For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, does the renewed vigor assailing the keto diet have me worried about my business? Should I start going vegan to cover all my bases? Second, did the “ketones for overtraining” study from last week control for calories? And third, how can a person eat enough fat if they’re avoiding lactose?
Interested to see if Mark’s focus on keto will continue now that the trend factor is wearing off. That VICE piece, flawed though it may be, is part of a much larger media pushback against keto. What are the business implications of aligning yourself with a so-called “fad diet”?
I’ve built a pretty good business by aligning myself and my writing and my products with “fad diets.”
I generally use several factors to determine where to align myself and target my work:
Personal experimentation. What am I trying? What kind of diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications am I experimenting with? The quality of my work suffers if I’m not fully engaged on a personal level. I’m not a technical writer. I need to live my subject matter for it to come alive on the page.
Personal needs. What works for me? What gets me going? What am I interested in, drawn toward on an intuitive level? What am I missing? Even my best products were designed with my own selfish desires in mind. I made Adaptogenic Calm because I needed a way to recover from excessive endurance training, and it turned out that tons of other athletes needed it, too. I made Primal Mayo because I was sick of whipping up a batch of homemade mayo every time I wanted tuna salad without all the soybean oil. I went keto because the research fascinated me. It turns out that the things I vibe with tend to resonate with others, too. Humans are often quite similar to each other. Not all of them, but there are enough that are.
Your needs. What does my audience want? What do they need? What kinds of questions are they asking me? What feedback am I getting from them? How are they responding to what I’m putting out?
New information. I’m always ready to pivot when new information is made available or when new research arises. Sometimes a reader will point something out and it will change the trajectory of my thinking and writing. I try not to wed myself to my ideas, to the things I want to be true, even though that’s a human foible that’s unavoidable. I always try to approach a subject in as intellectually honest a manner as I can. To me, new developments, even if they appear to contradict a stance I hold, breathe new life into my work. For example, I’m definitely biased toward lower-carb approaches for most people. They just clearly work better for the bulk of the people who encounter my work and who struggle with their health and weight in modern industrialized countries. Most people don’t perform enough physical activity to warrant perpetual “high-carb” diets, and most people find weight loss is easier and hunger lower on lower-carb, higher protein/fat diets. But at the same time, there’s room for higher-carb intakes, or even moderate-carb intakes. And can people eat high-carb and be healthy? Have populations lived well on high-carb diets? Absolutely.
Keto still satisfies these factors. Now, I’m always looking toward the horizon; I think my ancestors were probably explorers of some sort. It’s in my blood. So I probably will write about something else—next week, next month, and years from now. But my overall “thrust” will still be low-carb/Primal/keto because, well, the stuff just works.
What I wonder after reading this is: Would there have been a significant inter-group difference had calories been controlled for? Ketone esters obviously have some caloric value that the control group did not receive. How much of the benefit is merely having a better caloric intake to support this intense training protocol?
Good question—this is in regards to the study discussed last week. They actually did control for calories. The experimental group got the ketone ester drink. The control group got an isocaloric medium-chain triglyceride-based drink. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories.
Having tracked through to Michael Eades’ blog on cholesterol—how do you increase fat when you are lactose intolerant? A problem for myself and my adult children. I hadn’t realized that high fat was the actual content rather than the percentage!
Oh, man, there are so many ways to increase fat while lactose intolerant.
My favorite way is to focus on whole food sources of fat, rather than isolated fat sources:
Fatty animal foods: a ribeye, a beef shank, some ground beef. A lamb shank, some lamb chops. Bacon, eggs, sausage.
Fatty plants: olives, coconut, nuts (favoring higher MUFA nuts like macadamias), dark chocolate. Salads, which aren’t “fatty” without the dressing and meat but I’m counting as “whole foods” because that’s the effect of eating them.
Whole avocados: great source of potassium, fiber (if you want that), and polyphenols.
Foods like my Primal Mayo or avocado oil dressings, while technically “isolated” or “refined,” allow and promote the consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods like tuna (tuna salad), eggs (deviled eggs, egg salad), cruciferous veggies (slaws), and steaks (try searing a steak covered in mayo). And even our mayo isn’t nutritionally bereft—it contains choline, folate, and all the other good stuff found in eggs. And our dressings are full of spices and herbs that confer health effects through their phytonutrients.
Also, don’t think you have to focus on “increasing fat.” That’s the mindset that leads to things like chugging olive oil and eating a bowlful of sour cream. High level athletes who need calories at any cost can get away with and even benefit from that, but for most people it makes more sense to focus on reducing excess carbohydrates and eating whole-food sources of fat as they appear naturally.
Also, the lactose intolerant can still have dairy. Try hard cheeses, Greek yogurt, and yogurt and kefir that’s clearly marked “low” or “no lactose.” Butter is fine in all but the most severe cases, and cream is not far off from butter. Ghee is another good cooking fat that should be near zero in lactose.
Anyone else have good “lactose-free” fat sources? Anyone else worried about “keto as a fad”?
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.