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Dear Mark: Cold Weather Sprint Alternatives, Palm Olein, Podcast Questions, and Dark Circles

For today’s edition of Dear Mark [7], we’ve got a four-parter. First, I discuss some alternatives to traditional outdoor sprinting for people in cold weather. Just because you can’t go run 100 meter dashes doesn’t mean you can’t get a fantastic sprint workout [8]. Running is unnecessary. Next, I give my take on the suitability of palm olein in the diet. Nutritionally, it seems sound enough, but are there other concerns we should consider? Then, I tell you how you can get your questions answered on a future Primal Blueprint podcast [9]. Last, Carrie gives a reader with chronic dark circles under her eyes some avenues of exploration for figuring out the cause.

Let’s go:

Would jumping up to and down from a 18′ to 24″ platform 10 times for 20 seconds be the equivalent of a 100 yard spring? Man it’s cold outside and I need an alternative.

Thanks,

Jeff

Box jumps are a good exercise, but when you do them correctly they don’t really qualify as sprinting [10]. I see a lot of people doing box jumps as fast as possible, sacrificing form and landing all hunched over with their knees up to their necks just to get to the next rep. You should be landing almost upright with minimal knee flexion so that you can absorb the impact. If you land bent over at the waist, sweaty and heaving, you’re asking for an injury. Doing box jumps – even for time – is great and I’d imagine the benefits approach an all out sprint. Just don’t try to turn it into a sprint by sacrificing form. Go as quickly as you can while maintaining good, clean technique.

There are other, perhaps better indoor options:

Hope you find something that works!

Just as a note to people who brave the freezing weather to run sprints outside: warm up properly! I’ll discuss this further in a future post, but running sprints in cold weather without adequately warming up [15] your legs can cause pulled muscles, torn tendons, and all sorts of unpleasantness.

Is Palm Olein a good fat? The name Olein makes me worry.

Charlene

It’s generally pretty solid (not literally; it’s actually liquid at room temperature), being the more monounsaturated fraction of fractionated palm oil [16]. It’s mostly palmitic (saturated, the same found in your body fat) and oleic (monounsaturated, the same found in olive oil [17]) acid, with about 12% linoleic (PUFA) acid. Let’s see what happens when people eat it:

There is a potential downside to palm olein consumption: the impact palm oil production has on orangutan habitats on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Basically, natural forests – which the apes have lived in for millennia – are clearcut to make way for oil palms. Although there’s talk of it all being a big conspiracy on the part of seed oil producers, I’m not sure. Orangutans are some of the gentlest, smartest, most fascinating creatures on this planet, and I have reservations about destroying the habitat of a great primate with intelligence similar to a toddler’s. Luckily, African palm oil production does not impact orangutans (or any other great apes), since they don’t live there. It’s also smaller scale with less infringement on existing ecosystems. That doesn’t really solve the palm olein question, since most mass market palm oil comes from Indonesian plantations, while African palm oil produces most of the unrefined, red palm oil that has the most nutritional benefits.

Short answer: if orangutan habitats are a concern for you, palm olein is likely off limits. If you’re only concerned with nutrient quality, palm olein looks to be a fine fat – certainly better than seed oils (most of which are also pretty bad for the environment).

Oh, I almost forgot because this is pretty tangential and I suspect you’re not a baby yourself. Infant formulas using palm olein as the fat source have shown to have negative effects on nutrient absorption. In study after study, infants fed using palm olein have trouble absorbing fat and calcium and end up with lower bone mineral density [21].

Loving your first few podcasts, Mark. Will you be answering listener questions in future podcasts? If so, how can I submit a question?

Anthony

This one’s easy. Yes, I’ll definitely be answering your questions in future podcasts, and submitting them is easy. Anyone reading can click the button below, and record a question. Be sure to state your first name and tell us where you’re from. Also, please try to keep your questions brief and to the point. It will make sorting through all the submissions easier. Thanks for listening, and stay tuned to The Primal Blueprint Podcast [9] for all (well, as many as I can manage!) your Primal questions answered.

Leave a voicemail [22]

Let’s go to Carrie for the last one…

I have been paleo for 3+ years, typically the better part of a 95/5 rule, and live the lifestyle as well. I get about 7-9 hours of sleep daily, close to 1 gal water, yoga, CrossFit, organic foods, vitamins/minerals, the works. However, I consistently have very dark circles under my eyes. To the point where people (even my fiance!) have asked if I got hit in the eyes. I don’t wear a ton of makeup but usually go for “bare minerals”.

Any suggestions?

Bonnie

Great question! There are several different potential causes. I’ll go through the most likely ones and you can see if anything looks familiar.

Allergies: Known as allergic shiners, dark circles can sometimes be caused by allergies, either environmental (pollen and stuff) or food. A constantly congested nose increases pressure on the blood vessels under the eye and may create a dark circle.

Leaky gut: This goes hand in hand with allergies. Oftentimes you don’t have an out and out food allergy but because your gut is permeable and allowing food proteins entrance into your body your immune system responds as if you were allergic. Exercise can increase leaky gut, too. Normally this is a normal part of training, but it can get out of hand if you’re exercising too much and recovering inadequately. Which takes me to the next one…

Inadequate recovery: CrossFit and yoga require plenty of recovery. CrossFit [23] alone is very demanding. To recover, you need lots of sleep and food. You’re getting “7-9 hours,” but seven hours might not be enough, especially since your name is Bonnie and we women generally need more sleep than men [24]. Sleep inadequacy hits us way harder than the average man, causing more physical and mental disturbances. We also need more sleep to recover from our training, hence “beauty sleep.” Aim for nine hours. If you can’t manage that much sleep, consider dropping a day of CrossFit, or at least replacing it with some walking. Strict paleo also leads to greater satiety on fewer calories, which is good if you’re trying to lose weight but can become problematic when recovering from intense exercise like CrossFit. Support your body with the calories it needs. Ease up a bit and have a few extra helpings of sweet potatoes, maybe some rice, and an extra pat of butter or dollop of coconut oil after your workouts.

Too much water: A gallon of water sounds like way too much to me. As you may know, Mark has always been skeptical of the “eight glasses a day” [25] advice, and you’re getting twice that! I don’t know that hyperhydration would directly cause dark circles under the eyes, but it could impair your recovery and in a roundabout manner worsen the circles. Just drink when thirsty. Your pee should have some color to it – not too dark, not too light.

Thin skin around the eyes: Eye skin is already thin by nature, but certain nutritional deficiencies can manifest as even thinner skin which allow dark circles greater visibility.

If nothing from this list is helping, it might be worth it to get some lab tests from your doctor and check kidney, liver, and thyroid function. Maybe a blood count, too.

Good luck with it!

That’s it for today folks. Keep sending in your questions, and let everyone know what you think in the comment board. Grok on!