For the most part, your diet seems pretty solid. You’re eating eggs on a regular basis. You’ve got, like, six ways to make really good cauliflower. That subtle humming reverberating through the house is just your chest freezer full of half a grass-fed cow. Leafy green vegetables are staples, sweet potatoes appear post-workout, and you’re first in line to buy fresh wild salmon when in season (plus extra for the chest freezer). All your bases are covered, right? Maybe not. From all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve spotted a few consistent blind spots in the diets of the Primal community. In today’s article, I will reveal the 10 Primal foods you probably need to eat more often. After each entry, I’ll tell you the easiest (and tastiest) way I’ve found to integrate said food into your diet; no excuses.
Let’s get to it:
People constantly demand proof for the efficacy of the Primal eating plan. And I’m glad they do. The Primal Blueprint makes sense on an intuitive level, and those success stories we see every Friday sure are persuasive, but it’s also important to see broader support in the scientific literature. Many times, people demand proof without really wanting any; they assume it’s all imaginary just-so stories. “Where are the studies?” has become a retort rather than a legitimate query.
Well, it’s time to retire it. With 22 paleo diet papers and counting, the scientific research is quickly accumulating — and it’s quite positive. In last Sunday’s Weekend Link Love, I shared a list of (most of) the available paleo diet studies. Today, I thought I’d summarize some of these studies for you. Not everyone can be expected to have access to, read, and be able to interpret all of the research that is published. But there’s some really interesting stuff in there that I think you might benefit from knowing (and passing along to interested parties who ask). But be sure to have a look for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. First, a new study out is one of the first (and maybe only) to show that acute sugar consumption can reduce the normal cortisol increase we experience in times of stress. Interesting stuff, eh? Find out whether I think this is a good thing, a potentially useful “hack”, or, given our collective tendency to overthink things and embroil ourselves in stress stews, a recipe for disaster. Next, we’ve all heard that weight loss releases stored toxins and environmental pollutants into our bodies, but is there any science that actually shows this is happening in people losing weight? And if we are releasing toxins by losing body fat, does that mean keeping the weight on is actually healthier? Find out down below.
A few weeks back in the “How to Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity” post, I apparently dropped a bit of a bombshell: that very low carb diets can induce insulin resistance. Many of you wrote to me asking about the effects of low-carb dieting on insulin sensitivity and wondering whether you should begin eating more carbohydrates to counter it. Well, maybe, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat carbs if you’re low carb. The wrong way is to just add a ton of carbohydrates on top of your low-carb Primal eating plan without changing anything else. Doing that, especially in perpetuity, will likely lead to weight gain, hyperinsulinemia, and even more insulin resistance. Bad all around.
Now, many people are perfectly happy on a perpetually low-carb diet. I function quite well on a low (but not very low) glucose diet, hovering around 100-150 grams a day and often dipping below that. I might go even lower if I didn’t love vegetables and berries so much. But, assuming you are experiencing physiological insulin resistance caused by a very low carb or ketogenic diet, what happens when you do want to incorporate carbohydrates in your diet?
By now, American exceptionalism is a universally-accepted truism. Like dogs over cats and Star Wars over Star Trek, it’s simple fact that America is qualitatively different than other nations. Some would say “superior,” but I think modesty is more becoming of a nation of our stature, providence, and history. Why else would extraterrestrials decide to land on the White House lawn, as they do in every culturally relevant piece of sci-fi, if we weren’t exceptional? Would American parents everywhere claim their kids were special if they actually were not?
But perhaps the most conclusive evidence of our exceptionalism lies in how our nutritional labels relay information about sugar. If you go to a place like Germany or the UK and flip over a package of Haribo Goldbären (gummy bears), it’ll tell you how many percentage points the sugar in the candy counts toward your daily limit. Point being: everyone else has an upper limit for sugar consumption.
But the US? We have no upper limit on sugar. And when it comes to added sugar, it’s a total free for all. It’s not even listed.
Insulin does a lot of important things for us. It pulls glucose from the blood and fritters it away into our cells to be burned for energy or stored as glycogen. It prevents hyperglycemic toxicity to neurons, pancreatic cells, the arterial walls and the generation of excessive levels of reactive oxygen species. It even promotes muscle protein synthesis and helps augment muscular hypertrophy, especially following resistance training. Clearly, we need insulin. Without it, we’d die, as type 1 diabetics readily do without an exogenous source.