Is It Primal? – Smoked Salmon, Nutritional Yeast, 5-Hour Energy Drinks, and Other Foods Scrutinized

Smoked SalmonIt’s about that time for another round of “Is It Primal?” Today we’re covering smoked salmon, a surprisingly stable source of omega-3s. After that, I finally get to nutritional yeast, a food that many of you have been asking about for many moons. I hope you’re happy with the answer. Next up are 5-Hour Energy Drinks, which aren’t quite as bad as you might think. After that, I cover the edibility of brines – olive, pickle, sauerkraut, cocktail onion, and so on. The final object of scrutiny is Kremelta, a kind of coconut oil shortening.

Let’s take a look:

Smoked Salmon

Smoking is one of the world’s oldest food preservation techniques, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: subjecting strips, cuts, and pieces of animal to smoke from wood fires until they are “cooked.” Today, we can preserve our foods by refrigerating, freezing, or applying industrial-scale methods using mass-produced antioxidant compounds, so we tend to eat far fewer smoked meats. Most would agree that this is a good move, as fresh meat tends to be, well, fresher and therefore better for us.

But what about smoked salmon? People love the stuff – I know I do – and it retains an elevated status in modern food culture. It’s become a luxury, a treat, rather than a staple food that we have to eat because it’s all we’ve got and we have no refrigerators. Does smoked salmon hold up to scrutiny? I mean, all that smoke and heat can’t be good for the fragile omega-3s, right?

Actually, salmon does appear to hold up to smoking. Better yet, it gets even more stable. A 2009 study found that smoking salmon at 95 degrees Celsius made the “fragile” fish fats even more oxidatively stable, with a lower peroxide value, fewer TBARS, and fewer free fatty acids, than fresh salmon. That’s right: smoking salmon at a high heat protected the omega-3s from oxidizing to a greater extent than leaving it alone, even if antioxidants were added to the fresh salmon oils. That said, when heating the smoked salmon fat past 75 degrees C, peroxides formed at a faster rate than in the fresh salmon fat.

Oddly enough, cold-smoked salmon (where the fish is smoked without added heat) appears to be more susceptible to oxidation. You’d think the hot-smoking would be more damaging, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

For the double-whammy of salmon preservation techniques, you might want to try fermenting your smoked salmon, as smoked salmon grows even more stable upon fermentation.

Not all smoking is the same. The cheaper outfits use sawdust as the smoking medium – yes, sawdust – while more traditional salmon smokers use actual wood, like hickory, oak, or alderwood. Some Scottish producers even use old Scotch barrels. Since wood (like all plant materials) has bioactive components which manifest in the smoke (smoking, after all, is a traditional method of plant ingestion), the type of wood used probably matters as much as anything.

Verdict: Primal.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a darling in the vegan set. They’ll sometimes proclaim that since nutritional yeast is a fungus, not an animal, and it contains B12, an animal-free source of vitamin B12 exists. Except it’s not true. Nutritional yeast, an inactive (dead) form of the same yeast that bakers and brewers use, only contains vitamin B12 if its producers decide to add it. So yes, while dotting your bowl of popcorn with the carcasses of a million fallen yeasts is arguably more nutritious than not, it’s not an endogenously-formed, “natural,” cruelty-free source of B12. There remains no naturally-occurring source of B12 that doesn’t involve sweet, sweet animal flesh.

That said, nutritional yeast is certainly interesting. I’ve had it a few times on store-bought kale chips as a sort of cheese replacement. It was tasty. It is a good source of (fortified) vitamins, the utility of which I question beyond the correction of blatant deficiencies.

Nutritional yeast is also a strong source of RNA, specifically the nucleotide uridine. You may not usually consider the ingestion of dietary genetic material, but dietary RNA from yeast can increase uric acid levels in humans. Hyperuricemia, as you probably know, is a strong cause of gout. Of course, that study gave 8 grams of brewer’s yeast nucleotides to the men, a huge amount; most sources suggest that brewer’s yeast (and therefore nutritional yeast, which is the same species) is 3% nucleotides. To get 8 grams of nucleotides, you’d need to eat around 266 grams of nutritional yeast. That’s roughly 33 tablespoons. Good luck with that. Besides, Primal darlings, sardines and organ meats are also high in RNA, so I don’t think we can condemn nutritional yeast on the basis of RNA.

In the amounts the average Primal person who just enjoys the flavor is likely to consume, I don’t think nutritional yeast is a problem.

Verdict: Primal. Just don’t rely on it as a source of vitamins.

5-Hour Energy Drinks

I’d never really looked into 5-Hour Energy Drinks before writing this post, and until now, I’ve always sort of assumed they were sugar-laden caffeinated liquid beasts that truckers and club kids resorted to when they ran out of meth. I was wrong. 5-Hour Energy Drinks are caffeinated, but they only have a hair over 200 mg of caffeine, which is a bit more than a cup of coffee (but who drinks just one “cup of coffee”?). They are sugar-free, but contain sucralose, also known as Splenda. I’m not a sucralose fan, seeing as how it may reduce beneficial gut flora.

Most of the effects of the energy drinks are attributed to the bevy of nutrients they dose the thing with – vitamin B6, niacin, vitamin B12, folic acid, taurine, citicoline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, malic acid, caffeine, and glucuronolactone. Their “energy” blend totals 1870 mg and is proprietary, so beyond the first four vitamin ingredients, we don’t know how much of each nutrient is contained in the drink. We can look at the efficacy of each ingredient, though.

Those vitamins are all important for health and a Primal eating plan of meat, greens, fruits, offal, and other whole foods will be replete in them. Caffeine’s effects are known (and loved). What about the others? Are they safe and/or effective?

Taurine – Paired with caffeine and glucuronolactone in a 5-Hour Energy Drink-esque drink, taurine appears to be “stimulate cognitive performance and well-being.” Another study, which controlled for caffeine withdrawal, also found a beneficial effect. Large doses of taurine are safe.

Citicoline – A recent review found that citicoline can improve cognitive function, particularly in stroke patients. Citicoline is safe.

Tyrosine – Tyrosine is a naturally occurring amino acid, so if you eat animals, you’re eating tyrosine. In supplemental form, tyrosine is somewhat effective when a person is stressed or under duress (like fatigue). In healthy, alert, otherwise chipper individuals, tyrosine doesn’t seem to do much. It’s safe, though.

Phenylalanine – Phenylalanine is the precursor to tyrosine, so this should just become tyrosine in the body.

Malic acid – Malic acid provides the sour flavor of tart apples, like Granny Smiths. It’s a byproduct of human metabolism, but it doesn’t seem to do much as a supplement (unless you’re a dairy cow, in which case it can help you make more milk – PDF).

Glucuronolactone – This is also safe in the context of an energy drink, and, in the first taurine study cited above, it may even work synergistically with caffeine and taurine to improve mental performance.

Verdict: Not exactly Primal, but neither is falling asleep at the wheel. And the nutrients within are pretty solid.


A reader asked about drinking brine. As in, the liquid that olives, cocktail onions, pickles, pickled peppers, and sauerkraut comes swimming in. Is it safe? Is it nutritious?

It depends on the brine. Pickle juice and sauerkraut brine are world-renowned hangover cures, probably because of the electrolyte replenishing action of the incredible salt content. Football teams are even using pickle juice to defeat cramps, and they have a double-blind study out of BYU to prove it. Real pickle and sauerkraut brine – the fermented kind – will also offer probiotics. I’ve seen stands at farmers markets selling (and selling out) sauerkraut juice for more than the kraut itself.

Most brines are just water, spices, and salt. Olive brines will often have a few slugs of olive oil added. The point is – they’re edible and relatively safe. I don’t know if they’re exactly nutritious in the absence of sodium deficiency, dehydration, hangover, or exercise-induced cramping, but there’s nothing wrong with them.

Replacing all your normal fluid intake with brine will likely throw your potassium-sodium balance way off, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Instead, sip a bit when you’re parched, add some to salad dressings for flavoring, and keep a small bottle for grueling athletic endeavors. I would avoid drinking the Thanksgiving turkey brine, but that’s probably just me being picky.

Verdict: Primal.

Kremelta (Coconut Oil Shortening)

Kremelta is hydrogenated coconut oil, albeit hydrogenated coconut oil with 2% soy lecithin (a nice source of choline, which keeps our brains and livers running smoothly). But it’s hydrogenated coconut oil, which has that bad word (“hydrogenated”) in it.

The thing is, Kremelta is fully-hydrogenated, rather than partially-hydrogenated. This means the coconut oil, already a highly-saturated fat, is completely saturated. The few percentage points of PUFA and MUFA become SFA, with a little lecithin tossed in for emulsion. As I’ve written previously, fully hydrogenated fats do not contain trans-fats, so they are going to be better than partially-hydrogenated fats.

I’ll admit I’m a little suspicious of full hydrogenation. Since Kremelta is used in a lot of candies and other processed foods and it has to be as shelf-stable as possible, the total and utter hydrogenation makes sense. You wouldn’t want those few grams of linoleic acid to go bad. Still, though – I’d opt for real butter (probably grass-fed, since Kremelta is big in New Zealand) or mail-ordered coconut oil. And you can always get your choline from egg yolks.

Verdict: I’m on the fence, but leaning not Primal.

That’s it for today, guys. Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment.

TAGS:  is it primal?

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.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

104 thoughts on “Is It Primal? – Smoked Salmon, Nutritional Yeast, 5-Hour Energy Drinks, and Other Foods Scrutinized”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Wow I’m really glad you broke down 5 Hour Energy! I never drink them because I get shaky, but occasionally my night-shift working police officer man will have them, and that makes me feel a little better! I started taking Lewis Lab’s Brewers Yeast for skin health (at the recommendation of Liz at Cave Girl Eats). I’ve heard it’s also supposed to help with blood sugar regulation? Has anyone had any experience with either?

    1. RE: Nutritional Brewewr’s Yeast: I recall years ago that garlic and Brewers Yeast were natural repellent’s. So, being a frequent and avid walker (in new hampshire woods) with our two dogs, and not liking the chemical flea and tick repellent for dogs, my wife and I started taking in 1 Tbl Nutritional Brewers Yeast and also giving some to our dogs each day last Spring through the Fall. Our first walk in the woods last Spring – with no other repellent on me and a natural dog citronella type repellent on the dogs – proved fruitful. my wife was not so sure at first and had not started with the Nutritional Brewer’s Yeast, while I and the two dogs had as well as a dog and a human natural light oil based repellent. Not one mosquito, horse fly, or other bite. No insects, bugs landed on me either. A few times I noticed some flying near by, but they seemed to not want to land, let alone bite!

      1. My mother has bad reactions to insect bites and started taking Vit B years ago and had great results. Any time she stops supplementing she gets eaten alive! I would assume the Vit B is the key ingredient there!

        1. It is grandmothers wisdom in Australia to eat lots of vegemite to keep the bugs away. Vegemite is, of course, a concentrated yeast extract, and one of the world’s richest (food) sources of vit B.

          I had been told that, if doing a trip into bug country, you should make a point of eating it for several weeks beforehand, to get your body’s B levels up there.

        2. Hmm..thanks for this. I have a daughter who gets eaten alive by bugs. Supplementing Vit B for her is worthwhile experiment.

        3. What is in nutritional yeast that makes it a wonderful insect repellent? Is it the vitamin B-12 that does it? I sure need something to keep insects from bothering me.

        4. I purposely took a vitamin B complex including B12 before a holiday to The Gambia, a hotspot for Mosquitos, and didn’t suffer one single bite.

        5. It is the vitamin B1 in it which repels the bugs. You can buy vitamin B1 patches to wear about 2 hours before going outside and it is effective for about 36 hours I think.

      2. John, Nutritional Yeast and Brewer’s Yeast are two different things. Vegan’s have been using Nutritional Yeast as a cheese substitute for more years than I’ve been alive (46). I used to make a cheezy substitute sauce based on Nutritional Yeast when I was vegan. I made mac&cheeze with it and a few other things.

        Brewer’s yeast is not something I’ve eaten because I was always told it was not palatable (I believe the description was *yucky*). In any case, don’t confuse the two, or you might not like the taste.

        1. 1 Tbl NUTRITIONAL Yeast daily. Cheese like taste. You’re right NUTRITIONAL and BREWER’s Yeast are different.

        2. I’m a mosquito magnet so I’m jumping on this one!! What’s the best way to take it? Do you sprinkle it on food, dissolve & drink, or what?

    2. Just a note about the 5-hour Energy drinks, or any of the energy drinks… Many of the ingredients in those energy drinks can trigger a migraine… sometimes, the migraine will not be accompanied by a headache, but you’ll you’ll know that something is off: unexplained numbness, cloudy thinking, lack of sleep, the migraine “aura”… It’s pretty scary stuff.

      I know someone who was getting some muscle-pain relief from drinking these energy drinks, but ended up in the hospital emergency room due to a migraine without headache (not the original diagnosis). He thought he was having a stroke. Needless to say, he won’t go near those drinks anymore.

  2. so glad to read about the salmon 🙂 love it on salads with lots of red onion and chopped pickles

    1. Good info on this website. I too, love salmon on salads with hard boiled egg and make a main meal out of it. Other times have turkey breast salad. I am 85% to 90% primal because friends make some OMG delicious cake I can’t resist. I also have gluten free sprouted bread in the freezer I eat several times a week with veggie soup. I totally agree w/primal lifestyle but it’s hard to be 100% for some of us.

  3. Perfect timing on this. I’ve been eating large quantities of Kale Krunch that has nutritional yeast on it. Delicious! And I bought some to sprinkle in my eggs. Tasty stuff!

    1. I’m a recent convert to Alive and Radiant’s Quite Cheesy Kale chips….omg! And I swore I wouldn’t like them…
      what brand of nutritional yeast do you use? I’d like to experiment with it.

      1. Those kale chips (at least the ones at my store) are so expensive that I can’t bring myself to buy them, even though they *are* tasty…

        1. I’ve actually never eaten store bought kale chips, but my husband and I adore our homemade ones!!!! Put them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they’re crunchy. You can drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil or sea salt too!

  4. As far as smoked salmon, make sure it wasn’t brined/cured with brown sugar. Many on the market are done with sugars and spices when there is no need for it. My husband’s family has an Inuit recipe for brining and smoking salmon that is a closely guarded secret. It is without a doubt that best smoked salmon I have ever tasted. No sugar. No spices. Even I don’t know it!

      1. I wonder that too. I realized at the end of summer my favorite store bought smoked salmon used brown sugar and corn syrup. I was thoroughly disappointed, and have vowed to catch and smoke my own salmon next summer. Yay for living in Alaska!

      2. Commercially canned “smoked” salmon is often not smoked at all, but instead smoke flavoringis added to the cans prior to processing (I processed fish at home in Alaska for 10 summers…one of my husbands jobs was to mix the “liquid smoke”…a combination of corn oil, hickory smoke oil, brown sugar and salt). If you want REAL smoked salmon look for small fisherman direct producers like Prime Select (most of them still use some brown sugar in their brine as the final product holds color better over time) or smoke and can or freeze it yourself! My family cold smokes our salmon after a pure salt brine (the % salt and time are family secrets) over wet alder logs (we try hard to keep the “fire” from having any actual flame).

        1. I really loathe the idea of “family secrets.” Thank God for the internet and the unselfish information-sharing of thousands, no, millions of people whose generosity has improved the diets and life of so many of us.

  5. I always thought that 5 hour energy drinks would be really bad for me and would only drink them under extreme conditions when I knew I would be up much later than I normally would or am working on a few hours of sleep. This has changed my outlook on them and maybe I won’t feel so guilty having them…albiet still in moderation. My only concern is the sucralose. I typically avoid artifical/tampered sweeteners of any kind as a “better safe than sorry” mindset. Just how bad IS sucralose?

    1. Just read Mark’s link on the Splenda study on lab rats…looks like I can wait for the 5 hour energy shot to pass through my system, then take a probiotic and be good. Just wouldn’t make it a habit of doing this on a regular basis, but for the few times I do take a 5 hr energy shot.

  6. Yeah I never understood the hate that 5 hours get, although they’re not worth the price. Just drink a cup of coffee or mate and take a B complex supp (preferably liquid), and it’s essentially the same exact thing, same effects. Maybe round it out with some BCAA’s.

  7. I know you said you were going to address the topic of the Bulletproof protocol/products, and was wondering if that is on your radar

  8. “fermenting your smoked salmon”

    These are called “stink heads,” though I don’t recall that the head is usually smoked first. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re particularly adventurous or you grew up with it.

    Traditionally, the fermentation isn’t rigidly controlled, as was the case with the article Mark linked to. It’s usually just put in a bucket and buried.

  9. I love real brine (the fermented kind)! It’s so tangy and refreshing. The next time I make sauerkraut, I’m going to make a point of adding extra water so I’ll have more brine.

    Interesting about the coconut oil shortening…I’m still highly suspicious of it. Surely the fats formed in full hydrogenation aren’t equivalent to naturally occurring saturated fats in coconuts or animals? It seems counterintuitive.

    1. Dilute the brine AFTER fermenting. You need the right concentration of salt in water to keep the bad bugs from growing in the ferment.

  10. Nutritional yeast is one of the few things I miss from my vegan days. I’m happy to hear that it isn’t a no-no!

  11. Mark,

    Great info on the Nutritional Yeast, its been an ingredient in our Paleo household that I’ve deliberated was it primal or not. Although I will do my own homework on the subject, its great to get a mark of approval from a ‘Subject Matter Expert’ as yourself.



  12. Hi Mark,

    Nice breakdown of 5-hour energy. I drink it from time to time and it’s nice to know that you don’t hate it.

    Smoked Salman: haven’t had it in a while but will give it a try.

    It’s funny – when starting out on Paleo diets, one thinks that “this is so difficult”. I’m finding out that everything has a substitute…all you have to do is actually take a few minutes to think about it and buy it.

    Perfect example: almond flour. You can make anything from regular flour with almond flour. Of course, it may not have the right texture, but it also doesn’t have death like wheat.

    1. Two of my band mates (out of 4) drank energy drinks all the time — both had strokes. Now, one was almost 60 but the other was 39.

      Cause or coincidence?

      I’ll stick to coffee, thanks.

      1. I think you just touched on it, they drank them all the time….also how were they about eating well and exercising?

        It’s hard to say that just one thing was the sole factor as to why someone has a stroke/heart attack/ etc.

        1. Why did they even need to drink energy drinks unless something wasn’t right about their lifestyle.

      2. Sorry to hear that.

        Although Mark addressed only one specific brand of energy drink (5 Hour Energy, which comes in a tiny container – 3 or 4 ounces), I can see how drinking tons of the standard Rock Star, Monster, or Red Bull stuff could be pretty bad for you. Personally, I’ve never been able to get past the flavor of any of them.

  13. I’m curiois…. ive read that Brewers/Nutritional Yeast contains MSG. This info came from a book written by Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions I think or maybe it was Eat Fat, Lose Fat, I dont remember for sure. Any thoughts?

    1. Yes and no. Like cheese and soy sauce it is high in glutamic acid, which gives it the savory taste your tongue is designed to sense and enjoy. MSG is glutamic acid with a sodium atom attached, and in a salty, glutamic acid rich food like cheese there could very well be some MSG that forms naturally. The two are typically treated as being the exact same thing. That said, I’ve never seen convincing evidence that the glutamic acid in whole food is bad for people in general (milk contains it), and the studies I’ve seen that “prove” that MSG is safe involve giving people that say they are allergic/sensitive to MSG foods high in glutamic acid and then monitoring how they don’t have a reaction to those foods.

      1. That study or studies are highly suspect and propagandist, as no one fully understands how glutamates and what type of glutamates, and what level of glutamates affect us. If you start reading and trying to research it in earnest, it’s like falling down the rabbit hole of fragmented data.

        Growing up in Asia, I ate lots of MSG-laden foods, and I think that barrage affected me so that I am sensitive today. I’ve noticed that even the method of delivery affects me. For example, I can eat a solid food product that contains MSG with no obvious affect, but if I have an MSG-laden hot soup, I will feel the effect immediately. None of these anecdotal evidence situations have been studied.

    2. Yes, it is a source of MSG. I have a negative reaction to the yeast I have tried; however, I feel fine eating foods with naturally occurring glutamic acid. There is a difference in how the body responds to the processed glutamate and the naturally occurring kind.

    3. Yes, I was just about to post this. I am sensitive to excess glutamates. When I tried Nutritional Yeast a long time ago, I got an unpleasant head buzz from it. So I researched it, and Yup – free glutamic acid. Some label nutritional yeast an excitotoxin due to the levels of processed free glutamic acid. We still do not really know what these excitotoxins do to us.

      But it does adversely affect me and about 2% of others – we are the ones who feel the affect – but if you are not feeling it, that doesn’t mean it’s not doing something to you as well.

      As far as milk and other natural foods that include naturally-occurring glutamates, it seems to be the ultra-pasteurized dairy that have higher concentrations of glutamate due to the protein breakdown that occurs through high-heat processing that are the culprits for sensitive individuals.

      And one last thing – while I am not a proponent of Big Pharma, it is interesting that they are testing glutamate-blockers as Alzheimers, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s treatments.

      This so-called Nutritional Yeast is an unnatural, processed product – doesn’t that qualify it as Non-Primal?

      1. Nutritional Yeast – bad.

        After finding a recipe for mac-n-cheese, Yes, I tried nutritional yeast on gluten-free noodles when I went vegan. It gave me a smacking migraine fast! I did some research and, yup, MSG. It is processed. I didn’t know that before I bought it. Not good for migraine sufferers, not good for MS, and I certainly don’t think it is necessary or paleo.

        I keep wasting money on my search for a diet that doesn’t hurt my gut, my head, my muscles, or my body in some way. Plus, I get all hopeful for something new, then I get disappointed. Bummer.

  14. Thanks for the word on nutritional yeast. I wasn’t stressing it because I only use it as seasoning on vegetables (OMG so good on kale chips.) But I had wondered and it’s good to know.

  15. I can see adding a tablespoon of brine to salad or sauteed veg, but drinking it? That’s a lot of salt.

    I know where to get the best smoked salmon, cod, halibut, tuna, sturgeon, and shellfish in the world, but, in keeping with the tradition of tight-lipped anglers, “I’m not sayin’.”

    As good as this fish is, we only indulge once or twice a year, as I consider any smoked food a treat reserved for special occasions. My husband, on the other hand, would eat it 24/7, if he could.

    Bear in mind that a diet consisting of a lot of smoked, salted and pickled/fermented foods has been linked to higher rates of stomach cancer.

  16. I may be wrong (and please correct me if I am) but the folic acid in 5-hour energy would be synthetic just like they enrich bread with. People with an MTHFR mutation (40-50% of the population) can not use the synthetic form of folic acid and store it in their bodies with detrimental effects. Since most people do not know they have this mutation I think it is playing with fire to drink something like this. I have read many doctors and health professionals warn against folic acid for all not just those with MTHFR.

    Folic Acid Dangers – Center for Natural Health Research

    The little known (but crucial) difference between folate and folic acid › Health Conditions › Cancer

  17. Sour kraut fermented brine solves nighttime cramps and restless leg syndrome. We eat the sour kraut with meals and drink a tablespoon of brine before bed.
    Suzy’s mom

  18. I’ve drank olive brine as a pick-me-up after dropping lots of water weight and getting the headache/fatigue. When low salt is the cause, it doesn’t take long to immediately feel better. Swigging brine from the fridge is faster than making broth. And otherwise, it’s just sitting there doing nothing.

  19. I have a friend from Thailand whose brother died from a heart attack in his 40’s. Her family blamed it on energy drinks. He was a truck driver and used them often. Of course he probably also smoke a lot, too.

    1. Like they said above, the need for energy drinks suggests a whole bunch of other bad lifestyle choices. Smoking, not exercising, and eating mindlessly at truck stops would do the trick even without the energy drink. 🙁

  20. “There remains no naturally-occurring source of B12 that doesn’t involve sweet, sweet animal flesh.”

    “I’d never really looked into 5-Hour Energy Drinks before writing this post, and until now, I’ve always sort of assumed they were sugar-laden caffeinated liquid beasts that truckers and club kids resorted to when they ran out of meth.”

    2 LOL in one post. Thanks as always for the daily pick me up. 🙂

    1. No brainer. Costco has smoked wild sockeye 2 packs for about 15 bucks. I consume a great deal of it.

      1. I’ve discovered the 2 packs of wild sockeye salmon also at Costco – love it with Olive hummus from Trader Joe’s!

  21. Actually smoking meat/fish produces methanol wich is toxic. In places where smoked animal products are consumed more often, the incidence of multiple sclerosis has been shown to be significantly higher. (For more info look up Dr. Monte. He did a long interview on this subject on Dr. Mercola’s youtube channel)

  22. Pretty sure GROK wasn’t drinking 5 Hour Energy. Kind of disappointed here… : (

  23. I have recently done some investigating into nutritional yeast and discovered that it is a source of MSG. I purchased some recently to use and found that it did not make me feel well. I know there are naturally occurring MSG compounds, but they behave differently in the body and do not cause the same negative reactions.

  24. Got a sample bottle to try of 5 hour energy and actually felt sleepy after drinking it. Other people I have talked to also had the same result. I’m not saying it does not do what it is advertised. With me the opposite result.

  25. Decided to have smoked salmon for lunch. Oh so delicious! But my hands smell. My face smells. My office smells! I washed up, but everything still smells of fish. Note for next time: eat it outside!

  26. I love the smell of smoked salmon so much Diane…better stay away from me for awhile!

  27. On a bottle of 5-hour energy, it states that it contains “8333%” of the RDA for vitamin B12 – how in the world is 8333% healthy for you??

    1. Well, it may or may not be healthy. My understanding was the RDAs were more like bare minimums to prevent major disease. Those numbers don’t talk about minor deficiencies, individual quirks, and/or what level is toxic.

      This quote below is straight from the USDA website regarding RDAs and the newer DRIs.

      “In 1995, the Food and Nutrition Board deemed that a new, more comprehensive approach was necessary to setting dietary guidelines. Why? New research was showing the importance of higher intakes of some nutrients for promoting health (preventing chronic disease) and performance; there was tremendous growth in food fortification and the use of dietary supplements; and the existing RDAs did not adequately distinguish guidelines for groups and populations from those for individuals.”

      I know I supplement Vit D in a multiple of the RDA to no ill effect. (In fact, I’m not sure that if I supplemented at the RDA level that it would work well.) My son (and I) seem to need more Vit A than is recommended.(yes, we are very careful with this one)

      So in other words, it’s hard to tell from the label with any specific vitamin if 8000% actual might do you good, come out in the wash (so to speak), or put you in the hospital with vitamin toxicity. You have to know more about the vitamin in question.

  28. Interesting take on the 5-hour energy. I still have strange feeling about it, but it is nice to know it is not as bad as I thought. I like the idea of primal foods. Leaves great variety in one’s diet regime! This will help with forming recipes for my site! Thanks for the input!

  29. As an amateur meat smoker, I just wanted to comment about using sawdust for smoking. Sawdust, by the way, IS actually wood, it is just broken down so that it doesn’t need as much heat and oxygen for complete combustion. You can get sawdust that is 100% apple wood, hickory wood, alder wood, etc. It is a perfectly fine way of generating a lovely tasty smoke, and is especially useful for cold smoking as not a lot of heat is generated.

    1. Why would it be any different? It’s a fattier fish, but I’d imagine its the same deal. Just read the ingredients.

  30. So, is nutritional yeast a no-no for the gluten intolerant? I used to love it, but threw mine away when I went gluten free. I thought everything primal was gluten free?

  31. I don’t drink 5 hour energy or any of those energy drinks because of all the synthetic B vitamins. It’s extremely easy to get the natural form of these vitamins just by eating meat and greens.

    Over supplementation with folic acid (the synthetic form of B9 Folate) is linked with increased cancer risk.

    Cyanocobalamin is naturally occurring vitamin B12 bound with cyanide with gets liberated in the body. Even though its a trace amount do you really want it floating around your body? Don’t eat poisonous things.

    Supplementing with B6 can be entertaining though if you like to enjoy a vivid dream once and a while. However, I have a friend who was supplementing with B-complex daily and her vivid dreams became scary to the point that she thought she was losing her mind and she was afraid to go to sleep. As soon as she stopped supplementing they went away.

  32. I doubt there are many vegans reading page 2 of the comments, but my question is, How do vegans get DHA, EPA, K2-mk4?

  33. Mark,

    Is taking caffeine in pill form (like No-Doz) any better or worse that getting caffeine from coffee? I’ll use the pill when I’m in a pinch like driving. Thanks!

  34. I can’t believe you is-it’ed 5hr energy drinks! Those things are so gross, the smell of them turns me off. Ew!

  35. I’m not so crazy about smoked fish (tasty as it is!) ever since I’ve read an article stating that in most of the commercially available stuff smoking involves dipping the fish in lots of chemicals (and some nasty ones)… which is where the taste comes from…
    To be sure, I live in Poland and it was in a Polish newspaper, so maybe you guys in the US have it better, who knows? Seeing though how lots of the modern big food practices come from the USA I’d be wary. I guess buying from local and small-scale producers is as always a good idea.
    Does anybody know what chemicals are involved?

  36. What about brines that are salt and vinegar based? In Bangkok, I make dill pickles with a water/salt/vinegar/spice brine. Some of my customers drink the stuff. Safe? Primal?

  37. Another comment on 5-hour energy drinks, specifically directed at hypothyroid folks: If you are on a thyroid replacement med (Synthroid, levothyroxine), tyrosine can cause you some issues. You can google tyrosine and hypothyroidism, or you can check here or here for starters. I took some tyrosine supplements over the course of a couple days and felt so awful I stopped–it took over a week for me to start feeling right again. So 5-hour energy drinks may be fine for most, but maybe do a little research and use some caution if you have thyroid issues, just to be on the safe side.

  38. You had me worried here…I have several smokers in the back yard and we eat smoked salmon all the time!

  39. I was just wondering about nutritional yeast the last few weeks, so, thank you for that. My husband favors the five hour energy drinks so I’m glad you didn’t bang too hard on those. I don’t like the sucralose aspect, though, and have tried to talk him out of drinking them.

    Speaking of briny & fermented things, a grassfed bunless beef burger with house-made sauerkraut and spicy mustard is AMAZING. I was a doubter (seriously, sauerkraut on a burger?) but am here to say I have seen the light.

  40. The thing I don’t like about 5 hour energy is those little bottles are littered everywhere.

  41. I can’t have dairy, so I enjoy nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavour on veggies, etc. It tastes good and any added vitamins are a bonus IMO.

  42. Love smoked salmon — actually, I never once thought it WASN’T Primal, I just aimed for the ones prepared without sugar. Good to know about those 5-Hour Energy shots. Now I know that maybe those days where I had to stand watch from 3:45-6am and then continue with my normal working day, surviving entirely on 5-Hour Energy, weren’t totally turning my blood into sludge! And yeah, making your own fermented foods is super-easy. You don’t even need a starter if you’re patient. Enough salt in the brine will take care of it.

  43. I don’t think cavemen/women were behind the wheel, so they never had the opportunity to be behind it, lol! 😉

  44. Mark, I’m very grateful that you analyzed 5 hour energy drinks. Sometimes I’ve used them, and for me they work with no ill effects. I’m not so happy with the reference to “truckers…who run out of meth.” I’m a attorney, my husband is a truck driver. And a fine person who does everything he can to remain primal on the road, including spending the weekend, when he needs to relax, preparing food to take on the road the following week. Don’t insult people you don’t even know, please. And don’t be elitist.

  45. There’s a lot of hype about “trans fats” which were found in the big nurses study to cause heart disease. Hydrogenation involves heat and heavy-metal catalysts to rearrange fatty substances. Trans fats are just one kind of change. Hundreds of new molecules are in fact formed, which is way more than researchers have been able to study. Fully hydrogenated fats will contain no trans fats–but they will contain even larger quantities of other deranged lipid substances.
    When the research is done, I expect fully hydrogenated stuff will turn out to be somewhat worse than partially hydrogenated.
    Nothing fully or partially hydrogenated is what God or Nature made. Absolutely NOT primal.

  46. While 5 hour energy may technically be considered safe, I still don’t use it or agree with it because it is far from natural.

  47. A lot of people who are overweight are tormented by their self-image. Some know they need to lose weight but don’t have the motivation and commitment to do what it takes. Many understand the health risks and continue in their bad eating habits. There is good news for these types of people. You can eat a lot and still lose weight! You need to eat the right kind of food though. What are some healthy foods to lose weight with? Let’s take a look at a few.

  48. Regarding pickle brine, I make own brined pickles and when the jar is empty I strain the brine into a bottle and drink every drop in shot glasses. I think it is delicious and I have no intention of wasting all that precious bacteria I cultivated. That stuff is expensive in pill form.

    Since it is in small doses I don’t worry about the salt. Seems that the whole low salt thing is another fairy tale that is disproved by science. So as long as it doesn’t taste too salty I consider it okay. And I drink water primarily and play racquetball three times a week which would offset the salt.

  49. I like very much smoked food, including smoked salmon, as well as some pork cuts produced in Black Forest Germany (area where the Danube springs are), heavily smoked. My younger daughter (7) also loves those smoked foods, the rest of the family are rather against them. We are probably eating around 300g/week of (heavily smoked) food. (hopefully because of the smoke they don’t get so many taste enhancers and preservatives)
    Nothwithstanding the omega 3 content, ve read multiple reports saying the smoked food is carcinogenic (stomach, intestine, liver and colon cancers primarily).
    What is your stance on this, should we avoid those alegedly “poisonous” foods ?

  50. You should have noted that nutritional yeast and 5-hour energy are NOT paleo, b/c they are not even naturally derived. The added synthetic vitamins in these products make them a science project, which is the furthest from paleo that you can get. I contacted Bragg’s, via email, to inquire about the added B vitamins in their nutritional yeast product (they tout themselves on being “natural” ya know?!) with no reply. I then called them to ask if the added B vitamins were “synthetic or naturally sourced” and was informed that they are all “scientifically formulated”. Studies have determined that synthetic folic acid is NOT healthy and can lead colorectal cancer. I don’t recommend this product if you are wanting to stay on a truly natural and organic diet, as it’s just another source of manmade chemicals in your body.

  51. I think we are all overloaded with too much data! Eating smoked food is 100% healthy provided the meet/vegetables are organic and the techniques used during the smoking process are standard.

  52. There are more organic versions of energy shots if you use them:

    I used to drive 2 hours to work and back everyday in the dark most of the year, in a climate too cold to just pull over and sleep. I also didn’t want to be dependent on coffee or other caffeine that tax my adrenals, so I just kept a couple of the organic energy shots in the glove compartment of my car, in the very rare case I got sleepy (maybe 1x per year). I agree it might not be paleo, but it was good for me in emergencies.

  53. I an following grundys plant paradox plan. Y can u not eat fruit except for avocados. Y can u not eat cucumbers. If u scrap the seeds out r they ok