Month: June 2010

Carb Refeeding and Weight Loss

Part of the allure of the Primal eating plan is that it’s effortless. There’s no calorie counting, no stressing over macronutrient intakes – eating PB simply means choosing to eat real, whole foods that man has been eating for tens of thousands of years. You can go higher carb or lower carb (I initially recommend low carb, just because it makes losing weight and stabilizing your metabolism incredibly easy, especially for folks coming off the SAD), and as long as you’re eating real foods you’ll be getting healthier and losing body fat.

This isn’t enough for everyone, though. To go back to yesterday’s “hormones as software” analogy, some people are hackers who relish digging deep into the fine print of software manuals discussing human nutrition and hormonal responses. Others – the bulk of my readership – are cool with using their standard-issue, factory Mac or PC to reap the basic benefits of Primal living, while others prefer learning Unix and taking night classes in comp sci down at the local community college after work. They’re the ones who spend the time to fiddle with the programming language of our bodies in order to become real hormonal hackers. I get that. I love that stuff, too, if only to able to take the information and distill it for a large audience. Though one can see tremendous results with minimal effort following the simple principles of the Primal Blueprint (i.e. how I approach my own eating habits and how I recommend others do as well) digging deeper into the science of leptin and how carb refeeds impact leptin levels can unlock an entirely new level of fat loss (and understanding of why that fat loss is occurring).

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A Primal Primer: Leptin

Just about every physiological process occurring under the hood can be attributed to one hormone or another. Hormones are like software programs, directing our bodily processes, modulating our reactions to foods, and guiding energy metabolism and balance. We don’t consciously control our hormonal responses – that is, we don’t think to ourselves, “Hmm, let’s get some testosterone flowing,” or “Insulin: release!” But we can heavily influence our hormonal responses through the things we do, the stress we undergo, the foods we eat, the weights we lift, and the sleep we get.
One crucial hormone that we’re still learning about is leptin. We do know a few things, however. Leptin is the lookout hormone – the gatekeeper of fat metabolism, monitoring how much energy an organism takes in. It surveys and maintains the energy balance in the body, and it regulates hunger via three pathways:

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Primal Advice for Acne Sufferers

Included among last week’s “Ask Me Anything” responses were several requests for a Primal commentary on acne. A lot of people have asked for this kind of post over the years. The fact is, it’s a great question. Acne is a common problem that gives too many people too much grief. Our medical establishment’s prescription for acne generally involves dehydrating the skin into oblivion, sandblasting it with chemicals, or pumping hormones, antibiotics and potentially toxic meds into the patient. (If any of these methods have worked for you, I mean no offense. I just think people deserve better options than these.) Is there a healthier, more Primal method to a clear complexion? In a nutshell, yes. I’m not talking rabbit-in-a-hat trick but a lifestyle approach with natural options that minimize the systemic and external conditions associated with acne. Let’s look at the full picture.

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Vitamin D: Loose Ends

Okay, I’ll admit it. I may have spoken out of turn a couple week’s ago when I tried to completely cover vitamin D in a mere three posts (Deconstructing Vitamin D, Vitamin D: Sun Exposure, Supplementation and Doses, Vitamin D: Confounding Factors). A bunch of questions popped up in the comment boards – so here’s my attempt to tie up the loose ends and cover any further wrinkles in the vitamin D story.

Living in Los Angeles, I am lucky enough to be able to get much of my Vitamin D from sunlight all year round. I still take an oral D3 supplement when I’m traveling, too busy to spend much time outside, feel a sniffle coming on, etc. I take 4-10k IU D3 from Carlson’s drops (2k IU per drop). I prefer to get my D3 from the sun, however. It is not what I know I’m missing that concerns me, but what I don’t know that I may be missing. Sunlight may yield other health benefits beyond just Vitamin D production. Oral dosing with D3 won’t give you these other possible benefits.

And I’ve also noticed that switching from a SAD to a primal diet has dramatically improved my sun tolerance (and put a metabolic disorder–porphyria–into remission.

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Dear Mark: Rapid Fire Answers to Your Most Pressing Primal Questions

Last week I said “ask me anything” and you came back with nearly 300 comments! From funky-smelling Vibrams to Primal supplementation to training recovery, it was a mixed bag. Below you’ll find rapid fire responses to more than a dozen of them.

Check back later this week when I’ll be providing more solutions to your Primal predicaments.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and keep your questions coming!
Here’s my question: When you say not to count calories, is it because you believe that calories don’t matter? Or just that you won’t need to because a primal diet is so filling?

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Weekend Link Love

If you’re trying to introduce your friends to the concept of Primal living or controlling your own gene expression, my recent TV news interview might do the trick.

Bottled water… I swear our children will look back on the bottled water craze and compare it to the 1950’s logic of children hiding under desks for nuclear bomb drills. This bottled water video just about sums it up.

The Weston A. Price Foundation gets bloody. Specifically, they compare live blood tests of people eating WAPF diet (low sugar, lots of healthy fat) to blood tests of people eating the Standard American Diet. Read the results.

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