Dear Mark: D-Ribose, Bean Sprouts, Backyard Rabbits, and More

I haven’t gone to the rapid fire question-and-answer format in awhile, and you guys seem to dig it, so let’s do one today. We’ve got questions regarding a popular bodybuilding supplement, whether bean sprouts are Primal or not, the fatty acid composition of backyard rabbit meat, the old protein-leaches-calcium-from-bones myth, and my opinion on the new government food plate. As always, if you’ve got any questions about (almost) anything, send them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them. Not every topic deserves a full post – and, let’s face it, I don’t always have it in me to produce a full-length post. This way, we cover a lot of ground and I get to give myself a break. So, yeah: keep ’em coming.

And yes, I was also pleased with the opportunity to post a cute bunny photo.

Hey Mark,

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been training harder lately and have been experiencing some muscle fatigue. I heard about using D Ribose as a way to help accelerate the repair process. I was curious if you thought using this in the one hour window post workout might be a good idea or just another way to sell a supplement? Thanks!


The literature is quite conclusive regarding D-Ribose: it doesn’t work as advertised by bodybuilding supplement makers. While it has shown some efficacy in the treatment of chronic fatigue and in congestive heart disease patients, possibly by increasing ATP production, studies consistently demonstrate that D-Ribose does not improve workout recovery or performance in healthy trained athletes. From one, “Results indicate that oral ribose supplementation (10 g/d for 5 d) does not affect anaerobic exercise capacity or metabolic markers in trained subjects as evaluated in this study.” Another study found that ribose supplementation had no effect on cycle sprint performance in trained men. Still another showed that ribose taken before and during intense exercise, again, had no effect on metabolic markers or anaerobic capacity in cyclists. I would definitely save your money or spend it on something like creatine, which has undergone extensive testing, is inexpensive, and actually works.

Are bean sprouts not part of legume family? Are they approved for primal living?


Bean sprouts are fine. There’s nothing to them, really, for good or for bad. I’ll admit that they make a nice crispy addition to a salad or Thai-style stir fry. They’re like green beans to me – technically a legume, but a benign texture enhancing legume that thinks it’s turning into a plant. Most bean sprouts you’ll come across (in the US, at least) are mung bean sprouts. Low in nutrition (6 g carbs and 3 g protein in 100 grams of sprouts), high in water, highly unlikely to inflame passions. Since you’re asking, though, I bet you like them and I bet they help you eat other, better foods. If that’s the case, eat away! Just don’t think they’re adding many micronutrients directly to your diet. At least they aren’t subtracting any (phytic acid is extremely low in mung bean sprouts – PDF).

I searched the Internet and MDA first but couldn’t find anything, so thought I’d check with you. Maybe this would be useful for others as well.

We are considering raising rabbits for meat. They will get some pasture, veggies and supplemental feed. Before we did this, though, I wanted to find out how they compare to grass-fed beef and lamb, in terms of O6/O3 balance? Those are our two primary meats at this time.



According to the USDA database, a pound’s worth of rabbit meat from composite cuts has 25 grams of fat, with 7.5 g saturated, 6.8 g monounsaturated, and 4.9 g polyunsaturated. Of the polyunsaturates, there’s about a gram of omega-3s and 3.9 g omega-6, giving it an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of (roughly) 4:1. That’s not too shabby. The total omega-6 content is higher than something like lamb or beef, but it’s far lower than chicken, and the ratio destroys chicken’s (which is closer to 18:1, though a backyard pastured chicken should have an improved ratio).

You might find this paper (PDF) helpful. In it, the authors determined that increasing the omega-3 content of rabbit feed improved the omega-6:omega-3 ratio of the resultant meat. The lower the ratio of the feed, the more the ratio of the meat improved. While I suppose you could try to dose your rabbits with fish oil capsules (it may impart an odd flavor, but it’s safe and could even reduce atherosclerosis!), flax seed is a good rabbit-friendly, species-appropriate, omega-3-rich dietary addition. I bet, with some smart tinkering, you could improve the ratio beyond 4:1. Let us know how the project works out!

My question for you arises from a claim I’ve heard from vegetarian friends and seen elsewhere on vegetarian/”nutritarian” sites: specifically, that milk and animal protein causes osteoporosis by leaching calcium from the bones. As far as animal protein is concerned, the alleged culprits are cystine and methionine, which are “sulfur-containing”.

What’s your take on all this? Do milk products and animal proteins really “leach” calcium from our bones? Somehow it doesn’t seem to add up to me.

Grok on!

Joel M.

This one just won’t die, will it? The “animal protein leaching calcium from bone” is a canard that the anti-meat crowd latches onto for dear life, even as it sinks, pulling them beneath the waves. Well, here’s what the latest review of human dietary protein and skeletal health literature concluded: “Recent epidemiological, isotopic and meta-analysis studies suggest that dietary protein works synergistically with calcium to improve calcium retention and bone metabolism. The recommendation to intentionally restrict dietary protein to improve bone health is unwarranted, and potentially even dangerous to those individuals who consume inadequate protein.” Moreover, the idea that dietary animal protein acidifies the blood leading to calcium leaching is deemed “untenable.” What’s hilarious is that plant protein appears to have the opposite effect on bone mass in another study. Animal protein was slightly protective (but it wasn’t statistically significant), while plant protein intake predicted bone density loss. Ironic, eh?

Hi Mark,

I’m certain you’ve seen this but some friends and I would love to see your thoughts on our new, ‘official’ CW!

The news room/press release:

Take care!


The slick graphic belies the same old story: “enjoy your food, but eat less,” the inability to say “protein” without “lean” preceding it, the insistence of “low and non-fat dairy,” heaping compulsory piles of grains (what is with our dear leaders’ obsessive grain fetish?). Instead of observing the growing number of obese men, women, kids, tots, and infants (!) and reevaluating the meat of their recommendations, the authorities just repackaged it. I wish I had more to say, but nothing’s really changed.

I eagerly await the collective melt-off of the nation’s pounds and the diffusion of its calories into the atmosphere as folks “eat less, move more” in response to this groundbreaking new information.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to send me your questions!

TAGS:  dear mark, DIY

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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78 thoughts on “Dear Mark: D-Ribose, Bean Sprouts, Backyard Rabbits, and More”

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  1. I love rabbit. I’m part of a meat CSA here in VT through a farm named Tangletown that produces amazing rabbits, along with ducks, guinea hens, chickens (all three varieties of eggs), pork, beef and lamb. But, my two favorite products of theirs are rabbit and their amazing bacon.

    1. I haven’t, but my neighbor on the other side of the hill traps and butcher’s the local rabbits. It wasn’t his kale that drove him to it, but his hops!

    2. Yes it’s safe to eat wild rabbit, however you must make sure you check the meat for parasites. The majority of wild rabbits carry carry a parasite in their liver which can spread to their muscle tissue and other organs during the summer. The old hunters adage is never eat rabbit in a month without an R.

      1. What kind of parasite?
        I just found a rabbit farmer and I had 2 rabbits last month. Now I’m kind of paranoid because I ate the livers, too.

        Does freezing the meat and/or cooking it kill the parasite? Do you know the name of the parasite so I can look it up and see how disastrous it is to humans? pretty please.

        1. A rabbit farmer likely has domesticated rabbits. Anhurset said that the parasite may be found in wild rabbits.

        2. Cooking will kill parasites. The most serious one you’ll come across in North America is tularemia, a bacterial disease that can be transmitted to people. This can often be fatal, but is very rare.

        3. As Tim stated tularemia is the most common bacterial infection. However wild rabbits, at least here in the south, carry the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica. The worms themselves are killed by cooking, but the eggs have the ability to develop a cystic coating that protects them from heat, they then hatch in your stomach passing on to you a lovely case of the worms. Will it kill you? No. Can it make your life uncomfortable? Yes.
          Domestic rabbits should be safe as long as they weren’t raised at ground level or fed anything that would allow then to come into regular contact with snails or slugs. The easiest way to tell if the rabbit is infected is to simply cut the liver in half, if you see worms don’t eat the liver and check the meat for infestation.

    3. I’ve heard jackrabbits are terrible to eat, but the cottontails are pretty good in a stew!

    4. Oh no! Really?! We just purchased a kale plant about 1-2 weeks ago. It will probably start producing leaves any day now. We have tons of rabbits in are yard. This has caused us to catch them in a trap. I may start to kill and eat the damn things. Then I won’t mind it eating some of my kale 🙂

      1. Traps are the best. I am dealing with woodchucks eating my lettuce etc. So far my count stands at two woodchucks, two squirrels, two cats, and a skunk. I put the traps away for a bit after the skunk…. I would eat the woodchucks but my husband it a big softie.

        1. Squirrel is delicious, if you trap one try it. We used to have fried squirrel all the time as a kid when we lived in VA. 🙂

    5. My mom has always had success with red pepper flakes sprinkled in the garden. Doesn’t harm any plants and seems to keep the rabbits away just fine. Give it a try and see how it works!

      1. I’ll take note of that. I will sprinkle red pepper flakes on the kale plant right now in fact!

        We have 4 plants all in there own pot. Should I just sprinkle it on the soil?

        1. We never actually put it on the plant, just on the soil around the plant like you said. Did some quick searching and I guess rabbits have sensitive noses and they don’t like the strong/spicy smell of pepper, looks like garlic should work the same way but all the garlic in my house goes in my stomach!

      2. The red pepper flakes seem to work to keep squirrels off our garden. Can’t see why it wouldn’t work on rabbits too, especially since they’re weak climbers compared to squirrels.

  2. We love sprouts — but we’re growing broccoli sprouts, not bean sprouts. They’re green and I’d wager they’re more nutritious than bean sprouts as a result. Plus it’s so handy to have our own crop of greens growing right on our kitchen counter in a stack of “sproutmaster” trays!

    1. broccoli sprouts are said to have concentrated goitrogens (found in cruciferous vegetables). if you have any thyroid issues, you should probably avoid them.

      1. Beansprouts are great, but the e.coli outbreak in Germany has put me off them somewhat… 😀

      2. Wow, interesting! I had no idea. My thyroid seems to be behaving, thankfully.

        I just checked and it’s actually a seed mix of broccoli, alfalfa, clover, and radishes.

    1. I have a lionhead, the same breed as what Mark posted in his photo above. I can’t imagine eating my pet, but then again, she’s a dwarf who weighs 4 pounds so I doubt there is much meat on her. I grew up in a family that eats deer, squirrel, snapping turtle, elk, bluegill, etc. that we caught ourselves, including the occassional bunny that was trapped in our garden, so I’m not opposed to eating wild rabbits. But one that I raised myself I don’t think I could handle.

      1. My two older sons did a Survivor Man weekend with their Boy Scout Troop and the prize after a hard day of hiking and locating the “caches” was a “wild” rabbit (4-H, meat raised rabbit). 3 groups each got 1 rabbit to kill, cook and eat. Two of the groups were able to cook them since it was raining and the 3rd group couldn’t get a fire going. One son was in the 3rd group and got to bring the rabbit home. I made a stew with it and it was really good. We were really surprised that it did “taste like chicken”. The best part, and I hope I don’t gross too many of you out, is the eyes contain electrolytes. So, my oldest got his dose of “Nature’s Gatorade” by sucking out the eyeball.

    2. Another softie here – we currently have a pet Polish Dwarf bunny (a rescue bunny) that weighs in at 2#. That would hardly count as an appetizer! He’s almost 5 years old – There’s no way in hell I would even consider eating the little guy.

      Even tho I consider myself a Primal Blueprint candidate, today I still have trouble eating rabbit even tho I remember it as being quite tasty. As my Dad would say: You’re just not hungry enough.

      Seriously – I was raised on rabbit. We had it at least 3-4 times a week when I was a kid (back in the Dark Ages!) Mom had a gazzilion ways to fix it – some Primal and some not-so-primal – but all totally delicious. It was very, very cheap as rabbits are extremely prolific and don’t make their existence all that necessary since they don’t lay eggs, etc. Dad/Mom used to raise them – almost like free food in a way. (We also had chickens but they had better luck since we kept them for the eggs.)

      Dad also hunted wild rabbits and I can remember going out with him on a shoot as far back as when I was 5 years old (1949?). Mom got the privilege of cleaning the animal, and I can also remember her cutting them open and finding loads of wiggly worm-type critters inside them. Yew—-

      Well I’m still here so what ever those wiggly things were I guess couldn’t have been all that bad. Like dad used to say: We’re just not hungry enough.

      That said – I still haven’t eaten rabbit in a very, very long time. But then I guess I haven’t been hungry enough —

    1. You can plant kale in large pots if you have a small deck. I live in Chicago and have a deck that I planted kale, swiss chard, celery, parsley, stevia, mint, dill, tomatoes. So far the kale is coming in great!

    2. Bok Choy does well in large pots also. Our local natural grocer sells baby bok choy for $2.99/lb (on sale yet).

      You can try companion gardening where you plant different veggies in the same pot if you’re really limited on deck space or number of pots. If you’re deck configuration doesn’t accomodate large pots, try elongated boxes.

      Various types of sprouts are really easy to grow indoors – we used to use a large jar with a cloth held over the opening with a rubber band – doesn’t get much cheaper than that. You can google for all types of info on growing sprouts.

  3. (Side note to your post today) Great to see you in Seattle this past weekend =)

  4. The new FDA “MyPlate” nonsense is of little use nutritionally, but very useful as a snapshot of the comparative influence of the big agriculture lobbies. Grain and dairy producers are still in control, but produce manufacturers are apparently making inroads.

    Extra good news for corn producers: corn is considered a “vegetable” as well as a grain, so go ahead and fill half of your plate with it, and round out your meal with some pasteurized orange juice and some GMO soy for protein.

    Fats other than linoleic acid are still demonized unless it’s linoleic acid. In fact, they actually call saturated fat a source of “empty calories”, just like refined sugar. Take that, Gary Taubes and Weston A. Price.

    There is one bit of good advice: drink water instead of sugar. I’m sure the beverage manufacturers are thrilled about that one.

    There is much more unintentional hilarity on “” and I encourage you to go there for a good laugh (or a good cry).

  5. I took a look at the myPlate thing on my blog, and will be looking at it further in the near future. see “”

  6. Has anyone actually claimed that choosemyplate had anything to do with better science? All the propaganda I have heard was that it was a way to make it easier. Basically the government saying their recommendations aren’t wrong, the growing obesity rates are because Americans are too stupid to understand the pyramid concept.

    1. Rumour has it that the population’s body shapes took on the pyramid shape from head to hips, and that the plate is the next evolution in body shape.

    2. It actually is more of a simplification than a redesign. Grains continue to dominate the recommendations, especially considering corn, alone among grains, also counts as a vegetable — and popcorn counts as a “whole grain”.

      The only thing the old food pyramid had that the new plate doesn’t is a category for “fats, oils, and sweets”, which included such things as butter, coconut oil and animal fat, and which are now called “empty calories”.

      Since government food recommendations are taken as gospel by many large institutions such as schools, prisons, and hospitals, ease of understanding is essential to make sure people continue to buy the agricultural lobby’s most profitable products in huge quantities.

      Following this diet will only worsen the obesity epidemic, but it will guarantee plenty of demand for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, and health care industries.

  7. Glad to see the bunny coverage. This year my local farmers’ market has a rabbit meat vendor for the first time, and I’ve been thinking about diving in.

    My question, though, is how to cook it? That’s a different internet/MDA search, I believe!

    1. Anne,

      I have been experimenting with rabbit and found out that you need to add a good bit of extra fat (I use organic butter) to get a nice texture. The meat by itself is not very flavorful and too lean.
      Try this:
      Marinate rabbit in a mix of ginger/garlic/salt/pepper/ground cumin/a bit of Greek yogurt. Heat a pan to medium high and melt a good bit of butter and try stir frying. It cooks fast as well.

  8. Rabbit is very good… as long as you cook it sorta rare, like lamb and duck. Overcooked, rabbit turns into a rubbery mess.

    I raise 5-6 meat rabbit weanlings every summer in the backyard hutch, and feed them comfrey, grass and weeds pulled fresh for each feeding. They like dandelions leaves and flowers (especially the fluff, oddly enough), dock and plantain…. whatever’s in the yard, since I use no poisons.

    I don’t give them any commercial rabbit feed at all, and they grow just as big and are even tastier.

    Hmmm, all this talk about rabbit makes me want to pull one out of the freezer for tomorrow! lol

    1. For all you primal folks looking to buy rabbit meat and ‘giblets’ here is a good, very clean source from Idaho.

      I’m originally from Europe and in the old days we ate a lot of rabbit.
      I came to America and had the hardest time finding rabbit and finally gave up.
      Americas small animal farmers seem to be hooked on chicken for whatever reason.
      I’d also like to see more ducks and geese being raised…still hunting down local duck eggs, no luck so far.

  9. “what is it with our dear leaders’ obsessive grain fetish?”

    Look no further than the lobbyists for the grain industry. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

  10. I have found d-ribose to give me a bit of an energy lift during the day. I put half a teaspoon in my protein shake.

  11. While I am in agreement with everyone on the new government website, I think realistically for most people fats are “empty calories.” There’s a difference between getting your fat from pastured cows in one form or another vs. a tub of Crisco, which is what the average American does. While the thing as a whole is way off, maybe it will at least help in that respect.

  12. You always have great advice and I love this aspect of the blog. However, there is no way I’d be able to raise bunnies and then eat them … I know I’d end up naming them and cuddling them … and it … it would just not work out …

  13. Haha I should go and chase some rabbits, a ton of them outside where I live. Never thought about eating them though.

    Would probably be a good workout too, they can be pretty quick

  14. There was an interesting discussion on QI (a general knowledge quiz – I’m not sure if you get it outside of the UK) which mentioned that if you eat nothing but rabbit, you would die of malnutrition, because rabbit meat contains very little oil and therefore by eating only rabbit, your body would run out of other nutrients.

    Not much danger of us primal folk not getting enough oil though! 🙂

  15. Oh….I’m heaving. I’m sorry, I love this site, but some of us just are never going to be carnivores. I’m serious Mark, you need a whole section on “veggie primal” I’m not a vegetarian for health reasons, I’m a vegetarian because I find meat and fish disgusting at every level…I can’t possible be alone 🙂
    Also, despite the limitations of the MyPlate, no Americans are fat from eating quinoa, kale, and peppers, so if people filled up their plates with protein, veggies, and whole grains…and got rid of the doritos, bread,sports drinks, candy, and mac-n-cheese… they’d be considerably trimmer and healthier, whether they were consuming full fat dairy or not.

    1. “if people filled up their plates with protein, veggies, and whole grains”
      So you actually think the average person loses weight with whole grains?

      The history of well-meaning former dieters on the forums might hint otherwise…

    2. No carnavores over here………………

      ……………….only us omivores! 😉

  16. Re: beansprouts; please be careful if you live abroad, especially in Europe. The recent e coli outbreaks in Germany were traced to bean sprouts. Check your sources carefully 🙂 (but I’m really glad to know they’re primal-OK, thanks Mark!)

  17. This post came at just the right time for me as I’ve purchased an air rifle and plan on baggin’ me some bunnies.

    Good to know that they’re a good choice as regards to the omega ratio.


  18. Oh and about the rabbit parasite thing. I’ve heard diatomaceous earth clears the body of parasites. I’ve been taking it for a couple months just incase. The sharp edges of DE supposedly help to scrub down the walls of the intestines and allow better absorbtion of foods.

    Mark, if you’re reading this could you possibly do a post on food grade diatomaceous earth? It looks quite promising from the bits I’ve read about it. I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.


    1. Joe,

      You’re eating diatomateous earth! Based on what advice? “I’ve heard…” and “…the bits I’ve read about” seem like slim reasons to be ingesting something that “scrubs down the walls of your intestines…”. I hope you reconsider until you get some expert advice beyond the equivalent of a blog entry.


      1. Yes, eating that stuff is a terrible idea. Crystalline silica is a probably human carcinogen.

        There is also no point whatsoever in avoiding grains because they might irritate the gut lining and chelate nutrients, while also eating clay with the idea that it will do exactly the same thing.

      2. For example see this paper, which saw pro-cancerous activity from diatomaceous earth (diatomite earth) in cultured cells.

        “Cytotoxic and transforming effects of silica particles with different surface properties in Syrian hamster embryo (SHE) cells.” Toxicol In Vitro. 2000 Oct;14(5):409-22.

        This stuff is also well-known to cause lung cancer when inhaled.

      3. Thanks for the replies Don and Tim. I heard about food grade DE (that’s important – to use food grade) in this video when looking for smoothie recipes:

        Check it out and let me know what you think. I did some more research on it – only on other videos and several websites, but every one of them backed up what was said in this video, and many people have claimed it’s improved their health.

        1. Joe,

          I tried to watch the youtube video, but could only get half way through it because of all the BS he was throwing around. Negatively charged DE attracting positively charged toxins! Scraping of the intestinal mucosa is a good thing! I don’t know who that guy is but a video or two on youtube doesn’t count as credentials to give dietary advice in my book. I still say, food-grade or not, I wouldn’t put DE into my belly and I’d suggest you don’t either.


        2. Yes, this is a very bad idea indeed. It won’t help you in any way and may give you cancer. Seriously, don’t do it.

  19. “what is with our dear leaders’ obsessive grain fetish?”

    It’s the fact that so much of our farmland is given to growing wheat, corn, soy and rice (just spend 2 hours last weekend driving past rice fields in CA). It’s important to remember that the USDA is also in charge of supporting (promoting) US agricultural products. Conflict of interest, much? I don’t look to the Cotton Candy Manufacturer’s Assoc for my dietary guidelines on sugar, do I?

  20. As far a the food plate goes, I can say it is a vast improvement, moderated by all lobbies and fat Nazis the same. The emphasis on grains have been far reduced. And there aren’t any photos of bagels and pasta and bread and rice. When I was a kid, looking at that awful pyramid, I thought to myself, “I really need to try to eat more grains”.

    If you were to just look at the plate, and not the recommendations, they make no mention of fat outright, and it is isn’t placed in a “sparing” box.

    The plate is a much more benign and, albeit, fairly useless chart, but i must say, I’m sure it was radical for the USDA. So, it it takes them one step at a time, I feel this was a good one.

  21. Hello all:

    I’m a longtime lurker but am hoping you can help out today:

    There is a Boston Globe column on so-called “healthy snacking” that is in essence an upchuck of ADA advice. I’m getting hammered in the comments when I wrote about not snacking and IF. If you’d like to add your own comments, click on the link at my name.


  22. I think the “obsession” with grains comes from not only lobbyists but from finding cheap food sources that can be farmed in mass to feed millions of people quickly. The cheapest thing keeps their bottom line up and their bank accounts fatter, while keeping our insulin up and our waistlines fatter.

  23. NOOOO!!! I could NEVER eat a rabbit. Ever. To me, that’s like eating a cat or dog. We’ve had them as pets for years. (I can’t even shoot the virtual ones in “Oregon Trail.”) My boyfriend made fun of me for bursting out into tears when they cooked rabbit on “Iron Chef.” I love Primal stuff, but I’d NEVER do such a thing.

    1. I agree with you! It is totally sick and cruel! I own a bunny. Bunnies are pets like dogs and cats, but even sick people eat dogs an cats… 🙁

  24. omg this is f#@%in sick. Eating rabbit meat? Goddamn. Might as well eat a horse! (they are in the same family)
    I own a bunny.

  25. Maddy, how old are you? 16? Humans have been raising rabbits for meat long before you were ever born.and apparently you have no idea about the paleo lifestyle. how did you even end up here in the comments?