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A Few Lessons and Lots of Questions

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  • A Few Lessons and Lots of Questions

    Hi Folks,

    I've been a silent member of the primal community for about 6 months. My primal experiment has yielded mixed results, I've certainly lost weight but I endured a period of about 2 months of absolutely piss poor immune function culminating in a week with the flu. I thought I would share some of the best lessons I've learned going primal and also some of my most nagging unanswered questions and see what you guys think.

    Lessons.

    1. Whole foods are half the battle - Avoiding processed foods and doing your own cooking has the most profound affect on your health. The small details really don't matter as much if you take this step.

    2. Going IDEAL primal is unsustainable - When I was at my strictest primal my health was at its worst, simply because I had to say no to so many foods that weren't "perfect" according to my health standards. My calories probably dropped far too much to sustain my activity levels and my immune system crashed without enough fuel. Perhaps my biggest lesson from this whole thing is that you are better off eating less than ideal food than not eating at all.

    3. Fat GOOD - Obvious for you guys yet still the least understood concept by the people around me.


    Nagging Questions

    1. The 100 g carb thing - In many articles the 100 g of carbs for your brain is pretty much the gold standard. My problem with this idea is this, your brain is like any other organ right? The more you demand of it the more you have to feed it. So shouldn't a brain doing complex theoretical proofs or high level programming work require more daily glucose than say....someone watching reruns of Scrubs all day?

    2. Really? You NEVER get sick? - One of the most common health claims I see on nutrition forums follows this format "I do this therefore I never get sick". I'm sorry but I remain skeptical that if you eat well you'll never get sick. Even if you ate exactly like Grok, you face daily situations that Grok would almost never run into. For one, you interact with far more people who come from far greater distances. Just going to school I interact with hundreds of people directly and probably thousands more indirectly. AND, our immune systems don't work by NOT getting sick. They develop and get stronger by getting sick occasionally. You don't build muscle by sitting on the couch, and you certainly don't build a well functioning immune system without contracting your fair share of flu viruses.

    3. Do we focus too much on macro? - My brother has an interesting theory with regards to dietary health. We spend too much time arguing over macro and what we should really be worried about is micro. With proper mineral and vitamin intake, macro simply doesn't matter as much. My brother also happens to eat copious amounts of carbs/grains all while being exceptionally fit. He makes a compelling case for sure. Your thoughts?
    "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

  • #2
    1. From what I understand, the brain is pretty much always "on", so its energy needs are pretty constant. (You can't think your way into burning more calories )

    2. I've always had a good immune system: in the last 5 years I can remember getting sick once, and for 4 of those years I was in college and everyone around me got the bug du jour, but I avoided them. Yes, I was exposed to the pathogens, but the number in my body never became so much that my body had to bring on a fever to defeat the bugs. Exposure is what actually builds the immune system, not letting it progress to the point where you get sick. If a person has a suppressed immune system because they're not getting the needed nutrition or are taking in too many toxins, or because they're too stressed.... exposure (which is constant) becomes sickness much more often than when you're immune system is in fighting shape. For some people, getting their diet in order is enough to bring their immune system from suppressed to active.

    3. I haven't really noticed that people in this forum obsess over macros. Those that do mention needing to eg keep carbs under 50g do so because they notice their progress stalls otherwise, and we do have a number of people on here that have damaged metabolisms. Dr Harris maintains that for people with a healthy metabolism (your brother seems to be an example), you can go from 5%-40% carbs without a problem, as long as you keep other things in line -- total caloric intake, micronutrients, etc. As long as you're not eating more carbs than you have empty glycogen stores to fill you won't induce the hyperglycemia which leads to hyperinsulinema and insulin resistance. Again, if your metabolism is balanced.

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    • #3
      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Though the brain being "on" seems to be loosely defined. The brain certainly seems to have different levels of activity, at least when you look at MRI scans of people doing things like listening to music or reading. I guess I'm just not entirely convinced that the brain doesn't draw more calories when its lit up like a Christmas tree and firing more neurons than usual.
      Last edited by Red Wire; 02-17-2011, 01:27 PM.
      "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

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      • #4
        the worst thing you can possibly do in this primal lifestyle is stress over anything and everything. Eat. Sleep. Move. Repeat. I am pretty sure that Grok didn't rely on nutrtitional software and analysis. JMHO

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        • #5
          Re the carb thing for the brain. I do know that when I am working on something that I find particularly complex I get 'hungry' so maybe that is the brains call for feeding??? who knows.

          I havent been "sick sick" since I started primal, (and I always have to preface here that I'm probably nowhere near 80% primal anyway). but I think that taking vitamin D3 and probiotics and getting the gut healthier has helped with resisting any bugs that might want to come my way. Perhaps I've just had a particularly lucky year though. I wonder though if I did get a virus now if I would find it easier to shrug off. 2 years ago it took 2 doses of antibiotics and 2 months to rid myself of a particularly nasty bug, I wasnt primal then.

          Dont know about the macro/micro stuff. I just do what I do and dont usually obsess. there are a lot of people on here that do obsess about every tiny detail, but perhaps for them they need to, as there are an awful lot of people with major health and weight problems.

          Comment


          • #6
            2. Really? You NEVER get sick? - One of the most common health claims I see on nutrition forums follows this format "I do this therefore I never get sick". I'm sorry but I remain skeptical that if you eat well you'll never get sick. Even if you ate exactly like Grok, you face daily situations that Grok would almost never run into. For one, you interact with far more people who come from far greater distances. Just going to school I interact with hundreds of people directly and probably thousands more indirectly. AND, our immune systems don't work by NOT getting sick. They develop and get stronger by getting sick occasionally. You don't build muscle by sitting on the couch, and you certainly don't build a well functioning immune system without contracting your fair share of flu viruses.

            Since I went primal/paleo over a year ago I haven't been sick. I interact with a lot of people and a lot of kids because of all the children in my family. Plus my fiance is a pediatric nurse and she comes home with tons of germs from sick kids all the time. But I still never get sick. I used to get sick all the time but since I removed the big culprits, gluten and dairy, I just never get ill. I work out 6 days a week but I also get adequate amounts of Vitamin D via both the sun and D3 supplements. I also get 8 hours of sleep every night in a completely dark room. I believe all of these things combined really can bolster your immune system. I normally get right around 100g of carbs a day. I don't need to lose weight so I don't do VLC and plus I need at least the 100g of carbs to fuel my workouts as they are really strenous.

            Do you have any gut issues? Normally your immune system is greatly influenced by your digestive health. That was definitely my case. I had IBS pre paleo and I would always have bad allergies and the common cold was very common for me. Now that my gut is perfectly healed I just don't get sick.
            "If man made it, don't eat it" - Jack Lallane

            People say I am on a "crazy" diet. What is so crazy about eating veggies, fruits, seafood and organ meats? Just because I don't eat whole wheat and processed food doesn't make my diet "crazy". Maybe everyone else with a SAD are the "crazy" ones for putting that junk in their system.

            Comment


            • #7
              You're probably right, there may be more energy demands for a more active brain - but I would argue that someone writing code all day is probably not demonstrating too much more brain activity than someone watching Scrubs all day because their brain has adapted and learned how to write code efficiently. I suspect it's the same principle that describes why it's important to mix up your workouts to keep your muscles from adapting and plateauing.
              I would also suspect (I really don't feel like doing an internet search to back-up my suspicions, but it's an interesting topic...) that if a body is fat-adapted, than the brain would be as well, so there wouldn't be a need to ingest a high number of carbs, regardless of the level of brain activity. It would be interesting to see, though, if there was a higher calorie need for someone in a job where their brain is always "on", like an air traffic controller.

              As far as getting sick, I work with young children and so am exposed to all sorts of things all the time. I have gotten symptoms on occasion - congestion, scratchy throat, etc. But I recover much more quickly than my coworkers, friends, and family. I don't miss days of work due to illness, and my symptoms seem to be less severe than others experience. But, in the past when I have been in training and running lots of miles, I did get sick more often. I know that has to do with stress, etc., but again, not really feeling like looking up the research right now

              And I agree 100% on the whole foods being half the battle.
              My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread51572.html

              Comment


              • #8
                According to Lyle McDonald, the brain can get keto-adapted to the point where it only needs 25g of glucose, the rest coming from ketones.

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                • #9
                  If you're "saying no" to a lot of foods then you must not be cooking much for yourself. I don't see how one can adopt this lifestyle w/o making a commitment to doing most of your own grocery shopping and cooking. (or, like himself, have hired help do it for you)

                  If you are doing that then what are you saying no to? Every grocery store I've ever been in has plenty of good stuff on the perimeters save for grass fed beef, something that is a luxury item for me anyway. The more obscure things can be sourced on the internet and usually at a pretty good price.

                  Whatever is meant by "perfect" foods I do not know. Organic, grass fed, humane, yada yada is all well and good but not necessary. Eliminate grains, eat fat and relax over the food issue, the rest should take care of itself.
                  Wheat is the new tobacco. Spread the word.

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                  • #10
                    Diet absolutely contributes to whether we get sick or not. My husband and I get sick very rarely, compared to other people. We've been this way for over 20 years. Other than trying to eat healthy, whole foods, we do engage in regular physical activity, let stresses slide off our backs, and are positive thinkers and doers.

                    Why are some folks constantly getting sick - everything that comes along - and others seem to dodge these illnesses? I believe that if you are healthy in body and mind, and are a happy, positive person, you have a much stronger immune system than the average person. How you get there is another story. I also believe that we need a partner in our lives - husband, wife, significant other, whatever you call it - we need that to live the most optimal, happy, healthy lives.

                    When I do get sick, I can get over the illness quickly. My husband almost never gets sick. We're middle aged, and I have noticed that younger people seem to get sick more often and lead more stressful lives for some reasons.
                    Positively Radical Pigeonholes are for Pigeons!

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                    • #11
                      @Balance

                      No noticeable gut issues. No reactions to gluten to speak of either, though I suppose I could get a food allergy test to be 100% sure. But without any adverse effects I'm really not motivated to do so. I suspect too few calories was the main issue behind my immune issues.

                      @IvyBlue

                      For a time I was trying to go 100% grass fed and all that jazz. Not the best idea, especially on a students budget.
                      Last edited by Red Wire; 02-17-2011, 02:35 PM.
                      "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by IvyBlue View Post
                        Whatever is meant by "perfect" foods I do not know. Organic, grass fed, humane, yada yada is all well and good but not necessary. Eliminate grains, eat fat and relax over the food issue, the rest should take care of itself.
                        +1000

                        I disagree with the statement that "ideal primal is unsustainable." If you're setting your standards too high and creating such a level of perfection for yourself that you can't hit, then there might be something wrong with your approach. Consider the 80-20 rule. If you're primal 80% of the time, then 20% can be not-so-primal or not-so-perfect. Yeah there are plenty of foods that I say no to, but there are so very many delicious primal foods that are yes yes yes! And there are many interpretations in this community of the 80-20 rule. For me it's maybe more like 80-10-10. 80% primal, 10% sensible indulgences, 10% things that fall into the category of non-primal.

                        A big part of my primal journey has been to ease off of myself - ease off of my unrealistic expections of what the scale will say, ease off of my obsession with counting calories and macronutrients.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Red Wire View Post
                          Hi Folks,

                          3. Do we focus too much on macro? - My brother has an interesting theory with regards to dietary health. We spend too much time arguing over macro and what we should really be worried about is micro. With proper mineral and vitamin intake, macro simply doesn't matter as much. My brother also happens to eat copious amounts of carbs/grains all while being exceptionally fit. He makes a compelling case for sure. Your thoughts?
                          I HAVE BEEN HOUNDING THIS CONCEPT FOREVER.....maybe since you wrote it someone ELSE will listen... it is SO TRUE. you can really EAT anything, as long as it isn’t taken at the expense of necessary vitamins and minerals.
                          Get on my Level
                          http://malpaz.wordpress.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MalPaz View Post
                            I HAVE BEEN HOUNDING THIS CONCEPT FOREVER.....maybe since you wrote it someone ELSE will listen... it is SO TRUE. you can really EAT anything, as long as it isn’t taken at the expense of necessary vitamins and minerals.
                            I don't agree. I get your point about vitamins and minerals, but I think down this path lies poisons - gluten, lectins, anti-nutrients. For me the key to primal is eliminating the grains and legumes. Sugar too, but that's a different category of poison. Grains and legumes damage the gut, leading to inflammation and a myriad of health problems. There is a lot of talk here about cheats and binge days and 20%, but I don't believe grains and legumes belong in any of those options. They should be categorized as poisons (except white rice, pure starch). So I don't believe we can eat ANYthing. At least, we shouldn't if we want to be healthy. My 2 cents.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by aktres View Post
                              I don't agree. I get your point about vitamins and minerals, but I think down this path lies poisons - gluten, lectins, anti-nutrients. For me the key to primal is eliminating the grains and legumes. Sugar too, but that's a different category of poison. Grains and legumes damage the gut, leading to inflammation and a myriad of health problems. There is a lot of talk here about cheats and binge days and 20%, but I don't believe grains and legumes belong in any of those options. They should be categorized as poisons (except white rice, pure starch). So I don't believe we can eat ANYthing. At least, we shouldn't if we want to be healthy. My 2 cents.
                              wait how does what i said NOT encompass what you said? i agree with what you wrote
                              Get on my Level
                              http://malpaz.wordpress.com/

                              Comment

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