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

My Daily Diet

Last week in my post about Washboard Abs on a High-Fat Diet, No Ab Workouts and No Cardio I got a number of questions regarding my diet. So here it is. I’d recommend everyone visiting FitDay and giving it a try. I know when I have clients send me their FitDay records, it’s usually an eye-opener.

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As noted in the previous post I am getting well over 50% of my calories from fat and am right at 1 g protein/lb. I try to keep my carbs at 100 grams a day plus or minus a few. This keeps me in a predominantly fat-burning state without ever being ketogenic (in the strictest sense). This is an important concept. Low carb does not necessarily mean ketogenic, as some people seem to believe.

The above figures correspond with the following foods and serving sizes. Though the vegetables and meat choices often change from one day to the next it is very typical of my diet.

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FitDay also keeps track of your micro-nutrient intake:

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One notable thing here: Despite eating a diet largely based on nutrient rich vegetables, healthy fats and some fruit it is still possible to not meet RDA of some vitamins and minerals. In this particular case I came up short on Vitamin D and Calcium. This is precisely one of the reasons why I spend some time in the sun each day and why I choose to take a multi-vitamin supplement. Sometimes even a great diet won’t meet all of your needs.

Further Reading:

My Daily Salad

What I Eat in a Day

What is the Primal Blueprint?

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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. Thanks for posting… great info.

    Questions:

    1. What kind of physical activity or exercise did you perform on this day?
    2. how many cals did you burn while exercsising?
    3. net calories total for day after cals burned from actvity?

    Just curious… I am an endurance athelete and still experimenting with how many calories work for me based on activity/exercise level.

    jameson wrote on May 14th, 2008
  2. Mark;

    Get Post, thanks for sharing your Fitday profile.
    I check you blog at least once /twice a day, cross post on mine along with posting articles on our company bulletin boards.

    Thanks again.

    Jay wrote on May 14th, 2008
  3. That’s an interesting self study. I have recommended Fitday to patients of mine for years and many find it a pleasurable way to study one’s eating habits.

    If you don’t mind, I think that you should do this for about 2 weeks and make your results public on Fitday. It would be interesting see any trends that break out over a 2 week period rather than sampling just 1 day. It would also be easier to look at rather doing a screen capture and putting it on your site.

    primalman wrote on May 14th, 2008
  4. Mark,

    Thanks for posting, but it is really hard to read what the “Today’s Foods” says. Anyway you could make it more legible?
    Thanks.

    Tee wrote on May 14th, 2008
  5. Tee,

    Right click the photo and select “view image” (PC). This should allow you to view the capture in a new window at actual size. Not sure what the commands are on a Mac, though.

    L wrote on May 14th, 2008
  6. Mark, I actually started putting my food intake into FitDay a couple days ago as I’ve never examined it that closely to know my breakdown. Your abs post prompted it. I assumed I was around 50% fat, 30% protein, 20% carbs. I assumed wrong! Monday I came in around 70% F, 18% P, 12% C, and yesterday flipped the P and C numbers a bit with a sweet potato. Very interesting stuff…amazing I’m not dead with my 21% saturated fat yesterday.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

    Scott Kustes - Modern Forager wrote on May 14th, 2008
  7. I noticed just 1 cup of milk would easily get you out of the red on the only 2 nutrients you seem to be lacking (Vitamin D and calcium).

    Any specific reason you steer clear?

    J. Bella wrote on May 14th, 2008
  8. Mark,
    My fitday calcs seem to indicate that their “egg, fried” includes the butter already. Or are you adding more than they specify?

    If not, I’d do “egg, whole, raw” by itself and then add your butter separately. That is, of course, if that kind of a detail makes a difference to you. :-)

    Andrea

    Andrea wrote on May 14th, 2008
  9. …and less than 35grams of fiber in a day? You must be constipated and bloating by now. More whole grain cereal for you! (note sarcasm)

    Good breakdown…honestly that seems like the perfect ratio of macronutrients for health…even of sat/mufa/pufa fats. Well done sir, no wonder you have abs!

    Mike OD - Fitness Spotlight wrote on May 14th, 2008
  10. Wondering if you eat more carbs (fruit, sweet potatoes) on a day of vigorous activity?

    Scott Hanson wrote on May 14th, 2008
  11. Mark, whats your cholesterol like?

    denner wrote on May 14th, 2008
  12. Mark,
    Thanks for posting! Wasn’t sure if I read that right, but did I see that you use regular sugar or an artificial sweetner in your coffee? Just asking, not judging;>)
    Thanks!
    Steve

    Steve Liberati wrote on May 14th, 2008
  13. It’s sugar–I know because I do the same thing based on a suggestion from Mark. I thought that was a little strange when he said it but then I decided that it’s a very small indulgence compared to a day’s total intake. There’s more sugar in the small container of Greek yogurt that I have with my breakfast. What I really like is the taste that using heavy cream gives the coffee. I’m toying with the idea of drinking a cup of cream with a dash of coffee for flavoring! :-)

    Dave C. - DaveGetsFit wrote on May 14th, 2008
  14. Good questions, all. Just got in off the golf course (foraging for lost golf balls, while carrying a bag and swinging a stick).

    1) Physical activity on that day was extremely hard 30 minute stationary bike ride.
    2)Irrelevant how many calories I burn during exercise. That’s a problem with FitDay because they overestimate your “burn.” FWIW, I burned 675 calories in a half hour according to the bike. Net calories don’t faze me either. Metabolic advantage evens everything out.
    3)Don’t drink milk because our ancestors didn’t, and I hate the stuff. But I do consume rotted milk in the form of cheese. Go figure.
    4)2 Pats of butter covered the eggs at breakfast and the brussel sprouts later in the day.
    5) Less than 35 grams of fiber is all I need to stay regular. I have never felt better since I got rid of supplemental fiber (and whole grains).
    6)I don’t eat more carbs on a vigorous day generally because I don’t have days where I exercise more than an hour. So I just don’t ever need carbs beyond my 100-150 per day. When I do go longer (a long hike) or a 3 hour game of ultimate, I still don’t compensate with extra carbs since I likely won’t be doing it again the next day and I know my glycogen stores will fill from just the protein/fat and low carbs over the next 48 hours.
    7)Last I checked (life insurance exam) total cholesterol was 187, HDL 82, triglycerides 70, A1C 0.
    8) I use regular sugar in the coffee (and heavy whipping cream) Gotta make it worth drinking.

    Mark Sisson wrote on May 14th, 2008
  15. Just got in off the golf course (foraging for lost golf balls, while carrying a bag and swinging a stick).

    Yea!! So how far you figure Grok could hit his five iron? :-)

    I enjoy golf so much more now that it’s major function is exercise rather than worrying about lowering my handicap (which I’m NOT doing).

    DaveC wrote on May 14th, 2008
  16. Mark,

    Here is one way that I can tell you how to improve your diet and add great enjoyment to your life:

    Learn to appreciate and then pull your own perfect espresso. It is one of my great enjoyments in my life and it is guilt free. Seriously, putting any type of dairy or sweetner into great espresso is nothing short of a crime.

    primalman wrote on May 14th, 2008
  17. Mark,
    I notice on my reports that I’m not deficient in vitamin D and Calcium, but if I remove the 1 can of sardines that I eat most days, I am. Something worth noting is that those yummy little fishes (with the bones of course) contain both of these vitamins/minerals and a single 3.75oz can will bump you up to or above the RDA.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

    Scott Kustes - Modern Forager wrote on May 15th, 2008
  18. The thing I find most interesting is that I maintain my 115-120 pounds (on a 5’4″ frame, after having had 3 children) on about the same number of calories per day as Mark, without much in the form of “formal” exercise (up and down playing with the kids, gardening, housework and such), and my balance of carbs and protein is about exactly the opposite. Lots of fruit and whole grains around here, and it sure doesn’t seem to be hurting any of us.

    Not trying to be totally antagonistic to the whole “primal” thing, but it surely is not the only way to go, and I enjoy my diet a lot more than if I was eating the “primal” way.

    And it just doesn’t sit right with me to preach a “primal” diet like the one “Grok” ate while consuming the milk of other animals in any form. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my cheese, yogurt and ice cream – but Grok wouldn’t have been eating any of those things. I’m just curious (maybe it’s been addressed before) how you decide which concessions to make and where to “fudge” the rules on the limits.

    Judy wrote on May 15th, 2008
  19. Judy,

    You are correct. Grok didn’t drink milk or eat cheese (or drink wine or a protein shake). Here at MDA we espouse a Primal Blueprint “style” of eating. Ideally, you’d get up with the sun, go to bed when the sun goes down, hunt for animals and forage for veggies in your neighbor’s garden. Unfortunately, modern life interferes with that idealistic style. So we make compromises. We call them “sensible vices” http://www.marksdailyapple.com/index.php?s=sensible+vices or “minor indulgences” that let us enjoy trappings of modern life without too much sacrifice. Generally, these also have research to back the fact that they have either health benefits or at the very least don’t have a heavy downside. I don’t drink milk or eat ice cream (even though I consumed a half gallon a day for ten years in my youth). I do eat a little cheese now and then, arguing that it contains some protein and fats that I can easily digest (and it tastes good). I also have a little red wine a couple of times a week as a compromise from all the beer (liquid grains) I used to drink. I drink a protein shake when I’m in a hurry and need a decent compromise.

    While all these are slight compromises in the types of food, I still adhere pretty strictly to my overall desire not to raise insulin much and, therefore, limiting carbs is my main mantra. And that is the defining characteristic of Primal eating.

    Mark Sisson wrote on May 16th, 2008
  20. My micronutrient breakdown looks quite a bit like yours, except I’m usually OK on calcium. When I saw this, I gave up my multivitamin. I don’t sweat the vitamin D when it’s warm enough to get a little sun (I have light skin, so it doesn’t take much exposure), but I take some cod liver oil in the late fall, winter, and early spring.

    When I first experimented with low-carb back in 2002, my doctor insisted I would develop a vitamin C deficiency. When I found Fitday a year or two later, I laughed my (_|_) off when I saw that I was consuming 250% of the RDA just by eating cabbage and peppers.

    Here’s a question – I wonder if anyone can answer this. My B-vitamin profile looks almost exactly like yours – barely squeaking by on thiamin, somewhere between 100 and 200% on folate, substantially more than the requirements of all the others. And we’re both getting this naturally through diet. The B vitamins supposedly work as a complex. I remember a couple of things from high school health classes: a) the RDAs were set by figuring out how much you needed to prevent deficiencies; and b) getting megadoses of one B vitamin could cause deficiencies of the others, since B vitamins are used to metabolize each other. If you get too much of one, it uses up all of your supply of the others. So why don’t Mark and I have beriberi (thiamin deficiency), since we get a lot more of the other Bs than of thiamin? Is it that the RDAs are wrong because they don’t take into account the interactions of multiple vitamins? Or is it that vitamins that occur naturally in food are harder to overdose on somehow?

    Migraineur wrote on May 18th, 2008
  21. Can’t tell you how much your site has encouraged me and helped change my eating habits. This post in particular I found helpful, with the introduction of Fitday– an application I’m now using. Thanks!

    Martha wrote on May 19th, 2008
  22. Martha,

    We are so glad to hear we could help in any way! Keep up the great work and if you have any questions or need any help either bring it to our comment boards for all of our informed readers to weigh in on or contact us directly by clicking “Ask Anything!” at the top right of the page and sending us an email. Thanks again!

    Aaron wrote on May 20th, 2008
  23. Hey Mark,

    I’ve been looming around your blog a bit recently while converting my diet to paleo/primal and I have a question regarding your protein spacing. At what intervals do you eat this protein (assuming that the 8 servings of steak you show there isn’t consumed in one meal). I’ve often read that anything over 30-35g (for someone your size) in one sitting is just excreted through urine. I too am around 165 pounds and am very interested in the maintaining (as well as continuing to gain) muscle mass when on the primal diet. Thanks so much for this great blog and I look forward to hearing from you.

    -Justin

    Justin wrote on March 19th, 2009
  24. I don’t measure protein and I don’t space intervals really. I eat what I want when I’m hungry…or not. Might be a whole chicken some nights, might be a small steak others, or nothing. Low carbbing means never having to count protein or fat (except to be sure you are getting enough – and that happens intuitively after a while). The whole 35 grams thing has more to do with the idea that you can’t assimilate more that that at one meal. But you can certainly digest it and probably convert some to glucose.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 20th, 2009
  25. I guess what I’m asking is spacing 160 grams of protein over about 4-5 meals (when you’re hungry, of course) better (or more efficient) than consuming that protein in three meals of 50 some-odd grams each when working out hard (intense, under 40 minutes, multi-joint exercises) and trying to build muscle. I’m not worried about counting calories, but rather making sure I am getting enough protein daily and utilizing that protein as efficiently as possible for my muscles.

    Justin wrote on March 20th, 2009
  26. Or maybe I’m just having trouble transitioning from a 6 meals a day, 30 grams of protein each meal to a relaxed “eat when hungry, however much you want” type of diet. I do think I’m over-thinking it, but unless I put at least some structure into my diet I find myself not getting the 160 grams needed (from what I’ve read) to keep growing muscle.

    Justin wrote on March 20th, 2009
  27. Justin,

    There is a danger of overthinking this. The reality is that at 165 pounds, you probably only need 100 grams protein a day to sustain or even to build. More is OK, but not necessary. Less is OK some days. A 50-gram meal here or there won’t hurt, nor will a 20 gram meal. Go for w weekly average instead of a daily average. Remember, If your power-to-weight ratio is good and your body fat low, you may be already at ideal. Adding more muscle may just be too difficult and metabolically expensive.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 20th, 2009
  28. Thanks Mark. Your website is a fountain of knowledge, I can’t believe you find time to update daily.

    Justin wrote on March 20th, 2009
  29. I think you should write more about this: “Remember, If your power-to-weight ratio is good and your body fat low, you may be already at ideal. Adding more muscle may just be too difficult and metabolically expensive.”

    I agree gaining muscle (and maintaining) it is tough; I wonder when it is we should be happy with the strength we’ve got. If we can do 20 pull-ups? 50 push-ups? Carry someone out of a burning building? :)

    Jedidja wrote on May 13th, 2009
  30. Great thinking, Jedidja. I’ll add it the list. Thanks!

    Mark Sisson wrote on May 13th, 2009
  31. I second that idea – a list of primal fitness markers…

    ebrunner wrote on June 15th, 2009
  32. I use MyNetDiary.com – I really like it’s layout and how it updates to the server immediately. It’s fast and gives me concise or detailed and customizable reports! Love it!

    fritchbeetle wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  33. I’ve been wondering some things mark, if you would be so kind as to help me understand them?

    If you eat no carbs (or very few, say, less than 10g carbs) you’ll need to convert some fat and protein to glucose to maintain blood glucose levels…so i was wondering how much gets converted in one day? – i.e how much of the protein you eat will be converted into glucose? (i know some fat component can be converted too…does this make things more complicated?)

    Also, it seems IFing or only eating 1 or 2 meals a day is very primal.
    If you eat one meal in the evening – thus eating all your protein in one go, is alot of it wasted? Can one still build muscle eating this way?
    thanks

    kady wrote on September 12th, 2009
  34. Kady, the body makes up to 200 grams glucose per day on a zero carb diet. Much of the detail is in the Primal Blueprint book.

    Mark Sisson wrote on September 12th, 2009
  35. Mark,

    You noted that you don’t reach the RDA of Vitamin D and Calcium, above. Keep in mind that the RDA’s are silly – you only need 1200 of calcium per day if you are also eating things that damage the gut lining, like grains, which contain antinutrients that make absorbing calcium and magnesium more difficult because they damage the gut lining. If your diet is squeaky-clean paleo, you don’t need as much of those minerals/vitamins – you aren’t eating grains, (much) dairy, legumes, and other foods that irritate the intestinal tract and worsen your abilities to absorb nutrients. Mat Lalonde and Robb Wolf talk about this sometimes on their respective podcasts/blogs/webinars/websites.

    Cheers,
    Ashley

    Ashley wrote on September 14th, 2010
  36. Mark,

    So I have been adapted to the grain style of eating my whole life (much like the rest of the world). I first started experimenting with low carb diets in the ways of the bodybuilding world. Now I’m starting to rely on just fruits and vegetables and along with my other macro nutrients. For my own personal reasons, I would like to be around 4-5% body fat. This may seem very low to most. I see plenty of people who can maintain this fairly easily because of their body type and fast metabolisms. I am about 195 lbs. My question is how many grams of carbs would you think would be necessary to stay out of ketosis, while maintaining that low of a body fat percentage and sparing my muscle at the same time? I have been on a pretty low carb diet taking in around 30-40g a day, but that was usually with grain. I tried one of your smoothies this morning and was very good. I want fruits and veggies to be my source of carbs now, but having a goal of around 4% body fat isn’t typically on the average person’s agenda. I am interested about your thoughts also of carbohydrate intake depending on someone’s metabolism and body type (ectomorph vs. mesomorph). I have plenty of friends that require very little effort in order to be around 4-5% bf. I’m more interested in my own body type as I’m more muscular. Also I lift 5-6 days a week and I lift heavy and hard (no other way ha). I have been doing sprint interval training often exceeding my heart rate to nearly maximal effort. This also may seem harsh for the average individual. I am an athlete myself and always push the limits. I was formerly a follower of the 65% hr fat burning zone while doing cardio. I realized this was not the right option for me, when I got down to about 5% bf by doing cardio. I went to visit my brother in la and we went to go do some hill sprints with intermittent trx suspension exercises at the top of the hill. This was certainly high intensity and I could tell that I was not in shape. I was in “cardio” shape. I was so winded and even though I looked good, being ripped and all, I felt I was in horrible shape. It was hard just running. For cardio I used to walk on incline at a moderate pace. Also I am in my last semester of school right now. I’m in biochemistry right now so I’m having more interest into that aspect. I was curious of your take on whether training at a higher heart rate, such as sprinting, would be involved with anaerobic metabolism where you build up lactic acid and burn protein instead of fat once you are out of blood glucose. Being on a lower carb diet, I would assume that glycogen stores are already pretty depleted. I’m guessing that this wouldn’t happen if you’re consuming adequate carbs, but as I asked before this is just why I’m trying to figure out the ideal amount of carbs to consume to let me perform these kinds of anaerobic activity while preventing muscle wasting. I would appreciate any feedback thanks. Sorry for all the questions, first day on here :)

    Chris wrote on April 3rd, 2011
    • Chris, you pose a complex series of questions, all somewhat dependent on the answers to each other. First, 4-5 % body fat is extremely low and not something I would advise for extended periods of time. Dont’ get me wrong, I’m not saying you’re not there, but most people who think they are 4% are somewhat higher. If you did try to keep to a legit 4-5%, then you’d need to either keep carbs on the lower limits of ketosis all the time and/or ramp up the expenditure (glycogen depletion) daily. Also, I’m not a fan of working out hard every day. When you’re young you can do it, but it’s not sustainable over your life – and has drawbacks. If you do choose to work out hard every day, then you need refill glycogen stores or you WILL tap into muscle mass. But figuring out how much carb refill you need becomes a more complex equation IF you are trying to keep 4-5% body fat. Bottom line, you can do it, but WHY???? What’s wrong with staying at 6-8% and dieting down to 4% for photoshoots, etc, if that’s your intent?

      Mark Sisson wrote on April 4th, 2011
      • I guess I should have said I don’t necessarily want to be 4-5% year round. I agree that 6-8% would probably be the best fit for year round maintenance. I guess the real question is how low of a body fat percentage can be maintained without sacrificing performance or sacrificing your body’s normal biological functions? I suppose with anything though there is a high degree of variability.

        Chris wrote on April 4th, 2011
  37. Hi Mark,

    Am I missing something? At 4 cals/gram, how does 91g of carbs add up to only 248 calories?

    Taylor wrote on May 4th, 2011
    • Taylor, there’s 29 grams of fiber. No calories in those.

      Mark Sisson wrote on May 4th, 2011
      • Hmmm, so should I be trying to keep my total carbs below 80g/day for fat loss? Or just net carbs?

        Taylor wrote on May 6th, 2011
  38. Hi Mark,
    Great post. I think we should keep in mind that the RDA is not actually based on much science, so taking supplements to reach an artificially stipulated number isn’t necessarily necessary. Right?
    Elizabeth

    Elizabeth wrote on June 6th, 2011
  39. Hi everybody, I’ve been primal for a couple of days now and yesterday I discovered this post so I started using DailyFit to track down my intake.
    So my first breakdown of macronutrients looks as follows: 2417 calories, 67% fats (187,3 g), 15% carbs (97,7 g), 15% proteins (92,3 g) and 3% Alcohol (1 OZ Single Malt). The %RDA of 95% of the nutrients is met. My question is, are these ratios ok, considered that i get enough nutriton? Or, should I eat less fats (65% seems to be quite high, also compared to the intake of Mark)? thanks in advance for your support!

    Drini wrote on June 29th, 2011
  40. I have been trying some great recipes from the web….how the heck do you calculate the carbs for,as an example, bacon muffins made with coconut flour? I’m clueless

    Cheryl wrote on June 16th, 2012

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