From Struggle to Strength: Mastering Health and Peak Performance

mastering health

mastering healthIn our latest episode, we had the privilege of sitting down with Andrés Preschel, an extraordinary individual whose journey from overcoming personal health challenges to becoming a leading figure in the world of applied physiology and wellness is nothing short of inspiring.

Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at a young age, he faced numerous health issues resulting from medication, including anxiety, insomnia, and body dysmorphia. Despite these challenges, Andrés harnessed the support of his family and friends, turning his life around through a dedicated focus on health and the development of new habits.

Andrés’ deep dive into the fitness world began in 2017, partnering with Dr. Moises Roizental to create lifestyle medicine and longevity programs. He has co-authored a book and led webinars reaching tens of thousands, covering crucial topics such as Intermittent Fasting, Longevity, and Exercise Physiology.

As the founder of Know Your Physio and a founding member at Drym Health, Andrés is at the forefront of creating innovative Remote Monitoring and Lifestyle Data Analytics solutions. His work aims to help ambitious individuals and teams achieve longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.

In This Episode

  1. Diagnosis and management of ADD, including challenges with medication.
  2. What does an optimal health mean?
  3. Overcoming health issues and the four pillars of optimized health.
  4. Strategies for optimizing health, performance, and achieving a fulfilling life.

Jump to Links and Resources

Andres, welcome to the show.

It’s an honor to be here. Thank you for having me.

You bet. I’m grateful to have you on the show, Andres. I know the audience is going to enjoy this one. Most of our audience are high performers. We’re all looking for an edge, not only in wealth but in relationships, our health, and those things that matter. We talk a lot about investing in yourself as your greatest asset.

I know I’ve always achieved a 10x return or even 100X return when I invest in my health, my relationships, my family, and all of those things that are important. So this is going to be a great episode and you have so much knowledge to share on this topic of high-performance health on physiology, that I think a lot of people don’t understand.

It all starts with that education first. Once you have a good foundation for it, you can start to optimize and also uncover any blind spots that you might have, become healthier, and live to your true potential. For guests who haven’t heard of you before, tell us a bit about your background. I know you have a unique story growing up which would be great to share.

Everybody has a unique identity they want to fulfill, a unique role, a unique career, and unique goals they want to accomplish.1

Absolutely. How far back would you like me to go?

Your story of how you dealt with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is empowering. And how you even got into this field of medicine, sports, and physiology.

A lot of people when they come across my content nowadays, when they come across me, generally you’d see a healthy, ambitious, driven guy. I’m happy that I get to represent health physically, mentally, and through my spirit every single day. But the truth is, that’s something that I didn’t have for a long time.

The reason is, that I was diagnosed with ADD from a young age, when I was about eight years old. I had moved from Venezuela where I was raised. My parents are from there. I didn’t speak good English. I was getting acclimated to this new environment and I wasn’t focusing well in school. My parents, they’re medical doctors, they did their research and they figured out the best way to help me get by in school.

As a young person, how you do in school, is closely tied to your self-esteem. They knew that this was important for me to do well in school. God blessed them, they were there to help. And the time that’s the best tool and resource that we had was taking Amphetamines such as Adderall, Vyvanse, etcetera. From a young age, I started taking that and I didn’t know what it was at first. I thought it was my daily vitamins, at least that’s what my parents told me.

That was great. I paid more attention in class. I got my homework done. I would study for exams. I was more proactive whereas typically, the only thing that I was good at and that brought meaningful reward to me was fishing and video games. As the years went by, the tolerance for these amphetamines started to grow and grow. The side effects start to get worse and worse. I didn’t realize this at the time, I had become at one point, eventually physically and physiologically dependent on the medication to get by. 

I didn’t notice how bad these side effects were until I got to the end of the week because I wouldn’t take it on weekends, on summer breaks, or any time we had a vacation. I start to feel progressively more like crap during those small breaks because of the dependency factor. And that’s when I started to get worried.

But I didn’t feel too inclined to do anything different. I thought this is me, this is my life, this is what I have to deal with every day to get by in school, have a good career, and have a good life. It wasn’t until I was in the second half of high school, so at this point, I’d been taking the medication for almost 10 years. 

My girlfriend at the time, and her family were worried about my physical well-being. I was skeletal. I’m about five foot nine, I was about the same height back then. Right now, I weigh about 170 pounds. Imagine me right now minus 55 pounds. I was skin and bone. I was nothing. And at the time, again, this was also normal to me. I went to school in Miami. It’s hot here. I would show up to class every single day wearing a long-sleeved shirt because I became self-conscious and embarrassed by my physical health. 

With amphetamines, it’s like Cocaine – you lose your appetite, you lose your sleep. I developed a stutter, my brain was overactive, and it was on Sympathetic Overdrive. I was too anxious to connect with anybody. My escape became video games and fishing compulsively. I singled myself out and I became lonely.

I honestly can’t tell you how I managed to get a girlfriend back then, but her influence was very important at the time. Then at one point, my brother also noticed that I was going on a total decline in my health. Again, it was just normal to me. It wasn’t until I had the chance to take a summer scholars program.

It’s a summertime program at the University of Miami where I then went to school about Neuroscience. It wasn’t until I took that program and I learned about the concept of Neuroplasticity that finally for the first time in my life, I felt that I could change and upgrade what I thought was a completely broken brain. I’m getting emotional here.

mastering health

The most important thing someone can do for their health in this modern world, where we have unlimited access to content and information, is to pay particular attention to how their context fits into that content.

It wasn’t until I learned that and until I had the access to engage in habits that are objectively going to support neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis, such as unlimited access to the gym, the dining hall, and social life. In this environment that is designed for growth and neuroplasticity among other things, I finally felt that I had the tools and the access that I needed to engage in a process that I didn’t even know existed. 

Within a few short months of learning about neuroplasticity and engaging in habits that support neuroplasticity, for the first time in my life, I felt genuinely confident. I felt like I had agency, and autonomy over my health, over my body. In just three months, I gained about 25 pounds of strength muscle. It seemed like I had taken Steroids and it’s because the rapid rate of change took place. Not because I did anything too unique. 

It was more so because of how much of a deficit I was in nutritionally with sleep and with the poor quality of life that I was living for the sake of getting by in school. We can have a whole other conversation at some point about how broken I think the education system is. For people like me with ADD, in a lot of ways, it is a tremendous superpower, but the modern schooling system doesn’t work for people like us. 

It wasn’t until I learned about this and I realized that this knowledge was essential for me to feel good about myself, that I was motivated to learn and I did well in school. As soon as this momentum started building up, I realized I had to obsessively study this to fix myself so I ended up enrolling in the University of Miami to learn exactly the mechanisms that helped me feel good about myself. 

I knew that inevitably at some point in time, I’d be able to deliver that knowledge, information, and empathy to a like-minded individual. I knew that in my heart and soul. I went to school and studied exercise, physiology, psychology, and nutrition. When I was in my undergrad program, I took on a few leadership positions that were important for me to see the impact that I could have with this kind of knowledge and experience. 

For example, I was a teacher’s assistant for a Biology and Genetics class. I ended up being a manager for one of the internships – everything to do with lifestyle medicine, disease prevention, and applied physiology. Then I started my master’s while I was still an undergrad, I was the only student in a class full of PhDs and I became a graduate assistant early on. 

All of a sudden, I went from being a terrible student who was scraping by to excelling in every way imaginable in every dimension that was meaningful to me as a student in college. I was able to accomplish things without Adderall, that I never imagined I was capable of. When I was getting off of the medication, this was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I had the option to add time to my standardized exams like the ACT and the SAT

But with the difference that I’d seen in my life, I wanted to prove something to myself. I wanted to show myself what I was capable of. I didn’t want to end up on a career path that I knew deep down was set in place by something beyond me. I didn’t want to think to myself later on in my life, “I did well in the ACT because I studied and I took it. I had extra time with the Adderall and this is how I made this career happen.” It didn’t feel genuine to me. 

That was the first project that I embarked on to show myself what I was capable of. Believe it or not, I did not ask for the extra time. Even though a whole bunch of people that I know who did not have ADD, printed fake slips, got extra time.

The point is, I needed to prove this to myself and I ended up placing in the 99th Percentile. That sparked a massive wave of momentum, then I went to school to study all the things that made me feel good about myself. Fast forwarding to today, what I believe deep down in my heart, my soul, and my spirit, this physiological awareness that I gained – these insights, I believe are human rights. 

I don’t think you should have to battle yourself or pursue multiple scientific degrees to understand the basics of what makes you function optimally as a human being. Optimal health to me simply means being able to show up, perform, and be the person that you want to be.

It’s not about like, “You have to be the top 1% in this and that.” Everybody has a unique identity that they want to fulfill, a unique role, a unique career, and unique goals that they want to accomplish. As long as we can orient you towards that, through Applied Science in an efficient and effective process, you are engaging in a kind of system related to what I would consider, optimal health.

It’s living more the way that you want to live, showing up the way that you want to, feeling and looking the way that you want. My story is a testament to how valuable this information is. Beyond the reputation that I’ve gained, the knowledge that I’ve learned, and the mentors that I have, the most important thing that I can do with anyone that I help is to empathize and connect with them. Have that passion, that craving in common, and show them that it’s possible.

It’s easier to go with the grain than against it when choosing healthier foods that lead you toward a better direction.

Wow, such a powerful story and one of pain to purpose, it sounds. That hits home for me. I’ve got a son who’s been challenged with ADD through high school. We struggled to try to figure that out and provide him with the right resources. This is common in today’s day and age and how you treat that. I love this optimal health that you talk about.

That’s what’s going to be interesting for the listeners to break down this concept of optimal health and maybe try to uncover some of the things that you don’t understand, blind spots, and things like that. Why don’t we break down a little bit of what that means to you? Where do we start with that? 

Because many of us are inundated with – whether it’s the gym, “This is how you have to work it. This is how many reps, this is what you should be dosing.” How many days a week do you have to do this? It’s confusing. Food couldn’t be more confusing. “Eat this, and eat that.” How would you explain it hierarchically?

That’s a great question. Starting, the most important thing that someone can do regarding their health in this modern world, where we have unlimited access to content and information is to pay particular attention to how their context fits into that content. Because the content is endless, but unless your context is built into it, then it’s honestly for the most part, meaningless. 

If you want mediocre results, do what your favorite content creators say online or what your favorite research papers might say based on the population that they study. The most established research papers and the most efficacious studies are done on larger populations. So they might showcase a positive, strong, meaningful result, but it’s the end of one study that can consider your unique context to deliver the absolute best – your optimal health, well-being, and performance. 

For anyone who wants to accomplish optimal health, it is about working with someone or with a team of individuals who can look at both the subjective data – the way that you feel, the way that you perceive yourself, the person that you are, the person that you want to be, how you want to show up. And your objective metrics – your blood work, your genetics, your Gut Microbiome health, HRV (Heart Rate Variability), VO₂ Max, etcetera. 

There are a lot of these biometrics that we know are linked to higher and better health standards that are going to reward you with longevity and a better quality of life. If we can work together to take your context, administer, and incentivize specific habits and systems based on that so that throughout a period, you can accomplish change at the level of your identity.

To enable that lifestyle and maintain it sustainably, continue to improve on your own, especially when you have the interoception, the deep bodily awareness that you need to know what your body needs to function optimally. That to me, is optimal health. 

It’s something that a lot of people that we follow online promise, “You follow me, you’re going to get this,” or “You follow me, you do this, you’re going to get that result.” It’s not that simple. It’s an intimate process if you want to be an outlier and you want to accomplish something beyond anything that anyone’s ever seen.

I love that. Creating and tying that to context. We talk a lot about wealth – it’s the same thing. You always see someone with a bigger net worth than you, more income, more toys. But if you understand it, it’s not about that. It’s about creating your chessboard and playing the game that wins for you. 

My friend Nic Peterson always says, “You’ll never win somebody else’s race”. A powerful message there is having context to what it is that’s relevant to you. If you look at this concept of optimal health and break that down; I know Peter Attia has the four pillars to health – he’s got cardiovascular structure, or things like that. Do you have some type of framework that you operate with?

Yes, I do. I’ve got four pillars to keep things pretty straightforward. Sleep and recovery, nutrition, movement, and mind. There’s a specific order to those. Whenever I work with somebody to help them accomplish their optimal health, I start typically 99.9% of the time with sleep and recovery.

Why? Because I understand the power that regulating your nervous system has in making the process of living a healthy life as efficient and as effective as possible. I’ll put it this way, we know that if you are incorporating, let’s say, Resistance training and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) if you’re doing high-intensity training on days when your autonomic nervous system is more recovered; you have higher HRV and recovery scores, for example. 

mastering health

The most established research papers and efficacious studies are often conducted on larger populations, showcasing positive and meaningful results. However, for your optimal health, well-being, and performance, it’s crucial to consider your unique context beyond the conclusions of any single study.

You can get by and get much better results by training way less than an identical population of people who are training and following a standard program. You can get by and get better results in less time. There’s a multitude of studies that have been done on this. I had Kristen Holmes, the VP of Science, and one of the co-founders of WHOOP on my podcast. She went in-depth on this. It’s well-established. 

That alone says a lot about how important the state of the nervous system is in making this an effective, intuitive, and efficient process. I’ll start with that. We can get more gains in less time. Also, by regulating your nervous system in getting deep and efficient sleep, the approach to eating healthier whole foods is going to feel easier and more intuitive.

Your hunger hormones are going to be more regulated. Your Ghrelin levels, Leptin, Cortisol, and insulin sensitivity are going to be a whole lot better. It’s going to be easier to go with the grain rather than against the grain when you’re eating and trying to eat healthier foods that are going to lead you in a better direction.

I am just going to put it on pause for a second there because there’s so much to unpack on each one of these. I want to help the listeners to break this down with sleep. The first thing I would recommend is, that if you do not have a device right now, the first thing you should do is either have a SleepLoop or an Oura where you’re measuring your sleep. 

I’ve been doing it now for a couple of years. What a massive insight into your HRV data, and your sleep data – it’s amazing how all of these different stressors impact you. They could be emotional stressors, they could be stressors from work, from training.

On Sundays, I always have a big training ride. We do about 55 miles, a hard pace. My heart rate was at 194, but that night, 20 minutes of deep sleep. Then my HRV is low the next day, so it’s trying to recover. Let’s talk about sleep a little bit since it is important. First of all, what should people be looking for in terms of deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep? What are the numbers you’d like to see?

Let me go ahead and start by saying that most people don’t get the sleep that they need because the modern lives that we live make it extremely difficult for us to separate our productivity and our recovery. We also make it difficult to accumulate Melatonin the way that our body is designed. 

If you look at our evolution, and you look at it on a timeline, there’s this gap in our physiological evolution. Our physiology evolves linearly, whereas our technology and convenience in life evolve exponentially. So it creates this gap. That gap, I believe, is the root of a lot of our worst health, poor symptoms, and disease. That gap creates a disease. 

It’s the reason why we have these processed foods that have a terrible effect on our well-being. It’s the reason why we don’t get the sleep we need. As an example, most of us, when we’re getting ready for bed, within 30 minutes of our bedtime, we look at a screen, or we have some light on in the house, or maybe we have a late dinner, or we are looking at our emails. 

Now we’re in a sympathetic state and we haven’t experienced an extremely important physiological cue, which is the sunset, or at least mimicking the sunset, because that primes the Circadian Rhythm, the Suprachiasmatic nucleus. Our circadian biology does something important, which is to accumulate melatonin and enable a more parasympathetic resting and relaxing effect.

One of the first few things that I recommend to everybody, like you said, is to get a device so you can objectively see your sleep data. Most people don’t think that they have an issue with sleep because they’ve never slept well. They don’t have that perspective. If anyone’s ever seen a sleep graph, where they see the sleep cycles and how they shift throughout the night, imagine that graph – you go from being awake into a light stage of sleep, then deep sleep you go up to REM. And then you get anywhere between three to five REM cycles a night. 

You get seven and a half to nine hours of sleep – three to six REM cycles. Most of us, because of this modern world, there’s a total shift on that Y-axis. Meaning, we don’t get to experience a significant proportion of that deep sleep. In that REM interval, we experience mechanisms involved with memory consolidation, gaining new skills, and refining skills and information.

In that REM, we end up waking up. Everything shifts upward and we don’t get the sleep that we need. We wake up the next day and what do we do? We go for coffee, nicotine, or some kind of stimulant. It creates this perpetual cycle of poor sleep, a more sympathetic influence. More dependency on these sympathetic stressors and amphetamines, caffeine, nicotine, etcetera. 

It takes us away from the real physiological potential that we’re capable of. Most high-performers who are team ‘no sleep’ are doing themselves a huge disservice because we know that greater sleep efficiency, making more of every hour that you spend in bed is plain and simple, it’s your daily software update. 

Here’s a good analogy. You know how nowadays we have these amazing phones, the new iPhones cost about $1,200. They’re these beautiful phones with beautiful cameras. They’re fast and you can process information quickly. They can store thousands of videos and pictures. They’re great. What happens when you don’t get that software update that you need? The phone starts glitching. No matter how good the phone is, it starts to glitch.

Sleep is your daily software update. It removes the glitches. It gives you the most energy. It replenishes your Dopamine, your currency for motivation and focus. It will restore your adrenals. It will help you support hormones. It will help you gain muscle from the effort that you’re making. As you said earlier, there are all these stressors. Every healthy habit is technically a stressor. It’s a hormetic stressor. 

Most high-performers who embrace ‘team no sleep’ are doing themselves a huge disservice. Greater sleep efficiency, making the most of every hour in bed, is your daily software update.

The idea is it stresses you, but assuming that you get the right recovery, the right sleep, and time off, it stimulates a positive adaptation. For example, fasting is a stressor, exercise is a stressor, cold exposure is a stressor, and any kind of dieting is a stressor. As long as you can allow your nervous system to regulate itself, you become more resilient, more immune, stronger, faster, and smarter over time. 

Going back to these biometrics, when we look at it, they will objectively tell us, they will show us what we can and should do differently and they’re going to hold us accountable because you’re going to show us how our physiology responds to incorporating better habits.

That’s excellent. Because it can’t be overstated enough how important sleep is. It drives many things. Then to your point, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. You’ve got to start measuring it and then looking at things. While it seems great to have that glass of wine or two with dinner, take a look at that after measuring it with your Oura ring and you’ll see how much that impacts your sleep and then your overall performance. That’s an awesome breakdown of the first pillar. Why don’t we hit the second one?

It was nutrition. A couple more things that I want to say on sleep real quick, because it is by far, in my opinion, the most important pillar. Sleep is something that you’re going to have to do for about a third of your life. If we live to 120, it’s 40 years of sleep. It’s the one-third of your life that makes the remaining two-thirds the best that they can be, the most genuine that they can be, the most effective, the most present that they can be. 

For anybody, and especially folks with a high net worth, the most valuable thing that money can’t buy is time. I understand, yes, maybe you have to spend another hour in bed. Or at the bare minimum, make more of every hour that you spend in bed, which everybody can do. I have a whole guide on it, I can send it out to your audience if they wish. I’m more than happy to do that. 

But the point is, that will give you a better quality of life. It’ll help you show up every single day as a better and more improved version of yourself. Otherwise, you are deteriorating. You go to the gym and you’re breaking yourself down. You’re not building new muscle. You’re not allowing your body to enable that Anabolic effect. You are going to feel that eating healthier is a chore because you’re going to have an unregulated nervous system. Your decision-making is going to be more emotional. It’s not going to be logical.

It’s not going to parallel your intention to feel and perform better. You’re going to be impulsive. You’re going to be more emotional. It’s important, especially as men, to be in touch with our emotional side as well. We want to know that we are taking strides towards our goals in meaningful ways. If we’re not getting good sleep, then forget that. That just goes out the window. You are objectively going to be more impulsive. That’s not something that you should do as a man or as a high-performer, even as a woman, anybody. You’re throwing so much out of the window.

I think about it simply. Think about those nights that you got poor sleep because were traveling, hard workouts, or stress. And when you wake up that next day, do you feel like attacking the day? Do you feel like attacking your workout? How do you go into your work day?

How about the quality of your relationships? How do you spend time with people? Are you going through the motions? For all of us, everything is challenging when you don’t have sleep, no matter what it is. It’s one of those things that is right in front of us that we have such an opportunity to optimize.

I want to leave your audience with valuable, actionable steps. With regards to sleep, how can we in a way, mimic evolution? How can we leverage these evolutionarily preserved mechanisms to get better and more efficient sleep? A few things that we can do.

Experiencing the sunset we know is an important physiological cue for deep sleep and melatonin accumulation, which will decrease sleep latency. It’s easier to fall asleep and it will dilate that deep sleep window. Mimicking the sunset or experiencing the sunset. When the sun is at a lower angle relative to where we’re standing on the planet, and that sunlight has to cross through more of the atmosphere, relatively speaking, the atmosphere will filter out that blue wavelength of light. 

So the sky starts to get darker and more like red. That signals to our body, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the brain’s biological clock, to start accumulating melatonin. Why? Because that blue light, otherwise, interacts with the Retina – the back of the eye and gives us this wakefulness response. When the sun is going down and there’s less blue in the sky, we have a cue to start accumulating melatonin. 

If you can’t experience the sunset for whatever reason at home, dim the lights, and put all of your devices on night shift mode – you can schedule that on your phone. Have it so that it is aligned with the sunset. Night shift mode at the warmest setting. On the computer, there’s a software called F.lux, which will do the same based on your geography. It’ll dim the screen, it’ll transition as you move into the night, so it’s more physiologically consistent. Then at home, try to use amber-colored light bulbs. 

Instead of LEDs, which are mostly blue wavelength that will keep you up, amber-colored light bulbs; using candles, warmer lights, and lower lights, lights that are lower to the ground. The higher that they are, the more consistent they are with the sun when creating this wakefulness response, so you want to avoid that. Then the best thing that you can do in my opinion, is wear what I call ‘Blue Light Condoms’. These are nice, high-quality blue-blocking glasses that are amber-colored. 

They have that deep orange or red color because they help you have fun while protecting yourself. My favorite brand is Ra Optics. They’re simply the best and they help you hone in on that important physiological cue. Another side effect that most people don’t know about with regards to these blue-blocking glasses, I get to appreciate this with my background in psychology. They become what’s called a Conditioned Stimulus.

Most people here might know about Pavlov’s Dogs (Experiment). These dogs were in a cage, Ivan Pavlov – this scientist would ring a bell and then he would proceed to feed the dogs and measure how much they were salivating in the process. Over time, as he continued to ring the bell and feed the dogs, the bell became this conditioned stimulus. By just ringing the bell, he got these dogs to start to salivate. 

Wearing these amber-colored blue-blocking glasses, over time, the conditioned stimulus becomes stronger and stronger. You have a deeper and more significant association with putting them on and going to sleep. I’ve worn these for years, every single night. I swear, I put these on and within a few minutes, my head is bobbing up and down and I’m going to sleep. It’s unbelievable because I’ve set the intention and everybody knows what to anticipate. 

For those of you who are skeptical of blue-blocking glasses, with amber-colored, I’m being very specific, there are systematic reviews, and studies of studies that show that regular blue blockers, the clear ones, do not work. They don’t reduce eye strain, they don’t improve sleep variables. Whereas amber colored, there’s a systematic review, it’s about 16 studies, 453 participants, published in 2019 or 2020. They show better quality and more efficient sleep.

The question that I have for those of you who are tuning in right now, is the key question for sleep. When was the last time that you woke up feeling refreshed? Most people don’t know, and it’s a shame. This habit alone will help you get deeper sleep. Aside from that, what else can you do? Make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Physiological consistency will help you see more melatonin accumulation and will help you enable a more parasympathetic state.

It will help you see a decline in core body temperature, which is what initiates deep sleep. There are a lot of different mechanisms that make you sleepy, such as Adenosine accumulation, Melatonin accumulation, general fatigue, and feeling tired. But what initiates deep sleep is a decline in core body temperature. Set your room to anywhere between 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, I know that’s pretty cold. 

Maybe taking a hot shower or doing sauna for ten minutes, within a few hours of your bedtime, that also helps you see a decline in core body temperature that initiates deep sleep. In addition to that, I recommend a few supplements. I would do these last, I’d focus on habits first.

For example, Magnesium is going to be good. I like magnesium breakthrough optimizers, seven different kinds of magnesium, Manganese, Vitamin B6 for improved bioavailability, and L-theanine – a calming amino acid. It leads to a bit of a dissociative state and the fragmentation of thoughts. If you’re overthinking before bed, L-threonate is good. GABA is also good. A GABAergic effect naturally from something like Chamomile, which contains Apigenin. You can also do Glycine. My favorite combination right now is a chamomile tea, and I add a scoop of Sol Supplements with Glycine powder – it’s a naturally sweet flavor, no calories, and it puts me right to sleep. 

mastering health

Allow your nervous system to regulate itself, and you’ll become more resilient, immune, stronger, faster, and smarter over time.

You can also do CBN (Cannabinol), and there are a few more. I have these in my sleep guide and I can send them out to your audience. Those are great. Then in bed, I would do four, seven, eight breathing. A four-second inhale, a seven-second hold, and an eight-second exhale. Focusing on the specific number gets your brain off of anything else that you may be thinking. Having a longer period that you spend exhaling creates a more parasympathetic state. That breath hold of seven seconds between the inhale and the exhale creates what’s called a ‘Cardioinhibitory Effect’. 

You see a buildup of CO2, which slows down your heart rate. An important physiological cues to add on top of that is breathe horizontally, not vertically. Instead of breathing up the nose, seeing a rising and falling in your chest, breathe into your face through the nose using your diaphragm and you shouldn’t see any movement in your upper chest or shoulders. 

Into the nose, breathing with your diaphragm and breathing subtly, if you have a candle in front of your face, you would blow it out very slowly, intentional, shallow breathing and always through the nose. It humidifies the air, it increases vagus nerve innervation for the Parasympathetic state, it’s great. For everybody tuning in, if you’re doing that, I guarantee you’re going to get more of every hour that you spend in bed, you’re going to have a better, higher quality sleep.

There’s so much great stuff there, Andres. I could spend hours talking about this stuff to tell the listeners – because you taught me about four, seven, eight. That is amazing. I always stack that. If I’m doing Red Light Therapy, I can look at my Oura, at the daytime HRV, and watch it plummet after I’ve done a good round of that breathing. The HRV goes up, my heart rate goes down. That is powerful. All of those tactics have helped to improve my sleep and my sleep score. Super strong stuff, I appreciate that.

That 4-7-8 is a secret weapon because you can do it anytime, anywhere to enable more parasympathetic state and increase your HRV which will give you higher performance on demand. We know it’s well-established in psychology and physiology that peak performance happens at a moderate level of stress.

Imagine there’s this stress dial. For you to enable that flow state where you are performing optimally, your absolute best, there has to be a moderate level of stress. If the stress is too low, you’re going to be bored. You’re not going to be stimulated enough to get this out of you.

If you’re too stressed, you’re going to be anxious. You’re going to stutter, you’re going to mess up, and you’re going to forget things. So you want to be in that moderate level of stress. We have an unregulated nervous system, we don’t get very good sleep, we have terrible nutrition, and we’re not active. We just have these convenient lives.

When we need to perform, we can’t perform the way we want on demand. Most of us are a little bit on the ‘too stressed’, the ‘too sympathetic’ end of that dial. 4-7-8, it’s applied breath work, it’s the easiest and most accessible way to influence the state of your nervous system and to move that stress dial in your favor. 

On the contrary, there are breathing patterns that are associated with a sympathetic state that will create a positive feedback loop that works against you. For example, if you’re getting stressed out, you’re anticipating stress and you start mouth breathing, that’s going to make it much worse for you to perform the way that you want. Why do we start mouth breathing when we get stressed? Why do people mouth breath in general? Because mouth breathing is the fastest way to breathe, it’s linked to running away from any kind of perceived threat. 

Millions of years ago, the biggest stressors in our lives were things that were going to kill us or severely injure us. There was a severe weather pattern. It was a predator. It was another tribe trying to kill us. It was life or death. Nowadays, to make ends meet, most of us are sitting in front of a laptop or having a board meeting. We’re not going to die. We get stressed and so we start mouth breathing because it’s linked to our survival. But mouth breathing makes it more difficult for us to be logical in our decision-making and to enable peak performance so we can effectively handle that situation.

Breathwork is amazing. Similar to the 4-7-8 and the applied breath work is as important, it’s also important to notice the way that you breathe at a baseline. Understanding and appreciating how that might be working for you or against you. We want to do nasal breathing as much as possible. We want to be using our diaphragm as much as possible. We want to have a nice, even, slow breath. These are things that not everybody can do and it might be difficult to do.

A lot of us will get this air hunger when we do a longer exhale or when we do a breath hold. The same goes with exercise, starting to make the habit of doing this, might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s a Hormetic stressor. That little bit of discomfort that you feel when you start breathing differently is what’s generating the positive adaptation both anatomically and physiologically to improve the efficiency of every breath.

You start to see a better airway function. You can see changes in your anatomy and you can see increases in what’s called ‘CO2 Tolerance’ so that you can extend your breath hold and you’re better able to breathe through your nose, which is objectively the most; I feel like I’ve said objectively 300 times on this podcast, but I just want to make it clear. These are physiological facts, not an opinion; they’re not only statements, they’re real facts. They’re based on science. 

Not to go off too far on a tangent on breathwork, I want to return to the main topics here, but it’s such a secret weapon. Three opportunities are the best for applied breath work. It’s in bed when you’re trying to go to sleep, before you have a meal – because it’s going to enable a parasympathetic state to support digestion. A lot of high-performers and busy people think that they are doing a good thing and being efficient by eating while they work, but it’s taking away from both things and it’s making them mediocre in the sense that digestion requires a lot of energy and attention for a body to digest food. 

Most of the Calories that we spend at rest are resting at a block rate. The vast majority of those calories are spent digesting food. It’s a lot of calories, energy, and focus. If you are trying to get something done while you’re eating, there is a lack of blood flow in the areas that you need them to be. It’s lack of adequate blood flow that’s number one – taking away from digestion. 

You’re in a sympathetic state. You’re trying to use your brain to solve problems, to communicate, to make things happen. But the blood is away from your brain, it’s in the digestive tract. There isn’t enough blood in the digestive tract to digest the food well. So what is happening, is you end up performing at a mediocre level mentally and even physically because the blood is out of the extremities. On top of that, the digestive process is slowed down. It’s being heavily taxed and weighed down.

What happens – you get brain fog, you feel weak, you might get a quick rise and fall in your blood glucose, and then you have hedonic cravings coming in. Now you’re ravenous for something sweet or something processed. It’s bad. The more separation that we have between our environments of performance, productivity in work, our environments of sleep, recovery, and digesting food; the better that we’re going to be, the better we’re going to perform, the better we’re going to look, the better our body composition are going to have. 

The most valuable thing that money can’t buy is time.

The more degrees of separation that you can create, the better. The last thing I’m going to say with sleep, it’s important. Keep the phone and email outside of the bedroom. The bedroom is for two things – sleeping and having sex, period. No phone in the bedroom. Do not eat in your work environment. If you’re starving, maybe have some essential amino acids, which will reduce the perception of fatigue, give you energy, and help you lower your cravings.

Or have something easy to digest like a whole-fat Greek Yogurt with some blueberries or something more Ketogenic so you can stabilize your blood glucose while you’re in a stationary position, getting some work done. Then hold off until you have a real opportunity for at least 30 to 60 minutes to have a meal where you are present, you’re thoroughly chewing enough to increase the surface area of the food so you can effectively digest it and take advantage of that parasympathetic state, so you can get right back to work and be your best when you’re working. 

All the nervous system regulation that we tackled with sleep, all of that is going to influence the remaining habits – the nutrition, movement, and anything mental because it’s going to be more intuitive, it’s going to be more aligned, it’s going to be easier and simply more productive. I’m not going to go off the deep end with nutrition. The most important thing with nutrition is eating whole food, eating a wide spectrum of food. When they say “Eat the rainbow”, that’s great because a lot of colors represent nutrient density. It’s important to incorporate nutrient-dense foods in your diet and natural colors will reflect that. I don’t subscribe to a particular diet. Certain diets can be effective for different reasons and different periods of your life or for different people. 

Ketogenic diet can be effective for some people. The Carnivore diet can be effective for some people, and the Vegan diet as well. I eat a little bit of everything. I focus on a 90-10 rule. 90% of the time, I’m on track eating what I know I’m supposed to be eating. 10%, I do whatever I want. I enjoy my life. And not eating throughout the day. 

There should be some degree of intermittent fasting, whether it’s once a week, once a month, or every other day. For women, it’s different according to where they are – such as their unique female biorhythm, how old they are, and where they are in their lives. Women should be very particular. Most Science is done on men, not women. Do your research, ladies.

I believe that clean water is hard to come by and it’s important. Install a high-quality water filtration system at home. I have a Greenfield Water Solutions under-the-counter filter. It’s a five-stage filter, that harmonizes, structures, and remineralizes the water. If you have an RO (Reverse Osmosis) system, they’re getting popular nowadays. Make sure that it remineralizes the water or you can get spring water. Hydrating adequately, especially in the morning.

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Sleep is your daily software update—it removes glitches, gives you energy, replenishes dopamine (your currency for motivation and focus), restores adrenals, supports hormones, and aids muscle gain from your efforts.

Because overnight, by breathing and a little bit of sweat, you can lose five to six pounds of water. You can be dehydrated. Most people get the bad sleep; they wake up feeling like crap. They go for their coffee, which is a diuretic. It further dehydrates them and puts them in a sympathetic state, they get burnt out. In the morning, hydrate, add electrolytes, and the Re-Lyte brand of electrolytes because it’s made with Redmond Real Salt. It’s a sea salt from an ocean in Utah that was there thousands of years ago.

It has zero heavy metals, zero plastic, and 60 minerals in the salt. I’ll add some Creatine to that. I love creatine. It’s beginning to be popular. There’s been an upward trend in creatine content online and been a lot of good research on it. It’s the second most studied Ergogenic aid after caffeine. Ergogenic meaning, work reducing. It will increase your strength, and your power, and make it easier to gain muscle. 

It will also improve the health and the function of your brain. Because your brain, like the rest of your body, uses creatine as a substrate, as a fuel source, to improve the strength and propagation of nerve impulses, your memory, and your mood. A lot of the studies that they’ve done on creatine, see the most significant benefits in folks that are sleep-deprived or are depressed. 

They see the greatest rate of change in those individuals. It’s an extremely effective supplement. I take that for both the cognitive and the physical benefits. Every morning, as I’m hydrating with my 32 ounces of clean water, my creatine, and my electrolytes, I’m getting sunlight. No sunglasses. Exposing as much surface area of skin to the sun as possible so that I can prime my circadian rhythm to give me natural, endogenous energy production to wake me up and get that nice natural rise in cortisol, the stress hormone that we need to arrive at optimal performance.

That is an important physiological cue early in the morning because it also dictates when you’re going to start to see a fall in Cortisol and a rise in Melatonin in the evening. Most people don’t get sunlight in the morning. They might get sunlight at some point in the day, typically in the afternoon. Now they’ve shifted that window of when they start to see that declining core body temperature, that melatonin accumulation and that cortisol fall doesn’t happen until much later in the evening.

So they have to reach for their melatonin supplement, or they have to take some ridiculous sleep aid to finally go to sleep. It’s important to start the day with that hydration, with some supplementation, some sunlight, ideally some kind of movement if you need an extra kick in energy, and potentially you could do a cold shower if you want to increase those dopamine levels.

Maybe after you’ve done all that, maybe consider having caffeine. Before reaching for your cup of coffee, do this. I guarantee it’s going to give you so much energy, focus, and productivity. You’re going to feel amazing. Hold off on the cup of coffee. Give your body that endogenous opportunity first. In a nutshell, that’s nutrition.

Many good things to work on there. I love it. Let’s talk about movement. It is interesting, especially post-pandemic where so much of us have lost a lot of movement in our day to day. We’re doing Zoom calls and all these things. I’ve been working on trying to micro-dose different movements throughout my day. Walking treadmill, standing desk, anything. But I still always feel tight. I want to be moving. Then I want to cover mindset as well as that is a key.

Movement is an important part of my life because it makes me feel great. It is directly linked to the way that I want to look and feel every single day. And I know that it’s also going to reward me with longevity. When I say longevity, it is less about extending lifespan for the sake of more moments. I think it’s more about extending lifespan through the quality of the present moment.

Peak performance occurs at a moderate level of stress.

If you optimize for this moment right now through the right habits, you are going to live longer. That’s the secondary benefit in my opinion. It’s nice to know that we’re going to live longer. But if we can optimize right now and have the confidence that that will help us live longer; I don’t care as much about later, I care about now. I wanted to be specific there. 

That’s huge.

For sure. With regards to the movement, here’s my approach, here’s what most people can and should do. I want to make this as realistic and attainable for anybody tuning in. We know that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has many different kinds, but it is going to stress your body in a specific way. The specific adaptations that we’re going to see are closely tied to longevity. 

High-Intensity Interval Training is the most efficient and effective way to increase our VO2 max – Maximum Oxygen Consumption, which represents a lot. High VO2 max assumes a lot of other things being optimal, and I’m going to that in a second. But VO2 max is arguably the single most highly correlated metric with quality of life and longevity. Let’s break down the equation of VO2 max real quick so I can show you why HIIT training is so important.

The Fick equation of VO2 max shows that VO2 max = cardiac output x by AVO2 difference. Cardiac output is how much blood is leaving your heart every minute. It’s a multiple of your stroke volume – how much blood is leaving the heart with every heartbeat, and multiplied by your beats per minute.

Then you multiply that by the AVO2 difference – the difference in oxygen saturation between atrial and venous blood. Basically, how much did your tissues absorb from what your heart was pumping out, how much oxygen did you absorb; That’s VO2 max. If you look at all those variables, the number one component that you can influence to increase VO2 max is stroke volume. 

If you increase Stroke volume, the heart is more contractile. Every time your heart beats, more blood comes out. How do we do that? We have to get the heart to pump harder and more efficiently. That’s how you get the adaptation. What kind of training? HIIT training. Because by doing intervals, every subsequent set – after every rest interval, the next set that you do can get back up to that high level of intensity. 

Whereas doing continuous training like traditional cardio, yes, your heart rate will get high. But you can’t get to that peak to stimulate that specific adaptation. You want to get to that peak and have enough of a recovery interval where you can replenish creatine – your endogenous, natural, by-the-body creatine, and the supplementation helps. But when you replenish that creatine after a couple of minutes in that resting interval, then you can get back up to that maximum level of intensity that you need to stimulate the adaptation. 

With HIIT training, you can get by doing a much shorter workout, but the intensity is much higher and the benefits are closely tied to increases in stroke volume, which is the number one component of VO2 max as far as what you can manipulate. I know that’s a mouthful. What does the ideal, most effective, and efficient HIIT training protocol look like? 

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Longevity is not just about prolonging life for the sake of more moments. It’s about enhancing lifespan through the quality of each present moment.

You want to have about five to ten of these intervals of high intensity where your heart rate gets to what’s considered 85% and beyond your maximum heart rate. There are many different ways to calculate maximum heart rate. A good way to estimate it is by taking the number 220 minus your age. 

If I am 27, my maximum heart rate is going to be around 193. 85% of that is at about 165 or 170. I know that anytime I get beyond that, I’m stimulating this adaptation. What I do is spend enough time recovering to the point where I can get down to about 40% to 50% of my maximum heart rate. Once I know I’m in the heart rate zone, I have enough evidence to suggest that I’m ready to do my next high-intensity interval. 

How can we expedite the process of that recovery interval? This is where applied physiology comes in and it ties back into what I was saying earlier. The more regulated the nervous system is, the better your sleep, the higher your HRV, the better that you can manage change, and the more adaptable you are. This is something that you’ll see when you’re working out too. Your resting intervals are going to be shorter. Then if you apply breathwork with you, if you make the effort to nasal breathe on the recovery, at a bare minimum, during the recovery interval.

Using your diaphragm to breathe so you have a more efficient breath, get more oxygen in your body, and do more parasympathetic activity with every single breath that you take, then you’re going to expedite the recovery interval. Most people who do a high-intensity interval set – they’re not fit, they don’t know how to breathe, and they’re mouth breathing. Now they’re taking forever to recover and they think that it’s working for them because it’s an easier way to breathe, but it is not an efficient way to breathe.

Doing this applied breathwork helps a lot to expedite the recovery interval, lower the heart rate, and get you ready for that next high-intensity interval. You do five to ten of these, once or twice a week. It’s a 15 to 30-minute workout in total. And now you have the confidence that you are taking strides towards longevity. I would suggest doing this on high recovery days.

I would do this on days when your nervous system is regulated enough to the point where it can effectively manage this hormetic stress and drive as much benefit movement as possible. I would not do this on a low recovery day. On a low recovery day, I would do Zone 2 Training, which we know is also going to benefit longevity – VO2 max, will help you burn a lot of calories and improve your body composition. Think about a light jog or a walk at a faster pace, an incline, or cycling at a low intensity. 

Zone 2 is going to be more closely tied to improvements at the end of your VO2 max equation and it’ll make your heart more efficient. It’ll help you improve your metabolic flexibility. There are a lot of things that it can help you do, but I would do that on a day when you technically are better suited for something like that. Look at your recovery scores and look at the status of your nervous system to add and titrate it strategically. 

On days with moderate to high recovery, I would do resistance training. If you are motivated to do a resistance training session and you have low recovery, technically, you can still get by if you do lower weight and higher repetitions. Instead of focusing on the standard eight to twelve reps, which is typically what most people do for gaining muscle, and gaining strength; at any rep range you’re going to gain all the benefits. There are specific rep ranges that are more closely tied to specific benefits. 

It’s important to start the day with hydration, supplementation, sunlight, movement for an energy boost, and consider a cold shower to elevate dopamine levels.

For example, anything below five at high velocity is good for power. Five to ten is better for strength. Eight to twelve is better for Hypertrophy. Twelve to fifteen plus, is better for endurance. But at any rep range, as long as you’re making an effort, you can improve all these variables. On a moderate to high recovery day, I would do a standard lifting program where you’re doing eight to twelve repetitions of a movement for four sets, typically three to five big compound movements.

Instead of focusing on isolation, try to engage as much muscle as possible per unit of time. Why? Because if you do the world’s most intense bicep curls, it’s just small muscle. The cardiovascular demand isn’t going to be high. You get a double whammy if you are focused on compound movements, multi-joint, multi-muscle movements because even at lower intensities, the net unit of muscle fiber that you’re using for every minute that you’re spending is much greater. 

Not only you are going to have a greater anabolic response as you’re breaking down more muscle, but you’re also creating a greater cardiovascular demand. Now you’re seeing a benefit from both the muscle side and the cardiovascular side. You have better benefits, and more gains in less time. I try to do personally, three resistance training sessions every week. I do full body typically three times a week for an hour. 

I don’t need to do any more than an hour, sometimes it’s only 45 minutes at a high intensity on higher recovery days. I’ll do my HIIT training either mixed in with that or another day with high recovery. I typically have once a week where I will do some group activity whether it’s Tennis, Kayaking, or Spearfishing. I love Freediving Spearfishing, it’s my main sport.

When I have busy days in my home office or my other office, I have a pair of Kettlebells that I’ll use to microdose workouts. I’ll do five to ten-minute compound movements at high intensities. And if you do a few of those a day, it’s honestly as good, if not even better than a dedicated session in the gym. Because going to the gym, you have to take the time to prepare for it, you have to get set up, you have to get ready, you have to wait for a machine if it’s busy, and you have to get back. It’s two to three hours of your time.

Get something at home that’s easy and simple. Get a nice few flows that you can do anytime and you’re going to see tremendous benefits. Then walk as much as possible. A secret hack that I started to do in the past seven months, I got a puppy, an active one. 

I got an Australian Shepherd and it has forced me to walk more than I ever thought I was capable of. He bothers me to walk. I love taking him to the dog park and I’ve multiplied my step count by two times. It’s helped me lean out automatically. I have made no other adjustments than getting a puppy and I am now leaner because I got it.

mastering health

Walking enhances neuroplasticity, promotes flow, boosts endorphins, induces a panoramic and parasympathetic effect. It improves performance, creativity, openness, mood, and even empathy during calls.

Walking is huge. For people, permit yourself to do some Zoom calls or some calls while you’re walking. Steve Jobs used to do all his meetings walking around the campus. Don’t always feel that you need to be tied to your computer. People will appreciate it. The other thing is, you’ll find yourself so much more creative and less stressed when you’re out walking around. That’s a good little multi-task.

Absolutely. There are a few physiological cues that give us better performance while we’re walking on a call. For example, when we’re in an office or at home working, like right now, I’m staring at the screen, my field of vision is tunneled – looking at you, looking at me on the screen here. That is going to create a sympathetic effect because this is linked to running away from danger. 

We typically fixate on some point, somewhere that we can run to help ourselves. Whereas, engaging the peripheral Visual cortex, engaging a panoramic view. If we’re going for a walk, we typically have this panoramic view in an enriched environment. We see the sky, we see nature, the sunlight. These things are going to help us produce more Endorphins to feel better. We’re going to be in a slightly more parasympathetic state. We’re a little more adaptable. 

On top of that, the act of walking increases neuroplasticity. It’s great for flow, it’s great for the endorphins, the panoramic effect, and the parasympathetic effect. It’s great. You are going to perform better and be more creative, more open, feel better, be more empathetic even when you’re on a call. I go out of my way to take the vast majority of my calls on a walk. 

It’s a matter of being able to communicate that effectively to the people on the receiving end; why do they hear birds chirping in the background, an ambulance, or a car honking here and there. The truth is, if they’re getting better information, more empathy, and better productivity from you, the trade-off is worth it. Make sure to communicate that effectively and give a bit of a disclaimer. Tell them, show them why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s important.

That’s great. Andres, I want to respect your time. This has been such an amazing masterclass and I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface for folks yet. But I know I’ve got many things that I want to work on myself. I know everyone has enjoyed this. If people want to learn more from you, check out your podcast. What is the best place for them?

It’s been an absolute honor and pleasure. As you guys can imagine, there’s much more that we can get into and this has been great. I appreciate my time here with you. I’m more than happy to come back anytime. If anybody wants to reach out to me personally to see how I might be able to help them live a more fulfilling life with the confidence, that you’re operating the way that you want to, that you’re living in such a way that rewards you with that longevity, with fitness, with a good mood, nervous system regulation, productivity; making this process of being, feeling, and operating at a higher frequency, more effective and efficient. 

Please reach out to me. My email is [email protected] or reach out to me on Instagram @AndresPreschel, or you can go to my website AndresPreschel.com I’ve got a ton of value there. I’ve got my podcasts, content, and articles. I’m more than happy to help anytime.

Awesome, and I appreciate it. I appreciate you.

I appreciate you too. Thank you for the opportunity.

Thanks again.

Important Links

Connect with Andres Preschel

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Further Resources

Your 10-Step Actionable Checklist From This Episode

Understand your unique context. Tailor your health plan to your personal goals, current health status, and lifestyle.

Track and optimize your sleep, aiming for consistent, high-quality deep and REM sleep.

Engage in activities that promote brain health and support neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

Avoid screens and bright lights 30 minutes before bedtime to reduce exposure to blue light.

Wear amber-colored blue-blocking glasses in the evening to condition your body for sleep.

Practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique to calm your nervous system before bed.

Install a high-quality water filtration system and hydrate in the morning with 32 ounces of water, adding electrolytes and creatine.

Perform HIIT workouts once or twice a week, reaching 85% of your maximum heart rate with proper recovery intervals.

Focus on consuming whole foods with a variety of colors for nutrient density, following a 90-10 rule for flexibility.

Reach out to Andres Preschel for personalized advice and support by emailing [email protected], following him on Instagram (@AndresPreschel), and visiting his website AndresPreschel.com.

About Andres Preschel

mastering healthBorn in New York and raised in Venezuela, Andrés moved to Miami in 2003. Diagnosed with ADD at age 8, he faced numerous health challenges but improved his well-being through dedication to health and new habits. Andrés earned a Bachelor’s in 2020 and is pursuing a Master’s in Biomedical Neuroscience while hosting a podcast with leading experts. He partnered with Dr. Moises Roizental to develop longevity programs and has coached a range of high-profile clients. As founder of Know Your Physio and a member of Drym Health, Andrés creates health solutions and content for ambitious individuals and businesses. In his free time, he enjoys spearfishing, cycling, and spending time with loved ones.

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