We all know vegetarians and vegans. And while we have our differences, they are our friends, our family, our partners, our spouses, even our children. We all have people in our lives who avoid meat and/or animal products in general for multiple reasons—health, ethics, the environment, squeamishness, animal welfare—but we care about them. We also subscribe, with varying degrees of rigidity, to an eating philosophy based on the nutritional importance of animal foods. How do we reconcile these competing loyalties? Should we give up on them? Are they a lost cause? Should we simply wait for them to come limping toward us with sallow skin and low muscle tone? I kid, of course. We should absolutely help where and when we can.
Yet telling them to “just eat meat” doesn’t work. If anything, it’s counterproductive. Instead, we can offer productive, legitimately helpful advice from a Primal perspective. Like:
For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. First, how often can a person sprint safely and effectively? There are many factors to consider when determining the amount of sprinting a person can handle each week, like stress levels, sleep, and other training, so it’s tough to give a specific number. Next, what are new parents supposed to do for physical play and exercise? Aren’t babies fragile, helpless things? No. As you’ll see, it’s possible and even desirable to expose your young children to intense (but fun) play and exercise and introduce elements of cautious risk-taking into your time with them. Finally, what’s the best nighttime snack alternative to nuts and dried fruit?
For one of the 21-Day Challenge contests last week, you guys asked dozens of questions. Today, I’m answering a bunch of them in rapid fire style including how to get kids to eat more meat and veggies, how to get adults to eat greens, whether keto can coexist with high-carb, if it’s better to eat seasonally and many, many more. Don’t expect long, drawn-out answers. I’m answering quickly and succinctly. If you have any further questions after hearing the answers, toss ’em in the comment section. There will always be more Dear Marks down the line.
Let’s get to it:
Go back 160,000 years and we all share a common ancestor: The emergence of the first Homo sapiens in East Africa. Since then, humans have spread across every environment imaginable and adapted to those environments. Much remains the same. We all breathe oxygen, require protein, produce insulin, oxidize fatty acids. But extended stays in unique environments have created genetic proclivities in different populations. For example, descendants of people who settled in high-altitude areas like the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Ethiopian highlands tend to show greater resistance to low-oxygen environments, while the Greenland Inuit show unique adaptations to cold environments, including increased activity of heat-stimulating brown fat. And among the island-dwellers of Sardinia, where the landscape constrained the amount of available food, there’s considerable evidence of positive selection for short stature.
What other differences exist, and how can we explore them to inform and improve our own diet and lifestyle choices?
The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this:
Reducing your carbohydrate intake lowers your insulin levels. Since insulin keeps fat locked into adipose tissue, lowering insulin can increase the amount of fat released to be burned for energy.
For the portion of the overweight/obese population with insulin resistance and chronically-elevated insulin levels, this is a fairly accurate description of why low-carb diets work so well. When you’re an insulin-resistant hyper responder in whom even a baked potato can cause elevated, protracted spikes in insulin that hamper fat-burning for long periods of time, or a person living under the backdrop of perpetually-elevated insulin, dropping the most insulinogenic foods can be your way out of obesity.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three reader questions. The first comes from Chris, who’s a little worried his one-year-old isn’t eating a wide enough variety of foods. As it turns out, he doesn’t need to worry, though I do offer a few suggestions for foods to include or offer. Next, how should Verria, a long-time vegan, transition to Primal? Is there anything to watch out for? What physiological and psychological issues will Anita have to face and overcome? And finally, what tips do I have for a fibromyalgia patient whose condition hasn’t improved on a strict very low-carb, high-fat diet?