Category: Fats

Dear Mark: Potato Diet, Lean Gains, EVOO/Butter/Ghee, Exogenous Ketones, and Early IFing

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering several questions drawn from the comment board of last week’s post on fasting vs carb restriction. First, how do I square my recommendations with the successful reports of potato dieters losing weight on a high-carb tuber diet? Second, is Leangains optimal for mass gain? Third, how do I use extra virgin olive oil, butter, and ghee? Fourth, could exogenous ketones help a man with dementia, MS, and seizures? Fifth, how should a woman with stalled weight loss integrate fasting?

Let’s go:

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Supplements For Brain Health: What Nutrients and Supplemental Foods Make the Most Difference

As humans, our most important bodily endowment isn’t our claws, sharp teeth, powerful haunches, iron grips, prehensile tails, venomous secretions, or aerosolized musk. It’s the brain. We use it to shape the world around us, to bend physical reality to our will, to manipulate matter and create powerful technological terrors. These days, the human brain is more important than ever. If you want to enjoy life, pursue and succeed at your passions, to conquer your little corner of reality—you need a healthy brain. Brain health is key to total health—and quality of life.

By some analysis at least, however, neurogenerative diseases remain on the rise and take an ever more extreme emotional and economic toll. So, how do we keep our brain health intact? While much of it comes down to doing the things that keep your brain healthy and avoiding the things that harm it—exercising instead of sitting on the couch, breathing exclusively fresh air instead of tobacco smoke, sleeping instead of staying up—another big variable is the food we eat.

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Dear Mark: Saturated Fat More Harmful to Liver Than Sugar?

For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering just one question from a reader. What are we to make of the new study purporting to show that saturated fat is the most harmful substance a liver can encounter? Should we remove all traces of it from our diets? Should we eat pure sugar? Quaff soybean oil? How relevant is an overfeeding study to a community of people dedicated to eating a sustainable, weight-reducing or -maintaining diet that includes saturated fat?

Let’s find out:

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Coconut Flour: Benefits and Uses

While I’d give most pre-packaged gluten-free flour mixes a firm shake of the head for their empty carb content and (at times) filler ingredients, there’s one I’d recommend as a paleo/Primal and low-carb staple: coconut flour. The obvious benefit is that it’s gluten-free, but it also has a respectable dose of fat, protein and fiber as well as a pleasantly sweet taste. In this post, I’ll explore some of the nutritional benefits of coconut flour along with the many ways in which it can be used. Coconut Flour Benefits As far as flours go, coconut flour is relatively high in nutrients—a fact that sets it a cut above the rest.  High Fiber Lab analyses show that coconut flour is 60% fiber; 56% insoluble and 4% soluble. That’s considerably more fiber than almost every other flour on the market, including the other major paleo contender, almond flour.  Low Glycemic Value Unlike most of the grain-based flours on the market, all the indigestible fiber in coconut flour makes for a surprisingly low glycemic product. In fact, multiple studies show that adding coconut flour into traditionally high-glycemic products like macaroons, carrot cake, granola bars and multigrain loaf helped to significantly lower blood sugar spikes after eating. And whether you have diabetic tendencies or not, using a flour that doesn’t send your blood sugar levels through the roof is definitely a good thing. Cholesterol Friendly Effects Research shows that coconut flakes (made as part of coconut flour production) can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and serum triglycerides in those with moderately high cholesterol levels.  Low Phytic Acid While the research is a little thin regarding the phytic potential of coconut flour (and coconuts in general), preliminary trials indicate that it’s nothing to be concerned about—certainly not when compared to nut and grain flours. As a case in point, this study showed that coconut flour additions to baked goods didn’t impact mineral availability, which is the key concern when it comes to phytates. Lauric Acid Coconut flour contains a decent dose of lauric acid, a fatty acid often present in high saturated fat content foods. As a precursor to monolaurin, lauric acid can aid in the inhibition of pathogenic species in the body, ward off certain forms of acne, and support a healthy cardiovascular system. Healthy Fats While almond flour, the main contender for paleo flour dominion, has a lot more fat, most of it is pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Cooking With Coconut Flour When it comes to baking or culinary creations in general, no one flour is the same. Most of us have spent most of our lives eating and working with wheat flour, which has drastically different qualities to, say, almond flour, which again is completely different to coconut flour. It’s best to adapt your expectations and approach when dealing with coconut flour for the first time. Know that the flour has its own unique features that require certain recipe adaptations. Coconut flour is more sponge-like than most other flours. Due to its high fiber content, … Continue reading “Coconut Flour: Benefits and Uses”

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Periodizing Nutrition: The High Fat Approach

I’m excited to introduce a guest post from an elite athlete in the midst of an incredible ultrarunning career. Believe me, not many athletes can write—or do much of anything except perform and veg out on the couch recovering before the next workout. Zach Bitter, record setting ultramarathon runner, is different, as readers of his popular blog already know. Zach holds the American record for the 100-mile run of 11 hours, 47 minutes. That’s running all day—400 laps around a regulation track—at seven-minute per mile pace. Go try to run a single mile in seven minutes to gain a full appreciation for his supreme effort.

Zach has achieved some notoriety in the ultra scene as a dedicated fat-fueled athlete. (You can read his story here.) He dabbles in keto during his base building training cycles, believing that it speeds recovery and reduces the stress impact of his workouts. His fueling strategy for competition is more nuanced, and he has a lot of important things to say on the matter. His post offers insightful commentary about periodization of nutrition. Here is a quick sound bite from Zach about his big picture goals with becoming highly fat- and keto-adapted: “I strongly believe that the less you have to fuel during a race, the better.” Enjoy this message from Zach, and we hope to check in with him again in the future.

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Dear Mark: PUFA Confusion, Mushroom Coffee, Swiss Water Process, and Timing the Fast

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions from readers. First, should someone homozygous for the FADS variant that increases PUFA conversion eat less or more PUFA? Next, what’s the deal with all the mushroom coffees out on the market? Are they actually beneficial? Third, when looking for a healthy decaf coffee, what should you watch for? And finally, how should a breakfast skipper/intermittent faster deal with increased morning hunger caused by morning workouts?

Let’s find out:

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