Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Dec

Dear Mark: Pregnant Exercise, Low-Carb and Alcohol Tolerance, Ancestral Sun Dosages, and Knee Mobility

Today is Monday, which heralds another edition of Dear Mark. This week, I’m giving my two cents on what could be causing the widespread incidence of lowered alcohol tolerance in Primal eaters. It’s nice to be a cheap date, but sometimes we want to keep up with everyone else, right? I give a few ideas on exercises for pregnant women who want to remain active without any complications arising, and I discuss whether the amount of sun our ancestral homelands saw play a role in how much sun we should get. Finally, I discuss whether a knee should be mobile or stable, along with a few strategies to have and maintain healthy knees.

Let’s go.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been following your (awesome!) PB Fitness protocol for over a year now. I’m not pregnant at the time but I might be in the future, and I’m starting to wonder how to get on with my Four Essential Movements with a big belly in front of me. Some movements may be no probs, but how about doing pushups if the belly touches the ground right from ‘up’ position? And deep squatting, I’ve got this awkward feeling it might make you accidentally pee yourself due to all the extra pressure on the bladder… So, long story short: How do I subsitute the Five Essential Movements workout to make it suitable for pregnancy?

Thank you so much for all your work and a great webstie!


Let’s go through each of the movements.

Though I’ve never carried a child in my (nonexistent) womb, I think squats should be okay. I mean, have you seen elite powerlifters? They’re big dudes, some with big bellies (mostly muscle, though), and they have no problem squatting. Besides, squatting is a legitimate birthing position. If you’re worried about peeing yourself, there’s an easy fix: avoid exercising with a full bladder. You’ll want to squat with a fairly wide stance, wide enough to give your belly enough room to pass. Too narrow a stance and you might hit your femurs with your belly (again, see powerlifters, who tend to squat with a super wide stance).

Alternatives include lunges and Bulgarian split squats (featured in this WOW).

Do normal pushups until your belly starts cheating for you. Then, switch to feet elevated pushups. As long as you’re maintaining the rigid plank position through the legs, hips, and torso, elevating your feet will also elevate your belly. Once your belly starts cheating on the feet elevated pushups, move to feet and hands elevated pushups. Parallel (dip) bars work well for these, as do a pair of sturdy, dependable chairs. The key is allowing your belly to move freely through space.

Alternatives include the bench press and the floor press.

Pullups are obviously fine. Just avoid doing pullups on flimsy bars. Enjoy the added resistance!

Be very careful going upside down for handstand pushups. If you’re not comfortable with these, go for the inverted V pushups: keep your feet and hands on the ground and stick your butt in the air to form an upside down V with your body; get your torso as vertical as possible and press using your shoulders as the prime movers. (And, by the way, if I were forced to choose 4 Essential Movements this would be the odd man out.)

If “elbows down” planks makes you belly-cheat, go with “hands down” planks. Fully extend your elbows and place your hands on the floor, as if you were in the top position of a pushup. Hold it. It’s not as tough as the elbow plank, but given the circumstances, that’s okay. Plus, you’ve got added central mass to support, which makes it hard in its own right.

I actually think PBF is perfect for pregnant women, because it’s bodyweight-based, very simple, and scalable to all levels of fitness. Of course, if you did want to increase intensity or handle big weights, you probably still could. Want proof? A fantastic blog – One Fit Mom – actually chronicles the pregnancy of a diehard Crossfitter who, rather than taking it easy, kept up with her workouts. She didn’t exactly break her PRs, but she stayed active and maintained her fitness and most of her strength. She gives lots of recommendations for exercise substitutions. And yes, she kept squatting and deadlifting.

Hi Mark,

I have been wondering about maintaining the Primal Blueprint diet and becoming more sensitive to wine and caffeine. Is there a physiological reason for this observation? Is it because less carb is consumed thus level of tolerance is lowered (considering how much carb can absorb wine/caffeine…)

Thanks for your input!


Interesting question, Angela (and thanks for the thanks). It’s not a new one. We get a lot of reports about Primal eating reducing alcohol tolerance, and while I don’t have a definite answer, I do have a rough inkling as to why alcohol tolerance worsens.

You mention eating fewer carbs – a normal, expected change for most people who adopt Primal eating. The carbs you’re no longer eating weren’t actually soaking up the alcohol; even though I knew guys in college who swore by swallowing hunks of white bread whole to absorb booze and prevent a hangover, it’s the simple presence of food in your stomach that slows the absorption of alcohol, not just carbs in particular. My guess is that breaking down and detoxifying the ethanol you’re imbibing is hard work for a liver that’s already tasked with the creation of glucose from amino acids in a low dietary glucose state (gluconeogenesis). We know that alcohol consumption inhibits gluconeogenesis by decreasing the availability of the “intrahepatic gluconeogenic precursors” by 61%. If alcohol detox and gluconeogenesis are competing for the same raw materials along similar pathways, and if the effects of alcohol increase with inefficient detoxification, it follows that someone drinking alcohol in a gluconeogenic state may be more sensitive to its effects.

If your tolerance to alcohol has become unpleasantly low with a correspondingly low carb intake, a simple fix may be to eat a couple sweet potatoes on days that you’ll be drinking. I don’t have the issue, and I stay around 100-150 grams per day, so I don’t think it takes a huge amount. Anyone else with lowered alcohol tolerance on the Primal Blueprint eating plan?

Hi Mark,

I’ve enjoyed your books and website. I just wanted to quickly comment on the sunlight issue.

Your blog posts discuss how we’ve evolved with sun exposure, and shouldn’t fear it, but don’t seem to remind readers that location matters.

For example I’m a red head, Caucasian of Irish descent, but I live in north Queensland, Australia. Hunter gathers native to this part of the world were black. I’m white and freckled. The amount of sunlight I should expose myself to here is surely a lot less than if I lived in a similar environment to my direct ancestors.

I’m not sure if some of your readers may overlook this if they are also living away from evolutionary roots.



This is a good point, Mike. Not everyone has the same level of innate sun tolerance, and I think ancestry is the major determinant. Sure, lifestyle factors in big time – what you eat (and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t eat) famously affects your skin’s susceptibility to sun damage – but as for genetic sun tolerance? Where your ancestors grew up and how much sun they were exposed to on a regular basis probably determines how much sun you can tolerate, as a baseline. So for you, a red-headed Irish guy with freckles, a full hour in the midday Australian sun is excessive and probably even harmful.

Although I may not have recommended that readers pay attention to their ancestry when considering sun dosages, I have always maintained that people should avoid burning. My thinking is that as long as you avoid burning (or even developing a nice pink color), sun bathing is beneficial. This usually boils down to getting out of the sun as soon as it starts to feel uncomfortably hot, and I think it naturally dovetails with the ancestry idea. Just as the person with pale skin whose ancestors hailed from foggy climates can safely assume he will tolerate far less UV exposure than the person with dark skin whose ancestors lived on the equator, that same person with the pale skin/ancestors will feel uncomfortably hot sooner and get out of the sun earlier. It’s an important point that deserves explicit mention. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been working through some of the mobility exercises you’ve posted and I was just wondering if you could suggest anything specific regarding the knee. You’ve done posts on feet, ankle, hip, wrist, spine, and shoulder– is there any chance for a knee post in the future? I’m hoping you might have some Primal pointers, especially considering your recovery from your Ultimate mishap. Thanks in advance!


Well, my knee injury was an acute one, a freak accident caused by impact with the ground. It wasn’t exactly a mobility issue (although I suppose that could have played an indirect role somehow, maybe by impeding proper movement and landing). That said, this is a great question that deserves a response.

With the knee, we actually want stability – not mobility. Consider that as you go along the kinetic chain of the body and examine the joints that comprise it, their primary functions alternate. First is the thoracic spine (which needs mobility), then the lumbar spine (stability), then the hip (mobility), then the knee (stability), then the ankle (mobility). This is also true starting at the shoulder (mobility and stability), followed by the elbow (stability), and then the wrist (mobility). See how that works?

So in fact we want a stable knee, rather than a mobile one. A stable knee doesn’t bow inward when walking or squatting. It doesn’t collapse on you or buckle beneath you. A good, stable knee is a hinge joint. It definitely shouldn’t be rotating and bending every which way. That’s pathological mobility.

To protect your knee, then, you must maintain good mobility in the other areas, especially those immediately above (hip) and below (ankle). If you lose mobility in the hip or ankle, your knee must compensate for the missing movement. Your knee becomes mobile to make up for the missing mobility above and below, and since the knee isn’t supposed to be mobile, you get pain, and injury, and downtime, and co-pays, and surgery bills. All those hip mobility drills, and the ankle mobility exercises – that’s what you want. Those are the keys to healthy knees.

Bone up on the mobility series (which you’ve already been doing). They’re a good introduction into the world of mobility.

Foam roll your calves, quads, glutes, IT band, hamstrings, and basically everything in and around your hips, knees, and lower body in general. If your knees are hurting, you’re probably tight all over. If the foam roller isn’t getting the job done, graduate to a lacrosse ball.

Familiarize yourself with MobilityWOD. Run a search for “knee” and “hip” and “ankle” and “calf” and pretty much every body part. It’s not the most organized, but everything is good and worth watching. Consider picking up some of the stretch bands they use.

Even if your knees feel great now, by ignoring mobility issues up and downstream, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment – and injury – in the future. Take an active role in the health and movement of your tissues before it’s too late.

That’s it for this week. I have a decent queue of questions built up that I’m trying to get through, but I’m always accepting more – so send ’em along! Thanks for reading and leave your thoughts in the comment section.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. le first?

    Steffo wrote on December 12th, 2011
  2. I’ve definitely notice I have a much lower tolerance to alcohol since I’ve been eating primal. Definitely no bad thing!

    Suz @ Paleo Connect wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • its certainly cheaper! :)

      Becca wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I too, have experienced lower tolerance to both alcohol and caffeine while on the primal plan… and I work in the wine industry… hoping that sweet potatoes can help!!

      nikki wrote on December 12th, 2011
  3. I haven’t noticed a difference in alcohol tolerance since going paleo(ish). But a couple cups of coffee during intermittent fasting will definitely rev the engine!

    Abel James wrote on December 12th, 2011
  4. I work out a lovely Crossfit affiliate box and I’ve seen plenty of pregnant women continue to Crossfit through most of their pregnancy. While it’s not a great idea to *start* a new exercise program while pregnant, most doctors will agree that continuing an existing program (with modifications) is just fine. is a great resource for Crossfitting (or PBF!) moms-to-be, including a by-trimester breakdown of what should be scaled/eliminated, subject to your own body’s needs and limitations, of course.

    Christine M. wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I second this post. I am 7 months postpartum and actively did CrossFit WODs (transitioning to the CF moms work out as I need with belly size) and “ran” all the way through 36. I asked a nurse at one of my checkups if it was okay to keep doing olympic lifts and she had no clue what I was talking about. Luckily my OB did and fully approved of my working out all the way through to term. I felt… as amazing as you can when a small body gets that big… all the way to the end! Everyone thought I was nominally crazy & the men at the gym got really nervous as I attempted knees to elbows at 36 weeks! :)

      Jessica wrote on December 13th, 2011
  5. Lowered alcohol tolerance could be due to simply eating less food

    rob wrote on December 12th, 2011
  6. On pregnancy and the primal movements, I would suggest going with what your body feels comfortable with. As pregnancy progresses, you may find one movement is more challenging or uncomfortable. Either switch it up to something that feels better or even stop that movement for the time being.

    Also, a big consideration to balance. As your belly grows, it is amazing how balance is affected from one week to the next.

    Other than that, I found no problems with squatting while pregnant. Didn’t do the pushups, though and the pull-ups were too bothersome on my abs which were being stretched from my growing babies. :-)

    Happycyclegirl wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I’m not pregnant… but I was just wondering about how I could continue my workouts when that day inevitably comes. So happy to hear there are still many options for maintaining your strength and fitness :)

      Becca wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • i exercised (weight training and cardio) throughout my entire pregnancy… up until the day before i delivered (and i was over a week late). i was only in labor for 4 hours and was able to do it drug free – a lot of which i attribute to keeping up my exercise program. although i got tons of dirty looks at the gym, my number one advice to pregnant women is to exercise. it kept my weight, blood pressure and blood sugar in check. my now one-month old son is ridiculously strong and healthy (he has the head control of a 4 month old – thanks primal lifestyle!). i made moderations to my routines as i went – i would reduce the amount i was lifting, keep my heart rate under 140 for cardio, etc. for pullups – my gym has a pull up machine with an assist, and as my weight increased i increased the amount of the assist.

        melanie wrote on December 12th, 2011
        • I echo what Melanie is saying! You will be so thankful that you maintained strength and mobility during your pregnancy (when it comes). A lot of women don’t think there is a ‘choice’ to the long, strenuous labor process, and in some respects that is true, but you can do prep-work. With just a couple pushes (about 15 min and 10 min with my first and second child respectively, and my second was almost 10lbs) my babies were out. My doctors said to me both times that they were amazed at my strength and the efficiency in my pushes, and I owe it to proper exercise regiment during pregnancy!

          Esther wrote on December 12th, 2011
  7. alcohol definitely hits me harder and faster. This is especially true when going really low-carb / ketogenic.

    Brian Clasby wrote on December 12th, 2011
  8. i’m strict, low-carb primal, and alcohol tolerance is markedly lower!

    jakey wrote on December 12th, 2011
  9. The past few weeks I’ve curtailed my carb intake by quite a bit. I was mostly paleo to begin with but endurance training. Now that it’s winter and my endurance exercising has come to a close, I’ve cut my carbs down from 300-500 grams to under 150. Since that switch, I’ve definitely noticed that my body is hypersensitive to alcohol. One glass of red wine with dinner and I could feel the alcohol’s effect. And like @Suz said, it’s definitely not a bad thing :)

    Clint wrote on December 12th, 2011
  10. i have clearly have a lowerd tolarence of alcohol since going paleo

    larry goodman wrote on December 12th, 2011
  11. I’ve noticed the alcohol thing too. Getting plastered is so much cheaper on a primal diet, especially after IFing!

    The sun problem is annoying for those of northern European descent. I enjoy the sun (and neglect suncream) too much. I’ve burnt myself so many times that I’m just counting the days towards the inevitable onset of skin cancer!

    ChaiKe wrote on December 12th, 2011
  12. The lowered tolerance is there.. anyone have an issue with increased hangover effects?

    I overdid it with wine this past weekend and I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst headache of my entire life. Been primal for about a month… killed me..

    Anyone else have anything similar happen?

    Paul wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • Yes, it happens to me everytime I overdue it. I’ve had some positive affects from taking milk thistle capsules (which is known to improve liver damage).

      Becca wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • My hangovers have not been too bad, but I’ve gone very very quickly from “This is a great night” to spending an hour hugging the toilet.

      After last weekend when 4 mixed drinks in 3 hours had me waking up to puke, I’m going to keep it to about two mixed drinks or three beers a night from now on.

      Dan wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I have an early warning, my lips go numb that means stop immediately, even if it’s mid drink :-( it appears to keep me from getting the day after headache. Like Becca said, Milk thistle and dandilion root do support liver function.

      bbuddha wrote on December 12th, 2011
  13. Re: the pregnancy question, Crossfit Mom ( was a great resource for me.

    Anne wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • Definitely +1 for

      Andrea Nitz started CrossFit Mom as a somewhat unique “online only” CrossFit Affiliate, specialising in helping women exercise through their pregnancy. She has a lot of advice on what exercises you should and shouldn’t do at varying stages of your pregnancy, substitutions for contraindicated movements and workouts if you want them.
      There’s a forum if you want to ask questions or just talk about how you’re getting on.
      Andrea works hard at maintaining a great resource for pregnant exercisers and really enjoys seeing photos of “her” CrossFit Mom babies.
      I think each new baby gets a workout named after them?

      Craig Massey wrote on December 12th, 2011
  14. I’ve over done the alcohol exactly 4 times this year and each time it got progressively worse.
    It’s actually become a real issue because the last time was the least I’ve had to drink on a night out and I still felt the repercussions the next day.

    I’l try to sweet potatoes, but honestly when you’re eating clean, I don’t think anything helps.

    Aloka wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • Ouch.. that will make me think twice before doing that again..

      Paul wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • Abstinence, that’s what works!

      I found an increasing intolerance to alcohol and for me the solution was to stop drinking back in July, oh happy days! Alcohol does a number of my sugar levels, insulin, dopamine reward issues … sleep ,etc! Shame, but there you go.

      Kelda wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I was waiting for this comment…


        Just don’t drink guys… it’s not that difficult! Think about all the money you will save! My rule right now is to only drink when its free. I don’t drink beer and may enjoy a mixed drink now and then. Wine is awesome but only when free.

        If i had more money and a steadier income then I may enjoy 1-2 glasses of wine peer week.

        Otherwise, drink water and eat better quality food. Or save your money to go on a relaxing vacation!

        Primal Toad wrote on December 12th, 2011
        • Abstinence from alcohol is the most difficult! cutting out grains and sugar is the easy part. Alcohol is just such a social thing and it’s really difficult to get by on a night out without a few drinks!

          But it’s going to have to be done because it really messes me up for two whole days after!

          Aloka wrote on December 13th, 2011
      • I have to agree with abstinence. I think the cleaner you go as far as eating, the alcohol and caffeine are just too acidic for our bodies to handle. I had a very bad reaction yesterday after I had coffee, some chocolate and some wine the night before. I guess this is my bodies way of saying…STOP! LOL I do love wine, and think I may be allergic to it. The day after is so not worth it anymore. Oh well…the price you pay to be healthy :)

        Barbara wrote on December 18th, 2011
  15. With my first two kids I probably could have exercised until my last trimester fairly easily. I did work as a nurses aid until I was five months along with my first. I got put on restricted activity at 27 weeks with both my girls and bedrest at 32 weeks due to high risk of preterm labor. With my son who was born 15 years later, it hurt too damn much to do much exercise. It turns out that I have arthritis in my lower back and it hurt to even walk. My take on exercise is do what you can for as long as you can and if it hurts don’t do that. Especially in the last trimester when the ligament loosening hormones hit it is very very easy to injure yourself over the silliest things. When I was on bed rest my exercise was lifting cans and hanging my legs over the bed and lifting them.

    Ingvildr wrote on December 12th, 2011
  16. When it comes to fair skinned folks near equatorial latitudes, the real issue is building up your tolerance to sun exposure…slowly.

    Start off with 10 minutes of sun exposure at high noon for a week or two. Slowly increase your time to 15, than 20, etc.

    The point is to take your time. There is no rush. The point is to maximize your vitamin D production from UVB exposure without getting burned. You’ll develop a truly “healthy” looking tan.

    Really light skinned folks actually have an advantage in which they don’t need to sunbathe for as long a time to get their max Vit D3.

    When you have darker skin, you have to sunbathe for far longer to get the same amount of D3 production.

    As for alcohol…I haven’t experienced a lessening of alcohol tolerance, but I have noticed I am way less likely to experience hangovers. I have to go on a real hardcore bender to get a hangover now.

    Keoni Galt wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • Well said! This is what I learned this year.

      I went to Primal Con this year in April and got BADLY BURNT! We were outside all day of course but I made a mistake in not putting on any sunscreen.

      I was coming from Michigan where there is hardly any sun during the winter months. Going to Oxnard, CA and being in the sun all day for 3 straight days killed me.

      I learned my lesson however. I did not get burnt for the rest of the year even though i never put on sunscreen. I was in Orlando in the middle of July for a few days and went to Hawaii for 40 days in October. I was outside kind of a lot but was just smart about it.

      I think diet can help a lot with protection as Mark stated.

      Primal Toad wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I’m in New Zealand with the same problem as the Australian questioner – pale Celtic skin under a brutal sun. Not only do we have little to no air pollution down here (which does help block some sun rays I’ve heard), we also have a whacking great hole in the Ozone layer over our heads.

        Burn time is often 10 minutes here in summer – from 11am until 4pm, and it doesn’t have to be a hot day – relying on ‘feeling hot’ on a breezy overcast day can land me with a wicked burn.

        Given my location and my skin-type I’ll be relying on suncreams and sunblocks. A friend of mine lost her husband to melanoma this year and I’m just not willing to risk the research on ‘paleo’ sun-management that is conducted in the wrong hemisphere for me :)

        homehandymum wrote on December 12th, 2011
        • On holiday in NZ a few years ago, there was a girl in my group from Canada. She didn’t know any of those things you mentioned and sun bathed for a few hours when she first arrived.

          She got by far the most severe sunburn I’ve ever seen. Enormous blisters, a lot of peeling and a lot of pain. I remember the sun there having a special ‘sharpness’ in it’s heat. Felt a bit like a microwave, even compared in north Queensland.

          Mike wrote on December 13th, 2011
        • Wait, didn’t I read that the hole in the ozone also covers NZ? I know Australia is fried and some parts of Chile, was it NZ too?

          K wrote on April 12th, 2013
  17. i’ve also noticed the lower tolerance in alcohol. I am wondering though if we are decreasing our consumption and therefore eliminating some of the tolerance we have built up? Since going primal I have definitely cut back on alcohol consumption, and so it makes sense to me that when I do drink it would have a much greater affect on me, but I guess if your alcohol consumption hadn’t changed and you were experiencing lower tolerance than my argument wouldn’t make sense.

    Caleb wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • My alcohol tolerance has plummeted, though not through a lowering of consumption (except when it became necessary so I wasn’t getting smashed).

      I used to be able to drink 4-5 beers over a couple hours and be in a good place, or 2-3 mixed drinks.

      Now, I drink a single glass of wine or pour of scotch or have two beers too close together and I feel it very quickly.

      Just the other night I got sick from 4 mixed drinks over 3 hours, which would have previously made me barely buzzed.

      I’m beginning to think a big contribution is my lower body mass, and less retained water. I have lost 20 lbs on Primal, much of it water weight. I think having less overall fluid in your system makes the alcohol affect you more quickly and much more.

      Dan wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I went almost totally* Primal about 3 months ago. Never had a problem with alcohol. Yesterday, after 2 hard ciders, it felt like 4!

        I haven’t changed my body mass. A total of 7 drinks, over 4 hours, interspersed with water, and now I have a mild hangover. I’ve never gotten hangovers on such a small amount of booze.

        Bonus: a forced Intermittent Fast instead of breakfast.

        *almost totally – since I sometimes brew my own beer, I wasn’t about to give it up; I’m now experimenting with non-wheat grains

        Tom wrote on December 13th, 2011
      • Ok, now I pretty much verified my caffeine sensitivity; I had a cup of coffee when I got up this morning, and my hands stopped feeling jittery about 4 hours later.

        1 cup used to wake me up, and 2 would give me that slight jittery feeling.

        This is really insightful – along with every other post!

        Tom wrote on December 14th, 2011
  18. Definitely a “1 glass of wine” person now, unless over the course of a few hours. I know I tend to eat less paleo-style, where I was able to stuff myself when eating carbs (why is that? Why am I full on half a hamburger and veggies, and yet could eat a ginormous plate of pasta?), so I agree there’s probably less food to absorb the alcohol to begin with, but also dairy…milk and cheese are great stomach coaters for pre-drinking. Oh well, the money saved on wine can be spent on coconut oil!

    Sarah wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • 1 glass of wine for sure! It allows you to enjoy that one glass way more and you know you will remember everything from that evening and will be having a blast.

      Nothing wrong with 1 drink… anyone else here choose to enjoy just one drink?

      Primal Toad wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I usually do stick to 1, and just enjoy it but then again that’s been my habit for most of my life. Sometimes I’ll have 2, depending on what it is and how I’m feeling, but that’s really rare these days.

        I’ve definitely noticed my tolerance getting lower, but I’ve always figured most of that was my lower weight.

        cranehigh wrote on December 13th, 2011
  19. I haven’t noticed a lessening of tolerance, but maybe my carbs aren’t as low as the person asking…or maybe it just hasn’t happened yet because I haven’t been doing this as long.

    EZ wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • Also I should say I only drink things not made from gluten containing grains. The celiac web sites say that it won’t hurt you but man do I feel it! I only have wines or 100% agave tequila (not all is!) and rums, some other liquors but not many because they tend to add grain alcohol to help with costs and profit.

      EZ wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I’ve noticed that, also. Most beer is very hard on me now, especially strong dark beers that I (used to) love, I get bad stomach/intestinal pains. Fortunately I love tequila, so it’s all good.

        priller wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I agree! I had increased alcohol sensitivity, but specifically I can hardly drink beer at all now. One or two beers will have me throwing up all the next day.

        On the flip side, I can polish off a whole bottle of Patron with a friend or two and wake up completely hangover free the next day. So it seems the quality of the alcohol has a big effect on me.

        Joe wrote on December 12th, 2011
  20. I think the low carb decreases tolerance no matter what amount of tolerance you have. I have never been much of a drinker . So I have never had good tolerance (very little actually)but when I did drink it was liquor. I can handle wine – no issues there since I sip very slowly. Liquor, however, is a different story altogether. I tried to drink a little premium vodka when I had eaten plenty that day but very, very few carbs. I actually fainted – not passed out – but FAINTED. I have never, never done this before in my life and I’m 41.

    heather wrote on December 12th, 2011
  21. I love the sun, but I am also a fair-skinned person of Celtic descent. I do not tan – at all. All attempts, no matter how gentle, have resulted in no tan and sometimes a burn. However, I have been able to increase my resistance to burn by carefully building up to it. I am an adult volunteer with Boy Scouts, so am outside a lot. But I also keep sunscreen with me at all times. I grew up next to a large lake before sunscreen was invented, so suffered many a very painful burn. I am now paying for this with repetitive skin cancers (eight as of this writing – nothing bad yet). So don’t get burned! But get your sun.

    Damien Gray wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I am also fair skinned and I can now stay in the sun for long periods in Australia. I built up my Vit D levels by taking 4000 iU’s a day during winter and slowly get my sun exposure up during Spring (October/November). I have been taking Vit D for 5 years now and have not had a cold once. Also I maintain a slight “tan” during the winter months. So I can build up to two hours in the sun and I find that I don’t burn anymore.

      Jo tB wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • Some people just cannot hack the Australian sun and shouldn’t try ! If a red-haired person of Irish descent went out for an hour in the midday sun here (Perth) they’d end up in hospital with second degree burns !! In fact, you see it a lot with backpackers here in the summer. I wince when I see them – and usually recommend aloe vera to them, poor things. They often don’t realise that you can burn badly on cloudy days as well. I build up my tan now, after my Doc told me I had one of the lowest Vitamin D readings he’d ever seen. I used to use SPF15/30 every day for 15 years as moisturiser :) :) I still use it on my face, cos I’m vain – but the pure zinc stuff, not the chemical absorbers. I have a stinger suit (like a rashie) for going to the beach; and that’s it. Definitely feel better for a bit of sun- but feel far, far better for not having to be totally paranoid about it !!

        Molly wrote on December 12th, 2011
  22. On alcohol, keep the color clear. The darker the color, the worse your headache will be. And yes, I’m speaking from personal experience….

    Jeff Pickett wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • In general?

      I mean, red wines are darker then white wines…

      Primal Toad wrote on December 12th, 2011
  23. To give some perspective on the ancestral sun exposure point. It’s surprising to notice that when you compare latitude to latitude the United States with Europe, is that Europe is so much farther north than the United States.

    If you are of Swiss descent, then you can have the same amount of sun as your ancestors if you live in Washington state, South Dakota, or Maine. (Of course if your ancestors lived in the alps you can probably tolerate more UV radiation). If you are Irish, you should probably make Hecate Strait, British Colombia your home.

    Southern Texas (San Antonio) is equivalent to central Algeria.
    San Francisco and Washington DC are roughly equivalent to Seville, Spain or Sicily, Italy.
    New York City and Omaha, NE are at about the same latitude as Madrid, Spain.

    toaster for sale wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • There’s a lot more than latitude at play when it comes to weather and UV exposure. This Irish daughter had plenty of problems in northern Eastern Washington.

      Louise D wrote on December 13th, 2011
  24. The knee part is interesting, good read.

    Paul Alexander wrote on December 12th, 2011
  25. We’ve had a couple ladies at my local CrossFit gym who continued to work out until pretty far along (within a month of their due date) and when they did quit I think it was more that they just had to get busy with getting some other things ready rather than that they couldn’t work out.
    Our coach did scale the workout for them. Generally as their bellies got bigger they worked with some lighter weights since they could no longer maintain the proper form for some lifts because the belly was just in the way.
    And one of the gals quit doing pullups fairly early on because she got big fairly early on and our coach didn’t feel that doing pull ups with her ab muscles that stretched out would be a good idea.
    Both gals kept working hard but did scale weights or movements depending on how they felt.

    And as a different note one of my friends and bosses worked right up to her delivery with both her kids and was right back out at work within a few days after. She (at the time) owned 65 dogs and ran a dog sled tour company. So she pretty much exercises primal just by working! Lots of lifting heavy things (5 gallon buckets!), some running, lots of just moving around. She was healthy had a quick easy home birth and lost all her baby belly and fat really quickly.

    So keep working and do what feels ok I think is the answer!

    Noctiluca wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • The abs are the killer with exercising while pregnant. I wasn’t remotely primal or even exercising during my three pregnancies, but I *did* get split abdominal muscles (Diastasis recti). Partly because I had (have) rubbish abs, and partly because my babies get really big really quickly and they carry WAY out front.

      If you’re training under someone, make sure they have specialist pregnancy fitness training, as there are some exercises which make the split more likely, and once the split has happened you just need to suck it up and deal with it after the baby is born. And tbh, when breastfeeding around the clock, trying to sleep whenever I could, and just surviving – doing my ab exercises was the last thing I thought about doing.

      So now I’m reaping the consequences :) For the record, planking has been the absolute best exercise for regaining abdominal form (once I carefully worked my abdominal split down to a 2 finger width by doing the exercises my midwife and the hospital physio gave me).

      homehandymum wrote on December 12th, 2011
  26. I guess I’m truly lucky that I’m of balkan descent (even though I grew up in germany because my parents immigrated there) and I now live in the United States, Idaho, southern high elevation desert!

    How much more primal could I be :)

    Arty wrote on December 12th, 2011
  27. Definitely a lower alcohol tolerance since going primal, but I think that’s directly proportional to the fact that I don’t drink as much as I use to. And that’s good because my diet goes to hell when I over indulge in the nectar of the gods.

    Todd wrote on December 12th, 2011
  28. I decreased my alcohol consumption when I started decreasing carbs. I just think my lower tolerance to alcohol is simply because I drink less alcohol. Now when I have a drink, I feel it quickly. I’m another one who thinks this is a good thing!

    Karen wrote on December 12th, 2011
  29. Way lower tolerance to alcohol! It might also be because in a lot of situations where I am drinking alcohol, the food served isn’t very primal so I just have some salad and hors d’ouvres, whereas before I would have eaten all the cheap breaded meat, chips, etc. too

    Julie wrote on December 12th, 2011
  30. Thanks for the mention, Mark! :)

    I just wanted to say that the Five Essential Movements of PB Fitness are *absolutely safe* to do throughout pregnancy as long as a) you have been doing them before becoming pregnant; and b) you are experiencing a normal, healthy, low-risk pregnancy. Every woman’s pregnancy is different, and you may find that you have to modify one or more movements as your pregnancy progresses… or you might not. I was shocked at how rarely I had to modify my CrossFit workouts/movements.

    There was a point where I remember not being able to do HSPU anymore, but it was because I lacked the strength to push up the extra weight I was carrying, not because I felt they were unsafe. I could still do plain old handstands, though. I did push-ups and burpees with no problem right through to the end of the eighth month. My belly was never so huge that it got in the way. Squats can be a problem for *some* women, due to the increased pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and the hormone relaxin — if you have been diagnosed with incompetent cervix, definitely don’t do squats! I had no issue with pull-ups until I simply couldn’t do large numbers of them with the added body weight, but some women find that kipping hurts their stomach ligaments. In that case, use a resistance band or switch to jumping pull-ups.

    The most important thing during pregnancy is to listen to you body. As long as it feels good, it’s probably fine. Every day will be different, and what might seem difficult/impossible one day could be perfectly fine another day. That’s okay.

    Also, take the “standard” pregnancy exercise recommendations with a grain of salt. Most of them are outdated, based on pseudo-science and are completely irrelevant to an already fit person.

    You will not cut off blood flow to your baby while lying on your back with a big belly (not before you cut off your own blood flow and feel faint, causing you to stop lying on your back). You will not overheat your fetus by exercising too hard in an air-conditioned gym. You CAN allow your heart rate to rise above 140. You CAN lift heavy things.

    Here is a link to all of my blog posts about pregnancy myths:

    And here is a link to the post where I suggest modifications for various movements:

    Good luck to everyone :)

    Carli wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I love your blog! It was so encouraging to me when I first got pregnant. I’m now five months along and still doing CrossFit! YAY!

      gilliebean wrote on December 13th, 2011
  31. Mark- I am 200hr RYT (yoga instructor) at a Crossfit gym and some things really need to be considered….Pregnant ladies who lift should be very careful at this point to just maintain their weights and strength rather than trying to increase them. The focus is on health NOT PRs.

    Squats are a BIG no no below 90 degrees (especially near the end of the term). The other BIG no no are any twists due to the health of the baby.

    Another really big thing to be careful of is pregnant ladies are carrying more relaxin in the body, so be mindful of any deep lunges. Women often tend to overwork themselves and then go too far and this can hurt for long periods of time.

    No physical activities on your back either!! Do not do anything that sacrifices the belly and putting pressure on it. Any inverted high push ups on the knees are okay.

    I would disagree with doing plank holds after a certain point since this is a core exercise and you do not want core pressure on the baby. Do wall sits or squats or a forearm down dog if you want to build and maintain but no core.

    Inverting (any handstands or other inversions) are fine ONLY if the mom was practicing these beforehand. Be careful not to do these too close to the end of your pregnancy as the focus should be on allowing the baby to fall for birth rather than keeping the baby in.

    Hope this helps!!

    KB wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I actually disagree with you slightly regarding squats, and I train at a Crossfit as well (although not an instructor). Deep squats are essential to opening up the pelvic canal and aid in a shorter delivery time. Squats open up the pelvic canal by an additional 10-15%, reducing risk of perineum tears. Sitting in a squat position is not only “primal”, but a normal daily practice of many cultures around the world. I sat routinely in a deep squat daily up until the day of my delivery and found that it relieved back pressure, eased tightness in my leg muscles, and better prepared me for labor. In addition, deep squats are recommended by the Bradley method of natural childbirth. Obviously some people shouldn’t do deep squats especially if they’re not accustomed to them. But done properly from the first trimester onward, it is a good practice to do.

      Kate wrote on December 12th, 2011
    • I agree that pregnancy is a time to maintain fitness rather than to shoot for heavy lifting PRs, however, I disagree with almost everything else you have written.

      It is actually *worse* for knee ligaments when people squat to exactly parallel, whereas it is perfectly safe to squat lower (for women who have been squatting prior to pregnancy and have proper technique, and who are experiencing a low-risk, healthy pregnancy).

      Twists are not dangerous to the baby. That is an old wive’s tale, same as the one that says reaching over your head can cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby’s neck.

      I talk extensively about the myth of lying on your back in one of my blog posts, and I explained it briefly in my previous comment.

      Plank holds are not only perfectly safe during pregnancy, but highly recommended my most doctors, trainers and exercise physiologists as the most appropriate ab/core exercise for pregnant women. Pregnancy is a time when we want to ensure a strong core. It helps maintain proper posture with the heavy belly on the front, reduces the incidence of back pain, and generally makes the pregnancy much more comfortable. A strong core does not harm or put pressure on the baby. I had visible abs up until the day I delivered my large, healthy boy!

      Carli wrote on December 12th, 2011
      • I have to comment from personal experience. (I just wrote a note on my recent lifting while preg) I did planks the whole time. I was careful and modified some of my free weight lifting, but increased weights as long as I was comfortable. I wasn’t in a bikini contest, I was staying fit! Loved free weights while preg. Great for working on stability. My yoga teacher was amazed I could hold the crane and flamingo better than anyone else and I was 8 months along! I credit my core strength and weight lifting. I did stop lifting my 8th month but my Dr said I was the fittest preg woman he’d seen. (And I gained 40 lbs and was HUGE!) But, I was super healthy!!!

        Does anyone think that Preg cavewomen sat around and ate bonbons? No, they hunted, squatted, lifted, cooked, etc. their muscles were toned and ready to push when the time came. They also had excellent recovery!!! Another note I can attest to. I had terrible recovery with my 1st child because I had an office job and sat all day. My 2nd and 3rd I stayed fit. The births were great as was recovery. I even got comments from the Nurses that I was recovering very quickly. (Also did the last 2 natural childbirth. Best thing every! I did it both ways and have a very strong option on it, but that’s a soapbox I can get on for a very long time… I won’t do it here.)

        Kel wrote on December 12th, 2011
        • I appreciate the critical responses! Pregnant women are not made of glass, and neither are fetuses. I always resented the imposition of strangers’ self-righteous, paternalistic, aggressive “advice” from strangers and supposed authority figures when I was pregnant and nursing. Bottom line, it’s your body, listen to it and use your judgment. I say, if it feels good and healthy to you, and you are well-informed in making your choices, you and the baby will be fine. Avoiding using any abdominal muscles for 9 months or putting any “pressure” on the baby sounds like a terrible way to train for the pushing workout of your life.

          Louise D wrote on December 13th, 2011
  32. My alcohol tolerance is much lower now. I used to drink a lot of red wine. Now, two glasses and I’m pretty tipsy, much more and I’m sick. And I don’t get “happy” tipsy anymore, I just get sleepy and pass out! I also had to cut way back on coffee to one cup a day in the morning, or I can’t sleep at night.

    Brenda wrote on December 12th, 2011
  33. Started low carb 6 months. Now I can’t (physically) drink. I just throw up after 2 glasses of wine. Now I can’t eat anything sweeter than a brambly apple. Not that I don’t want to, I just can’t handle it anymore. The last “carb breakdown” (consisting of a milk chocolate bar) drove me into terrible flu like state for several days afterwards. This morning I’ve eaten a tea spoon of honey (first time in 6 months), and ended up kneeling at the porcelain friend 5 minutes after. I don’t know if I ever want to experiment again. I just don’t seen to be able to handle it anymore :(

    Machu Picchu wrote on December 12th, 2011
  34. deep squats actually are helpful with labor and birth… Keep at ’em, definitely.

    jenna wrote on December 12th, 2011
  35. With my first pregnancy, I did squats up until I went into labor with no problem. I actually did more in my third trimester because I thought it would encourage the baby to move along :) As for the push-ups, I did regular form until it hurt my lower back. Then you can just switch to lady push-ups or do them against the wall.
    One thing is certain, the better shape you are in, the easier the pregnancy! It’s hard enough having a baby belly, but it grows a lot faster if you don’t get adequate exercise. Plus, I’ve seen some women who can really move with a huge baby belly!
    I am 5 months pregnant with my second child right now, and still barely showing. It doesn’t affect my workouts yet.

    Liz wrote on December 12th, 2011
  36. Sun exposure: I’ve always followed that general rule. As long as i don’t get red I know I am doing fine and dandy. Build up a nice tan so you can be out in the sun longer. Be patient with it!

    Primal Toad wrote on December 12th, 2011
  37. My hangovers are terrible now. Mainly just a headache that won’t quit. But, I’ve also noticed that if I just walk around for half an hour and eat, the headache literally vanishes.

    Eamon wrote on December 12th, 2011
  38. Re: Pregnancy Exercise: tips from a former primal preggo:

    do push-ups against a wall – great arm workout with little to no strain whatsoever.

    Be careful doing squats in your 2nd & 3rd trimester, as squats can actually help bring on labor, but are awesome during labor, and help open the pelvis.

    Dara Cramp wrote on December 12th, 2011
  39. I would like to comment on the knee article. Yep stability is needed but a certain amount of appropriate mobility in all the tri planes including internal and external rotation needs to allowed in training. All areas of the body should have stability with mobility but relative to the ground reaction. The spiralling movement created from contact, say for instance in gait will in turn cause a ripple effect until it is counterbalanced somewhere in the mid section of the body, where depends on force speed etc and also the ROM a person has. I look for sequence, a flow. Stability is happening all the time in movement and you are right to much or to little stability or mobility, from in any part of the body will end in another area/ part having to take more or less of the 3dimensional movement. As my teacher Gary Gray says if the hips rant moving the bodys not grooving.

    Lesley wrote on December 12th, 2011

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