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

Dear Mark: Exercise and Gut Diversity; Pregnancy and Calories

rugbyFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a two-parter. First up is a discussion of the latest (and only) exercise and gut flora study. It’s been making the rounds and even I gave it a brief mention in yesterday’s Link Love, but today I dig a little deeper. Find out what we can take away from it and apply to our own lives. Then, I cover a series of several questions regarding pregnancy, calories, weight gain, and exercise from a newly pregnant mother-to-be. Even though I’m a man, I offer my perspective and insight.

Let’s go:

Hey Mark,

What do you think about that new gut flora/exercise study that suggests that gut bacteria diversity improves with exercise?

Erik

It’s a great study, and the first of its kind in humans. A study in rats had previously shown that exercise has beneficial effects on gut health, with rats who engage in voluntary running on a rat wheel producing more colonic butyrate (the beneficial short chain fatty acid produced by prebiotic fermentation) than sedentary rats. For this one, the authors examined a group of professional rugby players from Ireland engaged in preseason training, along with two control groups – a normal weight (BMI <25.5) group and an overweight (BMI >28) group – to see how exercise (or a lack thereof) would affect gut microbial diversity. Gut microbial diversity is generally seen as a Good Thing. Higher diversity is associated with less obesity and overweight, better inflammatory profiles, improved immune responses, and a lower incidence of several diseases, including autism, inflammatory disorders, and gastrointestinal disease.

By now, chronic stress is widely accepted as having a negative impact on gut health. Exercise is a stressor, with more intense exercise being more stressful, so you’d think a group of professional athletes in a rigorous training camp might have suboptimal microbial diversity in their guts. But the opposite was true. Despite their huge exercise load, rugby athletes had far more microbial diversity in their guts than either of the control groups. They also had less inflammation and better metabolic markers.

What gives? How were they able to withstand all the exercise?

This study examined professional rugby players during preseason training, and I think that’s a salient variable. Preseason is less grueling than the season. There’s more strength training, more regimented rest periods, and more overall control of the schedule. They’re going hard, no doubt, and the actual training that occurs in the preseason is more intense than the regular season, but it’s more measured and predictable since they’re not juggling training with playing matches. They’re not just killing themselves on a daily basis with neither rhyme nor reason. Pro rugby players are treated very well. Coaches and trainers tailor individual training and recovery programs to their strengths and weaknesses. Dietitians build them diet plans. These aren’t amateurs holding down day jobs and destroying their bodies with excessive high intensity exercise in their free time. These aren’t Ironman hopefuls training four hours a day. They’re big, solid dudes walking around with low body fat, high lean mass (BMIs in the realm of 29 with 16% body fat, according to the study), eating good food, recovering well, getting massages, doing yoga, taking days off when they need them, and monitoring their progress/adherence with regular checkups. Their lives are dedicated to training and recovery. That makes a huge difference.

There were other differences that probably impacted microbial diversity:

Athletes ate more fruits and vegetables, a good source of fermentable fibers that promote microbial diversity. If you starve your gut bugs, they won’t diversify.

They ate way more protein than the other groups, and dietary protein was strongly associated with increased microbial diversity. Remember the study from a few months back showing that a zero-carb, zero-plant, all-meat and cheese diet resulted in “unhealthy” gut flora? Remember how people took that to mean this Primal stuff was a recipe for microbial disaster? I guess if you eat plenty of meat with plenty of fruits and vegetables – you know, like a normal person following a standard Primal way of eating – your gut bugs do okay. Better than okay, even.

They also snacked less than controls. Snack food is typically awful stuff, processed and full of industrial, gut-starving ingredients. I suspect that grazing all day doesn’t help, either. Eat solid meals, let your gut bugs go a little hungry in between feedings. They need to be fed, but they probably don’t need a steady, endless trickle of food. Some gut bugs often eat the byproducts created by other gut bugs upon fermentation of fiber.

To determine whether this study means anything for you, ask yourself a few questions. Is your training improving your life and health? Are you recovering from your workouts? Are you progressing? How’s your gut function? Are digestion and elimination going well, as far as you can tell? By and large, most people engaged in regular exercise experience improved gut function. If you can answer those questions in the affirmative, it’s a safe bet that your training is having a positive effect on your gut.

If you can’t dedicate your life to training and recovery, your gut probably can’t get away with a pro-rugby player’s level of activity. That said, your gut definitely can’t get away with being sedentary.

Hi Mark…..

I just found out that I’m pregnant and I really want to stick to primal eating during the whole 9 months. So far so good, but I would like to know what would be an ideal weight gain. Should I consider an extra intake of calories or should I eat intuitively?

Is it safe to hit the sweet spot?, fast 12-14hours in this stage? What about sprinting?

Sorry for so many questions but I really want to manage weight….I’ve seen too many friends gaining so much weight that after delivery over a year they are totally out of shape……

Thanks for sharing your knowledge,

Sofia

Congratulations, first of all. Let’s address your questions one by one.

Calorie intake/weight: Eat when hungry. Sometimes your appetite will be non-existent. Other times you’ll be insatiable. Just go with the flow, and if that means you eat an “extra” 1000 calories one day and half that the next, it’s going to be okay. There’s a difference between nausea and lack of hunger, though. If you find yourself not eating much for a stretch of days because nothing sounds appetizing – but you’re still hungry – then you should make a point to eat something.

Try not to stress about the weight. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. But “managing” your weight during pregnancy just turns the whole endeavor into a big chore. And from what I gather, pregnancy in and of itself isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Don’t add the stress of counting the calories you’re eating, fretting over the entire pineapple you just devoured, beating yourself up because you’re just too tired to exercise tonight, or worrying how stubbornly the weight will stick around after you’ve given birth.

Fasting: Eh. It might be safe, but I really wouldn’t risk it. You probably shouldn’t be trying to lose weight or diet down when pregnant. Your body is all about nurturing that baby growing inside you, despite what you might prefer. These days, we emphasize the primacy of the mother’s (and father’s to a lesser degree) desires. She’s the boss, she makes the decisions. If she wants to lose weight, she can do it because it’s her choice. But your choices may very well butt heads with your physiological directive. I’m not saying you can’t try to lose weight. You can. Go ahead. Just don’t be surprised when your body resists the weight loss and you start feeling “off.” We are baby-making machines (both men and women) as far as our base physiology is concerned. It’s a tough situation.

Sprinting: Sure, as long as it’s comfortable. First trimester should be fine. Don’t sprint if you feel the baby bouncing around in there. Make your sprints shorter than you normally would, like 5-10 seconds each with plenty of rest. Try not to turn it into a sprawled-out-on-the-floor-gasping-for-breath situation, because that indicates you’re really depleting your precious energy substrates. Keep ‘em short and hard with lots of rest and you won’t be stressing your body out too much. Cycle (bump permitting) or swimming sprints are a good option if running doesn’t work.

Just keep moving as much as possible. When sprinting and heavy lifting and the more intense stuff get unfeasible, don’t stop walking every day. Do what you can, and make the daily activity a habit. And continue the habit after the kid arrives. I think a lot of women (and men) get overwhelmed with the immensity of parenthood and fall out of their activity habits – if they even had them to begin with. When you’re stumbling through the dreamy haze of the first few weeks, sitting on a comfy couch in front of the TV is far more attractive to your sleep-deprived brain than going for an afternoon walk. You shouldn’t expect to keep up at CrossFit as brand new parents tag-teaming a newborn, but you can still go for the walk. Do so. It will make a difference.

While we can learn a lot from the anthropological records, pregnancy and birth have never been minor, everyday affairs. The stories of pregnant women walking off into the bush to squat for a few minutes and come back with a healthy, happy, crying baby are nice and all, but I don’t know if they represent the universal birth. There is no universal birth experience. There are many experiences and many stories, and they differ greatly. Realize that women and babies alike died during childbirth. The variable we invoke to counter the common anti-Primal/paleo “cavemen only lived to 30!” talking point cannot be ignored here: infant mortality was high, and it’s possible that fetal malnutrition was a common predisposing factor. The 20-25 pounds modern OBs typically recommend women gain during a pregnancy might be on the higher side of historically/anthropologically normal, but it’s a good, safe buffer for many women on less nutrient-dense diets than Primal. It’s better to overshoot than undershoot when it comes to growing and sustaining a human.

I’ll see if Carrie has any other advice for next week or the following one. After all, she’s been there.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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. Very interesting with the gut flora health being associated with exercise. I noticed when I started seriously lifting weights a few weeks ago, my energy leveled out and I felt better all around. Also seemed that my digestion was better, but I just associated that with my eating better. Looks like the exercise might have played a part in my improved digestion as well.

    Great stuff!

    Jacob wrote on June 16th, 2014
  2. I’m in a job where I can be as sedentary as I’d like, so I’ve done my own self-experimentation with exercise and gut happiness. Obviously I don’t exercise like a professional rugby player, but I can say that exercise, which for me is walking and lifting kettlebells, greatly improves the plumbing.

    C L Deards wrote on June 16th, 2014
  3. Amazing how important happy microbia is to our health, as all these studies lately are showing. If we thought THEY were along for the ride, we may have it backwards–we’re here to keep them happy!?

    Anyone see that NYTimes mag article on the skin biome experiment? http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/magazine/my-no-soap-no-shampoo-bacteria-rich-hygiene-experiment.html?_r=0
    Now that we’ve got the gut bugs happier, time to work on the skin!

    Tom B-D wrote on June 16th, 2014
  4. It’s so refreshing to read information given from someone who clearly understands research, nutrition & athletics! I’m a psychology research professor so question #1 is spot on (and I also have IBS so I’m pretty versed in probiotics/gut flora!) As an intuitive eating counselor I also agree 100% with your comments on eating while pregnant.

    Erica wrote on June 16th, 2014
  5. Your center of gravity shifts and the increased weight can be a shock to the joints, so I would say sprinting in the later months is probably not the best plan. I swam a lot with mine (I’ve had 4), and I contend that pregnant women are actually aquatic mammals!

    Tracy wrote on June 16th, 2014
  6. I suspect that if stress harms your gut flora and the athletes had better gut flora during the training season, it’s probably because they weren’t traveling as much. Traveling can be stressful. It’s easier to get a good night’s sleep in your own bed without crossing time zones and all that stuff.

    Diane wrote on June 16th, 2014
  7. I’ll be reaching 38 weeks this week, and I’ve been primal my whole pregnancy. (It’s my first, by the way.) I have gained about 25 pounds. I haven’t tried not to gain weight. I’ve just listened to my body. When I’m hungry, I eat, and my body usually tells me what I’m hungry for. I’ve kept moving and exercising. If it has been too much, my body tells me and I take it easy. I’m not concerned about losing the weight afterward, because that will happen naturally. Living primally helped me lose weight before I was pregnant, and it will do the same once I have my baby. I’m just happy I’m living this way, because it is the best way to nourish and nurture my baby now and after it is born.
    If you are pregnant and already following this lifestyle, I’m sure you are in tune with your body and you will know exactly what it needs and how far you can push it. Your body will change in strange ways and will be taken over by the little one growing inside of you. It is a wonderful experience, and you are well-poised to adapt to each change as it occurs.

    Brooke wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • I approached things the same way. I found that it worked for me, when I was pregnant, and is working for me now, when I’m running around after a VERY fast-crawling cavebaby!!

      Sounds like you have a great attitude about this. I hope your next few weeks of pregnancy are easy ones, and the start of your little one’s “life on the outside” and y’all’s new adventures as a family are fantastic!

      Oh, and I only have the one kiddo, but I can safely tell you that parenthood is even cooler than you’d thought it would be.

      AustinGirl wrote on June 16th, 2014
      • thanks for your positive vibes! so nice to hear these comforting messages from all of you…..For the record I´m in my 9th week! Feel like I just started my marathon! jajaja

        Sofia wrote on June 16th, 2014
        • AustinGirl, thanks for the well wishes! We can’t wait to meet our little cavebaby. :-)

          Sofia, it really is like a marathon, and sometimes you can only take it one day at a time, but you’ll do great. :-)

          Brooke wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • Primal for mommas and babies is amazing. My pregnancy and labor were smooth and my body quickly recovered after delivery. When you start introducing solids (it seems like an eternity away, I know!) baby led weaning is the easiest way to get your babe off to a primal start. Small chunks of meat, cooked veggies and soft fruit to begin with. They can chew pretty well even with no teeth and choking is pretty rare with this. My son is a year old now and eats everything we eat. The best thing is they get introduced to a wide variety of textures and flavors early on, which prevents “picky eating”. Our guy will eat anything, even spicy foods like Kimchi. Congrats on your soon-to-arrive baby and I wish you the best! Parenthood is the most hilarious, loving and teaching thing you will ever experience.

      Jessica wrote on June 17th, 2014
      • Funny, we are doing the same thing with our 13 month old and the only thing he doesnt like is kimchi, olives, and salmon that costs less than 30 dollars. He eats everything else and lots of it, the kid likes to have 3 eggs for breakfast…thats more than I eat!

        Ryan wrote on June 17th, 2014
  8. Wonder how much dirt those rugby players eat also!

    Miriam wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • Soil-based probiotics!
      And imagine the researcher who had to persuade a whole rugby team to collect stool samples for science…..

      alice wrote on June 16th, 2014
  9. Be prepared for anything! Morning sickness threw me a curve ball and the only things I could stomach were carbs and meat. All veggies made me want to throw up just by thinking about them. I could also barely find the energy to move in the first trimester. Whatever happens, just listen to your body. I never had the urge to pig out on large amounts of junk food but I ate stuff that was bad by primal standards. I learned to lose the guilty feelings and my weight gain was normal.

    I wish you luck and hope you will be one of those who can maintain a healthy diet. Just don’t stress over it.

    Gabi wrote on June 16th, 2014
  10. Just after reading a Gary Taubes book last summer, I immediately started to cook prim ally, finding MDA in a Costco Magazine article shortly after the New Year. Just as I started going down the primal road, I found out I was pregnant (#5). My starting weight was already quite high from not having lost any weight for the past 3 pregnancies. I only gained 15 lbs, and they are now off 3 mo post natal. My baby was a very healthy 8.5 lb baby, right in line with all my other kids. I now have previous baby weight to lose, and that will take longer with nursing. Excercising is great, however as your uterus expands (3-5th month) you may experience round ligament pains (connects the tuberous to the pelvis) which are sharp and painful. They usually result from movement. Also towards the end your hips and really all the ligaments in your body can get very loose. My experience would be to not do any high impact/jarring excercises. You have the rest of your life for that if you don’t mess up the hips and spine. Even now 3 mo post natal, my lower back is not happy with me as it is getting back into the right place.

    Kara wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • Might I suggest massage for the lower back issues? One of my hips didn’t go back into proper alignment post-pregnancy. ONE visit to an excellent massage therapist was enough to relax the muscles sufficiently for the hip joint to properly realign. It had been out of place for almost a year at that point. With proper alignment came much-needed pain relief. I also suffer from TMJ and massage is great for managing the symptoms, although it’ll take orthodontics to correct the underlying problem.

      Shauna wrote on June 16th, 2014
  11. Forgot to add that my husband has lost 40 lbs eating primally during this whole time and barely exercising. And “carrying heavy things” definitely applies to carrying children all around.

    Kara wrote on June 16th, 2014
  12. When pregnant, particularly during the first trimester, I had a hard time figuring out when I was hungry, since instead of hunger, I felt sick. The hungrier I was, the more nauseated I felt. Eating a little bit would make me fell all better. Just keep that in mind when deciding whether to fast. And of course, each pregnancy is different, so experiment a bit.

    Nala wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • Mornings are tough! I used to enjoy my scrambled eggs but the last couple of days I couldn´t have anything but my coffee……nuts and almonds are another thing hard for me to ingest…….So mid morning I have a fruit until lunch……

      Sofia

      Sofia wrote on June 16th, 2014
  13. “I’ll see if Carrie has any other advice for next week or the following one. After all, she’s been there.”

    YES! My husband and I are in the final planning stages for our Primal Pregnancy! Grokling production will begin soon, we hope. Carrie, please share because I am really looking for solid paleo/primal pregnancy information.

    Thank you in advance!!

    Nicole wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • Sure I´m also eager to know more about Carrie´s thoughts on primal pregnancy!!!!

      Sofia

      Sofia wrote on June 16th, 2014
  14. I have to say, Tara’s magic dough recipe might be a life saver in the early days of your pregnancy, especially if all you want are saltines. It’s very inexpensive and lacks the costly ingredients to make, unlike other primal and paleo recipes. Just google for it, as I can’t remember the website. It’s great!!!

    Kati wrote on June 16th, 2014
  15. A lot of primal women claim that eating primal means no morning sickness, tiredness, etc. Not true. Each body is different. I’ve had two very different pregnancies eating this way. I’d emphasize that not eating may lead to nausea. Last pregnancy I craved carbs (used potatoes and some fake breads ot get through some of that), this one (I’m about 20 weeks) I craved fat (coconut oil, butter and cheese!). Both times I had leafy green and meat aversions, though this time I could eat ground meat more. This time, though, the nausea and aversions were less intense. The tiredness comes with the territory. Your body is growing a baby and right now, making a placenta, which is also a ton of work. I’m not a sprinter, but I would usually be fairly breathless in the first trimester, despite being in good shape prior to the pregnancy (and during). I hear that’s hormones, too. It goes away, but comes back in the third when your lungs are getting squished a bit.
    Coincidentally, a guest post on paleoparents about one of their staff’s three trimesters of pregnancy has been nice to follow. http://paleoparents.com/2014/guest-post-paleo-pregnancy-third-trimester/

    leslie wrote on June 16th, 2014
  16. Thank you Mark for your response so soon!
    I feel I´m doing things ok, but sometimes I worry when I lack of appetite……I´ll eat intuitevely as you say then!!!!
    Regarding exercise I am a crossfitter but slowly backing off when I don´t feel it…..Even with my pregnancy I´m noticing changes in my body composition, specially legs look thinner and strong. I´m a new primal eater, about 2 months already…..
    I know I´ll become huge the next couple of months but I´m confident that following the PB I´ll be a fit mom with big belly…..

    Sofia

    Sofia wrote on June 16th, 2014
  17. When I have overtrained (running) in the past my performance would suffer right at the same time that my gut health began to suffer. I do believe the 2 are linked, but with so many other stressors it can be hard to tease out what’s contributing to what.

    I am at a level now where my performance is improving, my gut function is better than it’s ever been, but I realize that added stress can turn that around if I’m not careful.

    I think the pregnancy advice is good, my only emphasis would be to really not worry about your weight during pregnancy. It is really not the point. Focus on your health and the baby’s health and trust in the process. If you overeat some meals or days or undereat others, just seriously don’t worry about it, it’s all okay!

    Michele wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • Michele,

      may I ask what running volume constitutes overtraining for you?
      I am curious due to the fact that I myself am currently trying to figure out how much volume I can get away with as a “Paleo runner,” but fear I might not be objective with regard to data evaluation because I love running so much.

      Aki wrote on June 17th, 2014
      • I currently run 40-45 a week with either a speed/hill workout and a short tempo, the rest being all at a very easy pace (1-2 min/mile slower than goal marathon pace). I also run with a hrm to make sure I’m going easy enough on easy days. Everyone is different and other life stressors matter too as well as sleep.

        For me, overtraining involved pushing mileage up to 50+ along with too much intensity – I think the intensity piece is really important. Keep easy runs really easy. Experimenting with carbs is important too. Looking for signs that your body has had enough and respect them, I think a lot of runners have trouble with this (myself included) but performance wise it pays to rest.

        Michele wrote on June 17th, 2014
        • Thanks!

          Aki wrote on June 17th, 2014
  18. 25 weeks pregnant here & have gained 14 lbs so far, and am right on track to gain the 25-30 lbs my midwife recommended I gain. Starting off with an ideal body composition, I believe 25-35 lbs is the recommended weight gain, so don’t be too alarmed at the thought! However, I have seen women gaining 50-60 lbs with a pregnancy, so I understand being concerned about that extreme. People keep asking me if I am really watching what I’m eating, or eating differently now, because I think they expect me to look larger than I do. The truth is, I haven’t changed anything about my eating habits, (though I don’t practice fasting): I simply eat clean, and eat when I’m hungry! I wouldn’t stress yourself by counting calories, your body will let you know what you need. I have no set plans for losing the weight afterwards either. I just plan on eating as usual and staying active, I trust things will find their equilibrium again!

    Also, not going to lie, about 8 weeks of the first trimester were really rough, and I practically survived on meat, gravy, mashed potatoes, cheese crackers, & bagels with cream cheese. Vegetables were disgusting. Hope you get to avoid that fun : )

    Nina wrote on June 16th, 2014
  19. I was mostly paleo through my pregnancy. I went to crossfit till the day before I had my baby girl and was back 3 weeks later after a c-section. I was still doing pull-ups right till the end. I think this enabled me to bounce back really fast as I did. First trimester though, all I really wanted was ginger and bread. After that it was a great pregnancy. My OB never weighed me and I wasn’t concerned about my weight. Just went with what my body needed.

    Alecia wrote on June 16th, 2014
  20. I’m getting back into exercise routines myself, so I will pay attention to the plumbing and gut sensations/responses to food and exercise. Interesting study indeed!

    Kevin Grokman wrote on June 16th, 2014
  21. If you breast feed alongside primal eating any baby weight will fall right off. I’ve had three babies. Gained far too much weight with two of them and looking back in the photo albums I noticed that I was very thin soon after baby, but due to my SAD it never lasted.
    I’ll be interested to find if primal parents have children with larger jaws and no need for braces.

    Jane wrote on June 16th, 2014
  22. Just be careful with the running both closer to the due date and the months after birth. In preparation for birth, women secrete a hormone (prolactin?) which softens the connective tissue and allows the birth canal to spread in order to accomodate birth. This affects other connective tissue in the body – ie joints and can lead to injury if care isn’t taken with good form and trying too much too soon. The hormone is mostly gone from the body in about 3 months following birth but it takes about 8 months for it to fully dissipate and a while fo cours efo rthe connective tissue to return to normal strength, stretchiness.
    Obviously this affects different women differently so some may not have a problem but some of the highest running injury rates are among young mothers running after giving birth.

    TWA2W wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • The hormone is called ‘relaxin,’ and only affects the ligaments not the cervix (sorry, no help there sisters :). It is the reason some women have a lot of pain closer to the end of their pregnancies in their symphysis pubis (pubic bone) as normally it is not a very movable joint but with the the effect of relaxin, the weight of the uterus and baby it gets painfully stretched. Prolactin is the hormore most associated with milk production.

      Like in regular life, women who are pregant need to listen to their bodies and adjust their exercise accordingly. As has been repeated in this thread, each woman and each pregnancy is different. Some women find it impossible to run after 12 weeks and other women are completing marathons at 38 weeks.

      Congratulations on your preganacy!

      Ubiquita wrote on June 16th, 2014
      • You’re right about every pregnancy being different. Both my pregnancies were pre-primal. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my oldest, breast tenderness made running impossible. A few yards of running made them feel like they being crushed in a vise! I took the hint and I did a lot of walking instead. Several years prior to my second pregnancy I developed knee pain, which forced me to stop running. It wasn’t even an option with that pregnancy. The knee pain slowly went away after going primal.

        b2curious wrote on June 17th, 2014
  23. My friend had a really big baby and didn’t want her second one to be that big. She dieted her entire pregnancy–gaining only 14 pounds in nine months. Then she had a ten pound baby. Given the weight of the fluid, etc. that is shed at birth, she actually lost weight while pregnant. This cannot be good for a baby’s health. So, please, be more concerned about your baby’s health than your after birth shape. You will firm up again if you do what needs to be done after the birth.

    Linda Sand wrote on June 16th, 2014
    • I did not ‘diet’ during pregnancy, but running around with a 1 year old and swimming 2x a week plus body weight exercises 2-3 times meant I put on 7 kgs ( around 15lbs right?) at full term. My husband delivered a perfectly healthy 8pound 6 girl and I weighed less the next day than when I conceived. I may have lost a little weight; but I absolutely do not agree that it was ‘not good for baby’s health’ I am normal weight breast fed for 18months, my daughter has been healthy so far and as far as I know mother’s in survival situations often deliver normal healthy babies.
      The little aliens take all they need from our rich reservoirs of nutrients. BTW- my first pregnancy I put about 30 pounds…

      fran wrote on June 18th, 2014
  24. It was very interesting to read about gut flora and exercise. Sadly I’m not a professional rugby players who gets to dedicate my time to training, but I am very active. I definitely notice a difference in my gut health when I am consistently exercising or when I slack off for a short time. I like your comments on exercising and eating while pregnant. I think that is something many active women worry about when they are pregnant.

    Kristin J wrote on June 16th, 2014
  25. I gained a lot of weight during pregnancy, but lost it all – and more – by breast feeding for nearly a year. I ended up 10 pounds lighter than pre-baby. No dieting needed!

    Susanne Englert wrote on June 16th, 2014
  26. I myself get horrific, gut wrenching uterine cramps if I overdo it on sprinting… for me, if I were ever to be pregnant, I wouldn’t sprint because I’d worry accidentally overdoing it would trigger those cramps and cause a miscarriage. Yes, they’re that bad.

    PK wrote on June 16th, 2014
  27. There are a lot of adaptations and considerations for pregnancy that haven’t been mentioned here. I’m a Registered Midwife who blogs about primal/paleo lifestyle and I’d be happy to chime in if you’d like more details :)

    Meghanne wrote on June 17th, 2014
  28. I was doing IF before I got pregnant. I ate one huge meal a day and sometimes I had a dessert a little bit later.
    Before I knew that I was pregnant I felt that not eating the whole day is just not working at the moment. I started to eat 1-2 hand full of nuts before I cycled home from work. Than I found out that I was pregnant and continued not to eat until 4pm, had my hand full of nuts, cycled home, ate my huge meal. This felt pretty good…
    But it did not work for long and I started to get damn hungry a about 1pm. So I started to bring food to work. I was eating 3 meals a day for the first 14 weeks. At the first 6 weeks I also ate a snack every time I felt a little bit nauseated. Right now in my 16th week I don’t feel hungry in the mornings and have my first meal at lunch time. I don’t want to eat that much for lunch either so I still have my huge meal in the evening.

    Ladies…I truly believe that you feel what is right for you as long as you listen to your body!

    Sam wrote on June 17th, 2014
    • I asked my OB today if I could continue taking my omega-3 and said to quit it at least for the 1st trimester…..I´m confused about it…….
      Any comments or personal experiences about omega 3 during pregnancy?

      Sofia wrote on June 17th, 2014
      • Did he tell you why you should stop?
        I continued taking my daily fish pill and never thought about it. Here in Germany women are usually encouraged to take O3s (especially DHA) in the pregnancy.
        Heavy metal in the fish pill might be a concern. Here in Germany the pills have to be free of heavy metals and other harmful stuff. I don’t know if you have to worry about that in the US.

        Sam wrote on June 17th, 2014
  29. Hi Sofia- Check out Katy Bowman’s website for great info on how to live/train for childbirth and caring for your newborn. Also, Dr. Cate Shanahan has great nutrition info in her book Deep Nutrition, and probably her website. Lastly, check out the Weston A Price Foundation website as well. They term their nutrition philosophy traditional cuisine, but it is essentially primal. I know that they have booklets published on pregnancy and infant feeding. Best of luck! But you do not need it. You and your child are going to thrive! Clearly you know how to get good infromation– you are already primal!

    Andie Butler wrote on June 17th, 2014
  30. One strong recommendation I would make about pregnancy and paleo (my lady is 37 weeks tomorrow!) is to eat fresh foods every day and not keep leftovers. The only time my girl suffered from nausea and sickness was over restaurant food and two day leftovers. Dave Asprey talks about this in the a Better Baby Book – less toxins in fresh food.

    Craig Pendergast wrote on June 17th, 2014
  31. After babe, listen to your body, but don’t start out too hard, even if you think your birth was easy. Wait until the bleeding stops for major activity. You need to rest and recover and establish your milk supply. During pregnancy, occasionally sit or crouch in positions that widen and strech your pelvis, like butterfly and squatting (on your feet near the ground, not the weightlift squat) Also, visit a chiropractor! Adjustments all through pregnancy could help with fetal position. And if your baby happens to be breech, there are chiropractic methods to turn them. And get adjusted post birth, depending on the birthing angle/position, birth can push your tailbone or sacrum out of alignment.

    Jessica wrote on June 18th, 2014
  32. Speaking of pregnancy, any advice for nursing moms? I’m almost 4 on onths in to nursing our second baby in 3 years (the first I breasted for 18 months). This baby threw me a curveball & has LOTS of food sensitivities. I’m not completely primal (I’ll admit to having the occasional cow/goat cheese) & try my best to stick with an 80/20 lifestyle, mostly for social reasons. As I’ve tried to refine my food intake, though, I’ve been met with lots of screaming from my baby–she has a severe cow/goats milk protein intolerance, and at this point can only tolerate peppers, spinach, carrots, celery, & green beans for vegetables. I do eat oatmeal in a smoothie each day to keep my milk supply up, BUT I AM SO HUNGRY!!!! Any tips on supplements (since I’m clearly missing some nutrient so from my diet), or other suggestions on what to eat? (Also, soup is out of the question…it is in the 90’s here).

    Jlyn wrote on June 18th, 2014
  33. Mark, what a breath of fresh air your attitude to pregnancy is! It is so nice to have someone just say it is important to take care of your body and the baby you are growing, instead of fretting over calories and weight management. The modern obsession with all this “yummy mummy” stuff totally puts undue pressure on women, at a time in life when they shouldn’t have to do anything but nourish and care for their body and the life inside them. I hope when I am pregnant that I can take this advise on and not stress over how I look, how much I weigh, or what other people think women I should do/look like while pregnant.

    Thank you!

    Katiebobatie wrote on June 18th, 2014
  34. Great, well-researched information. I have bookmarked the page to share it with my wife in case we will be expecting a baby.

    Timothy wrote on June 19th, 2014
  35. I remember when I was pregnant, for the first 3 months I hardly ate anything because of morning sickness then after that I pretty much pigged out( of course on things that were good for the baby). My doc advised me that a weight gain of 20lbs in total is healthy and that is exactly what I gained. Now post baby I lost all that weight due to breastfeeding and mild exercises daily. My point is, during pregnancy there is nothing wrong with eating when you’re hungry, even if its every hour but the very last thing you would want to do when pregnant is to fast.

    FionaBee wrote on June 20th, 2014
  36. Good stuff… But please, please, don’t suggest that 20-25 lbs “might be on the higher side” of normal weight gain historically. Just the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, extra blood volume, expanding uterus, and larger breasts as your body prepares for breastfeeding, you’re coming right up on nearly 20 lbs. And that doesn’t take into account any extra protein or fat storage, also prep for breastfeeding. I gained 20-30 lbs with each pregnancy (I’ve had four), and it came right back off with over 18 months of breastfeeding in each case. In fact, my main problem was keeping my weight UP while nursing! It was a struggle to eat enough to keep up!

    Just eat sensibly, and (once you’re past any first-trimester awfulness,) focus on feeding your growing baby the best nutrition possible; the weight will take care of itself.

    Lori wrote on June 29th, 2014

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