A Functional Medicine Approach

A Functional Medicine Approach

A Functional Medicine Approach with Rich Jacobs
Aug 8, 2016

Rich Jacobs is a functional medicine practitioner who is committed to helping women overcome health issues such as fatigue, insomnia, and low libido. He became passionate about helping others holistically through his own health issues that doctors couldn’t resolve.

Rich comes on the show to talk more about functional medicine and how this holistic approach helped him take back his health and decrease certain concerns that he was having.  Rich also addresses why weight gain may not be from overeating and ways stress affects hormonal imbalances.


  • What is functional medicine?
  • Just what makes Rich so passionate about functional medicine?
  • The effect that stress has on our body
  • How our gut is tied to health
  • Your weight gain may not just be overeating.
  • What is DRESS? And why Rich takes this approach



Dr. Meaghan: Hello everybody and welcome to Podcast 158. Today I welcome Rich Jacobs to the show. Rich Jacobs is a functional medicine practitioner who works with individuals to help them to reach their goals through a functional medicine model. He is sharing so much information with us today about exercise, diet, and what role it plays in health and wellness, a great conversation that everybody should listen to. I thank Rich for coming on the show and sharing all of his expertise.


Hello everybody, and welcome to Beyond the Basics Health Academy Podcast. I am your host Dr. Meaghan Kirschling. Today, I’m joined by functional medicine practitioner Rich Jacobs. Hello, Rich. How are you?


Rich: Good, Dr. Meaghan. How are you?


Dr. Meaghan: I am doing really well, and I appreciate you coming on. I’m going to tell the people a little bit about you first. You love to work with women, especially the age range 25 to 45. You help them to overcome common health issues, such as fatigue, insomnia, and low libido. That’s something that a lot of individuals can obviously relate to. As a former collegiate strength and conditioning coach, you understand the spectrum of health from athlete to non-athlete. You really work with everyone in that spectrum. Also, you are passionate about helping others holistically through their own health issues that doctors can’t resolve. You do this through functional medicine and the health detective skills to really find the cause of common health issues.


We’re going to talk a lot about that and your approach. We’ll also discuss why you think that there are so many people that are falling through some of those loop holes in medicine, and how you can help them with their health issues. Thanks so much for coming on the show.


Rich: You’re welcome, and thank you very much for having me.


Dr. Meaghan: I would love for you to start out by talking a little bit about functional medicine. Let us know why you’re so passionate about it.


Rich: Great. I am so passionate about it because I actually had a lot of those health issues that you mentioned myself. As a former college strength coach, I was obviously very athletic and kept myself in shape. Then suddenly, in my mid-30s I had low libido, sleep issues, unexplained weight gain, and bloating. I had everything going on. I went to see several doctors, like most people do. They took the blood draws and the lab work, which they all do. And they all came back normal. Of course I wasn’t feeling normal, but the best they could do was give me a couple of pills to treat the symptoms.


Inherently I just knew that there was more going on than that. That’s when I did more research on holistic ways to heal the body. That’s when I found functional diagnostic nutrition.  It’s actually one of the main teaching programs out there in functional medicine. I took that course to teach other people, but also to heal myself. I became very passionate about helping others and showing others that there is a way to feel better. Even if nobody believes you that you have these symptoms, you really want to find that root cause and treat it.


Dr. Meaghan: I think it’s important, because I think a lot of people are going to relate to this. What it sounds like is you were in your 30s, what anybody would look at and say, “You’re a healthy individual,” because you had always worked out and taken care of yourself. I’m assuming you went from doctor to doctor, and they were telling you that there was nothing wrong.


Rich: Yeah, that’s exactly it. Obviously that’s very frustrating.


Dr. Meaghan: I think that that’s one of functional medicine’s strengths. There can be this dysfunction that doesn’t have to be a disease. So many people like yourself are falling through the cracks because aren’t necessarily diagnosed with a disease. They can’t say, “This fits into a perfect little diagnosis,” but there was definitely dysfunction.


Rich: Yeah. The challenging part about chronic diseases is that there are many different ways that they actually manifest. It’s hard to figure out where and even when these symptoms occurred. It all starts with the dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. It can stem off into many different directions from there.


Dr. Meaghan: Stress is also one of the things that you look at. How the stress affects everything, but especially things like hormone balance and sleep cycles, etc. You really do work a lot with the stress response and how it affects different parts of the body.


Rich: Yeah. I don’t just look at external stressors. We all have them, of course, it’s just how we deal with them. I also look at the internal stressors. For instance, what else is going on inside the body, particularly in the gut or digestive tract, areas that most of us don’t think about checking.


Dr. Meaghan: I think that’s one of the big things too. A lot of times where the problem stems from, or the stress that is causing our bodies to not function at that optimal level, might not even be something that we’re tuned into. We might be having headaches, but they could be coming from the gut.


Rich: Oh, yeah. It’s funny because many years back I became lactose intolerant. Of course the Internet was fairly new at that point, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I just knew that all of a sudden I couldn’t drink milk without having some issues. Of course now, years down the road, I know that that was my first warning sign that things were changing. I did have a lot of stressors in my life. When I hit that tipping point that you’re talking about, it tipped me over into the cascade of symptoms and illnesses and kind of knocked me out.


Dr. Meaghan: When that happens, it affects every part of your life. I’m sure you were noticing you were no longer sleeping right, working out right, feeling right. Yet everybody was telling you that it was normal, that you were normal. You were healthy.


Rich: Yeah. Of course, later I learned that normal is a relative term. There are a lot of common things out there, but not normal. Obviously through the research, training and practice, I see that there’s a lot of common and not a lot of normal out there.


Dr. Meaghan: There are so many people walking around not feeling optimal. Whether it’s through eating something that they shouldn’tt, inflammation, or oxidative stress, etc., our bodies can sort of get used to things changing. But it’s not optimal. I think that’s where functional medicine is really strong. You’re saying, “Let’s get it so that it’s optimal.”


Rich: Yeah, absolutely. The body is really good at adapting. If you do have a stressor, or you do deal with bloating, for instance, eventually you get used to it and you just deal with it. A more common one, of course, is PMS for females. It’s not common to go through, but how many women out there say, “No, I don’t have any symptoms?” In America, I would say it would be tough to find even a few.


Dr. Meaghan: I think that’s a really important thing. Whether it’s PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, some of our autoimmune diseases, are a sub-optimal function that we need to address. It’s not a deficiency of a drug that we’re missing, but the fact that one of our pathways is no longer working optimally.


Rich: Yeah, absolutely. The funny thing that a lot of us forget is that the body is made to repair itself. It actually does know how to heal itself and be optimal on its own. We just need to allow that pathway to occur so that it can actually heal and then move on.


Dr. Meaghan: Yeah, I think that that is so important. I know you work with a lot of athletes and Crossfitters, and others across the board. One of the things that people are really tuned into is weight gain. I know one of the things that you talk about is that weight gain may not just be overeating.There are other things that go into weight gain. I would like to touch on that, because I think that it’s such an important topic for so many people.


Rich: Absolutely. I know there’re so many people out there who work their butts off at the gym or in Crossfit or running, etc., even eating healthy, and they’re not getting the results that they want. Because of my background, I enjoy working with that type of person. Is your audience familiar with some science behind this? I’d love to teach a little bit. It’s kind of like that light bulb that goes off.


Dr. Meaghan: I love education and teaching, so I would say start from the basics and teach away.


Rich: If you’re looking at the whole system, cortisol plays a huge role. It controls not only circadian rhythms, stress response, and energy production, but glucose regulation, which is sugar. The brain basically works on glucose. When you get dysregulated, you have cortisol and insulin-producing a lot of inflammation. On top of this, now you have visceral fat. Visceral fat is that fun fat around the organs. It’s created by too much cortisol and insulin over a long period of time. The thing about visceral fat is that now it’s creating its own inflammatory markers. This starts that vicious cycle.


Going back to the HPA axis that we talked about earlier, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, half of that is in the brain, and glucose is the primary source of fuel. With the hypothalamus being in the brain, it’s going to be very sensitive to the glucose level changes. For example, waiting too long to eat between meals, or having too many carbs, makes blood sugar go up and down, up and down. Hypoglycemia is common because people decide to skip breakfast in the morning. This affects the HPA axis and throws everything out of balance. Your body has to compensate for that.


Looking beyond glucose regulation, the HPA axis is involved in energy balance, insulin sensitivity, metabolic function, food selection, and satiety. It’s no surprise that increased stress is going to increase the amount of comfort foods that people eat. The high fat, high sugar, high salt foods. These have all been shown by research to alter the stress hormone response in the brain. It makes people crave more of these foods when they’re under a lot of stress, because it’s almost a physiological therapy. That’s actually a big sign, when I start working with people. I start by asking, “Do you have these cravings for sugar and salt?” If they say, “Oh yeah, I love putting salt over everything,” it’s the first sign that we have to go a little deeper.


Looking at these facts, it’s apparent that the stress cycle disrupts hormone function and hormone signaling. I’m getting to the point of weight gain. You have stress, which can lead to weight gain. Then you have obesity, or if you start to put on too much weight, it now leads to more inflammation. Once you get into the cycle, you have stress, which leads to inflammation, which leads to weight gain. But now you have this weight gain which causes more inflammation. It’s this vicious cycle that it’s hard for people to get out of.


Dr. Meaghan: I think that’s a really important part to drive home. Once there is that weight gain and these changes in hormones, it causes more inflammation. It’s sort of like that inertia, where you’ve got that small snowball that’s rolling down a hill and gaining speed along with more snow as it goes down.


Rich: It’s brutal. These poor … I always say women. It happens to men too, but I work a lot with women. These poor women who are doing everything right, are just having trouble getting out of that cycle. Now you apply the principle to our weightloss-aholics, or our crazy Crossfitters trying to lose weight. Now they’re under eating, because the theory is still out there that, hey, if you eat less calories you’ll lose weight. I can’t wait for that to die.


Dr. Meaghan: Me too. I think we’re in this one for the long haul though. I too can’t wait for that one to be buried finally.


Rich: Yeah. That’s stressful, because of hypoglycemia and blood sugar levels if you’re not taking in food. Then you’re overworking at the workouts, and that’s putting even more stress on the body. Here you are trying to under eat and overwork, thinking that you’re going to lose weight, and really the reverse is happening. You’re causing more inflammation with this. Part of what I do with people is actually tell them, “You need to eat more and work out less.” That just blows their mind. Nobody wants to hear that, because it doesn’t make sense to them. Ultimately we have to start somewhere, and usually people are overworking and under eating.


Dr. Meaghan: I would love to know what you recommend because once you get into that fallacy it’s hard for people to let go of. They’re getting this from all different angles, that the less you eat the more you’ll lose weight. And it’s just not true when you’re in these metabolic situations. I’d love to talk about fat also because the other thing is a lot of these people live in fear of fat. They don’t want to eat fat because they also believe that it’s going to make them fat, when really it helps the stress response and the glycemic responses, etc.


Rich: Absolutely, and the right kind of fats. These are fats from nut butter and from animal meat if you’re not vegan, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. People who I put on high-fat diets actually eat fewer calories than people who are on low-fat diets. It happens for a couple of reasons.


The obvious reason is that fat is more satisfying, satiating. It’s very dense and it makes you feel full. It stays in the stomach for a long time, because it takes longer to digest and to break down and to move on. Less apparent, carbohydrates activate hormones in the brain. I don’t have to get too scientificbut this makes you more hungry. You keep eating carbs, and your brain is like, “Oh yeah, this is good. Let’s keep eating,” if you’re not combining that with a protein.


Most importantly, because you’ve got to look at insulin and glucose, carbs are going to go through the stomach very quickly. They’re going to raise blood sugar very quickly, which means now everything has to respond to lowering that blood sugar. Conversly, a hig -fat diet doesn’t have a large effect on insulin response, so it can really keep your blood sugar more stable. We can go deeper. I don’t know how deep you want to go with this, into ketogenic diets, and how those can be effective.


Dr. Meaghan: I think more people are learning about ketogenic diets, and talking about their effects on brain support, glycemic support, and decreasing visceral fat.


Rich: Going on a ketogenic diet is basically keeping the blood sugar at a stable level. You’re not introducing carbohydrates into the bloodstream for at least 14 days. That’s kind of the magic number that the research has shown to be effective. That allows the body to use more of a ketone as energy, which is derived from fat. Tthe brain actually works well on ketones. I know I’m summarizing a lot here. When you’re working with ketones, the body actually functions better. People find that they are more clear, instead of the brain fog that might happen when you have the fluctuation in blood sugar.


In fact, I have a lot of athletes who I’ve put on ketogenic diets, especially endurance runners. I know that’s crazy, because you see a lot of endurance runners pounding Gatorade and Goo and all these fun sugars. However, the body can actually sustain the energy longer on a ketogenic or high-fat diet. I know you mentioned the belief that eating fat could cause you to gain fat. The opposite is true. In fact, having a high-fat diet can help lower your blood lipid numbers. You’re now teaching your body not to store the fat, and to use it as an energy source instead.


When you do that, you don’t have those cravings for carbohydrates. It all comes down to hormones and blood sugar regulation. When your hormones and blood sugar are regulated, you don’t have those intense sugar cravings. You no longer have ups and downs of energy.


Dr. Meaghan: That’s something so important that a lot of people don’t realize. First of all our body actually utilizes fat in a ketogenic diet not only better but also more effectively and efficiently, and we don’t see all the side effects that we do with carbs.


Rich: Yeah, absolutely. Not that carbs are bad, but they need to earn their place in your diet. In other words, if you’re at a desk all day, which I know many of us are when working, you don’t need carbohydrates to sustain that energy. If you’re working out, doing Crossfit, or triathlons, there’s a place for carbohydrates depending on your body composition. The leaner you are, the more carbs you actually need to help your body through some of those high intensity activities.


Crossfit is high-intensity training, when you’re going very hard and then taking a rest. That’s going to tap more into what’s called the ATP energy system, and that’s a quick energy source. Carbohydrates are needed in part to help feed that source when you’re very lean. When I say lean, I’m talking about men under 10% body fat, and women under 15% body fat. We’re talking fairly lean, like the men and women you see during the Crossfit competitions.


Dr. Meaghan: How do you recommend that they take in carbs? Do you recommend that they take them in throughout the day, before working out?


Rich: You mean if you’re already leaner?


Dr. Meaghan: If you’re already leaner.


Rich: If you’re already leaner, it’s more effective to take them in after workouts to help glycogen recovery in the liver. You don’t need them as much before that workout. However, with some of the bodybuilders and intense athletes, it can be more effective to start taking carbohydrates about halfway through the workout in liquid form.


Dr. Meaghan: Okay, that would make sense. Liquid form, do you recommend the goos? What are you recommending in liquid form?


Rich: In liquid form … no, I don’t like the goos.


Dr. Meaghan: I figured you didn’t.


Rich: Is this a loaded question? I think they’re too simple of a sugar, and I think they can spike too much, which will lead into a crash. Instead, I would actually combine let’s say dextrin or maltodextrin, depending on which one you prefer, with a protein or an amino acid. What I personally like doing is some dextrose, a little bit of glutamine, and branch chain amino acids about halfway through the workout.


Dr. Meaghan: Okay. You combine them then with some good amino acids and get the benefits of both.


Rich: I do. Because protein or amino acids, which are the simpler form of protein, help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates so I don’t get a quick sugar spike. I’m still getting it in, but I don’t want to have that quick sugar spike, which will result in a drop later.


Dr. Meaghan: Perfect. For both men and women that are going through this, what kind of activity and exercise do you recommend?


Rich: Somebody who is already in dysfunction?


Dr. Meaghan: Yeah, in the dysfunction. Someone who has cortisol and visceral fat and is looking to improve those cortisol and stress hormones.


Rich: In my practice, I definitely use a handful of labs to find out what’s going on and where that client is at in that point in time before making recommendations. However, my overall recommendation is working on diet first. The diet that I really like to use is between the elimination diet, which I have through the Institute for Functional Medicine, or the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is really good because it’s widely accepted by most people, and has actually been studied and proven to be a good intervention when dealing with dysfunction. It is proven to balance glucose and blood sugar levels.


That would be number one, working on diet before working out. More often than not, people who are in this situation usually aren’t eating the way they should be. It’s kind of like a risk/reward ratio. Don’t put them at risk to get hurt or to fail at the working out part. Start getting the good energy you need first, and then get out there and start moving.


If you’re going from somebody who sits at a desk all day and doesn’t work out very much right now, I would suggest just starting to walk around and maybe going on the treadmill or finding a partner to do some hiking. There are some Crossfit gyms who work with beginners. I’d be really cautious about that and do your homework. You can look into that, personal training. In other words, in the beginning, I highly recommend getting some structure. I definitely would recommend somebody helping you out, so that you know how to do it properly.


Dr. Meaghan: Perfect. I know obviously with these systems going off, and getting the hormones back into place, you might not see any changes or weight loss right away. Can you speak to individuals about what to expect for gains with this?


Rich: Yeah. Some of you are going to not like hearing this, but as you’re releasing those toxins, after you get on a good supplement plan, nutrition plan, and you start to detox all those bad chemicals out, the inflammation and the visceral fat, you might actually gain weight in the first couple of weeks before you start losing that weight. The release of all the toxins in the body could cause some more inflammation as your body is trying to deal with it and get it out, which is why I do recommend at least a multi vitamin, a good one, at the very least, to help assist in detoxifying the body.


Then after that, it really depends on the individual and where you’re starting. I’ve seen people lose four to five pounds a week, safely. I know that’s way above the range of what you normally hear of the one to three pounds. That’s mainly because a lot of that weight was inflammation, and once you start bringing that inflammation down, the body starts to relax and let it go. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s unhealthy if that starts happening, as long as you’re eating well and working out smart and you’re doing all the things properly.


Dr. Meaghan: I think that’s important, because I’ve seen that clinically too, where people gained weight. They’ll say, “Of course I went on this and gained weight,” but it lets you know exactly how toxic your body was and how much stress your body was under, and after your body gets reset. A lot of times then that weight will come off.


I like the fact that you talked about sometimes when you get first into that de-inflammation state and start to lose the weight, you will lose significant weight each week. I also like to tell people during that time, “Just realize this is your body is going through the process of taking away the inflammation,” because then you might after that go down to one or two pounds, and then people are like, “Oh, this isn’t working anymore. I’m only losing a pound a week.” I think it’s good to touch on those concepts.


Rich: Yeah. That’s where the art in coaching comes in and managing expectations and reminding people that all this didn’t happen in two months. Although it might come off quickly, you’re not going to get rid of everything in two months. It’s going to take time.


Dr. Meaghan: I definitely think that that is a great thing for people to understand, because we’re geared to think that if we’re not going in the right direction or if it’s not happening fast enough then it’s not working. The most important thing is making these lifestyle changes, to make it so that these are things you’re incorporating into your life.


Rich: Yeah. That’s where I have the DRESS approach. This is all about lifestyle. You need all five of these things to work. DRESS is diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction, and supplements. Really work on diet and nutrition, really work with people on sleep and getting sleep, whether it’s a temporary relief with a sleep supplement or figuring out how we can change nutrition to sleep better. If you’re not getting sleep, you’re not going to get the results you want. That is when your body repairs itself, and you really need to get it.


Dr. Meaghan: I have a question about sleep, but you can go on to exercise. Get through the DRESS part so everybody understands it.


Rich: Exercise, we discuss the best route for that. I guess I’m a little different than other practitioners because I was a strength coach for most of my career, so I have a strong background in that area and how to direct people in that area. Some people just need yoga. I just read a research study today about Bikram yoga and how it’s been proven to decrease the stress response in the body. Quite honestly, I thought it was the opposite because of the heat, and how hot it was, but the research shows that it actually can be helpful in helping stress reduction. Sometimes I start people out with yoga.


Then that goes to the first “S” which is stress reduction. When I talk about that, that’s external and internal. I think I touched on that earlier in the show. That internal stress, that could be pathogens in the gut, that can be small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, that can be a lot of things going on that, unfortunately, doctors who are well trained in treating severe stuff aren’t looking for when you go to them. I touch on those areas, and that’s where the labs come in, to make sure that we can rule everything out and not miss anything.


Then the last “S” is supplementation. Unfortunately, because of our environment and our food sources, we need a little bit of supplementation, and you want to make sure that you get the proper kind. What I mean by that is that the air is more toxic than it used to be, so we need to deal with that. Food is not as nutritious as it used to be. I know all these topics can be a whole other podcast. We need to replace those areas. Even if you’re on a vegetarian diet, you still need to replace it. You’re not getting the same level of nutrients that we were even 50 years ago.


Dr. Meaghan: I do think that that’s one of the things that’s really important. People must realize that our environment and lifestyles lead to us really needing to be advocates for ourselves and make sure that we are taking a proper approach to health and wellness.


What I wanted to ask you about sleep is that sometimes your diet is what keeps you up at night and interferes with sleep. I’d like to touch on that briefly if we can.


Rich: Sure. It depends on the individual and what’s going on in their life. Over training, I often see that. I did another show where they asked me about over training, and I actually don’t believe in over training but more so under eating. In other words, if you’re not eating enough to support the energy that you’re spending, then your body is going to react in a negative way. A lot of times people aren’t eating enough, or at night people like to have a nice dessert. It’s the summertime, so people like to have ice cream at night or wine at night, and all these things can be very disruptive to sleep patterns.


A lot of times clients call me up and say, “Hey, I usually wake up at 2:00 in the morning, I’m sweating and hot, and I don’t know what’s going on.” Of course, we talk about nutrition, and a lot of times they’re having alcohol or high sugars at night, and that disrupts the flow of cortisol.  Again, cortisol helps manage blood sugar. If we have a spike, we’re going to have a drop. Oftentimes that drop occurs between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning when the liver is healing. We have to discuss these scenarios and correct nutrition.


Dr. Meaghan: Something that people don’t realize is that when you look at the body and you look at sleeping, that we’re supposed to go through specific cycles and rejuvenate and restore. A lot of times what we’re doing right before we sleep is interfering with those cycles being in the correct order and going through the correct pathways during sleep.


Rich: Right. The typical American now is stressed out at work, they come home, they probably didn’t eat enough all day, so then they have a big shot of food at home at dinner with their spouse, and maybe a dessert and a glass of wine afterward. That’s the typical cycle that goes on and on and on, and so we don’t actually get good sleep, which means we actually don’t repair or regenerate.


Dr. Meaghan: That does make a lot of sense, and I think it’s something that people don’t think about a lot. Can you tell us a little bit more about how they can find out more from you? Where you are in social media, the Internet, all of those things, so that people can find out more about you and your comprehensive approach to health and wellness.


Rich: Thanks. My website is MyHealthDetective.com, or RichJacobsfdn.com. When you get there, you can actually get my free sleep report, and that will give you some of the information that we talked about today in more detail. My Facebook page is My Coach Rich. That’s about all I use right now.


Dr. Meaghan: That’s perfect. We will include all of those in the podcast notes so that people can find you, follow you, and get the information that you have out there, because I love your comprehensive approach to health and wellness and all the different things that you work with, with both men and women. I really appreciate you coming on the show.


Rich: Thanks, Dr. Meaghan, I really appreciate it as well.


Dr. Meaghan: For all of our listeners, I remind you to be kind to others, take care of yourself, and make good choices. Thanks for listening, and thanks Rich, for sharing all of your information and knowledge with us today.


Rich: You’re welcome, thank you.



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Investigate Your Health

Investigate Your Health

What does it mean to investigate your health? We have all heard the stories, maybe from a close friend or a co-worker. It’s usually someone young who on the outside appears to be in good health.  All of a sudden they experience symptoms like insomnia, bloating, or maybe loss of their sex drive. They call their family doctor, schedule a few appointments, run several labs…but they leave with more questions than answers.

Their doctor can’t find anything wrong, so the diagnosis is rest more and to reduce stress….easier said than done, right?

Below, I join Adam from Building Ambition and discuss your health, better workouts, and increasing libido!


Adam Hicks: What’s up guys? Welcome to episode 18 of the Building Ambition podcast. I am your host, Adam, a former power lifter turned personal trainer and nutrition coach. I’m flying solo for the intro this week because Alan and I already previously recorded an interview coming up with Rich Jacobs. I wanted to take some time and introduce you to Rich and tell you a little bit about what he does before we do get into the interview.


Rich is a former collegiate strength coach. He has worked at Michigan State, Xavier, and Florida. In the past 3 years, he’s been transitioning into practicing functional medicine. His title is a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. As Rich puts it, he’s a health detective. He works with his clients now to find the hidden issues that may be contributing to things such as hormone imbalances, energy issues or problems sleeping. It was a great interview, just packed full of information. It’s one of the interviews that we’ve had where I think you’re going to want to take some notes, or maybe go back and listen to it for a second time. We do get pretty in depth as to what Rich does and what he’s looking for when he is working with his clients.


As always, you guys can go over to BuildingAmbition.com, click on the show notes, and I’ll have links to all of his information and his social media. You can click through and follow along with Rich, maybe learn a little bit more about what he does. That being said, I want to keep this brief. Guys, stick around, this is our interview with Rich Jacobs, Health Detective.


Speaker 4: Have a question for your host of the Building Ambition podcast Adam and Alan? Visit www.BuildingAmbition.com now.


Adam Hicks: All right guys, welcome back to the Building Ambition podcast. I’m pretty excited for this interview, and I know Alan is too. We’ve been sitting here chatting for about 5 minutes, with Rich Jacobs, our special guest for the week. We’ve been picking his brain. I think this is going to end up being another selfish interview that we have, where we get a guest on here, but we kind of turn it around and we’re asking him to help us out.


Alan Zimmerman: Already I’ve got a bromance, I’m just letting you know.


Adam Hicks: You’ve got a little bit of a crush going on.


Alan Zimmerman: I’ve got a bromance going on right here. Sorry, Rich.


Rich Jacobs: No problem.


Alan Zimmerman: Okay. I’m up front with that. I want you to know that.


Adam Hicks: Like I said, we have Rich Jacobs joining us. Now Rich is a former collegiate strength coach, and currently, you are also a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner and a precision nutrition specialist. I think you’re going to speak to us today about the way stress affects our hormones and the symptoms within our bodies that may be affected because of that. Rich, I also want to welcome you to the Building Ambition podcast. Now you’ve got a very impressive bio, and I thought, well I could just type it all out and read it but that might take me the majority of the intro. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to the listeners and also tell us a little bit more about what you do.


Rich Jacobs: Cool, thank you. Adam, Alan, I appreciate you having me on. Just a quick background on me. I’ve basically always been into both health and fitness, working out and athletics. I got my undergrad in physiology, psychology. Started training. Wanted to get more into athletics-type coaching, so I got my masters in kinesiology. I started coaching at Michigan State University and moved down to Xavier University. Then the University of Florida. During that time, about an 8-, 9-year stint, I had the opportunity to work with some great athletes and also got a couple of national championships and a large handful of conference championship rings out of that. It was great.


Along the way, I also got certified as a fascial stretch therapist, so I could help more people. Then eventually functional medicine, through FDN and precision nutrition. Then the Institute for Functional Medicine. I’ll tell you my story as we go along today.


Adam Hicks: Yeah. I would love to just speak to you about your work within the university system, and working with some of those athletes. On the same hand, like we said earlier, we’re also really interested in the hormones and the different ways that stress is affecting our body, just from a personal level. When I started reading about you and your practice, I noticed that you had some health issues while you were coaching, and it was something that it looked like the doctors couldn’t diagnose. You were trying different supplementation’s and that couldn’t help. Diet didn’t seem to fix it. What exactly was going on with you and why weren’t the doctors able to pinpoint the problem?


Rich Jacobs: Probably about a year or 2 after I decided to retire from college coaching, I just entered a very stressful time in my life. I had just moved. I was in a pretty bad relationship, and I was actually doing a physique show. During that time, I had no libido. I had bloating, I had gas after eating. There were fatigue issues. Increased body fat. I was allergic to foods I was never allergic to before. I had insomnia. Crazy, for somebody who’s 35 years old and in pretty good shape.


Having the background I do, I tried fixing myself. I went to an even cleaner diet. Using different workouts, different supplements. Even tried some natural testosterone boosters. Even tried some caffeine, and that actually just made me more tired. Finally, I gave in and went to a doctor. Obviously, what I’m doing is not working.

The doctor took some blood, checked the levels, told me that my cortisol was normal, but obviously, I didn’t feel normal. Told me that my testosterone was low, but not low enough to do anything about it. He gave me Viagra, he said, “Everything’s fine, it just must be stress.” 35, taking Viagra is not very good for the ego. He told me to go ahead and eat more fiber, and that might help out my gut. Okay. I actually went to therapy, even tried hypnotherapists. Because at that point I was just desperate. I shouldn’t be feeling this way at this age. I knew that this couldn’t be it for me. Hello?


Adam Hicks: Yeah, we got you there. Sorry, we thought we lost you there for a second.


Rich Jacobs: No problem.


Adam Hicks: Go ahead. You were saying that you had gone to a hypnotherapist at that point.


Rich Jacobs: Yup. I was desperate to try to find out what was going on. Just trying everything from mind to body that could fix it. Eventually, this led me to functional diagnostic nutrition. When I found FDN, I decided to not only go through it for myself, but to learn how to do this for other people. I had a mentor who helped me get better while I was teaching myself how to help others.


Adam Hicks: Yeah. Right there you brought up the functional diagnostic nutrition. You said you did have a mentor. What exactly is the functional diagnostic nutrition? How did this, and your mentor, help diagnose your illness?


Rich Jacobs: Functional diagnostic nutrition, we can just abbreviate as FDN, because that can be a mouthful to keep saying. Basically, it’s a holistic way of finding the root cause of the most common health complaints, using functional lab assessments, and then correlating symptoms and health history to the labs. I’m going to look at the entire picture of a person instead of just treating labs or just treating symptoms. Got to use both.


Alan Zimmerman: Are there particular things in our diet that will help promote certain aspects of our physical being, or whatever?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah absolutely. Looking at the American diet in general, where you have a lot of processed foods, added sugars, of course the gluten thing is debatable by a 50/50. It can all cause issues in our bodies to throw the systems off. What I do is really look for the root cause. I have several labs that break down the functionals in the body.


Adam Hicks: Going back to your illness, what were you able to find out? What was causing your gut issues and insomnia? I’m guessing that the Viagra kind of helped with the libido. Like you said, at 35 years old you probably don’t want to be telling everybody that you’ve got a prescription for Viagra. Were you able to correct those problems within the FDN practice?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah absolutely. Just so you know, Viagra doesn’t help with the libido, it just helps with what you need to get done.


Alan Zimmerman: It’s just good for ED. It isn’t good for the desire.


Rich Jacobs: That’s right. It’s a little different. The system, or the FDN way approach, basically uses a lot of labs to help break it down. The main one is the adrenal stress profile. That looks like the four cortisols, instead of just one, like the doctor did for me. It’ll look at DHEA. It’ll look at estrogen, progesterone, melatonin and free testosterone. Often saliva, which is supposed to be more accurate than blood.

The big difference now is that the doctor told me my cortisol was in range, however, after looking at the saliva labs you can see that, yes the total is in range, but looking at the 4 different samples it became more clear that there are other issues because the pattern was erratic. A cortisol pattern should be high in the morning, and then slowly go down throughout the day. Mine had ups and downs, and that shows that there’s obviously other issues going on.


I had a urine lab, and that pointed to some gut issues. It’s called dysbiosis and possible SIBO, which is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. You’re going to love this one. I had a stool lab, and that showed some yeast overgrowth, and there was some bacteria hanging out in the gut. I had a lot more going on, causing stress on my body. My mentor helped put a protocol together for me because  I was still learning how to do it. I started feeling better.


Alan Zimmerman: Let me interrupt a second. When you’re talking about stress. This stress isn’t necessarily something that’s being inflicted on you from your job or from your day to day routine. This is just stress that these things in your stomach are placing on your body. Is that what we’re talking about there? That type of stress? Is it stress from an outer source that we internalize and then create the stress inside as well? When you say stress, that’s where I’m going with that.


Rich Jacobs: That’s a great question. I was going to hit on that at some point with you guys today. Stress is stress, whether it’s internal, like what I had, or external. At that time, I had that as well. The internal stressors can be the bacterial overgrowth or a parasite of some sort. The external could be relationship issues or finances or work, whatever it might be. All of that is stress.


Alan Zimmerman: Thank you.


Adam Hicks: What was the protocol that your mentor put into place for you? I’m sure it was pretty extensive, but can you give us maybe the gist of it or some big major points that kind of helped straighten you out?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, absolutely. The protocol basically is going to handle 5 different areas in life. It’s the DRESS protocol. Diet, rest, exercise, stress, and supplementation. I know a lot of times when we go to the doctor, the doctor gives you a drug. Automatically you think of protocol as just a drug or supplement. However, there’re 4 other factors in there that need to be addressed in order for the body to heal properly.


Diet wise, I actually took what’s called an MRT. I used the Oxford LEAP Test. That is a mediated release test, looking at potential food allergens. I removed the things that I was allergic to at that time and allowed my body to heal. Rest, already did a pretty good job with that. In bed by 9:30 at night. Exercise, of course me being me, I was overdoing it, even when I shouldn’t have been working out at all. I was completely drained. I had to reduce that.


Then stress reduction, that was a huge one, and finding ways to do that, either through yoga or therapy or meditation. Then the supplement protocol, which of course is what everyone wants, because everyone wants to have the pill to fix everything. The supplement protocol addressed my digestion. It addressed my adrenal issues. Actually, I was taking some pro hormones, like DHEA, to help bring that up and compensate. What’s called a little bit of allopathic therapy. Meaning, it’s helping me feel better. It’s not correcting the problem, but it helped me feel better so that I could correct the problem.


Then I went further into the gut protocol, in which I had to break down some biofilms. I know this can go off into a whole other podcast. Breaking down biofilm is to help eradicate bacteria and yeast. Of course, I was taking yeast and bacteria killers through bio-botanicals to help eradicate that. I started feeling better after a couple of months, but it took about a year to actually completely come back.


Adam Hicks: Wow. This is all very interesting.


Alan Zimmerman: That sounds like a complete lifestyle change as well, if it took that long. Probably your diet was totally different than what you’d normally been used to.


Rich Jacobs: For me, I think it’s going to be different than most people I work with, because I’m already a health freak. I’m already eating pretty well. I’m already eating gluten free. Already don’t eat that much dairy. All the things that I typically remove for people in the beginning, I had already taken them out. The biggest change for me was, oh, I’m allergic to things I’m eating right now. I’ve got to remove that too. Yeah, frustrating at times.


Adam Hicks: You said when you started, you were training for a physique competition. Were you able to continue on and complete when you were going through your treatment? Or did this kind of sideline that process?


Rich Jacobs: No, I did go ahead and complete. I ended up losing more weight than I should have, so I didn’t look the way I should have up on stage. It’s probably what set me over the edge.


Adam Hicks: Yeah, that was going to be my next question.


Rich Jacobs: Yeah. That pretty much was the cherry on top. That was it.


Adam Hicks: Yeah. Obviously, we didn’t have this in the interview, but I’m kind of a bodybuilding nerd. Were you doing a bodybuilding competition, or was it men’s physique? What were you training for?


Rich Jacobs: It was men’s physique.


Adam Hicks: Like you said, you’ve got to take your body to such an extreme point, and such low body fat. You kind of contribute that to, maybe not the overall root cause of the problems that you faced, but maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah. Exactly. Because I had some of the other stresses in my life already. A week before the show, sometimes you do some unhealthy things, like reduce water intake and reduce carb intake, just a little bit. At that point, your immune system’s low.


Adam Hicks: Yeah, because you’ve depleted yourself so much to the point that you just don’t have much in the tank to fight anything off at that point. Very interesting.


Rich Jacobs: Right.


Adam Hicks: We’ve touched on this for just a moment during the show, but you keep bringing up stress. I think we can all agree that it’s a big problem today for everybody. We’re all busy. It seems like everybody’s working. There’s no single income family anymore. Everybody’s at work and everybody’s dealing with stress. Not just at work, but when we come home the responsibilities don’t end. I have children, and they take up a lot of my time. I guess that came out wrong. That kind of sounded bad. Not that I wouldn’t give them that time. When you speak of stress, what are you talking about? Like Alan said, are you talking about something within the body, are you talking about outside forces stressing you out? Explain that a little bit for everybody.


Rich Jacobs: Okay. Stress is stress. Internal or external, your body will perceive it as stress. When you have a stressful reaction, cortisol levels will increase. That’s pretty much the main hormone of the body. Cortisol controls circadian rhythms. It helps control blood sugar. Obviously, it helps control stress levels and also inflammation. It’s okay for cortisol to go up for an acute amount of time, or a short amount of time, when you’re going through some stress. Then levels should come back down to normal and we move on with life. However, like you said, we have a lot of stresses in life nowadays, and most of us are not good at managing it.


Then we go into what’s called chronic elevated cortisol. You’re stressed and stressed and stressed, and that cortisol level never comes back down. That’s when we start to see a shift in what’s called the cortisol to DHEA ratio. I’m going to get a little scientific here if you don’t mind.


Adam Hicks: No, go right ahead.


Rich Jacobs: Hopefully your listeners don’t mind either.


Alan Zimmerman: I’ll dumb it down for them.


Rich Jacobs: What that means is that, instead of the body producing more DHEA for testosterone and estrogen, it’s producing more cortisol. I can get more detailed than that if you’d like, but that’s the gist of it. Instead of making DHEA’s to make your body more anabolic, for men or women, just for maintaining muscle mass. The increased stress is going to shovel cortisol, I’m sorry, shuttle over to cortisol. That’s going to make us more catabolic, and that essentially starts to throw off balance in the nervous system and metabolism. It also derails other functions, detoxification, gut health, and all that. It is called metabolic chaos, where the body is completely thrown out of whack.


When this shift occurs, now we open the doors up to pathogens, because our body’s immune system is lowered. Our defenses are not working as well. We see a lot more leaky gut. I think that’s becoming more mainstream talk. Basically, the leaky gut is going to cause more inflammation, and this is where you see auto-immune diseases start to pop up, and allergies that maybe you’ve never had before. The big one that of course everyone hates is, now you can’t lose weight, even when you’re doing everything right.


With people who are working out and eating well, they’re talking to their trainers, their CrossFit coaches. The coaches are like, “Well you’re not doing something right, you’re probably lying.” They’re like, “Man, I’m doing everything right.” This is when people start to freak out and they go to Dr. Google, and they can’t find anything on Dr. Google. Then they go to their doctor. Then they’re taking things that mask the issues. They’re not eliminating the issues, they’re just masking them.


Adam Hicks: Yeah. This is the first thing that I thought of when you were going through this: I work with several women, and as soon as they hit a plateau, they just want to cut the calories back more and increase the cardio. In my mind I’m thinking, now that we’ve talked a little bit, that’s got to be increasing the cortisol and just throwing things out of whack even more. Would that be correct?


Rich Jacobs: Oh yeah. Absolutely. There’re enough studies out there now that show that slow cardio, or prolonged cardio, actually increases cortisol levels. Well, if you’re increasing cortisol, then you’re increasing inflammation. If you’re increasing inflammation, you’re never going to lose that extra body fat that you have on you. You probably have some female clients who actually look like they have muscle mass, but you can’t see it. You can tell that they have fat there, but it’s probably more inflammation due to overworking, and then not eating enough. Blood sugar starts to become an issue, and we talked about how cortisol helps manage blood sugar, right? Everything’s coming back to this cortisol relationship and inflammation. If you’re not eating, then you’re causing your body more stress.


Adam Hicks: Yup. Somebody comes to you, and maybe it could be a woman, it could be a man. It doesn’t matter, I fall into the same trap when I hit a plateau. It might go on for 2 weeks. I think, “Well, let’s just cut the carbs back more and we’ll hit the stepper for a little bit longer.” Somebody comes to you, they’ve been plateaued for several weeks, they’re not feeling well, they feel bloated, joints are aching. How do you begin to diagnose somebody, and then later go into treatment with them? What is your process?


Rich Jacobs: Basically I’m a health detective. I like to gather information and look for those clues to find the root cause. Just so we don’t confuse anything, I’m not actually a doctor. I don’t diagnose. I just find the root cause of things and help treat that. When a new client comes to me, I like to get the whole story first. That whole story is a complete health history, starting from when they were babies, all the way up to present day. There could be clues along the way that could help ID what’s going on.


If they tell me that they had a heavy dose antibiotics at the age of 1, and then now they’re dealing with IBS and joint issues, well automatically I’m already thinking, “Man, you’ve been dealing with an unhealthy gut for the last 30 years.” We need to start looking at that. I do a very detailed intake to find out everything about them. Current symptoms, past symptoms, and health history. Then we order 5 primary lab, that give me a huge window into their body, so I can get a complete picture. Would you like me to go over those labs?


Adam Hicks: Yeah, for sure.


Rich Jacobs: What I’m looking for…


Alan Zimmerman: Are guys like you all around the country? How hard are you guys to find?


Rich Jacobs: How hard are we to find? The good thing about FDN’s, functional diagnostic nutritionists, is that I can work with anybody in the country. Because everything I do is via Skype or email. The labs are all done at home, except for the blood allergy lab, for the food allergy. You have to go to a lab and have it drawn. Otherwise, everything can be done at home and mailed right back to the lab. I get the results, and then we go over it. I live in Arizona, I think there’s definitely more functional medicine type people over on the western side of the US than there are on the eastern. However, the Cleveland Clinic has opened up a functional medicine wing, which means we’re starting to see more and more functional medicine and this way of thinking.


Alan Zimmerman: Yeah. With the way medicine has been going, and people’s thoughts on it have been more along the lines of why are we continuing to just treat things instead of curing them, or finding the root cause of where these problems lie? I think it’s probably come to that. Not to interrupt. Go ahead with the 5 labs.


Rich Jacobs: No, it’s okay. I could speak to that as well. The 5 labs we use are the saliva lab, that’s the one I talked about earlier. That gets all of the steroid hormones, cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, melatonin. The other one that we use is a urine lab. The urine lab is going to give me a window into liver function, into accident levels and digestive issues. It can also give me a window into SIBO. I do use a SIBO lab as well, to see what the bacterial growth looks like in the small intestine.


The other lab is the Oxford MRT, that’s the food allergy lab. I love that lab because not only is it fairly accurate, more so than a lot of the other ones I’ve seen out there. It also comes with a great nutrition plan to help get you out of being allergic to all those foods that you’re allergic to.


Adam Hicks: You can actually fix that problem, when somebody has a food allergy?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, it creates a rotation type diet, based on what you’re allergic to and what you’re not allergic to, and then slowly bringing those allergenic foods back in. Of course, everyone’s a little different, that’s where the coaching comes in. It helps having somebody to manage that situation. Then the last lab is the stool lab. That one I get to see bacteria, parasites, yeast overgrowth and a nasty bacteria called H pylori. I get a really huge window of what’s going on.


Adam Hicks: Then once you see the results of the labs and things like that, you begin to not so much diagnose, but try to find the root cause of the issues with them. What’s the next step? Where do you start to try to correct people’s issues?


Rich Jacobs: After gathering all the information, we go into the DRESS protocol. The diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction and supplementation, which is going to be a little different for everyone. I’m going through courses with the Institute for Functional Medicine, and there are a lot of different diet plans that I can get people on, depending on their situation. We like to hit diet first, because if you’re going to keep eating McDonald’s or fast food. I don’t want to plug them out there. If you’re eating fast food or processed foods, anything we do with exercise or supplementation just won’t have that same effect. We literally are what we eat, and so we want to pick nutrition first.


I want to make sure I don’t do it in an overwhelming way because it can be a huge change for people. I’ll end up losing people if I’m like, “I want you to pull out gluten, soy, egg, corn, dairy and sugar.” They’re going to look at me like, “Um, yeah. I don’t even know how to live like that.” It’s taking baby steps. I have to work with people on that dimmer switch. Meaning, some people want all the information right away and they can make that change. Some people just want to be on a little drift. Let’s just take out eggs first. I have to move with that client. That’s some of the art of coaching behind it. Then basically I spend about 6 to 9 months with people, and making these changes and eliminating that root cause.


Adam Hicks: Okay, so then we’re moving on to both rest and exercise. How can we get more rest? If somebody doesn’t have …


Alan Zimmerman: Well wait a second, because you said you were an insomniac, right?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, I was also not sleeping well. I couldn’t fall asleep. If I did fall asleep, I’d wake up sweating. Oh yeah.


Alan Zimmerman: Just going to bed at 9 o’clock doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting rest. Is there a way then, even though the diet might also be a big help to leading to a good night’s rest, is there something else to help get that … I’m sorry Adam, I know you …


Adam Hicks: That’s fine. I was just trying to follow along. You said the DRESS method. We were talking about diet, and I’m really interested, if I cut you off, if you had more to go there, that’s fine. As far as rest goes, again I’m also being selfish. I come home at night, and especially with the way my schedule works out, I just don’t have the time to get the extra sleep. Is that a problem that you just have to fix your schedule so you can get more sleep? Can we just sleep better? What’s your thought on that?


Rich Jacobs: This is where I have a come to Jesus moment with people. Well, you’re calling me up and you want to work with me for a reason. Everything else you’ve done is not working or hasn’t worked. You’ve already spent a ton of money trying to figure that out. Yes, you have to prioritize a little bit and also make some changes in your life.

An important fact to know, because most people have adrenal issues, is that the 2 hours before midnight is twice as effective to the 2 hours after midnight. In other words, if you can get to bed before 10 o’clock, you’re doing your adrenal glands a wondrous thing by giving them that extra rejuvenating recovery period. Because it takes twice the amount of time after midnight to do that. When you’re 21 and out partying, you can slide through it. As we get older, it becomes more prevalent. Did you want me to talk a little more about sleep?


Alan Zimmerman: Well the other question there is, regardless of what time you go to bed, it depends on what time you were to get up. I know there’s a lot of guys that go to bed at 1 and 2, but they don’t get up till 11 and noon. Are they getting enough? Is it the amount of sleep that you get, or is it based on the schedule that you live? There’s afternoon workers, midnight work, different shifts which disrupt our sleep patterns. What kind of things are there for them? How does that actually apply?


Rich Jacobs: That’s really tough. I work with nurses and other shift workers, and they’re working that overnight shift. It’s unnatural for the body to be up during that time and sleeping during the day. Of course, I tell them, “Get off that shift work until you get better.” If that’s possible. The amount of sleep could be a factor, but more importantly, you want to look at a deeper level. You think about, there’re cortisol rhythms, there’re circadian rhythms. Naturally, cortisol should be highest in the morning, and then lowest at night.


I’ll go even further here and say, the color of the sky is blue. Of course, some people want to negotiate that, but it’s blue. What that color does is it activates melatonin, I’m sorry, it turns off melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone used to help you sleep. When it gets dark out, naturally you should be getting more tired, because the blue is no longer there to keep you awake and keep melatonin suppressed. Which is why one of the things I tell people to do if they’re having trouble sleeping, is to stop using all electronics at least an hour or 2 before bedtime. TV screens, computer screens, smartphones, they all emit a blue light, which prevents the body from producing melatonin in the evening.


Adam Hicks: I’m curious, and you’re probably going to get to the supplementation. I don’t want to jump around too much. Because of the melatonin production, can we just supplement with that at night, to help improve our sleep? What’re your thoughts on that?


Rich Jacobs: We can, and I do use that for some clients. That’s called allopathic treatment. Allopathic basically is what pharmaceuticals do. They make you feel better but they don’t take care of the problem. Sometimes you need that to get better sleep. If you’re not sleeping, nothing’s getting better. The number 1 thing I’m working on after diet is sleep, and sometimes I work on both at the same time. I don’t mind using melatonin. We can see melatonin levels from that first lab that we do. If those levels are low, because I know that more than 70% of melatonin is produced in the gut, I already know that we probably have something going on in the gut. If there’s something there preventing melatonin production, then we need to find out what that is.


Hopefully, you can see the connection, how this all works together. Where, if you’re not sleeping well and you’re not producing melatonin to even get tired at night, even at 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, then I’m going to want to start looking at the gut. Yes, we can use melatonin in the meantime, but I don’t like to use that long term, just because melatonin is actually a hormone. It’s not a pro-hormone, it’s a hormone. You don’t want your body to not make it on its own. Any time you’re putting actual hormones into your body, you’re always at a risk of something else being thrown out of balance. The fact that you have to do that in the first place means that you already have something wrong and we need to figure that out.


Adam Hicks: Yeah, so instead of just masking the problem, we’ve got to find the root cause, like you keep going back to. We have to get that corrected in order to really feel better. Very interesting. Now the 3rd method, or the 3rd step, is exercise. What are you doing there with people? I’m guessing that maybe you’ve got people coming in that are severely under trained, and we’ve got a question about over training coming up. What are your methods as far as correcting somebody’s exercise protocol?


Rich Jacobs: If somebody comes in to see me and they’re not working out, they’re typical sit at the desk all day from 9 to 5 and go home and sit on the couch, then we need to get those people moving. I really don’t implement any kind of a movement protocol until I know what their labs look like because I don’t want to over stress them either. More than likely, they need to at least get out and do some walking, 2 to 3 times a week. I often refer them to maybe a trainer to get a workout program together.


I know a lot of females like to do group classes, and they’re fun. You get the whole paleo mentality where you’re all working together. That’s great, except usually, it’s too much for somebody who has adrenal issues. Having a trainer will help to control that workload, and you can slowly build into what you need to do. Some movement is definitely important because you need to get the body moving.


Adam Hicks: On the other hand, are you seeing people that are coming to you that are over trained? Is that a real thing? The term seems to be getting more popular as Crossfit kind of explodes and goes mainstream. I hear the term over training getting tossed around all the time. I remember 15 years ago when I started power lifting, my thought was, there’s no such thing as over training. You’re under eating or you’re not sleeping enough or you’re just not tough enough. I’ve been trying to get away from that mindset now, as I’ve gotten older. What are your thoughts on that when it comes to somebody’s exercise program?


Rich Jacobs: Over training is real, but it’s easily prevented. You and I have the same thought process, and I used to tell my athletes when coaching that there is no such thing as over training, just under eating. Of course, as a coach for collegiate athletes, I had a lot of control over their lives when it came to stress loads. Practices can be periodized or reduced. Along with what we did in the weight room, and on conditioning days. I could manipulate all that. I had other resources, like athletic trainers on staff, they had food cooked for them. Obviously the real world is much different than that. Over training can be controlled by varying work volume.


The number 1 influence on over training is the volume. What does that mean? It means that if you’re tired, hitting AMRAP, or work capacity, probably isn’t the best idea. That’s just heavy volume, low rest period. You’re getting the heart rate up. You’re really stressing the body. You mentioned power lifting, you can still work at a heavy load, just less volume. A power lifting workout could be 10 to 15 sets of 2 reps. If you’re getting adequate rest in between those sets, 3 to 4 minutes, that’s a full recovery. Yes, you’re stressing out the body, but it’s more of a nervous system stress. If you haven’t depleted the nervous system, you could be okay training that way.


Of course I don’t recommend beginners to start out with 15 sets of 2 reps. Decrease in volume will be the best. Oftentimes when I still train people a little bit now, and back then, about every 3 to 4 weeks we would have a de-load week. Meaning we’ve been working hard, you get a feel for the client or the athlete or the team. You’re like, okay we need to reduce volume a little bit this week, give the body a break, and then hit it again. That’s more of a preventative measure so that we don’t hit over training.


Adam Hicks: Yeah, and how I wish I knew about that. De-load wasn’t even in my vocabulary 15 years ago. Now I kick myself. I’m sure there’s a lot of guys that are in the same boat. We had a lot of success back in the day, in spite of what we were doing.


Rich Jacobs: Absolutely. People who use that as a, “Hey, we did it back then.” I’m always like, well that’s true, you did, but how much better could you have been if you allowed yourself to have some recovery?


Adam Hicks: Yeah. It makes me sad now, but I live and learn. As far as the over training goes, it kind of goes back to what you said, recommending somebody get a trainer, because then they can kind of monitor that person and maybe recognize some of the symptoms that do go into over training, or are associated with them. What are some key markers that you’re looking for in order to identify if somebody is over training? Are you watching heart rate upon waking, or things like that?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah. If I’m actually working with the person one on one, I’m able to do heart rate, I’m able to look at strength numbers. I’m able to communicate regularly, 3, 4 times a week, depending on how often they’re coming in. Are you having trouble sleeping? Any weight fluctuations? Are you feeling unmotivated? Those are the big ones. If I’m talking to people on the phone, long distance type clients, like I normally do, I just have to get updates. Often times I like to talk with the trainer that they’re working with. Not to control the program, but just to say, “Hey, this is what’s going on. I know exactly what you’re doing for your job. Let’s try to monitor over training.”


You definitely just want to make sure your coach or trainer, whether you’re Crossfit or one on one, or group training, that they just understand some of these principles. As you know, there’s a big spectrum of trainers out there, and you’ve just got to get somebody who knows what they’re doing. If you’re already over trained, I recommend just resting, or doing very light workouts. Increase nutrition and hydration. Depending on how far the over trained state has gone, you can feel better in a few days or in a few months. It just depends.


Adam Hicks: You touched on stress earlier, but you also work within supplements, supplementation to help people correct some of their problems. Are we just talking whey protein and creatine, Rich? What are we talking about when it comes to supplementation? Are you just recommending protein powder for people? I’m sure it goes a little bit deeper.


Rich Jacobs: It definitely goes a little deeper. It all depends on who I’m working with. Now, for a lot of people, I will switch them off of whey protein and get them on some kind of a vegan protein. Dairy can be very inflammatory. In general, when I’m looking at functional medicine, I’m looking at breakdowns and how things are functioning in the body. A lot of times I’ll get them on a good digestive enzyme. However, I know there’s a lot of talk about digestive enzymes right now. They have this 18 HDL, that’s a really good product, no matter what company you go with. However, you need to make sure that you don’t have H Pylori first, which is why I do all these lab tests before I do any supplementation. I need to know what’s going on.


H pylori is a nasty bacteria. Taking a digestive enzyme will aggravate it more, and therefore aggravate symptoms even more. That’s just something that I wanted to throw out there for your listeners. Then we can go anywhere from complex antioxidant blends to gut breakdown and rebuilding. Glutamine is also a big one to help rebuild the gut. There’s just a ton of products out there that I can use to help people regain their health.


Adam Hicks: I’m glad you brought that up. This was not on the outline, but you just mentioned glutamine, and I go round and round with people on this. A lot of trainers, or power lifters, body builders, Crossfit enthusists, etc.are also taking glutamine and assume it’s helping with recovery. They rely on it for muscle soreness, getting muscle back, rebuilding the muscles. Now, I was always under the impression that glutamine was mainly for gut health. Can you put an end to the myth here and tell me exactly what glutamine is for?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, well don’t get me wrong. It’s an important amino acid. I myself use it around workouts but it is more important for gut health than anything. It’s a good volumizer as well, for muscle tissue. If you’re really looking for a good powder to throw in for recovery, leucine is definitely going to be the better amino acid for that. Glutamine I use for both gut repair and gut health.


Adam Hicks: You’re recommending leucine, just because it’s kind of the, how do I want to word this? It starts the protein muscle synthesis process, is that correct?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, absolutely. It’s an important amino acid with the protein synthesis. A lot of the BCAA’s out there are only a 2 to 1 to 1 ratio. Really, I’ve seen better results off of a 3 or 4 to 1 to 1 ratio.


Adam Hicks: Very good. You guys heard it here first. You take your glutamine for gut health, and Rich Jacobs said so, so stop arguing with me about it.


Alan Zimmerman: It’s great when you’re right.


Adam Hicks: We’ve got that confirmed. Thank you for that, I appreciate it. We’ve covered stress, is there anything more that you also want to add to stress? You keep going back to that and you keep bringing up the gut.


Alan Zimmerman: I have a question, Adam. Regarding getting your gut straightened out. Once that happens, do you change up what you’re taking for that? Once you get everything healed and everything’s good, or you believe so, would there be a different regimen of supplements, or protocol?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of that stuff is pretty hard on the body. Most of the time, people feel worse before they get better because they’re releasing so many toxins into the body. If they have symptoms like bloating and diarrhea, they can actually get worse before they go away completely. The protocols that I use usually last 2 to 3 months, Then we re-test and we make sure that the protocol worked. If it worked, then we dial it down and we go to more basic type stuff, probiotic, vitamins, fish oil, just to maintain inflammation, make sure you’re still getting good nutrients and probiotics for gut health.


Sometimes I still keep in their digestive enzymes, either with or without HCL. It depends on the person. Then if they have a tough case, we might keep a low dose of antimicrobials to make sure we just keep the yeast or bacteria at bay until we completely eliminate it. Unfortunately, some people are just so stressed out, they might always have to have a low dose something because they’re just not dealing with their stress. You don’t want to have a relapse.


Adam Hicks: Very interesting. Is there anything more that you need to speak to as far as stress goes? It seems like I was saying earlier, stress and gut health I think are the 2 words that keep coming up over and over again. Is that basically how we’re going to go about? When we come to see you, to get straightened out, is that it in a nutshell? Was there anything else that you needed to add to that? Anything else that people should be taking away from this interview?


Rich Jacobs: Those are definitely the 2 big things, gut health and stress, and I would also add sleep. You need all 3 to get better.


Adam Hicks: I really wanted to cover this topic, and we’ll try to do it quickly because I want to be respectful of your time. I knew this was going to go over, as soon as we started chatting because I was so interested in what you were doing. Alan, how old are you this week?


Alan Zimmerman: 57.


Adam Hicks: 57 years old this week, and he’s concerned, as are a lot of men at his age, with low testosterone and the side effects that may come from that. Low energy, low libido, not recovering as fast in the gym. Now TRT, testosterone replacement therapy, it’s another hot button topic, especially if you look at what the UFC has done with testosterone replacement therapy and things like that. Especially for men around Alan’s age. In your opinion, is this a safe treatment to help older men feel younger again? Are there other options that he should be looking into, to maybe naturally increase that testosterone before he goes and gets injections or cream from his doctor?


Rich Jacobs: That’s a tough question. It’s almost like a loaded question. It really depends on the end game. If you’re older, Alan, you said you were 57-ish this week. If you don’t really want to find out why your testosterone is low, and you don’t care, you just want to feel better, then I guess HRT can be an option for you. Even though testosterone is starting to drop, even after the age of 30, men should still have adequate libido and muscle tone as long as everything in the body is working the way it should. I think if done properly, it can be a good idea, depending on what you’re doing it for.


Obviously, me being the health detective, I’d like to figure out why is it so low? What is going on? Especially if that person is low, but not so low for insurance to cover HRT. Obviously, you’re still producing something, just not enough. I’ll go even deeper: if you are going to do either injection or cream, I would definitely prefer injections, only because you know at least you’re getting a more precise dose, and you don’t have to worry about getting the cream on your partner.

People don’t think about that, and same also goes for women. Again, I don’t condone creams or any of this stuff, or say that they’re good or bad. If you are using them, you definitely don’t want your partner, who’s using estrogen creams, to get that all over you. It definitely goes both ways, so if you’re going to go that route, there arealso these things to think about.


Alan Zimmerman: I guess the one part about that, for me Rich, is that I’m not in any hurry to jump on the testosterone wagon if there’s also something that I can do while my system is still creating testosterone, to enhance that or make it work itself better. If I’m hearing you right, if I can get my gut health straightened around, it would help that area to not necessarily increase it, but allow what is being made to be utilized better?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah. It isn’t always just gut health. Gut health could be just a piece of the pie. It could also be the thyroid is getting affected. There could be some stressor in your life that’s affecting it. There are definitely more issues than just gut health that can be causing issues in the body. Although, I do look at that a lot. At least I start there. It could definitely be heavy metal toxicity. It could be anything. Don’t get me wrong, the HRT, it works. If you do it, you’ll probably feel better and you might even lose some weight, but you’re just masking the actual problem.


Adam Hicks: Yeah, very interesting.


Alan Zimmerman: Adam and I have both talked before. Personally, I really plateaued for the last month, roughly, but I can attribute that to vacation and then also really struggling with getting back into the swing of my dietary program that I was following before. You know what I mean? Being on that stricter regimen of my daily intake of calories and how those are implemented in my system.


Rich Jacobs: Yeah. I would definitely fix the basic first and see how you respond.


Alan Zimmerman: Thank you.


Adam Hicks: Well Rich, we’re coming up on an hour here. I do this with everybody. I told you a half hour to 45 minutes, but you’re so interesting we just had to keep you on here.


Alan Zimmerman: I was thinking about maybe doing a 2 part episode, and we’ll keep you on here for another hour.


Adam Hicks: There you go.


Alan Zimmerman: We’re going to withdraw every ounce of information we can from you.


Adam Hicks: Yeah. We still want to give people a reason to come and also check out your website and see exactly what it is that you’re doing. Again, let’s go into some selfish purposes for me. When I was on your website, learning more about you, your tagline is, “Ask me how to feel younger.”

I’m 32. I have both a power lifting and a football background. Like I told you, some mornings it really hurts. I really have a problem getting out of bed and into the shower. What are some practical steps that I can take right now, after listening to your interview. What’s something that I can also put into place to kind of help me feel younger, and also help me move a little bit better? Do you have any advice for other people that might feel like me? Just that we can take away and put into practice tomorrow?


Rich Jacobs: Yeah, and first of all Adam, I was just looking at my website and I was looking for that tagline. I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I wondered where you were.


Adam Hicks: I think it was actually in your email, Rich.


Rich Jacobs: Okay, I’m like, that’s a good tagline, I just don’t remember seeing that on my website.


Alan Zimmerman: Need to put it on my website now.


Rich Jacobs: Yeah. For those power lifters, and also bigger guys who have that football background, that’s always a challenge. You’re waking up in the morning. Your body hurts and you’re also stressed out. I would look at maybe a good magnesium supplement to get some better sleep. Maybe a reduced workload. Try de-loading for a bit. If you’ve already tried that, maybe you need to increase your protein intake a little bit. With that increase of protein, you have to increase your PH level. When I hear joint pain, I think acidity, too much inflammation.


Some great ways to increase your PH and get your body more basic. There’s some great PH water out there now, the high PH water. More vegetables. If you’re having 4 ounces of protein, I would recommend 4 to 6 ounces of vegetables, because you need to counteract that PH, the protein can be more acidic. Then hydration for sure. There’s a lot that I don’t know about you. Are you having caffeine regularly? If you are, when are you having it? What does your diet look like? What does your workload look like, as far as working out? I would like to know a couple of those other things to really have a bigger impact. For the general listener, I would say hydration, protein, and vegetables.


Adam Hicks: Okay, and you also just mentioned magnesium. Do you recommend doing like a ZMA supplement before we go to bed, or just magnesium on its own? How do you recommend somebody increasing their magnesium?


Rich Jacobs: Magnesium in general, there’s more studies coming out showing that about 90% of Americans have deficient magnesium. Among those who work out, it’s probably 99% have deficient magnesium. Magnesium is just a great buffer for the nervous system. It also helps to relax the body, and definitely will get deficient when under stress. A magnesium supplement post workout is important to remember, guys and girls. If you’re going to get magnesium, you’ve got to make sure you get a combination magnesium.


If you just start swallowing 500 milligrams of magnesium citrate only, you are not going to feel good in a couple hours. It’s going to run right through you. You definitely need a combo mag. Then the ZMA, I’ve also played a lot of rounds with combinations of magnesium and zinc, or just ZMA supplements. Personally, I like doing my own combination of both magnesium and zinc. I also seem to get better sleep when I do that, versus just a ZMA. I definitely like the combination however you choose to do it.


Adam Hicks: Okay. Go ahead, where can people learn more about you, or maybe enlist your services? What are some steps? What’s your website? Where are you at on social media? Also, how can we find out more about you?


Rich Jacobs: Well the company name is My Coach Rich. Although I’ve got my training company up there as well. If you want to learn more about what we talked about today, it’s RichJacobsFDN.com. That will get you to my website. Facebook page, I have everything on there. That’s just Facebook My Coach Rich. I’m talking about both training and functional medicine on that site. If RichJacobsFDN is too hard to remember, MyHealthDetective.com.


Adam Hicks: Okay awesome. Guys, we will put links to all of Rich’s information in the show notes. Make sure you also check that out and you can click right over, learn more about him. I think there’s also a lot of us that would benefit by enlisting your services. Like you said, it doesn’t have to be face to face. You can do this online, via email, over the phone, because you can get your labs done from home and mail that away. Is that correct?


Rich Jacobs: Absolutely. I’ve got people all over the country right now. It’s definitely built to be remote.


Adam Hicks: Perfect. Myself, I might have to give you a call so you can straighten me out and also correct all these problems that I have brought upon myself. Now that I’m learning about them, I need somebody to coach me through them.


Alan Zimmerman: I’m thinking about that too with my 62 years.


Adam Hicks: See, he just got 5 years older since we just talked about that.


Alan Zimmerman: Beingboth  up here and unhealthy, I’m really needing some help.


Adam Hicks: Hey Rich, sorry it took so long, but I feel like we just scratched the surface of what you do and also how you help people. This was great and I really appreciate you both coming on here and dropping some science on us.


Rich Jacobs: Thank you Adam, Alan, it was a lot of fun. I appreciate it.


Alan Zimmerman: Rich, I really appreciate it. A whole lot of information just happened in this last hour. There’s just a whole lot more. I’m sure that the listeners are also going to have a bunch of questions.


Adam Hicks: I’m overwhelmed, I kind of feel like I need to take a nap now.


Alan Zimmerman: I do too. Oh my gosh, I’m worn out by listening that hard.


Adam Hicks: All right guys, stick around. Rich, once again, thank you so much. Guys stick around, Alan and I will be right back to wrap the up the show and we’ll go from there. Thanks again, Rich.


Rich Jacobs: You’re welcome, thank you.


Speaker 4: The Building Ambition podcast, with Adam Hicks and Alan Zimmerman, will be right back.


Adam Hicks: All right guys, we are back, and that was our interview with Rich Jacobs. Whew. Wow. Got to thank him again for both coming on here and dropping that knowledge on us.


Alan Zimmerman: Adam. When you get to listening to something and you’re so engaged in it, you’re so focused, I’m also worn out.


Adam Hicks: Yeah, and that was my thing. I was sitting here trying to take notes so I could remember to come back. I was trying to stay focused because I knew it was going to be a lot of science and a lot of practical use that people could put into play, so I wanted to make sure. Because I have a tendency to jump around, I think we all know that.


Alan Zimmerman: I know I do too. I’m like a fart in a skillet.


Adam Hicks: Yeah. I wanted to make sure that this one was really good, really clear. He and I had been working on the outline this week, bouncing ideas off of one another. There were times where he was explaining gut health or stress, and I was losing myself just listening to the advice that he was giving. Then I was forgetting to come back in.


Alan Zimmerman: Yeah, there were those long pauses and I’m thinking, obviously somebody wasn’t on top of the game there. I’m going to point my finger at you, give you a little stink eye there.


Adam Hicks: That’s fine. I’ll take full credit for that. I think we did a good job. Like I said, I feel like he could probably come on here every week and explain.


Alan Zimmerman: Oh my gosh, we could have a segment.


Adam Hicks: Pick a new subject and talk about that. For me, and I guess I’ll go first to do kind of my wrap up and my take away from it. The 2 things he kept coming back to, let’s make it 3 things. Stress, gut health, and rest. I mean, maybe gut health is something that, I think it’s gaining more popularity now, maybe in the past few years.


Alan Zimmerman: If you notice, everybody that I know that talks about gut health, it’s all, “Oh you’ve just got to drink probiotics.” No, no, no. That’s not it. You might be making yourself worse off by drinking those if you don’t also know what’s going on in there.


Adam Hicks: So many times I’ve heard people within the body building community say, “Well you just need to get a good digestive enzyme.” Because, as a body builder, or even me as a power lifter, and I’m kind of leaning more towards the body building lifestyle now, you’re pushing so much food into you that you’re also having digestive issues. We go on both BodyBuilding.com or Amazon, whatever it may be, and buy some digestive enzymes. Well, he noted that you need to make sure that you don’t have H pylori first, or it’s just going to run right through you. It’s not going to be good. That was also somethingI had never even considered.


Alan Zimmerman: Just because it may run right through you through doesn’t necessarily mean you have that. It could also mean that you’re allergic to that. If you don’t establish what you might be allergic to, we can’t fix that part of it. There’s a lot of good information.


Adam Hicks: Yeah guys, I would also highly recommend going to MyCoachRich.com, RichJacobsFDN.com, and learning more about him. We were asking him about the prices of some of the tests that he recommends, and yeah it’s a significant out of pocket expense. On the same hand, and I think this is where you’re going with it. Why don’t you go ahead with that?



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