Contest: Ask Me a Question. Win a Book.

The Prize:

The Paleo Primer is the latest publication from Primal Blueprint Publishing, and a wonderful new book from British health and fitness consultants Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore (this book is an adaptation of their popular UK release called Fitter Food). When Keris and Matt first shared their work with me, I knew immediately it was something special. These folks, who run a popular fitness and wellness center called Fitter London, have produced a book that is half “primer” and half incredibly creative recipes. The primer section distills the major concepts of primal/paleo/ancestral health living into clever and memorable short passages, spiced up by hilarious cartoon drawings. Learn more about the book and view an excerpt here.

Three lucky winners will receive a free copy of this book.

The Contest:

Today’s contest is a piece of cake. Simply leave a comment below asking me your 21-Day Challenge questions. Need some advice? Struggling with something? Anything? Let me know in the comment board. Just make sure that your questions are related to your 21-Day Challenge in some way. I’ll be answering as many questions as I can in this coming Monday’s Dear Mark post. 

Replying to questions with answers also counts. This is a community effort, so share your tips and tricks with those in need of some help and you’ll also be entered to win.

Contest Deadline:

Midnight tonight, September 21st.

Choosing a Winner:

Three comments, and thus three winners, will be chosen at random.


This one’s global. Everyone’s eligible.

Other Important Info:

  • Remember to use your real email address in the comment board. If you don’t we won’t have a way to contact you.
  • Multiple comments won’t get you multiple entries. But by all means, ask or answer away.

To track all the contests visit the 2013 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Contest Page for daily contest updates.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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238 thoughts on “Contest: Ask Me a Question. Win a Book.”

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  1. This may seem way to simple but why 21 days? Because it sounds easier to start than 30 days?

    1. He answered this in the challenge post.

      After many years of training clients and interacting with hundreds of thousands of Mark’s Daily Apple readers, my team and I have found that 21 days is the sweet spot for eliminating old habits and replacing them with new ones. It’s long enough to make legitimate progress toward reversing years of adverse lifestyle habits, long enough for most people to get past the low carb flu (if you experience it at all), and long enough to give the Primal Blueprint a fair shake, but not so long as to be seen as a daunting undertaking. In other words, anyone, including you, can give this a go for three measly weeks, and in that time you are bound to see results.

        1. well, no scotchy scotch down in your belly, but I like a little club soda with the juice of half a lime, a splash of 100% cranberry juice (the very tart unsweetened stuff) or tart cherry juice, and a few dashes of bitters, served over ice.

          I drink it out of a white wine stem. Refreshing and enjoyable.

    1. I know it’s not quite what you’re looking for, but a well-made cocktail is one of life’s great pleasures (and not particularly terrible for primal folks, on occasion and in moderation—in my opinion, of course!!).

      My favourites are a bourbon Old Fashioned (2oz of good bourbon, a teaspoon of sugar syrup, couple of dashes of angostura, and the oils squeezed out of a couple of fat strips of orange zest, stirred with ice in a rocks glass), and a Manhattan (2oz rye whiskey, 1oz good red vermouth ((try Carpano Antica Formula)), couple of dashes of Angostura, stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass).

      Well worth the cheat, IMHO.

    2. But if you’re dead set on no alcohol, try Angostura, lemonade and lime cordial. Angostura bitters are amazing; a few dashes in a glass of sugar free lemonade is a very worthy low-carb drink (I know that the aspartame in the diet sodas is a bit of a sore point amongst healthy people, but if you do drink diet sodas, then Angostura improves them significantly).

    1. I kicked my diet soda habit by switching to sparkling water and adding fresh lemon or lime juice to it. Kombucha is also a good alternative as long as it doesn’t contain a lot of sugar.

    2. Eliminate ALL sweets from your diet instead of trying to replace sugar with “healthier” or artificial (diet) sweeteners. For some people (I’m one of them), any type of sweetener, including stevia, will stimulate cravings for more sweets. Switch to unsweetened hot or iced tea with lemon or lime, or better yet, drink plain water. Fresh whole fruit doesn’t seem to trigger cravings if eaten in limited amounts, but fruit juice would be best avoided.

    3. A while ago Mark recommended Gerolsteiner mineral water as it has a pretty hefty mineral content (relative to other commercial mineral waters)–it is carbonated, so it makes for a nice change of pace (for me, adding that to my rotation bumps my old routine of either coffee or water up by 50%)

    4. Have you tried iced herbal teas? Lots of favors to choose from. My favorite is Rooibos with vanilla. Maybe you want the caffiene from non herbal teas? Whatever your preference, start with a bit of honey to sweeten it then over time gradually ween yourself to just the tea. Tasty!

    5. What I did was to use carbonated water and then add a splash of soda in it. You still get the feeling like your ‘treating’ yourself to a soda, with much less chemicals/sugar. I found that I am usually craving the carbonation more than I am the sweetness. but plain carbonated water is definitely an acquired taste.
      I make my own carbonated water, too. I use well water (since I don’t like chloramines or fluoride found in tap water) and make carbonated water with a soda stream machine. Then I simply pour a small amount of soda in my glass and fill the glass the rest of the way up with carbonated water, for about a 10/90 dilution. I’ve also used liquid flavored stevia drops, too. They have a grape one and a root beer one that, when added to carbonated water, taste pretty good!

    6. You might enjoy trying Kevita–it’s a probiotic carbonated beverage that is very low in sugar/carbs, provided you get one of the flavors that uses stevia. Quite refreshing, actually.

  2. What’s your favorite Primal appetizer/finger food to share at sporting events or gatherings?

    1. If you have the oven space and time, marinate kale, hang, set to 200 and crack the door till they are dehydrated! Break into bite sized pieces and throw in a bowl

    2. Bacon wrapped water chestnuts, bacon wrapped dates (stuff the date with an almond) or bacon wrapped pineapple chunks……broil/ bake until bacon is crisp and serve.

  3. I have a two-month-old baby whom I’m breastfeeding. I’m thus tied to a sofa for much of my waking time. How can I find time and energy for a workout and/or sprints?

    As a more general question, how can we best adapt the challenge for pregnant and nursing mothers?

    1. Is your diet dialed in? If not, focus on that, sleep, and play. I’m a dude and newborns are tiring. I cannot imagine how tiring a woman gets due to breast feeding. Like a constant drain.

    2. Rhiannon, we must have had our babies at the same time!! Maybe we should be primal challenge buddies. 🙂 I’m also nursing constantly. This is my fourth child, though, so while I don’t do much sprinting I do move quite a bit during the day. How about you?

      1. Hi Emily. This is my second child, but the first one died so I only have this one to look after. I’m guilty of spending much nursing time online! I’m trying to take her out lots, which she enjoys.

    3. I have a six month old and I completely understand! I love to take my little one outside because it is something all babies (as far as I know) love! Especially as they begin to see better just looking around is amazing. Using a stroller or wearing your baby is the best advice I can give you. I have a Moby wrap you can use to walk or do squats while wearing your baby. If you want to get in a real workout, you can always do that during a nap, or pump a bottle and allow someone else to feed your baby while you workout. I am student teaching and have to pump enough mile for during the day, plus extra for any other time something comes up. (I know the Groks didn’t have breast pumps, but the mothers didn’t have to leave for work or anything either.)

      But overall, just make sure you are eating primal foods and getting enough sleep. At this point you are both still recovering from birth. Walking is really all you need.

      1. Thanks Lauri. I have a Moby and a woven wrap and I try and get outside every day (something my health visitor was very keen on as well). But I’m at a loss to see how I can do squats with my baby tied to my front! Are you doing a back carry?

        Eating mostly primal (sausages once a week with breadcrumbs in) and yes, my fruit consumption has rocketed and I’m eating potatoes simply because we can’t afford to keep up with my appetite any other way! Fish requirement served by smoked mackerel with breakfast.

        I’m not actually feeling that sleep deprived as a rule. Maybe once every few days I’ll need to take a nap.

    4. Get a mei tai or a sling type carrier and keep your baby close to you at all times. Wear him while you walk around the block, even if it’s just a few hundred feet.

      I nursed three, still nursing my little guy who just turned one. The mei tai was a life saver for all of us. I use it now as a carrier to take him on family walks.

      AND…this one was important for me: EAT MORE PRIMAL CARBS. Yams with butter or coconut oil, fruits, almond butter. I was a carb craving nutcase until my kids slowed down the nursing after about 10-11 months. Don’t over-restrict food or worry that you’re eating too much. You might not lose weight – sleep deprivation + prolactin conspire against it sometimes. It did for me, I seem to only be able to lose 5-7 lbs. while nursing, then the baby weans and like magic I lose 10-15 lbs. without even trying while keeping my normal diet. Appetite normalizes, etc. Then I usually get pregnant again and can’t enjoy the skinny for to long 🙂

      1. Amy, this was a very helpful comment (since I’m also nursing) – thank you!!

      2. I’m so glad you mentioned the carb thing. My 4th baby is almost a month old and I am carb-craving like nuts. I started moving toward primal early on in the pregnancy, so this is the first time I’m paying attention to the quality and nutrition of what I’m eating while breastfeeding.

        1. Other foods I found helpful were salmon and sardines. They satisfy a salty/fatty need and are packed with O-3s and taste so good, especially with a dab of Sriracha on it.

      3. Yes, lots of fruit and potatoes here. And one of my favourite snacks is dark chocolate liberally smeared with coconut oil. That and pork scratchings. Also nuts, but I’m trying to cut down so I don’t overdose on O6.

    5. Congrats on your new baby!

      My son is 3 and I nursed him until March of this year. One thing that I think hasn’t been mentioned yet is to make sure you’re drinking enough water. I wasn’t good about that while nursing and got dehydrated.

      Sleep is tough. My 21 day challenge is actually about sleep because even now I have a really hard time getting at least 8 hours.

      My one question for Mark: How long do you think it takes to recover from the lack of sleep that happens as a result of being a new parent? Is it even possible to fully recover from a few years of not enough sleep?

      1. After my first, I thought I’d never recover, but once she was sleeping through the night it only took a few weeks of normal, uninterrupted sleep to feel like “me” again. Ditto #2.

        My son is an eating machine, though. He is still up 2-3x/night to eat and I haven’t felt normal since before I was pregnant with him. I know that once he is sleeping through the night I’ll be back to my old self. Just a few nights of solid sleep is immensely restorative, and it only gets better as you get more consistent and consecutive nights.

  4. My favorite leisure activity is reading, which is not strictly primal as I doubt Grok ever scanned through cave paintings for hours on end. I always try to read outside, and I’ve tried to read standing or walking but it doesn’t work out. So in my own mind my favorite weekend activity (I still get plenty of movement otherwise), is suddenly a little questionable in terms of long-term health.

    1. Alternatively maybe go for a small hike to a spot to read? On paved walking paths I enjoy podcasts and audiobooks because I feel safe. No cars to listen or watch out for.

    2. As an avid reader, I have a hard time putting down the book to get in my “move slowly every day” piece. So for the 21 day challenge, I am limiting my reading time to the treadmill. I find it works best when I read on the kindle and make the font size just a little bigger. Then I set the pace for fairly slow, about 2 mph, so I don’t trip. This way I am getting in 1-2 hours of walking every day without “giving up” my favorite leisure activity. The only way this could be better is if I were strong enough to pull the treadmill out into the driveway on sunny days, but that thing is a heavy beast! Good luck!

  5. How do you deal with injury? I tore a disc and needed surgery and am subsequently out of commission for a few months, but I feel like injury, and in general stress, lead to bad eating habits. It seems like the inability to exercise leads to MORE calories (mostly from sugary/starchy stuff).

    1. I would love to hear suggestions on this as I just had disc replacement surgery in my neck last week and have been sitting around craving all sorts of garbage food. Recovery time coupled with the previous months of injury are going to total close to 6 months of inactivity. I am now focused on eating well and following suggestions from a forum post on robb wolff’s website but i still would love to get active again. I emailed MDA two weeks before my surgery looking for tips but never heard from them. Good luck to your recovery, I wish you the best!

  6. I have been trying to eat Primal for the past 4 months, my main goal is to lose weight. Do I need to still create a caloric deficit or is watching my total carb count all that really matters?

    1. Yes, calories still do matter, because at the end of the day, you still aren’t going to lose weight if you’re eating 3,000 calories when you only need 2,000 (conversely, you’ll also have a hard time if you need 2,000 and are only eating 800). However, most people who eat low carb, high fat find they self-regulate more easily, because fat and protein are more satiating, and many have to watch their calorie intake to make sure they’re getting enough (because eating high fat feels like you’re packing in the calories). I’ve found it helps to keep track of what you eat for a week or two every so often to make sure you’re still eating about what you should be.

      1. is good for tracking calories and macronutrients. The interface tracks calories, fat, protein, and carbs by default and you can add other items to track such as fiber. Tracks fitness goals, too.

    2. Hi Cassie!

      Well, I know everyone is different, but here are my experiences with calories…

      According to metabolic testing I had done about 18 months ago, I should have a daily caloric intake of about 1570 calories to maintain my weight (I am a 43 year old female and weighed 257# at that time). Per CW, I should strive to eat less than this number to lose weight. For 6 months I tracked everything I put into my mouth (and I mean I measured and tracked everything!) while following the CW “calories are all that matter”, staying between 1200 and 1500 nearly everyday. I also worked out 3 days a week with a small group fitness class/trainer and walked on the treadmill or hiked 3 other days/week, with a measly 10 pound weight loss in that 6 months. Then I had my annual check up with my CW MD; she told me the “only way to lose weight is to consume less calories, below 1000 every day”. Then she tried to sell me a pre-packaged meal plan to “help” me control my portions! I am a big lady, but I am not really eating a huge volume of food at 1200 to 1500 calories per day, especially considering I was also burning at least 250 to 500 calories 6 days a week exercising (Per the heart rate monitor I wore). Dissatisfied with her advice, I finally listened to my trainer at the gym instead and read the Primal Blueprint. Since following a mostly primal diet, I find that the less carbs I eat, the more fat and protein make up my diet. Some days the fat grams are higher, which drives my caloric intake up sometimes as much as 2200. On other days, my protein is higher and thus the total caloric intake is lower, even dipping down to 1100 at times. Funnily enough, I seem to have my greater amount of weight loss the morning after I have had a heavier fat intake day, and will sometimes show a gain after my lower calorie intake days. As a big bonus, I feel soooo much better when I eat more meats, eggs and full fat dairy than I ever did eating whole wheat dry toast, oatmeal and no-fat yogurt! The fact that I’ve lost 5 pounds this first week of the challenge by truly following 95% of the time, is just, well, gravy!

      Good Luck to you!

      PS I really like to track on, which shows the total grams of macronutrients as well as a percentage total for the day. You can also add in your weight and measurements, exercises you’ve done, etc and it’s free with android and ipad/iphone apps too!

      1. Rae – The CW advise of eat less calories vastly oversimplifies the many issues involved with an attempt to lose body fat. It’s true that an overall calorie deficit has to be achieved, however, as you found, it’s not always as “easy” as trimming portions.

        Eating carbohydrates triggers an avalanche of bodily reactions that resist the loss of body fat. Limiting portions lowers overall carb loads but low calorie/high carb is encourage your body to hang onto to fat at every step of the way.

        In other words, cutting calories on low fat diet to lose weight is like rowing a boat on a placid lake on a hot sunny day. You’ll eventually get there, but it’s a lot of sweaty, hard work.

        Low carb/paleo is like getting to the same place by pointing the boat downstream on a shaded river. Faster, easier, and a whole more enjoyable. Enjoy the ride. 🙂

  7. How does going primal affect your teeth and gum health? Is there any improvement from the SAD diet?

    1. It was a surprise for me but makes sense…..about 6 months into eating Primal my oral hygienist remarked how healthy my gums were looking and that she could no longer find signs of inflammation in spots that she had noted six months before. That was several appointments ago and she is still commenting on my gum health.

  8. I’ve been working at the primal lifestyle for a few years and unfortunately I keep reverting back to my sugar eating ways. It almost feels like an addiction. Yesterday I told someone my diet is primal + sugar. I have tried many different ways to stop – cold turkey, chromium, pancreatic enzymes, lot’s o’ protein and fat, shear willpower, etc, etc. I’m beginning to feel a bit disheartened that I won’t get to my optimal weight or health because of the sugar. Do you have any comments, suggestions, experience with others that struggle with sugar and have come out the other side victorious?

    1. Don’t keep it around. That goes a long way to stopping the cravings (can’t eat something you don’t have). Have someone else shop for you, or have your food delivered, if you can’t resist the impulse to buy the foods.

      Don’t eat any kind of sweet food. This includes fruits and may include “sweet” vegetables – carrots, bell peppers, etc. – as well as dairy (including butter unless you clarify it or get ghee).

      Don’t use any sweeteners, Primal-approved or otherwise. Even things like honey or stevia may trigger you.

      Do a Whole 30. The strictness of the challenge and temporary nature may help you mentally and help you kick the addiction.

      Go very, very low carb. Like, 20g low. At least for a month or two, then slowly increase carb intake after you’ve kicked the habit, until you find yourself triggered again.

      Get checked for Candida overgrowth. The issues you’re facing sound like you might be dealing with imbalanced gut flora, specifically too much Candida (which thrives on sugar). It might not hurt to get your A1C and fasting glucose checked. If your blood sugar is running high, the cravings might be your body trying to keep it that way.

      1. Shauna, thanks for taking the time to respond and share your ideas. I will take them into account. There is a possibility that is what I need to do.

        Honestly, the Candida/20g of carb thing makes me deeply sad. The thing I love about Primal is that there isn’t deprivation involved. 20 grams of carbs a day has me in a depression by day 3 that I don’t come out of again until I start eating carbs.

        1. Talk to your doctor about medical treatments for candida, then. Once you start getting the candida under control, start feeding the good flora with prebiotic/probiotic foods. Prebiotics will help get the good flora back into your gut, and probiotics will feed them. Fermented foods are your best whole-food sources of probiotics, including yogurt (or better yet, Kefir), kombucha, sour cream, and numerous other foods.

    2. I have also had this trouble for the past year since I began Primal. I start out doing well, start feeling good, lose a bit of weight and then, BAM! I have just 1 small sliver of cake or a cookie at some social event or work thing and next thing you know, I am back to eating 1/2 primal and 1/2 sugar (as if Chick-Fil-A is going out of business, so I “have” to get a chocolate milkshake every day)! It is very disheartening and the sugar cravings are really strong when “re-activated”. For the challenge, I made it through the first 3 days of cravings by sheer willpower and they are very mild now. I have been sticking to less than 100g carbs/day, but per Shauna’s reply, I guess I should also try and cut that even lower!

      1. Rae, if you’re doing fine on 100g, then there’s not much reason to go lower. Some people get triggered at 100g, while others get triggered at 30. Listen to your body and you’ll fare better in the long run (though it doesn’t hurt to experiment to see how you do).

    3. I recommend trying the 21 Day Sugar Detox from Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites. I’m actually doing it right now because I knew I was addicted to sugar.

      Diane herself does the sugar detox from time to time kind of as a reset. I expect I’ll probably do the same. This is usually how I handle caffeine as well. If I find myself relying on it more and more and having a hard time controlling how much I’m eating/drinking I give it up completely for about a month to gain control over it again.

      There’s also a great Facebook community for the 21 Day Sugar Detox to help you through it.

      1. It looks like this book hasn’t been released yet. I will have to check it out at that time.

  9. What’s your stance on Green Tea for people with skin issues? Since this probably indicates gut issues, should it be avoided or embraced?

  10. What is the best advice for someone who is trying paleo for the first time? I am finding it very difficult to stay on track.

    1. The advice that helped me the most was to open your mind and consider it an adventure. Being open to any and all foods at breakfast time makes a huge difference.

    2. First of all don’t be too hard on yourself, as stressing about drinking that soda or eating that pizza, or sitting on the couch after a long day of work is only compounding the problem. If you catch yourself slipping, accept and enjoy the experience, then get back to your intention. This will heighten awareness of behaviors, their motivations, and their consequences. Any new behavior takes time to incorporate. Keep learning, talk about it with others to help reinforce it in you, keep visiting MDA and using the community as inspiration. Start finding primal options to replace your “go-to” snacks. Use the primal shopping list, if it’s not around the house it can’t get in your mouth.

      Be easy
      Stay curious
      Keep learning
      Have fun
      Grok on!!!

    3. Recruit a buddy. It is great to have both a sounding board if you have questions, and someone to talk you out of your craving for junk. Also, the mind set of feeling that this is a time of good food, fun, moving your body the way it was designed helps. Pick a word that resonates for you and repeat it. I like RELISH.

    4. If you get off track, no worries, just get back the next day. Think of it this way; if your car gets 1 flat tire, you won’t shoot out the other 3 right? You fix the 1 flat and get on your way, so always keep that in the back of your mind. It has helped me many times!

  11. I’m in the market for a good pair of primal footwear but I really hate the 5 finger look. Anything you’d recommend? Looking for something I could wear everyday, anywhere. From the gym, to the grocery store: That sort of thing.

    1. I’ve had good experiences with Vivo Barefoot, and they do a lot of different styles.

    2. I have a couple of pairs of Merrills that are probably on par with the toe-gloves. They look like running shoes but have a wide toe box. Search REI or another large outdoor-active shop for more minimalist running shoes.

    3. You will get used to the look I promise. And personally, I saw a girl wearing them the other day and was immediately attracted to her! It’s hard for me to wear “normal” shoes now, they feel like i’m wearing the box they came in. Plus my feet seem ten times larger when wearing sneakers than when I wear my vibrams. I love them so much I got a second pair, one for working out and one for casual.

  12. FYI, Panera Bread has a hidden menu of excellent primal options. Why, why, why would they “hide” that?

    1. I think it’s a marketing gimmick, although kind of a dumb one.

      1. Sorta like In-N-Out Burger?

        For folks in Arizona and elsewhere, Paradise Bakery has the same hidden menu.

    2. Just curious, what do you mean by “hidden”? You mean they don’t let you see it unless you ask, or they just don’t advertise it as primal? There is one near me, but I never go there for some reason.

      1. I read somewhere online that they have this “hidden” menu that isn’t posted on the board with the regular menu. You have to ask for it. That’s been a while back so maybe they don’t do that anymore. As I said… dumb idea.

  13. Me and my girlfriend go to college and the cafeteria is horrifying. In their “health line” they put everything over rice or bread or add gravy. What are cheap (I mean cheap we’re in college) foods or recipes (that don’t require a kitchen) that are great for snacks and for replacing their “healthy” food?

    1. Do you have a microwave? Buy a head of cauliflower and dice that up. Toss in some nutmeg, butter/EVOO, pepper, and sea salt, put it in the microwave for ~4 minutes. Then you can bring that with you to the cafe and take that chicken off the rice and put it on the cauliflower rice instead.

    2. Do you have the option to go rice less and gravy less but keep the meat or whatever?

  14. One of my favorite foods is buffalo chicken wings/tenders. I want to start making similar style food myself (baking them and using chicken breasts). Any suggestions on sauce that is primal? I am not adverse to making my own.

    1. I have a recipe I call “Italian chicken fingers”. Cut boneless breasts into 3 or 4 “finger” size pieces. Brush each side with a thin coat of healthy oil. (Olive oil works but I usually use macadamia nut oil in this recipe). Sprinkle small amounts of the following to each side: sea salt, garlic powder, sage, rosemary and a dash of pepper. Grill each side for 4 minutes (could be baked/broiled at 475 degrees). The smaller size of these don’t take long on the grill so watch them. Delicious right of the grill or later great cold right out of the fridge.

  15. @Rhiannon: Wrap that baby to your chest and get out for some brisk walks in between feedings. Babywearing is soothing for both of you, promotes healthy bonding, and also gives you some freedom to get up and move around. Sprints might be too much of a stressor as your body continues to heal and to focus energy on producing milk and taking care of your little one. Lots of slow, steady movement is better. You can find many good online tutorials for babywearing.

  16. What’s a good carb balance to achieve two somewhat disparate goals? I’m trying to limit carbs (especially sugars) as much as possible to deal with a fungal infection of my skin, but when I get low enough to get those nasty critters on the run, I don’t have enough energy for my martial arts training. I’m stumped for an answer and very frustrated.

    1. Is there anyway you can expose the fungal infection regularly to sun and air, if you haven’t tried? (If you’re under a Doc’s care, with their okay?)

      Fungi love moisture and the dark, along with the sugar. My diet has been (mostly) cleaned up for a very long time, but I still had a gross toenail fungus left from my high sugar days. It really receded this year simply by wearing sandals as much as I could.

      1. Thanks, Amy. Sugar can be a wicked one to tame. I have tried sun exposure in the past, with limited success. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and our sunny days are giving way to the permagray of fall and winter already. I’ve also tried rubbing coconut oil in to the area (one underarm and down to the elbow), but that doesn’t seem to help.

        I guess I should focus on getting rid of this fungal crap first, and if that means I don’t have enough energy for class, so be it; I can do other workouts on my own at home. (Yes, I am so focused on karate that I didn’t realize that alternative exists until just now. Any other martial artists here who can relate?)

  17. Mark – this is my 3 go at completing a 21 day challenge. I have been on and off again primal for about a year but never seem to gain consistency past two weeks. This challenge I have asked my wife to join me. She is struggling and blames it on the fact that we have 5 kids that “won’t eat this stuff” as she puts it. What are your recommendations for completing the 21 day challenge in with 6 people eating a SAD?

    1. Eat Like A Dinosaur is a great Primal friendly cook book for families. Perhaps it will help transition your kids to the way you want to eat.

  18. Sorry for the typo – question should read ” What are your recommendations for completing the 21 day challenge in a house with 6 people eating a SAD?

  19. When feeling nauseous and all you want to eat is butter and toast, what can you do? Especially seeing that toast most certainly isn’t Primal!

  20. So I know other “experts” say you should eat breakfast, What are you thoughts on breakfast if the person is not hungry? It there a time frame you should get food into your body after you wake up?

    1. No time frame. I’m pretty sure Mark is in favor of Intermittent Fasting, in which it’s typical to skip breakfast and in some cases lunch. If you’re not hungry in the mornings, it might be worth trying IF. Start out Leangains style – 16 hour fast, 8 hour feeding window (usually done 8pm-noon fast, or thereabouts) and see how you feel. Just make sure you’re getting enough food in to fuel your body properly.

    2. I find I personally do better not eating breakfast. Most of the time I don’t eat anything before noon, and I feel just fine. Listen to your body. Eat when you feel hungry, not when someone else tells you that you should.

      1. Especially when that ‘someone else’ is trying to sell it to you…

    3. I’ve always thought the ‘eat breakfast’ thing was because sugar-burners CAN’T ‘not eat breakfast’ and make it to work! The ‘snack every couple of hours’ leads to desperate cravings; and the overnight without fuel leads to no energy and the need to re-fuel…

      We low-carbers/primals don’t NEED to refuel after sleep, because our bodies aren’t waking tio an empty tank!

    4. For years they were telling us to eat breakfast, then I read an article that says its not as important as we were told, Don’t pay attention to the magazines. Once you start eating primal you will notice most magazines are wrong, I just go by my own feelings.

  21. If I overdo carbs some weeks, say I eat sweet potatoes – generous portions – several days in a row, and disappear a bag of blue corn chips over the same several days…is it possible that I am kind of going back and forth from keto-adaptation? I keep wondering if I am causing myself any trouble by not being all that consistent with this.

  22. Any good breakfast idea for my 2 years old daughter ? How much “net carb” per day is too much for a 2 years old girl who is active througout the day ?

    1. Absolutely essential oils are wonderful to anyone. From cooking to relaxation. Unfortunately my #1 essential oil is lavender. I use it for burns. I’ve always been clumsy and I cook a lot! Lavender is incredibly effective to counter the pain/decrease the healing time of a burn.

  23. After hurting my knee while squatting, i became interested in body weight training and the potential dangers of barbell training. Chiefly, joint and tendon/ ligament damage. How do you feel about this? And if barbell training is not worth the risk, what heavy things should we lift?

    1. Look around for something that is heavy in your life. My husband lifts paint cans and pieces of wood that he works with. I lift heavy bags of groceries. If you want you can make your own weights out of plastic gallon jugs, filling them with water to the weight you want, make your own bags of sand, etc. Lift that chair?

    2. Kettlebell training (including squatting) has cured all of my knee problems, and this includes squatting. I have fallen in love with it and think it can work for anyone with any physical ailments or limitations.

      1. What program do you follow, Seattle Slim? I’m searching for healthier ways to lift heavy things as I keep hurting myself.

    3. Heavy lifting, when done correctly, should not be dangerous (beyond the inherent danger of lifting something really heavy, of course, but that applies to anything), and in fact can be beneficial to your joints. However, proper form is of utmost importance. Squats, for example, REQUIRE your knees to be tracking over your feet properly, for your weight to be balanced properly, and for your back to be straight. This applies to any squats, from bodyweight to kettlebell to lifting a tree or the sofa.

      So, lift what you enjoy lifting, but get form checks periodically, and make sure you’re always, always lifting properly. And don’t try to lift more than you can lift while maintaining that good form.

  24. I have started intermittent fasting as my personal 21 day challenge and so far it is feeling great. I am eating a final meal at around 730pm and going until at least 830 the following morning. I have also done two days with an 18 hour fast. My question is, is this something I should be doing everyday? I’m not doing this to lose weight, I just wanted to try it as it was the one aspect o Primal life I was neglecting. I figure if it feels good, do it, but any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated.

    1. I’ve been IFing for over a year; it’s become a way of life for me. I try to do 16 hours (8 p.m. to noon the following day), but if that doesn’t work out, I don’t stress over it. I do try to go at least 12 hours every day, and probably achieve that all but once or twice a month. At some point, it simply became my normal eating pattern; I don’t need to think about it, and I’m not watching the clock while ravenous. I have coffee with cream when I first get up, and that’s it until lunchtime.

  25. I am a big bread and baked goodies fan. I have been able to bake some primal goodies (muffins, pancakes, blondies), but I was wondering if that is going to mess with my adapting to a new way of eating over the 21 day challenge period.

    1. Homemade baked goods were regularly featured on our menu before we started our primal journey 5 months ago. Personally, I found the best strategy was to avoid primal treat substitutes during the first month or so until the new way of eating was firmly established. Recently, I have started to introduce some primal goodies, but it’s important to remember that even though they are healthier than their grain-based counterparts, they are still treats and shouldn’t become a staple of your diet.

    2. Shelby – I wouldn’t say to never go there with baked goods but…if baking is a hobby, you may want to give serious consideration to finding another. 🙁

      It’s hard to let go of the baked goods, but as Kirk points out they need to stay within the special treats even if they are Paleo.

    3. I used to be a baking maniac. Even after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease I baked like crazy, gluten-free of course. But I’ve phased it out because, surprise surprise, I just feel better without that stuff. I still miss the art of baking, far more than I miss the treats! One of these days I will do an art installation with some sort of faux baked goods, just so I can scratch that itch! 🙂

  26. I already eat and exercise according to the primal blueprint, so I am using this 21 day challenge to really get into the habit of lowering my carb intake to speed up fat loss. Although generally I feel great, I have noticed just in the past couple of days that my sleep is disturbed. I don’t sleep as deep as I did just a week ago! So my question is, is this due to a reduction in carb intake (I went from eating around 150 grams a day to 50-75) and if so, what can I do to start sleeping better again (besides eating more carbs)?

  27. Dear Mark:

    I have tried going Primal before but always seem to fizzle around 7-9 days. What is the best way to evaluate one’s failures in order to make the changes necessary to achieve success?

    I’ve just been doing a lot of trial and error (this time around, I’m experimenting with the 80/20 principle instead of my usual all-or-nothing perfectionism), but is there a better, more methodical way to root out the hidden obstacles that are holding me back?

  28. Not long ago Mark shared his Primal Egg Coffee recipe. Would there be any negative consequences to the raw egg yolks if the coffee was in a thermos for several hours (say up to 6?) before it was consumed?

    1. I would also be interested in the answer to this question as I have recently tried the egg coffee.

    2. You can keep mayonnaise (= raw egg yolk + olive oil) in the fridge for a week, so I’m sure 6h at near boiling would be fine.

  29. I noticed that you have athletes allowed “good carbs” from sweet potatoes and rice. I am a nursing mother of a two month old baby, and I was wondering if it would be advisable for me to include some of those good carbs as well? Thank you for all the helpful information – I’ve been a reader for quite some time and this challenge came at a good time for me.

    1. Yes, absolutely! There’s an excellent discussion further upthread about primal nursing, if you haven’t already found it.

  30. Dear Mark,
    My job involves a lot of standing (unlike many people), so I have never had to think about a standing work station. My problem is that I have struggled with varicose veins for my entire adult life, I have even had surgery. All the standing on my feet I do at work definitely makes them worse. For many years I was a chronic cardio junkie (runner), but after my surgery the doc told me the running was actually making them worse. I have since stopped all that running and switched to walking, but the veins still plague me. Any suggestions?

  31. I think I picked up from your website that you were a competitive cyclist. Is it still ok for me to use products like Cytomax, GU, PowerGel, etc., on my training rides that are longer than an hour? Or, would that mess with going Primal?

  32. In the near future, I’m going to be driving across the country – 11 hours in a car for 4 days. Do you have any food tips for such a long road trip?

  33. I’ve just started trying the paleo diet but I’m having a hard time finding food. I’m a college student with no kitchen and our cafeteria foods are nearly all grain or grain based. I have a microwave and a fridge keeps things cool but not cold enough to be at proper fridge temperature. What are some good foods that aren’t too expensive and don’t require refrigeration?

    1. How cold is your fridge? Proper fridge temp (4-7 degrees C) is more important for meat/fish/dairy than for veg, especially when uncut (the skin/peel acts as a barrier). If you shop twice a week, most food will be eaten within a day or two and keep just fine. Eat items that spoil quicker on the day you buy it.

      Food prices vary wildly depending on season and location (and I’m in Europe) but try canned fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel) avocado’s (I get 5 at the local market for the price of 1-2 from the supermarket) cucumber&tomato in summer, heads of lettuce instead of bags of mixed greens, grated root celery in waldorf salad, check the size of normal carrots instead of buying snack baby carrots, I snack the thinner ones and slice/grate/cook the thicker ones. In winter, get creative with cabbage.
      Are you allowed to have a slow cooker? It can transform cheap cuts of meat and plain veg like union, carrot, cabbage and canned tomatos into amazing dishes and you don’t need a kitchen to do it!

  34. How did our recent ancestors (say in the ’40s and ’50s) manage to ingest so many carbs and still stay reasonably healthy and active? I look at the Andy Griffith show and those people are pounding mashed potatoes at lunch with the obligatory slice of pie, yet Aunt Bee walks all over town and Andy is easily able to chop wood and keep up with his sheriff duties. If I eat carbs to that extent I feel terrible. Thanks Mark!

    1. I was wondering why cheese is not such a good option for this way of life?

  35. I have comfortably been eating no more than around 60-80 carbs a day in an effort to loose more body fat. (my normal is around 120-150) I have been feeling great with plenty of energy and no complaints.

    The other day I consumed a small amount of whiskey, 4-6 ozs. over around 3 hours while eating some higher carb food. (baked potatoes with ALL the fixings) This is consistent with how I use to be when drinking (eating carbs to keep food with the alcohol) and it has never been anything for me to consume 8-10 ozs of whiskey and a few beers and thought tipsy, be fine the next day. Also, this day I had a large sweet potato early in the day because I planned to drink that night.

    I went to sleep just tipsy, but I woke up in a total brain fog. I couldn’t concentrate. I wasn’t nauseous or even feeling like I had the very few times I’ve had a hangover. I felt really off, tired but not able to sleep. I felt weak all over but yet felt like a good sprint might clear up this “fog” over my body. I did not sprint and I did not improve until after around 36 hours had passed. I am back eating my normal fare and feel fine.

    Was this the increased carbohydrates after not consuming that much in the previous days? Or was I maybe in a state of ketosis and the stress of the alcohol too much to tax onto my liver? Alcohol has never affected me like this.

    I am 25 and have no medical problems.

  36. My question is about getting adequate sunlight. I work nights and I’m in New England. I know you say to commit to 15 mins per day, but if it is chilly and less skin is exposed, should I try to get more time in the sun?

  37. This is tangentially related Lee’s question, how does the Primal blueprint not fall into the category of “disordered eating”? I happen to travel frequently outside of the US, and I often notice that people, particularly in third world countries eat what is available. Sometimes, that involves carbs. Sometimes it does not. Some foods have sugar, others not. The point is that people may think about food from a cultural or historical perspective, i.e. famous dishes that define a country, but people just eat without worrying about brining a container of cauliflower rice. (And I am not picking on the particular poster – I happen to love cauliflower and despise rice). I am raising the question of how to follow the Primal Blueprint while remaining Primal openness to cultural gastronomic experiences and not falling victim to contrivence regarding what you put in your mouth.

  38. My question is about Vitamin D and sunlight exposure. I live in England and the while we had a nice summer here (by English standards) the weather has turned cold fast and the lack of sunlight is now evident! I have started supplementing with Now Foods Vitamin D3, should I be doing anything else?

  39. I am pretty skinny already with very low body fat so my goal is not to lose weight but to get healthier. I like my fatty coffee in the morning without any protein or carbs very much but I oftentimes feel a bit cold and cranky the whole morning. Could this kind of IF be a problem for people with very low body fat (does it slow down the metabolism or anything?)? Any suggestions?

    1. After I went primal I found that coffee affected me more and not in a pleasant way, so I quit and feel much better thru the morning

  40. I am doing the 21 day challenge myself, and am trying to include my 5 year old daughter. I am currently student teaching and I also have a daughter in Kindergarten. I pack her lunch and breakfast at home. When it is our ‘snack day’ I send something like fresh fruit. But at school they still hand out candy and other treats constantly. Even in the classroom I work in every student takes a turn each month bringing snacks, which are generally chips or candy. Even in my daughters class they are doing special treats every time they start studying a new letter of the alphabet. Hot dogs were the most recent. Last year they had a soda party in her Pre-K class without me knowing it!! Her first and only soda ever!! (and I let them know that too.)

    How do I handle this without my daughter feeling weird at school?

    How can I incorporate the primal principles into my classroom in a way that the kids will enjoy it?

    I know my classroom may be the only chance for some children to be exposed to real, healthy food.

  41. Any suggestions besides melatonin and Valerian root for trouble falling and staying asleep?

  42. Tips on dealing with SAD? Seasonal affective disorder? How do I deal with wanting to hibernate more as the days get shorter and the nights longer?

  43. Hey Mark thanks for all the help, so far I’ve been primal for about 1 year and when trying to a do a very high fat lower carb “session” of eating I run into problems digesting fat, is there anyway to fix this or should I continue on with a more moderate fat primal diet?

  44. Hello Mark,
    I have taken up this 21 day Challenge to add intentional daily exercise to my life. I have completed 5 days of workouts with a mild cold. I am pretty fit, I am not one who sits around watching tv, I walk often and spend time outside. I chop firewood, garden, do heavy lifting (loading the pickup with logs for firewood) and I recently worked up to doing 2 reverse pullups unassisted. I eat primally for the most part. Today I woke up feeling exhausted and my lungs are sore. Would it be best to stop all exercise at this point? I know it is my decision based on how I feel ~ any recommendations as far as workout strategies? I don’t want to miss out on the challenge or feel like I have failed with my goals. I had to let my hubby go on a long mountain hike today by himself and I REALLY wanted to go too. I have heard that working out when sick can extend the illness, is there any truth to that statement? Thanks for your time.

  45. Is it OK to eat most of my protein in one or two meals on any given day, and how much does it matter if I’m low on carbs but also low on protein in any 24hr period (except fasting, of course).

  46. I been 80/20 primal for almost two years. I hadn’t been exercising regularly and weight redistributed to start a muffin top (belly fat). I’m in my late forties and don’t have to lose any weight. Recently I started to interval run 1x a week walk three miles 2x a week and weight lift one day a week. It seems like this exercise is redistributing the weight again where it should be. Why does that happen?

    1. Sounds just like me! Will be interested to hear the answer…

  47. I answered a free ad in the paper from someone trying to get rid of apples from her tree, and now I have approximately a million gallons of “pie” apples. I LOVE eating them baked with cinnamon and nuts, but how many is too many? I have to think that when primal people had a harvest of ripe, delicious fruit, they probably ate tons of it for a few weeks, too, but I’m sure it can’t be ideal for losing the last 10 or so pounds I need to lose. I know preserving them is another option, and I’ll probably do that, but I really want to know how bad it is for my health to just chow down on as many as I like until they run out.

    1. I don’t know what the textbook answer is, but if I had tons of perfectly ripe apples I would eat and enjoy and go back to normal when the harvest was over! 🙂

      1. I previously suggested you make cider or hard cider. Hard cider would have less sugar but still use in moderation. I tried to post this earlier… Don’t know why my comments aren’t posting 🙁

    2. Not sure about you but apple cider would be great! Do you think you can use them to make cider? Here’s a link to see if they are viable for cider making (of course if you know the type of apple):

      Now if you can look into how to make it a Primal/Paleo hard cider, then it’s a huge win! I can help you drink some of that…and maybe help you eat some of those apples too!

    3. I previously responded but again it didn’t show. I suggest that you make cider out of them. Here’ same link that will help you determine whether the apples you have are good cider making apples:

      Also, once you have the cider, you should look into how to make it hard cider to eliminate the sugars and make it partly Primal/Paleo!

  48. I am a mother of 4 (almost 8, 6, almost 5 & 3). We have had a great response from our children with becoming a Primal house, they have no complaints over the food or lack thereof of the traditional junk. I am just curious as to how you have kept your children primal when out with friends or even those SAD family members? I have had a few cockeyed looks when explaining Primal, and questions of ‘…but why don’t you eat ____?’ Or ‘so no happy meals?!’ Help is much appreciated! Thank you!

    1. For our family, we don’t worry about te kids eating non-primal when at other people’s homes. I figure they are getting our healthy choices at least 80% of the time, and it isn’t worth the hassle, frustration, and “being different” to try to keep my kids100% primal.

  49. Grass fed question. . If you sprout grain into fodder and feed your cows the sprouts,is that considered grass fed?

  50. Mark – Sprinting drives my carb cravings through the roof once I’m finished. My “sprints” last from 5 seconds to 3 minutes but neither shorter nor longer makes it easier to resist carbs. What should I do?

  51. I’m getting over a stomach bug that I’ve had all week and I feel it really set me off the Primal path: both from an exercise and an eating perspective. Do you have any tips on keeping primal when sick or restarting after falling off the wagon? (Dr Sears used to say that you can get back in the Zone with your next meal, which I found encouraging when following that program: is getting back to Primal as simple?)

    1. I asked the same question before but apparently it never posted =(

      I was in the same boat! Although all I wanted was chicken broth and toast with butter…didn’t care the origin.

      However, for me it has really been to stay around and take in the smells of the food that my wife was making. She made this grass fed beef, spinach, garlic, diced tomato stir fry that looked awful because I couldn’t fathom ingesting it, but smelled phenomenal! I took one bite because the smell alone was enough to make me want to try it (and my stomach was going to eat me) and it was great!

      My suggestion – stay close to the food but not too close to where it will make you want to barf again. It will come back to you.

  52. I’m doing the challenge right now and I feel great! I know this might be jumping the gun a bit, but I have a question about how to proceed after the challenge is over. I actually find it quite easy to be 100% primal while on the challenge because I know that non-primal foods are off-limits for me. However, when the challenge isn’t on, I have a hard time maintaining the healthy 80/20 balance: it tends to quickly go to 60/40, 50/50, and worse. Any tips for how to maintain the healthy lifestyle promoted by the challenge after it’s over?

  53. I have a Vitamin D / Sunlight question. I live in Ohio, and it is now getting to be the time of year, what with Fall only a day away, where the sun basically disappears until next April. On the days I can’t get out into the sun, either because it’s not there or for some other reason, I take two Vitamin D tablets per day at 400 IU’s each, which I know is not much of a substitute for actual sunlight. So should I just settle for less Vitamin D during the colder months, or is there more I can do?

  54. What if I can’t stop snacking? I eat primal snacks but I still always want more, especially when i am trying to avoid doing a task.

  55. Why can’t I stop snacking? How do I avoid snacking when I am trying to avoid a task? It seems more mental than anything…

  56. We’re hosting our Grokfeast next weekend, Wild Boar smokies, Organic grass-fed chicken “weenie”-roast.

    What are some good, portable primal sides to take along? I’m thinking of cold-served foods but I’m stuck on a veggie tray!

  57. What do you do if you’re really not a breakfast person? My wife isn’t a big breakfast person but she needs to eat for our 3 month old. Normally, her breakfast will be a sugar laced yogurt that is not healthy whatsoever. She’s also not a big breakfast fan so that doesn’t help matters.

    I usually try to make crust less mini quiches ( and she can do a few of those but that’s it.

    Any suggestions for primal breakfast ideas for a stay at home mom that doesn’t necessarily like breakfast? Thanks!!!

  58. What are some the best tips you can give on breaking plateaus? I have been paleo/primal since november and have had great success. Im only 20 pounds from where I want to be, currently down 105 pounds. My body seems to be rejecting anymore change. I will take a week to loose 2 pounds, hit the new low weight one day and watch it jump up 4 pounds the next day with no changes to food/exercise change. Im stumped. Please help.

  59. Dear Mark,

    What is your take on a hemp as a source of protein? I’ve heard plenty of cases made as to its health benefits but I just wanted to get some of your input as well. Is hemp primal?



  60. Any suggestions on kicking a nut butter addiction? Is there a lesser evil to replace it with? Looks like I need to go cold turkey at this point, I think the nut butters are hampering my 21 day challenge.

  61. Do you think it is necessary to supplement with copper and zinc if not eating liver? I have tried a few times but not really digging the liver.

  62. I’ve always had a hard time figuring out if I’m eating enough fat. Of course I cook my meats in it, eggs, and sautéed veggies. But, other than avocados, what do else can I eat? I know there are seeds and nuts, but arent those full of PUFAs? Aren’t we supposed to eat those in moderation? I guess I’m confused where I should draw the line. That and how I can add more easy paleo, fatty items to my repertoire.

  63. I have been primal for just over a year. Worked great but recently my sleep is not refreshing me anymore and I wake up tired (the first 10 months sleep was great). Any ideas? (I use magnesium)

  64. Since fruits are an occasional food, which ones offer the most bang for their buck(nutritionally speaking) and which ones should we avoid?

  65. Dear Mark, I have scoliosis since I was a child and I have always had problems with my posture (ie.not standing straight enough, back aches…). Is there any kind of exercise that I can do to improve my posture and lessen the pain?
    Thank you!!

  66. OK first things first: I LOVE my veggies, I do. But I am too used to the meat being the center-piece of the meal… so I think I still over-do my proteins and eat too little vegetables.

    And it might be that I don’t feel as if they are satiating unless I eat a TON of them… which is not practical for a guy who is struggling with the money (yes, it sucks to admit it but the number one reason carbs are tempting to me is that they are a CHEAP source of “food”… I try not to eat them though)… In my mind veggies are more of a snack than a meal.

    I guess my question is:

    Is there a secret to eating more veggies? what sort of dishes or skills am I missing in the kitchen that would allow me to up my veggie intake?

    1. The tool that has allowed me to consume a ton of fresh, local, organic veggies on a busy schedule and tight budget is a set of quality food storage containers with sides that snap shut. Even delicate lettuce usually lasts the whole week (enabling my daily big-ass salad lunches). It may not be the absolute ideal way to consume vegetables (some degrade faster than others), but it makes daily, quality vegetable consumption feasible for me.

      I do a big farmer’s market outing on the weekend, come home, wash whatever needs to be washed (a salad spinner helps – storing the veggies dry helps them last longer), chop what needs to be chopped (makes cooking dinners on weekdays a lot faster), and store in the snappy containers.

      Another tip – raw or more lightly cooked (steamed) veggies are great, but when in doubt:

      vegetable + primal fat + hot oven (~400 deg F) + time = heaven

      Cook until whatever it is is brown and crispy but not burnt. A cast iron dish is good for this, but Al-covered baking sheets or a pyrex work too. I have tried this with every vegetable and every primal fat I can think of and I have yet to be disappointed.

  67. Is squatting around a lot good or bad for the spine? How much time did Grok spend crouching in a squat? Obviously when he did a number 2. And when skinning game, cooking, processing foods for the winter.

    I’ve been looking around at my fellow Americans and am saddened to see how hunched all our shoulders are, and how forward we carry our heads. It doesn’t look healthy to me. I guess Grok did a lot of low-level activity everyday while most of us in the modern world sit in chairs. Even standing desks don’t strike me as a solution if the posture is already trained into a poor position. I see a lot of hunched over shoulders while people walk around. Does squatting while hanging around, playing with the kids, etc, help or hinder?

  68. I precooked a bunch of plain meats in my sous vide but now need some way to make them tasty. What’s a good way to flavor meats that are already cooked?

    1. Hey ,Linda! You should make some Primal sauces, and mix it up with the herbs and spices. So many combinations…

    2. Because I’m alone (and can’t use up fresh quickly enough), I buy green peppers (in season, on sale), puree the heck out of them, spread them on a cookie sheet and freeze; then break the ice-plaque up into chips and store them in the freezer. When I prepare my sous vide bags, I can throw in a chip of green pepper (and onion; I do onion the same way) along with my seasonings, and a chip of frozen (KerryGold, of course) butter. That keeps the seasonings from being ‘vacuumed out’ while sealing. When searing before I serving and can add seasoning(s) if needed (rarely is!); or after I hit the meat with the torch.

      (I introduced four neighbors to sous vide last night: they were jealous of my Iwatani torch! And impressed with how the meat turned out.)

  69. Mark, my HR is 44 when resting, and between 48and 56 dduring the day. But my BP ranges between 130-160 over 76. I would consider myself an entry level athlete, spending about 4.5 hours at the gym a week, sprinting often (soccer player), and I am an avid believer in the primal blueprint’s statement–fats are the preferred fuelfor the heart. My BP concerns me, but my is: do you see this often in people that live the primal lifestyle?

  70. Have any suggestions on how would I go about reaching 6% body fat? I am for sure 10% or below, am an avid walker, sprint and lift occasionally, and watch carb-intake. Just can’t quite seem to get there, but I want it so bad!

    1. Do the cooking (and the shopping for groceries) and don’t tell em you are shifting them! Seriously… don’t make it a big deal and after week or so you can slowly tell em about the change in their diet.

      I’m not joking… there are so many different things you can cook that are primal that you can easily cook one or two week’s worth of food before they notice it’s been a while since they had any bread.

      My 2.5 year old is happy being primal… especially since he can have scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit pretty much whenever he wants, and my wife is cool with eating primal as long as food is tasty (she is not commited to primal though, and she will eat bread and stuff now and then and when we eat out)… but it’s a start, right?

  71. This time it will work! I keep telling myself. But, even though I am aware of all the Primal principles, have read the books and have benefited from it, I keep going back to my old habits. To keep myself on track, I began wearing an old Roman ring (a true one) my wife had bought for me. I look at it and remember I should be strong and pursue.
    My questions are:
    – What should we do to beat the irrational side of us who makes us eat what we know is bad for us?
    – How do we go back on track halfway through a binge (pizza, or excessive cheese and dried figs)? What’s the best tip?
    – How do we reconcile the idea of indulgence, that this is not about cutting down and being strict, with being disciplined and achieving our goals? In other words: how do we beat guilt and stick to the programme?

  72. Do you have good suggestions on how to navigate being invited over for dinner by extended family or friends? I don’t want to offend anyone by my new dietary restrictions or cause a big ordeal for the host.

    1. I feel the same way and I tell them not to go through any trouble for me. I can usualy find something to enjoy; salad, cooked veggies or the entree if they have not slathered it with too much foolishness. Once you have converted to a fat burning machine it gets even easier as skipping a meal is much easier.

  73. If I eat cheese, should I choose grass-fed, but not raw or raw, but not grass-fed? Thank you!!

  74. What proportion of calories from protein, fats and carbohydrates do you recommend for optimal weight-loss? Thanks

  75. Why was it easier to drop fat and lose cravings when living in Europe than it is here in the US? I first followed Primal in 2011, then 4 months later moved back to the US. I gained back all I had lost (yes, my fault for allowing too much non-Primal foods into my diet). I have gone back to Primal eating and it’s much more difficult here lose the fat (and pounds) and the desire for grains and sugar is so much stronger. I am sure it’s partly psychological but I am convinced our food is drastically different from our European counterparts.

  76. Sorry if this is in there already but…it’s suggested that people often drink alcohol and/or eat carbs and sugar to self-medicate (thinking of Julia Ross and the neurotransmitters). So, if one cuts out the things that are, at least temporarily, giving you a serotonin boost (or whatever), how does the body readjust? It seems like exercise and Vitamin D would take awhile to “kick in”?

  77. I’m pregnant and I’m due in 2 weeks. I actually started the challenge at the beginning of September but I’ve been having trouble resisting cravings. Does this have anything to do with being pregnant or do I just need to get over it and stay strong?

  78. I’m lost im 20 underweight female. I’m trying to be paleo from like raw vegan type life.

    I’ve followed it religiously with meat and stuff. I just can’t do it meat makes me feel heavy protein does I’ve done HCL, ACV, enzymes etc. Just doesn’t feel right. Carbohydrates not grains! do make me feel better where can I get protein:? Do some people need different macros less protein. Im so lost.

    1. What proteins are you eating? Coming from a vegan diet maybe you should try lighter choices, like fish and chicken to start out with.. or maybe others have better suggestions, but that’s what I would do.

      1. I had the same issue starting to eat more meat. I found it much easier to ease in with soups & stews (including vegs), increasing the meat quotient as my system began to adjust.

  79. My acne is flaring up pretty heavily the past few days (I’m blaming stress) – any acne suggestions?

  80. Do you ever feel guilty about overeating? Sometimes Paleo food is so delicious that I overeat.



  81. Hello Mark,

    I’m ordering grass fed beef burgers and wondering what the pros and cons are for various options of leanness; do I always want the 90% or being grass feed is there some goodies(CLA) in the 75% that I forgo with a 90% lean burger?

  82. I am a natural wiggle worm, so incorporating movement into my life is easy. But I have trouble with the heavy lifting part. I am somewhate frail from years of undiagnosed Celiac Disease, & I find I keep injuring myself when I try lifting heavy things (even a little bit heavy). For example I was making real progress on assisted pull-ups, until suddenly my elbow started killing me, & now I can barely lift a coffee pot. How do you determine what’s heavy enough to help without hurting?

  83. Running his my hobby. I enjoy training for and running half marathons. This means about 5 hours of running, including one evening of faster running per week. I’m starting with the 21 day challenge, basically because I discovered the website on the day it started and it sounds like something that will help me with weight loss. Assuming I can add some strength training, will continuing to train for and run half marathons be detrimental to a primal lifestyle?

  84. Is IF safe for females?

    What counts as sufficient exercise to merit a carb post-workout meal? I.e., how intense, and how long?

  85. Love the 21-day challenge, however I may be consuming a few too many starchy vegetables (i.e. yams/sweet potatoes). What are your guidelines for these in the paleo diet? I don’t need to loose and weight but still want to make sure i am on the right track. Thanks!

  86. My wife and I have been using the challenge to kind of reboot. I believe we are eating pretty close to 100% Primal. We are also walking and doing bodyweight exercises together. Our 11 month old has made getting our sleep regulated a bit difficult, but we’re making progress. Anyway, one of the things we’ve noticed is a sudden craving for pizza. In the past I have been advised to get more iron in my system, but I don’t think that is an issue now.

    Would you make a suggestion as to why that is and what we can do to alleviate the cravings?

    1. I find that whenever I’m overtired I start craving comfort food, & I’m guessing that may be the trigger. Have you tried “meatza”? Of course it’s not really the same, but the flavors & presentation are comfortingly familiar, & it might help you hold out on the bad stuff.

  87. Re-post because my first one is “awaiting moderation.”

    We’re hosting our Grokfeast next weekend, Wild Boar smokies, Organic grass-fed chicken “weenie”-roast.

    What are some good, portable primal sides to take along? I’m thinking of cold-served foods but I’m stuck on a veggie tray!

  88. Hey Mark!
    Your website is inspiration and informative. Keep up the fantastic work.
    My question is on protein and muscle building for women. I know this is probably a common question, but I have heard and read so many different things on what to eat before and after a workout. Do I have to consume protein afterwards to gain muscle, or have any sort of carbohydrate? Is fruit okay? So many questions! 🙂 Thank you, you’re the best!

  89. Hi Mark,
    First of all, thank you! I found your website a couple months back and started changing my diet, my mindset and my life. I have been slightly overweight most of my adult life but always what I considered healthy until a little over a year ago when I suffered a major infection after having my daughter and never recovered. After tons of doctors I was finally diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the joints and lymphatic system as well as severely anemic. Even with high doses of prednisone every day was a struggle. But since changing my diet I feel the best I have in years and my bloodwork has improved. As an added bonus, I have lost 15 lbs! My question is how to get off the prednisone now? I hate the side effects and I don’t want to rely on it. I know that my adrenals have basically shut down because I have been on them so long. Everytime I try to taper down I feel and look like death. Is there something I can add in to my diet to help, is there something I should avoid, is there an alternative. I would love your advice for this as well as any tips you might have for living with an autoimmune disease such as sarcoidosis. Thanks!

  90. Hey Mark,

    I know that when doing high intensity (HIIT or any other brief but intense) workouts most of the fat burning comes afterwards. What is a good post-workout snack/meal that will enhance/ prolong this fat-burning period? I read an article saying that after this kind of exercise, muscle glycogen is restored using up subcutaneous fat as energy/backup. So based on this, what would be the best refueling option (besides water of course)? (Regular) carbs? Just protein? Avoid fat to make sure my body uses the one that’s already stored?

    Thanks and keep up the good work man!

  91. Hi Mark,

    I wanted to ask about feeding a non-Paleo crowd. At various points in the year, I end up doing coffee hour for our church, hosting a dojo party, or other events that require feeding a crowd that is predominantly or even entirely non-Paleo. Where would you suggest looking for recipes to feed a crowd?

    My next thing is a coffee hour, and typically I would set out fruit & vegetables, cheese & crackers, a couple of kinds of cake and/or cookies, plus water and fruit juice. I’m a decent cook, and not at all afraid of even fairly complicated recipes. Suggestions?

  92. Hi Mark, My question is when is it time to toss out the old vibram five fingers and replace with a new pair. Dollar for dollar these shoes are extremely well made and can take an incredible pounding. They just don’t seem to wear out (sole is thin but they have not fallen apart). Absolutely love them!

  93. I can only eat (poultry or red) meat a few times a week, and then it’s usually chicken or ground beef. I try to have at least one egg every day, and fish when I can. Where should I be getting most of calories from?

    (Explanation: I keep kosher, including only buying meat slaughtered in a kosher manner. This is not optional and because of other aspects of my life it is unlikely I will be eating more meat in the next few months.)

  94. I’m dialing in my food and movement for the 21 day challenge. Should I expect to see the start of noticeable muscle toning, especially in arms, legs and abs, by the end of the 21 day challenge?

  95. I’m having a bit of trouble lowering my fruit intake. How much fruit is too much?

  96. Question about oral allergy syndrome – aside from the discomfort, should I be worried about the long term effects of eating foods that cause a temporary “lump in the throat” sensation? Should this be considered a chronic stressor to be avoided?

    Lots of things trigger this reaction to varying degrees for me, including toothpaste, mint, many teas, processed chocolates, dried fruits with oil coatings, egg whites, coconut, almonds and other nuts (and their flour and butter derivatives).

    I’m probably guilty of overdoing nuts and coconuts, for example. Would lowering intake or skipping days periodically be advisable and possibly help reduce the reaction?

  97. Last time I had my muscle mass checked I had more muscle than someone my height and weight! I can gain muscle fairly easily. I’m trying to lose mainly fat and not gain too much muscle can I do this by following primal eating but eliminating the meat portion? Or should I just eat a bit of meat just for maintenance?

  98. Party of my 21 day challenge is getting into the habit of eating strictly primal and no cheats. Problem is I don’t really like many vegetables so what are some good ways for me to get carbs and good fiber. I eat spaghetti squash, sweet potato, tomato sauce(spaghetti sauce) and that is about it. I am more of a meat eater. I used to eat corn and white potatoes before going primal. Do I really need to eat the carbs? I feel fine and have plenty of energy.

  99. I have a cabin weekend during the 21 day challenge. I know I can just bring separate food than everyone else, so I’m not eating hotdogs and chips all weekend, but it’s not that easy. Any suggestions on how to handle the situation or what to do so I am not completely separated from the group for meals?

  100. Any tips with dealing with a dessert/baked good temptation? My wife will go on a baking kick every now and then and a piece of dark chocolate or fruit doesn’t always do it for me. This has been my biggest obstacle to staying on track. Thanks.

  101. I’ve been trying to get my wife to go Paleo with me, but she says she can’t because she is allergic to nuts (all kinds). Due to that she won’t be able to enjoy many primal meals (eg baked goods) made with almond flour, etc. I haven’t found a good resource for nut free paleo to utilize to show her converting is easy. Any suggestions?

  102. One more question for me… I’m pretty good following Mark’s advice during the week. But the weekend rolls around, football is on and the one beer I have turns into enough to drive through Taco Bell at 2a. Rinse and repeat each weekend. Thoughts on how to break this cycle? Peer pressure is definitely an issue here.

    1. I’m dealing with a similar situation, as I am surrounded by enthusiastic drinkers on the weekends. I will readily admit that I don’t mind catching a buzz while I’m cheering on my team, and being the only person not drinking really isn’t fun for me.

      Alcohol falls into my 20% of the 80/20, so I personally don’t feel guilty about indulging once or twice a week. I like beer, wine, AND whiskey, but it’s definitely the beer that causes me to derail. My solution has been to switch from light beer to craft beer… I savor it longer (can’t pound a hoppy IPA), and the (generally) higher alcohol content makes it so I won’t be drinking a six pack before the game is over. I also stick to just one kind of alcohol…. either I’m sipping a bourbon or drinking a beer, never both, and never shots.

      If it happens that I, like you, want to make that Taco Bell run, sometimes I say Eff It and get the chalupa. I try not to beat myself up about it, especially if my diet has been on point up until then. If you want to avoid even going through the drive through, have a paleo meal ready to nuke in the microwave when the 2am craving hits.

  103. Two questions, one is very much related to where I live so I don’t really expect an answer…

    Where can you buy sliced meat without any sugars in the Netherlands? I’ve defaulted to choosing the best-out-of-not-so-great-options but that’s not a good thing.

    My other question (perhaps a tad sarcastic):
    When will people catch on that no, you really don’t eat bread? (Or the cake, or the sugar-laden-anything). 🙂

    1. Recently I discovered a chain of butchers that sell ontbijtspek (equivalent of bacon in the Netherlands) with only ingredients: pork and salt. Go to to see their stores.

      They have more sliced meat without added sugars, but some do contain starches.

      If anyone else has alternatives: please comment!

      1. Hi fellow dutchies 🙂
        When going primal I also found, to my surprise, that organic cold cuts generally contain some added suger. I deceided this was one of those things where I wouldn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. I hardly eat cold cuts and the organic ones are already at the upper limit of my budget. Finding good grass-feed meat for cooking took priority (for beef: and still looking for pork/chicken/other options).

        Took a peek at the cold cuts I happen to have at the moment, all from Hoogvliet (25% discount until today, tuesday)
        bio katenspek -1,9 gr carbs/100 gr
        bio runderrookvlees – 0,6
        bio cervelaat 0,0 grams! there is dextrose at the end of the ingredient list, but it is appearantly below detection limit. So there are definately some options to choose the lesser of your evils.

        I figure even the worst offender on this list has less carbs by weight than full yoghurt (4) full fat greek yoghurt (3,2) or my morning cup of coffee (1 teaspoon) and I consume a lot more of these on a regular basis than the occasional cold cuts, so I’m not going to worry.
        But I’ll comment again here if I find other sugarfree meat 🙂

  104. How do you cope with sudden stressors, whether large or small (i.e. death in the family, sprained ankle, etc.) that may pop up during your challenge? Or what advice would you give to someone in a position like this?

  105. Hello, I have two questions but if I win you can send me just one book:-)

    Is there a place in primal diet for carbonated water?

    Another question. We started the 21 day challenge 6 days ago. I am 100kg my partner 60kg, we eat similar portions and she excersises bit harder than me (just a bit). Where she is in heavy ketosis I am barely in any. How come? Although the ketosis is covered in Primal blueprint I would like to understand it better. The piece of information I am missing is this, by eating small amounts of carbs I can start produce ketons but what about the rest of nutritiones like protein and fat? Am I going to be in ketosis by eating 50g of carbs and half a ton of fat or protein? And how an excersise relates to ketosis? Does it enhance ketosis or no relation at all! Thank you and wish you all the best!

  106. What has surprised you most about your body adapting to a situation?

    I have just started as a Nurse and have worked thee long days in a row (13 hour busy shifts). I have had sustainable energy for each shift and now it is my day off and I do not feel run down or tried. I am taking it easy but I am not wiped out. My body has coped well. I have made sure to eat primal only during these times as it is the best fuel for my body. The reaction my body has had to this stress has been amazing. And I made sure I got great sleep!

  107. I am unable to eat paleo baked goods as they lead to non-paleo baked goods; i.e., gateway drug for me. I do like cocoa on bananas, so get my chocolate fix that way. Will there come a time where I feel comfortable eating paleo sweets?

  108. I’m transitioning to paleo from a vegetarian background, where my proteins have been fairly cheap (lots of beans/legumes, tempeh, and psuedo-grains)… I’ve seen suggested shopping lists on various paleo sites, and I have to admit that my boyfriend and I are disheartened at the amount of money we will now need to spend to get high-quality meats and seafood.

    We are planning to buy a share of a grass-fed, pasture-raised cow, but aside from that, how can we get the most bang for our buck to meet the standards of a paleo lifestyle? I’m not really looking for budgeting advice (e.g. remove “luxury items” from our lifestyle), but would like to know how people stretch their dollars and make this work.

  109. My question is about prioritizing food choices: I’m on a very tight budget for the time being (back in school full time for a semester so had to cut down on the work hours) and live in a small town where “organic” and “grass-fed” are EXTREMELY hard to find. How do I make the best food choices possible in the environment I’m currently in?

  110. I think I’m too late for the contest so my question will probably go overlooked, but, Mark, I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a while. I have been primal for a little less than a year. I am trying to get my boyfriend on board. Unfortunately, he has been less than compliant but will still eat my daily cooking. Lately, he has noticed that eating any type of coconut product has a laxative effect along with abdominal discomfort. He has a history of UC and subsequent total colectomy. I know that probably plays a huge role in his aversion to coconut anything. He now refuses to eat anything prepared in coconut oil, flour, etc. Do you know if there is anything to deter the negative laxative effect of coconut products? I would like to avoid giving it up completely at all costs.

  111. what suggestions do you, or anyone, have for treating surgery scars? I am waiting impatiently for my dura-bond to come off so I can start treating my incision wound on my neck. I have coconut oil, lavender oil and a cocoa-butter/lavender oil blend but is there anything else I should try? I have always had success with neosporin but would like to avoid it for a more natural remedy. Thanks!

  112. I think I am ready to jump on board. I have found in the past that I do well on a program for a couple of weeks and then boom I fall off the wagon. I live in an household where I cannot eliminate all the no no foods because my husband eats them and is not willing to give them up. I have changed what is available most of the time to eat and my family is eating better but just need some tips to get myself going. HELP.

  113. Any suggestions for helping my husband embrace the primal lifestyle? He LOVES his carbs (especially pizza)!

  114. Hi Mark, I have been following the Primal Blueprint lifestyle for 4 months now and seen amazing results. I have just recently qualified as a gym instructor and am about to qualify as an excercise to music instructor. I know how everyone feels about “Chronic Cardio” but I love doing classes. My hope in the future is to qualify as a personal trainer and be able to help more people convert to the Primal way of life. Since my current qualifications are only a level 2, I am not allowed to give any nutritional advice beyond the eating healthy guidelines. My question is this, with doing classes I find my energy levels are not high enough. I have experimented with eating some high (healthy) fat food an hour before or even some coffee with coconut oil. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the class. What would you recommend doing to make sure my energy will outlast that of my clients who are eating high carb food to get their energy levels up? Thanks and Grok on.

    1. Hey Paris,

      I’m at the 6 month mark, have also seen amazing (!!!) results. However, I really didn’t feel an increase in energy/endurance until the last couple of months. I first started noticing that I hopped out of bed raring to go and then I noticed a significant increase in endurance. So hang in there; maybe the same will happen for you.

      In the meantime…my work is outdoors and is physically demanding. On really hot days, eggs and bacon seemed heavy to me so my daughter and I started experimenting with smoothies, trying to come up with a “power smoothie” (there are many recipes on MDA). My latest has frozen mixed berries, a few pieces of frozen pineapple (for my tired, old joints), a banana, half an avocado, a few sliced beets (yeah, I said beets: my daughter read somewhere that they were good for energy so what the heck), vanilla protein powder, hemp protein powder and almond and/or coconut milk, whatever I happen to have. I don’t know exact measurements, sorry; I just throw stuff in. I add ice chips if it’s not “frozen enough”. Yes, it’s more carbs than “allowed” but I’m moving and active all day every day. It’s satisfying, filling, gives me energy and I usually don’t eat anything else/am not hungry for about 8 hours.

  115. I’m loving the Primal Blueprint thus far but I am having a problem with fatigue. I find myself “hitting the wall” about once a day, to the point where I am about to fall asleep. I’m eating most of my carbs in the morning, in the form of fruit (berries and the occasional banana) or sweet potatoes. I have some carbs at lunch – again, usually fruit (berries or apple) or sweet potato, and little to no carbs at dinner. The rest of my meals consist of pastured beef/pork/chicken, plenty of vegetables, and coconut oil, avocados, almond butter, etc. I will snack on nuts or occasionally jerky.

    Most of the time my fatigue comes in the early afternoon between lunch and dinner, or following dinner. I have a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and, often, another in the afternoon when I start to feel tired.

    Am I not getting enough carbs? Not eating enough overall? Something else?

  116. Just saw today that chicken seems to have more omega-6 than omega-3, should I be worried and limit chicken? (Trying to me more vigilant about the omega 3:6-ratio this time around doing the transformation.)

  117. I would like to know how to get Mainstream Medical at my Local VA to implement some Lalternative approaches instead of Drugs, Chemo, Radiation or surgery?
    Any Suggestions? I’ve tried to speak to the personnel at my Local VA to no Avail?