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

Will Momentary Compromises Derail Your Efforts?

Anyone who’s ever followed the Primal eating plan for a significant length of time has probably made a few compromises along the way. If you live, work, or otherwise commiserate with regular folks, you’re bound to be exposed to grains, sugary desserts, and sodas, and austere abstinence can be difficult to maintain in these situations. It’s not even as if the food itself is necessarily tempting; it’s more accurate to say the social pressure to comply and dig in can be overwhelming. If your boss gets you a cake for your birthday, you’re probably going to have a piece regardless.

With our August Challenge finally coming to a close, I figured it’d be helpful to address whether these little indiscretions will actually throw you off your game completely. I’ve always said that it takes about three weeks – give or take a week or two, depending on your previous diet and insulin sensitivity – to make the transition to a fat-burning metabolism from a glucose-burning metabolism. Newcomers to the PB are probably settling into their new status as fat-burners, having just passed the four-week point of their journey, and I’d imagine the last thing they’re interested in is wasting all their efforts because of some errant food choice – a complimentary donut, a slice of company-funded birthday cake, a bag of popcorn at the movies. Many of you have lost weight, gained lean mass, slept better, improved your sprint times, eliminated processed foods, converted your family/pets to Primal, made your own medicine ball, avoided migraines, or severely cut back on the alcohol intake. Heck, maybe some of you even did everything on that list.

But everybody gets a little worried that all their effort is for naught because of a slip-up. If it’s not the immediate guilt that gets you fretting, it’s the acute stomach pain, the nauseated sensations, the bloating, or the instant drop in energy. You feel like utter crap after eating that candy bar or this muffin – and isn’t that a sign that you’ve just ruined everything? Are you therefore back to square one, left to toil for weeks just to get back to that Primal sweet spot? After all, it took so long just to get your body acclimated to the new mode of eating; doesn’t it follow that the slightest deviation from the routine will send you flying from the tracks?

I’ll be quick to assuage your worries with but a single word: no. Absolutely not. What you are feeling is the heightened sensitivity to carbohydrates and insulin that accompanies a full transition toward a Primal, fat-burning metabolism. Those stomach aches and bloating? Momentary inconveniences that ultimately serve to let you know you’re on the right track. You suffer because you’ve just introduced a macronutrient ratio that is now foreign and unrecognizable to your body. It expects (nay, needs) fat but gets glucose instead – how do you think it would react?

A single meal – or even several meals – of carb-laden foods won’t be able to throw you off your game. In fact, it would take about three or four weeks of junk binging just to get you back to an insulin-resistant, carb-dependent state. Luckily for us Primal Blueprinters, three weeks of feeling sick and having no energy is nearly impossible to pull off. In the new fat-burning state our genes are happy, our body’s leaner, and our internal mechanics have reached a nice level of homeostasis. When you toss a monkey wrench into all that, you’re bound to disrupt the tranquility for a little while.

But the gears keep on turning. They might make a few loud screeches, but it’s only when you provide a steady stream of oversized rusty monkey wrenches that progress actually grinds to a halt.

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. Great article because I was feeling very bad that I over indulged on cashews–of course because I am Type 1 Diabetic and on dialysis (nuts have too much potassium and phosphates which dialysis can’t get all of it out and can kill me–immediately or eventually). It rose my bloodsugar a little too much and had too take extra insulin. It is hard because I had to go cold turkey off every food I love even chocolate and everything and I mean everything raises bloodsugar so I turned to gum because when I used extra coconut oil to cut cravings it messed up in my gut because I have a complication called gastroporesis which is damage to the vagus nerve and slows absorption of food and messes up the insulin shot and makes my bloodsugar low all night so how do I cut cravings but with lots of willpower and hypnotizing the mind–have to work on that one. The other thing I am using is gum but even it has sugar–no xylitol or anything that ends in ol but I found one that is made with cane sugar and more natural ingredients. Been grain free, gluten-free, low carb for about 6 weeks…blood sugars, blood pressure are all lower. Waiting for the fatigue to leave…

    Nikki wrote on April 5th, 2013
  2. Thanks so much Mark for this brilliant insight. It has helped my mindset immensely!! It’s Monday morning and I’m laying in bed absorbing as much positive influence from the MDA website as humanly possible after falling off the wagon last Tuesday (6 full days of mass-bingeing) For the last year I’ve been 100% Primal (I’m an Abstainer, not a Moderator) and I originally allowed myself 1 meal off, then the sugar hit my system and completely hooked me in!! so here I am, 6 days later feeling thoroughly ashamed, 8lb heavier and massively bloated/ hungry/ anxious/ headachey/ lethargic to be honest, very daunted by the fact that I’m looking down the barrel of 14 days of fish-meat-eggs only to get my body completely back in to fat burning mode. I now have a glint of hope that I haven’t completely destroyed my bodies fat burning state.

    Thanks to Mark and the MDA team again for this particular article, I’m going to get up, make myself a coffee and start Monday morning positively knowing that the pressures off and I can get back to my norm, eating the way I enjoy the most… 100% Primally.

    Shelley Fors wrote on May 13th, 2013
  3. This was a great and timely article. I’ve been primal for exactly a month yesterday. I weighed and i’ve lost 10 pounds. Awesome! So, the next day a co worker brings in apple fritters…. I eat one and then immediately proceed to have an internal freak out over my resistance levels and how I must have destroyed them. Well, this article has really made me feel better. Plan on getting a very primal lunch and dinner and am looking forward to getting back on the wagon. Thanks!

    Jake wrote on September 27th, 2013
  4. What happens if you don’t feel bad after a binge? We had a huge team lunch today with sandwiches, pizza, sweet pastries, cakes etc. and I definitely overdid it. My body was running just great on Primal food before, but I feel physically fine now, just slightly guilty for falling off the wagon. Is it possible to be in a “semi-state” where you’re adapted to both fat and carbs?

    Michael wrote on November 20th, 2013

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