Investigate Your Health

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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, 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 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 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,


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 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,, 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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