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Dear Mark: Steak Satiety vs Ground Beef Satiety; Maca and Cacao During Fasts; Nut Butters, and Post-work Workouts

For today’s edition of Dear Mark [1], I’m answering four questions from readers. First, why might a pound of ground beef induce less satiation than a pound of steak? Second, can you take maca root and cacao powder during a fast without breaking it? Third, what’s my take on nut butters? Good kitchen allies or too much of a good thing—or both? And finally, I give a few tips for someone who wants to train more regularly but can’t find the energy required after work.

Let’s go:

Hi Mark,

Is there a reason for there to be different satiety from whole cuts of meat vs ground meat? I notice for me ground meat is a lot less satiating. I eat two meals a day. If breakfast is a pound of steak, I’m good until later in the afternoon. However if breakfast instead involves a pound of ground beef, I’m usually ravenous again just a few hours later.

Thanks,
-Andrew

I can think of three reasons. They are not mutually exclusive. All three could be, and likely are, correct.

  1. Ground meat travels fast. Like other types of processed food, pre-processed/ground beef spends less time in transit in the gut. It speeds on through. A common treatment for people with gastroparesis (characterized by severely slow transit time) is choosing pureed meat over chunks of it because it speeds up transit. Ground beef should function similarly.
  2. You have to chew steak. And since you don’t have to chew ground beef as long (until it forms an amorphous mass of amino acids), you miss an important aspect of the eating ritual that informs appetite. Chewing primes our body to expect food. It tells our body we’re actually eating something. It causes the secretion of digestive enzymes, so we can actually digest and absorb the nutrients we consume.
  3. Your steak might be higher in protein than your ground beef, and protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Ground beef is often much higher in fat and lower in protein than steak. That’s not a bad thing, but it might not help induce as much satiety.

Been playing a bit with intermittent fasting and drinking bulletproof coffee in the morning. If I add supplements such as maca or cacao powder does that counteract the effects of consuming only fat for breakfast and will it throw me out of ketosis?

Nope, shouldn’t be a problem. Both have negligible amounts of carbs, with the bulk of cacao’s coming as fiber.

The cacao [2] especially will only enhance your fast by increasing AMPK [3] and improving mitochondrial function [4]. You’ll recall that one of the primary benefits of fasting—and the thing responsible for many of its benefits—is the induction of AMPK activation.

What’s your view on nut butters pertaining to attempting to “reboot” one’s view towards food?

They can be nutrient dense, full of healthy fat soluble nutrients, and filling. But they can also displace other meals. And can be addictive.

Grok certainly didn’t have access to a jar of almond butter…..

Psychologically, nut butters seem to invite cheat meals. And train your brain to expect a certain level of taste. By simple nature that they are easy to eat and can be combined with other foods (ie: fruits) in ways that really overstimulate the senses (are almost too delicious for their profile). Something that should be reserved for standard american diet desserts.

Thoughts?

I share your concerns. I’m not super enthusiastic about nut butters, especially if you already find them addicting. I’ve seen too many people derail their progress by repeatedly plunging a greasy spoon into a jar of concentrated nut slurry. It’s way too easy to add 600 or 700 calories in a day just from “random” spoonfuls.

That said, they are nutrient-dense, they do go great on sliced apples and bananas, you can incorporate them into your cooking, you can use them to make incredible dipping sauces. Sounds like you’re a big fan, which is why you might want to lay off them for awhile.

Hi Mark, how do you motivate yourself to get out and exercise after getting home from work exhausted and all you feel like doing is curling up and sleeping? I know 90% of the time I will feel better for moving but when exhaustion hits it is oh so hard to physically follow through on what my mind knows will benefit me. Thanks.

I don’t. I’m serious. I very rarely, if ever, try to motivate myself to train after a long day working. I use those times to rest, hang out with my family, make dinner, read, and generally keep things very mellow. That post-work workout is fool’s gold. It’s so tempting, so inviting, so within reach—yet most people fail at it.

You’re at your most vulnerable at the end of the day, far more likely to give into the junk food waiting just a pantry door away. Moreover, consistently telling yourself that “this’ll be the day” you start training after work and consistently failing to follow through will establish a terrible relationship between you and exercise. Don’t feel wedded to the idea of a post-work workout (if a nighttime workout happens, it happens) if you have better options.  Instead:

Wake up 30 minutes earlier to train. If you try this, don’t accrue any sleep debt. Go to bed 30 minutes before you normally would.

Make your mornings more efficient so you have enough free time to add a workout. Instead of deciding what to wear in the morning, decide the night before and lay the clothing out. Instead of spending ten minutes conducting an internal debate about how you should cook your eggs, you can decide the night before—and maybe have them hardboiled and ready to go.

Train at lunch. I like a midday session. Strength is highest then [5], and after I get the workout in, I’m happy, I feel great, and my productivity skyrockets. The workout is “done” for the day! An afternoon training session leaves me feeling optimistic about the rest of the day.

Play. Exercise doesn’t have to be grueling work under the bar or on the spin bike. It can be fun. It can take the form of play—aimless movement without a goal in sight. You’re probably more willing to play after work than submit to a regimented bout in the gym.

Or some/all of the above. A few brief spells of activity might feel more doable than one continuous session. That works, too.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, and take care!

Oh, and help out today’s round of questioners with your own answers down below!