Hello, everyone! I thought I’d give this “Dear Mark” format a try again. I literally get dozens of emails every day from readers. I try to respond to every last one of them, and the best questions (or at least those I want to rant in response to) get reserved for Monday’s “Dear Mark” posts in which I usually go into a good deal of detail. But sometimes it’s fun to just publish half a dozen short Q&A’s at once. Hit me up with you questions and comments in the comment board. Enjoy!
As one of those people in the category of “endurance athletes who also want to go as primal as possible”, I’ve read with great interest all your blogs that address this conundrum. I understand the reasons for going primal, but I also get so much out of training for triathlons and the like. I don’t want to give either up. I’ve read several times now your advice to this group to calculate as precisely as possible the number of carbs that one needs, on a daily basis, for replenishment from training loads. I’ve been asking myself lately how exactly would I go about calculating this number….do you have any advice on this? I understand that I could go and have a metabolic test done where they figure out the percentages of cho and fat burned at various intensities while biking/running, but the budget just doesnt allow for that right now. Would there be a simpler, albeit less precise method? Thanks for your help. Also, I was thinking it would be really helpful if there was sort of a compendium or category for all your posts that have been addressed, more or less at the category of the “primal endurance” athlete. Thanks again.
The only way to figure your needs is to start with 100 grams carbs a day as a baseline and then add more into the mix from there…but that depends on how hard you train. If you trained at <70% all the time, I might say you never needed to go above 150 grams a day. If you train at 80% for two hours a day, I’d say you need an extra 200-300 grams a day. It all boils down to how good you are at fat burning and how much high intensity stuff you plan to do. There’s no test for it. You need to experiment, trial and error.
I might do a separate program for you crazy endurance guys after the book comes out.
________________________________________________________________ Hey Mark,
I’ve reread your piece on the effects of a carb-binge multiple times, but I guess there’s still something that I’m not quite “getting” about the whole insulin response process. Just why is it that the more insulin-resistant folks who regularly eat hundreds of carbs every day don’t seem to be as acutely & negatively affected by their daily/hourly infusions of cereal, crackers and cookies, compared to my primal self on an increasingly-occasional off-plan over-‘indulgence’, which makes me feel like I’ve been sideswiped by a truck? What’s happening (or not) in their systems compared to the way my body reacts to a sudden sugar/grain attack?
As always, thanks for your thoughts and time!
When you are insulin resistant, you generally have a lot of sugar in your bloodstream all the time. Even as sugar gets stored as fat, it takes longer to get rid of it all. So your body is used to having all this sugar and it almost never drops below a certain level. Since the brain runs on sugar, it has adequate fuel. Meanwhile the rest of your body has grown accustomed to the presence of sugar (not that it’s good – just that you’re used to it and it has no effect that you can feel).
Conversely, when you are insulin sensitive (healthy) and you eat a ton of carbs, your pancreas shoots out a ton of insulin and it very effectively and quickly removes all that sugar from your bloodstream (because it can so nicely store it inside muscle and liver cells…and fat cells). The result is that now there’s very little sugar in the bloodstream to fuel the brain. Your brain goes “Holy crap, I have no more fuel…I’m stressed…I gotta eat” and the roller coaster continues.
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.