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

Dear Mark: Fish Oil Study, 1500 Calories, Breaking a Plateau, and Bulletproof Coffee vs IF

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions. First up is from Milad, who wonders about the recent research seeming to show that fish has little to no effect on heart disease. Is it right? Are we wasting money and enduring fish burps for nothing? Next, how low is too low? If a person’s eating 1500 calories and feeling completely satisfied, should he preemptively increase calories before bad things start happening? After that, I give a couple tips for breaking through a weight loss plateau. And last, how does Bulletproof coffee “fasting” compare with actual intermittent fasting? Is it a better alternative?

Let’s go:

Hey Mark,

Long time reader and fan so I’ll keep this short:

Fish Oil Not So Perfect After All

That, which you may have already seen. Observational study?

Cheers,

Milad

Thanks, Milad.  They only examined patients who either had heart disease or had a confluence of risk factors for it, like hypertension, high cholesterol, and/or type 2 diabetes. In other words, these were people who were already being treated for heart disease. They were on statins, blood thinners, beta blockers. They were on special diets. They were receiving advice and careful monitoring from health professionals.

A more recent paper found that in subjects who weren’t taking any lipid-lowering medication, fish oil supplementation improved biomarkers related to heart disease risk. These biomarkers were extensive and indicative of actual physiological mechanisms, mind you. They weren’t just the usual “LDL and HDL” measurements. Patients taking fish oil had lower “very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, intermediate-density lipoprotein cholesterol, remnant lipoproteins, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, AtherOx levels, collagen-induced platelet aggregation, thrombin-induced platelet-fibrin clot strength, and shear elasticity.”

I suspect fish oil has very different effects depending on your baseline treatment status. Fish oil works for heart disease, in part, by reducing hypertension, lowering blood lipids and inflammation, and thinning the blood. If you’re already taking drugs that reduce inflammation and cholesterol (statins), hypertension (beta blockers), and thin the blood (warfarin), fish oil may have reduced or even negative effects. The benefit of going with fish oil, or at least working with your doc to try fish oil before going with the meds, is that you avoid the considerable side effects that accompany statins.

And even if fish oil and omega-3s in general are useless for heart disease patients (they are not), they’re still beneficial in other situations. A few examples:

Obviously, the best way to obtain omega-3s and many other protective nutrients is through seafood consumption, but a good quality fish oil is a worthy substitute when you can’t get good fish.

Hi Mark,

I love the research you put into your posts; it is far more reassuring trusting your advice when you back it with research and science.

Now, I used to be overweight, but I have recently switched over to a cleaner diet – based on your concepts, thank you! – but I eat a ton of vegetables with every meal and my daily caloric intake averages about 1500 calories because of it (I am a 5’9″ 190 pound guy). So my problem is that I always feel full but my logic tells me I should be eating more. Is this healthy?

Dan

At 5’9″ and 190, you probably still have some excess weight to lose (unless you’re a powerlifter type), and that partially explains why you feel good on such a low calorie intake. You’re consuming ample amounts of animal fat calories drawn directly from your body. And since you’re eating tons of vegetables, you’re probably getting all the micronutrients you need. This contributes to your satiety levels and will stave off many of the health issues normally associated with low calorie diets (which usually turn out to be low nutrient diets).

You’re okay as long as you feel okay. You say you “feel full.” Do you feel good? Do you have enough energy, or do you feel like you’re lagging halfway through the day? How’s your sleep? How’s your performance in the gym (or wherever you get your activity)? Do you feel mentally sharp? Are you in a generally good mood, or at least as good a mood as you were before going Primal?

Then you’re okay.

Just be vigilant and stay aware of how you’re feeling before it gets out of hand. You’re obviously thinking about this stuff pretty deeply, so I’m not really worried about you. Keep me posted, though!

Hey Mark,

I have been eating primal for a solid month now. I dropped a great deal of weight in the first two weeks. Almost 20 pounds! Now I have approached the end of the month and in the last two weeks I haven’t lost another pound! In these past two weeks I have been eating super clean and keeping it strictly to proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Any insight as to why this is happening, or how to break through this plateau?

Thanks,

Kelly

Plateaus sometimes just happen. It could be the calm before the storm, and you’re about to be hit with another round of fat loss. So there’s that. You may not have to do anything extra but continue on, sit back, and let it happen.

But often you do have to actively bust a plateau. In those cases, I recommend two things to try before anything else. The first, and most effective? Sprinting.

Sprinting isn’t necessarily the best fat burning lifestyle intervention, but it’s usually the one that kickstarts lagging weight loss. It’s the one that most people are missing. Because, let’s face it: sprinting is kind of scary. For those of us with a history of injuries or bad knees or any sort of soft tissue issue, lining up on a track and sprinting straight ahead is risky and daunting. You can get hurt doing it. You can’t just launch into an all-out sprint cold and hope to come out with everything intact. Most people just don’t know how to sprint because they haven’t done it since they were kids.

Make sure you’re sprinting right. Make sure you’re up on the 19 tips, tricks, and hints for sprinting safely, effectively, and without injury I laid out last year. Make sure you’re practicing mobility work to support optimal movement and tissue health.

Sprinting doesn’t have to be done on a track. You can sprint uphill, which is easier on the joints (and arguably better for fat loss since you’re working against gravity). You can sprint on a beach, which I enjoy.

Sprinting doesn’t have to mean running. You can sprint on a stationary bike. You can sprint in the pool. You can sprint on the Versa-climber, which is my favorite cardio machine of all time and what I use if I can’t run actual sprints. You can also do sprints on the rowing machine or the elliptical. The key is moving really, really quickly for a short period of time.

The second thing to try is a carb refeed. I explained it all in a post, but (long story short) a refeed involves once or twice a week going very low fat and high carb. And by high carb I don’t mean 600 grams. I mean more like 250-300 grams, preferably consumed on a training day to boost insulin sensitivity and restore depleted glycogen. This can raise lagging leptin levels, which increases energy expenditure and reduces appetite, thus promoting fat loss.

Give both a shot and let me know how it goes. Good luck!

Hello Mark,

I am a huge fan and I’ve been looking to implement intermittent fasting as an attempt to restart my weight loss. I want to know if I can get the same benefits from Intermittent fasting if I consume Bulletproof coffee in the morning. The MCT and butter helps me get past the hunger but I want to know if these extra calories reduce the benefits.

Keep up the great work!

Thanks,

Dan

Well, it’s certainly not fasting. A half stick of butter and a couple tablespoons of MCT or coconut oil is a lot of calories, and fasting by definition requires the absence (or at least near absence) of calories. Drinking 600+ calories every morning versus drinking zero calories? As far as weight loss goes, the latter option will work better.

A lot of people swear by the BP coffee thing. I’ve never really liked it for myself, not because I disagree with butter and coconut oil in coffee (it’s quite tasty), but because it’s just too much of everything at once. Especially if done every morning. It may be sacrilege among some of you, but I seriously question whether Bulletproof coffee is a good idea on a daily basis. It’s just a huge, unremitting influx of energy that seems a bit too excessive and absent evolutionary precedent for me to be completely comfortable with daily consumption.

Maybe if you’re on a full-blown ketogenic diet and it’s the easiest way for you to eat enough fat. But for the average person on a regular Primal eating plan who likes to eat a wide variety of plant foods and food in general? All those calories you’re mainlining with the coffee in the morning will probably crowd out the other stuff you like to eat.

Go for it if you enjoy it and get good results. But don’t stick with it if you’re gaining weight, feeling nauseated, or any of the other side effects I’ve seen in people (in our own office) consuming Bulletproof coffee (the butter/oil concoction, not the beans) on a daily basis.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not bashing butter in your coffee. But I’d prefer people think of it as a treat to be enjoyed a couple times a week, rather than a meal replacement or a daily staple. It’s a tool. Hard day of work coming up? Get out the blender and the butter. Just another morning? Maybe make your coffee black and do some eggs, sautéed greens, and a bowl of berries instead for more nutrients, some actual protein, and far fewer calories.

By all means, try both regimens out (fasting and BP coffee) to see what works, but I suspect you’ll have more success with true fasting and intermittent, rather than chronic, BP coffee consumption.

That’s it for this week, everyone. Thanks for reading and be sure to leave a comment with your input down below!

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. Love the insight on plateaus! And on what to think about (how we feel!) instead of focusing too much on the calorie intake!

    Livi wrote on April 20th, 2015
  2. Great set of questions this week. All very interesting topics.

    Jacob wrote on April 20th, 2015
  3. and I love you even more for not being on the bulletproof coffee bandwagon ….

    Erica wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Ditto!

      Kelda wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • I second that. I’m not sold on the bulletproof coffee for the average Joe.

      JJ wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • Vasoconstrictor (coffee) plus huge bolus of fat doesn’t equal good times to me either, and I read somewhere that our blood’s at its most “sticky” in the mornings.

        So count me in as another skeptic on this as a good idea for daily use, mainly because there’s no evolutionary precedent, as Mark said – I also wonder about combining tow kinds of fat never found together in nature.

        MrsRathbone wrote on April 21st, 2015
        • I agree with Mark’s nuanced perspective on BP coffee. However, I do disagree with the idea that there is no historical evidence for it. Putting high-quality, grass-fed dairy in tea (or just consuming it alone) is a tradition that spans countless cultures over all of known human history. If you read up on the nutritional properties of butter (Weston Price), it is a super food (like egg yolks) because it contains the nutrition (derived from the soil through grass) necessary to build up an animal (or human) body. Quality grass-fed dairy is very difficult to find in the US, hence butter is a great alternative. I agree that for someone fully on board with the primal lifestyle, BP coffee isn’t necessary nor should it be a daily thing, rather it is a tool. However, for a chronically Omega3 deficient average american, it can be a brain-free way to start adding much needed nutrition into the SAD diet, and an introduction into the lower carb lifestyle. If BP coffee ends up replacing a morning cup of orange juice, or a HFCS laden starbucks latte addiction, it is even more powerful.

          Of all the ingredients in BP coffee, I am most suspicious of coconut oil, simply because for so many Caucasians it is not a part of their ancestral diet–also, its being mass produced and sold at Costco… And I’m suspicious of it just like I am of olive oil (that market is rife with fraud). When I do BP, it generally consists of only butter, and a splash of raw, grass-fed heavy cream.

          Brian Dekoekkoek wrote on April 23rd, 2015
        • Brian – I really like your comment here – and it had so many thinking points – thanks for sharing it :) HW

          healthywings wrote on May 27th, 2015
  4. Hmmmm, food for thought on the BP coffee. I like to have it with egg in the morning for breakfast. I don’t like to eat in the morning and this gets fat and protein into me before I leave for work. I don’t like to eat lunch either so a small snack or not works out well.

    However, my problem presently is that I have plumped up about 6 pounds over winter and am NOT happy since that little bit of extra doesn’t fit as comfortably into my clothes. I don’t think it’s from the diet as much as the present stress in my life that is interrupting my sleep. Sigh, I think I will try fasting without BP coffee and try to eat lunch instead. Eating one meal with BP is so cheap and easy but maybe I just need to switch it up a bit and see if that will help my pants button easier. I wish I liked food more.

    2Rae wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • or maybe just cut down on the amount of butter/coconut oil you put in the coffee. i only use about half the amount suggested and only do it once in awhile as Mark suggested.
      if you weren’t used to these calories coming from somewhere before you started with the BPC…then there are your 6lbs potentially!

      mel wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • I may just try the fasting full days instead of IF. I don’t like to have to drink coffee everyday just to get my fat up. Maybe I’ll make a TON of bone broth and put fat in that so I can “drink” breakfast still… he, he, he.

        If I eat too much fresh veggies my tummy gets “mad” so I need to cook most of the veggies until they are just a tiny bit cooked.

        2Rae wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • +1 to using less butter. Very very few people use the entire stick of butter. I’ve whittled mine down to 2 tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of coconut oil. But either way, it’s not fasting by any stretch.
        But yeah, it’s not the greatest bandwagon to be on. Fat is fat. I compromised and just drank a 1/3 serving (80 calories).

        oxide wrote on April 20th, 2015
  5. re: I suspect fish oil has very different effects depending on your baseline treatment status.

    … and whether you’re on a consensus diet or a sane diet …

    … and your genetic status, in particular ApoE. In studies of people who already have CVD or high lipid labs, those with familial hypercholesterolaemia may be over-represented. It may be that some with FH need to moderate their fat intake.

    Boundless wrote on April 20th, 2015
  6. Wow – Dan had the same question I was worrying about (except I’m 6’1, 200lbs, female, and my current daily calories are around 1200 and feeling sated).

    Dropping rapidly from 270lbs felt good, and familiar – I’ve tried dieting before, with mixed results – but I’m now close to the right weight for my height and build, so it’s a bit scary to not feel any real hunger. Still, “close” isn’t the same as “reached” – I still have 15-20lbs excess fat to chew through before I’ll need to eat more external fat!

    Thanks for the timely reminder :-)

    Immaterial wrote on April 20th, 2015
  7. +1. Excellent topics. The discussion of the 1500 calorie day gave me food for thought — I have sort of the opposite situation. I’ve been overweight most of my adult life, but not obese. Just somewhere between five and 35 pounds over what most of the charts say I should weigh. But I completely changed everything two to three ago — mostly along Primal lines — and now I’m definitely a thin person who has to pay attention to keeping weight on. I carry very little fat for an almost-60 woman but am strong and quite active. Almost never sick. All good. But it feels weird to me to be shoveling in 1800-2000 calories some days to keep myself from dropping below 98 or 99 pounds, which is where I think I look like a (wrinkly) athlete or dancer. A number of friends and relatives find my appearance alarming and ask if I’m sick. My guy at the gym says I’m perfect.

    I thought about it and think that I’m burning a lot more calories not just because I’m active but also because my body composition has shifted seriously away from fat and toward lean mass. It just takes more to maintain muscle than fat. So all the calculators and articles that tell dieting older women they will need less food as they get older and thinner — they predicted a future that so far I’m just not living in. It’s time to get it through my head that if I’m hungry, I should just relax and eat!

    Martha wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • One issue is this. If you have been bigger all your life, and now you are lean, those closest to you will think you look “sickly” and such. They guy at the gym may have a better view of you because he isn’t biased so much on how you used to look for most of your life. If you feel good, look good, and eat good. Live and be good! :-)

      Paul wrote on April 21st, 2015
  8. I love adding butter to my coffee as part of my breakfast. I don’t go putting half a stick of butter or three tablespoons of coconut oil. A little of both or some heavy cream tastes good and makes me feel great when I drink it with breakfast.

    Angel wrote on April 20th, 2015
  9. I’ve been thinking that “plateau” is perhaps not the best word choice for the phenomena. When I hear it I imagine a graph, with points marked for where one is and where one desires to be. Measurement vs. Self.

    In general, when you stop losing (or gaining) you have reached a new equilibrium. For me, looking at it that way deemphasizes the ego a bit. Ymmv.

    Rick wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • +1

      Catherine wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Love new equilibrium. I’m going to change my paradigm.

      Pam wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Yes! I didn’t realize it, but I definitely think of plateaus as “equilibrium.” And after losing 50 lbs over several years, I think my body has to “get used to” a new weight every 10 lbs or so before it wants to lose more. Would I like to lose weight faster? Hell yes. (I still have 30 lbs to go.) But the upshot to losing slowly and waiting out the plateaus is that I have never, ever regained pounds.

      Lisa wrote on April 21st, 2015
  10. Great mix of topics!

    Curtis wrote on April 20th, 2015
  11. I have tried to supplement fish oil several times in the last year, but every time the results are depression and irritability. Can someone clue me in on what is going on? I have endometriosis and exfoliative cheilitis, both inflammatory conditions.
    Thanks

    Cyn wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Just guessing, but maybe you’re taking too much. Try cutting back, or instead of popping supplements, try eating fish that are high in Omega-3’s. I dislike taking stuff that comes in a capsule and therefore don’t do much supplementing. On the other hand I’ve always liked fish and eat it several times a week in lieu of taking fish oil caps. Alternatively, you could try different supplement brands to see if there’s one that works better for you. If all else fails, just skip the fish oil. If it makes you sick it isn’t good for you, no matter how healthy it’s supposed to be.

      Shary wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • Thanks for your prompt reply. Reading your response makes me feel silly now. If it makes you sick, it isn’t good for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

        Cyn wrote on April 20th, 2015
        • You’re welcome, Cyn. My response wasn’t meant to make you feel silly; I was just reminding you of what people sometimes overlook. When something makes a person sick, it’s gotten to be the “in” thing to say, “Oh, you’re just detoxing.” That may be true in a few situations, but more often than not it’s the body’s way of complaining when we’re doing something it doesn’t like.

          Shary wrote on April 20th, 2015
        • ‘When something makes a person sick, it’s gotten to be the “in” thing to say, “Oh, you’re just detoxing.”’

          This drives me mad! The whole “you’re just detoxing”, “it’s water weight” etc basically means “This diet is the best and if you’re not seeing results, it’s because it’s going to be hard at the start but then everything will fall magically into place”. (Or, “because you’re not doing it properly.” Ugh!)

          I see those things said a lot among high-carb low-fat preachers. I feel upset for the unsuspecting people (young women, particularly) that feel like personal failures when an unnatural diet (80% fruit/carbs) is recommended to them and they feel awful as a result.

          Jenna Felicity wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • I’m allergic to fish but decided to give fish oil supplementation a go. I talked to the scientists at Nordic Naturals and they assured me that their membrane filters remove all fish proteins. So they sent me a variety pack of samples that included both liquid and capsules (just call them up and they’ll send free samples to you too).

      I cautiously tried them all with no ill effects. So I settled on liquid Arctic Cod Liver Oil.

      At first it made me nauseous. So I returned it and tried the unflavored kind (no orange or lemon oil or peach flavoring) and it worked perfectly.

      So that’s my recommendation. Nordic Naturals Unflavored Arctic Cod Liver Oil.

      I take two to four teaspoons per day.

      Clay wrote on April 20th, 2015
  12. I wonder if some of the stomach upset is due to what amounts to an oil slick in your coffee. I blend in some egg yolks to emulsify the oil and add a bit more fat and a lot of nutrients. Great creamy mouthfeel, great flavor (w/cinnamon) and ridiculous energy. Still, making it a daily regimen was a bit excessive. Now I do it only every once in a while.

    Joshua Crosby wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Three or four egg yolks, a tablespoon of MCT, and some cinnamon or vanilla has become my go-to breakfast on days where I won’t be able to eat for a while.
      People have tried a sip of it and been amazed I could make such a delicious drink at home. Then I told them what’s in it…

      His Dudeness wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • that’s been my experience exactly.

        Joshua wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • Adding cinnamon sounds delicious. I also add nutmeg and tumeric when I make something similar.

        Jenna Felicity wrote on April 20th, 2015
  13. Does anyone have any thoughts on “master Cleanse” lemonade colon/ intestinal cleanse or detoxifying before starting a 21 day challenge? Would it be beneficial or not to sort “clean things out” before starting out. I know I am coming from the point of a really unhealthy diet and needing to drop about 100 lbs to get into the neighborhood of my correct weight for my size and age (6’2″ / 290 /64yes old). Would cleansing help me start better or should I just jump into my first 21 day challenge and see how it goes?

    Any help appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Geoff in Jacksonville, Fl.

    Geoff Adams wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • There is no such thing as “cleansing” or “detoxifying” in the sense that you mean. You may have been putting unhealthy stuff in your body and want to get rid of it, but the only way to get it out of your system is to stop eating it. Your body will take care of the rest. It’s self-cleaning! :)

      Linda wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • +1 to Linda’s response. Most cleanse/detox products are a scam and a waste of money. Some can even be harmful. Your body has many systems by which it cleanses itself without any interference. As was pointed out, just switch to a cleaner diet and let your body do what it was designed to do.

        Shary wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • I agree. Detoxing is a myth. It’s not how the body works at all. You don’t have stored toxins that you sweat out, burn off or neutralize with juices. If you have lead poisoning there’s chelation therapies they give you in the hospital to remove the lead. if you eat death cap mushrooms, there’s milk thistle therapy to prevent your liver from dying. But the idea that our body and colon are infected with non-descript “toxins” that we need a special diet or a drink to remove is simply not true.

        Clay wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • Agreed!

        And I dislike the general use of “X product removes toxins”. Makes me think people aren’t educated enough to give me proper reason about how/why something works. Not that I’m an expert!

        But notice how it’s so trendy to say “this removes toxins” when referring to just about anything that that person doesn’t like? Vegans will say removing animal products ‘removes toxins’. Avoiding coffee can ‘remove toxins’. Etc!

        Jenna Felicity wrote on April 20th, 2015
        • Another +1. Eating a Primal or Paleo diet and fasting once in awhile will clean you up fine. Forget the detox scam.

          Nocona wrote on April 22nd, 2015
    • The best detox is to give up alcohol. If you don’t drink give up fructose. Both of these substances stress the detoxifying organs.

      Jack Lea Mason wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • lol – if you want to “detox”, just eat nothing else but a stack of fruit for 2-3 days, and I guarantee your bowels will be “cleaned out” – don’t know if that’s a particularly useful thing, but hey.

      Storm wrote on April 20th, 2015
  14. Our alternative to BP coffee is the protein powder mocha. Put 1/2 to 1″ of cream in a cup, add a heaping teaspoonful of ON Double Chocolate protein powder and froth it in with a mini immersion blender like the Aerolatte. Add coffee and optional 2-3 drops of stevia and froth it well. I generally have two of these every morning and don’t need to eat until noon or later.

    bayrider wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Now that sounds better than Bulletproof coffee!

      Pam Forrester wrote on April 20th, 2015
  15. Alternate Day fasting kick started a plate of 18months for me. Another similar method is the Fast Diet. I just stayed primal when i did it.

    Pam Forrester wrote on April 20th, 2015
  16. I haven’t tried it yet but I just can’t wrap my mind around the concept of bulletproof coffee. The thought of butter or coconut oil in coffee just makes me nauseous. But I’m keeping an open mind and I do plan to try it. The intermittent fasting sounds more like something I could do going forward.

    Nia wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • I used to love coffee with a little heavy cream in it. Unfortunately, it didn’t love me back. I switched to tea years ago because coffee in any form, even plain black, gave me unacceptable GI problems. Coffee with butter, coconut oil (which I’m mildly allergic to), or various other forms of “bulletproofing” is something I wouldn’t be able to drink. To each his own, I guess.

      Shary wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • I like cream in my coffee, but I am lactose intolerant. I use a stick blender to blend in about one tablespoon of salt-free butter (usually Kerry Gold) into my black coffee, and it gives me the sensation of cream in my coffee without the usual problem.

      Susan wrote on April 20th, 2015
  17. I went from 290 to 165 in a year and half. I started eating more, naturally, when I reached the 160s. At first it startled me. But through the journey I had never counted calories, stressed on my eating, just kind of going with the flow.

    So I figured out part of my daily calories until the 160s was from stored body fat. Once my body got to the 160s, it was mostly ingested food from that day or previous day. Still in the 160s but can eat more than during the weight loss.

    So I do think Mark nailed it. As long as you feel good, are getting stronger, have great energy the calories/ appetite thing sorts itself out.

    I’d like to say maybe I was under 2,000 calories when in the weight loss phase, but no idea. No idea what I eat now either calorie wise…but it works.

    Larry wrote on April 20th, 2015
  18. If you lose 20 pounds in two weeks and you’re not in a concentration camp, it’s mostly water weight. To me that is the most likely reason for the plateau. A true 20 pound loss of fat is basically impossible in two weeks.

    Clay wrote on April 20th, 2015
  19. I do sprints in the park but I often pull a tendon in the back of my shin which takes me out for a week or so. I also do sprints on my rebounder, which is far gentler on the body, but it doesn’t feel as good as sprinting on hard ground.

    Does sprinting on the rebounder also have positive effects?

    Jed wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • You should try sprinting hills instead. Seriously, a lot of people find they can sprint without as much injury risk with short hills.

      DubC wrote on April 20th, 2015
      • +1 or a flight of stairs.

        Jack Lea Mason wrote on April 20th, 2015
        • Agreed! I do a stairs workout twice a week, but really started noticing results when I started sprinting up for short periods taking the stairs two at a time.

          Ernie Parsons wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • I warmed up then I did a few short sprints and now I have a damaged achilles tendon which is taking months to heal. So take it easy especially if you are 60+ years old.

      GrannyGrok wrote on April 20th, 2015
  20. Thanks @ linda, shary and clay, wasn’t real sure about that and just wanted to get sure before I may have done something of no value. I’ve been fighting this weight for almost 40yrs and don’t need to be doing stuff that won’t/doesn’t work. Thanks and here I go on my first 21 day challenge.

    Geoff Adams wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • Have fun! You will know when your body is cleaner because you will start smelling cleaner. I don’t wear deodarant anymore because I try to eat clean enough to NOT use it.

      2Rae wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • All the best on your 21 day challenge, Geoff!

      TeeDee wrote on April 21st, 2015
  21. I’m pretty sure week 2 out of 4 isn’t where the plateau ends so much as where the initial water weight loss ends.

    Diane wrote on April 20th, 2015
  22. I’ve found sprints are a great tool to bust plateaus. Although 2 times a week max would be the limit before experience diminishing returns I think. In “maintenance” mode, 1 sprint session a week seems good enough.

    With fish oil – I also find the anti-inflammatory properties quite noticeable, especially if suffering injuries.

    Storm wrote on April 20th, 2015
  23. Rather than consuming fish oil for omega 3, if you avoid seed oils, your omega 3 to 6 balance will be such that most people won’t need any supplementation. The omega 3 is generally just counteracting the imbalance caused by too much omega 6, which is inflammatory. I bet the patients in the omega 3 study were all consuming “heart healthy vegetable oils”, full of omega 6.

    Debbie wrote on April 20th, 2015
    • An important part of fish oil is the huge DHA and EPA content. Flax seed is very high in omega 3 as well but has no DHA and EPA. Just ALA which converts very poorly to DHA. I take fish oil primarily for that. Not the Omega 3 part.

      Clay wrote on April 21st, 2015
  24. I can’t quite believe this part – “Hey Mark,
    I have been eating primal for a solid month now. I dropped a great deal of weight in the first two weeks. Almost 20 pounds!” It’s quite unbelievable unless he’d been into fasting for 2 weeks? Right???

    Rocky wrote on April 21st, 2015
    • Yeah 20 pounds in 2 weeks – only explanation is water loss or inaccurate measurement, at best the primal plan (or any plan for that matter) you can expect 1 pound of actual fat per week, but that is good, losing weight too fast is a recipe for health disasters. The primal plane does remove 1 pound of FAT average a week if followed strictly (both the diet AND exercise AND lifestyle components), and should build LEAN MUSCLE – this is where you ignore the scales and focus of % fat, I found at one point my net weight just stabilised, but my fat kept reducing, and muscle increased. Muscle is 5 times the volume for weight as fat, so for example, a 1 pound muscle increase, with no change in net weight, means you actually must have lost 5 pounds of fat !

      This is why its critical to record your % fat drops, otherwise you could be discouraged by the scales not moving, but in reality, you could be shedding loads of fat – now, measuring the “actual” % fat, well that’s a bit trickier…

      Storm wrote on April 21st, 2015
      • sorry – I screwed up that maths – I meant to say a 5% change in body fat for a constant weight of 150 pounds, equates to a fat loss of 7.5 pounds.

        For a 200 pound body builder, this would be 10 pounds of fat loss.

        Storm wrote on April 21st, 2015
  25. Personally I add (2) tablespoons of Great Lakes Gelatin (cold water soluble) whenever I enjoy a cup of bulletproof coffee and on a sweet tooth day I will add cacao powder, ground cinnamon, vanilla, Sweet Leaf stevia to taste and cayenne pepper to get the metabolism going.

    Oh No Mr Bill wrote on April 21st, 2015
  26. I agree that if you’re trying to lose weight or re-start your weightloss, bulletproof coffee may not be a great idea, but the documented health benefits, including perhaps helping to prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, convince me I’ll take a sharp brain over weight loss, any time!

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on April 21st, 2015
  27. Hi Mark, I was wondering if you could point me to any articles you may have that explains the ‘dangers’ of canola oil. There are still conflicting opinions about it (as recently as August 2013, Snopes rated the bad claims against it as ‘false’. What they said make sense, but I’ve also heard a lot of the bad things about it. Can you show me ‘your’ citations so I can see what I’m missing?
    I can trust you because you would obviously use it in the production of your mayo if you thought it was healthy, because it’s much less expensive than avocado oil. But I’m the type that needs to read the facts and evidence against it for myself from the original studies. Thanks very much! I love your site…

    TeeDee wrote on April 21st, 2015
    • Just went looking for some of your articles about oils, specifically canola oil. Judging by the processes involved to extract and deodorize, I can see why it’s deemed unhealthy, so pls disregard above query–thanks :) I’ll stick to making my own mayo and using lard for frying. I hope your yummy sounding avocado mayo will be available in Canada one day!

      TeeDee wrote on April 21st, 2015
      • Buy it online TeeDee,
        I purchased 4 jars to enjoy when I get back to eggs (on the autoimmune protocol ATM), they arrived well packed, in one piece and not frozen: in Australia:)

        Heather wrote on April 21st, 2015
        • Thanks so much, Heather :)

          TeeDee wrote on April 22nd, 2015
  28. Love all of the research and insight you bring to your post

    Mark wrote on April 22nd, 2015
  29. Thanks for the link to the fish oil study. Passed it on to my parents who keep trying to tell me fish oil is useless.

    Simpson wrote on April 22nd, 2015
  30. This post was extra special to me because I was reading it while on the recumbent bike – and the section about “sprinting” – with the links for even more info – was perfect timing…
    I have just reached a point in my workouts where I needed something a bit more – and so right then I did some little spurts on the bike – and have been every day this week – and it was an idea that I really needed – so a high thanks for that.

    also, my college freshman son and I have been talking about the bulletproof coffee, which I had not heard of until you answered this questions about it – and that is what your newsletters sometimes do for my life – give me a workout tip and then some fun topics of convo – and for that I am much grateful for MDA.

    healthywings wrote on April 23rd, 2015
  31. I used to be a huge coffee drinker, 4-5 16 oz cups a day. I did that for years with no ill effects. But then I had a stressful period in life and kept up the coffee habit and started having panic attacks! …which if you’ve ever had, I don’t need to tell you how awful that can be. I’d rather have a broken bone. It took me a while to make the connection, but all the coffee was spiking cortisol… chronically. And I was basically in adrenal fatigue.

    I’ve since stopped drinking daily coffee, and swapped it for black tea. At about 1/5th the caffeine, I now have 3-4 a day of those. The L-theanine in the tea seems to balance out the caffeine too. I still have coffee on weekend mornings, but I get a half-caf to keep things in check.

    I agree with Mark on this, that there’s nothing wrong with the OCCASSIONAL artificial energy buzz from caffeine, but as a daily thing…. be careful.

    matt from LHTTTG wrote on April 24th, 2015
  32. Thanks for this article Mark! Just wanted to share my experience: I lost weight and became fat adapted on a daily blended coffee made of one tbsp ghee, 1tbsp coconut oil, and stevia. Been drinking this for a year now and still love it!

    JB wrote on April 28th, 2015

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