtub water goes up when you get in (and why this is one of the best and easiest ways to figure out your body composition).  With the right knowledge and skills, he pioneered new methods.  It was by having the right knowledge and skills that he discovered he could move anything with a lever and fulcrum.

On the left is On the left is “Archimedes’ Claw”.  On the right is “Archimedes’ Palimpset”.  Archimedes’ tools allowed him to evolve his extended phenotype and change the world.

But knowledge and skills were not enough for all of Archimedes’ great works.  The reason he was able to create a massive claw that could pick up and tip over an attacking warship was because he had the right knowledge, the right skills, and the right tools.

Since the first ancient single-celled organism swallowed up another single celled organism, and instead of killing it, made use of it as a symbiotic power generator, the inhabitants of earth have used tools.  And perhaps even before this revolutionary occurrence (when the first eukaryote was formed), the tools that our ancestors, and eventually us, have used have only grown in sophistication and power.

A phenotype is the outward manifestation of the actions of our genes, or genotype, combined with all of the other things that happens in our bodies to fulfill the instructions laid out by those genes.  In the early 1980s, the biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “the extended phenotype“.  Dawkins realized that the molecules comprising our most fundamental blueprints not only determine how our bodies work, but they demand and create our extended bodies.  Thus, for billions of years we and our ancestors have been extending ourselves.  We have been evolving our extended phenotype.  We have been making and using tools.

The purpose of Barbells and Stem Cells is to be a forum where we can share in our mutual endeavor to better understand and improve ourselves and our surroundings.  That’s what the posts, the blogs, and their respective discussions are for.  So that we may help each other cultivate right knowledge and right skills.

But we need more.  We need tools.  We need to continue this 2.1 billion year old trend and evolve our extended phenotype.

The Performance Emporium is where you can purchase the tools that I use, that many of my patients and colleagues use, and that are supported by good science.

And even though I am a medical doctor, I may not be your medical doctor.  Thus, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: before using any of these products you should tell your doctor about your plans in detail and follow her or his advice.  And if I am your medical doctor, please let me know if you are considering using any of these products too.  And tell me what you plan on doing in detail as well.  Thanks!  


Nutrition

Nutrition GearNutrition SupplementsEssential SpicesEssential Fats – Supplemental Proteins – Essential Foods – (Kind of) Essential Beverages

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD (A.K.A PHYSICAL EXERCISE)

Basic Equipment – The Quantified Self

Cerebral Hormesis (A.K.A. Good Books)

General Science – Physical Training – Food and Nutrition – Philosophy – Economics – Politics – Fiction – Life Hacking and General Awesomeness


An Awesome Cast Iron Skillet : Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet, 12-Inch

An Awesome Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet, 12-Inch

Besides a simple heating source (I prefer a natural gas stovetop or oven, though nearly anything will do), this is the essential cooking utensil.  Affordable, versatile, and so durable that your great grandchildren will give it to their great grandchildren.  If you don’t think you need this, then you would be best served giving up, leaving this site, and going back to reheating frozen pizza, eating bon bons, and forgetting what a squat rack looks like.

THE INSTANT POT AUTOMATED ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER : Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker 6Qt/1000W, Stainless Steel Cooking Pot and Exterior

THE INSTANT POT AUTOMATED ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER

Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker 6Qt/1000W, Stainless Steel Cooking Pot and Exterior

While this is more expensive than a good cast iron skillet, when it comes to eating well, the value to price ratio of this wonder of technology is greater than the size of the derivatives market.  Easily make bone stock.  Cook large pieces of tough meat with no work and have it come out minutes later moist and tender.  Make yogurt.  Steam rice.  Sautee bacon.  Reconstitute dried lentils in your aforementioned bone stock in minutes and watch the sum total of $4.50 in ingredients give you nearly a week of nutrition unparalleled by almost every other human on earth’s diet.

THE VITAMIX BLENDER : Vitamix Standard Blender, Black (Certified Refurbished)

THE VITAMIX BLENDER

Vitamix Standard Blender, Black (Certified Refurbished)

This is not cheap but it is an investment and this is an amazing price for what you get.  This modern marvel will replace or prevent you from needing numerous inferior tools that do similar things to what this does, just not as well.  Like the Instant Pot, this has a massive value to price ratio.  You can literally make piping hot soup by just putting raw cold vegetables and whatever else you want in it and it will be a piping hot bisque in five minutes.  Without you having to do anything else.  Additionally, it has been vetted by the experts the world over.  Any Michelin Starred restaurant will have this.  Any decent chef will have this at home.  Any addicting show placing celebrity chefs against each other will have multiple instances of this.

A STEEL FRENCH PRESS : SterlingPro French Coffee Press –8 Cup/4 Mug (1 liter, 34 oz), Chrome

A STEEL FRENCH PRESS

SterlingPro French Coffee Press –8 Cup/4 Mug (1 liter, 34 oz), Chrome

French presses are useful, relatively inexpensive, portable, easy to use, easy to clean, and, when used right, they make far superior coffee than nearly any machine.  I have a few french presses and I use mine for both coffee and loose leaf tea.  Regarding the latter, the loose leaf/french press combo is especially helpful.  I put a mix of mate tea, pu ehr tea, lemon zest, a very time smidge of stevia, and a shake of turmeric and cinnamon.  I then make the tea nice and hot and add a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil.  It tastes amazing and is a powerhouse of nutrition, combining the benefits of all its constituent ingredients.

Make sure you get this one, or any other good one that is all metal.  As you should be well aware, plastic is not a good thing to touch your food, even if it is BPA free.  This admonition is amplified a bajillion-fold if you’re running hot water through your plastic.

Of course the best thing about a french press is the coffee.  Not only can you make great black coffee, but this simple device is perfect for a variety of other awesome coffee drinks.  One of my favorites is to mix good ground coffee, 100% ground chocolate (“baker’s chocolate”), cinnamon, and a little stevia in.  Pour over the hot water.  Let sit four about four minutes stirring occasionally.  Put a scoop of coconut oil in your cup.  Pour coffee over.  Stir in.  When stirred, put a little bit of organic heavy whipping cream.  Completely sugar free (sans ultra low carb stevia), full of great fats, and wickedly awesome.

A HIGH QUALITY ZINC-MAGNESIUM COMPLEX : NOW Foods Zma, 90 Capsules

A HIGH QUALITY ZINC-MAGNESIUM COMPLEX

NOW Foods Zma, 90 Capsules

I take three ZMA capsules every day with a cup full of water and a small scoop of BCAAs.  We know that at the very least, 2.1 billion people currently have a zinc deficiency.  Part of this problem is from an over-consumption of some cereal grains, which keep zinc eaten with meat from being absorbed.  And zinc deficiency is hard to measure because standard serum blood tests won’t show it.  Zinc deficiency can lead to a whole host of problems and it is virtually the only isolated mineral that has a very solid track record in treating such maladies as the common cold.  This is something that absolutely cannot be said for vitamin C.  Every cell requires zinc.  It is essential for proper hormonal function, particularly testosterone, for would healing (hence its liberal use in post operative ICUs and inpatient rehab floors).  And besides a million other things, it can help in cases of genetic copper overload (such as Wilson’s Disease).  In fact, the interplay between Zinc and Copper is very important both ways, as they interact with each other’s uptake in the body and can act both competitively and synergisticallly on particular enzymes, particularly the so-called Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dysmutase, which is involved in Lou Gerhig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – a fatal muscle wasting disease that starts in the spinal cord) and certain kinds of leukemia.  Since zinc and copper compete in some respects, if you do take zinc daily, a little bit of supplemental copper (like 2 mg by mouth weekly) may be a good idea.

In regards to magnesium supplementation, it is hard to praise too highly its benefits.  Magnesium has gained popularity in recent years, but it is still not regarded highly enough by the general population and many physicians.  Calcium seems to get a lot of attention for bone health, but if you are eating some good quality dairy, meat, and high calcium vegetables without “phytates” (such as found in some cereal grains – and also in coffee and some teas), you have a decent chance of getting enough.  Magnesium, on the other hand, is a different story.  Ostensibly due to soil depletion, previously high-magnesium plants like avocados, certain beans, nuts, leafy greens, etc. aren’t getting what they used to.  And when you eat these deficient plants, it means that you’re not getting enough magnesium.  And when you eat animals that (should be) eating these plants, they’re not getting enough magnesium either, so you’re still not getting enough magnesium.  Remember, you aren’t just what you eat.  You are what you eat eats.  Magnesium works wonders for gut motility (such as with constipation).  It is essential for bone growth.  In fact, magnesium supplementation is likely far more important for osteoporosis than calcium.  This is particularly the case when it is combined with adequate vitamin D3, vitamin K2, some other trace minerals like strontium, the long chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosohexanoic acid), adequate protein intake, and of course, resistance/strength training with progressive overload.  Magnesium is also a wonderful muscle relaxant, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory, and has numerous applications in the world of treating chronic pain.  Lastly (on this description but certainly not real life), magnesium can really help with sleep.

A HIGH QUALITY ZINC-MAGNESIUM COMPLEX : NOW Foods Vitamin K-2,100mcg, 100 Vcaps

A HIGH QUALITY ZINC-MAGNESIUM COMPLEX

NOW Foods Vitamin K-2,100mcg, 100 Vcaps

I take three ZMA capsules every day with a cup full of water and a small scoop of BCAAs.  We know that at the very least, 2.1 billion people currently have a zinc deficiency.  Part of this problem is from an over-consumption of some cereal grains, which keep zinc eaten with meat from being absorbed.  And zinc deficiency is hard to measure because standard serum blood tests won’t show it.  Zinc deficiency can lead to a whole host of problems and it is virtually the only isolated mineral that has a very solid track record in treating such maladies as the common cold.  This is something that absolutely cannot be said for vitamin C.  Every cell requires zinc.  It is essential for proper hormonal function, particularly testosterone, for would healing (hence its liberal use in post operative ICUs and inpatient rehab floors).  And besides a million other things, it can help in cases of genetic copper overload (such as Wilson’s Disease).  In fact, the interplay between Zinc and Copper is very important both ways, as they interact with each other’s uptake in the body and can act both competitively and synergisticallly on particular enzymes, particularly the so-called Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dysmutase, which is involved in Lou Gerhig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – a fatal muscle wasting disease that starts in the spinal cord) and certain kinds of leukemia.  Since zinc and copper compete in some respects, if you do take zinc daily, a little bit of supplemental copper (like 2 mg by mouth weekly) may be a good idea.

In regards to magnesium supplementation, it is hard to praise too highly its benefits.  Magnesium has gained popularity in recent years, but it is still not regarded highly enough by the general population and many physicians.  Calcium seems to get a lot of attention for bone health, but if you are eating some good quality dairy, meat, and high calcium vegetables without “phytates” (such as found in some cereal grains – and also in coffee and some teas), you have a decent chance of getting enough.  Magnesium, on the other hand, is a different story.  Ostensibly due to soil depletion, previously high-magnesium plants like avocados, certain beans, nuts, leafy greens, etc. aren’t getting what they used to.  And when you eat these deficient plants, it means that you’re not getting enough magnesium.  And when you eat animals that (should be) eating these plants, they’re not getting enough magnesium either, so you’re still not getting enough magnesium.  Remember, you aren’t just what you eat.  You are what you eat eats.  Magnesium works wonders for gut motility (such as with constipation).  It is essential for bone growth.  In fact, magnesium supplementation is likely far more important for osteoporosis than calcium.  This is particularly the case when it is combined with adequate vitamin D3, vitamin K2, some other trace minerals like strontium, the long chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosohexanoic acid), adequate protein intake, and of course, resistance/strength training with progressive overload.  Magnesium is also a wonderful muscle relaxant, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory, and has numerous applications in the world of treating chronic pain.  Lastly (on this description but certainly not real life), magnesium can really help with sleep.

Basic Equipment

The Quantified Self

A small percentage from every purchase made through this Performance Emporium will benefit Barbells and Stem Cells.