Moms Need Steak and Yet Another Fasting Study

First on the docket for this round of Monday Musings: steak. Steak is an objectively good thing. It can heal wounds and improve your squat. There’s really no conceivable reason not to eat steak, and plenty of reasons to cram it down one’s gullet on a regular basis. O sacred slab, thou finest fuel for metabolic processes. Gift of cud and hoof… Okay, let me get to the point, before I get off track and turn this post into a terrible 2,000 word ode to steak.

Steak is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially B-12 (fish and dairy are also good for it), which is crucial for infant neurological development. A new study suggests prenatal B-12 levels might even influence a baby’s propensity to cry. Researchers tested the B-12 levels of 3,000 pregnant women three months into their pregnancy; after their children were born, they measured the infants’ crying patterns. Kids born to mothers with the lowest B-12 levels were more likely to cry louder and longer – up to eight times more likely than kids born to mothers with the highest levels. I don’t blame the kids. I become a weepy mess if, say, my ribeye isn’t thawed in time for dinner. Hmm, so what’s the solution? Eat some steak… right?

Wrong. The resident nutritionist warns that meat “comes with saturated fats which can hinder the body’s use of essential fats needed for the baby’s brain and nervous system development.” I guess nothing’s safe, eh? (That’s sarcasm, in case it isn’t clear.)

Next up, there’s a new review study out that’s pretty favorable to intermittent fasting. Only here they call it “intermittent calorie restriction,” which involves 24 hours of ad libitum food intake alternated with 24 hours of “complete or partial” calorie restriction, and they compare it to regular calorie restriction. Both methods seem to work well for weight loss, but intermittent fasting – er, sorry, I meant intermittent calorie restriction – preserves more lean mass, which is the stuff we want to preserve, especially as we lose weight. Otherwise you’re on your way to being skinny fat. You see that a lot on folks who consciously and painfully restrict calories, whereas the people I know who IF tend to run leaner and denser. Weight is such a vague figure when it comes to human health, anyway. I prefer to know how much three dimensional space my body’s mass is occupying, or how much water it’s displacing. The denser you get, the less space you occupy. You can have a tight, muscular body and weigh as much as or more than the classically overweight guy.

So, to sum up, this is yet another review suggesting that IF is the best way to lose fat mass and preserve lean mass. They didn’t get into which mode of calorie restriction was easier and more sustainable, but I’d wager that intermittent calorie restriction takes that title as well. It really does seem to be racking up the wins as of late, yeah?

That’s it for today. Feel free to chime in with tales of steak and IF success!

About the Author

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.

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76 thoughts on “Moms Need Steak and Yet Another Fasting Study”

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  1. The nutritionist quoted in the meat study is a vegan. Why ask a vegan nutritionist’s opinion on a study about meat? More media shenanigans I guess. Gotta get a dissenting view.

  2. I think the problem with many health studies is that the researchers come into the study with their own biases. This influences what they notice and how they interpret it, and the conclusions end up being plain ridiculous.

    1. … not to beat a dead (and rotting) horse – but if ya google this:

      Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

      you’ll get a good insight published in PLoS peer review med rag – keeps one in perspective, yes?

  3. Life since IF has been a dream compared to before. I no longer feel like I’m going to die when I find myself without food for a few hours. It just takes a week or two of IF practice to get good at lasting those hours. As a benefit, when there’s less than optimal food around, I just skip eating until later.

    A huge benefit to IF over pure calorie restriction is that you can gain the metabolic and restorative benefits without waisting away. I no longer want to lose weight, I just want to maintain.

  4. The resident nutritionist warns that meat “comes with saturated fats which can hinder the body’s use of essential fats needed for the baby’s brain and nervous system development.”

    Do these nutritionists think before they speak? Really, they are never pressed for an explanation and they need to be. And of all the ridiculous cock and bull associated with the saturated fat boogey man, this is the first time I’ve heard anyone suggest that saturated fat consumption “blocks the absorbtion of essential fatty acids.” What fat does she think the brain and nervous system are lagely made of? Canola oil?

    Mothers milk is largely saturated fat. Is she suggesting babies are better off with soy formula?

  5. Dude, I got a little emotional when you started talking about steak like that. I’d read a 2,000 word epic about steak.

  6. Coincidentally, I just fired up the grill last night for the first time this year, and had wonderful flame-cooked steak for dinner! And today, I’m fasting. What a timely post. 🙂

  7. I’m also captivated by the thought of a 2000 word steak Epic. If the format doesn’t really work can I suggest the style of Hemingway, Shakespeare or Seuss? Maybe all three? The styles are surprisingly cooperative.

  8. I’ve been on a HUGE steak kick this week. No clue why (funny enough, my mother’s first suggestion was “Maybe you’re pregnant.” lol! Tho, definitely not the case at this time.) but I woke up the other day craving steak, the bloodier the better, and that’s just…kept going. Rather surprsing for me, since though I love meat, I rarely shell out for steak.

  9. You’ve already got me on board. I’ve been IFing for almost a month now, I eat my food in between 12pm-8pm +/- an hour. It is nearly impossible to gain weight doing this and I continue getting leaner in a linear manner despite not being overweight to begin with. It is a harder habit to explain than Paleo itself though, people just can’t wrap their head around skipping breakfast.

  10. Where are the bleeping studies that show “…saturated fats which can hinder the body’s use of essential fats needed for the baby’s brain and nervous system development.” ?

    I too support the 2,000 word “ode to steak”.

    1. Here-here! Nutritionists these days are notorious for parrotting unsupported rubbish like this all the time. Saturated fat is so demonized anymore that no one expects a dietician who is critical of saturated fat to back up their claims. It’s so universally accepted, medical and dietary journals don’t even bother to cite studies to back up claims to the dangers of saturated fat anymore.

      Do dieticians not realize how important their job is? Do they not realize how critical a healthy dose of skepticism is in this line of work? Do they recall anything from their intro to physiology class?

      It still never ceases to amaze me how out of sync conventional dietary wisdom is with our understanding of how the body works, let alone anthropology, archeology, chemistry, observation and just plain common sense. Ugh!

  11. Perfect timing on the steak stuff!

    My aunt is becoming a vegan. And I’m about to go on an all-meat diet just to prove that fat, protein and cholesterol actually do a body good.

    My husband and I are also big fans of Brazilian Steak Houses.

    1. Ohhhh–I’m going to a Brazillian steakhouse on Friday–I can’t wait.

  12. I actually started eating meat midway through my third pregnancy… (vegetarian up to that point) – I was CRAVING it like crazy. Turns out there was a reason for that… she turned out to be a pretty chilled baby, NEVER cried (although, I attribute that as much to our attachment practices as I do to her personality)

  13. Steak may be good for those things, but I’ve heard that red meat can also be bad if you eat too much of it.

    1. You must be new here 😀

      Contrary to popular belief, “too much red meat” isn’t actually bad for you.

      The idea that meat is harmful was something pushed by the catholic church centuries ago to dissuade sexual intercourse.

      It’s the same reason Kellogg’s invented his corn flakes — to cease masturbation (google it).

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, it’s been awhile since I’ve looked into this >.>

      1. Hadn’t heard the bit about the Catholic church but it wouldn’t surpise me much.

        You are correct about Corn Flakes–they were originally designed by Kellogg to be an anaphrodesiac. Learned that in my Human Sexuality course.

        1. So even back then people believed grain-based cereals would impact hormones like that?

          How did Special K and all the other “healthy” cereals ever become so sexy? Marketing is POWERFUL.

          It’s ironic that people who are trying to live healthful lifestyles are using cereal as one of their tools to do so.

      2. I am really curious about your comment about the catholic church discouraging meat consumption. Do you have any articles to back this up? Thanks!

      3. Quick Follow-Up College Caveman: I had not heard that about corn flakes, kind of odd if true.

        The piece on meat and the Catholic Church is not by any means the driving reason. Meat was historically regarded as a delicacy and usually reserved for feasts and celebrations by ‘lower or working classes’ (killing the fattened calf for feasts was a common practice espeically by Jews). It was seen as a mini sacrifice to ‘give it up’ something enjoyable for a short period. Fish and seafood was still allowed because many of the original apostle’s professions were as fishermen (and the frequent references to ‘fish’ in the Bible). It was a means to use real, day-to-day decisions to help elicit some slight, additional reflection on the gospel and self-denial to decrease the inclination toward self centeredness.

  14. I find myself craving steak more than anything else lately, and this is coming from someone who ended 10 years as a vegetarian and became Primal.
    With the IF, I don’t find that difficult to do. I go with a natural flow now. There are times during the month that I have a huge appetite and so I eat more during those days and don’t skip meals much. And then there are times like now where I don’t have much of an appetite at all, so it’s easy to skip meals and usually I’ll just have a small dinner.

  15. A grassfed steak has (and plants don’t in any appreciable amounts, not that I dislike plants) B12, Zinc, CLA, carnosene, carnitine, creatine, K2, choline, etc etc. I love you, steak. You make my wallet fuller.

    And mega nutritionist nutrition knowledge fail. Even if it were so simple as LDL: Bad!, there is a lot more monounsaturated fat (including stearic acid which gets turned to oleic acid) in a steak than palmitic acid. There is also CLA which reduces bad LDL without touching HDL. All in all HDL up, LDL down. Maybe her vegan brain needs some choline, B12 and creatine!

    Also a post by Jaime Scott (That Paleo Guy)

    The rest of his site is awesome too.

  16. Ugh… fasting isn’t about “calorie restriction” per se, it’s about hormonal balance. Mixing “fasting” with “calorie restriction” confuses the issue and offers no insight.

  17. Oddly enough, when I went vegetarian for a few years, it wasn’t red meat I craved, it was sea food.

    These days I eat some red meat but it’s a bit expensive to find good, organic beef in my area (which is ironic considering I live in the SF bay area) so I usually stick with sea food and chicken. Still, the occasional burger does find itself onto my plate to be enjoyed, sans bun of course 🙂

  18. The first thing I craved with each pregnancy was a big, thick, juicy steak. Like clockwork — before the test had come back positive. It was one of the main signs. Today both girls love steak. Then again, who doesn’t??

  19. There was a popular sitcom, “Friends” (some of you may remember it, lol) in which one of the main characters was a practicing vegetarian (because she felt bad for animals). Once she got pregnant, she craved meat all the time, and eventually started devouring it. Makes me smile to think how even Hollywood will bend to the cravings of pregnant woman! Being pregnant takes you back to the basics of life– and what is more basic than good old red meat? Yum.

  20. About 6 years ago, I ate a beef burger and my stomach hurt for 2 days. I then tried a steak and the same thing happened. So, I assumed that I was like many and just didn’t have the B12/iron in my system to break down the meat. So, I just took supplements and didn’t eat beef.

    After a few months of Primal (…I don’t know what else it could be), I can now eat all the steak I want! Yes please!

  21. I craved steak all the time when I was pregnant. It was heaven on a plate.

    My daughter, Luna, is 19 months old now, and I’m still breastfeeding her … and guess what? I’m still craving steak and red meat more than anything. I’m at the point where I’m not shy to eat it once or even twice a day if need be …

    I have her on a paleo diet, which seems to be going really well so far …

    1. I have been doing IF for almost 5 years now. The best part of it…steak!!!

  22. Wow, wish I’d have known this earlier. I was a vegetarian all my life, thru 3 pregnancies… And I have the neediest babies imaginable, sucks that I just discovered Primal eating after having the 3rd baby. Now I just have to get pregnant again so I can test this out for myself 🙂 Oh how I would I love a happy baby for a change!

  23. I’m a mom. I had my babies 28,27 and 22 years ago. I fed them incorrectly and I fed MYSELF incorrectly when I was pregnant with them. If I had the opportunity to do it again I would be feasting without worry on a nice juicy Tbone with a side of shrimp and avocado.Afterall, I am eating for 2 ;-/.
    I would most definitely feed myself correctly instead of the way I fed them back then. I hate stupidity.

  24. Ok so is the article saying that intermittent fasting is beneficial and the way to do it is to restrict calories for 24 hours then eat as much as you want for 24 hours and continue on like this constantly or is it just a once in a while deal? And how much do you restrict on the calorie restricting days?

    1. No, this is just a study that suggests benefits of IF vs straight calorie restriction.

      MDA has several good articles on IF. Many are right at the bottom of this article, under “Related Posts.”

      As to how much to restrict, that’s a matter of goals. When my goal was fat loss, I would heavily restrict calories on some days (using IF as a tool), then eat somewhat normally on other days.

    2. There’s the ADF – alternate day fasting as a different way to IF. Do a search on it.

  25. I’m about 9 weeks pregnant and baby thoroughly enjoyed the steak I ate for dinner tonight! 😀 I don’t think this baby will cry much…. hehehe

  26. I have a lovely big slab of eye-fillet that on Sunday was running around happily in the paddock eating grass, now “ageing” in the fridge for the week to eat this weekend.
    So lucky here in rural NZ to be able to raise, love, butcher and eat our own home-grown prime beef. YUM YUM, cant wait!

  27. My family used to eat steak very rarely not because of fear of red meat but because we thought only expensive filet makes a good steak. I actually did not enjoy steak during that time. One day, my mom decided to fry up some top blade steaks (they were actually labeled as steaks) she usually she uses for stew. They were so good! Less tender, but cheaper and more flavorful than filet. Now we all eat steak much more frequently!

  28. With regards to the nutritionist, her name is Yvonne Bishop-Weston and she is a vegan. says it all…..

  29. I found this interesting and confusing:
    “Results reveal similar weight loss and fat mass loss with 3 to 12 weeks’ intermittent CR (4-8%, 11-16%, respectively) and daily CR (5-8%, 10-20%, respectively). In contrast, less fat free mass was lost in response to intermittent CR versus daily CR.”

    If the weight loss and fat loss were the same, how did one group lose less fat free mass? Is it just me or does that seem impossible to others too?

    1. “Results reveal similar weight loss and fat mass loss.” It does say similar, not that it was the same weight loss. There is always adding some lean tissue like muscle alongside losing fat, too. That can make weight loss much less.

      1. I guess I was interpreting it to mean that the difference in fat mass loss and weight loss was not statistically significant, while the difference in fat free mass loss was significant.
        The abstract doesn’t say that either, so now I kind of wonder what they numbers really say.

  30. I’m nearly four months along in my pregnancy and I -WISH- I could eat some steak! Prior to this I’d been fairly hardcore paleo/primal for a couple years and LOVED it, but pretty much as soon as I became pregnant, the very thought of meat made me run for the toilet. Right now I can eat a tiny bit of fish and chicken from time to time, but steak is still a no go. 🙁

    1. Christina – I am in the same boat as you! We just traveled to Argentina (where the baby happened to have been conceived) and ate steak twice a day there. Now that I am in my 8th week, I can’t even stomach the thought of any meat (the occasional chicken and seafood are okay). Its so hard to stay primal 🙁

    2. I know that feeling. I’m in my fifties so my childbearing years are almost behind me 🙂 I remember how awful meat was in the first few weeks. But once I was able to eat meat,my inner cavewoman came out and had had a meat frenzy.

  31. I know a guy whose wife was a dedicated vegetarian until “the incident”. My friend and I are big meat eaters, but his wife was a strict vegetarian. Well, one day we were tucking in to a big meal of steak and loaded potatoes, while he had prepared a non-bacon potato and some lame chick-pea salad for his wife. She was pregnant at the time and was very diligent about what she ate, confident that her no-nonsense, no-meat diet was the correct choice. She picked the wrong potato. My friend had put a dollop of sour cream on top of each potato, hiding the treasure chest of bacon underneath. He realized what was happening when his potato had no bacon. He tried to stop his wife, but she had already taken a bite. “Jen, no! That one has bacon!” Now, he wasn’t really concerned about the baby’s health, just his wife’s emotional state after this potential faux pas. Sweat beaded on my friend’s brow as he feared the worst, but then she spoke: “Bacon is good!” Remember the look in David Banner’s eyes as he morphed in to the Incredible Hulk? That’s what we saw in Jen’s eyes as she noshed the potato laden with butter, onions, pepper, sour cream and BACON. This has become my clarion cry whenever I’m assaulted by the villainous vegetarians; BACON IS GOOD!!! Jen began eating meat for the rest of the pregnancy and now young master Joseph is about 3 inches taller than everone in his class and is a model of decoroum and tranquility. Meat is glorious! Long live Meat! Meat for President! Meat! Meat! Meat!

  32. Mark, I ate wonderfully, steak included, during my pregnancy and my, now 18 month old little girl, is definitely not a crier. However, I do have a question about the IF. I am still nursing and I am always nervous that if I fast, I’ll be diminishing the nourishment she gets, even though she eats our food as well. Your thoughts?

    1. I’ve nursed all three of my kids, the older ones well beyond the age of two and the little one still going strong at 17 months. I haven’t fasted a lot during these times but on occasions that I do skip meals it seems to make no difference. I really think if you drink enough liquids you’ll be just fine. Certainly you can try it and see how you and she feel — if you’re super hungry or she seems out of sorts, then go ahead and eat. You could do a semi-fast and just drink homemade broth or something like that, too.

  33. The new cookbooks are here!!!
    lots of good sides for steak 😀

  34. Steak…The FOUNDATION of the new Food Pyramid!

    Good thing I didn’t sell my stock in RUTH’S CHRIS!

  35. Ok, thanks! However I’m not trying to lose weight… so does this mean I don’t really need to worry about the IF thing?

  36. Like the info on B-12 for Mama’s!! I hope that pregnancies to come that my gestational diabetes either doesn’t return or is just so well manage with lots and lots of STEAK!! tee hee!

    1. I had three gestational diabetic pregnancies and never returned to “normal” blood sugar after the third, so do take care of yourself. That said, primal eating is a great way to minimize any of those problems and it’s how I handled the pregnancies and also how I keep my blood sugar down now. Oh, and my babies have all been lovely and peaceful, for what it’s worth. (Can’t say if it’s eating meat or getting to nurse in bed with momma that does the trick, but we don’t have cranky babies around here.)

  37. What a timely post Mark! I have been eating a lot of beef lately (tonight’s dinner was about 12 oz. of filet mignon, spinach sauteed in pastured butter, and a couple of glasses or red wine), and it’s nice to hear that steak is Sisson-approved.

    I have noticed that 12 oz of steak is more satisfying than 2 pounds of cheese pizza (possibly from Costco…), and I don’t raid the fridge later in the night.

    I say “eat to satisfy”, and steak fits the bill to a T (bone).


  38. Not only diet but also Study and Research now a day proved that regular exercise on daily basis makes a person healthier and increase circulation of blood in the body reduces the causes of heart attack. Exercise boosts your body’s immune system and make you more fresh and healthier.

  39. I’m definitely interested in trying IF, but I’m concerned that it might negatively affect my workouts on fasting days. Is there anything to this? If so, how do you reconcile?

    1. Fasting and low carb/primal is the best way to preserve muscle. It also enhances growth hormone production. You must begin fasting slowly by eating progressively later day by day until you can go for 20 or more hours without solid food.

  40. Advice for pregnant women really varies by country. I’m American, but I live in Slovenia, which is also where I had my second and third babies. When I showed up for my first prenatal appointment with the second, the nurse was running down her list of counseling points. When she got to food, she said, “And be sure to eat lots of horse meat because you need the extra iron!” I nearly fell off my chair because I was sure I’d misunderstood her (I didn’t speak the language well and didn’t know that horse was a common food here.) Well, I did eat horse meat during that pregnancy, and still do — a well-prepared horse steak is a fine meal indeed.

    We even have a local fast-food chain called “Hot Horse” with, you guessed it, all horse burgers and horse dogs. And the greatest thing about them is you they even list all the dishes as alternate orders without the bun right on the menu. 🙂

      1. 🙂 It’s a great place to live “primal” in any case, horse steaks aside. There’s plenty of outdoor recreation available, easily accessible from any location (including the capital city): hiking, skiing, rock climbing, swimming (lakes, the Adriatic, numerous natural springs), river rafting, hang gliding, etc. I live only a 10-minute bike ride from downtown and have a huge, wooded park right out my back door (hiking trails, wild blueberries and chestnuts, cuckoos and frog ponds, etc.).

  41. “There’s really no conceivable reason not to eat steak”

    You mean there’s really no conceivable reason not to eat organic, grass-fed steak, assuming price is not a factor and you’re not a sucker for animals >.>

  42. This really hits home! My first two kids were such easy-going, laid-back babies, but my third… whoa Nelly! He was such a difficult baby, crying 8+ hours per day for the first 6 months and demanded to be in arms at all times. Perhaps he simply had a different from my other two, but the one major difference is I had become a very strict vegetarian a couple of years before he was conceived, and remained so throughout my pregnancy, until he was about a year old. I’ve always wondered if that was a factor in his colic. Ironically, he’s a born paleo kid; I don’t expect my kids to eat as I do, by my little one loves meat and veggies and completely rejects pasta, rice, and bread.